Monday, September 1, 2008

Pretty Pictures Can't Help ESPN With The Racing


The momentary excitement of several restarts worked to give TV viewers a small taste of the Sprint Cup Series actually racing in Fontana, CA. Even during these special moments, the ESPN broadcast booth was silent.

Sunday night, it had come down to the "COT fleet" to deliver the thrills of high-speed racing to the fans. ESPN was simply not going to help.

During the pre-race show, Allen Bestwick and company worked hard to present a diverse group of stories and had several discussions that involved all four of the race analysts. Give it to Bestwick, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. They delivered to the ESPN broadcast team a solid set-up for the race.

Once the transition "upstairs" was made, a familiar scenario occurred. Unlike last week at Bristol, the old ESPN was back. Analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were put in a tough position that they have come to know all too well.

These two have been stepping-in to describe accidents, restarts and even crew members having trouble in the pits. The reason is simple. No one else is doing it.

After producing the Nationwide Series race on Saturday night, the NASCAR on ESPN team knew full-well that Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race was going to need all the excitement possible from the announcers to keep viewers interested. Instead, the broadcast slowly ground-down to another low-key affair where the only thing exciting from Jerry Punch was reading the promos and "throwing" to commercial.

It was clear early-on that the pit reporters would be used extensively to update the progress of both the race leaders and The Chase participants. ESPN offered two comprehensive rundowns of the field during the 250 lap race. Each time, they stopped at the top 15.

This season, ESPN has offered a very complicated picture of how the Sprint Cup Series is being presented to the remaining fans. Looking at the ESPN on-air team there are all-stars, grizzled veterans and rookies. It's a good combination.

Fontana told the story of a TV team that has all the ability on paper, but cannot find a chemistry to make NASCAR racing exciting to the TV viewer. This has been the challenge for ESPN since they took over the coverage. Lack of excitement.

Before all the blame is put on the COT, remember the outburst from Bestwick in the Infield Pit Studio slightly after the halfway point in the race. Punch was once again droning-on about the dominance of Jimmie Johnson while the ESPN pictures showed Johnson endlessly lapping alone on the big track.

"Remember who won last week?" yelled the normally reserved Bestwick. The message he was trying to send to Punch was that the race is not over when one car is dominant. Punch had completely given-up calling the action and was just content to let Jarrett and Petree add any content to the program other than positions on the track.

By the halfway point of this race, any fan who had not left this telecast was multi-tasking. It was only by using DirecTV's Hot Pass, listening to the MRN radio broadcast, or using one of the online scoring services that viewers could truly get any kind of perspective on the race. It was sometimes as if ESPN just did not care.

The network focused once again on the top five or ten cars and never even acknowledged that the rest of the field existed. The triple splits on the caution flag pitstops were great. The new driver "soundbite" effect that keeps the race in the background was fine. The graphics were great and the audio was crystal clear.

What was not fine was the commentary. Yes, this was not Richmond or Darlington. Yes, the track is going to string-out the field. Yes, this race is going to take a lot of work to make it exciting. Yes, there will be long green flag runs.

All of this was known well in advance and ESPN could not answer the bell. Last year at this time, we speculated that this ESPN crew was tired having done the Nationwide Series races since February. Last year at this time, we wondered what was wrong with Jerry Punch. Last year at this time, we wondered why ESPN only covered the leaders and the stars of the sport.

This season, fans are simply getting more of the same. Here is a final example. With 28 laps to go, an exciting restart let over forty cars loose to run to the finish.

This was the entire commentary of the play-by-play announcer.

"28 laps to go on a two mile oval here in Southern California...Fontana," said Punch.

After five seconds of complete silence, Jarrett jumped-in and started to call the action on the track. As he knows all too well from his first season in the booth for ESPN, if he does not do it...no one will.

Something has to change before ESPN heads into Richmond and transitions over to the ABC Television Network. Fans are not going to stick around when college and pro football is underway to watch this low-key and almost numbing TV commentary of Sprint Cup races. What a shame for all involved.

Please tell us what you thought of the ESPN broadcast of the Sprint Cup Series from Fontana. To add your comment, just 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 and leave your TV-related opinion.

104 comments:

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I was pleased with the ESPN post-race coverage. Then I tuned into ESPN2 and was pleasently surprised to see NASCAR Now on the air.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:20AM,

If you are confused, then drop me an email. Not one thing in your comment talked about my column or your perspective on the race.

This is an opinion column to which you are asked to respond. That is the format of this blog which has been published daily since Feb. of 2007.

If you feel differently, this is the place to state your case. I would invite you to do so.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

They really scored a homerun with the Sunday night edition of NASCAR Now. I wonder if we will see it for the entire season next year rather than just for the ESPN races?

Anonymous said...

You mentioned jerry punch in your article....I mentioned Jerry Punch in my comment. I said I agreed with you that Jerry needs work on his PXP, but you need to lay off.

How does none of that have to do with your article? Or the ones of the past five weeks?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon,

You simply cannot grasp the format. If you want to email me, please do so like many folks do all the time.

If you want to comment on my column, please do so in the comments section.

Agree or disagree please, but post your own thoughts.

JD

Tom said...

That race was boring - when are they going to stop with the double file restarts - causes the leaders to get spread out among the lappers.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Tom,

Between NASCAR and the TV networks, they are going to have to solve the problems of this track before 2009.

kang said...

After the race JP said Vickers is still mathematically alive, but needs help from a few drivers.Well the help Vickers would need involves this.Bowyer and Ragan need to not show up for the next race.

Anonymous said...

Tom. Double-file restarts have been in NASCAR for years and years. Thats not really what made the leaders spread out, its thee design of the track and the COT. Mostly the track itself since even with the old cars the racing was boring. One savng grace is this was the last labor day race at California. Somehow they got lucky and earned a chase race which may make the racing at California a tad more less boring.

As for the broadcast. I enjoyed the field run-downs and the updates they gave in drivers. I also enjoyed the post-race coverage both on ESPN/ESPN2.

I did not enjoy the covering of a single car while ther was racing on the track. I did see some good improvements to tonights broadcast and I was fairly pleased. The only big complaints I have was covering a single car racing when here is better action back in the pack.

Sophia said...

JD

This comment from your column is one I disagree with:

It was sometimes as if ESPN just did not care.

I OFTEN feel ESPN does not care.

Even more so, NASCAR does not care.

IF ONLY NASCAR's power that be would WATCH A RACE ON ESPN ONLY!!!!!!!

But instead they are laughing all the way to the bank as they buy their 10 million dollar condo's in NYC.

ESPN holds FANS and FORMER LOVERS of NASCAR Hostage as they push their agenda/over saturated graphics/ubiquitous ticker/SC updates, etc, ad infinitum at us.

I say former lover of the sport as I have skipped a few races this seasson. I TOTALLY was focused on digital editing last week during Saturdays' race and out on Friday's race (never even taped it)

Did not watch last nights race but a few minutes..and tonight, your blog was more entertaining...and sadly it was more interesting to watch the weather report on CNN or the weather channel.

