Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bittersweet Homestead Race Closes NASCAR TV Season


When the weather is right, Homestead certainly is the best place to close-out the NASCAR season. Sunday afternoon, the weather was right.

ABC made beautiful HD pictures and sound that served to remind viewers that a large part of NASCAR's attraction is the spectacle of racing. Once it got dark, the spectacle only got better. On TV, this was a beautiful race to watch.

By the time Allen Bestwick started the NASCAR Countdown show, TV viewers had already been offered four hours of pre-race TV programming. Along with a three hour RaceDay show on SPEED, ESPN2 had offered a one hour morning edition of NASCAR Now.

Bestwick found himself repeating some of the same features that had already been used on that morning show once again. This left the pre-race show rather flat and it seemed that Bestwick was not particularly happy. This has been a strong season for him and Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty all worked hard to contribute to the scripted program.

As one might expect, the focus was on Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards. Unfortunately, this came at the expense of other news stories. There are always a lot of management cooks stirring the soup at big events like this. This may have explained the lack of zest and fun from the Infield at the start.

Dr. Jerry Punch was once again helped by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in describing the action from the start. The in-race reporter was Dale Earnhardt Jr. and that was certainly an interesting choice for this final event.

The race followed the familiar scenario of the ESPN team hopping around from car to car without establishing an overall perspective. Snippets of information were continually offered about various cars without tying the field or race together. It was almost an exercise in offering graphic information and updates early-on in the event.

Just like a good basketball game where no one notices the referee, on this night the TV directing was first rate. While the stories might have been selected by the Producer, the images put on the screen were on-target and great to watch.

Unfortunately, the short attempts at adding some excitement to the race by Punch were not working. He is a reporter and was much more comfortable adding information and asking questions rather than calling the action on the track. Even as Tony Stewart charged to the lead in his final race for Gibbs, Punch never grasped the moment.

With the long green flag runs, Bestwick and company were mostly heard and not seen. Tim Brewer and the Tech Center could have mailed it in and were never a contributor to this telecast. Credit goes to Dale Jarrett for often trying to bring Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace into the telecast by asking them questions directly.

Petree and Jarrett have kept ESPN viable this season with their easy-going conversations and veteran perspectives on the racing. They often mix directly with the pit reporters in conversation and it sometimes seems as if Dale Jarrett would like an opportunity to handle the play-by-play role now filled by Punch.

As the gas mileage wars raged in the final laps, it was Petree and Jarrett who helped the viewers understand all the issues. Live use of the team scanners played a great role in the final laps. TV technology worked well as the season came to a close.

This was a bittersweet ending for NASCAR this season. ESPN again struggled in areas that Fox and TNT did not. TV ratings were not the continued climb that having ESPN and ABC close-out the season were intended to bring. Add-in the on-going economic issues and this was basically a memorable season only for the success of Johnson and his team.

During the last off-season, the ESPN executives made wholesale changes in the on-air staff covering both the races and reporting from the studio. This year, ESPN.com has added NASCAR writers and began to integrate them into on-air roles.

Unfortunately, the ESPN culture continues to hate NASCAR regularly on the air. Tony Kornheiser's recent PTI comments again helped to confirm the ESPN belief that NASCAR is not a sport. Around the Horn will not even tolerate a NASCAR mention.

When college football began, ESPNEWS stopped covering the post-race news conferences and NASCAR was again pushed to the back burner across the company. Mike and Mike, First Take and the other ESPN sports-talk programs would rather take a sharp stick in the eye than talk NASCAR.

What ESPN Vice President of Motorsports Rich Feinberg does in this off-season is going to be critical to nursing the sport through 2009. Feinberg now has a firm foundation in the NASCAR Now studio and with his ESPN.com writers.

If he can make some positive changes in the broadcast line-up, next season may be a strong step in the right direction. Feinberg's biggest challenge may well be within ESPN. NASCAR needs fair and equal treatment across the board where TV programming is concerned, regardless of what other sports are in season.

As we end the final race, we would ask for your comments on this telecast and the ESPN season of seventeen Sprint Cup race telecasts. To add your comment, 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and talk about the final race of 2008.

62 comments:

Nan S said...
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alex said...

I'll be the first to admit I was ready for the season to end, but I think ESPN did a decent job today. It seemed as if the championship was the only story of the day, but that's to be expected. I just wish that some of the silly season stories had been discussed during the broadcast.

I hope ESPN takes to heart all of the criticisms and suggestions that have been made over the last 3 months. They are capable of showing a great race, and a few changes can drastically improve their product.

Thanks JD for continuing this open forum for us, and I'm glad that the powers that be are reading and responding.

