Sunday, September 21, 2008

ESPN Adds Some New TV Wrinkles For Dover


ESPN's NASCAR team continues to mix things up down the stretch as the network goes head-to-head with the afternoon NFL Football games. TV viewers noticed several changes in the ABC telecast designed to help some struggling areas of the coverage get better.

Allen Bestwick welcomed drivers in their firesuits and ready to race into the Infield Pit Studio during the pre-race show. This was quite a switch from having the frantic ESPN pit reporters tracking down the drivers for interviews. The quality of the questions from Bestwick and Rusty Wallace were far superior to the one or two question interviews with the pit reporters. Nice move by ESPN to fix a problem.

What ESPN could not fix was Brad Daugherty. In some situations, his constant cheerleading and discussions of the obvious waste time that could be used for much better purposes. By now, viewers understand that Brad likes NASCAR and all the good drivers are "wheel men."

Another switch was getting the pit reporters to climb the ladder and go get the interviews with the crew chiefs. This was a glaring hole in the Sprint Cup coverage and the network made a first attempt to fix it. Ultimately, it paid big dividends after key pit stops to hear first-hand why decisions were made that were about to change the complexion of the race.

A nice day in Dover made for great pictures and sound throughout the race. The Directing was solid and made the two bridges across the track invisible for the entire event. Adding in the speed shots and the aerial angles really helped to make a long and sometimes boring race fun to watch.

The ESPN team worked hard to catch-up with drivers in The Chase when they ran into trouble, but non-Chase drivers still get the second-class treatment where interviews are concerned. The same can be said for pit road penalties, lucky dog awards and cars spending excessive time in the garage.

Luckily, the drivers put on a very good show with a lot of changes for the lead and some good stories happening throughout the event. The problems with Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were well-documented. The Denny Hamlin situation was not. This has been a tough two weeks for Tim Brewer and his Tech Center.

As viewers have seen over the past three races, it is often Dale Jarrett who steps-in and takes-over the play-by-play role when the situation is crucial and the excitement level needs to be high. Sunday afternoon in Dover was no different.

Andy Petree and Jarrett have proven to be a combination that clicks where frank and honest commentary is concerned. They can disagree, discuss topics on-the-fly and interact with anyone on the ESPN production team. In this event, they sometimes talked overtop of Jerry Punch when a point had to be made and Punch was trapped in his rambling metaphors and catch phrases.

While pit reporter Jamie Little can sometimes be too harsh, she worked well in the new environment of aggressive reporting and on-camera interviews. Her post-race face-to-face questioning of Carl Edwards was still off-base. She needs to learn to ask the same questions without the urgency or volume that she used with Edwards. That simply does not play well with the NASCAR audience.

The Chase has sparked a good variety of stories that will serve ESPN well for the week. Hopefully, the team radio hype and the singling-out of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cease. Fans deserve the focus of ESPN and the daily NASCAR Now show to be on the racing and the teams down the stretch.

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67 comments:

Wisconsin Steve said...

JD,

Do you think its possible ESPN will tinker with the booth combination before the season ends, like maybe in the upcoming Nationwide races? They did this last year by bringing in Brad to give Rusty and Andy days off during the Cup chase.

Personally, I think it would be interesting to see what DJ and Andy can do by themselves. They seem to be doing most of the heavy lifting already.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Those two are not the issue. There needs to be a designated PXP guy who also handles the TV stuff.

Promos, replay intros, tosses to break and other TV housekeeping stuff is what folks learn from doing it for years. Kind of like AB did.

Look for the off-season to be the time for change. Thankfully, it once again can be a solution that does not require anyone to leave the TV team.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Thanks- super post. Do you think there could be any chance that as DJ becomes more experienced that ESPN might gradually move him over to doing the PBP and move Jerry into more of an analyst role?

Anonymous said...

Hello,
"Hopefully, the team radio hype and the singling-out of Dale Earnhardt Jr. will cease."
I am somewhere between disheartened and shocked, by those who are usually professional enough to stay above this kind of unprofessionalism, & just plain unfairness. There are other drivers they could look at far ahead of (or behind depending on how you look at it) Jr. in the catagories they were mentioning. The sewer was opened last Monday and I was sure that by now it would have been closed. I was wrong.
To look on the plus side, I think Junior has handled all of the "piling-on" this past week with the same graciousness and looking for the high road (& it was hard to find) that he did last year with Teresa. :)
Marybeth

Daly Planet Editor said...

richard,

The best example of this on ESPN is tennis announcer Cliff Drysdale. "Mr. Cliff" as he is called, moved gracefully over from color to PXP.

One thing I would suggest in the NASCAR scenario is that the PXP role is best-served by someone who is not an analyst.

Moving DJ into that position would effectively mute his color analyst role and put him in the position of calling the action and handling the housekeeping duties.

I think he is great in his present role and one small change can put ESPN up to the level of good NASCAR TV that has always been their goal.

JD

majorshouse said...

