Saturday, November 15, 2008
The Nationwide Series Limps Home
Luckily, the media still have two Sprint Cup stars to interview when it comes to the Nationwide Series. The TV networks still like to mention young Brad Keselowski, but when it comes to "big time TV" the stars are Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer.
The fundamentally wrong things with this racing series continue to be fundamentally wrong. The TV ratings again reflect the fact that the Nationwide Series has absolutely no identity of its own. Without the Sprint Cup cross-overs, the perception is that there is no excitement.
Well, this goes against everything that is fundamentally good with the series when it races far away from the Sprint Cup locations and gets to showcase itself. The stand-alone Nationwide Series races finally get back to the fun competition and qualifying that the series desperately needs.
ESPN handles the races, but SPEED often handles the practice and qualifying sessions like this weekend at Homestead. Incredibly, ESPN immediately drops the mention of the televised sessions from the ESPN2 NASCAR Now program if they are not ESPN-produced.
This week, even though it was the final racing weekend of the season, none of the Nationwide Series Friday and Saturday practice and qualifying sessions were promoted on NASCAR Now. Meanwhile, SPEED promotes all of the ESPN2 and ABC coverage of the sport regardless of the series or network.
Without a viable TV partner who will put NASCAR ahead of the network's own special interests, the Nationwide Series will continue to flounder. ESPN originates no Nationwide Series weekly or monthly TV shows. The largest percentage of pre-race interviews are with Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers. Once college football begins, the Nationwide Series becomes an afterthought. It has been made clear once again this season that the Nationwide Series on ESPN2 is just not working.
Once again it will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree who will call the action from Homestead. Down on pit road will be Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Mike Massaro. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center.
It will be Allen Bestwick that leads-off the Nationwide telecast at 4PM Eastern Time with NASCAR Countdown. Bestwick will be joined by his regular team of Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. This week Ray Evernham will also join the infield panel.
Many of the races have been quite enjoyable on ESPN2, as the pressure and formality of the ESPN Sprint Cup broadcasts seems to be set aside. The announcers are clearly without the "Sunday pressure" of the big races and the mood is much lighter.
Great pictures come from Homestead, especially with no grandstands anywhere but the frontstretch. The HD in-car cameras are gorgeous and the banking of the track should make for some great side-by-side pictures. While the audio is not spectacular from this venue, the races off pit road should be fun to both watch and hear.
This is the track that has the jet ski's in the infield, farm land all around and absolutely no shade for the fans to be found. One interesting feature of the original track that remains is the "Le Mans" style pit road balconies that reflect the original design of the facility for sports car and motorcycle racing. TV viewers should also be able to see the interior road course layout.
This post will serve to host your comments on the final Nationwide Series race on ESPN2 for 2008. To add your TV-related 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.