Saturday, May 10, 2008

In-Progress From Darlington: Sprint Cup Series Race On Fox

Major League Baseball is rapidly becoming a sport that goes hand-in-hand with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Once again this Saturday night, Fox will have baseball games in-progress that will lead directly into the Darlington coverage.

The Hollywood Hotel is scheduled to take to the air at 7PM Eastern Time. Last time this baseball situation happened, only some portions of the country saw the complete pre-race show with Jeff Hammond, Darrell Waltrip and host Chris Myers.

Darlington is a touchy subject for veteran NASCAR fans, who want two races returned to this venerable track each season. It should be interesting to see how the Hollywood Hotel handles that issue, or if it is even mentioned.

Mike Joy handled the Cup qualifying and a practice sessions earlier in the week, but Saturday night will be the first time this veteran play-by-play announcer will be seeing Cup cars racing at speed on this new pavement. The dynamic of the competition is almost completely unknown. What was billed as a wreck-fest on Friday night was relatively smooth until fuel pick-up problems caused one big accident.

Joy, Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will have to be prepared for either a memorable race on a fantastic new surface or a Bristol-like single-file parade with passing basically limited to pit road. That will put the pressure on the pit reporters to document the action that may decide the race.

Veterans Dick Berggren, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes and Krista Voda will be in the very loud trenches and there should be some new challenges. On Friday, it was ESPN's Jamie Little who talked to drivers outside the Infield Care Center and in the garage if they had dropped-out with mechanical problems.

As the Cup evening wears-on, there is a distinct possibility that lots of cars may fall by the wayside. The follow-up in the garage area and documenting the frustration with the new track and the speeds should be an interesting challenge to present. Reality always has a way of being flavored with politics in this sport.

After the race, ESPNEWS will again have live coverage of the press conferences from the Infield Media Center. We remind you of this because once again SPEED will hold the original airing of Victory Lane until Sunday night.

This post will serve to host all of your comments about the Sprint Cup race from Darlington on Fox. To post your TV-related opinions, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. As always, thank you for dropping by.

In-Progress At Darlington: "RaceDay" On SPEED

This is one of those occasions where a Saturday Sprint Cup race brings SPEED's RaceDay to viewers in the late afternoon. It should be a beautiful day in Darlington, SC as the program takes to-the-air at 5PM Eastern Time.

John Roberts leads the two live hours that TDP has referred to as the Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR. Two hours is plenty of time to wander the RaceDay aisles and find something that you like to take home. On a regular basis, there has been something for everyone in this TV program.

Very quietly, Roberts has been carving his own TV legacy in the sport. He has perfected the host role, stepping-in when the situation merits but otherwise allowing the SPEED personalities to express themselves. His yeoman work on the weekends for the network has not gone un-noticed. His name was suggested for the host seat on This Week in NASCAR and perhaps viewers will soon see Roberts on the SPEED Report.

Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace return as the unlikely duo that is the face of NASCAR before and after the Sprint Cup Series races. Spencer has been working hard to focus on what issues he wants to address and how he delivers his message to the fans. Wallace has been slowly making the final transition from driver to broadcaster.

Ready to break-out to a larger opportunity is Wendy Venturini. Although she has been anchoring a second "mini-set" in the infield at select races, Venturini is ready for more national exposure than the DirecTV package. Her reporting from the garage area and starting grid on this program is second-to-none and her unique relationship with the NASCAR personalities comes across to the viewers.

With the upcoming All-Star festivities at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Venturini will be hosting her first primetime TV special. Titled 2008 NASCAR All-Star Hometown Heroes the program will be airing at 9PM Eastern Time on Wednesday, May 14th. TDP will have additional details on this program in a story being published on Sunday.

In this Saturday "Mother's Day" edition of RaceDay, Venturini will be visiting with Hermie and Elliott Sadler's mother, Belle. The Real Deal feature will focus on Ms. Sadler's courageous struggle with cancer. This feature has been a compelling one on RaceDay, and perhaps the only NASCAR behind-the-scenes TV feature currently being produced on a regular basis.

Hermie Sadler has also become a regular on this TV series, essentially providing the information about the track conditions and then assisting with interviews. Sadler is welcome, but his skills in the garage and his relationship with the drivers is very different than Venturini. Sadler has also been working in the broadcast booth with Mike Joy on the Nationwide Series qualifying sessions.

In this edition of RaceDay, Sadler will venture to Hendrick Motorsports and drive one of their Cup cars. Well, he will be doing that for pit crew practice out behind the shop. It should be interesting.

Rutledge Wood continues to be a presence on this program, filling the role of comedic relief and trying to generally be a goofy guy. While he succeeds on a regular basis at the goofy part, the rest of the show is often so focused and engaged in racing-related topics that Wood's reports fail to find an audience.

Saturday's RaceDay will replay the staged Carl Edwards and David Pearson "photo opportunity" from Darlington. The show will also review how one moment in time and one bad choice can turn a popular driver instantly into the new NASCAR villain.

Beginning at 5PM, the show will hand-over the NASCAR TV reigns to Fox at 7PM for the live Sprint Cup event. The Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR will then be closed so everyone can watch the race.

This post will serve to host your comments about NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED. To add your comments, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet and leave your opinion.