Sunday, August 17, 2008

Excitement Tough To Find At MIS For ESPN

After another solid pre-race show from Allen Bestwick, it was time for the Sprint Cup Series to race at MIS. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty had done their best to get fans pumped-up for what many believed would essentially be a fuel mileage race.

It was ESPN handling the telecast and that meant Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett calling the action. After focusing on the fuel mileage issue, the race began and Marcos Ambrose quickly became the story.

Ambrose had engine failure and was trailing oil down pit road. Rather than head directly into the garage, Ambrose stopped in his pit as if the problem might be a loose oil line. This is something that can happen early to a car when running at speed.

That decision caused a big oil-down of pit road and when the Wood Brothers team tried to back Ambrose up to push him to the garage, the neighboring pit crew physically stopped the car from backing up.

Unfortunately, ESPN ignored not only this situation but never followed-up with an interview of Ambrose. He was last week's Nationwide Series winner and the third place Sprint Cup finisher. Suddenly, Marcos Ambrose did not exist.

When the race settled down and the long green flag runs began, it was Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett who provided the information viewers needed to understand what adjustments were being made to the COT's on the track.

Tim Brewer did not play a very active role and neither did Wallace and Daugherty during the first seventy-five laps. Then, Bestwick began to take control out of the commercial breaks and integrated the other infield folks into the mix. With ten voices on the telecast, there is always going to be some decisions that have to be made about who is in charge of what is being heard on-the-air. Sunday, Brewer was the odd man out.

Dave Blaney was next to cause a caution after being spun and almost flipped during an ESPN commercial break. The accident was reviewed briefly when the network returned from commercial. The cause was never followed-up and Blaney was never interviewed. This is the attitude of ESPN. If you are not a top-name driver, you do not deserve ESPN's attention. Blaney is not on the "star list."

The accident did allow ESPN to award a "good hands of the race" sponsor feature to Carl Edwards. He seemed to simply turn left and drive around the accident with no real problem. It certainly seemed strange to insert this featured move of the race with less than 90 laps of the 200 completed.

Jeff Gordon was next into the wall and out of the race. He was immediately interviewed in the garage. He is a star. His accident and its cause were replayed numerous times and from several angles. The very different treatment of Gordon from both Ambrose and Blaney is exactly the reason fans are having problems with ESPN this Sprint Cup season.

Kasey Kahne was next out of the race due to mechanical failure. Kahne was only interviewed when ESPN could use Mike Massaro to push the "on the bubble" agenda. It was clear that if Kahne was not a "bubble boy" he would never have been interviewed. "Bubble boy" was the new ESPN buzzword of the race.

Sadly, ESPN is once again returning to the two topics that ruined the coverage last season. One is the constant emphasis on The Chase instead of the race. The second topic is named Dale Earnhardt Jr. Veteran NASCAR fans know how things panned-out last year for ESPN where Junior was concerned. Mike Massaro has definite memories.

Kyle Busch suddenly overtook Carl Edwards with 51 laps to go. It happened in commercial break and was never replayed. Other drivers had worked all day to come up through the field and into the top fifteen. With 26 laps to go, ESPN finally tried to review the field. The caution came out before they got to the second car. They never did it again.

Drivers like Burton, Harvick and Martin were never mentioned all day long and suddenly all three appeared in the top twelve. This is the Sprint Cup curse of ESPN. The coverage is so focused on the leaders, the big names and the "bubble boys" that the real story of the race is not being told.

Petree and Jarrett are great at talking about what is being shown on the TV screen and what they are being told to do. Bestwick is great at recapping the field and putting things in perspective. Unfortunately, Punch is not great at steering the ship. His short, clipped sentences often are never completed.

At the final pit stop, Junior and David Ragan stayed-out to set-up the finish. The network went to commercial. At last, ESPN was going to have some excitement to describe at the close of the event.

Eighteen laps were left and Punch needed to pump the excitement to the highest level. ESPN was on an in-car camera shot when Junior was involved in an incident. Fourteen laps to go and another debris caution where the debris was never shown. As we know, NASCAR fans are a suspicious bunch. They need to see what brings out the caution.

Nine laps to go and Punch is talking about the leaders while the three-wide racing is just behind them on the TV screen. ESPN tried to skip around the field and show some racing, but it was too little too late. Another caution with six laps to go made the race a shoot-out and put the focus back on Kyle Busch.

Instead of calling the final two laps, Punch was "hosting" the coverage. Big chunks of silence filled the air as Edwards battled Busch for the win. Punch told us about oil tank covers, manufacturers and Michigan. Once again, what he did not do was simply call the action on the screen.

This void in ESPN's coverage is glaring. So many of the other TV pieces are in place and so many of the other ESPN personalities are working well. The silence of the final two laps from Jerry Punch is the true story of this event for ESPN. It is an awkward silence that fans have heard many times before and will probably be hearing again in six days.

The final blow for many was ESPN leaving the telecast with six minutes remaining in the scheduled timeslot. Fans were looking for interviews with drivers and a recap of the race from some of the ten announcers on-site for the network. Instead, they got four drivers and the winner of the race. Bestwick and his crew never came back on-camera. Someone made a decision and suddenly it was time for SportsCenter.

The ESPN legacy where NASCAR is concerned continues to grow. The only question is, in what direction?

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...
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Kyle said...

This is the first race of the year that I have not watched. Heck for one of the races I was in Dubai, ans still watched the race.

I sat through 10 minuets on pre race, and all they wanted to talk about was fuel mileage the entire time. I'm sorry do they think there is a new audience every single race? Or do they just think the NASCAR viewer is stupid? When ESPN has a football game, do they explain how a field goal works for 10-20 mins of the pre game show? FOR EVERY FOOTBALL GAME? I don't understand the need to go on and on about it. EVERY SINGLE DARN RACE.

I don't know If I can continue to watch the racing anymore this year. Ill watch the good races like Bristol next week, but for the most part the coverage is making it boring and repetitive.
How hard is it to understand, if the front is single file, show the racing in the pack.

With the 18 having the year it is, and the steroid using jerk in the 99 being the only real shots for the title this year, I wont be missing much.

Anonymous said...

Instead of calling the final two laps, Punch was "hosting" the coverage. Big chunks of silence filled the air as Edwards battled Busch for the win. Punch told us about oil tank covers, manufacturers and Michigan. Once again, what he did not do was simply call the action on the screen.

Huh? What battle! Carl went off and smoked Kyle. What were you expecting to be said in the final two laps? Every commentator says some history of the race / driver at the final laps as they are pulling away for the win. Why do you seem to be so hard on Jerry? Its like you have some sort a grudge against him. Cut him some slack dude.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:30PM,

Just drop me an email at when you get a moment.

In the meantime, what was your take on the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race on ESPN?


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:35PM,

Can you help me out a bit with that one please?

Not sure what you mean. I think you and I could probably sit down and describe what is happening on the TV screen in a NASCAR race as could most fans. Why is it suddenly so hard for ESPN to do?

Welcome your opinion on that topic.


Anonymous said...

There wasnt really anything happening on the screen. It was pretty apparent that Carl was running away with the victory so Jerry threw out some facts and tidbits about both Carl Edwards and the race itself. This is not a radio broadcast. I dont need someone to walk me through and tell me that someone is going to win when I can see it for myself.

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Anonymous said...
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alex said...

That's it for me, I'm done with ESPN. I've tried and tried to sit through this "coverage" and when I thought things were going to be better than 2007, several of the same nuances are hurting the the broadcast again. Next week I'll mute it and listen to MRN. I don't even own a radio in the house, but I'll buy a cheap one just for race days.

Matt said...

I was pretty annoyed that I didn't get to hear from Blaney. Obviously he's not a big name, but he took a big hit last week and again today. I would've liked to hear his take.

Pretty much everyone's comments explain how I felt as well. Too much Chase shoved down our throats, lack of mention of certain drivers, over-emphasis on others, blah blah blah.

I want to like ESPN.. I really do. But they are making it really hard for me.

They should just hack out half of their crew, move 30 minutes of pre-race to 30 minutes of post-race, let AB do the countdown and be in the booth... I can go on and on.

I wish ESPN would listen to something.

SonicAD said...

Ok, that's the best pic you've had so far JD.

Vicky D said...

Great pic JD I love it. I really can't add anymore to your column. Pretty bad coverage of this race - too much emphasis on the chase drivers or bubble guys but this is what I was worried about when Nascar changed the championship format. I wonder what Nascar thinks of this coverage?

Sophia said...

Great picture JD!!

I paid less attention to this race than I have all season (except for an earlier season race when I was out listening to Cajun/Dixieland band close to home)

Today was so bad in the LACK of happenings on the track, I don't know what else to say about PeeSPN.

Bristol not my fave track...will not see next Friday's race and maybe not Saturdays.

Season's over. Chase is all what it's about.


I told myself with the fantastic TNT coverage "enjoy it girl, while you can!" The camera work was great and though they lacked follow up at times, they were better than ESPeeN. AND we had Race Buddy so we could choose NOT to watch the leaders.

Disgusted with ESPN.

the guys in the booth do nothing for me and the lack of info they tell the fans is inexcusable.

