Friday, October 24, 2008
NASCAR Fans Speak Out On TV Coverage
The short track at Martinsville forced the ESPN on ABC coverage crew to use everything at their disposal to keep viewers informed about what was happening in this very long event.
Cameras were all over the place with everything from in-car cameras to aerial views contributing to a High Definition portrait of the track called the paperclip. Two drag races and two tight turns put brakes, tires and tempers to the test every time the Sprint Cup Series comes to town.
All of the stars of the NASCAR on ESPN crew were on-hand and well informed about the issues teams would be facing this weekend. A Friday rainout let Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree take some time to talk about how The Chase for the Championship would shake-out. Practice coverage on Saturday gave the crew an opportunity to get a final look at the teams before raceday.
Punch was wonderful when directing the coverage from the Infield Pit Studio on Friday and Saturday. Then, he once again assumed the role that has troubled these telecasts for months. He moved to the play-by-play position.
After pre-race host Allen Bestwick handed off to Punch, things took on a familiar feeling for TV viewers. The telecast slowly began to drift like a rudderless ship until the frustration level of the viewers surpassed that of the drivers on the track.
This season, Jarrett and Petree have tried everything possible to add their own voices to what should be the exciting play-by-play call of the races. Now, the pit reporters are also chiming-in to try and generate some interest during the long green flag runs. It is not enough.
Punch again added a lifeless commentary that featured no excitement and generated absolutely no interest. The dominance of Jimmie Johnson should have immediately pushed the ESPN crew to other stories and it did not. Lap-after-lap of Punch's commentary consisted entirely of car numbers, driver names and lap counts.
With one hundred laps gone, Punch was still trying to keep track of who was where. By the time the race hit the halfway mark, he was lost once again and just randomly talking about issues and asking questions. The pit reporters doggedly tried two updates during the event, but both were too short and covered too few cars.
Petree and Jarrett called every incident on the track, they added the excitement when contact was being made or when a critical pass was underway. It fell to Petree to put things in the broader perspective because Punch was completely useless.
As we have seen so many times with ESPN the pictures were great, the sound was fantastic and the entire race was technically sound. A nice wideshot of the finish line helped viewers to at least see the finish, which was not even called by Punch.
These items have been repeated by TDP several times this season. We would invite you to take a moment and leave your opinion of the ESPN on ABC coverage of The Chase up to this point. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by.