Also, anything from PTI has to be taken with a grain of salt, if you've ever listened to Kornheiser on Monday Night Football. It's atrocious, and I'd almost rather them not discuss Nascar. Many of the talking heads at ESPN don't know much about Nascar even though it's been on their network for 2 years, and have no desire to learn.

Phathead said...

I didn't watch a single lap of ESPN coverage this weekend. That about sums up my feelings about them.

Adam T. Martin said...

I wasn't able to watch the broadcasts today due to other events in my life.

Here are my thoughts overall with ESPN/ABC.

Pros: audio, video, Nicole Manske, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree, Marty Smith, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake, Allen Bestwick.

Cons: ad nauseum, Dr. Punch's bland PxP, ESPN's lack of respect towards all motor sports, tech center, no field rundowns, long pre-race.

Dot said...

Could the bad coverage be by design? If the TV numbers aren't there, would that change any monetary value of the contract for ESPN? Kinda like when a driver doesn't perform or qualify for races? JJ Yeley comes to mind.

I really hope that the dwins go to pit road reporting school in the off season. Hear the word "trouble" and just keep talking. Just following the script, I guess. I have noticed that the "feeling" word has been used less. Maybe someone got them a thesaurus. I'm glad the season is over. I would've hated to hear the word dynasty over and over next week.

John said...

I think the pit reporters on this telecast, and others, try to be too clever. Their questions are just... lacking.

Also, I'm a little burnt out on Chad Knaus. On one hand, I am proud to see the network give the crew chief his due... I think he deserves it as much as Johnson... but the network could have gone to him a little less. Compared to the relatively short and mundane questions they actually asked the champion, Knaus was given more time.

Jessica said...

JD are you watching victory lane!? Its great. They are having fun and its like a completely different jimmy johnson is being interviewed.

It really highlights the issue I have with ESPN, they have not connected with with the drivers or the fans and it sometimes seems like they don't care to. ESPN has little time for NASCAR and when it does they script the hell out of the race, reality and actual exciting stories be damned. DJ and AB are the bright spots and it seems like they never get the chance to shine. Half the time Bestwick looks like he wants to choke someone because he knows they can do better.

During the Nationwide race ESPN had a segment on all the technology they brought to the race, and it is all great and makes for beautiful television but it is all icing on a moldy cake if they ignore the basics. (1) show racing wherever it is happening and (2) give the fans perspective on the race (update the field, interview everyone who falls out etc...)

dave said...

Well that's over. And I almost made it through the entire race without screaming at the TV ( or screaming at ESPN and taking it out on the TV ). Almost.

Maybe it's me. Maybe I'm too picky. Or maybe after 22 years in television, I see things that most people don't. But whoever was in the graphics chair in the truck, should be home tonight, touching up his or her resume.

It's probably an oversight that "the bottom line" informed us that we were watching the chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup - A FULL HALF HOUR AFTER THE RACE HAD ENDED. I'm sure that's just me being picky.

But it is totally inexcusable that when, during the cup presentation segment, the graphic of Jimmie Johnson's 3rd consecutive win hit the screen showing that he was the the 2nd person to achieve this and directly under Johnson's name was that of.....CARL YARBOROUGH. I nearly drove to Bristol to look for someone to slap. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?!?! ( would someone please go to the video tape and tell me that didn't happen )

Just another indication that NASCAR does not warrant the same professionalism that the "ball sports" do at ESPN. Do you think they'd ever insert a graphic of CARL RIPKIN ? MICHELLE JORDAN ? TIM BRADY ? I doubt it.

Disgraceful.

Thanks JD for the work you do.

Daly Planet Editor said...

dave,

As I said in my column, the off-season challenge for Feinberg is to get ESPN across the board to respect this sport.

Great comment.

JD

kang said...

No time interval again!But if you wanted to know the "points now",you got that all day.Now keep in mind one thing.What the 48 and 99 needed to do was firmly established all week.Unless or untill the 48 had a problem their would not be a contest.That didn't stop the idiots at ESPN from once again substituting garbage for real info.It continues to be a d*** shame,that if you want the most basic information under green, you have to consult a computer.Nascar and ESPN nascar coverage are going on vacation.I hope only one of the two return.

Matt said...

I thought they did a good job ending out the season in this last race. There were times when I was frustrated with the shots shown on tv, but the pictures were great as usual.

I can't tell you how glad I was to see AB doing the championship interviews and presentation. He's the glue that holds everything together. DJ and Andy have been great as well. Also just want to say that Dave Burns is one of my favorite pit reporters, even though I may be in the minority..?

As for next year, I look forward to the changes (hopefully) that will shift around the on-air talent that ESPN has. I also believe keeping it simple is key. Trying to create a storyline and force it to the viewers throughout the race is not working.