I can see why so many NASCAR fans of days gone by just watch a handful of races a year and keep up by reading the news.

You sure as HELLO don't get information WATCHING the races.

And Charlies post re where many drivers started and were driving to towards the end of the race spoke VOLUMES. ESPN is totally out of touch.

thank you for this blog, JD. This might be how I stay in touch with the rest of the season except for maybe Dega and Homestead. :(

Erik said...

Frankly, I like it when a play-by-play announcer keeps their mouth shut. This is a TV broadcast, not a radio broadcast. By their very nature, they are completely broadcasts.

I can see the action with my own eyes, I don't need anyone else to manufacture drama or excitement.

Anonymous said...

I really appreciate a play-by-play man who doesn't feel the need talk constantly. I guess I may be in the minority on here of people who think less is more. I disagree with how you often characterize Dr. Punch as being "tired" because he doesn't talk as much as other broadcasters. This isn't radio, we can actually see what's happening ourselves.

I don't disagree with your other criticisms of the broadcasts.

Newracefan said...

I also love the picture and obviously ESPN hasn't read the book. For the anon about no racing at the end of the race up front perhaps; but if they had the camera watching the guys further back we would have seen racing, hello split screen it so we don't miss something up front. The 48 flying thru the grass on the last lap sounds like someone was racing someone to me and I still am not sure who pushed who. Guess that's for Victory Land on SPEED to tell me. As for the race coverage, unless you were part of the top 5 or the special 13 you were not at the race and when you are both it's all about you isn't it. As annoyed as I was with Fox's camera angles and Digger promo's I'll take them over this PXP coverage at least I knew what happened on the track and who was in the top 35 before they went off air. This is going to be a long rest of the season, I will be trying to find a radio so I can listen to MRN and 48 scanner at the same time, if not the scanner may have to go. I can't take it any more.

TexasRaceLady said...

Oh, JD, you've outdone yourself with that pic. ROTFL

*stepping up on soapbox*

Just when I thought ESPeeeN couldn't get any worse than the Watkins Glen slaughter, they manage to find a way to sink to a new low.

No interviews with Ambrose and Blaney. No "through the field". No mention of those who really improved from their starting positions.

If I hear "bubble" driver one more time I may get physically ill.

And all the talk about Bristol --- pure BS.

In the first place, the race may NOT even happen because of TS/Hurricane Fay.

Secondly, since the advent the drivers inside the top 12 have not really raced or taken chances --they don't want to risk losing points.

ESPeeeN is laying eggs --- and they are NOT golden.

*stepping off soapbox*

bevo said...

There are serous communication breakdowns in ESPN's coverage. The most important one for us involves what is going on out on the track and in the pits. No information on who is moving up or down in the field, no information on strategy, no information on cars going to the garage and no information on drivers involved in crashes.

The larger breakdown however involves the production itself. It's as if there is no one in charge that understands auto racing. It's not simply cars going around in circles. I got much more information about the whole field watching HotPass than ESPN, not just the driver they were following or the ones around them but the whole field. Randy Pemberton and Rick Allen were fantastic today. As much as I like Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree I can't handle listening to the rest of the crew on ESPN.

As a couple of other posters mentioned in the race coverage we shouldn't have to depend on FoxTrax, RaceView or other sources to keep up with what is going on during the race. TV is a communication vehicle and ESPN is failing on that front.

TexasRaceLady said...

Oh, crumbs.

That paragraph is supposed to read-

Secondly, since the advent of the chase,the drivers inside the top 12 have not really raced or taken chances --they don't want to risk losing points.

Had a "senior moment" LOL

Anonymous said...

JD that is truly the epitome of a picture is worth a thousand words.

CAPS are for emphasis - not yelling ( altho I am inside)

We (fans on this blog) have tried to help ESPN like we helped TNT. TNT listened & ESPN did not. ESPN's arrogance was evidenced with leaving early for Sportcenter. NA$CAR fans don't count, we are stoopid, we need to be told the same thing week after week. Fuel mileage, bubble boys, & the favorite racer of the week plus JR.

So here is what they need to do
1)RESET the field - all of it
2)When a car goes OUT - INTERVIEW the DRIVER all DRIVERS have FANS
who BUY PRODUCTS! PRODUCTS are made or provided by SPONSORS of cars & DRIVERS - got it?
3) wide angle shots - show the RACE ON the TRACK!!!
4) NEWSFLASH there are only "casual fans" in your mind - in reality a fan at any level has a driver - see above
5)I like DOC - I want him to do well- HE is NOT a PXP guy. PLEASE -
get him into a host or reporter role soon. His most animated moment is going to commercials or Carls backflip!!!
6) Enough with the gizmos - tech toys - you ESPN are unable to use these judiciously so you are unworthy.
7) The CHASE & POINTS DO NOT count DURING the race. Enough with the blathering on about them and the tacky graphics. UPDATE us at the END of the RACE.
8) When the race ENDS EARLY then update us, interview drivers & TIE UP the stories you didn't get to - tell us if drivers won't give an interview ( Marcos, Blaney?) or you forgot or didn't care. Use the time wisely.

Thank you for losing the bottom ticker this week - if I want to see something else I will change the channel. This is an important thing to get a grip on ESPN, since football starts soon.If I want to flip to football I will.

Anonymous said...

Once again, I would have liked to see the top-35 points standings after the race. That has a bearing on who is guaranteed to race next week.

I agree that they did not follow up on what happened to Blaney and Ambrose. When will ESPN get it and cover ALL the drivers and the stories that are being played out on tv. David Reutimann was having a decent day and he was never mentioned. Michael Waltrip came from the 42nd spot to finish 19th and that is awesome. Mikey even stayed on the lead lap until around lap 160.

Come on ESPN, we want to know about all the drivers and follow-up on drivers that are out of the race with at least an interview in a little box. I will give you a chance as I love Nascar and Michael Waltrip, but I would like to know what happens to all of the drivers and the stories being told.

Thanks, John, for this blog and the place to air our vents.

PammH said...

I have to admit, MIS is boring racing on TV, much like CA. I knew if I was gonna stay awake, I had to listen to MRN. So I did. I also surfed the web & read a book. I'm done w/the 4 letter network. Okay for background pics, but sound is muted. I will just read from here how awful the coverage is.

stricklinfan82 said...


The picture you put with this article is perfect. For much of the day the positions were swapping like crazy on the scoring crawl and on the Hotpass channels I could see great 3 and 4 wide racing. Almost all day long though the ESPN director showed nothing but single-file racing while this great racing was going on back in the pack. The basic pattern was show the 24 running by himself for a while and then file a pit report about him, fall back to the 48 and do the same thing, fall back to the 88 and do the same thing, fall back to the 18 and do the same thing. Even in instances where they followed the leader for several straight laps, you could see a pack of lapped cars running 3-wide right in front of him and finally have some hope to see some passing. As soon as the leader caught the traffic to make things exciting though, ESPN just panned back to the second and third place cars running by themselves. I just can not believe how blatantly ESPN ignores great racing. It just doesn't make sense. Randy Pemberton was spot-on with his comments on this subject on Tradin' Paint last week. I'm sure he, more than anyone, notices how great this disparity is by watching the race in person every week and then seeing what didn't transfer to the TV broadcast when he watches it on his DVR.

And today clearly showed that ESPN is in complete "Chase mode" right now. Last year at about this time it was only the 12 Chase drivers and Dale Jr. that mattered to ESPN. Today ESPN fully made the transition into only covering the Chase drivers. Marcos Ambrose blew up, no follow-up interview. Dave Blaney crashed very hard, no follow-up interview. But the very second Jeff Gordon and Denny Hamlin fell out of the race ESPN rushed to the driver to interview them on TV. And the Lucky Dog problem continues for ESPN. Only twice did ESPN mention who got the Lucky Dog - the time Jimmie Johnson (a Chaser) got it and the time it only got mentioned because Chaser Jimmie Johnson "almost" got it from A.J. Allmendinger.

Drivers like Jamie McMurray, Travis Kvapil, David Reutimann, and Scott Riggs had great runs but rarely appeared on camera or got mentioned. Clint Bowyer finished behind all those drivers and ran worse than them all day long but since he still has a chance to make the Chase he got a ton of TV time.

Draft Tracks also returned for no good reason. NBC used to have a "hot dog wrapper falling off the grille when up against the back bumper of another car" graphic that clearly illustrated how that worked. Draft Tracks did nothing to illustrate that point however, but ESPN was obviously trigger-happy to integrate that ridiculous element back into their broadcasts.

Finally, ESPN completely blew the finish of the broadcast. Boy I miss the days when the director would follow the best battle on the track on the last lap and only show the winner running by himself in the necessary final few seconds before crossing the line. Today we saw the leaders running by themselves and only saw glimpses of the battles in the few seconds ESPN showed the finish line before quickly switching the focus to Chaser Jimmie Johnson running through the grass.

ESPN slapped down the NASCAR fans by starting Sportscenter 7 minutes early, completely blowing the Chase graphic (leaving out David Ragan), and not following up on the top 35 in owner's points before rushing off the air early for no good reason.

Very rough day for ESPN that's for sure. As a final thought, isn't a SAFER Barrier made of steel and foam, and not concrete? Someone might want to send ESPN a memo on that subject.

