Sunday, August 31, 2008
Sprint Cup Series From Fontana, CA on ESPN (7 PM)
Last week in Bristol the NASCAR on ESPN gang had a very bad Nationwide Series telecast and rallied to have a great Sprint Cup show. This week in Fontana, the Nationwide race and paint drying were running head-to-head until the last fifteen laps. Hopefully, with so many storylines in-progress for the Cup teams the network will once again get itself organized for a good race telecast.
This week Allen Bestwick gets his full hour for NASCAR Countdown. Story selection should be interesting as this is the time of the year when "the race" vs. "The Chase" becomes a tough struggle for the TV crews. Here at Fontana and next week in Richmond making The Chase is going to be said countless times by countless reporters.
Bestwick will have both Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty alongside in the Infield Pit Center. There is absolutely no doubt that Rusty Wallace misses the ability to step-up and do some ESPN races as an analyst. Earlier this year, Rusty did both selected Sprint Cup and Nationwide races while Dale Jarrett was on vacation.
Now that the final seventeen race stretch has come to ESPN/ABC, Wallace is stuck in the infield trying patiently do deal with the cheerleading of Daugherty. One gets the feeling that Rusty has finally begun to understand what he gave up when ESPN made the change in the off-season.
Tim Brewer had a tough Saturday in the Tech Center and it seems that he is often put on the air before he has the time to sort-out the real issue that he should be addressing. Andy Petree seems to be continually disagreeing with Brewer, even after Brewer has held-up and pointed to all kinds of car parts. This should be something to keep an eye on during the Sunday telecast.
The key component once again for this entire three hour telecast is going to be the ability of Dr. Jerry Punch to keep the excitement level high. Punch failed miserably in the Nationwide race and both Jarrett and Petree jumped-in time-and-time again to describe the action while Punch was silent.
Only two races until The Chase begins on ESPN and this is the critical time to keep the excitement high and build the momentum for the sport as it heads-into the final ten races of the season. This responsibility falls squarely to Punch.
ESPN will use the regular pit reporting crew of Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns. Last week this crew worked hard and had both good and bad moments. Saturday night in the Nationwide Series race, this crew of four tried several times to get through a full-field recap but once again never completed the rundown. It is going to be very important to rundown the full field several times during the Sprint Cup race.
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