I've enjoyed this year on the blog.. thanks JD. Looking forward to next year and the forum.

Anonymous said...

I cant wait for February. One because im interested to see if ESPN makes any changes over the offseason and two because I cant wait for FOX to be back!

Rich said...

Where can I find Tony Kornheiser's comments JD? What did he say?

ttc said...

As the laps were winding down, and Carl Edwards was trying to stretch his fuel to win the race, it was stated that David Ragan was running second. Suddenly with 2 or 3 laps remaining, Andy Petree announced that Kevin Harvick was now second. So what happened to Ragan (and also Bowyer and Kyle Busch who were running third and fourth)? We never did learn whether they pitted or ran out of "Sunoco Fuel." Still don't know!

and this was basically a memorable season only for the success of Johnson and his team.

JD: And I would add that when arguablely the three most popular drivers (Gordon, Smoke and Junior)win a combined total of two races, it was memorable but in a negative way.

But I agree with most comments that the ABC/ESPN coverage for the entire season left much to be desired, especially with play by play.

glenc1 said...

again, it didn't send me running for MRN. It was 'okay', not great, and they didn't find McMurray on his 2nd third place finish in a row. But given it was season end, and Extreme Makeover was coming, they did have limited time. To be honest by this time I'm sick to death of Jimmie and Carl (not their fault, just a long season.)

I really wish they'd do more with lap times. We need to know how fast they're going. BTW, JD, I wanted to comment on your earlier piece but the comments were closed. The bit on Spencer and Wood...priceless. Literally laughed out loud.

Daly Planet Editor said...

rich,

I was not recording PTI while I watched it and I do not quote without a recording to reference.

Basically, he was referencing the ABC to ESPN2 switch in Phoenix and said it was no big deal because NASCAR is not a real sport anyway.

It's not about Kornheiser or PTI. The info and content flows from the top. The change has to come from EVP John Skipper and he has to mandate fair treatment.

JD

Sicklajoie said...

The "Carl Yarborough" graphic in Victory Lane pretty much summs up why ABC/ESPN shouldn't be covering Cup races. Just plain sad.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

ABC/ESPN coverage continues to be a disaster for me. Even my husband who doesn't have my patience to sit and watch a whole race has started yelling at the TV...LOL. (I read him some of the posts from this blog and he starting watching more to see if we were just being picky and whining!)

I agree with previous post that we all knew that unless something major happened to Jimmy relegating him to the back, we didn't need a points update. Totally meaningless.

There were lots of other stories and racing elsewhere in the field. AJ Allmendinger was in the top 20 most of the night and finished 11th. Scott Speed finished 16th and ran pretty good all race. Brad K finished 23rd. Those are but a few. Yes, some of this was because of fuel mileage, but how would we know. Never heard a thing.

I will miss racing, but not ESPN coverage. I hope they realize we are not just a bunch of complainers. We love racing, just racing. Why do we rave about the Truck races? If we were complainers we would complain about all of it. I hope they realize that we are a microcosm of all the fans out there many who don't take the time to post on blogs or email feedback. My son ans his wife were new fans. They don't watch anymore. Some of it is investing 4 or more hours every Sunday. But a lot was the lousy coverage by ESPN.

Please ESPN, consider some of our ideas and feedback. We really want to like you!!

Anonymous said...

I found it interesting and disturbing that the pit reporters , after the race , again let the drivers do their jobs for them . Sticking a mic in a drivers face and saying " give us your impression of how great Jimmy Johnson is " shows how lazy some of these reporters are . It isn't the other drivers job to report on Johnson . I realize the network was scrambling to come up with anything to save what was a pretty boring show , but that was sad . And it was obvious that many of the drivers interviewed were only saying something nice about Johnson because they were asked to .
At last a break from hearing the words "Snoko" and "guys " .

Anonymous said...

JD - Tim Brewer did explain with the cutaway engine when the polesitter's throttle return spring came unhooked during the race. He's there to explain when something goes wrong - not force his way on if it's unwarranted.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the interview with Jimmie Johnson's father, Gary, who always makes me smile when interviewed. His comments about learning to text so he could keep in touch with Jimmie (who also made Rick Hendrick learn to text because that was the only way Rick could get in touch with him) were funny. Seems like a nice man and his comments about Carl Edwards were very gracious.

I thought the interview with Jimmie Johnson on ABC should have been longer during the championship presentation. I felt like AB cut away almost abruptly to talk to Rick Hendrick. Time contraints, perhaps? The VL interview by AB was very good, though.

I thought ESPN on ABC should have lost the bottom ticker during the championship presentation. Normally I don't mind it, but I found it inappropriate then.

