Sunday, January 25, 2009

Irwindale And Daytona Both Featured NASCAR Stars


A visit to the Rolex 24 at Daytona is always fun. The mix of fans on-hand includes a large contingent of NASCAR folks who are there camping for a weekend of racing. The Jimmie Johnson and Juan Pablo Montoya t-shirts mix with the Porsche and Ferrari jackets over both cocktails and breakfast.

While Johnson may have been the headliner, it was Montoya who stole the show on SPEED this Sunday as he drove the final stint in the Ganassi Racing Daytona Prototype.

SPEED mounted an impressive effort and play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey certainly can get excited on the air even after an exhausting 23 hours. The final hour of racing was a focused and fascinating effort as the face of Daytona clearly changed to the DP formula.

Meanwhile, after a Friday night rain-out it was Mike Joy and Phil Parsons calling the racing action from Irwindale, CA on Saturday. The Toyota All-Star Shootout is a one-time look for many fans at the regional NASCAR racers. This field was spiked with Ron Hornaday Jr. and Joey Logano. Both would play huge roles in the event.

Joy and Parsons picked right up where they both left off in 2008. Smooth and efficient, these two professionals blended well and "let them race." The large amount of cars and the frequency of the cautions did not rattle the TV crew, who calmly had things well in hand.

Unfortunately, Hornaday tried and failed at a spectacular move and it caused a large accident. It eliminated several top cars, but SPEED was quick to reset the situation and get things organized again for the viewers.

There was a "mall cop" sighting and interview, but it turned out to be under the yellow flag and was painless.

Click here for the clip that is going to live on YouTube for a very long time. Joy called it as Logano made a bold move going for broke on the final corner. The excitement of racing was back, even if the outcome of Logano's move was less than successful.

In much the same way that Joy and Darrell Waltrip were the right on-air duo to handle the Michael McDowell qualifying wreck in Texas, Joy and Parsons were right for the aftermath of the big Logano mess. Calm and cool, the two let the actions on the track speak for themselves and never took sides. It was a long night and a nice start to the TV season for both men.

Meanwhile, the SPEED Grand-Am team was having a blast watching Montoya. David Hobbs has always lent the right amount of irreverent commentary to any sports car broadcast and this was no exception. His comments about the four car battle in the final hour were just what tired race fans needed.

The new later afternoon end time worked well and let TV viewers see a lot more daytime racing. Perhaps, we will see some additional cars in the field for next year to return the total car count back to the old glory days of the Rolex 24.

Montoya ultimately finished in second place and then provided a solid post-race interview where he talked about his on-track battles and praised the Ganassi team. It should be an interesting transition for him to get in a big COT car and return to the Daytona oval in a couple of weeks.

This was a nice doubleheader weekend on SPEED with something for everyone. The SPEED Report did a nice job Sunday night of recapping both these events and the other series whose season is underway. This program seems to have the potential to be ninety minutes in length once the NASCAR season begins, but that might be a tough sell in these economic times.

If you watched these events, please let us know what you thought of the TV coverage by clicking on the COMMENTS button below and adding your opinion to The Daly Planet. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

The photo is courtesy of Grand-Am Racing/Brian Cleary. Click on it to see it full-size.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Both races were thoroughly enjoyable. I really like listening to Mike Joy call races that are less "formal" than Cup.

(Last year at the Chili Bowl, he referred to "J.J. Ukulele" and said they needed a caution to bunch up the field "like NASCAR does.")

Good racing, and the Irwindale race was great with a minimum of cameras and just two guys in the booth.

diane said...

Leigh Diffey rules! He could give lessons on how to convey enthusiasm.

Grover said...

Joy again showing why he is the TOP of the heap. Parsons the professional as always. You nailed it right on the head JD, "let the actions on the track speak for themselves....."

I enjoyed the 24 very much, a bit disjointed in the coverage, but heck what do you expect out of a 24 hour race with what 16 hours of coverage? Very quick with the replays even late in the race when the front clip came off the Target car, we had a replay in under 30 seconds from 2 camera angles.

The comments in the final five laps were strange, constantly talking about history of this team and that team how much it would mean for the guy who's dad died 2 year ago. I'm sorry but lets just do the race in the final 5 laps and leave the fluff behind.

Anyone catch Montoya's interview at the end? What a cry baby. Cracked me up when think it was David Hobbs called him out on it.

Anonymous said...

