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.


Anonymous said...

The coverage was so exciting that I slept through the middle half of the race. It's bad when you watch the race and the only thing that tells what is happening in the race is the scroll at the top of the screen. The coverage was about as exciting as a poetry reading.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Nice touch to talk with Chad Knaus after the race. Massaro is a pro.

Jessica said...

From the other post- JD do we get post-race full press conference anywhere?

Daly Planet Editor said...

No Jess, ESPNEWS stopped that when the football season started.

The only place to see it is online at where the post-race show is free and they have the coverage.


Anonymous said...

Kinda odd that the last words Jerry said was "Coming off of turn 4...". Then nothing. He already declared Jimmie the winner in turn 3 and then he gave up. Once again this week MRN Radio will be used to recap the race since Jerry has no clue what to do. Good job by Jarret and Petree to try and save the telecast.

Anonymous said...

I finally gave up on ESPN today and listened to the end of the race on MRN. There's just not much more that can be said - the same problems return week after week and ESPN refuses to make one small switch that would help matters immensely.

bevo said...

Lifeless. It amazes me that they could take Martinsville and turn it into a Sunday afternoon golf tournament, turn it on and take a nap on the couch.

I passed up the HotPass coverage today, I will not do that again.

Jessica said...

If NASCAR is a professional sport it needs better coverage. Like its own network where a fan could get post-race coverage during the PLAYOFFS.

Anonymous said...

finally gave up on ESPN today and listened to the end of the race on MRN. There's just not much more that can be said - the same problems return week after week and ESPN refuses to make one small switch that would help matters immensely.

Anonymous said...

the race sounded better than the TV coverage was. i assumed that though and planned ahead. espn is bad!

Lisa Hogan said...

I was not able to go to Martinsville this time; so I admit coming from a major pout position.

There’s always something going on in my household so I am not in an isolation bubble during the race. Because of that, I usually just have the race on TV and multi-task on my real life during yellow or red flags.

Today ESPN on ABC got the better of me and I left the TV, for the most part, and listened to the race on MRN. I came back to the TV with about 60 laps to go. And even then, I had to keep the sound muted and just watch the cars.

Would anyone believe that a Martinsville race is boring? If you watched ABC, that’s what you would think. I guess knowing what good racing was going on, that I wasn’t being shown, made it all worse.

We had a PXP announcer that could only call out car numbers, read stats, and throw it to someone else. We had a director following a script that evidently is written in some ancient language that only he can decipher.

As we have been saying for two seasons now, hire Mike Wells to be the director during ESPN Cup coverage. Put Bestwick in the booth. If those changes were made, I could put up with the inane pit reporters.

I enjoyed reading the race comments. Thanks again for this site, JD. :)

Newracefan said...

There was absolutely no PXP today, even DJ and AP didn't step up enough I wonder if they were told not to. Seemed to get a LITTLE more information about nonchasers but it was sometimes way too late. There were many drivers/teams that were NEVER mentioned and some of them ran very well. For as much fender banging that obviously was going on based on the reports from the MRN listeners this was pretty sad.

alex said...

I don't even know where to start.

Unusual music choices, in-car cameras, PxP, tight camera shots that don't show cars relative to others on the track, fascination with the leader, obsession with the chase, tech center in the big window and racing in the little window, fluff over substance... you name it, it still bothers me, it still hasn't changed, and I'll put down money that it doesn't change for the rest of the season.

One more: I've been watching since Friday and I'm pulling my hair out every time they show the clip of Dale Jr saying Martinsville is like a day-care center. It might be true, but it's like ESPN only has one pre-recorded piece to show. I counted 4 times, and I didn't even watch the practice sessions.

Dot said...

If I wasn't on this site during the race, it would be unbearable. The comments here offer insight and humor. Thanks to you who have Hot Pass and access to MRN.

The Race View thing is lame. Too cartoonish. I did listen to various scanners today. I like that. The drivers don't talk much at Martinsville though. I wish the scanner part was free all the time. Or at least during the Chase since ESPU tortures us with all Chasers all the time.

Haus14 said...

Well, add me to the napper list. From about 150 to 350, I was snoozin'. After that, I flipped through the hot pass drivers and definitely enjoyed Rick Allen and Phil Parsons on the Jr. channel. Once again, they do a better job of calling the entire race than the "offical" race broadcast team.

It is too bad DirecTv doesn't offer the option of choosing your play by play team on the national channel.

Anonymous said...

I almost napped as well Ken.

@anon 5:33--that's what's so sad. He'll say something and you're sitting there waiting for him to continue and it's nothing but *crickets*. And you're wondering did your sound suddenly go out? Did you suddenly go deaf? It's truly a shame :(.

We shouldn't have to have 50 things going on simultaneously to figure out what's going on. We should be able to tune into ONE source and even if we step away and are getting a snack or beverage and have our backs turned, we should be able to picture what's going on and come running because of a wreck or other calamity. But as it is, there are "announced" as if one is speaking about the sunny day outside. And the commercials are treated with excitement.

Very classy of Jeff...always watching the tapes and learning :). No blaming the crew for not seeing it and not backing him up first. Just knew it was one of those "deals" and is moving on :)

Brian said...

I generally bite my tounge on issues related to TV coverage but I am going to speak up about this. Because I know things go better when comments start positive I will do that. THANK YOU for giving us some post race ESPN. I know there are times when the race runs late, but at that point NBC would always push back their evening schedule 30 minutes to provide is with SOMETHING other than just the winners interview.

There are several issues I have with the ESPN coverage. The biggest one is Jerry Punch as a play by play announcer. As many others have said when all you get are car numbers and positions you can have a dog bark them or a horse stomp them.


yes I am screaming that.

