Sunday, September 28, 2008
Sprint Cup Series From Kansas On ABC Sports
All the ingredients are in place for NASCAR this Sunday. Nice weather, good storylines and many Chasers starting from the back of the pack. The challenge for the ESPN on ABC crew is to translate that into a dynamic TV presentation.
Setting the table at 1PM Eastern Time will be Allen Bestwick and the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. Joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, Bestwick will have plenty of good content for this hour.
Bestwick has made this pre-race show a solid program through the use of all four ESPN pit reporters and Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree upstairs in the booth. Last week, Bestwick welcomed drivers into the Infield Pit Studio and let Wallace and Daugherty interview them directly.
Wallace continues to voice his opinions on a regular basis. Love him or hate him, Wallace has added a spice to the program that it needed. Daugherty has been trying to escape his catch phrases and cheerleading, but it is a struggle. His opinions are solid when he allows himself to step outside the cheerleader role and offer his personal perspective as a fan.
During this pre-race show, watch for which pit reporters are paired with which drivers. As you may know from previous columns, pit reporters are assigned drivers in advance and stay with them all the way through the post-race show. Who has who should be interesting.
Bestwick will transition to Dr. Jerry Punch for the call of the race at 2PM. This is a great track for TV coverage with outstanding sound and pictures. Punch has the task of trying to keep viewers informed on two very distinct topics. The actual flow of the race vs. the location of The Chasers during the event.
Jarrett and Petree have not been shy about stepping-in and adding to the content of what is traditionally the play-by-play role. Both have contributed from their own driver and crew chief/owner perspectives to all of the Sprint Cup races since coverage shifted to the ESPN/ABC TV package.
Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center with his own challenge. NASCAR fans have been watching the sport since February and do not need another introduction to terms like loose and tight and lug nuts. Since ESPN put Draft Track on the shelf, Brewer is going to be on-the-spot for adding information that TV viewers can use.
Between engine woes and on-track incidents, drivers who fall out of the race will not be in the best of moods where TV interviews are concerned. The challenge for the ESPN on ABC crew is to get these interviews and when a driver turns-down an opportunity, make sure to tell the TV viewers that fact.
When the race is in-progress, look for the triple splits on the pit stops, the double video boxes during Tech Center segments and how ESPN uses the team radio chatter. Drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. were outspoken on NASCAR Now earlier in the week about ESPN's use of team radios in a sensationalized manner.
This might be exactly the race that ESPN and NASCAR ordered. Good pictures, solid racing and lots of stories to finally get the fans involved in The Chase this season.
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