Punch is horrible in this position but a great man.

Sadly, even if you brought in allen B...i do not think he could save this trainwreck.

Even sadder, he "POSSIBLY" could help to keep us awake with his manner of speaking.

But there are so many things working AGAINST THE FANS and what they used to love about the sport.

What Ed Hinton said on ESPN about NASCAR killing this sport is so true. Among the other things.

While not the final straw, the one thing that really hacked me off this week is the change in the rules for the SHOOTOUT.

I have an idea: Call NASCAR "IROCNASCAR".

It's getting harder to defend why I watch this sport. Because I can not defend why I waste my time.

Had it not been for this blog, I woulda been watching tv with the room mate or something else on tv.

Sophia said...

p.s. I was watching SPEED REPORT, Wind tunnel and doing things outside, and making a cake while posting mainly on this blog to "watch" the race.

I saw the gorgeous sunset but honestly, JD, I did not see 99 per cent of the laps. This blog was more entertaining.

Thanks again for a place to try and keep our sanity amidst our frustration.

Dot said...

I think JP is suffering from the Peter Principle.

Couldn't ESPN try just once to put him in the pits or with Rusty and Brad? I really do like JP and don't like to bag on him (but I do, out of frustration). Racing cannot be scripted.

Is ESPN that arrogant that they can't admit they made a mistake by having him do pxp? I think they suffer from the same arrogance that NASCAR does. Fontana race (2 times a year) and the COT rules comes to mind.

I think the 550 comments made during the race says alot of what we TV viewers are talking about. As much fun as your column is JD, there shouldn't be that many multi taskers. We should be actually watching the race. I learned more from the commenters who have other means of watching/listening to the race than I did from watching ESPN.

JP did have his moments (trap door on the track), but even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I presume Jerry's getting the PXP spot is a reward for his loyalty and long service, which I find surprising for ESPN in a way. I wonder whether he would view assignment back to the pits as a demotion and, at his age, I wonder whether he is physically up to what I perceive the physical requirements of being a pit reporter are or should be. It sure would seem to me that Jerry would be perfect for pre- and post- race, and especially for a Charlotte based commentator and studio host, in particular once the Hall of Fame is open.

Illpolo said...

For Labor Day weekend, I would have loved to stay at my parents to take in the race with them. Instead, since simply watching the race on TV doesn't come anywhere close to showing what is happening on the track with 43 drivers, we make it a point to leave their house an hour before race time so we can get home in time to see the green flag and multitask in order to follow the race.

Without MRN and FoxTrax I would be lost watching only the race. I'm a Jimmie Johnson fan, but I also enjoy watching the entire scope of the race, so it's terribly disappointing to see drivers like Carpentier have a solid race and barely get mentioned once (was he?) during the broadcast.

I feel bad for those whose only way of watching the race is via ESPN. Their "pictures" or "sound" might be great, but their overall coverage gets a solid D from this viewer.

Working my schedule around avoiding ESPN to follow races can't be a good thing for them to hear.

haus20 said...

Well I watched about the first 50 laps on tv and then had to head over to the in-laws house about 2 hours away. My wife and I caught the rest of the race on the radio. As soon as I turned on the radio, my wife immediately noticed the difference in excitement. We enjoyed the race.

Anonymous said...

I do have to admit if I worked for ESPN and could do my comfortable job as a pit reporter or go out of my comfort zone to do PxP, I would probably choose the PxP just so I didn't have to wear the stupid fire suits like Little, Spake and Massaro.

Gymmie said...

@dot--I hadn't heard of the Peter Principle before...but now that I have looked it up, I agree.

I ended up going to lay down and fell asleep...as I've mentioned before, with FOX/TNT if I fell asleep I'd often be "jolted" awake by the booth letting me know a caution had come out...not once tonight :(. I woke up a few times but it was on my own. The other networks, regardless of where you were, as long as you could hear the TV you'd come running to see what happened. With Dr. J, the track could literally be on fire and he'd still deliver it as if he were talking about the weather :(.

I echo Sophia's comments...it would be nice if NA4CAR would open their emails to us fans. Yes I know there's a "contact NA$CAR" email addy, but one that someone will read and take our comments seriously. We should use TrackPass/RaceView, MRN, FoxTrack, HotPass, etc. to *supplement* the coverage not to replace it.

I've had TP up and it tells me there's a caution and I look at the TV and they're yammering on about some nonsense and half an eternity later they *finally* acknowledge the fact there's a caution.

With FOX, they'll let us know pretty much immediately and will interrupt politely or if they're speaking will tell us "Caution" And often will say, "for the last X laps I knew that was coming...I could see him getting squirrelly or he was really fighting that handling or they had been arguing over space since lap X or whathaveya."

ESPN: *crickets*

If they want to keep us loyal fans they need to meet our needs. TV should tell us the story ALL stories and not just the chosen few. Someone shouldn't have to get in an accident with a "name" to have his name mentioned. We shouldn't notice on the ticker that Driver X is out of race and have no update until an hour later (i.e.--Elliott tonight) if at all (the other "no name" drivers).

Eventually we're going to either turn off the TV or put ESPN on mute and use them for the "pretty pictures" and have these other sources for our main coverage.

alex said...

Was the race boring? I fell asleep right after the caution light fell out, and I just woke up. I guess the first 50 laps weren't too bad.

gordonsfast said...

nascar has ruined racing with this 'cot' . i will be watching nascar only if the national badmitton finals are over.

NorCalFan said...

JD,
I'm unable to comment on tonight's race broadcast because, thanks to ESPN, I watched DirectTV Hotpass (in addition to using Nascar.com Pit Command for leaderboard information and listening to driver radios).

The ESPN broadcast booth, for whatever reason, is unable to keep up with the action on the track. That leads to the inability to relay race information in a timely fashion to the already frustrated and angry fans.

I have been to two cup races at AutoClub Speedway, including last February's rainy 24 hours at Fontana. I'm not sure which is the worst of the two evils--watching the race at the track or watching the race on ESPN. Both are desperately in need of changes. Adding banking to the track like what was done to Homestead would improve racing (it couldn't hurt). Shortening the race to 400 miles would let the East Coast fans get to bed a little earlier (besides, I think it and Pocono are too long anyway). I agree with the bloggers, JP is totally out of his element in the pxp job and a quick fix would be switching with AB.

Forgot about watching NASCAR Now after the race. It's just habit to switch to SPEED as the preferred channel for racing info.

It's even late now on the West Coast. My thoughts and prayers to those folks in the path of Gustav. The weather channel reports waves 25 ft. high off shore from New Orleans.

Dannyboy said...

I've been posting on this blog occasionally for a while now. I've been to quite a few championship level, big-league races, and I've also raced, though long ago. This was my first Cup level race. My wife won us tickets. A lot of other people we know also won. Makes me wonder if this is how they managed the estimated 70,000 attendance, which is way below capacity. All I can say is thank God I didn't spend what it would've cost to get the seats and amenities we had today. I would've felt robbed.