Oh, and I've always liked Dave Burns, even on NBC. I was very glad he was one of the two (along with AB) who made the move to ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Bestwick/Andy/DJ/Evernham would be awesome in the booth. ESPN could save money and improve the quality of its broadcasts by doing this and getting rid of Punch,Rusty and Brad. Johhny Benson would be great in the booth if he retires by replacing Waltrip on Twin and covering the Truck races. Petty needs a permanent vacation from Paint. Spencer and Kenny Wallace continue to amaze me. How they survived this long is a big mystery.

Anonymous said...

To sum up the ESPN presentation this season....

Too many announcers and talking heads.
Too little expertise "behind the cameras"

Arrogant presentation

NO PASSION

Anonymous said...

So are there any post-race satellite interviews of Jimmie J. scheduled today? Good Morning America, PTI, etc.

ESPN.com does have a Jimmie J. chat at 1 PM Eastern today, which is great. Does that mean he'll be in Bristol today, I wonder? It would be great if he could be on Letterman later this week.

Or do we have to wait until the first week of December? If so, bad move on NASCAR's part not to get him out there in the media right now instead of holding him a few weeks for "champion's week." when it's not news anymore. He'll have to share the TV spotlight with the rest of the top 10 and all of the other media events closer to the Christmas holidays.

GinaV24 said...

I was ready for the season to end. ESPN's coverage of the races just does nothing for me. I like AB and DJ and Andy Petree and I think that Ray E does a great job in the infield, but the inability of them to keep me updated and call the ACTUAL race, rather than following their script, leaves me numb and uncaring. I don't want to see in car cameras and I don't really want a driver to be an in race reporter -- I want someone who knows what they are doing calling the race and a director showing me the WHOLE race, not single cars. ESPN needs to get a handle on it and if the PTI, Around the Horn and the rest of the stick and ball crowd don't want to respect NASCAR, the least they can do is be quiet.

midasmicah said...

Yea, I watched the pti show where he dissed na$car. You're right though. It's got to come from the top as far as changing the culture. Thanks for the always interesting columns JD.

Broomfield, Colorado said...

I am so glad that they chose to show that Carl, Cale's brother won three championships in a row. Outstanding! Wait, oh, Cale doesn't have a brother named Carl. I was just going off of the stellar information that ESPN provides. Under the last caution, it looked like Sterling Marlin was bashing into another car out of frustration, right down the frontstrecth, in front of the booth guys, but apparantly Sterling does not have a 48 or 99 number on his car, so I guess it never happened.
There's a place South of Heaven, that I wish ESPN would go.

Anonymous said...
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Ziggy said...

Just for the record:

Once the pace car led the field off of pit row until the time the green flag was dropped we were reminded at least 3 times what Carl & Jimmie had to do to claim The Cup. I had a bowling ball close by just in case The Doctor mentioned it one more time.

Zignats

Jo from SC said...
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majorshouse said...

It is apparent to this fan that ESPN doeesn't care about us or the sport of which I love. I think that Dale Jarrett would make a great paly by paly announcer and they could put Ray Evernham in the booth with he and Andy Petree and relegate Jerry Punch to the pits where he belongs. Jerry is a good pit reporter and it has been more than obvious that he is totally out of his enviornment in the play by paly booth and being the lead announcer.
I think it is high time that NASCAR look at our comments and see how bad the ABC/ESPN coverage has been and tell them to either clean up their act or they are going to void the contract.

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

Anon 10:36AM,

If you would like to drop me an email, I would be happy to discuss in detail any of those issues.

JD

alex said...

So are there any post-race satellite interviews of Jimmie J. scheduled today? Good Morning America, PTI, etc.

I'm watching First Take on ESPN2 right now, and they just mentioned JJ will be stopping by for a studio interview between 11:00 and 12:00.

red said...

i would sugggest that feinberg (IF he decides to try and make some off-season changes!) will have his hands full for the next 90 days or so. i can't even begin to speculate on why it is that, after bidding for this long-term and expensive contract, espn isn't bringing their best employees to the broadcasts. seems to me that from a business perspective, they're killing their own ROI on this one.

maybe mr feinberg could reach out to us, the fans, in some way? open a forum for input and feedback? partner with an existing blog/forum which has passionate fans who have spent the last part of the season carefully watching espn's production? somehow, he needs to hear from the consumers of his product so he can begin the process of change.

i had the race on yesterday but, between this site, a live chat happening on speed.com with jade gurss, and foxtrax, i only glanced up at the tv now and again. i just couldn't go thru another long broadcast with espn. sad.