That one change will fix most of the other issues about actual race coverage. so PLEASE ESPN pay what ever fee you need to pay Dr. Punch to get him out of the booth, and pay Allen whatever it takes to get him in the booth as the play by play announcer. Without it you will lose your audience and then your advertisers.

Anonymous said...

The ESPN coverage is the same to me as it it has always been - unexciting. Too bad, because Jimmie Johnson deserves incredible accolades (as a great American athlete in general, not just a driver) for what's he doing three years in a row, and it's just sort of ho-hum as presented by ESPN.

I will say I don't understand why people get upset with the music bumpers, though. Not every fan is going to like the same kind of music. It's 10 seconds out of your life and you won't even remember it next week - or tomorrow. No big deal. There are bigger fish to fry with these broadcasts.

I'm just trying to figure out how NASCAR is going to explain leaving multiple race winner (and the cause for most of the excitement in a lackluster season) Kyle Busch, currently in 12th place, out of Champion's Week events in NYC (current policy calls for only the top 10 to attend the events and speak at the banquet, since being in the top 10 is a "reward", according to the NASCAR spokespeople.)

Will ESPN2 or Classic even bother to cover Champion's Week and the banquet anyway?....

Anonymous said...

aw, jd, what more can i possibly say? nothing was different today, it was all the same junk, just a different track. if i thought espn gave a damn, i'd spend the time to offer my criticism. i just don't believe it matters any more.

i do have to disagree with you about the camera shots: i don't think we saw any improvement over previous weeks. still too many tight shots, one car shots, shots of something on the track and the booth talking about something else. i accept that it had to be tough to get the shots because of the new billboard screen at the track but that wasn't even the problem. it was just more of the same lousy shots that lead to the unfortunate conclusion that either folks don't KNOW what to show when shooting a race or they don't care.

i will search out my local mrn/prn station next week so that i can at least enjoy the broadcast. it was an education for me today, watching with the mute on and mrn coming over the laptop. i'll continue to add fox trax to the mix as well. i will only use espn for the visuals. that means that the totality of my engagement with espn each week is . . . the visual of the race. a whole lot different than even last season where i worked hard to watch all programs in the race week, read the onlline site daily and buy the magazine.

espn: really, gang, you should be ashamed. really. you're taking a great product and destroying it, week in and out, for the most diehard fans around. we WANT to feel better about your work, we WANT to be able to give you all an "attaboy." apparently, not gonna happen.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else feel like the coverage today in addition to the race results will result in lower race attendance and a smaller TV audience for the rest of the year? The lack of suspense in the chase and the lack of excitement from the broadcast makes it really difficult to set aside the time to suffer through the races.

stricklinfan82 said...

The production truck continues to disappoint by ignoring side-by-side racing with pre-taped videos, Tech Center pieces, bumper cams, and the leader running around by himself.

SEVERAL non-Chasers went behind the wall, not a single one was ever interviewed. Even Jamie McMurray who ran in the top 5 for what, 200-300 laps, was never interviewed when he fell out. Had a single Chaser fallen out today I'm sure based on weeks of past precendence that an ESPN pit reporter would have been sent right to the car or the exit of the infield care center.

The play-by-play situation needs to be addressed as well. As I have said many times this year Punch is an extremely valuable asset to this team, but he needs to be in the pit studio. In fact he already spent the day doing the job of a studio host. He read stats, asked questions of the analysts, and read promos. What he did not do was call the play-by-play. Shannon Spake did more calling of the action when her 'Up to Speed' reports were interrupted by side-by-side racing than Punch did during the race. In my opinion ESPN needs to let Punch move to the studio where he can do the same job he's doing now, and fill the current play-by-play position void with Allen Bestwick.

Again, I'm not trying to sound like I dislike Punch. He's not just good, he's great, and undoubtedly a future NASCAR Hall-of-Famer in my mind. He needs to be put in a position where he can thrive though. I continue to feel terrible when I hear newer fans completely bash the man, because all they know of him is what they've seen in this current play-by-play role. They don't understand he is truly a gem among NASCAR broadcasters, and they didn't see or hear his magnificent work on ESPN, ABC, and MRN in the 80's and 90's. He's just being put in an extremely terrible position by the "powers that be", a position that does not suit his hall-of-fame credentials as a broadcaster.

Haus14 said...

Maybe this pathetic coverage will motivate more fans to go to the track since at least you can see all the cars on the track there.

Jessica said...

I think we could have a new segment. "What are you wearing Scott Speed?"

Daly Planet Editor said...

The fact that the ESPN crew just signed-off the air choosing not to promote that SPEED had stepped-in and agreed to simulcast the Memphis Nationwide Series race was absolutely amazing.

Anonymous said...

Thank God in Heaven above for MRN. At least I was able to get a field reset, info on who was off the track & why, & who pitted and what they did.

Fans were completely uninformed by the tv partner of na$car the world wide leader in(stick & ball)sports. PxP was literally non existent period. DJ & AP tried to fill in, but, I can't help but wonder if they would stop because it looked like Doc was gonna talk or they were told to shut up by the truck.

Silence is golden - dead air by the PxP guy on TV is not.

Thanks for finally showing the cars on lead lap cross the finish line, and the post race interviews which are still on.

Tight camera shots are not good in excess. Yes they are pretty cars, but look better when they are on track & moving when shown in groups.
Please feel free to show the passing, I know it happened, MRN talked about it, Fox Trax kept updating, and PitComm. showed it. Please note who is NOT listed above
(hint 4letters on 3 letters both start w/vowels)

I should NOT Need to Multi -Task to Get Complete Coverage

Also the following should Never be heard on a tv broad cast of any race

- Wow where did he come from
(Answer to tv is - well you are there its your job to tell me)

- telling us more than 1 (ONE)
time how many times former racer in booth won at any track
( Did you guys know cRusty won at Martinsville 7 times?)
- NEVER just say car numbers like you are calling Bingo!
( do I really have to extrapolate/explain/diagram that?)