It will likely be the last NASCAR race at Fontana for us, even though it's less than two hours' drive and Vegas is 5-6 and Phoenix is 8.

That track is the most boring track on the NASCAR circuit. I don't know how JP and the crew could've made it more interesting, as there was almost nothing going on on the track. There were long periods where if you watched the scoring tower as they passed the start-finish line virtually no positions changed for lap after lap.

We could hear the radio broadcast on the track PA, and I remarked to my wife as they excitedly yelled the play-by-play lap after lap, "There's absolutely nothing happening on the track that warrants the yelling that they're doing."

Sure, if you're not watching TV, it sounds like a race. Jimmie absolutely embarrassed the field.

Didn't matter; it was a 200 mph parade.

NASCAR better fix both the COT and the track, or I predict it will go the way of Ontario.

Anonymous said...

I had a six-hour flight from coast-to-coast. Normally I would dread such a flight, but I was flying JetBlue, which has ESPN in the television on the seatback in front of you... and my flight took off 30 minutes before the pre-race show.

Too bad I fell asleep. Part of it was the bad racing (the COT is killing NASCAR action) but mostly it was Dr. Jerry Punch. He put me to sleep because all he does is look at the shot on the screen and say the car number and the driver. "There's the 18, Kyle Busch!" "There's the 48 being followed by the 16, Greg Biffle!" That is it. It was like listening to Bingo.

How many times did we have to hear the race was in Southern California? Even when I was awake I think I heard Punch say "Fontana" about 50 times. In fact, it was the only time excitement came into his voice.

At this point, I am not sure which is a more unfathomable decision: Switching Fontana into the Chase (empty stands, bad racing) or keeping on Punch for the Chase.

It would be one thing if Punch were simply poor at his job. But what adds insult to injury is that Bestwick is sitting right there, ready to lend excitement and knowledge to the proceedings. Why he isn't calling the play-by-play is simply beyond me.

I hope NASCAR's next television contract mandates Mike Joy be used in every telecast, regardless of network. Hey, one can dream, right?

Anonymous said...

"For you fans of...". Guess what Dr. Punch, we don't have to be fans of someone to wonder what's going on with their car.

Anonymous said...

My expectations were met. Fontana is always a bore, 500 miles is too long at just about all tracks, the COT is still a mess, the sound of Jerry Punch's voice makes me cringe, the pit road reporters are still ignorant and if it wasn't for Jarrett and Petree I'd turn down the volume.Espn and the viewers are clearly on different wavelengths in terms of viewer expectations.

Anonymous said...

Once again, the crew in the booth illustrated clearly that they do not look out the window.

When the 78 car popped up on the monitor, obviously having hit the wall, we get, "Oh! The 78 car looks like it may have hit the wall!"

No kidding. If just ONE of the three guys in the booth was watching the track, they'd know what happened. See, guys, if you'd LOOK at the track, then you'd see for yourself how the 78 became smashed up and wouldn't have to wait for the replay.

If you're going to call the race by watching a monitor, then we don't need you at all.

And, once again: "For you fans of..." "For those of you just joing us...." "Sailing into the corner..." Honestly, Punch, you're being paid a bundle to speak better than the Average Joe, not to keep using the same phrases over and over.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there are not more comments on the TV direction. Each
time there was a green flag the
front runners were shown for about
five seconds, then went to am in
car camera back in the pack which
did not show any real racing. At
the end when the 84 & 6 appeared to
be the only action, the director
got hung up on a single shot of the
48. Get a real race fan as director.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jerry Punch. He put me to sleep because all he does is look at the shot on the screen and say the car number and the driver. "There's the 18, Kyle Busch!" "There's the 48 being followed by the 16, Greg Biffle!" That is it. It was like listening to Bingo.

That's another Punchism: When he can't figure out what to say, he just lists the cars currently on the screen.

And he does it a lot.

How is that "calling a race"?

Anonymous said...

IF...if the race was exciting, which it wasn't...and if...if the market share on the left coast is so important...and if...if the fans had filled the stands, which they didn't...they wouldn't it seem that you would AT LEAST want a big time TV audience,not one that is asleep because the race ends at midnight on the east coast. Two nights in a row of nidnight racing, exciting maybe? who saw it on the east coast...not many.

Anonymous said...

Its not really ESPN or any other network that is ruining Nascar coverage. Its the COT, Nascar should be listening to its drivers and be doing some tweaking on that big old heavy monster of a car that does not resemble a Ford, Dodge,Chevy or Toyota. Fans used to be able to go to their local dealer and get that special car that their favorite driver drove, no longer can we do that. Safety is very important, but I am sure there are things you can do to this car to make it race better without effecting the safety. These announcers just don't have anything to announce if there is no real racing going on.

Tom said...

It really is sad. Aside from the fact that this race didn't start until after I put my kids to bed, the track itself is horrible and should be taken off the schedule. JP is not on any game in this position and needs to be replaced. I have always liked him but as has been said, going into network races with this car may prove the undoing of ESPN's fall schedule if there is not a enthusiastic voice calling what may be boring racing.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Bill H said...

It's obvious ESPN doesn't listen or care what complaints are made. It's obvious NASCAR doesn't listen or care what complaints are made. So, we as fans have the option to take what they give us or not watch.

But, there is a another option.

A little "background". A few years a go I was watching a night race (believe it was cup, but could have been the wide race) where Derrick Cope, my perenial favorite to finsh a race, was sponsored by some liquor company with a wierd name, something Catfish, and about 50 or so laps in he had motor problems and parked for the night. While discussing this in the Nascar chat room I thought it would be a goof to look up the website for the company and send them an email "thanking them for sponsoring him". Within 15 minutes of sending the email, while the race on a Saturday night was still in progress, I got a response back from the VP of the company extoling how they where enjoying their foray into the Nascar world and hoped to sponser more cars in the future.

Do you see where I am going with this? The cawsnjaws website (and maybe others) list every company that had a commercial in the race. Look at that list, track down the contact for the company, and email them. Tell them how unhappy you are with the program they are advertising in, and due to your unhappiness you will no longer be purchasing their product and will tell 5 of your friends to do the same. If the program they are advertising in improves you will return to purchasing their product and tell your friends to do the same.

As an aside, this works. I spent an hour 2 months ago arguing with a manager of virgin mobile that I didn't use up 1000 text messages in 6 days and felt I didn't owe the 27 dollars they were billing me. Even though 1/2 way through the conversation I discovered that I actually had used them, I stood my ground on principle (right or wrong). At the end, when I told them I was dropping their service I got the $27 refunded and 2 months of free service. Why? Cause I made the manager understand, the customer is always right.

So, tell Burger King you are unhappy with the race they advertised in and you are now going to eat at McDonalds. Tell Planters you've developed a self-induced peanut allergy and no longer will buy their peanuts. Tell LifeLock and FreeCreditReport that you are blocking their website at your router. Get the people that pay ESPN and NASCAR to do your work for you, let them complain that they need to improve the product because it hurts their bottom line.