by the way, gang, that speed live chat was great! we had jade gurss, who was earnhardt jr's publicist in the bud days as well as steve keller from speed (he's the nascar editor for speedtv.com and truckseries.com and yes, i did pass on our compliments for the truck coverage on speed! he says "the truck series is a lot of fun to cover... everybody is very laid back compared to Cup." fun conversation.)

and jd? i, for one, know i would have had a miserable time this season without having TDP each day! the folks i've met here helped keep me excited about our sport and had me thinking about aspects of nascar, the media and broadcasts i likely would never have thought over. your active moderation, great topic choices and wonderful photos made coming here every day a treat for me. not to get sappy but i hope you know (and can accept!) how valuable TDP is for us. i have lurked since almost the beginning and the consistent welcoming atmosphere from everyone involved is what encouraged me to add my opinion (for better or worse!) that comes directly from you and the active role you play in the site.

looking back, i can now answer the question you asked before the season started: will you watch nascar on tv this season? thankfully, TDP gave me a reason to say "Yes!" i learned a ton, i had a great time doing it and i thank you for your work and sense of humor! you are, as we say around here, "one of the good guys!"

David said...

I muted the race and listened to the MRN broadcast and read the captioning. MRN described so much that ESPN didn't begin to touch on- or even show! After two bad seasons, I hope the off season finds the ESPN staff replaying Speed truck race and MRN broadcasts. Maybe then they'll see what they're missing.

Broadcasting the races seems to me no different than trying to field a successful race team. Simply throwing millions of dollars and a dozen "experts" into the mix doesn't mean you'll come out a winner.

peggyann said...

Did anyone else notice--I don't think I heard Jerry Punch say "see you next year" at the end of the broadcast. My fingers are crossed.

stricklinfan82 said...

It's probably extremely wishful thinking but I hope that Homestead was the end of the failed experiment that has been the return of NASCAR on ESPN/ABC.

They have added absolutely no positives to this sport in the last two years, but have contributed a countless amount of negatives:

- the on-air productions during the races, qualifying, and practice sessions are a complete joke thanks to the ESPN scripted, ignore-the-track model of broadcasting

- the sport is still mocked across the board on all ESPN platforms

- 6 years of Cup/Nationwide races on NBC/Fox: ZERO single-day races were dumped to another network while the races were in-progress

- 2 years of Cup/Nationwide races on ABC: THREE single-day races were dumped to another network while the races were in-progress

- ESPN buys the rights to Cup practice sessions they have no room for and either doesn't televise them at all or airs many of them either joined-in-progress or tape-delayed by several hours, instead of doing the right thing FOR THE FANS and letting Speed Channel carry them live and in full-length in their absence

- ESPN has stabbed several drivers in the back for no apparent reason

JD, I respect your thought that someone at ESPN needs to mandate the network to "fake" respect/interest in this sport, but to me that's just not good enough. To me ESPN clearly does not like this sport, respect this sport, or care for the people in it or the fans watching it at home. I don't want them to "fake" anything. If the true feeling in Bristol, CT is that NASCAR is a laughable minor-league sport that they only have for ratings, then they just need to move on and stick to sports they do respect, in my opinion.

It is not fair for the sanctioning body, for the men and women inside the sport, and most of all for the fans watching at home for our sport to be on a television network that doesn't respect us. We deserve better than the red headed stepchild status we currently hold in Bristol. I don't want ESPN to tell their employees to keep their anti-NASCAR sentiments to themselves, I want the sport to be on a network that doesn't have this widespread anti-NASCAR sentiment in the first place.

red said...

hey, lookee here: nascar fan council wants my opinions on nascar on television! well, THIS should be fun!

red said...

ok, so it didn't ask about all nascar on television partners: only fox. wanted rankings for various on-air talent in re: add to, no impact, detract from the experience, etc. moved to open-ended questions of what did you like? dislike about fox coverage.

took me longer to give my thoughts (always the first screen for fan council) than for the rest of the survey. once the survey was submitted, i got kicked over to nascar.com instead of being returned to my email program, where i started. sorta presumptious on their part, in my opinion: if i wanted to add another click to nascar.com, i'd do it myself, thank you.

wonder what they do with the information?

GinaV24 said...

Hey, Red -- it will be interesting to see if I get one to do as well. Interesting that they are only asking about Fox -- I guess I'll fill out what I think about ESPN and TNT in the "other comments" side.

As to what they do with the surveys -- I think it may be stick them where the sun don't shine! LOL

chase said...

John - I want to add my thanks to all those above who have thanked you for all that you do for us. And again, I'll say that ESPN should have AB, Jarrett and Petree in the booth with Evernham and Punch in the pre-race booth and rid themselves of Rusty and Brad, the latter of whom adds nothing but cheerleading - and cut down on the pre-race broadcast - way too long and lets alot of things that are important slide by the wayside. Unless and until ESPN makes some serious changes in the off season, we will have more of the same horrible content and coverage. On another note: John - will you continue during the off-season???? God but I hope so!!!! Thank you again - you're the best!