I enjoyed the way that they did the end especially. It was a really fun race to watch with Biffel, Edwards and Kinseth fightint it out. That is the way that it should be and frankly, I would just love to see Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth without Jerry Punch because they really do add excitement and I love it when they talk over his over used cliches. I am sick of hearing about the Dale, Jr. radio thing because frankly I had to agre with Kyle Petty on Trading Paint. It is a private conversation with the driver and the crew chief and if we don't like it, then we can turn it off. I think too much ahs been amde of this and I don't think he will be a force to deal with in the chase anyhow, so get over it and let them race. I think that Rick Hendrick is spending too much time in his pits and has just let the rest of his teams go and that is really sad especially since his most senior driver is struggling the most and proably needs to most help from Rick, but it surely looks like he has hung him out to dry and that is really sad.

Karen said...

DJ and Andy were really excited in the last 50 laps and it was contagious. So happy Da Biff won. Too bad he's not going to be on TWIN Monday eve. I betcha he wishes he were.

Anonymous said...

Shannon is the worst pit reporter I have ever seen. She asks the dumest questions. They need to replace her with someone who understands racing.When Kyle Bush just had a motor malfunction and headed for the transporter she ran after him to try to stick the microphone in his face and he just brushed her off. After a major setback to his chase standings she is dumb enough to think he wants to talk her.Christa Voda would do so much better!

Anonymous said...
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Vicky D said...

I just thought of this today during Rusty's portion. He's finally pronouncing the names correctly - Kenseth & Gilliland used to cause him all sorts of problems. Good column but I think ESPN & broadcast crews are wpending way too much time on Kyle Busch too and I'm sure Jr. would like less attention.

Ken-Michigan said...

I turned off the ESPN coverage after I witnessed a NON-aggressive Jamie Little in the garage allow Kyle Busch to simply walk to his hauler after his engine let go.

The race was under caution at the time which allowed for a toss to her in the garage with Busch standing only a couple feet from Jamie Little.

Why wasnt the producer yelling " throw to Jamie - Throw it to Jamie" !! ?? Who knows maybe the producer was.

This was the biggest story (at the time) of the Dover race and ESPN / Jamie Little allowed Kyle to whimper back to his hauler.

OK, I hear some of you saying... Kyle needed time to chill out and get in a better mood. HOGWASH !!

ESPN should have thrown it LIVE to Jamie and had her handle it while Kyle was walking to the hauler. If Kyle wanted to blow her off at that LIVE moment... that's his problem and something he'd have to deal with. Jamie would have been doing her job, instead she didn't.

It sure would have generated a bunch more viewers to the next race... instead of making people like myself TURN OFF the race at that point and watch other programming on a Sunday afternoon.

Adam T. Martin said...

I loved the coverage except for a few cons.

-Pre-taped interviews during the race. I really don't like them and they add nothing.

-Dr. Punch getting more animated during promos NOT related to auto racing.

-Brad's cheer leading.

Otherwise, it was a solid day. Audio and video was great.

darbar said...

Is there anything that would permit using talent from other networks on ESPN? Can anyone put certain clauses in their contracts that would allow, say, Mike Joy or Larry Mac to work on ESPN's Nascar coverage? I know there are non-compete clauses placed in contracts all the time, but would anyone ever have the guts to want to work on more than one network? Are the networks too stubborn or selfish with talent that they would not allow this, under any circumstances?

Also, did you all read about the new discrimination lawsuit filed against Nascar by a fired employee? This one is interesting and I'm wondering if anyone will cover this beyond just a mention. Reading about this suit on Nascar.com, I just had to shake my head on this one. This guy actually said he wouldn't have filed suit if Nascar hired him back. But according to the story, this guy threatened to "cut" a fellow employee. You've got to read the quotes by this guy. It's really something and it could be interesting to see how shows like NN would handle this issue.

Anonymous said...

Anon: 7:57pm

It was Jamie Little who was walking after Kyle not Shannon. In my opinion she was just doing her job. Trying to get an interview with the driver after he got out of the car...isn't that what you want from her? You have to admit, sometimes he stops and talks, other times he just walks away. How is she supposed to know the difference.

Vicky D said...

And KB walked directly into his hauler which is off-limits to the media unless invited in. I don't know what else she could have done except trip him.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:06PM,

You are certainly correct. It was Jamie and under the current TV contract Kyle Busch has absolutely no obligation to speak to her.

If simply by giving him a minute to gather his thoughts is going to get him on-camera, her trade-off was a smart one.

By pushing him on the way into the hauler, he may have decided not to do an interview. Its all "feel" for the pits and hopefully now Jamie is getting that experience.

JD

Gymmie said...

@ken--definitely agree! She should have pounced him and if he didn't want to talk then he could have ignored her or otherwise let her know he didn't want to talk at that moment. Even after he did "cool down" it didn't do a lot of good...he was still a Negative Nelly!

@darbar--yes I heard about that latest suit. He's also one of the ones mentioned in the Mauricia Grant suit for "inappropriate" behavior. I have thoughts on it but I'll save it for if JD feels he's worthy of a column :).