And the 1 thing we fans want is a mention of every EVERY driver on the track. Fans do Not change allegiance because their driver is out of the Chase.

This is Not Stick & Ball. Please try to learn that.

Vicky D said...

I didn't see much of this race and came in with about 150 laps to go and thought it was another plain ho hum broadcast. We saw the cars crossing the finish line - better than watching a wife or the pit crew jumping up and down. Maybe next week . . . .

alex said...

This might be out of place to post here, but a response to the in-race discussion of ESPN killing a Nascar fan's fandom:

As Vince McMahon would say, "ESPN didn't kill Nascar, Nascar killed Nascar". Things were great 10 years ago and Nascar felt the need to make changes to improve the racing. The TV contract was a good idea in theory, so you don't have to research each week to find what channel the race is on, and the safety initiatives have been worth all the time, money, and effort. That said, Nascar has done many things detrimental to the sport.

The new car (could they have made a safer car without splitters and wings? It alienates many fans since it doesn't look like a traditional stock car), moving dates from Rockingham and Darlington, the mess at California Speedway, the "Chase" and how it takes away from the other 31 cars, the Buswackers taking over the Nationwide series, the search for the elusive "casual" fan, setting limits to how many cars an owner can have, then allowing 10 car "satellite" superteams, clauses with sponsorship and the series name (sprint/nextel/cingular/alltel), the top-35 rule..... I could go on.

ESPN is a whole other mess and they certainly don't help things, you could argue that the sport has recieved more exposure through ESPN/ABC, but at what cost? Nascar has bent over backward to fit into ESPN's mold of what sports should be, and all they get in return is 15 seconds on Sportscenter and a whole group of tv hosts who mock Nascar. This sport is quickly turning into the opposite of the sport I grew to love many years ago.

I would imagine that I'm not the only person who feels this way, and several years ago I couldn't have imagined being so turned off to nascar that I'm not interested in watching the races. However, that's starting to happen, and even though ESPN's coverage is atrocious, I don't blame them. I don't even know if Nascar recognizes this, or they only see the $$$. When many of the old fans leave, will they notice? Will they care? I hope I don't have to find out. Nascar got themselves in this mess and they need to get themselves out of it.

Dot said...

@ Haus20, Your idea would work if you live close to them. I can go to LVMS it's only 15 miles from my house. I could drive to Fontana, but I won't. Same thing w/Phx. With hotel prices, gas prices, etc going to races is not an option for alot of fans. Plus, things are missed during the race when you're there. If you're looking at turn 2 and a wreck happens in turn 4, you miss it. I have taped races that I attended for this reason. I watch races on TV hoping to see the action as it unfolds. Thanks to ESPUs coverage, we get to see them on replays.

I'm still in shock that they had an extended post race show. They need to do this every week.

Dan said...

Add me to the nap list. I fell asleep halfway and woke up just in time for the finish. And by the sounds of it, I missed nothing.

I am getting frustrated that we're basically hearing about a 12 car field when theres 31 other cars out there at the same time.

I also felt a big story today was Scott Speed's first Cup race after switching from F1. Having Rusty come right out and say he didn't even pay attention to Speed had to be the most horrible thing I've heard all year from an announcer yet.

Anonymous said...

I have a few other gripes to elaborate on.

-Pre-taped interviews.

-multiple tech centers

-inappropriate times for a commercial break.

Apologies for my mood. I did like the sound, visuals, Andy, Dale, and the pit reporters. I'm also glad that they cut down the pre-race show to only 30 minutes.

Anonymous said...

The post race was great. Scott Speed was interviewed. Then, ESPN went back to AB and Rusty. AB asked Rusty if he watched Speed today and Rusty said he only saw Speed when he looked out of the windows. Rusty was the lucky one. That sums up the ESPN coverage about right.
The rest of us never saw him or heard about him. Unless I missed it when I was napping too.

Anonymous said...

For the first time in all my years of watching that goes to Wide World Of Sports I fell asleep during a Cup race, I switched From HotPass To ABC/ESPN with about 100 to go and woke with about 33 to go. DJP is just not in his element DJ and AP carry the load ,which would be ok if that was how it was supposed to be,but you can tell they know they just have to. Bumper cams, prerecorded interveiws during green flag runs let alone passing for top postions , just don't make sense. I honestly see more about other drivers and teams on designated team channels on DirecTv HotPass then on the ESPN/ABC broadcast. To not try to change where the weakness is just tells me they don't care. That is to bad because I would like to beable to watch their broadcast just for the reason I am an Andy Petree fan and have always liked and respected Dale Jarrett as well as Dr Jerry Punch,as for Dr. Punch I just don't think he is in the right postion. As far as Dale Jarrett goes I do like him in the booth,I think he does a very good job as does Andy Petree but you can only do so much with what you are given to work with.

Anonymous said...

I will say it again, switch Bestwick and Punch. I only watched the last 150 or so laps. The rest I watch on the free RaceView with MRN Radio. It was a lot more exciting.

Anonymous said...

When I need to listen to MRN and use Pit Command to be able to tell what's happening on the track, ESPN is clearly not doing its job.

PammH said...

Best part about today's coverage?? Loooong post-race coverage & Brad not being thrown to as they went to commercial during the pre-race! Yep, we notice silly things like that...Rest of the time I mostly listened to MRN, so I would have a clue what was going on. BTW, just an aside. CANNOT handle the traffic when they offer free RV. I really feel for the folks that pay. They get cheated, imo.