Anonymous said...

The race was not bad.
But you'd never had known it by watching ESPN and listening to Punch.

For starters, we were once again shown the top 10 drivers almost exclusively. Never mind the other 33 cars on the track--ESPN didn't care about them. If and when DJ would randomly mention them (like Watrip, who drove from 42nd to 18th), they were just as quickly dropped.

And once again, we learned that the guys in the booth are watching TV, just like we are. They're just as surprised as we are when a shot of a crashed car pops up in front of them. They could be looking out the window, like the Fox crews does, so they know what's going on when it happens, not when it shows up on their monitor, but no--they refuse to do this.

As a result we get the repeated, "Whoa, the __ car is in the wall. Let's see if we can find out why," which gets tiring very quickly.

Once again, I listened primarily to MRN and watched RaceView, because without them, I'd have no idea what was going on.

That's a sad commentary, but ESPN does not seem to care one bit.

Evidence of that: The network could not even produce a post-race show that filled to the bottom fo the hour, but instead quit seven minutes early, presumably so they could go home that much sooner.

Someone needs to start fining Jerry Punch $50 each time he uses one of his cliches: "For you __ fans...," "For those of you just tuning in..." and so on. A professional should do better than this.

And also agree that we don't need to have everything explained over and over each week; does ESPN explain what a foul ball is every time they start a new baseball game? No. Do they explain how many points a touchdown is worth every time one is scored? No. Then stop treating me like I need to have everything explained from scratch every week.

Just because the stick-and-ball people in charge don't "get" NASCAR doesn't mean the viewers are as dumb as they are!

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Vince said...

How many times today did we hear that teams really, really wanted to win this race because they were in the back yard of the "Motorcity"? I think by now the average fan knows where Detroit is and that the Big Three manufactures are located there. But I think 70 miles away is one hell of a big back yard! And how many times did we hear how much the Roush drivers wanted to win because they were in Jack Roush's backyard? I guess ESPN thinks we've never watched a race from Michigan before. The ESPN hype machine is in high gear now!

I confess, I only lasted about 30 minutes with the audio on the tv and then had to mute it again and listen to MRN. But when MRN was at commercial break I did unmute the tv. Only to find out that I wasn't missing anything as far as the ESPN PxP or lack there of. MRN is not perfect by any means, but at least they focus on more than just the Chase drivers and the guys on the bubble.

All I can say to the people who enjoy ESPN's coverage of the races, is I guess you've never been to an actual race in person or you have a really short attention span.

bevo said...

Guess the comments about listening to the radio broadcast prove David Poole and Kyle Petty wrong. Here's a heads-up for those folks... Sirius radios have built in replay. All you do is pause it and synch up with your DVR.

boyd said...

Just as the preface was about to air the wife said one of our friends was getting an Olympic party going. No time to record the race, just go.
While viewing rowing I got the chance to hear some well rounded and exciting annoucers call the race. I was on the Iphone reading this blog, but had to look up & see the finish. I really didn't care, but the excitement of the PxP and color guy was so genuine that I got sucked in.
Why mention this? ESPN needs this kind of announcers, Ones that are excited and can convey it to US fans. I was bummed at first that I couldn't catch the race, but as I read the blog I realized that I hadn't missed much.

Anonymous said...

JD: If you think there was an overemphasis on the Chase, tonight tune into to NHRA coverage on ESPN2. Everything with the drags on ESPN is the "Countdown To One."

Stricklin & Vince: Agree with nearly all your observations.

Finally, both Petree and DJ may have the potential to be great analysts but for now about 95% of their comments are obvious and inane! This is where a good play-by-play guy like Bestwick can make a big difference.

Daly Planet Editor said...


The same person is in charge of all motorsports on the ESPN networks.

Judging by the change in direction of this telecast and the comments from the NHRA viewers, I would guess that there was a decision to emphasize this one element in the coverage no matter what was really going-on.

It is just a shame because of all the good things ESPN has going for it inside the NASCAR telecasts.


Dot said...

Love the pic.
I was disappointed with the race coverge today (not that I'm not every weekend). If it wasn't for DJ in the booth, I wouldn't even watch it. It's only going to get worse as we get closer to the Chase. ESPU might've redeemed themselves if they would've had the full 15 min post race coverage. But nooooooo.

Here's my little way to get back at them. I will not watch any pre race/Countdown show for the rest of the season. They won't care, but I'll feel better. Raceday only for me from now on.

Anonymous said...

@erik & anon 6:17--no they don't have to talk endlessly however when they *do* talk they should be painting a picture. I *should* be able to be in my kitchen, room or wherever, hear the commentary and know what's going on. I should be made to rush out because of an accident. I've had times where I was so tired that I fell asleep and woke because Mike Joy announced a wreck that jolted me out of my sleep. I don't see ESPN ever doing that unless things change.

@bevo--I didn't know that! I've wanted to get Sirius for a bit. Great to know :)

Anonymous said...

I agree that the broadcast needs to follow up on all drviers that have unfortunate or fortunate things happen to them. We found out that Jeff Gordon came back out and got a nice view of the repairs that were made to his car. But the crew of the 22 needs a lot of credit too and it should have been mentioned. They spent 45 minuted fixing multiple things on the car (and not just sheet metal) and Blaney came back out.

Of course we found out when Gordon parked his car for the race, but no mention of when Blaney did it a few laps later.

I too would have liked to see an interview with Ambrose.

All I know is that since I follow a driver that is not vying for the chase, I have to find other ways to get information. Watching on Race View, I saw a lot of exciting racing AND passing. But the point is, I shouldn't need to do that. Reading the Pocono comments, I found the same thing. There was a lot of action in the middle of the pack, but it seems that no one wants to show it.

Nan S said...

Most of the time I try to record the race and then fast forward looking for interesting action on the track, in the pits, or stop and hear interviews with drivers that are out of the race.

If I am watching live I now tend to be doing something else, reading, surfing the web and only keep half an eye on the screen with the volume turned down. Thanks to the people here I will try to find a MRN webcast so I can listen to their coverage next time I am watching a race live.

God I hate what the Chase has done to the focus of coverage. Also since most people agree that the races last way too long, its funny that the coverage can't manage to interview people like Ambrose, and Blaney or give a through the field. Its not like they don't have three plus hours of air time to fill.

Anonymous said...

Broadcasting a NASCAR Race for Dummies

Perfect picture for this crew.

For crying out loud, Jerry Punch, turn off the darn television monitor. Look through the glass, and tell us what you see on the track. All of it. Don't pull any punches(heh), and call the race. We can look at our televisions at home, too, and draw the same conclusions before you do. We need more insight from you than what you are providing. And you can provide that by looking through the glass in your booth. Tell the story you see developing as the race progresses and force the producer and director to follow your lead. That is the job of the lead play-by-play guy in any event broadcast. Do it! Next week would not be soon enough!

Now, is Rutledge Wood producing and directing this telecast? I can abide some silliness from any pregame or prerace show, but when the event begins, the superficiality and silliness must subside. Unfortunately, it didn't today. We were Lost In Space all afternoon today, with Doctor Zachary Smith running the show for ESPN and leaving the rest of us in suspended animation. I was reeling from all the lost opportunities to update us with the missing information we were all craving from the trail of loose ends laying in Dr. Smith's wake.

This broadcast ranks right up there among the largest blown sportcasts in the annals of television and the responsibility lies right there at ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT, and I am calling all you arrogant and comptemptuous fools out. I don't need television content as much as you and your advertising partners need content viewers, and if you guys don't stop lording yourselves over me and mine, we WILL go away.

Anonymous said...

I was able to catch the race from lap 24 till the end. Here is my take:

Pros: decent pictures (still need improvement), good audio, no gopher cam animation, no cheesy country music, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree, Allen Bestwick, decent finishing shot of the race.

Cons: This is going to get nasty; draft tracker(useless), no interviews with Blaney or Ambrose (bad call), too many commercial breaks, the COT (not the network's fault), Punch as play by play announcer, leaving six minutes early for SportsCenter.

An average race and an average telecast. (Happy that I did not watch the pre-race.)

Anonymous said...

hey espn guys? if you're taking the time to read this, allow me to add my feedback for you. i agree with what's been posted so far and i would like to address other issues i wrote down as i watched the broadcast today.

1. overall, there is too little focus on "The Race" and too much focus on all the other "stuff": driver interview packages, graphics, footage from previous races, pit stop cameras, even the infamous tech center. in all of this clutter, the actual race gets lost and is reduced to a supporting role. this inversion of what is important, what is the reason for the broadcast itself, is the major flaw of your effort today in my opinion.

2. disconnects between what was on the screen and what was being talked about was glaring and happened frequently. a single example: we were hearing that the #9 was in the garage (no reason given, by the way) but the screen showed us the #19 on a pit stop. more examples can be found in the comments from the broadcast itself. this is such a basic error that it has become impossible to understand why it continues to happen.

3. repeated opportunities to do a "thru the field" moment and get the viewers caught up: none were done beyond the top 13 at most. again, a single example: with less than 5 to go and in a yellow flag, we were shown footage of the #18 win in chicago instead of being given a field recap to set up the final restart.

