Saturday, October 11, 2008
Primetime NASCAR Racing On ABC Saturday Night
As someone famous once said, "it's time to make the donuts." The Friday night support race is over, the talking head TV shows are winding-down and fans across the nation are tuning-in. It's Saturday night at 7PM and the pressure is on.
No race in the remainder of The Chase will get the hype and media attention of the Charlotte night race. The Musco lights make for pretty TV pictures and the track makes for tough racing and tight tempers. Casual fans surfing through the channels will stop when they see NASCAR racing at full speed on ABC. The big question is, will they stay?
All season long the NASCAR on ESPN group has been working with one goal in mind. That is the final ten Sprint Cup Series races of the year. Now, after the early stories of The Chase have begun to fade, it is once again time for the racing to return to the intensity that old-time fans used to know so well.
This is the best combination of ingredients that ESPN has enjoyed before a race all year. A fight in the garage, a bunch of drivers racing to keep their rides and a track that reaches up at the worst possible moment and claims numerous victims.
Dr. Jerry Punch is going to have to step-it-up to serve the broader mainstream audience of a Saturday night. Key to his success is going to be the intensity of Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Alongside of Punch in the announce booth until well after midnight on Friday, these two analysts are going to be the real face of the ESPN coverage to TV viewers.
Hustling on pit road the four ESPN pit reporters are going to be facing three challenges. One, the story of the race. Two, the story of The Chase. Three, this is the backyard of every team and no one wants to get pushed around on their home field. NASCAR politics are going to be pushed aside and intensity is going to be on display from the green flag. One bad or ill-prepared question from a pit reporter might get a very direct response.
Setting the table will be Allen Bestwick, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty from the Infield Pit Studio. Bestwick has been steady and solid this season. Wallace has been himself and seems to enjoy his role as a commentator instead of an analyst. Daugherty has been the dependable cheerleader and NASCAR supporter.
Viewers of the Saturday night Nationwide Series race saw ESPN strip-down the telecast and put the bells-and-whistles on the shelf. The result was limited interruptions from Tim Brewer in the Tech Center. Bestwick was often heard but not seen and Wallace and Daugherty faded quickly into the background under the green flag.
The Director laid-off the bumper cams and used the in-car cameras only when they made sense. The low angle "speed shots" are great at LMS, and ESPN is famous for cranking the audio as the cars roar by. Fighting the tendency of the camera guys to zoom-in and show one or two cars instead of groups will be key. Also, look to see if the cameras frame the track and let the cars race in or if the coverage just keeps the same "camera loop" going under green.
This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about the Sprint Cup Series race from Lowe's Motor Speedway on ABC. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.