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Anonymous said...

As promised, I tuned in to MRN and muted ESPN's coverage. Made the race fun!!! Didn't have to listen to anything irritating and didn't miss a single bit of action on the track. When the race was over, I did unmute ESPN so I could hear the interviews they did and was very surprised that their coverage went on for so many of the drivers. Next week - same action by me. It's amazing how enjoyable a race can be when a certain voice isn't driving you up a wall!

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. Make that TWO voices - Rusty isn't on my Christmas card list either....

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous. This could have been one of the worst races I have seen in a long time. We need some better anouncers, and we need and want more action!

Daly Planet Editor said...

TDP is a TV-related blog. Our topic today is the ABC Sports coverage of the Martinsville race.

The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page.



Rockin Rich said...

Just two observations that really stood out to me today:

• When Capt. Crunch, (Robbie Gordon), was shown going behind the wall, the booth just kept on talking about whatever part of the script they were on despite the fact that the camera stayed on Robo for a very long time. I guess the truck was waiting, (hoping?), for the booth to pick up the action. I guess that the booth not only don't look out the window at the track, they don't even look at their displays when they get into their script reading.

• Bestwick at the end of the post race segment alerting the audience to tune into ESPN Classic for Nationwide race coverage, and not mentioning Speed. This was Bestwick, not Dr. Jerry! How the Hell does ESPN expect Speed to continue to cooperate with them when they are treat Speed like this? As I have posted elsewhere, ESPN's behavior just boggles my mind.

Dot said...

@ Alex 6:12 pm,

I just now read your comment. BRAVO. You deserve a standing ovation for putting into words what I'm sure we all think. (I was going to type feel, lol). The ony word that comes to my mind is arrogance on the parts of NASCAR and ESPU.

Anonymous said...

I will simply comment on tonight's race broadcast:

Usually, I watch the race and sort-of multi-task... I either watch the race while browsing live updating comments on this website or others, sometimes I listen to Sirius audio, but usually it is the televised race plus another source of info simultaneously.

Today, I couldn't be home to watch the race, so I tivo'd it and made sure I had a full media blackout so I could sit down and watch the race start to finish without knowing the results. The downside (as it turns out) was that the ABC broadcast was my only source of info (I dare not go to the web, lest I see a result).

My comment on the broadcast: WHAT A MESS!

This is the shortest track in NASCAR. From any seat in the house you can see all the action on the entire track. But on ABC, it might as well have been a five-mile oval. Seriously, they jumped around from here to there to here to there randomly, never telling a story, never being able to put any picture in any kind of context. It was just awful.

It felt like all the cameras were filming the action and the person calling which camera to show at any one time was a toddler randomly pressing buttons on a console. Totally random visuals.

And the commentary. I have not waded through the during-the-race thread, so forgive me if this is a repeat... but HOW MANY TIMES DID JERRY PUNCH TELL US THE NUMBER OF JEFF GORDON VICTORIES HAS A MARTINSVILLE??? He must have done so six times. Over and over.

I could go on about the number calling on the cars, or the lack of actual play-by-play calling, or the way Punch assumes that the millions of viewers all a) have never seen nascar and b) have just tuned in no matter how far into the race we were.

When the most exciting moment of the race is Jerry Punch announcing an upcoming episode of Life on Mars (and butchering Harvey Keitel's name), you know you have a problem.

Anonymous said...

PS, I love Martinsville and was so excited for this race (the 1.5 ovals bore me). But I fell asleep from Lap 255 to 340. For ABC to do that to me is really saying something.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who listens to Jerry Punch realizes that he doesn't even know who drives all 43 cars. Just listen when a non-Chase driver spins out. "Into the wall, there is the 01... pause... Regan Smith". With the pause you just know he is quickly looking to a list, finding 01, then reading the name next to it.

Has anyone here ever heard of a network football announcer not knowing who some of the players were? And these are the same 43 every week! I swear to you, when David Gilliland spun out and Punch saw "38" he had not one inkling of an idea as to who was driving the car until he looked down at his list.


Anonymous said...

Bring back Bob Jenkins

Anonymous said...

I have been able to watch all of the Chase so far, and ESPN is providing the worst coverage of any sport's postseason I have ever seen (CBS' overly pro-Patriot agenda for the NFL playoffs last season was the worst).

However, I have enjoyed AB (who really carries each and every broadcast), Rusty (who has really improved), and Dale Jarrett (who is apparently the new PBP guy, he carries the booth team). The graphics are sensational, and don't take away from the telecast. The SC In-Game updates have noticeably decreased, and much shorter than last year.

Unfortunately, Dr. Jerry Punch, to summarize what has already been posted, WOW, just wow. The music choices don't really fit, and are slightly offensive (ex: Wheel in the Sky following Hamlin's wreck at Talladega). ESPN thinks there are just 12 cars in the race most of the time, and as a Kasey Kahne fan, I find myself going onto Jayski or after the race for results (I can't multitask by looking at a live leaderboard online).

In conclusion, ESPN has many horrific flaws, but they still have a limited time to improve them. However, I have little faith in the WWL to make the changes needed.

Hey, at least we get see the entire race. Can't say the same for the ALCS ;)

Anonymous said...

Yes, I forgot to mention that JD! I was very disappointed for them not to mention that they can also catch it on SPEED :(. I hope folks who may not watch NN figure it out...they might have seen it's on Classic and since they don't get it think they have to wait until the replay.

Anonymous said...

To Alex At 6:12 PM You Are Right Many Years From Now We will be asking ourselves Who Killed NASCAR And there will be a lot of suspects

Anonymous said...