David said...

The race was decent, but poor in comparison to Phoenix. Remember back to Friday night, Rick Allen's call to the finish in contrast to JP's?

Big difference. Things of that nature are important in adding to the broadcast because this is the last race of the season...if your going to get it right this is the race to do it!

I dont expect NASCAR to get respect from the rest of the sports world...I could honestly, honestly care less if PTI or ATH talks about the race or JJ. I still watch those shows and they do fine by me. Consider it this way, given the mess we've had with NASCAR on ESPN this season, do you really want more components of ESPN covering the sport making a larger mockery of it all?

Thats why I love the NHRA on ESPN...its under the radar and first rate coverage with people who know their roles and do them to perfection. NASCAR, its a different story. Too many people trying to talk about the same thing is tiring.

They make the FOX broadcast group look small!

SPEED had 4 guys in the booth and made it work where ESPN had 3 and still struggle!

The laundry list of what needs to be done this offseason is too long to delve into, but it needs to start with cutting the fat from their broadcast crew, then putting the correct play by play person in place.

David said...

Haven't said it yet. Thanks JD for this wonderful forum to voice our opinions and discuss this sport we love.

can't wait till next season!

Anonymous said...

Let me throw these thoughts out:

Cut the number of races to finish the season before football starts (this can be done by simply eliminating the return dates at most tracks, then rework the TV contract to feature one primary over-the-air network that shows most of the races and no more than two associate networks. Answer: Nothing can be done until the current TV contract expires.

If lowering ticket prices is out of the question, shorten most of the races and run the trucks before or after the cup race to give the fans two good races for the price of one. No one is showing up for truck races anyway. This is good way of giving them and their sponsors some publicity. Answer: Nothing can be done until the current TV contract expires.

Get rid of the Chase. Replace with Championship points awarded only to the top ten finishers with no bonus points. If you want Championship points, you have to run like a champion. Answer: Probably can’t be changed until the current TV contract expires.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane Said:

Below is an email I sent to ESPN rgarding their NASCAR coverage. They only allow so many characters, so it was hard to frame all the issues. Also, used up a few at least thanking them for some of the changes made at beginning of their season (Rusty out of the booth!!)

For the life of me I can't understand why 2 entities, NASCAR and ESPN, who have the same objective: Get sponsors to support them by getting the maximum number of viewers to watch an exciting and entertaining product, can't figure out the formula!

To ESPN:

"First, thank u for changes u did make. However, u need to keep working on it. The great Dr. P needs to be removed from the booth. U need separate teams for NW and Cup. U can pay for it by doing the following. Get rid of the Infield booth or only use 2 people, Dr.P, Ray E?? Get experienced pit road reporters. Cut out extraneous crap,(FOX too). The easiest thing to do: WATCH TRUCK RACES ON SPEED! LISTEN TO BOOTH on FOX (watch track not monitor). Less is more. No fancy graphics. Just show racing.

JD, you have hinted changes are coming. I hope so and hope they are far ranging, not some token effort.

Thank you again for this blog and all you do to help us NASCAR fans retain our sanity and get changes made.

Diane

speedangel said...

Hey Red,

I got a NASCAR Fan Council survey as well, but mine was focused on TNT instead of Fox.

Jojaye said...

I have deliberately waited to post this so long to digest last nights alleged coverage.

Last night with the Championship "coverage" was symptomatic of the entire lot of "coverage".

It was an unmitigated mess -
awful,just awful.

Pit reporter who kept on talking after trouble was said - she should have shut up.
Lazy pit reporters asking other drivers what do you think of JJ? umm they just lost to Carl ( in the race) & lost the Championship to JJ. To a man each was gracious.
More than I could have, or would have done.

espn has shown time and again it, as an entity, does not get nor want to try to get NASCAR. Or any motor sports for that matter. I was amazed that Tony Kornheiser came out and said the things he did. I could not believe what I heard, yet on the rebroadcast there it was.
Scorn & dismissive contempt of a sport covered by his own employer.

The play by play was awful. Put Doc where he belongs next year, and put a real play by play person in the seat.

All I want to see is the live racing on the screen. Racing covered up with pre taped bits, full screen graphics and such is not race coverage.
Which brings me to the incompetent who placed Cales name under JJ's.
That was wrong & rude.

NASCAR & espn need to get the races started earlier,period.
So we never go thru another bait & switch set up.