Gymmie said...

Guess that's true JD...didn't think about that perspective :)

Anonymous said...

The broadcast was one of the better ones the ABC/ESPN team has provided... but it was still lacking. In a season plagued by poor races, this was easily one of the best. The finish was downright spectacular. And where was the excitement on the air? It just didn't have the feeling of a big event or a climactic finish.

I hate to criticize Jerry Punch, because at this point the poor guy has become an utter punching bag. Unfortunately, however, Punch did little to turn the situation around or change things up in a way that might quell the criticism. Maybe it is me, but it is starting to drive me crazy the way he identifies cars. I am not sure how many times he told us the 16 car was Greg Biffle, even late in the race. At least it makes a good drinking game.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I can't remember which one of the female pit reporters was following around Kyle Busch, but here's a hint. When you have a microphone in your hand and a big story walking by, how about YELLING OUT A QUESTION!

Rick said...

It is possible that Jamie had already asked Kyle or a PR Rep for an interview and was told to wait a few minutes.

If she had chased him shouting questions she would damage what little good will she has with the drivers.

PammH said...

Sorry I can't add much to this, because I just had to mute ESPU off, so I listened to M/PRN. But it burns my butt that the hightlites that even Speed had to show was that stupid from the bumper/inside the car crap!! It was just sad...:( There was a TON of good racing that was missed, as usual.

Anonymous said...

The calling out of each car number has become the most annoying of the many problems Punch has while announcing.

It almost seems like he is reminding himself of who is in each car before he has to say the driver's name and avoid a mistake.

The problem could be because he has to do both races each weekend and can't keep track of the actual driver, but during the second half of the race he should know who is behind the wheel.

Some say they were good today, but Punch takes so much away from the broadcast that I still can't give them credit.

And just as I have mentioned before, you can't keep track of what is happening in the race 90% of the time. I could only go 20 laps before having to revert to MRN and FoxTrax with the sound on mute, only to up the volume when the radio went to commercial.

Matt said...

I don't think it's fair to criticize Jamie for Kyle walking by her. I think it would have looked worse if she went to ask a question and Kyle just blew her off. Since ESPN has slightly "damaged" its relationships with certain drivers lately, that wouldn't have been a good approach.. and I could see Jamie getting criticized if THAT would have happened.

Anonymous said...

It wouldn't have mattered who was calling the last battle for the lead between the "roush-ka-teers". I was yellin' and screamin' at my TV the whole time and didn't hear a thing from the announcers(knocked over my cold beverage and my pack of nabs in the process). Great to see a race for a change. Goes to show that they should build a few more Dovers and Richmonds and not so many Charlottes. I miss the ROCK!

Adam T. Martin said...

ESPN's talent is good.

I just don't get the criticism towards Jaime Little.

By the way, I enjoy Andy Petree more than Larry MacReynolds.

I hope Allen Bestwick is in the booth soon!

I was very happy to see a race.

kang said...

If anyone thinks ESPN performed well today,consider this.The longest green flag run today was 102 laps.During that time ESPN put the time interval up one time.Don't believe it? Check the tape.I did.I will give them credit they put the interval up 33 of the last 36 laps.They got their act together for the last 10 percent of the race.

stricklinfan82 said...

I personally disagree with the criticism of Jamie Little's handling of the Kyle Busch situation. Jamie was there in position and immediately after looking over the car and conversing with the crew, Kyle took off for the transporter. I personally think it would have been worse to stick the microphone in there at that moment. She did the right thing, in my opinion.

There was definitely a lot of great racing for the lead. If that "one little change" that JD has been alluding to - I'll come out and say it, AB and Dr. Punch swapping roles - was in place it really would have made for great TV.

I also agree about the scoring crawl. The intervals should be on the screen all the time. Information like positions gained and points as of now should be displayed vertically on the left of the screen below the crawl, they shouldn't override the intervals. The intervals are a must-have element that should always be there, in my opinion.

And finally, I'm going to beat the drum again.... a vertical drop-down of the finishing results as the cars trip the line at the end of the race would be much more effective. The current horizontal method throws off the timing by several seconds and by using pages of five, each position only stays on the screen for a second or two before immediately disappearing.

Dot said...

JD,

I was really surprised that KyB did an interview today. Do you think NASCAR or Gibbs told him he had to? Seems to me, he would rather have stayed in the hauler.

ri88girl said...

Ken said:

'ESPN should have thrown it LIVE to Jamie and had her handle it while Kyle was walking to the hauler. If Kyle wanted to blow her off at that LIVE moment... that's his problem and something he'd have to deal with. Jamie would have been doing her job, instead she didn't.'

On one level I agree, in that it was on KB to show us his maturity or lack ther of. However, we yell when Jamie gets in drivers' faces and now we yell when she dosen't. I think she is trying to find a balance and for the most part is getting there. By next season, especially if she spends some time with the crews, she should be on the chip.