The only way to watch EPSN on ABC is fast-forward during my naps, which is what I did today. Dr Punch's greatest moment was yelling 'see the marks on the side of the #1 car from hitting the wall!' and then Petrie/Jarrett explaining---'uh, he didn't hit the wall---good driving there by the #1 car'.

Anonymous said...

I feel like a broken record with this.

ESPN, move The Doc to The Infield and move Bestwick to the booth. You will be getting solid talent at both spots. As it is now, you are wasting Bestwick in the infield and Doc is stinking up the place in the booth.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

In the past,I've been tough on Shannon and Jamie. I must say that they were much better yesterday.Tim Brewer continues to make me laugh. After the #26 lost a rear end gear,Brewer shows two ring and pinion gears. One is the 6:50 Martinsville gear with its puny pinion gear which makes it vulnerable to failure. Next to it,he shows a 3:64 gear with its massive pinion gear. Does Brewer mention that? No, he mumbles something about the teeth on the ring gear. They switch back to the booth and it's Andy Petree who comments on the relative size difference of the two pinion gears. So much for Brewer's 'techsplanation'.

Kenn Fong said...


It's pretty clear by now that ESPN will not remove Dr. Jerry from the booth before the end of the season.

It's also clear that they have no intention on bending on this, because as much as you have been calmly and objectively laying out the facts with specifics, they have dug in their heels and resolved not to yield on this, if for no other reason than it would acknowledge that you were right and they are wrong.

It's very human not to want to admit fault.

I thank you and the readers for not only commiserating (shared misery is easier to take) but also for providing various coping mechanisms.

DirecTV and have served me reasonably well, but not nearly as well as Disney/ESPN could have with a more balanced approach to race coverage and an intelligently-chosen broadcast team.

Sadly, Dr. Jerry has reached his "Peter Principle" level. What's even sadder is it seems the executive(s?) who made that possible, reached his/her/their level a little bit earlier, which made that ill-fated decision possible.

Red State Kenny
Trapped in a Blue State

Anonymous said...

I switch from scanner to scanner to find out what's going on with the driver's not in the chase. They are very seldom mentioned or shot by a camera unless they are by a chaser. Yahoo, for Jimmie Johnson, is that what I am supposed to say? The media and TV have been saying it for the past 6 weeks now, "Three-peat". Just give it to him now so the rest of the drivers can race.

majorshouse said...

All I can say is that there are only four races left and the we will start all over again in Daytona with the Fox crew, I just hope that they dont start trying to give Kyle Bush the wins every time he hits the track. I really thinkt hat TNT gave us the best coverage this year, but with the current television contract, unless NASCAR voids it there is no way that we are only get one network covering the races. I agree that changes need to be made, but it won't be before next year.

Anonymous said...

During the middle part of the race I had to run some errands, so I listened to the radio broadcast of the race while on the road. As has been mentioned many times here, the radio broadcast is far more exciting and informative than anything ESPN broadcasts even with the technology available to them.

In less than an hour in my car I heard THREE full field rundowns. The radio team kept me fully involved in the race and I felt completely informed as I pulled into my driveway, returning to the ESPN broadcast.

In less than a minute after turning on the TV, I felt lost. All I saw was the 48 while being told constantly where his Hendrick teammates were on the track. Jamie McMurray came and went, I never found out what happened to him. Rusty, Dale and Andy were freaking out about the frequent brake issues but no one at ESPN told me what they were or how they were caused. However, I did get to see every last little thing Dale Jr did on the track. If Jr did something critical, like turn his steering wheel or push down on his brake pedal, ESPN was there to document it.

The only positive thing I can say about the ESPN on ABC broadcast is that instead of throwing it back to the local stations for news, weather and reruns, they stuck around and interviewed important personnel like Alan Gustafson, Greg Erwin and Jamie McMurray. Sure, Jamie doesn't know a thing about the race cars he drives but at least I found out what ruined his day, 20 minutes after the race ended.

Anonymous said...

It's hard for anyone to make a boring race exciting.Jerry Punch makes it a lot worse.

Geeze said...

I'll put in my standard comment here:

Switch Punch and Bestwick and your done.

Anonymous said...

About half way through the race I moved from the living room tv to my bedroom tv which was on SPEED from watching RaceDay earlier. I hit the 'on' button and started hearing race coverage from the F1 race and got so wrapped up in the great Play by Play that I forgot to switch back to NASCAR IN THE MIDDLE OF A RACE! I actually had an 'oh I forgot' moment and guiltily turnd back over to ABC.

I guess I'm phoning it in the same way Jerry is.

I did notice that Mike Messaro got the 'Sunoco short straw' this week which makes me think they are rotating the hot potato alphabeticly. Burns, Messaro so Jamie should be up next weekend.

So basicly Jr and KB are toast, I don't like the other Hendrick boys so I have a pretty 'ho hum' attitude towards the whole rest of the Chase. So if a good F1 race happens to come along next weekend, I might just forget to switch the channel.

chase said...

I confess - I napped and read and made a late lunch - and, as usual, muted the sound and listened to MRN. I have no idea what ESPN is thinking by continuing to allow Punch to do the PXP. As I've said before, it would be a brilliant idea if someone could invent a mute feature where one could mute an individual or two, and then listen only to those one wants to listen to! Punch's poor "PXP" coverage cannot be tolerated anymore. He was great on pit road but a dismal failure in the booth. Unless and until ESPN does something and fast, you've lost me until next season. A few nice spots in the coverage but not enough to 'turn the tide'. Thanks John!

Anonymous said...