4. overall, there seems to be a fair amount of confusion as to who fills which role in the booth and infield studio and what the tasks are of each role. each individual's role in the broadcast should be fairly straightforward and unambiguous. clarifying this would be a good place to start if you're looking toward improving the broadcast.

and why does this matter at all? because the VAST majority of the nascar fanbase is watching the race on tv, not at the track. how the broadcast is put together, how it is directed, produced, announced has an impact on how fans perceive the sport itself. we can only watch what we are shown: we can't see the rest of the track, focus the binoculars on a mid-pack battle, watch a car go into the garage and be worked on until it comes back onto the track. when you don't give us "The Race", when you actively hinder our chance to see what's happening on the track for whatever reason, you contribute to the negative perception of our sport, to the idea that "there's no racing happening."

and from a completely personal place? THAT i cannot tolerate any longer nor forgive. i will not "boycott" your sponsors because your poor performance is not their responsibility. however, i will write to each of them directly and let them know how disappointed i am in espn's broadcasts this year. too many bad broadcasts in a row, too much arrogance on your part (why, indeed, pull away from michigan with more than 5 minutes left in the half hour?), too much of the same sloppy production to be an aberration. you have established a pattern of substandard performance and we are not oblivious to it.

kang said...

Yes, just another great day of Espn Nascar coverage. Well perhaps not.At lap 42 Espn returned from commercial.No time interval was displayed.It would be out until lap 93.Thats correct 51 laps later!I can only assume the bulb burned out.From lap 165 to the finish the best one could say is the time interval was put up sporadically.Now do not misunderstand I want to watch Espn.I really do.They just do not make it easy.

Anonymous said...

Good comments Red.

If your seeing one thing on the TV screen and hearing about another, that usually means that someone is looking out the window and not at the TV in the booth.

I like the dynamic of Jarrett and Petrie throwing to the pit announcers. Makes it sound like more of a conversation. Again, Doc is good at stats. I agree with Erik, I can see the action with my own eyes, I don't need anyone else to manufacture drama or excitement. Bingo Erik!!

and Red, how many times in the thru the fields do you hear the announcers say, "good run by the so and so car in 22nd position today. He's complaining about the handling and hoping for a caution to bring it into his pitcrew to fix it and by the way today is blah blah crew members birthday. A win today (usually impossible) would be a great gift blah blah....." (take a breath, repeat)

I find it interesting that all of you assume "stick and ball" people work these races. A little research (and the TDP archives) shows a lot of the technical crew (camera, audio, replay) is the same as FOX and TNT. The producer is the same as one who produced the first 6 years of FOX and the previous years of the ESPN TV contract. I guess it goes to show how important announcing is to the TV viewer...

One last thing....I like being updated on the points as they run. Helps me to understand the strategies the teams are using ie stay out and lead a lap, 2 tires for field position, car A falls out does that mean car B and C move up, etc.

Don't forget that the unpublished sequel to your book is "Pay-per-view for Dummies and those who whined about their free TV broadcasts."

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:53PM,

How is ESPN a free TV broadcast? The races on ABC do not start for several weeks.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes your literal sense gets in the way of a good joke....

I agree you pay a monthly fee for cable, but for many channels with broad content. I was simply implying that the future could be 38 weeks of "wrestlemania" style pay-per-view Sundays. Then most of use will be getting all our info from MRN and the internet....

Daly Planet Editor said...

Got ya,

Just so you know, Mr. Shiftan was not the Fox or ESPN Producer for NASCAR in the earlier years. If that is the person you are referencing.

Sorry I missed the earlier joke, was a long day.


Sophia said...


Lather, rinse, repeat.

That seems to be the theme. It matters not one WHIT what the fans want. Same ole ESPeeN, ESPU honking off the fans as they produce their 'own agenda' in their own alleged minds.


I shall enjoy reading up on the races and picking a few races to sit through before the end of the year. But I have had it up to here (Sophia pointing to her chin!)

It is SO OBVIOUS NOBODY that "OWNS NASCAR" ever watches the broadcast on ESPN. But they LOVE THE MONEY.

Anonymous said...

I was speaking of Mr. Goldberg who is producing the races during the "cup portion" of the ESPN contract.

I understand the long day!

Dot said...

After I posted earlier, I went surfing to find a radio station here (Las Vegas) that broadcasts the races. We lost the station that ran them last year to change of format.

I found the radio station and will start listening to MRN next Sunday. Not only am I not watching the prerace etc, I'm not watching the race either. I can see the action I (and ESPU) miss on VL, NN, TWIN and if it's really good CNN sports minute. Hell, I'm leaning towards not watching NN anymore either, this is how upset I am. One big annoyance about ESPUs coverage happened today. Did they really have to show KyBs pit stop in full screen during GF racing? This is just one example. I could go on, but I'd be preaching to the choir.

Thanks for letting me rant.

Anonymous said...

It's ALL been said before. In the live post I said I was done, and would invest in hot pass next year. Until then, I will mute tv and stream MRN.

Some ANONS want to suggest that the PXP is better if they don't talk all the time. I agree, if ESPN needs to keep Jerry Punch in the booth, OK but he needs to STOP talking except to throw to commercial because his inanity, lack of basic ontrack information or the ability to corrctly identify cars and their drives let alone PXP is DETRACTING from the coverage, not just compromising its credability. As to the PXP possibly being unneccessary on television in the same dynamic as radio is foolish when you think how much IS going on that we CAN'T see which is why they are there.

The STUPIDITY of the guy on ESPNEWS continuing to link KB with the 18 in the NN race was unforgivable and a steller example of the lack of preperation and thereby respect for the NASCAR community, not just the fans, but the drivers and teams themselves. If ESPN continues to backhand the participents as well as the fans, their entree to information will be finished and no one will talk to them.

The shabby attitude of ESPN towards acurit information regarding NASCAR as well as thier refusal to make changes in the booth that have been requested not JUST on this blog ensures that I will not watch ESPN for ANY of my sporting needs including next years SPRINT CUP SEASON I can only hope their advertisers are listening.

Anonymous said...

Oh ya, BTW, so as not to pick exclusively on Doc, what about the pit reporters? Little and Spake say almost word for word exactly what is said before the throw. They add nothing of interest. What happened to the days when a pit reporter would rag their assigned crew chief about stratagy etc right from the box. The crew always said more than what was asked and gave good intel on what was up with other teams too. I can't see the pits, so I kind of need them to at least do THEIR job. In fact, if they would, Doc would become so superfluous as to be more easily ignored. There is no planning or rapore at ESPN period. At FOX etc you knew the pit reporters had their teams and you began to identify the voice you needed for your driver, can't do that anymore. And how hard is it to spend seven or eight minutes doing a through the field from 1 to 43 regardless of where they are running or if they are running. Seems to me that Jamie and Shannon and Mike can't handle the work load. Maybe if they used their own two hands and made notes instead of relying on the truck, we could get some updates. Do any of them know what might be a valuable piece of intel that the viewrs might like to know ahead of time. Tires, wants, complaints. Why does the booth gum things up by walking over the little information the pit reporter is going to give us

I give up

Sophia said...


Don't get me started on shannon and Jamie. somehow, the training wheels have come off on them as well as the rest of the folks. Nice women, perhaps but many we could pick on, so little time...and unknown names calling the shots behind the scenes.

I am watching NNOW (Nicole WHY did you darken your hair so much?) I was STUNNED when the guys in the booth commented on a replay of Blaney's wreck. ...ONLY, it wasn't about BLANEY!!?? It was about how Carl E got around it in the 99 car and then they went on to the next CHASE POTENTIAL driver.

WTF? No mention of the hard hit? How's Dave? No comment at all.

Wow. After that, I have decided, I am giving up on N Now...maybe I will watch the Mon show but if TWIN stays on track with keeping the car in forward, I will just stick with their show. Not sure I want to even give AB my time if he obsesses over bubble boys and the CHASE.

The OBSESSION with the CHASE is over the top.


I am INSULTED and would love to know if ANYBODY CARES ABOUT DAVE BLANEY???? I am so disgusted...even the after show can't mention the wreck in it's PROPER perspective.

So much for all the talk about safety and even bothering to inquire how he is doing. :(

Anonymous said...

JD please forward this on to ESPN.

This is an OPEN LETTER to ESPN from alot of long time NASCAR Fans.

Jettison or Drop, immediately, Dr. Jerry Punch, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty effective Monday, if not sooner. These three are just useless, no talent, bags of winds that just take up space and useless air time. They offer nothing of value and even detract from the production. They have had a enough time to improve and they failed and failed terribly. Experiment over!

All ESPN needs is Bestwick, Jarrett and Petree to broadcast the remaining races. Cut the pre-show to 30 minutes and do a 30 minute post-race show and ESPN may salvage what has been the worst TV coverage NASCAR of any Network in the last two years. If they do not take these corrective actions soon, they will loose a majority of the remaining viewing audiance that has already dwindled because of this shoddy, amature leauge broadcasting.

Anonymous said...

Just about the worst broadcast of the year. Back when Darrell Waltrip was getting all teary-eyed about leaving the air and most of the posters on this board didn't want the door to hit him on the way out, I posted that it wouldn't be long until ESPN/ABC had us all begging for FOX.