I would like to see DJ do the PXP. I understand the idea that it might detract from his adding color, but I think there is enough flexability within a race to accomodate this. Let DJ do PXP and add another driver for more color. I don't mean RUSTY! He's just fine where he is. What about Ricky Craven?

Anon 9:48 said

'The problem could be because he has to do both races each weekend and can't keep track of the actual driver, but during the second half of the race he should know who is behind the wheel.'

I mentioned this during the NN race on Saturday. It is two thirds through the season, and I can keep 99% of the numbers/names straight in both series so why can't Punch?

I have resigned myself to the fact that ESPN will not make the needed booth changes until the off season. I do think it would be helpful if Doc would talk less as the race goes on and he runs out of steam. Just do the throws and promos and no more.

I still think it helps when there is a good race going on and it was a treat to see one Sunday.

Anonymous said...

I have no problem with pit reporters approaching drivers,crew chiefs or car owners. They're just doing their jobs. Having said that,I believe that Jamie and Shannon are way over their heads. They parrot back race communications between the teams and often mangle the message. I recall one of those ladies commenting earlier this year on a car having a miss. She said, "He's down seven cylinders." She obviously had no idea how many cylinders these motors have. And there are a few male reporters who are just about as bad. Question, how many drivers is Robby Gordon going mess up during the Chase? I felt so bad for McMurray yesterday. Last week he got Jeff Gordon. The guys is one of the biggest jerks in the garage.

Anonymous said...

By pushing him on the way into the hauler, he may have decided not to do an interview. Its all "feel" for the pits and hopefully now Jamie is getting that experience.


I don't believe that's what happened here, mostly because I don't buy the idea that she has that kind of judgment.

I think she just didn't know what to do when he failed to stop and do an interview.

Vicky D said...

Stricklanfan, I agree with you about the finishing results. I can't read all the names (and there's only 5 of them) before they disappear for the next group but at least we see the cars crossing the line.

Anonymous said...

I have to say it - ESPN had better coverage this weekend! It still had some drawbacks, but obviously they've listened to some of what the fans have said.

Two phrases I don't need to hear again - "He's racing his guts out" and "Where'd he come from?". Biffle was lurking the whole time and since he had won last week, how come the announcer didn't notice him? As for the 'racing his guts out', now there are two using that term and it just throws me back to previous ESPN coverage. Where's the duct tape?!

Anonymous said...

Just a couple of comments . You seem to have a vendetta against Brad . He is no worse , and in many cases better , than 90 % of the talking heads on NASCAR broadcasts . I suspect its something personal you don't like about him .
Note to ESPN . Please drop the Junior High male bonding crap . It is Dale , not DJ . It is Allen , not AB . It is Jerry , not JP .Grow up already .
Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree have proven to be the bright spot in the ESPN broadcasts . Tim Brewer is doing well when he gets something to work with . The show is often tossed to him when there is really nothing very deep to illustrate . He does his best , but the director needs to get a lot smarter about when an expert opinion is really needed versus when something is self explanatory . And that leads to the question of redundency .
We know Jerry punch serves no purpose , nor does Rusty Wallace . He's a great driver , probably a very good person . We have one driver , Dale Jarrett , what does having another driver add to the show ? We have a great crew chief , Andy Petree , what does another crew chief saying essentially the same thing bring to the show . And when commenting on something , Dale , Andy , Jerry , Rusty , and Brad frequently say the exact same thing worded slightly different . Again , the pit reporters not asking questions , only making short speeches and then shoving the mic in the drivers face to let them do the work . And of course the most tasteless interview , Edwards on pit road after the race , the only question asked was designed to get Edwards to say he dissagreed with his crew chief on the tire call . The reason for her asking the question was very transparent . ESPN does love to create controversy where there wasn't any .
More of Jeff Gordon all the time on Sunday . Analysts talking about a driver , only car on screen is Gordon . We all know the reason why of course , but it is irritating .

Tom said...

By now, viewers understand that Brad likes NASCAR and all the good drivers are "wheel men."


I just want to know who Brad thinks ISN'T a "wheel man"!!

Tom
Inverness, FL

chase said...

JD: I enjoyed the race yesterday and I am finally able to ignore Punch's ridiculous attempts at pxp and intros to commercials and concentrate on the race and DJ and Andy.I am also resigned to the fact that ESPN will probably not make any changes in the booth until the off season but, if they are smart, they'll put AB in the booth to do the pxp and rid themselves of Brad (who is annoyingly becoming another Chris Myers). I watched the truck race on Speed and its amazing at the intense excitement those guys in the booth provide along with great pxp coverage - if Speed can do it, why can't ESPN? Great and timely comments by all. Thanks!

Tracy said...

I saw the bridges, several times, mostly when the camera was head-on facing oncoming cars. Am I imagining it?

Turned off MRN to listen to DJ and AP. DJ's excitement and comments were tres cool.

I thought Jamie Little was doing her job when she tried to get Kyle to talk. No problem with her.