A few weeks ago I said my wallet is not open to NASCAR anymore, this is an extension of that principle.

Bill H

. DOSVader said...

I see the basic problem with the broadcast on ESPN to be the Fontana track. They should have left the Kaiser Steel Mill in place and raced through the roads, slag piles and huge buildings that where there. What a road course that would have made.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree about your assessment of the race coverage. Not all races are barn burners, especially on this type of track.I really like ESPN'S approach and think Jerry Punch is excellent. I much prefer it over the FOX/SPPED approach.

Anonymous said...

BESTWICK SOUNDED LIKE A MAN IN A CROWDED ROOM ASKING FOR HELP, WITH NOBODY LISTENING. THE MAN WAS TRYING TO MAKE THE RACE EXCITING , AND NOBODY WANTED ANY PART OF IT. WHY DO 43 CARS QUALIFY WHEN THERE ARE ONLY 7 CARS RACING, ACCORDING TO ESPN TELECAST.

ri88girl said...

Dannyboy said:

"That track is the most boring track on the NASCAR circuit. I don't know how JP and the crew could've made it more interesting"

SPEED did two days of coverage from the same track, for HOURS; and managed to keep me interested, entertained and involved. The fact that ESPN can't accomplish the same for two hours has nothing to do with the track or the COT. Just like a race team, you have to have chemistry in the booth.

Anon 4:47 said:

"Too bad I fell asleep. Part of it was the bad racing (the COT is killing NASCAR action) but mostly it was Dr. Jerry Punch. He put me to sleep because all he does is look at the shot on the screen and say the car number and the driver. "There's the 18, Kyle Busch!" "There's the 48 being followed by the 16, Greg Biffle!" That is it. It was like listening to Bingo."

BINGO! This is NOT PXP and I don't know why Doc thinks it is.

I have reiterated repeatedly over the last few weeks that I do not think I should have to multi-task to understand the races. A fan should not have to work this hard to enjoy a race; and the phantom 'casual fan' would be so confused they would never watch a race again.

Aside from having to utilize at least two other outlets for race information, the MIS information spouted by Doc on a regular basis is UNACCEPTABLE at all levels. I know more about more teams and tracks than it would appear Doctor Punch does and that is pathetic.

We at home can SEE racing in a shot and the 'director' mysteriously chooses to show a single car. So I am begining to question the 'goodness' of ESPN's pictures.

Where once we all seemed willing to extend ESPN some slack and time to fix the booth problems, now we are past frustrated and into anger and ridicule. I am afraid that the window for ESPN to regain the trust and respect of the fans has closed.

Sally said...

Yes, Dr. Punch can be too low key. Honestly, I prefer that to the 'FOX on amphetamines' approach. No amount of shouting and telling viewers can make a dull parade with 1 or 2 dricers running away from the field exciting. The race at California was Bristol without the lapped traffic. For whatever reason(s) (the COT, the track configurations, the 'chase') the majority of the races this season have been runaways. Half the 'chase contenders' are more than 600 points behind the leader, and I'm supposed to believe all of them deserve a shot at a title? Remember when Nascar originally made 400 points the cutoff because no driver under any of their point systems had ever come from further back to win the title? It was somehow totally appropriate that 2 of the cautions last night were caused by pieces of the track equipment ending up as debris. ESPN isn't the only network that covers only the top few cars in any race, they're just the most recent. Putting so much emphasis on 'the chase' has trivialized much of the racing in the first 26 races that it's hard to stay involved.

Anonymous said...
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Aven said...

I've watched a more boring race in my lifetime but not in this century. I'm not sure anybody in broadcasting could have saved that total waste of time. I tried to watch the race but I fell asleep four or five times. When I would wake up, the only thing that had changed was the number of laps to go. Every time I woke up, I would change channels to check on the hurricane and that boring report was more interesting that the race.

NA$CAR's attempt to increase interest in the race by making it part of the chase may backfire. Why would anyone watch the race when there is football to be watched on both the tube and in person? They might have an all time low in viewers and attendance.

Anonymous said...

Why would anyone watch the race when there is football to be watched on both the tube and in person?

Perhaps because I don't like football and do like racing. And I am far from the only one.

Newracefan said...

I finally realized why I always want to be home to watch the cup race, I need to have my laptop to know what is going on and I can not do that from somewhere else. I use to watch with friends but between their talking and no laptop for foxtrax and pitcommand I have no clue what is happening. I did watch with friends during Fox's and TNT's races and we talked about the racing.

JP does not do PXP, with DJ and AP doing what they can for PXP they can not talk about the different strategies and at this point I am not sure they know they should be doing that (hey guys talk to Larry Mac). Part of the problem was the actual race, dannyboy proves that, but the sign of a group who knows how to call a race is they take the lack of "racing" and still give us a race. This big JJ fan was so bored after the race she went to bed forgetting to watch all the post race stuff I would usually watch to see everything Jimmie and Chad had to say. I did watch VL this am and NN (did it start early or something I only got the last half?), missed everything on ESPNews or Sports Center. Something needs to be done with this track and more importantly ESPN or fans will be leaving in drvoes to do other things on race day, except those with with computers and broadband access.

majorshouse said...

The lack of good coverage still exists and I think that they just need to dump Jerry Punch all together and let Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree do all of the work. I especially loved the in your face dialogue between Allen Bestwick and Punch about not giving the race to the leader at half way. It was great and made it a little exciting. I listened to the first part of the race on MRN and it was more exciting than anything that ESPN has ever given us and frankly they need to get it together before it all goes to ABC or hopefully they will be losing their shirts money wise because the ratings are going to show how bad they really are.
Please NASCAR bail out while you still can on this horrible sinking ship.

majorshouse said...

I still would love to have the Speed crew of Burns, McReynolds and Hammond. They work well together and are very knowledgeable and never mind the fact that they are entertaining and that is something that ESPN is definitely not.

Anonymous said...

This comment is not so much about the ESPN broadcast team as it is about the California races. I say this every year on the day after the race at California and it still holds true; we gave up Darlington for THIS????

Sharon said...

Bill H- You are a smart man and I think I will take your little advice.

As for the race, I dislike JP in the role he has, but there was nothing to get excited about in the race. Jimmie spanked the field. Good for him and that team. But that has been common practice this season, the new car is to blame there. Fontana does not need two races. Fans wont show up in November either because by that date we pretty much know who the champ is going to be. No excitment there. The car is to blame, NASCAR is to blame, but until fans take a stand nothing will change.

Jennifer said...

I think one of the low points was in the last 100 laps when Jerry asked about what to expect next week at Richmond. Andy answered "It's gonna be busy" followed by dead air.

Also, the restarts with 100 laps to go looked like their was some great racing in the pack, but all we heard about was how Rusty liked his cars set up.

For being the premier sports network, there is nothing premier about their NASCAR coverage.

Geez said...