I'll take the Digger cam over the Tire Carrier Helmet Cam any day.


Anonymous said...

I agree totally with Anonymous @ 2:28am. Jarrett offered many insightfull nuances yesterday. Punch thinks we're listening to the radio instead of seeing the obvious for ourselves.Yes,the pit reporters are just awful. I think it was the lengthy pit stops on the 24 when Jamie mumbled something about "dropped lug nuts" glossing over a story of its own. The lug nuts are glued on the wheels. How do you "drop them"? Not hearing from Tim Brewer is a plus.When I saw that there was time at the end of the broadcast for interviews, I said Great! Then they cut to Sports Center to cover something Important.When the field got jumbled, I looked forward to the racing order at the top of the screen. Many times,when they got passed the top 5, it disappeared. Michegan is typically a boring,spread out parade. ESPN did their best to dumb it down as best they could.

Anonymous said...

Attention ESPN, there are 43 cars in the race. If there were not 43 cars in the race there would be no Nascar and thus no ESPN broadcast. Dale Jarrett at times would mention the mystery drivers whom ESPN decided were not important enough to talk about, but other than that it was very poor coverage of a complete Nascar race.

Anonymous said...

Someone should go to jail for allowing Hammond and McReynolds to be on air that much . They are terrible . Unwatchable . They only keep repeating the obvious and the already well known , and they do it over and over . Jarrett and Petree have really become great race analysts this season . And thats good because they have to completely carry the broadcasts . Jerry Punch has become a very sad portrait of what the NASCAR telecasts have been reduced to . What on earth was the " all Gordon , all the time " theme of this show ! When Jeff Gordon began to drop back and eventually fall out of the race , you could hear Punch sobbing gently in the background during the quiet moments , along with the Producer and Director .
Broadcast ethics don't seem to play a part in the ESPN coverage of NASCAR . They should at least pretend to want to cover all of the participants . The truth is they are happy with what they do . They have very actively promoted one or two drivers and teams over the years ( though they are being far more obvious about it this season ) and they really don't care what the fans have to say about it . They feel that they are producing excellent shows , so this is the best we're gonna get .

Unknown said...

I am so happy to find that there are many others who feel that ESPN's coverage is terrible! Punch is a nice guy, but Bestwick needs to be in the booth. I feel so powerless.

Anonymous said...

I got home from a 3 day motorcycle rally in the mountains and I was so tired, I sat down and watched the entire race without the benefit of computer, TV, Radio or newspaper information regarding NA$CAR. With no idea as to the story line or anything else, I was very disappointed when I watched the race with no distractions. The commentary was disjointed, didn't match the screen and came from every direction. It felt like I was reading a book where the pages were sticking together or I was watching TV while someone was changing the channel.

I don't know how a new race fan or a casual fan could have watched the race and have any idea as to what was going on.

Coverage such as this could well drive away both the dedicated fan and the new fans. The dedicated fans will leave because of the scripted storyline and the concentrated coverage of only the selected "stars". The casual or new fan will leave because they will be unable to follow the race and have any idea of what is going on. It is like trying to watch Australian rules football.

chase said...

So many of us have said it before and have to say it again: Punch has got to go if ESPN is going to salvage anything of their part of this season. Pit reporting is dismal at best, not interviewing or recapping with Ambrose, Blaney, et al is inexcusable. They've got to cut the length of the pre-race broadcast and add at least a half hour at the end for post-race coverage. Fans need to know what just happened - the Blaney incident not covered is NOT AT OPTION, no matter if its one of the Chase drivers or not! Bestwick in the booth with DJ and Andy, rid yourself of Rusty Whiner and Brad (the latter is only a cheerleader)- and ESPN will be good to go. Where is Eli Gold? The Chase, when initially 'introduced', is bogus and the rallying surrounding the drivers eligible for the Chase is trying at best. ESPN must remember there are 43 drivers on the track - not just 10. It is quite obvious the powers-that-be at ESPN DO NOT WATCH THEIR OWN CONTENT - if they did, changes would have been made after their 2nd broadcast of their season. They have a jewel in Bestwick - why not use that jewel and save face? If ESPN chooses to do nothing to alter the booths, then it's their fault and shame on them. NASCAR had better wake up and smell the lousy broadcasts done by ESPN and demand changes NOW! Thanks John and everyone who has posted!

chase said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
E-Ticket said...

I was trying to watch the race then decided it was too boring. So I started playing Madden 09 and watching the race on Picture in a Pictures. No sound just the race in small screen and Madden on the other. I also have DirecTV hotpass which was a joke because it is always Burton Harvick Johnson and Eanrhardt. For about 10 minutes I thought I changed the Channel to the Earnhardt Channel. I paused the game and sure enough they just kept watching him alone. Nothing else just him. There was noone else in the race passing or anything. They could have followed up top 35 drivers in or out and it didn't work that way they lost it. I took the PIP off and went back to Madden til 20 laps to go.. Football season is coming and I will seriously watch less NASCAR and I am going to cancel my hotpass for next year. I would love to see some variety for the drivers but that will never happen.

JD do the teams "BUY" the channels each week?? It seems awful strange only a certain few are in and out on the hotpass...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:05AM,

When you get a chance, would you drop me a line at please?

Thank you,


Anonymous said...

On another subject, I am surprised the NASCAR contract does not specify that the races will be called by their sponsor names on the air.

Those companies are paying an awful lot of money just to have ESPN drop their names off the title when they air the race.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

I just read your article about the MIS race. I have been a season ticket holder for 24years at MIS. I think unless you were their & listened to the scanner boardcast as I was, then you would understand more why the coverage sucks. Bottom line is whoever is in the broadcast trailer calling the shots to the broadcasters is the one that's responsible for what they say & do during the telecast. I can't tell you how many times how that person was constantly telling them what to say, do or not do. He stepped all over the guys while they were trying to talk during the telecast (the worst I have ever heard). If a pitroad reporter said they were going to the garage to find out about the 21 car or 22 car, he would say no, stay where your at or go somewhere else & do this. During commerical breaks no plans were discussed on what they ( the broadcasters) wanted to cover or how to set things up, they only listened to what they were told to do or who they were going to next. If you ask me ESPN has the wrong person calling the shots in the trailer & needs to let the experienced people do what they know best & learn from them.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Any real race fan knows that focusing only on the top-12 unless someone wrecks is not the right way to cover a race.

Unlike other sports with playoffs, the rest of the field doesn't go away during the playoff races, which is a major difference.

Newracefan said...

Anon 1052 We care who finishes tenth. A tenth place finish could be the best one of the year for some teams, a tenth place finish could lock someone in the chase or even out of it. In horse racing the points don't go from race to race in Nascar they do.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Thank you for contacting me by email. I look forward to you including your views of the Sprint Cup coverage from MIS.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:19PM,

Please find another NASCAR blog on which to post your views. Your tone if offensive and that is not tolerated here.



Anonymous said...

What's weird is that the answer to a big chunk of these problems is sitting right in ESPN's face:

Move AB into the booth for PxP and move Doc to the host duty. Both of them will be doing the duty that they are best at. It's an easy thing to do and it would make such a huge difference.

I'm sure some ESPN middle management wonk is the one keeping it from happening.

Other than that, I agree with the common threads here. Too much focus on too few drivers, no interviews with people who crashed out if they weren't #24 or 9, no focus on good racing or stories back int he pack, and so on.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

The rules for posting are very simple and are located on the right side of the main page.

If there are questions about these rules, please just drop me a line at please.

There are over a thousand posts on this blog and well over ten thousand comments. We must be doing something right.


Anonymous said...

I was not offensive once during my posts today. I offered another point of view that was different than yours JD and you simply took it off.

One thing that makes many blogs succesful and enjoyable is the opportunity for varying opinions from different walks of life. Apparently, this site is not the place.

i have started a new blog for people to share all beliefs.

It is:

Daly Planet Editor said...

No, your opinion is that you were not offensive. My opinion is that you were.

I wish you good luck on your site and hope you continue to be a fan of NASCAR.

Simply by taking a moment to review the comments on this post and many others you would find the diversity of opinion that is found among NASCAR fans.

Again, good luck with your efforts.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:28PM,

All you have to do is drop me an email and I will be happy to answer any questions you may have.

This thread is for the Sprint Cup Series race at MIS.

The address is and I appreciate your interest.


Anonymous said...

At the end of the race Punch said there had been no pitroad penalties in the entire race. If he had checked in with the pit reporters often enough, he might have known that there were actually 5 pitroad penalties.

BToS JD said...

NASCAR/ESPN - Not a marriage made in heaven.

ESPN has great technical skills and produces images second to none, but Dr. Jerry Punch doesn't really do it for me with his announcing of the race and ESPN's coverage of the race focuses on the 'Stars'; drivers that are personalities. Unfortunately, that generates a boring 3 hours of TV for real NASCAR fans; fans that understand racing and would like to know how things are going behind the top 5 cars. How boring is it to watch the leader circle a 2-mile track, alone, for 5 laps while Dr. Jerry Punch tells us about him as they lead into a commercial...