Newracefan said...

I thought the calling of the race was better and about half way through I realized it was because DJ and AP were doing most of the PXP and AB would step up at times. At the end DJ and AP were having fun calling the race and telling us how one driver was trying to set up another that's how a race is suppose to be called. The pit reporters still tell me a whole lot of nothing especially Shannon and Jamie. I have no problem with Jamie not sticking a mic in Kyle's face but perhap an evaluation by Jamie about what is going on with the car but then she would have to know what was going on with the car hence the problem.

Did ESPNews show anything except a 1 minute blurb and NN is calling the MN show a "post race show", but that late for east coasters it's too post race and I am watching this am (last day of vacations so won't happen next week).

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:28AM,

Thanks for your comment, but you did not address the Brad Daugherty issue I raised other than to try and say it's personal.

The reason I brought this up is because ESPN brought drivers into the Infield Pit Studio pre-race.

In the past, this has been done during a rain delay, but rarely before a race in firesuits.

While Brad's role is to offer commentary, his questions are elementary at best to the drivers before the race.

Remember, this is the person that ESPN tried very hard to brand as "the voice of the fan" last season to excuse his naive conversations.

Daugherty is fine when talking and debating with Rusty Wallace, however he is essentially useless on NASCAR Now and in pre-race interview settings because he cannot speak to specific NASCAR issues other than ownership with authority or experience.

By the way, saying I dislike him personally is taking the easy way out. How about coming back and telling us what you think he adds to the broadcasts?

JD

Anonymous said...

The problem with Brad is that he doesn't seem to have any understanding of the sport except what he's heard from others.

He's a fine cheerleader, but he doesn't add anything to the broadcast because he seems to know less than a well-versed fan about how things work in stock-car racing.

A hands-off owner (who has never raced and just bought into a team) doesn't necessarily bring anything to the table.

Anonymous said...

Tim Brewer is doing well when he gets something to work with . The show is often tossed to him when there is really nothing very deep to illustrate .

Two weeks ago, he did his explanation and the guys in the booth immediately contradicted him.

The problem goes deeper than just having something to illlustrate.

red said...

all i can say is "no matter how awful the meal, what everyone remembers is the dessert."

i just re-read all the posts from during the race and i have a feeling that the great racing we saw in the last 45 laps has somewhat overshadowed the poor quality of the broadcast over the entirety of the race. yes, there were positives and slight improvements, most notably talking with crew chiefs and some great camera shots. but "the usual suspects" were also part of the broadcast and the middle part was pretty much a wreck.

just a few tidbits from yesterday to illustrate:
* the good hands award by lap 2 - seriously? lap TWO is the best racing of the entire day? either take it seriously or lose the entire concept, guys.
* ONE "thru the field" all day -- and it only went thru the top 10. NO resets of the field beyond the top 10 all day
* Cars off track, in the garage, in the pits with no explanation by the tv crew. MRN apparently was able to inform listeners. see for example nemechek and mcmurray
* same with who is lap down and free pass updating: just didn't happen.
* caution goes to commercials and comes back for drop of green flag: no field reset there either
* to quote a poster "how does anyone that follows the race only by using tv know what's happening to 3/4 of the field?" that's a perfect summary of a MAJOR problem
* espn very late on discussing the leaking grease issue on the #11: again, mrn had is significantly earlier
* green flag pit stops and no split screen to keep an eye on the actual racing
* "tony to 9th no mention" -- and he's a chaser, too!
* lap 235: still no thru the field
* commercials during green flag stops
* "the longer the race has gone on the coverage has gone downhill."
* "100 laps to go. time for the big scene set and entire race recap" -- never happened
* use of the in-car camera to "show" passes during those last 45 laps instead of overhead shot
*this quote about tim brewer summarizes his day: "wonderfully uninformative"
* pit road work generally not strong (altho' there were exceptions). especially horrible: interviewed the crew chiefs of the #1, 3, 4, and 5 top cars at one point -- all chasers -- and omitted the #2 car of mark martin.
* kenseth's pass of edwards at the end and then a throw to a pit report? really? a pit report was more important than what was happening on the track at that moment?

what made the entire broadcast palatable for me was -- the dessert of those last 45 laps. but even there, espn insisted on using the damn in-car camera and so screwed up letting us actually SEE the racing. dj and andy were so animated and their enthusiasm actually brought the entire level of energy up in the booth. THAT'S what i smiled about yesterday: hearing someone actually get excited about what was happening on the track.

so, my opinion is that it wasn't significantly any better than earlier broadcasts by this team and that the same glaring errors continue to plague the broadcast. not all of the problem is dr punch or the pit reporters. seems to me that, if there are folks in this production team who love and understand racing, they're not being heard. there is simply too much other "stuff" being forced onto the broadcasts and so the actual RACE is lost in the shuffle.

Anonymous said...