I was at the race and enjoyed every minute of it. If you saw a boring race, I would suggest that's because that's ESPN chose to show you.

I saw great racing all through the pack. All night. Weather was great also. The way a race is presented on TV has a everything to do with how you perceive it.

Oh, sorry about the caution light thing. I tripped on a cable.:-)

Anonymous said...

There is nothing more we can do . No one buys tickets to Fontana and no one watches it on television , yet it won't go away . The type of track has just as much to do with it as the terrible ESPN broadcast . The stands looked like a dog with Mange ,large bare spots everywhere .
We were complaining about Punch decades ago . He stopped paying attention to stock car racing a long time ago .He doesn't keep up with the sport , its' only a paycheck until his real job , Football , starts again . Jarrett and Petree did another great job . They just need a race to work with .

texgal43 said...

Thank goodness for Directv Hot Pass. I listened the entire race to Bobby Labonte, his great spotter Eddie and Jeff. I never had to look at the tv because the only car I saw was the silver 48. There was a LOT of racing in the middle of the pack but unfortunately the viewers never saw it.

Anonymous said...
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Newracefan said...

Geez too funny, was it your friends who messed up the other one?

Anonymous said...

I've never been fan of the overly talkative play-by-play style, so I dont have a problem with the good Dr. The race was boring. Any other depiction of it would have been fraudulant.

haus20 said...

Anonymous said...
This comment is not so much about the ESPN broadcast team as it is about the California races...

That would be true if this was the first time that we were complaining about the ESPN broadcast, but unfortunately, this has become a regular occurence. Michigan, Bristol or California - it doesn't matter same boring race coverage from ESPN.

Geez said...

"Geez too funny, was it your friends who messed up the other one"?

Actually, we couldn't tell what it was on the track. It looked to big to be from a car and there was a lot of talk about it. If you didn't see it fall you didn't notice it missing. It wasn't until I got home that I found out what it was.

Anonymous said...

By the way , heres something for the fans who watch the tv broadcasts or listen on the radio , or watch on line . A race can be made boring by bad production , but a boring race cannot be made exciting by anyone other than the radio . The casual fan ( thank you Brian ) may not have been to a variety of live races at different tracks , but those of us who have , know that no amount of nonstop hype by over caffienated announcers talking all over each other is going to improve a race that just simply isn't any good .

Anonymous said...

its as if Dr Punch would rather work at MRN - how many times must we hear that we are working lap so and so. Thats radio speak. Funny but viewers - since 2001 - now have a lap counter right on your television or Fox Trax.

I laughed when he misprounces Jimmie JOhnson's wife - who's name is Chandra - he called her Chandry I believe.

He is so 1997. Jerry - get with the 21st century for crying out loud.

Anonymous said...

They need to bring back Bob Jenkins. He was by far the best booth man, next to Ned Jarett. I hate the commentary we have today on all networks especially Fox. I put the TV on mute and listen to REAL commentators on MRN Radio.

Anonymous said...

its as if Dr Punch would rather work at MRN

Are you kidding? He can't figure out what to say on TV, where you don't have to spell out every single action. On radio, where you do, he'd be totally lost.

You can't just list the cars you can see on radio. (You don't do this on TV, either, if you're good...)

Anonymous said...

It is certainly not ESPN's fault that NASCAR is now boring and without a soul. The IROC comments are completely appropriate and the sport needs an overhaul. What a terrible and boring race that was. ESPN does the best job of any of the network. FOX and NBC try to turn it into a cartoon. COT is killing the sport and they need to pull the plug.

Anonymous said...

The sponsors pay to have certain cars on the screenIf you have actual evidence of this, I'd love to see it.

This hasn't been the case since the Fox debacle of several years ago.

Anonymous said...

got it now - watched Victory Lane and Chandry is JJ's nickname for his wife.

Then it was STUPID of Punch to use that nickname that not many people would get.

Anonymous said...

I honestly think that one of the biggest reasons that the broadcasts are allowed, by Nascar, to be like this is because France & Co. have decided that the races are shows. The Networks have picked up on this, and present the races more as shows and less as actual sports events. If ABC/ESPN were to begin treating these races as sports events, giving them the same respect as the stick and ball sports, we'd have better coverage.

The race at Fontana was boring, we all suspected that it would be. Races there are almost never exciting, and one driver dominating isn't exactly new. The ESPN of old would have ignored the leaders unless there was a serious challenge for the lead. Instead we'd have been treated to a battle for 22nd, or another highly contested spot in the field. The announcing team seems to do okay, but clearly Punch is the weak link. I would like to see Punch and Bestwick change spots for a few races. My guess is that it would make a big difference. Though until ABC/ESPN reviews it's own footage from the 80's and relearns proper race coverage, even AB's talents in calling the race won't be enough.

Anonymous said...

I still say ESPN sucks and always will. did anyone notice ALL THE PEOPLE IN THE STANDS? this place seats 92 thousand and I'll bet there were not half that many there, why would NASCAR want to return to such a looser track?

Tracy said...

Talk about multi-tasking. I preferred to iron (I'd rather pull teeth with a claw hammer) than pay attention to the race. Listened with half an ear, looked up now and then to wonder what happened to the 08 car (that would have made a good story), and what was happening at the back of the field. Why was Shrader so slow? What was going on with Reutimann to light the fire under him?

And then I fell asleep on the sofa. Am going to Richmond next weekend. Please Lord, let it be a better race than last night's. At least I won't have to be bored by ESPN. (Yes, DJ and Andy P did yoeman's labor...).

Tracy said...

Whoever said "we gave up Darlington for this?" - AMEN.

Anonymous said...

France & Co. have decided that the races are shows

If you buy this, then you have to ask, why are the "shows" so boring? If they're choreographed shows, shouldn't they be exciting?

Racing Curmudgeon said...

Bless you, Mr. Bestwick, for pointing out, somewhat forcefully, that, when it comes to leading laps, the only one that counts is the last one.

Bestwick should not have to do this, of course. But the three guys in the booth had already decided who had won the race, despite the previous week's example.

They were completely taken aback when Bestwick reminded them of this.

Which tells you a lot about them.

Anonymous said...

100 laps to go..tired of dozeing in my chair, GOODNIGHT! you are right ESPN has "pretty pictures"..JD..what if TV had people around the track calling the race as radio does??
I know that sounds radically nuts, but that is what makes radio more interesting to me...the person is looking dirctly at the action not a screen!! Jim

Anonymous said...

Don't forget this gem from Dr. Jerry when Carl won at Michigan and Bristol.
"Here comes the signature somersault!"
Now I was more than a little puzzled when Punch said it after Carl won at Michigan. I was stunned when he said it a second time while talking to Nicole Manske on the late-night "NASCAR Now" show.
But it was "ai-yi-yi" when Punch REPEATED the gaffe AGAIN after Carl won at Bristol.
Hopefully someone noticed how quickly Andy Petree chimed in and corrected him.
This is bad broadcasting, pure and simple.
Give me back my Mike Joy! And heck, even though TNT isn't the best, at least Bill Weber sounds interested.

