Sunday, August 31, 2008

Sprint Cup Series From Fontana, CA on ESPN (7 PM)

Last week in Bristol the NASCAR on ESPN gang had a very bad Nationwide Series telecast and rallied to have a great Sprint Cup show. This week in Fontana, the Nationwide race and paint drying were running head-to-head until the last fifteen laps. Hopefully, with so many storylines in-progress for the Cup teams the network will once again get itself organized for a good race telecast.

This week Allen Bestwick gets his full hour for NASCAR Countdown. Story selection should be interesting as this is the time of the year when "the race" vs. "The Chase" becomes a tough struggle for the TV crews. Here at Fontana and next week in Richmond making The Chase is going to be said countless times by countless reporters.

Bestwick will have both Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty alongside in the Infield Pit Center. There is absolutely no doubt that Rusty Wallace misses the ability to step-up and do some ESPN races as an analyst. Earlier this year, Rusty did both selected Sprint Cup and Nationwide races while Dale Jarrett was on vacation.

Now that the final seventeen race stretch has come to ESPN/ABC, Wallace is stuck in the infield trying patiently do deal with the cheerleading of Daugherty. One gets the feeling that Rusty has finally begun to understand what he gave up when ESPN made the change in the off-season.

Tim Brewer had a tough Saturday in the Tech Center and it seems that he is often put on the air before he has the time to sort-out the real issue that he should be addressing. Andy Petree seems to be continually disagreeing with Brewer, even after Brewer has held-up and pointed to all kinds of car parts. This should be something to keep an eye on during the Sunday telecast.

The key component once again for this entire three hour telecast is going to be the ability of Dr. Jerry Punch to keep the excitement level high. Punch failed miserably in the Nationwide race and both Jarrett and Petree jumped-in time-and-time again to describe the action while Punch was silent.

Only two races until The Chase begins on ESPN and this is the critical time to keep the excitement high and build the momentum for the sport as it heads-into the final ten races of the season. This responsibility falls squarely to Punch.

ESPN will use the regular pit reporting crew of Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns. Last week this crew worked hard and had both good and bad moments. Saturday night in the Nationwide Series race, this crew of four tried several times to get through a full-field recap but once again never completed the rundown. It is going to be very important to rundown the full field several times during the Sprint Cup race.

This post will serve to host your comments about the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from Fontana, CA. To add your TV-related 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 stopping by The Daly Planet.

Sunday Afternoon On SPEED From Fonatana

Getting ready for the Sprint Cup Race on ESPN at 7PM, SPEED serves-up a couple of hours of pre-race programming.

Larry McReynolds is a consistent presence on SPEED and he starts things off with NASCAR Performance at 4:00PM. McReynolds is joined by Chad Knaus and Bootie Barker. Originally, this show was fascinating for what the smart minds of the crew chiefs could do to the cars in the Sprint Cup Series.

Now, it is a constant exercise in frustration for both Knaus and Barker. NASCAR has put the crew chiefs in a box and there is nothing left to talk about except parts and pieces. At many racetracks, there is little for the crew chief to do except adjust tire pressure and add or subtract wedge during the race.

The mounting frustration of Knaus has been especially noticeable in light of his team's frustrations despite being firmly in The Chase. Knaus is used to a very different level of performance. It should be interesting to hear his views on the box NASCAR has assembled for the teams in Fontana.

Randy Pemberton and Adam Alexander have been taking turns hosting NASCAR in a Hurry which comes along next at 4:30PM. This show uses all the SPEED and NASCAR Media Group footage since the teams arrived in Fontana to review everything that has happened from the Nationwide race to the news from the garage.

The franchise strolls in next, as John Roberts leads the NASCAR RaceDay crew of Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace on-the-air at 5PM for two hours of pre-race programming. Hermie Sadler and Wendy Venturini are the field reporters. Venturini has David Ragan as her guest on The Real Deal this week. Live guests on the show will include Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.

RaceDay has undergone a huge transformation since being moved back one hour to protect the ESPN pre-race show called NASCAR Countdown. Last season, the RaceDay crew was fired-up to go head-to-head with the NASCAR on ESPN gang. Now, drivers can come to the RaceDay stage because they are still in their street clothes.

Instead of Venturini and ESPN's pit reporters competing for interviews on the starting grid, Venturini is often alone in the bus lot with drivers who look like they just woke up from a nap. The precious hour before race time now belongs to ESPN alone.

The RaceDay crew continues to develop a new show format even as they are surrounded by NASCAR Now on ESPN2 before the show and NASCAR Countdown immediately after. What topics are selected to pursue, the quality of the interviews and the exclusive features are the elements keeping RaceDay popular.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Sunday afternoon shows on SPEED from Fontana. To add your TV-related 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. Thanks again for taking time out of your day to stop by.