Each NASCAR fan has a favorite driver/team. If your team isn't near the front, you better be watching the position crawl across the top of the screen, 'cause you'll never find out how they're performing via images and announcing. ESPN displayed the same terrible approach to broadcasting NASCAR races last season, and it just doesn't work for me. How hard is it to take time to 'go thru the field' a few times a race and show where folks are running, or if nothing else linger on a long shot of the front stretch for a minute or so and we can see all the cars come by; and maybe I can identify 'my guy'!

Next Saturday is the Bristol night's a half-mile track with about 160k fans in the stands. With a track that small, I'll actually get to see 'my guy' even if he's running back in the pack. So even ESPN can't miss getting an exciting show on the TV from Bristol!!!

Another JD

Anonymous said...

At the end of the race Punch said there had been no pitroad penalties in the entire race. If he had checked in with the pit reporters often enough, he might have known that there were actually 5 pitroad penalties.

Apparently, if ESPN does not report something, it didn't happen.

During Saturday's NNS race, we were in the middle of being told about the 29 car being black flagged when suddenly, there was a wreck, and we never did hear the reason the 29 was in trouble.

GinaV24 said...

What a shame that this is the sort of coverage NASCAR gets from ESPN. After last year, I was completely prepared to not watch TNT or ESPN's coverage this year. TNT improved and with AB in the booth, I was willing to give ESPN the benefit of the doubt and try again. Well, that ended on Sunday for me. The coverage at WG was bad, at MIS, it was "business as usual" for ESPN, which means it is unwatchable for me as a race fan. I can follow along much better with MRN on the radio and trackpass on my computer and not feel like yelling at the TV set because they aren't telling me the info I need to know or I'm seeing one car on the screen when I know there is racing in the pack. The lack of followup for drivers who have fallen out of the race is just terrible -- as someone else said -- all drivers have fans. It's just wrong to not hear anything about them. No through the field, the race ticker that updates at some random timing, the PXP announcer who ISN'T looking at the track. Good grief, this is terrible and well, let's not bother with post race except as an afterthought when there is such overkill for the prerace. I just don't get it and neither does ESPN. JD, I love your column and the picture at the top is priceless.

tom in dayton said...

To Anon at 12:28pm today:
Becca Gladden wrote an excellent article on Mr. Daly on Sept. 13, 2007, at Insider Racing News. You can find the link on the right side of the main page.
I commend the article to your attention.
JD: hope you and yours get through Faye safely.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks tom, everything is wet but fine. Friends over on the West Coast of the state are going to have a rough Tuesday.


Anonymous said...

anonymous said...
"At the end of the race Punch said there had been no pitroad penalties in the entire race. If he had checked in with the pit reporters often enough, he might have known that there were actually 5 pitroad penalties."

huh. there's something i flat-out didn't know yesterday during the race. why? because i have to rely on the announcers to tell me about it and they failed to do so.

and here i was, being impressed at how clean the pit work was yesterday. shoulda known better . . .

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

ESPN refuses to believe that we the fans (who buy the sponsors products) are watching because we like RACING...ALL of it, not just the chosen few (of which 2 are my favs).

I suggest that in other sports when a team is mathematically eliminated from being in the playoffs, they stop covering those teams. No radio. No TV. If one of the teams in contention is playing one of the "unwashed" teams, then they only call the plays for the potential playoff team.

Silly? Of course. But this is exactly what ESPN does when covering races.

Three points in case (so many more too numerous to mention) that emphasizes this.

1) I was shocked when I went to Jayski's for the top 35 and found Riggs had raced his way in and Dinger was out. The 84 had been such a big story because of coming from so many points behind to get in the top 35. And Riggs is probably out of a job at Stewart/Haas, but just put the car in the top 35.

2) Another big story was Skinner in the 00. MWR is struggling and is it McDowell or is the car/team is a big question. While one race doesn't answer the question yet, the story needed mentioning.

3) Michael Waltrip's top 20 was also an important story. NAPA only signed up for an additional year, 2009, with a performance clause. That is big pressure and a big story. Just a mention would have been nice.

Again, only 3 of many.

If I were a sponsor I would be leery of signing with any team not in the "chosen" category. The sad thing is maybe I can't afford it, but why should I put my money on a "lesser" team, when no matter what they do, they get no air time.

I could give ESPN a pass if every minute of the race had relevant comments/pictures. But, instead we get the obvious and unimportant comments, shots, stories. There is definitely more than enough time to cover the entire field as various points.

Don't they have a "cheat sheet" in the booth. These are the stories we covered during NN, Countdown, so we make sure we follow up in the race. Cross them off when done and then make sure they all got touched on!!

We always DVR and then start watching around dinner time. Yesterday, we just zipped through it in the early afternoon (remember West Coast). It has become so frustrating we don't really look forward to the race anymore. We still will follow it, of course. We are very big race fans (husband still races vintage race speed, we travel to Daytona, Indy). But will be watching less when ESPN/ABC is covering.

majorshouse said...

I am just happy that I was out of the house and had to listen to the race on MRN. I ejoy the excitement that they continue to bring to the listeners and try their best to describe the entire race and not just the leaders or the ones making the chase as well.

stricklinfan82 said...

Anonymous said...
I just read your article about the MIS race. I have been a season ticket holder for 24years at MIS. I think unless you were their & listened to the scanner boardcast as I was, then you would understand more why the coverage sucks. Bottom line is whoever is in the broadcast trailer calling the shots to the broadcasters is the one that's responsible for what they say & do during the telecast. I can't tell you how many times how that person was constantly telling them what to say, do or not do. He stepped all over the guys while they were trying to talk during the telecast (the worst I have ever heard). If a pitroad reporter said they were going to the garage to find out about the 21 car or 22 car, he would say no, stay where your at or go somewhere else & do this. During commerical breaks no plans were discussed on what they ( the broadcasters) wanted to cover or how to set things up, they only listened to what they were told to do or who they were going to next. If you ask me ESPN has the wrong person calling the shots in the trailer & needs to let the experienced people do what they know best & learn from them.

August 18, 2008 10:49 AM


Thanks for the great insights into how the ESPN production truck sounded on the scanner. Watching on TV I could notice some instances of the production truck ignoring the booth and promoting their own agendas. Andy brought up A.J. Allmendinger getting into the top 35 and the difference Jimmy Elledge has made to that team and he and DJ went back and forth praising that team. The director never put A.J. on camera though and the conversation was suddenly put to an ubrupt end, as if a voice in their ears told them to "move on". DJ also brought up the good run by Michael Waltrip later and the new generation cars MWR just built. Again, the director never put Michael on camera and the conversation was put to an abrupt halt. Every week there are also several instances where Dr. Punch teases going to a commercial "We'll update you on what happened to the ___ car when we come back." and then after the break there is never a follow up.

When you combine that with the cameras completely ignoring the on-track racing during the race, the screen being filled with video packages, stat displays, and the faces of studio guests during qualifying and practice sessions, and the strange things like the Busch, Petty, Phelps, Spitz display that had no quantifiable comparison, the stats about the distances around the Earth's equator and one foot above it, and David Ragan being completely left out of every Chase standings graphic that ran on Sunday it has become very clear that there are major issues with the ESPN production truck. I don't know if it's one producer or director, a combination of several of those individuals, or one or more "suits" mandating their actions, but something is very wrong in that truck and a major overhaul needs to be done right now. This isn't one of those changes that can wait until the offseason. The Chase is right around the corner, NASCAR is about to return to over-the-air TV, and the NFL season (NASCAR's biggest competition for sports TV ratings) is about to begin. This is the biggest and most important part of the NASCAR season and the TV network covering it needs to be at its very best right now.

The individual(s) at fault needs to be identified by the powers-that-be at ESPN and changes need to be made sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...

JD you hit it dead on. I'm done with ESPN like the most of you guys. I will definitely stick with my Sirius radio only. Heck, I'd rather listen to Dave Moody describe how paint dries then hear Jerry Punch's long, drawn out, dramatic voice about how "The Chase" is shaping up every 15 seconds. Give us a break ESPN. And the post-race coverage is absolute garbage, victory lane is shown and then the credits roll. Only to be followed by ESPN deciding to give Rusty and Brad each 5 seconds and force Bestwick to save the show. Please FOX take the whole year, or at least ESPN's slot after TNT. These jabroni's at ESPN can't come close to Larry Mac, Hammond, DW, or Mike Joy.

Sophia said...

The thing for me is, I am leery of turning on the hour N Now today...if it's all bubble boys and Chase talk, I will be watching ANYTHING else.

ESPN has not only taken a big stumble, but fallen down a flight of stairs within the last couple of weeks.

It's like a different producer came in to ALIENATE real fans. Makes no sense.

Then again, I have a friend that loves football, and loathes MNF due to ESPeeN's coverage but claims since FOX got into sports, all the sports games are ruined. Yet like he said, if you want to watch the games--you have no choice but to sit thru cross promotion and bad announcers...even my 88 year old mother comments about this...even golf announcing is bad.. So, I dunno.

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ August 18, 2008 10:49 AM

Thanks for the insight. That explains a few things.