[b]Maybe it is me, but it is starting to drive me crazy the way Punch identifies cars. I am not sure how many times he told us the 16 car was Greg Biffle, even late in the race. At least it makes a good drinking game.[/b]

YES! The Jerry Punch Drinking Game!

Every time he says "That's the 48 car, Jimmie Johnson" - take a drink!

Every time he says "That's the 18 car, Kyle Busch" - take two drinks!

Every time he mentions someone not in the Chase - Take three drinks!

Zieke said...

Here's the deal. Jamie and Shannon are trying their best as reporters, but we need to realize that the more pressure on the drivers the less they want to talk to anyone when something goes wrong. Also the drivers are quite tired of stupid questions being asked by inexperienced reporters. This is the responsibility of the network to provide proper training for them. I bet Tony Stewart could provide training if needed.

haus20 said...

I watched HOTPASS so I only had ESPN on in a triple screen way, but the one thing that I saw was all Chasers all the time. This has been brought up before, but there are 43 cars on the track. Reutimann, Waltrip and Truex all ran well, but got little if any camera time. There was racing going on all over the track, yet if you only watched ESPN, you never saw it.

I get the feeling that the producer and director of these races has never gone to a race as a fan and therefore doesn't realize that fans watch more than just the leader during the course of the race.

Anonymous said...

Not much coverage of the race on ESPN News and SportsCenter. I watched the first live SportsCenter this morning and they didn't mention NASCAR until 9:43 am (show started at 9) and were done by 9:45. No interviews, no sound bites from drivers. Same thing I saw on SportsCenter last night. Very late and very brief coverage.

ESPN News is a joke when it comes to NASCAR (though it's great for other sports because of the press conferences). I watched for a while last night sometime before 8 pm. They showed the race highlights, but didn't show the VL interview or anything from the drivers at the Media Center during the time I watched (I bet ESPN News didn't even show anything to from the Media Center yesterday).

Then, when giving the Chase standings at the end, the one anchor says something like "So, Biffle has won the first two Chase races, but somehow he's still not in first place. He's 10 points behind tied with Jimmie Johnson." There was a pause and you could hear a little bit of talking (the music was loud), and the other anchor said something like "Yeah, I don't get why he's not in first place either."

Apparently it's not embarrassing at ESPN to be an anchor yet admit you know nothing about the playoff format for one of the major sports they show each week. That's one thing that remains unchanged from last year.

Anonymous said...

Fingernails on the chalkboard, that's how Jerry Punch is making me feel every race. We've said week after week what's bothering us about him but week after week we get the same ole Dr. Punch calling the races.

You'd think after months of us complaining, someone would pull him aside and tell him this stuff. While listening to him yesterday, I finally figured out who he reminds me of, Mr. Haney from 'Green Acres". They both have that occasional yodel in their voices. So from now on, I'll refer to him as Mr. Haney.

This race broadcast was somewhat better but still not as good as it should or could be after months of coverage. During most races, you can't tell by the tight camera shots, if you're watching a race or qualifying. Tight shots of just one car works well for qualifying but stinks for actual race coverage.

I'm also not a fan of DJ's choppy, jerky voice either. To me he always sounds as if he's reading, and not a very good reader at that. For instance, can't he ad lib the question(s) of the week. "Our first question is, Our second question comes from". Same deliverly every week.

Hate to say it but I'm right where I was last year at this time, ready for the season to end. I can't take this much longer.

Steve L.

Jo said...

I waited to post to give yesterdays "coverage of the race with many names" time to settle in (& watch my Cowboys play)

The "coverage" was decent, I'm not as pleased as JD with it. On the other hand it wasn't a disaster either.

Jamie ( who I don't like) did the right thing by not stirring the pot & going for the cheap sound bite by pressing the issue w/Kylie crybaby. Jeff was right Kylie- doesn't have the mental toughness to be champ this season. I wonder if Tony or Jr would have been treated the same? We fans don't like it when drivers are "ambushed" or given a break by the media. A non winning situation.

To what is STILL wrong ( this late in the season)

- pre-taped driver interviews in large box & a small box w/1 car during green flag racing

- PbP I like Doc & he's still in the wrong job IMHO. DJ & Andy had to talk over his stat ramble to call the race.Lag time has been well documented. Not good, not acceptable, not justifiable to wreck Docs' reputation because some suit put him in the wrong job.

-I'm glad espn can afford all the bells & whistles IF used sparingly,
judiciously and not full screen under green they would probably enhance the race. We will never know - good judgment on this is NOT something espn will ever be accused of.

- Full screen graphics, tickers & other junk on screen. Lets start with the tickers. OK I get the one on top. espn knows they have no one who can QUICKLY go thru the field, so just run a ticker. espn has admitted defeat on that. The ticker below that when it turns to Chase standing "if the race ended now" OK espn doesn't get NASCAR at all. Chase positions change at the end of the race unless a driver is out (like Kyle who dropped like a lead weight) please wait till the END & UPDATE US.

- the GOOD HANDS of the race in Lap 5!!?? hello ...sound stupid? Why not wait - if its that dang good remind us later.