Wow a lot of harsh talk.The thing that would really fix the problem would be to put Bestwick Wallace and Jarrett in the booth.Both are champions and Wallace really understands everything about the cars.Brad Andy and Dr punch. would do good in the studio. Bingo there you go i just fixed the problem. Everybody Wins.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is a stick and ball network and they know how to cover stick and ball sports. Stick and ball sports have only two teams competing at one time. Also, to cover most of the action, they only have to follow the ball. With racing, there are many teams to cover and much of the action is not at the front. ESPN follows the leader and their selected celebrities and ignores the rest of the field.

Has anyone given thought that the coverage of a particular driver may be driven by whether or not the sponsor has purchased ads on the network? That is the only reason I can see why Michael Waltrip is given as much airtime as he is given. It's clearly not based on his performance. It seems to me that the ads and airtime have a connection. Someone should track it and see if there is truly a connection.

E-Ticket said...

Honestly I saw the last 15 laps. Completely forgot about the race because the Dolphins where on locally. Knew it would be snoozefest all about the #48 Lowes car driven by two time cup champion Jimmy Johnson and crew chiefed by Chad Knaus. I can do with out hearing that over and over. Thats what I heard at the end... Nevermind.. ESPN bigger name on the other channel..

Sad thing is most people around where I live know me for my 45hat I always wear. I used to live for the Races on Sunday..

majorshouse said...

I found myself switching at times to the Formula One race and ahve always enjoyed the coverage that the Speed crew does with this sport. I think that is why I have gotten into open wheel racing like I have is because of the Formula One series and the ALMS.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the ads and airtime have a connection. Someone should track it and see if there is truly a connection.

There isn't.

Anonymous said...

Ive been watching nascar for over 30 years now... Leave Dr Jerry Punch alone!! He is not the problem in nascar!! Its NASCAR!!! The doctor was a very close friend to Dale Earnhart Sr and he knows more about nascar than most of you Idiots!!

Then why can't he do the job as well as the guys on MRN or PRN or even Bestwick, when he takes over?

Punch may know racing, but you'd never be able to tell from his PBP performance.

He can b very close friends with Senior or any other driver and stil be incapable of doing a good job in the booth. The two are not related.

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to teach Punch that just saying the number of the car as it pops on up his monitor is NOT play-by-play.

"There's the 16 of Greg Biffle" is not what he's being paid to say. I can SEE it's the 16 of Greg Biffle. in fact, he frequently doesn't even say the driver's name, presumably because he can't remember it.

He's called football, right? (Well, I guess it was sideline coverage.) No one would tolerate him just saying, "There's #9, Tony Romo," at the start of a play.

Anonymous said...

You would think someone from ESPN or Dr Punch himself would see all this negative commentary about his PxP abilities and maybe try to get him to step up his game first, rather than just moving him. It seemed to work with getting Bill Weber to tone down the nasty attitude this year on TNT...

Anonymous said...

There is one option for Jerry Punch in the Cup broadcasts . He seems to pay no attention to any cars other than the 24 and 48 . Give Jery his own " hotel " somewhere at each race track .Let him do what he apparently feels is of the utmost importance , tracking the Gordon and Johnson cars non-stop ( along with a running commentary on the Chase points ) which would leave Jarrett , Petree , and Bestwick to cover the actual race .

majorshouse said...

I can remember back in the old days when Punch did pit reporting and he was very good at that. Some of the pit reporters cold definitely take lessons from him there, but play by play he is not and that is where I really miss Allen Bestwick and definitely a change here in the booth would be great and really do wish that ESPN would listen to us as the race fans, but I really do not look for anything substantive to change until next year.

Tracy D said...

How can a telecast turn a track as crazy and fun as Martinsville into oatmeal? Cold oatmeal!

Made sure TIVO got the race. Came home and watched enough to delete it. That wasn't Martinsville. That was some surreal, other-world universe where the broadcast is a pale reflection of the real deal. What a waste of recorder space.

Telecasts like yesterday's Media Massacre at Martinsville by ESPN (think of it as an alternative title for JD's blog today) will NOT help teams find sponsors, draw crowds to the tube, or generate excitement for the sport. God help us all, if this is as good as it gets.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up with Monday media notes and headlines. Just click on the TDP logo at the top of the page. Thanks.


rich said...

I was watching a great Martinsville race, Ned said this and Benny said that---then I woke up.
Seriously, Larry Mac on the Burton Hotpass channel did an amazing job covering the whole race. I also Tivoed the Jr hotpass channel but on review they did not cover the whole action as well.
Raceview is limited and I don't think that I would pay for it.
That said, the MRN radio coverage that was there was phenomenal.

Anonymous said...

I've been doing something lately thay i would never have done a couple of years ago. the race commentary is so bad that i'm watching football and switching to racing every now and than to see how my driver is doing. I've been Hendricked to death and Punch's commentary is so boring that I can listen to it for only so long. I've been following the same driver for years and it's gotten to the point where if he's not one of the pretty boys, he doesn't get any airplay. once my driver retires, I'm gone. That's the only thing that keeps me hanging on.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

We were celebrating my Dad's 96th birthday and got home late. Got to half way point and decided I could wait until the AM to finish the race since it was putting me to sleep.

Just finished watching this AM...thank God for I have not read any of the posts on this blog or the race blog.

Bottom line...the announcing is just plain BORING. Not even going to discuss camera work, pit work or anything else that gets discuss week in and week out.

Watched the Truck race Saturday. Now that's how to call a race. There is just no comparison. But Rick and Phil in the booth!!! Even Mikey is toning it down a bit. At least he shows his enthusiasm. Something that is totally lacking with ESPN. Jerry Punch is a drag on AP and DJ. Get rid of all the extra"voices" (Rusty, Brad) and just make it simple, PLEASE!!!!

The Loose Wheel said...

