Thursday, August 14, 2008
Seven Hours Of Byrnes, Hammond And McReynolds
Things always get interesting in "NASCAR TV land" this time of year. On Friday, SPEED returns to coverage of practice and qualifying for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series for the next three consecutive weeks.
There will be seven hours of Friday coverage and three voices that will be doing it all. Unlike the Fox or TNT philosophies, ESPN does not allow any of the network's on-air announcers to appear on SPEED. Fans who just got used to seeing Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree on Fridays will find those two only on the race coverage.
So, SPEED is going to saddle-up three of the hardest working guys in NASCAR TV and ride them all day long. Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds will start at Noon Eastern Time with Sprint Cup practice and will do six consecutive hours of live TV. You can view the complete schedule at the top of the main page. After a break to eat dinner, all three will be joined by Elliott Sadler and do another hour of the popular Trackside program.
Days like this point-out just how ridiculous this ESPN policy really is. NASCAR TV networks have traditionally shared announcers on Fridays. Mike Joy, Lindsay Czarniak, Matt Yocum, Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach are just some of the announcers who have been on SPEED this season helping with practice and qualifying.
Unfortunately, despite urging to the contrary by TDP, Thursday's NASCAR Now on ESPN2 purposefully eliminated any mention of the live practice and qualifying coverage on Friday and Saturday. The show chose to promote only the ESPN races and pretended that these sessions were not on-the-air.
This season started off well between the NASCAR TV partners with all parties cooperating and promoting all of the NASCAR TV coverage for the good of the sport. In making this decision on Thursday, NASCAR Now returned to the poor judgement of 2007 and the philosophy that if something was not on the ESPN networks, it just did not exist.
There are many more years left in the ESPN TV contract with NASCAR and plenty of room for change. Just a couple of weeks ago, SPEED picked-up all the non-televised Sprint Cup Series practice sessions for the remainder of the season. This coverage is going to give ESPN's NASCAR efforts a big boost and a great lead-in.
What SPEED got in return was NASCAR Now also choosing not to promote this live coverage, even though it was practice for the ESPN races. Things suddenly seem to be going downhill again at a time when ESPN really needs solid on-air promotion of The Chase races by all the NASCAR media partners.
ESPN2 completely steps aside on Friday, with one episode of NASCAR Now airing at Midnight ET. Coverage returns on Saturday at 3PM and Sunday at 1PM for the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series events. At least the popular Ricky Craven finally returns to the Monday edition of NASCAR Now.
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