-AND last but not least call the RACE BY ITS NAME, not whoever bought time w/espn. It could be the Camping World la te da brought to you by XYZ on espn on ABC. But call it by what it is!!!!Really here now get it together.

espn has had all season to work out the "bugs" - now we are in the Chase and it still isn't right!
I should NOT NEED to multi-task to get complete coverage of the race on the track this late in the season.espn on abc does not make a good media partner for FANS.
I can't wait for them to go away!
Counting the days till speed weeks.

Brian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brian said...

As a Michael Waltrip Racing fan, I really appreciated DJ giving them shout outs, and the ESPN guys showing the 44 and 55 car several times.

Even though they had no time to interview Mikey, I was really happy with Brad and Rusty giving Mikey a shout out in the closing stint.

The broadcast and the race really wasn't bad for Dover.

I enjoyed it.

Anonymous said...

Why can't they just call the race as it happens. As always there is way too much pre-determined coverage. "We need to talk about this, we need to talk about that..." I've seen some races on ESPN Classic recently and the difference is night and day. Watching a race from the 90's when Dale Sr. is having a bad race and not hearing a single thing about it was heaven. Today Dale Jr. gets passed and 20 minutes is spent trying to figure out why.

Watch the race, tell us what is happening, then sort it out when its over.

Tracy said...

YES! The Jerry Punch Drinking Game!

"Every time he says "That's the 48 car, Jimmie Johnson" - take a drink!

Every time he says "That's the 18 car, Kyle Busch" - take two drinks!

Every time he mentions someone not in the Chase - Take three drinks!"

ROFLOL! Now that's a creative way to handle the announcing.

Anonymous said...

I suggesteed this a while back. you forgot...

When Punch calls a driver a "young man," a take a drink.

When he lists all the cars on the screen (i.e., "there's 16 car, Greg Biffle, the 26, Jamie McMurray, the 20, Tony Stewart") take a drink.

When he says a car "sails into turn ___" take a drink.

When he says, "For all you ___fans," take a drink.

When he says, "If you're just joining us," take a drink.

...there are probably more that'd work. But this is a just a sample.

Jo said...

@anon152

I tried it one race. Was looped up by lap 100 - never again!

Anonymous said...

Apparently it's not embarrassing at ESPN to be an anchor yet admit you know nothing about the playoff format for one of the major sports they show each week. That's one thing that remains unchanged from last year.

They seem to take it as some kind of badge of pride that they don't understand NASCAR.

They'd never act that way around football or baseball.

Ziggy said...

Anon: 1:52PM

Here's another one:
Take 10 drinks for....
"Where did he come from ?" (second straight week).

Like I said for the proior 2 weeks:
"Send The Doc to The Pits"

Z

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Regarding Brad D. I really like him, but he doesn't offer anything of substance. Not sure why they need a voice of the fan role.

I am a fan and I have my own voice.

Calling a race with excitement, giving updates on what is happening everywhere on the track, noting lucky dogs, following up on pit strategys, mentioning cars off, etc. That would be "speaking" for me, the fan

Note to ESPN...Watch the Truck races!!

You have 3 individuals who are genuinely enthusiastic about the sport they are calling.

With the ESPN trio, AP and DJ (note: we aren't being childish, we are saving retyping names) are held back by JP.

Bottom line. You need an enthusiastic PxP guy, that the color analysts can feed off.

Compare the pit reporters from trucks. Why is it I always feel I am getting relevant info from them? Yet, with ESPN, that rarely happens...just mindless, obvious drivel.

As far as getting interviews with drivers off track in the garage. I really don't care if it's immediately or a few minutes later. As long as there is an interview. And not just the chosen ones.

Some one said the Chase format has caused this coverage of only the chosen few. What would ESPN be covering if someone was up 400 points and the chance of anyone catching them was nil? If they produce snoozers with 12 drivers involved in the Championship, can't even imagine what they would do with one driver. Not sure they would cover the entire field. Don't think they get that concept.

Anonymous said...

Brad brings exactly what he was hired for . The casual fans perspective . And the casual fan would be just as clueless as Brad sometimes appears to be . But as you well know , Brad is anything but clueless concerning NASCAR . Lifelong passionate fan . Owner and part owner of several teams . I'd say he's acting the part he was hired to play .
Now if you really feel the need to justify the various participants in these telecasts , be my guest . I'll give you some help . If the mics of Jerry , Rusty , Brad , Tim , and every single pit reporter imcluding Bestwick had been turned on from the green flag right to the checker you would not be missing one single important detail of the race . NOT ONE . All of the above added nothing of REAL substance to the broadcast . I recall a number of posts that have mentioned how good the F1 race broadcasts are , and wondering how that could be with only three announcers and one seldom heard from pit reporter . The truth is thats all you need . And maybe not even that many . On second thought i don't want to give SPEED any ideas . Don't mess with the F1 shows . They really are good .
The point is , all of the on air talent apart from Dale and Andy are totally unnecessary . Background noise . And the same goes for the other networks who do NASCAR broadcasts . The race at Dover for example . There was not one single sentence uttered by the above names that made the slightest impact on the fans ability to watch and understand the race . Dale and Andy covered everything very well , and could easily have done the pit reportes job as well , because there were no insights given to us in those any of those interviews .
Try this . During the next NASCAR broadcast , after every sentence by anyone other than Dale or Andy ask yourself if you honestly just learned something you didn't know , hadn't already figured out for yourself , wasn't blatently obvious , or was being mentioned for the umpteenth time . Believe me , if you try this you'll understand that most of the many talking heads in each race broadcast are not needed . Besides , much less talk would mean much more open mics in the cars . Theres no announcer that can hold a candle to the sound of a race engine .