ESPN is searching for an identity. Problem is this is their second season calling the most important half of the season. They are concluding their second season of Nationwide coverage and yet STILL someone calling the shots for them just doesn't GET IT.

Get back to basics of covering this sport ESPN, throw out all the gimmicks, and look at yourself in the mirror. JP is a great guy, but he lacks any enthusiasm and quite frankly any PLAY BY PLAY in his PXP! Theres zero excuse for why Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are calling the action and JP is completely silent.

I can't for any comprehensible reason understand why they allow this embarrassment to continue week after week after week. Clearly no one that works at ESPN watches their own coverage.

BTW I still wanna know what happened to the cool chassis cams and such they used to have that would look at a wheel and rotor and actually show you what was happening in real time vs. panning to someone to listen to a technical explanation which takes away from the action on the track?

West Coast said...


After watching races for the past 25 years, I can concur that Jerry Punch is definitely not the right man for the PxP job at ESPN.

There have been some growing pains as I see it over the years. First we had Ken Squire, good for his time, then Eli Gold & Bob Jenkins of the TNN/ESPN early years and they served the sport well. All had their pluses and minuses but were adequate for the time.

Today, you have Mike Joy for FOX sports, the best in the business & Bill Weber who seems to rub me the wrong way more often than not. With the sport & the fans changing quicker than ever, it's apparent that ESPN doesn’t understand what makes a good race for us fans nor what we want to see and hear.

I can tell you that when they first announced the DirecTv NASCAR HotPass concept in 2007, I thought it would be short lived at best but bought it anyway. I can honestly say that I spent thousands and thousands of dollars supporting this sport and for the money, Hotpass is the best investment I’ve ever made! If you’re like me and continue to try to give ESPN the benefit of the doubt, spend the 100 bucks, it's worth it.

Hotpass gives you more info on the race than ESPN or FOX and seems to give the races context as opposed to manufacturing story lines to follow. Somehow the commentators are able to follow the path of four top drivers in the sport and still give me an understanding of what the hell is going on with the rest of the race.

The PxP guys include a bunch of guys that have spent years in the garage and it shows. Phil Parsons & Rick Allen are as solid as they come, they cover the races on the Dale Jr. channel mostly. Randy Pemberton & Hermie Sadler have proven to be a terrific team. Sadler has that laid back southern drawl that is easy to warm up to, and he has the right answers when analyzing the race from pit road.

For me, Pemberton may be the most underrated in the sport. He’s been around since the 80’s & definitely has an in depth understanding of the sport, that comes across like an old friend that you go to for advice. He just has a knack for describing the action in a matter- of-fact kind of way with all kinds of enthusiasm, something Punch DEFINATELY lacks. You can tell he loves racing but even more so, he seems to explain why drivers are doing what they’re doing only to have the spotter or crew chief say the same thing just moments later. Pemberton spent years on pit road in the old days and was as good as any.

If I were ESPN, I’d take a HARD look and a listen to HotPass and at least try to copy some of what they are doing.
Better yet steal Pemberton for PxP - he'd be perfect with Petree & Jarrett - or perhaps Pemberton or Sadler to replace Shannon Spake. Both could beat her like a drum (although Spake is better looking)!


Anonymous said...

Only one word describes ESPN's NASCAR coverage: Garbage.

Anonymous said...

It's the end of a long season and everyone is coasting. Especially those in the NASCAR offices in Daytona.

NASCAR takes the top 12 to NYC for all this media coverage the first week of the Chase and then...nothing. ESPN filmed the drivers speculating about the upcoming races in the Chase and then they drag it out in the appropriate week. BORING.

Hey NASCAR, instead of trotting out the top 10 for another lame Letterman list, how about forcing the Chase drivers to be available for FRESH comments every week? You already have the rule that the top finishers and top rookie gotta go to the media center...if your championship is such a big hot deal, MAKE IT ONE!

NASCAR's own site never offers anything new and exciting just the same recycled stats. It's the championship! But you'd never know it...the audio they offer to radio is horrible quality and they don't edit it. They expect stations to download these massive files and sit through half an hour of drivers who speak with all the excitement of a wet kleenex just to find a 15 second clip that might be worth something. That's just plain lazy on NASCAR's part.

If the sport's governing body can't get excited about their own championship, why should anyone else? Attitudes are contagious, you know. It might just wake up Punch and everyone else if NASCAR took the lead.

Anonymous said...

The best thing I can say about the coverage is that it was available here in the L.A. area on ABC7. No wildfire pre-emptions this time.

All the other posters have said my thoughts about the coverage, but I will add that I would love to hear the 1980s bluegrass music on ESPN's telecast at least one. Get rid of the Rolling Stones and Aerosmith!

Anonymous said...

Get rid of Jerry and find someone who knows what is happening. Like DW....:-) Or do like I do listen to MRN or take a nap until the last 20 laps...:-)

Anonymous said...

In fairness to Jerry P. I believe his referring to cars by number, rather than driver, may be an old habit - and is common in the garage. Often in post-race interviews drivers refer to the cars by No., rather than by who drove them.

Interestingly, the whole problem with falling ratings for NASCAR Cup broadcasts - according to Mulhern, in particular, and others in the print media - is just the COT. Hmmmm.

Anonymous said...

ESPN is hopeless in some ways and yet not far off in others. Some moves need to be made and they would be a lot better. First, trade Bestwick and Punch Both are in the wrong job. Secondly, get rid of Massrio and his exhaustingly long interviews of poorly thought out question.Then, get rid of Shannon Spake. She's hopeless. There are many, many capable pit reporters out there that can do a much better job. I think everything else at ESPN works well but they've got to be willing to step up and make some changes to get the best out of the telecast.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why ABC wont swap Bestwick and Punch. That was one of NBC's biggest screw ups when they swapped Bestwick for Weber.

