Friday, August 1, 2008

ESPN Gears-Up For A Long Saturday Of NASCAR

Update: Raining at Pocono and Jerry Punch is trying his best to lead the network through two and a half hours of rain fill. Punch and company are in the Pit Studio, so no Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty.

Now that SPEED has finished coverage of the Friday Sprint Cup Series practice, ESPN2 becomes "all NASCAR all day long" on Saturday.

The network will kick things off with live coverage of "happy hour" from Pocono for the Cup Series beginning at 10:30AM ET. It will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree calling the action.

ESPN has everyone on site including Allen Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Tim Brewer. The pit road reporters in Pocono are Dave Burns, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little. Mike Massaro and Rusty Wallace are on-assignment in Montreal for the Nationwide Series.

It will be qualifying for that series that is up at 12:30PM from Montreal on ESPN2. Marty Reid will be handling the play-by-play with Wallace and Randy LaJoie alongside. On pit road and in the garage will be Jack Arute, Vince Welch and Massaro.

It will be Massaro that gets the opportunity to host the one hour NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30PM. This road course is very different for the drivers. As fans saw last season the mix of Cup drivers, Nationwide Series "regulars" and road course ringers is a rather volatile combination. It will be up to Massaro and company to set the table for this event during the pre-race show.

The race coverage will start at 3:30PM and there will be a new post up for in-progress comments. While Reid and LaJoie have worked together and have a fun on-air presence, the insertion of Wallace into the booth should be interesting to watch.

Wallace is an series team owner, his son races the car and Steven Wallace on a road course should make for some memorable moments. During the Friday practice TV coverage, the Wallace entry blew the driveshaft right out of the car and onto the track causing a lengthy caution.

This Nationwide Series race is scheduled to go until 7PM and lead into continuing coverage of the X Games. At the present time, the threat of rain is viable for Saturday and the cars are going to use rain tires, windshield wipers and brake lights if the weather turns damp. Did I mention this could be memorable?

SPEED sneaks-in NASCAR Performance with Larry McReynolds, Bootie Barker and Chad Knaus at 7:30PM and then follows with Tradin' Paint at 8PM. This week's media guest is Tom Jensen from and Kyle Petty will be on the program despite not driving in the Cup race.

This post will serve to host your comments about practice and pre-race activities on ESPN2. The Nationwide Series in-progress post will be up at 1:30PM. To add your TV-related opinion on the topics above, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions.

The rules for posting comments are located on the right side of the main page, thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

SPEED Opens-Up "NASCAR Confidential"

Fans that tuned-in on Friday at 6PM were greeted by a very different episode of NASCAR Confidential. This program was opened-up to include live guests at the SPEED Stage in Pocono speaking with Fox and SPEED analyst Larry McReynolds.

In the past, NASCAR Confidential has been a slickly-packaged look at a NASCAR event from several different perspectives. These have included a selection of very different people from team owners to track photographers. This time, the pre-produced segments were wrapped-around on-camera question and answer sessions.

This approach worked very well to deal with a lot of outstanding issues about the Indy weekend. Seeing a slice of the reality and then having those involved talk about it on-camera is a format we see on reality-style programs on all kinds of TV networks. This time, it proved to be very effective.

While McReynolds is sometimes a cheerleader, he is also a straight-shooter when it comes to issues on the track. In this program, McReynolds spoke with NASCAR President Mike Helton, Goodyear's Stu White and NASCAR driver Elliott Sadler.

Helton is a much more effective spokesman for NASCAR than Robin Pemberton or Brian France. He speaks in terms that fans can understand and his lifetime commitment to the NASCAR world speaks volumes about his experience. In this special episode, without his customary suit and tie, Helton answered every question from McReynolds without hesitation.

Perhaps, the best part of Helton's interview was that it finally put a "human face" on the TV experience of the previous weekend. Without its own TV network, NASCAR relies on its TV partners, cable networks and local TV stations to offer video to fans nationwide. The experience during and after Indy was often disjointed and offered various versions of the racing reality.

Stu Grant from Goodyear was thorough in his explanation of what the company had done before the race, what they experienced after the practice sessions and what they intended to do to solve this problem in the future. Grant was much more effective than the on-camera company spokesman of the Indy weekend and his detailed explanations tied-up some loose ends about the Goodyear issues.

McReynolds used Elliott Sadler to relate the driver's perspective. Sadler is a regular on SPEED's Trackside show during this time of the season and has worked hard on his TV skills. His explanations of when and how teams knew this problem was going to be really big worked to add another perspective to the troubled weekend.

This episode of NASCAR Confidential was added only this Wednesday to air on Friday. Whoever made this decision did fans a favor by pushing this type of content onto the airwaves at a time when long-form NASCAR weekday programming is at an all-time low.

The downside is that fans now know what they are missing in terms of hour-long NASCAR programs that really capture the feeling of the sport through first-hand experiences and the outstanding TV production skills of The NASCAR Media group.

This single episode served as an effective TV-based message to the entire nation of NASCAR fans. It put content that will not been seen in the current NASCAR TV programs on-the-table and asked McReynolds to follow-up on the issues that arose. What a good combination of post-production and the topical use of live interview content. This program will re-air on Saturday at 11PM Eastern Time on SPEED.

The Daly Planet welcomes your comments on this program. 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.

Thanks again for taking the time to drop by and share your views on NASCAR Confidential: What we learned at Indy.