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 3:39PM,

I don't know how many races you have watched this season on ESPN and how many episodes of NASCAR Now.

This year, Brad has been "re-branded" as an expert and that is my problem with his role.

I liked him as the casual fan. I liked him talking about owners issues and diversity. Those two things he can speak to on national TV because of his direct participation.

Unfortunately, when all of the other ESPN on-air talent were slugging it out in the NASCAR trenches, Daugherty was playing professional basketball.

I appreciate him as a person and I enjoy his comments as a fan. My point from my column is that when drivers came into the Infield Pit Studio at Dover, he just said cheerleader things instead of asking about the issues the fans want to know.

As one poster put it earlier, she is already a fan and does not need another one in the middle of the TV crew.

When talking with Rusty Wallace, debating issues or asking questions of the booth during the race, he seems to be a nice guy.

JD

Anonymous said...

I am stunned about people upset that Jamie ndidnt immeaditly pounce on Kyle Busch when he got out of the car. These are the same people that say ESPN is too harsh on drivers. So they give the driver a chance to cool down, and you get upset? Are we being a bit hypocritical here?

Anonymous said...

I imagine that Brad said cheerleader things to the drivers because he IS a fan and those are the types of things the fans often say to their heros . But probably , like me , he can't think of one single question to ask any NASCAR driver that would illuminate anything, or one that wasn't pure fluff , or one that hasn't already been asked on every show and every driver appearence by every announcer and every fan at every race in every season for the last ten years . At least not a question that the answer would be any of his business .

Karen said...

re: Brad

I thought his question to Da Biff about why he resigned with Roush was very significant and garnered a thoughtful response from Biffle about BP. I personally like Brad a lot.

Bulldawg said...

A little late on this commentary I know, but just wanted to add a slightly different perspective. I was at the race yesterday and listned to a fair amount of the ESPN coverage on the scanner during during the race. I can't really explain it, but I found myself really enjoying listening to ESPN's commentary while being able to watch the track with my own eyes. When I'm at the races I usually toggle between MRN, TV, and various drivers. Like MRN the best, but don't always need to hear everything when it's happening right in front of me. Might have been the good racing at the end, but I really enjoyed listening to the last 30 minutes of ESPN coverage. Lots of energy, excitement, and good commentary. For a fan in the stands, it was a very good mix of appropriate talk with pauses to just plain watch the good racing!

Jo said...

Bulldawg said...

A little late on this commentary I know, but just wanted to add a slightly different perspective. I was at the race yesterday and listned to a fair amount of the ESPN coverage on the scanner during during the race. I can't really explain it, but I found myself really enjoying listening to ESPN's commentary while being able to watch the track with my own eyes.

September 22, 2008 10:11 PM
---
Bulldawg I'm jealous, that said,
We weren't at the track, we were watching at home.
Please understand we ONLY got to see what espn on abc chose to let us see.
And alot of the times the deafening sound of silence wasn't what was needed.

Tom said...

although I agree overall with your assesment of Brad, JD, I disagree with your take on WHY he is fairly useless. Any person, given time, access, and a critical eye can make good comments about racing. It seems that many of us here, who as a rule have lives far from the track seem to "get it" moreso than he does. Just because a person has other obligations (such as playing in the NBA) in the past SHOULD not interfere with being a relevant commentator today. What it comes down to is what a person is WILLING to say. Brad was friends with Bill Jr., probably has a very good idea what is going on, but just will not be critical in any way, shape, or form. The best we can hope for is that he may agree with someone who is critical, but no original thought there. I believe he is unwilling or unable to be an effective voice, because either he is just another shill for NASCAR and doesn't want to rock the boat, or he just is unable to come up with effective commentary because he truly has no critical eye.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

I imagine that Brad said cheerleader things to the drivers because he IS a fan and those are the types of things the fans often say to their heros . But probably , like me , he can't think of one single question to ask any NASCAR driver that would illuminate anything, or one that wasn't pure fluff , or one that hasn't already been asked on every show and every driver appearence by every announcer and every fan at every race in every season for the last ten years .

Difference is, unlike you, he's being paid a good deal of money to be able to think of those questions. If he can't do it, give the job to someone who can.