Bill H said...

From what I have read on here,the ESPN crew watch the broadcast in the booth and then make their comments. If this is the case, is it possible that Punch just can't react to TV? That he has a psyhological tick that causes him to just stare at the tube? Could he improve his broadcast ability if he just sat in the stands and announced?

Bill H

kbaskins said...

To the people who say the Dr. Punch is lost and making mistakes and boring because of either the CoT or the tracks (or both), I'd like to say this:

BS

If you'll check back in the archives of this blog, you'll see the same complaints about Dr. Punch last year (when only a third of the races used the CoT) and at all different kinds of tracks. This problem has persisted since the very first broadcast of the first Busch race last year.

Granted, we were howling more loudly about Rusty, but Dr. Punch got his fair mention too. Races like Sunday's snooze-fest from Fontana are not the cause of Dr. Punch's problem; his lack of play-by-play skills is his problem, and the race only served to highlight that fact.

--KarenB

Anonymous said...

"If they're choreographed shows, shouldn't they be exciting?"

They're not choreographed, merely viewed more as entertainment than as an actual sports event. Honestly, it's like the higher ups at Nascar, and even the networks seem to think that Nascar is a fad that has gotten as good as it's going to get, so they'd better milk it for all it's worth before the whole thing goes down the drain. That is likely to be a self fulfilling prophesy unless by some miracle new leadership is found that understands that it's all about the racing. Fans watch the racing, companies sponsor cars to peddle their wares to the fans. Once the racing goes bad, the fans stop showing up and in turn the sponsors stop showing up.

Anonymous said...

I am a long time NASCAR fan and although there is no more real racing.....I will still choose ESPN's coverage over those FOX idiots anyday

Anonymous said...

I'm DONE for the season watching ESPN. I'll get my fix from SPEED. I think it is time for NASCAR to have someone in the truck telling ESPN what to do.

Anonymous said...

I gave up on ESPN a long time ago. Not just with NASCAR coverage, but with everything. Their bias in covering sports is pathetic. Sports Center is a joke. ESPN has become nothing but a worthless tabloid channel for trendy jocks with low IQ.

That being said, it isn't really fair to blame the guys in thre booth for this weekend. Yea, sure they could have covered more than just the top few cars in the race, but the main reason the race was boring, had nothing to do with ESPN. Fontana has always had lame snooze fests disguised as NASCAR races. The same can be said for the other cookie cutter tracks in Chicago, and Kansas as well.

I mean really, there is only so much you can say in the booth before you run out of options when nothing is happening on the track.

Fontana should be cut back to one race a year, or better yet, get torn down.

Lucky for me, i'll be in the stands for the Richmond race, and will not have to worry about ESPN. After that NFL football cranks up, and NASCAR will be just an afterthought.

stricklinfan82 said...
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stricklinfan82 said...

What I feel we learned from ESPN on Sunday night:

- ESPN still stereotypes NASCAR fans as the dumbest group of sports fans in the world.

The patronizing of the NASCAR fan base continued again on Sunday night, as ESPN had to interrupt green flag racing for a second straight night to give us a graphical explanation of the most basic and fundamental term associated with our sport - "drafting". It is taken for granted that fans of every other major sport understand "how the game is played" and know the sport's most common terms. Terms like double-dribble, travelling, sacrifice fly, base stealing, second down, punt, and 'face-off' in those sports would all seem to be analogous to the term 'drafting' in NASCAR.

But NASCAR fans aren't given the same respect or benefit of the doubt. ESPN stereotypes every single one of us as the dumbest fans around and figure we sit there every single week saying "hey y'all, what's this durr drafting thingy EPSENN's done talking about?" That is a terrible insult to me, and I would imagine I'm not alone in that sentiment.

Someone find me another major U.S. sport where a TV network patronizes its fans this badly every single week. I can't remember the last time I've seen TV interrupt an event in progress to say something very fundamental like "You have four chances, or 'downs', to advance the ball 10 yards.....", "Now that blue line there, if an offensive player crosses that line before the puck the ref will call 'offsides'...", or "A birdie is when you finish a hole in one less stroke than 'par', which the standard amount of strokes needed to complete the hole."

- The Punch-Bestwick swap should be done now. It can't wait until the off-season.

Dr. Punch needs to be a part of this NASCAR on ESPN team, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that he be ex-communicated from NASCAR like the football guys were last year. He is a major asset to this team, but the play-by-play role is very clearly not fitting his hall-of-fame credentials as a broadcaster. Allen Bestwick is the right guy for the job, and if anyone else leapfrogs him and gets the promotion to the booth instead it will be a terrible terrible misjustice.

- The ESPN production truck just doesn't "get it".

The patronization ESPN does to the fans watching their NASCAR broadcasts is terrible enough, as I explained earlier. On top of that the individuals bringing these broadcasts to us are blatantly brushing off on-track action as "boring" and instead try to fill the shows with non-related garbage.

ESPN uses practice sessions to air 60-90 minutes of NASCAR history lesssons. Full-screen video packages of races of weeks and years past and full-screen displays of every stat that their researchers could possibly dig up make the on-track practice sessions nothing but background noise. When fans tuning in to practice on ESPN have a better chance of seeing the winning pass from a race at this track in 1997 than they do an update on how their favorite driver's car is handling, that's a MAJOR problem.

Qualifying day is one of the most exciting days of the NASCAR week. This is the most dramatic part of the weekend, with teams and drivers fighting for their lives just to make the race. Speed preserves the drama and uses time-shifting to ensure that almost every run is aired on TV. ESPN uses the 1996 true-live approach. If 3 runs are missed during a commercial break, oh well, says ESPN. When ESPN is actually on the air the same practice video and stat packages usually cover up the screen. The biggest insult of all though is when ESPN brings in a parade of drivers to "yuck it up" with the ESPN on-air crew. While the likes of Johnson, Kahne, Biffle, and Martin are laughing and talking on camera about everything from their families to their hobbies, the qualifying cars are racing past the pit studio as nothing but background noise. You simply can't be more blatant in your disrespect of qualifying than that.

Finally, on race day ESPN is unable to react to the circumstances of the race. They have their script of pre-race storylines and countless pre-taped driver comments that need to be inserted over the racing before the race ends. The pit reporters have large collections of "nuggets" they learned from the drivers and teams days, weeks, or months earlier that need to be inserted at some point. All this pre-determined stuff dominates the broadcasts and instead of seeing a race we see the execution of the script. The director should be looking for side-by-side racing on the track. This director, however, follows the script and finds the drivers that were on the pre-race "to do list". If they're running side-by-side with someone, that's nice. If they're not, oh well, their story is still told and their car still fills the full-screen, even though we can plainly see glimpses of a side-by-side race just feet in front of or behind the "pre-determined driver of interest".

I wonder if ESPN gets an extra paycheck from the NFL to reward their dillegence in trying to turn NASCAR into the least interesting and presentable product possible on Sunday afternoons in the fall.