I feel,as a fan, we have been given the crumbs & told it was a feast. For 2 seasons this has been all about what espn wants. How about us? The viewer, consumers who advertisers want to get us to see the ads, and purchase the goods & services they offer?

I will not bother to watch NN tonight,to see the year end show. It'll be taped and if reviews are good I may watch it. I remember last year how JJ was left alone on the set of espn, while Erik K. was doing other bits.

I'm hoping to have sirius next year - if not I'll watch something else unless wholesale changes are made.

We'll know by what happens with the N'Wide series.

As a lot, espn telecasts lack knowledge & a true passion for the sport & because of that
I do not hold out much hope.

Sophia said...

jojaye

Ditto to your post. Nuff said

Stricklanfan

No wonder Steve Byrnes wants to know who you are...you should be in TV production or teaching it. :)

Been great to have everybody here garner info from.

I might have paid attention to 30 laps at most yesterday. Was multitasking on laptop, internet went out on three computers. Called ISP and signals were good but told to return old modem and get a new one...we did and after an hour of moving huge computer desk with all the cords attached, and heated discussions, and downloading software for NEW MODEM...found out later there was an outage..and we got a call back at the end of the race it was a ROUTER ISSUE. So our running around was for naught as there were intermittent issues for hours...sigh.

So all this disruption during the race for me and Steelers game was for naught.

But last year or with TNT, I would have NEVER left the house during the last race of the SEASON to deal with computer issues.

Sign of the junk on PSPN. And honestly, did we really need the graphic on the ticker CONSTANTLY telling us the points of Carl and JJ ??? LUDICROUS.

Again thanks for the site JD and sorry you were so busy this weekend.

Oh, and RED, about those surveys, think they feed them to mushrooms?? Just kidding....sigh.

What else can one say...many did not watch the race yesterday and I did do the pre shows and post race shows but did not want to follow the SCRIPT of ABC's "coverage".

The Truck series ending was a Fairytale. Good stuff.

Anonymous said...

Like has been said, one big problem with tme during coverage has been that all the drivers are not shown at least a couple of times during the 3-4 hours of coverage.

I am glad that they made a big deal of Jimmie Johnson this time. I'm a numbers person and have always wondered why they always say Smoke, Kyle, Edwards, Gordon,etc are these terrific drivers. I have never heard JJ mentioned in the same breath as all those. And yet, this century, JJ has won more races that all those guys, hands down.

I think a lot of complaints become white noise. I blog on other sports, and trust me, people complain about everything!

Congratulations to JJ and I look forward to February on Fox. I love them!

JD said...

I watch nothing on ESPN beyond NASCAR coverage. ESPN has no other intersect point for my interests.

Another JD

Tracy said...

Jojaye, I do think Bestwick, Andy Petree, DJ, Evernham, and basically that racin' crowd have true passion for the sport. Often, only the excitment in DJ's and Andy's voices gave me a clue that anyone in the broadcast booth cared about what was going on during a race. So while the passion is there, they two of them ended up dragging the rest of the broadcast behind them like a dead whale on a beach. How they must feel frustrated. . . and tired.

I keep going back to comparing the Speed-televised truck races with ESPN's coverage of everything else. The lights on the trucks in Homestead, with the winner's edge wire-thin, still gets my heart pumping peanut butter. The Cup race felt as if it wasn't... I'm not sure how to describe it. It just wasn't fun. It wasn't terribly interesting, much less exciting, unless you used the radio and other resources to go with the pictures on TV to find out how the rest of the field was faring. There were some terrific stories out there, like Allmendinger and Regan Smith, Marco Ambrose and Robby Gordon. Where were they on ESPN? Right, in the "Who cares?Not ESPN" file.
Perhaps it's because so much focus was on Carl Edwards. (Sheesh, even I'm sick of hearing him say "copy that, DJ.") I almost felt as if ESPN took the easy way out. Skim the surface of the race, show the great unwashed masses the easy stuff, don't treat this race as if there are 41 cars besides the 48 and 99 on the track.

Maybe there are too many whistles and bells going on for the real racing to shine through on ESPN. Give a mike to Bestwick, DJ, Andy, and Evernham (sorry to those who hate him, but he knows his stuff), and let them have at it. Show the whole field. Let them tell the stories of what's happening. They know. Get out of their way. Why have all that talent and not use it?

theangryengraver said...

What happened to Dr. JP??

He seems like he's such a downer now. Has he been doing it for too long? Jeez. The only excitement you ever end up hearing is Andy Petree and DJ. Those 2 are an excellent combo. Maybe put the Dr. back on pit road? He never sounded this dull and boring when he was down there.

delenn said...

I just hope ESPN do what needs to be done. They made good changes between 07 and 08. They need to do more.