So ESPN wish list is:
1. Producer / Director who is a race fan and knows how to produce a race telecast.
2. Punch and Bestwick to swap.
3. How about ESPN try the Fox formula of Punch and Brewer in the Infield studio. Or just get in Larry Mac.
4. Replace Spake and Little with Yocum and Czarniak (or Voda or Sheheen or Snider or Berggren ... or Punch). Enough to choose from?
5. 43 cars. Not 12.
6. Restrict the mentions of "The Chase" to 6 times per telecast.
7. Fill the slot. Do not leave without a decent post-race.
8. Punch and Bestwick to swap.

After the excellent job ESPN have done with Nascar Now (thanks to Allen, Nicole and Ryan), who knew they would repeatedly mess up the telecasts.

JD - are they reading us? are they hearing us? or are we jut spinning our Goodyears.

Anonymous said...

I am 100% prepared to believe that the problems with coverage eminate from the TRUCK, but if that IS the screw up then it behooves EVERY announcer and pit reporter to REVOLT before all of them loose their reputations.

Anonymous said...

If a pitroad reporter said they were going to the garage to find out about the 21 car or 22 car, he would say no, stay where your at or go somewhere else & do this.

That's very interesting. I took a look at the pit stall selection from Michigan. A few weeks ago, the pit reporters showed how the assignments were made. There are 5 distinct sections on pit road. The first section (10 stalls) had 5 Chase contenders. The 2nd section (8 stalls) had 2 Chase conetenders. The 3rd thru 5th sections (25 stalls) had the other 7 Chase contenders and 6 of the teams that are vying for the top 35. Of course sitting in pit stall 26 was Kyle Busch. The 21 and 22 (stalls 30 and 28, respectively) may have been devalued based on pit reporter assignments.

Shame on the truck for not letting the reporters do their jobs. Good to know that the reporters tried to do their jobs.

Anonymous said...

All of this can be blamed on the institution of The Chase. Back in the day, each race was its own EVENT. Now they are just one in a series, with the sameness amplified now that NASCAR has dictated (most of the time due to $$) that they won't let TV promote the race by using the actual name of the race.

When every race had its own identity, all 43 drivers were important EVERY RACE. Back when 20 cars would fall out of a race, it was acceptable to not interview some of the back-markers. But now, when you sometimes have only 1 or 2 drop out, there is NO EXCUSE to not interview a retiring driver.

We remember the non-chase years when the cup was clinched well before the end. One year ESPN dealt with this at Atlanta by showing us how the production truck works. What sweet irony this would be if they had to resort to this in '08 if/when Kyle enters Homestead with a 300-point lead. That's my secret hope, not because I'm an 18 fan, but because I'm a chase-hater.

ESPN had so many problems on Sunday, and the biggest in my mind (after ignoring the 22's hard hit) was finding the wrong replay of the 20/48/18 incident and not cutting right away live to the slowing 48 on the track.

I didn't know they signed off 7 minutes early until I read this blog. I'll always watch the races, but I'm leaning more and more to taping them because I have better things to do with my weekend days.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Of course I meant the 20/24/48 (and almost-41) incident; sorry.

I don't understand why they make it so hard for the booth anmnouncers that at least two of them aren't able to watch THE TRACK.

Sophia said...

Well, I shall not be watching anymore NN Monday shows..AB can NOT say three sentences without saying "Bubble boy".


I hope to God TWIN mentions Blaney's hard hit?!

Unknown said...

ESPN covered part of the problem that Jeff Gordon had yesterday, the bad pit stops that led to his being back in the pack and getting damage that put him 63+ laps down.

Part of what they covered was his scanner comment about that being a "sorry pit stop", but they didn't cover the scanner traffic on the stop that put him back in the back (the next one). Letarte appoligized profusly to JG and then said "Everyone behind the wall, NOW!".

If they really wanted to continue the story after they interviewed him they would have heard how upset Letarte was, how he didn't want to bother fixing the car, how JG had left the garage.

And, when they finally did get him back out on the track, 63 laps down and the caution came out, instead of them doing a leasurily stop, Letart told the pits to do the stop as if they were still in the race and when done for JG to stay in the pits. Why would they do this? They didn't have a camera on the pits but I would not be suprised if:

1) Rick Hendrick was up on the box watching
2) Peoples jobs were on the line
3) They were testing other crew members.

Since JG is the winningest driver with the most championships currently racing, with the 2nd largest fan base, I would think this would have been a story they would have covered considering the race at that time was "slow".

This sort of background story is what makes Nascar interesting, not the top 5 doing circles.

ESPN has to realize we want the whole package, not just cars going in circles.

If that was all we wanted to see we would just put law chairs next to the freeway every Sunday afternoon and watch the cars go by.


KoHoSo said...

bowlalpo made EXCELLENT points! I feared this same thing when the "chase" came about -- that only those in the running for it would get any attention and that it would basically ruin the overall feel of the latter part of the season. ESPN has totally fallen for it instead of remembering the great racing coverage roots. After all, don't most of us here remember how Ken Schrader's great top 10 finish at Richmond last year got totally ignored? ESPN was so pathetic at Michigan that, for the first time in my life, I'm not looking forward to a race at Bristol. >:-(

BTW, I watched Michigan live and not off of my DVR. I probably won't make that mistake again this week.

Anonymous said...

They also missed an incident on Pit Row when Sorenson hit another car as he was coming into the pits and the other car was leaving. Absolutely NO mention of this incident. You can bet the farm that if this were Fox, the Pit Road incident would not have been missed. We were at the race and I only realized they missed this after watching my Tivo of the race. Coverage like this really stinks.

Newracefan said...

BillH WOW I had no clue this was going on with JG, I'm sure Fox and possibly TNT would have been all over that story. I was wondering why it took so long for Jeff to get back on the track I didn't think the damage looked that bad but then they never really told us what they were trying to fix in the garage.

Anonymous said...

Anon August 18, 2008 6:26 PM

Just so happens that the missed incident on pit road was Sorensen going into his pit when Blaney was coming out. That's what got the 22 in the position he was on the track. Before that, he was running 21st.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments my friends and I have a lot of email from TV folks and NASCAR teams who also appreciate you guys taking the time to voice your concerns as fans.

Trust me, you are teaching some folks who were in the race what was going on with the race on TV.


Anonymous said...

Well, I shall not be watching anymore NN Monday shows..AB can NOT say three sentences without saying "Bubble boy".


I hope to God TWIN mentions Blaney's hard hit?!

Sophia. You seem easily irritated by simple things. Take a chill. You never seem happy about anything.

Daly Planet Editor said...

We switched her to decaf a while back, maybe she is hitting the Folgers again!

Anonymous said...

ESPN has to realize we want the whole package, not just cars going in circles.

If that was all we wanted to see we would just put lawn chairs next to the freeway every Sunday afternoon and watch the cars go by.

And we have a winner!

I don't know who the EP of this coverage is, but it clearly isn't someone who knows racing.

alex said...

It would be hilarious if one of the guys on TWIN said something to the effect of, "I'm glad I was in the race, so I didn't have to watch it on ESPN".

Newracefan said...

I'm glad to see the teams may get involved, perhaps there unwillingness to talk to ESPN and talk a lot to everyone else might help or better yet get those sponsors involved.

Anonymous said...

As I and others have said before, would it be so hard to mention when anyone makes an unscheduled stop, who the Lucky Dog is on a caution, and when a driver either goes to or returns from the garage?

On another note, I was listening to Tim Brewer's explanation about weight shifting when the fuel burns off, and I commented to my son that he really didn't seem to know what he was talking about. The block of metal didn't make much sense, and the car doesn't acutally get heavier in front - the weight distribution shifts. I was stunned when the Dr. actually corrected him after the piece.

Anonymous said...

From one of your responses, JD:

'Trust me, you are teaching some folks who were in the race what was going on with the race on TV.'

This is sad. Sad that the guys involved with the race at the track don't even know what's happening due to the pitiful coverage. Sad that they have to utilize various sources to get their information. Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they DO have fans out here who are able to post information for them but geez, c'mon ESPN. Enough, already.

ESPN just doesn't give a rats a**. They don't care enough to educate themselves about the sport-about the teams, the fans and the technical aspects. If they did care, we wouldn't have those 'reporters' asking the same questions every weekend. I have yet to hear Spake, Little and the others ask more than their usual two or three questions during an interview. The technical explanations would be correct instead of having to be corrected by someone in the booth, too.

ESPN is only interested in trying to stir up cr@p and create controversy. Oh, yeah, and 'Bubble Boys' are the only other important item on their list.

As I always say, if it weren't for TrackPass, I wouldn't survive the season because I sure as heck can't stomach E$PN's coverage, if you can all it that. ESPN is nothing but a big joke but the really cr@ppy thing is that they are the ones laughing all the way to the bank. The commercials are paid for so why do they need to bother giving the fans what they want?

Anonymous said...

I read this blog religiously last season, most of what I read I agreed with, and enjoyed immensely.
But when it came to ESPN’s coverage, I noticed that for whatever reason, the writer of this blog didn't like Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth. It was mentioned in posts about the job he’d done during the Busch Series Coverage before ESPN took over Cup coverage. Once they did that at Indy, the complaints only got worse, and IMO increased as the season came to an end.