Adam T. Martin said...

The racing felt relaxed but the coverage was decent. (Pictures, audio, post race) The draft tracker is useless, but it is less annoying than a certain animated gopher on another network. Another mark would be the pre-scripted "drama" the network tries to create. (Let's just watch the race OK?)

Richmond should improve the attitude of Punch. If Allen was calling PXP, the broadcast would be untouchable.

Adam T. Martin said...

P.S. Fontana does not deserve 2 races a year and the COT needs a drastic change.

However, ESPN is not at fault for this.

Right now, I'm dreading the promotions on ABC for the rest of the season for there shows (Dancing With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy).

Do those shows even share the NASCAR demographic?

Dot said...

After reading more comments, I think the guy in the truck should be shot. I did notice when he would accidently show two cars racing each other or a pack of them, the shot would suddenly show JJ all by himself. Maybe we should be blaming him more than JP.

How many monitors are in the booth? I understand that they can't always see part of the track or which driver is in the wall, etc.

Is it against the law to show other drivers on the track? As I have said before, all fans have their drivers. And no, they are not always the chosen ones.

Regarding the Fontana track. It will always have 2 races no matter what. It's owned by ISC. I don't know what Gillian has on the France family to keep her job.

When I first started watching NASCAR in 1996, loose and tight were the only things explained during a race. I found out other terms by doing a little research. I agree, ESPN treats us like idiots. Since I don't watch other sports, I'd like to know how many times they explain TDs & HRs.

David said...

JD

This was a tough race to watch. I was corresponding with a friend which was at the race and I commented to her that I was bored and there was no racing going on. Her response was that there was great racing in the pack which we weren't being shown on tv. ESPN got stuck in JJ/Chase vision. Quite honestly, it bored the heck out of me.

I LOVE racing, have stood up for Fontana before but this one crossed the line. The only story was the 48 and how he spanked the field.

Punch struggled which pulled the booth down, Rusty was his typical so-so self. Brad and AB were excellent, Petree and DJ were a half-step behind.

Not excited to watch Richmond on ABC, but I am excited for the race. Guess I'll have to pay more attention to the radio.

ESPN dropped the ball severely last night, hope its not a sign of things to come.

Anonymous said...
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NASCAR Oldie said...

All I really know is that I was bored. B O R E D. Bored. And racing has to work hard to bore me. I suspect it was the combination of the broadcast and the race. ESPN really doesn't seem to get the idea that, if there is no action between 1-2, or 2-3, or 3-4, then maybe, just maybe, there is a story further back. If Jimmie Johnson had lapped the field, there would still have been cars to watch, stories to tell. And I don't mean flashing ad nauseum to the cutaway car. It seemed to me that ESPN "called the race" rather like the networks "called the presidential election" a few years ago. At least the networks went on to cover local races for governors, etc.

As an aside, it's rather sad to hear them urging people to come out to the track because it's beautiful weather and there's lots of seats still available.

Len said...

Remember several years ago when the NFL broadcasted a game with no commentators, just the crowd noise and the stadium PA announcer's audio. Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

Oh my gosh JD, how can you not mention Jimmy Spencer's rant on Race Day regarding the new Shootout format. I'm sure France, Helton, et al had a few choice words after the show, but at least Spence had the onions to speak up!

Mary

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

"Geez" was at the race and found it exciting.

When I left the race with 50 to go, I had to wait on a line to get out of the parking lot.

Yes, there was some great mid-pack and back-of-the-pack racing, but also long stretches of 200mph freight train.

Someone else protested ESPN's stereotyping of NASCAR fans, but I'm here to tell you that a significant percentage of people at this race did nothing to change that image. And Fontana is nowhere near "the South".

Mark said...

Sadly I must agree with your commentary about the race from Fontana and the ESPN coverage of Nascar racing as a whole. That said, I would like to thank Dr. Punch for his part in providing me with a very restful, though not necessarily needed, nap last night.

At the very least, I'd like to see ESPN give Mr. Bestwick a chance to prove himself once again as the lead play-by-play announcer. They could start with the Nationwide races to save overwhelming insult to Dr. Punch mid season and then do a "Rusty" to him for next season.

I sure do miss Bob Jenkins. Don't you?

Bill H said...

Heads Up:

Next weekend - last race before the cahse, and Hurricane Hanna (or its remnants) should be reaching the track Saturday.

Bill H

Bobby said...

Keep in mind NASCAR has been in the West since its acquisition of Barkheimer Associates in 1954.

Fontana doesn't deserve two races after this but I do believe, however, that Texas doesn't deserve its second race. They did the equivalent of suing the NFL, wanting the Green Bay Packers to move to Los Angeles.

The Chase should be ten different races:

1. Watkins Glen - On the old USGP weekend, a 500k on the long course would do justice.
2. Dover - Northern Justice.
3. Martinsville - Back to its pre-2001 schedule. Sunset won't be an issue.
4. Kansas - The Roper Trail, Part I.
5. Lowe's - The Roper Trail, Part II.
6. Homestead - Three different 1.5 mile ovals.
7. Phoenix - Desert Jewel
8. Talladega - Go for it.
9. Bristol - Thunder Valley in November means so much since it's ALL on the line.
10. Darlington - The final race of the year, the final major of the year, crown the Cup champion, crown the Grand Slam Challenge (Daytona 500, Aaron's 499, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 points only), $5 million for a Grand Slam, $1 million for a Small Slam or a driver winning a Career Grand Slam, on a race Kyle Petty called the U. S. Open (golf) of racing. Instead of shooting birdies, you're scrounging for pars!

The manufacturers should have more leeway and NASCAR needs to look at more "stock" bodies and not the common-template. The COT chassis could easily fit the stock bodies but the bumper rule would be nice since that's a safety issue.

red said...

i've been trying to figure out a new series of words, new paragraphs, that might help the espn folks understand my concerns about their broadcasts so far. but i honestly feel as if it is completely and totally useless. jd, i know that you tell us they do read the comments we leave but i'm hard pressed to see any evidence of that in their subsequent broadcasts.

we've tried humor, politeness, rudeness, suggestions, cajoling, arguing, even threatening, all to no avail. what more can i possibly write? it's not because there hasn't been enough feedback given by a wide variety of fans. it's that nothing has changed.

so, i am forced to concede that espn just doesn't give a damn. period.

unfortunately, i do. i still love nascar and will continue to watch the racing. and i'll multitask so that i can have information. i'll juggle remotes and volume knobs and open sites on my laptop each week. and i'll do that because i love what nascar could be, might be, once was: one hell of a sport.

but i will not turn to espn for anything outside of the actual racing broadcast. my boycott of their channel and website will be invisible to them but i just can't tolerate their lack of respect any longer. i know that broadcasts can be better because we've seen other networks handle the races with respect even with the problems the cot creates on the track. i can only assume espn isn't interested in doing so.

i've moved from anger into a weary sadness.

Anonymous said...