1. Swap AB and JP.
2. Do not put Evernham in the booth. Leave him in the Infield in place of Brad, who is no longer needed.
3. Drop this storyline stuff. Show the race.
4. Drop the Sportscenter Now inserts and ticker.
5. Spell Cale's name right.
6. Give Speed all practises and qualifying for all nascar events live.
7. Show all "43 of Nascar's finest", not just the top twelve.
8. Put DJ and Ned together in the booth once a season. Perhaps Darlington. Last time was magical, and showed just how bad JP was.
9. Finally Feinberg, watch an old ESPN telecast, and give us that. You fixed Nascar Now. Now fix the races.

Have a nice off-season everyone. It has been an honour to share it with JD and every single one of you, whether I agree with you or not. What does it say about Nascar that this is the website I go to first for Nascar???

boyd said...

JD,

Quick thanks for this forum, and for making all of us better viewers.

The ESPN coverage on Sunday was annoying, and I finally resorted to sound off and MRN on the radio. I have never, I repeat never missed a race on TV. I would watch live, or tape (DVR) it and watch it later. In 2008 I missed a total of 4 races in just the chase.

Dr. Punch, please teach the girls how to cover pit road. Add him with Dave and the girls and I think that will be the spark needed there.

Alan, go and take over PxP. Get a different contract if needed, but with you in the booth with DJ and Andy would be a wonderful team. Also keep the NASCAR NOW Monday show, to keep the continuity from Sunday.

Mr. Feinberg, you have the pieces that can make for the best team on TV. Just put the pieces in the right place.

Finally clean out the infield studio. I have tried to like Brad, but rah,rah man and I talked to everyone in the infield doesn't cut it for me. You have Evernham to take over the place of a Sprint Cup owner.

Rusty. Never liked him as a driver and can't stand him as a commentater. Send him to run his race team and find a driver that can finish on the lead lap.

Gary said...

This may not sound like a tv commentary, but give me a chance. If Jimmie Johnson wins another race early next year, and even has a chance at another Cup title, you might as well sound the Death Knell for NASCAR as far as ratings are concerned. If the ratings are bad this year, and trust me, the 48 team has alot to do with ratings, the coverage will be all but extinct on any major network.
ESPiN had to struggle with two story lines this year, imagine how they would do with only one story line next year.
BTW,I got the impression that in the end, Jerry will NOT be back in the booth next year, the way Dale and Andy were saying their "goodbyes" at the end of the broadcast.
I understand the 48 team wanting to constantly win, and win another championship, but they have to wonder, who cares anymore? The ratings are flat, the stands are empty, and the fans that are left boo Jimmie. In my world 2 + 2 equals 4. They and Rick Hendrick are an equal part responsible to blame for flat ratings, and dismal attendance, along with the economy.
ESPN just magnified the obvious.

Richard in N.C. said...

I really believe there is a culture problem at ESPN - racing just happens to get the shortest stick, except for coverage of the sport per se. It is clear to me that the ESPN culture views ESPN as the show, not the sport being covered.

Newracefan said...

Just to balance it out, I still watch party because of Jimmie and HMS.

Now on to ESPN.

Too many cooks and some of them are buring the broth. PXP is basically nonexistant. Scriped coverage instead of following the racing, occasionally they would lapse and start to look for battles but then revert back to the script. Pit reporters have improved but still need work. General disrepect of Nascar and its fans which has been well documented in this post. See SLF comments. I remember we were all complaining about Fox's camera angles (ESPN was much better with this) but at least the races were exciting to watch and I don't think the races changed it was the coverage.

Anonymous said...

I have been a HMS fan for years. It started with Terry, then Jeff, and now Jr and Jimmie. I congratulate them on 25 years of racing, and let them know they are the reason I still watch NASCAR.

Jojaye said...

@ Tracy - no doubt some do have passion for motor sports. Why does it not come thru? Because the Powers in the Truck won't let it. They are not fans. Speed has people who care & respect the sport, espn does not. And it shows on the tv in the finished product.
Whats the old saying? Something about lamps under baskets?
You can't see the light.

And that is espns problem.

Zieke said...

I believe Tony Kornheiser is just at ESPN to stir people up with his blather. Of course he could'nt like NASCAR, his brain would fry. With all the problems he has with football, ESPN should look elsewhere for knowledge and incite.

Rosemary said...

Thank you for opening this blog to us. NASCAR fans feel they have to complain a lot to be heard, and it looks like ABC/ESPN listened after the Phoenix race...I enjoyed seeing the final race of the year to its completion including post-race, all on ABC.

Congratulations to Jimmie, Chad and the entire 48 Team on their Third Consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship!!!