IMO, Dr. Jerry was the least of ESPN’s problems during their Cup coverage last season. If Dr. Punch seemed to be worn out by the end of the season (How many races did Dr Jerry call last season?), think of having to sit next to Rusty all season long, HOLY CRIPES that would wear anyone out. As far as there being any problems in the booth for ESPN’s coverage last year, well its pretty obvious who the problem was since he’s not around in the booth any longer.
Anyway, back to my point, for whatever reason, I don’t think your mind will ever be changed on Dr. Jerry in the booth JD, you continue to jab & snipe at him in most posts (I can’t vouch for the past say 3 months, I only pop in once every couple weeks these days) regarding ESPN’s coverage where the booth is concerned. And of course, the folks that agree with you pile on, and it starts to get negative and repetitive and I start yawning then moving on and not showing up to read much any longer.
I’ve pretty much disagreed with your many critiques of the job Dr. Jerry did in the booth last season and this season, I enjoyed him when he used to call Truck & Busch races back in the ‘old’ ESPN days, I enjoyed him last year, and I enjoy the job he does now. I tried last year to read your complaints, and then watch for them, and started to get the feeling we were listening to 2 different Dr. Jerry’s, or maybe it was just, that the writer was never (sorry to be repetitive) going to like Dr. Jerry no matter what Punch did to ‘sound more exciting’ when you’d like him to. I see you reply to most who call you out on this. Like them, I think we’re just calling it as we see it. It was noticeable enough that I stopped reading here on a daily basis. I’m not surprised that it continues.
I enjoyed this blog last season and think it was very responsible for the major changes we’ve seen in TNT and ESPN’s coverage this season. So cheers for that. I just think you should cut Dr Jerry a break, he’s doing more lead-booth work than any other cat in racing on TV today. I personally think he’s getting better all the time and does and has done a damn fine job, the history of the sport that man holds in his head dwarf’s many of us long time fans. I know you enjoy AB in the booth and would like to see him there on ESPN, but AB bored me big time at NBC in the booth, I know he broke his leg playing hockey, and was temporarily replaced, but that wasn’t the reason he never returned to the booth. I enjoy what he’s doing now much more than the work he did in the booth. I’d be bummed if he replaced Doc up there and would probably head to radio coverage forever I believe.
This is just my critique and opinion, that being said, I don’t think I’m alone. Now if Bob Jenkins were to come back........hmmmmm......

Daly Planet Editor said...


Thanks for your opinion. What you missed was my constant praise for Punch as a top reporter and anchor in any type of NASCAR TV program or series. The Ultimate NASCAR programs that he hosted may have been some of the best NASCAR TV programs ever made.

If this person was in the booth and was not Jerry Punch with a long history in the sport, they would have been long gone with Rusty.

Fans need information and it is the role of the play-by-play guy to supply it whether it is on TV or radio. Punch cannot perform that simple duty.

He is a trained reporter who has been working in college football for years and was nowhere near NASCAR. The fact that ESPN put him as the PXP announcer was shocking to many.

The only reason Bestwick has been mentioned is because he is right there in the infield and has been involved in a swap of positions before.

Many fans have good memories of AB with the late Benny Parsons, working in NASCAR while Punch was patrolling the sidelines asking about injured players.

I have no relationship with Punch or Bestwick. Never seen either in over a decade. Just like you voiced your opinion, I voiced mine. If you took it as sniping that is your right.

I think over 100 comments from all kinds of people from all over the country do not exactly fit the description of "piling on."

Silence may be golden, but when it comes to NASCAR fans want the information and they want the focus of the telecast to be on the racing, not the network TV agenda.

Bristol may be the toughest test yet for this crew, and hopefully things go well for Punch and company for the rest of the season.

Totally agree on Bob Jenkins, he has been voicing the IRL support series for the last several years for ESPN2 and still sounds great.


Anonymous said...

I will add to my post and agree with what others have said with the following:

John has been keeping track of the car counts for each race and if the tv producers and announcers and the whole broadcast partners don't get it that ALL the drivers then the counts will not satisfy the tv contracts. What I meant is that if tv doesn't cover all the drivers then sponsors are not going to be willing to pony up the money that it takes to field a team. When that happens, you will have cars not showing up and it will be a field of less than 43.

I wonder what will happen if/when that happens. Will the tv cover the event or will they walk out? Will they fine Nascar for not getting 43 cars to show up? Will Nascar fine the tv broadcast partner if the cars don't show up because they didn't care to cover ALL the cars and drivers?

So many questions and probably no answers.

Again, thanks John for this blog. I love that we have a place to be able to share our pleasures and displeasures and that the tv folks are reading and hopefully listening.

Anonymous said...

He is a trained reporter who has been working in college football for years and was nowhere near NASCAR.

Yeah, back in the late 80’s he may have not been working NASCAR yet. But gimme a fricken break JD. I just went through the posts in this thread and counted no more than 15 people complaining about Punch. Out of 1,000 post (I'm going by your numbers, you mentioned 1,000 posts back up there a ways, of 15 at least half were anon. so who knows how many are of those are the same person) that’s not a huge percentage judging by those numbers.

Dr. Jerry was a personal friend of Dale Sr.'s. He's got a rich history in this sport, yes he'd done collage football, but he's been around this sport for 35+ years.

Again, I long ago realized that you're never going to like him in the booth, your reply to me was typical of your replies every time someone calls you out on your dislike of Punch in the booth, you post about how we've missed the good you wrote about him (far and few between, and mostly in reply to criticism, but no, I’ve not missed them I’ve seen them, they just don’t come often) heck, even the second person who posted in this thread has seen your bias.
They wrote; Why do you seem to be so hard on Jerry? Its like you have some sort a grudge against him. Cut him some slack dude.

Dot said...

@ Sophia,
I'm with you girlfriend. I did not DVR NN today and in fact I have erased it from the DVR for future taping. That's how done I am with ESPN.

Thanks for this forum for us fans to vent. I'd like to tell that butthead in the truck a thing or two, with my hands around his neck.

I'm glad DJ is in the booth. He of all people know what it's like not being mentioned during a race. Especially in the later years. How nice of him to try to mention the no namers and their invisible cars.

Anonymous said...

Can't wait for the NFL to start.

alex said...


From what I've been reading, no one here dislikes Dr. Punch personaly, but many here would prefer a PxP man with a different style.

Also I think your math may be a bit off. The 15 you brought up is in this thread, which has 115 posts. The 1000 topics are about a wide variety of television issues, and of the 10,000 comments on the blog, many of them across dozens of posts are about Dr. Punch's announcing issues.

Like I said, everyone here respects him as a reporter, but we think that as a play by play man, perhaps he isn't the best man for a job. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in different areas, that's all there is to it.

Billy Delyon said...

Everyone has strengths and weaknesses in different areas, that's all there is to it.

Couldn't have said it better myself, and when I read your words, I thought of your writing about Dr Punch and thought, yep, definite weakness....


(Back in to the ether)

Anonymous said...

oh and,

Thats all there is to it....


Daly Planet Editor said...


Just because you are an outstanding carpenter does not mean you will be an outstanding electrician. Sure, they both work in the same house and work side-by-side but they are two different skills.

My issue is the skill set, not the person. I don't know how many times I can say that.


motorhead said...

MIS can be a boring race and TV does not help but I was there and it was an excellent race. Many of the reasons have been mentioned but what I liked was all the racin' going on behind the leaders. When the 18 or the 99 got way out there the rest of the filed was really getting to it. Watching MW55 make up all that ground riding tight against the wall was a blast! the 3 and 4 wide into turn 3! All the lines the drivers were able to take etc. TV has been brutal for a while now, they treat every broadcast like it is the 1st race for everyone. THE CHASE angle is BS, show the whole race, follow up with the stories in the race, if it's single file up front watch the race I saw!

Anonymous said...

He is a trained reporter who has been working in college football for years and was nowhere near NASCAR.

My issue is the skill set, not the person. I don't know how many times I can say that.

Then don't use bullsh*t points like the first one to make your point. You know Dr Jerry Punch has been around this sport for longer than YOU or I. So enough with the "He was just a college football announcer".

You seem to get pretty snappy when you're called out. Another reason I pretty much no longer read here.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I did the first season of NASCAR on cable TV with ESPN and Jerry Punch. He was a pit reporter who was an Emergency Room doctor.

Got any more snappy questions?


Anonymous said...

He is a trained reporter who has been working in college football for years and was nowhere near NASCAR.

Sure JD,
Why then did you feel the need to use this talking point to rebut one of my questions?
It was false, and IMO it was just another 'jab-snipe' at Punch. These are not necessary to get your point across that Dr Punch doesn't get excited when you'd like him to.
I get it, you do not like and do not think Dr. (yep PHD) Jerry Punch has the 'skill set' to be the play by play man in the booth, you'd rather have AB in there. We disagree.

Sounds like it may be a tough job for any of them when you've got the producer screaming at em as the try to do their jobs, as one of your posters mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

"billy delyon said...
Dr. (yep PHD) Jerry Punch"

Wouldn't he have an MD, not a PhD?

Where I come from, the only useful PhD is a post hole digger.

Daly Planet Editor said...

If I knew what a talking point was I might even agree with you.