I really wish Mike Joy could work for FOX and ABC

znimrod said...

haus20 hit on something that would be awesome: choosing your PXP announcers! when i got into this sport, i originally thought bill weber was one of the worst PXP announcers, and now we have the honor of hearing dr. jerry punch-me-in-the-face-i'm-so-bored. ESPN has ruined a lot of sports for me, and it grows every year they add another one on their list. i'm sick of ESPN hogging all the sports and doing an inadequate job of covering them because of said "hogging." like jessica asked, where are the post-race pressers? especially in the Chase, ESPN should be airing these. okay, i gotta stop, i'll go on forever.

Anonymous said...

This Chase thing just drives me nuts.

Now instead of one guy possibly driving conservatively for the last race of the season (if he has a big lead), we have 7 or 8 guys driving conservatively leading up to the Chase and then once the Chase is on, the guys with no mathmatical chance seem just to be filling time and if the leader hgas a big lead, they'll still drive conservatively in the last 1 or 2 races.

Then there's the announcers. Could the coverage be any less dismissive of the rest of the folks on the track?

Now how can that be interesting to watch?

Even though I have tickets to Phoenix, just give the prize to Johnson and end the season already. I can't take more races completely devoid of exciting competition and homogenized personalities, both behind the wheel and the microphone.

A few kudos to spread around though...

DJ - Good commentary without being self absorbed. Rusty could learn a thing or two from you

Jamie and Shannon - You've surprised me with your knowledge of racing and for your attempts at avoiding stupid questions. Jamie has an edge, but Shannon has promise. ESPN's ratings might move to the positive side if Jamie wore her FHM cover outfit though.

Tim Brewer - Always on top of whats happening on the track and gives concise explanations with great visuals. Maybe they should ask Tim to explain why the rest of the ESPN coverage is a blowout.

Anonymous said...

Where are you Eli Gold? When he called races back when TNN was a racin'/country station, he always called an exciting race and knew when to raise his voice to another level. I can't believe none of these NASCAR broadcasts haven't gone after one of the best voices out there, Eli Gold.

Gary said...

Maybe TV has a hard time "sweetening" any COT race.

The cars remind me of all the look-a-like IROC cars from the past.

For 2009 we need more actual COT drivers/crew chiefs for "color" in the booth, if they cannot be in a race for that weekend, for whatever reason. That visibility will also keep their sponsors happy, while their cars sit in the hauler.

It could be different Team members each week, as sort of a consolation prize for NOT qualifying, etc.

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't ESPN-ABC let DJ or Andy Petree take over play by play and put Dr Jerry Punch back to pit reporter. This late in the year, what is it going to hurt

Tom said...

Like Alex, I agree that ESPN really is just a symptom of a very ailing NASCAR, rather than the cause. What kills me about ESPN is their seeming inability to learn from mistakes (and those of others). If one year ago you had told me that TNT had (arguably) some of the best coverage of the year, I would have laughed. But they stepped up their game, must have listened to fans (or TDP) and did a fairly decent job. While I am not a huge fan of FOX coverage, it has Mike Joy, and his steady, consistant work seems to make up greatly for whatever shortcomings the broadcast has. This just goes to show how important the PXP guy is to the overall tone. Like many other old timers, I miss Bob Jenkins and the crew, but I recognize that ESPN isn't going back there. I really would like to see AB in there, as I think he has some of those qualities that are needed right now.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:17AM,

Please return and repost. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page.



Anonymous said...

With high gas and ticket prices, and resulting empty grandtstands you can see at the track, TV ratings should be up for the races.

Reality: real race fans are sick and tired of E$PN coverage of races. We are tired of E$PN and NA$CAR trying to make racing sound like a regular sport to non-race fans. We are tired of sporting buzzwords that don't apply to racing like LEAGUE RULES (there is no league, it's a sanctioning body, you idiots) and PLAYOFFS (there is no playoff, it's a points rigging scheme). We are tired of "debris cautions" where no one can locate the mysterious debris which are designed to bunch up the field for "better racing for the fans". We are tired of the E$PN announcers who don't know beans about racing trying to thow out a few racing words to make us think they know something while using idiot sports terms like IT'S FOURTH AND LONG or HE NEEDS A HAIL MARY HERE or SWING AND A MISS. We are tired of seeing the few traditional racing commentators left all prettied up in a suit and tie, makeup and a plastic smile trying gamely to follow E$PN orders. We are tired of "the chase" and hearing of nothing but those few drivers in the races leading up to and during it. We are tired of the majority of the commentary during a race being "if the chase ended right now...". We are tired of E$PN going to commercial during pit stops because they think it is a TIMEOUT.

Well NA$CAR, I hope you like your new E$PN fans, because you lost your old ones.

Anonymous said...

Is It JD? ESPN may have to do something with you!!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:24AM,

I don't understand your comment.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:55AM,

Over the last two years and with many tens of thousands of comments, I have had one simple set of rules on the main page.

Even a comment that has many good points will get deleted with name calling and hateful speech.

As I always do when a comment is deleted, I urge the poster to re-phrase and repost.

This site has been free from profanity and hate speech since it began and it will remain that way.


Anonymous said...

Whatever JD! The good news is that, here comes Atlanta!It never lets you down! It truly seperates the great drivers from the good ones...Should be a great weekend of racing! Have a good day!

Anonymous said...

I may be going out on a limb here but I wonder if Jerry Punch needs to maybe reconnect with the sport by just spending time in the garage hanging out with everyone. Just shooting the breeze, so to speak. Get to know the old drivers again and learn about the newer ones, etc.

If he already does this, well, I don't know what to say.