ESPN... Boring! As Dr. Punch says 120 times a race, my mind went "Sailing" into a nap about 50 laps into the race. Too bad we cant have DW all season long.

GinaV24 said...

Once more a boring race with a terrible PXP and too many one car shots. Sounds like the people who were at the track got to see at least a reasonable race but then they can see the track instead of what TV chooses to show us. I know I prefer that myself, but its cost prohibitive to attend a lot of races. I've been to 4 this year and actually I've been pretty bored at them too since the advent of the cinderblock on tires being run at all the tracks, well, the racing is just plain bad and with lousy TV coverage too, it just makes a bad situation worse. Of course, NASCAR only cares about the money, not whether or not the "show" is any good and that is sad for the race fans. I don't believe they "fix" any races but they do manipulate things - GWC and phantom cautions. When I'm home, I use the computer and the radio to follow the race more than the TV because ESPN is such a waste of time.

I agree with the idea of contacting the sponsors -- money talks and it's the only sound that NASCAR understands. I did it myself a couple of years ago when that nonsense was going on between powerade and gatorade. I contacted Coke directly and told them I would NEVER by their products again. I'm betting if more fans took the time and did that, it would get the attention. I was sitting here today looking at a catalog for NASCAR gear and wondering why I should spend any money on anything in it since I'm so fed up. I'd be better keep my money in my pocket.

Anonymous said...

Put Wallace bestick and brad d in the booth that will really fix the boring broadcast those guys will keep it exciting.Plus wallace for sure knows what the heck he is talking about.

Daly Planet Editor said...

red,

Keep in mind that last season ESPN and TDP went at it all the time over a wide variety of issues on both the races and the NASCAR Now TV series.

Once the season was over, ESPN made wholesale changes. They dumped Erik the Clueless and got both Nicole and AB to join Ryan Burr. That series now rocks.

Then, after denying it all winter long, they brought DJ in and moved Rusty down to the infield. They got rid of Suzy the K and brought in AB fulltime to anchor that set.

The final piece was to step Shannon Spake up to the pits and challenge her to do it fulltime.

Almost every single one of these changes has worked out for them. What has not worked out is the fact that JP has not been able to change from a lifelong reporter to a play-by-play announcer in 18 months. The failure is obvious.

I don't think that they would change things in the middle of the season with all the PR stuff and marketing and promos and pictures and things that are out there promoting Jerry, Dale and Andy as the booth team.

If things don't get better, the network may choose to make a single switch in the off-season. Unfortunately, the decision to keep JP up high and AB down low is one that has cost fans a lot of information and excitement this year.

JD

Anonymous said...

Frankly, I agree. ESPN\ABC has been left in the dust as far as sports broadcasting. I really only watch coverage by SPEED and FOX. Heck I'd even watch NBC before ESPN... ESPN is dull, only focus on the leaders and big names, and I don't know if its true, but it feels like they go to far more commercials than anyone else... Just my opinion

Anonymous said...

Here's one big difference between FOX and ESPN/ABC:

When there is a crash on the track...

FOX: The announcers react by saying something like "Whoa, trouble back in turn three!" and then the cameras catch up to the action.

ESPN/ABC: The TV cameras at some point randomly show a damaged car and the announcers wonder out loud what could have happened.

Winner: FOX

chase said...

John: I had to simmer for 2 days before commenting on the disaster that was ESPN's coverage of the Cup race. Thankfully, I had a great book in hand and a little over halfway I turned to watch something else. ESPN just does NOT get it - and it's obvious they never will. Unless NASCAR does something and SOMETHING NOW, we are all out of luck. I have wondered aloud before as have countless others in their comments why ESPN does not pull Punch, insert Bestwick and lose Rusty and Brad - that solution would be unbeatable by any other network covering NASCAR. Granted, the California track is boring to say the least and the COTs inability to actually 'race' each other is palpable, BUT ESPN needs to give the fans the best coverage they can and they simply are not doing it. Every comment above has serious merit and needs to be read and addressed by NASCAR and ESPN. NASCAR should be very ashamed! Whatever happened to actually calling the race as one sees it being played out on the track? Guess its something from long ago that we'll never see or hear again. ESPN and NASCAR: the onus is on you to fix this thing before everyone heads to alternative measures for race coverage! Thanks JD!

Anonymous said...

It would also help if Jerry could get hold of some binoculars and look at the track once in a while.

Last weekend, he confused the 11 and 77 cars, probably because he was looking at a TV screen.

red said...

jd, i appreciate the recap you provided in response to my comments. but my frustration isn't solely b/c of the "jerry punch issue." it goes far beyond that, in fact, and takes in the actual production of the race broadcast itself. i can (and often do!) tune out the various talking heads. the focus of your response was the on-air personnel and i have absolutely no expectation that espn would make any changes to the broadcast personnel mid-season.

but when the director and producer aren't showing me the racing on the track, then i have a probem. we all know the cot has changed the way a race is run. but i know there's racing happening on the track outside of the top 15 cars. and yet, we rarely see that. the other networks who have covered races with cot this year have found a way to do it. espn has not.

having an idea of what the stories are for the broadcast and being prepared to focus on those stories is fine. but not being able/willing to jettison those plans when events on the track make more sense? that's a problem.

using giant talking driver heads in a very large window while an actual race is relegated to a smaller window is wrong. showing video packages during green flag racing is wrong. continually showing single car shots is wrong. using the bumper cams and in-car cams during a pass is wrong. none of that has to do with punch or the PxP position.

if we look back on the comments since espn took over broadcasts this year, we certainly do read a whole lot about punch. but there's also a ton of comments about the issues i've listed above -- and more. and i haven't even raised the myriad of complaints that come with qualifying broadcasts.

simply put, jd: punch may be the current lightning rod for criticism but it can't all be placed on him. this goes directly to the strategy of producing a broadcast, of getting the best possible product on air for fans. i would hope that the areas i've briefly outlined can be seen to be changes that can, in fact, be made mid-season without creating upheaval. after all, most of it deals with how the race is shown to us and all the pieces needed to do that are rolled out intact each weekend. they simply are not being used well.

(and i haven't even touched on stricklinfan's cristicism of dumbing down the broadcast!)

Desmond said...

I can call a race better than Dr. Jerry Punch, and I've only been a fan for the last five years!

When will ESPN realize that Dr. Punch is not the man for the job?

Also, too many in-car shots. Again.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I really, really do appreciate all the improvements ESPN has made this year in its NASCAR coverage and I am a big and long-time fan of Jerry Punch. However, I still find that the best in-race info I get during ESPN-NASCAR season is a combination of MRN and FOX Trac. I would really miss Jerry if he were not some where in ESPN's NASCAR coverage, but I am convinced Allen B. would be a PXP improvement.

speedfox said...

PLEASE lets go back to Fox and SPEED......They do a wonderful tag team! ESPN makes me crazy!

Please NASCAR let the race teams have some room to do what they do best!

IROCNASCAR....I hate it!

When is the better racing going to start!