Sunday, November 9, 2008
In-Progress From Phoenix: Sprint Cup Series on ABC
After hundreds of posts, thousands of comments and millions of page views, this is the next-to-last Sprint Cup Series in-progress race post of 2008 on The Daly Planet.
In terms of NASCAR TV, this has been a very long haul for the ESPN team. While they have gotten most of the publicity from the Sprint Cup Series coverage, the entire ESPN gang has been working the NASCAR circuit since February in Daytona.
Unlike the Fox or TNT production teams who stop by and then leave, ESPN "double-dips" by using Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree on the Nationwide Series for the entire season. Likewise, the ESPN pit reporting team of Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Mike Massaro have been prowling the pits for the past nine months.
It will be 3PM Eastern Time when the new leader of the ESPN team, Allen Bestwick, kicks-off the coverage from the Infield Pit Studio. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. This week, Ray Evernham will also be a member of the infield TV team.
Bestwick has been a workhorse for ESPN this year handling the Nationwide and Sprint Cup infield duties while also developing the brand new one hour NASCAR Now program on Mondays. His frequent flier miles by the end of this season will hopefully earn him a very nice winter vacation.
This weekend the clash in storylines between the racers and The Chasers continues. Mark Martin and Kyle Petty will not be racing in Homestead. Rumors of Joey Logano losing the #20 ride continue. Economic factors are eating at the sport from all sides. Somehow, the Jimmie Johnson vs. Carl Edwards scenario has lost a little luster. The selection of topics for the pre-race show should be a challenge.
Having four voices in the infield studio on a fast track like Phoenix is tough to do, especially when mixed with four pit reporters, three folks in the announce booth and Tim Brewer in the Tech Center. How things sort-out after the green flag falls will be interesting to watch. Any way you slice it, twelve announcers on a NASCAR race is a lot.
Dr. Jerry Punch is two races away from the end of what has seemed to be a very long season. Having Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth this season has helped, but it is still tough to watch a veteran reporter and nice guy like Punch struggle in the play-by-play role. It certainly has been a learning year for Jarrett, who has contributed quite a bit of the event coverage this season.
NASCAR Now ran a story Sunday morning on the fact that Spake and Little were on the top ten list of the most beautiful people in NASCAR. The challenge for both these young women is to close-out the season without asking any driver, crew chief or owner "how they feel" about any racing topic. Maybe asking some hardcore racing questions might move them up a notch or two for next year. By the way, Kasey Kahne was number one.
PIR offers the ESPN TV Director a wonderful choice of cameras to transfer the experience of the race to viewers at home. The aerial shots and the jib camera on Rattlesnake Hill will serve to set the tone and provide transition shots for everything from commercial breaks to in-race promos.
There are several low angle cameras on this track, including a robo-cam between turns three and four that moves with the field as they race by. PIR is the perfect track to bring TV viewers down low and get the feel of this short-track style racing at track level.
The audio from PIR on both Friday and Saturday was fantastic. Look for the continuation of an outstanding season from the NASCAR Media Group technical staff where the sounds of racing are concerned. Restarts should be exciting as the cars come up to speed.
Unless an extended caution flag comes out, Bestwick and his infield team will probably be heard and not seen once the race begins. It is tough to insert four announcers on-camera and get their comments on even one topic if the race is continuing in the background under green.
Keep an eye out for non-Chasers who fall out of the race to see if they are interviewed. Look for the pit road reporters being more aggressive and climbing pit boxes to talk to crew chiefs. If a big accident happens, watch for interviews with all drivers as they leave the Infield Medical Center.
No doubt Johnson and Edwards will dominate the telecast, but the stories of the race are there and it is up to ABC to tell them to the viewer. This track needs frequent resets of the field along with information about how drivers moved either forward or backwards in the line-up. With passing at a premium, the race off pit road will be crucial all day long. It should be a fun race to watch and the weather is great.
This post will serve to host your TV-related comments on the Sprint Cup Series race from PIR 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.