I still don't understand why SPEED doesn't provide overnight coverage of the Daytona 24-hour race. Hopefully they will have 24 -hour coverate of LeMans like they did last year.

I thought there were too many pre-produced features inserted here and there, but overall the coverage was very good - even if they did almost miss the winning pass.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

The Rolex is a perfect DVR race. We just enjoy racing and know a couple of the less famous racers, so that always makes it interesting. Plus old enough to remember Mark Donahue and Dan Gurney so neat to watch their "kids" race. Plus the NASCAR guys and IRL folks also add interest. Enjoy the announcing, very informal, fun...love Mike Joy and David Hobbs. Could do without goofy production pieces, although info is good.

The J said...

"I still don't understand why SPEED doesn't provide overnight coverage of the Daytona 24-hour race."

Well, they couldnt because of the Irwindale race. but i think it would be nice to see all 24 hours. i thought both commentating teams did a great job. mike joy is one of the best of al time. and leigh diffey is just great. speed shines when there is actual racing going on, not so much on the offtrack stuff.

alex said...

I thoroughly enjoyed both races. I didn't stay up late for the end at Irwindale, but I taped it and watched the end on Sunday morning. Both sets of annoucers, camera crews, and directors did a good job, and I really appreciated the fact that it solid racing coverage without too many close-up shots or overwhelming graphics on the screen. The mall cop bit was harmless, and kinda funny to see pacing the cars. It was a fun weekend. Thanks SPEED!

red said...

i'm right there w/west coast diane in re: the rolex. it's a racing broadcast done (mostly) right! production pieces not so compelling but the level of enthusiasm in those last 15-20 minutes was great.

someday, some channel will broadcast the entire 24 hours so when i wake up at, say, 3 in the morning and can't get back to sleep, i can watch the racing.

AMS fan said...

Enjoyed all the race coverage. (except for the parts I slept through) We celebrated a few birthdays Saturday and I had the start of the race on. One friend, not at all a race fan, commented on the excitement of Leigh Diffey announcing the early laps. He looked at me and asked, you said this was a 24 hour race. That guy sounds like it's the last lap. It's always fun to have rookies around once in a while.
I guess it's about time to watch Speedtv again. I go on hibernation from the channel just like they do with NASCAR.
It's got to be thought of crazy, the way Leigh and others get excited over hard racing when it doesn't mean much, but I know he is watching and he loves his job. Unlike another announcer.

Mary said...

Somehow the DVR didn't record Irwindale (sigh) although I did see the beginning of the race. I really enjoyed the end of the Rolex though and was hoping Montoya could do it.

Vicky D said...

I couldn't stay up that late to watch the end of the Irwindale race but thought what I watched was enjoyable. I found it also interesting the Montoya post-race interview and Davie Hobbs' comment. I like the Rolex race a lot and the commentators did a fine job especially since at the end they must have been exhausted.

Bobby said...

They had split crews from 3-10, and when they returned from the NASCAR race, another crew called the race from 7-9, and another from 10-4.

The story about the Brumos team is important to non-sportscar regulars. This was the dealership of the late Peter Gregg, and also the dealership of Bob Snodgrass, whose death affected the dealership, now run by Hurley Haywood. In a way, it's similar to long-standing teams on their way back.

Sportscar purists complain about the yellows, but there's a difference between letting corner workers run on the track with the cars at 185 MPH to remove debris than at 40 MPH. Race stewards in North America are more likely to use a yellow to remove debris because of the 1990 CART fatality in Vancouver where a young marshal was killed by a car that did not see the stalled car. Also, K&K and other insurance firms would prefer that to protect workers.

Anonymous said...

Red wrote:someday, some channel will broadcast the entire 24 hours so when i wake up at, say, 3 in the morning and can't get back to sleep, i can watch the racing.

Red, you may not recall, but before Fox took it to all nascar allthe time, the original SPEEDVISIOn did live non-stop coverage of the Rolex 24 and LeMAns in the same year.

Now a days, Fox gives us Digger...

wowee

Anonymous said...

JD
Was Rolex produced by the SPEED crew that does NASCAR?
This was sooooo much better than traditional FOX/SPEED coverage, it makes me hpe for better this season?

Bill Tong

Gymmie said...

I love Leigh as well Diane!

Since I don't know how to take myself to bed I was up to watch all of Irwindale. Such a shame that the shortened feature was marred by wrecks. I think they only had 3 green flag laps and I believe 12 under caution. But it was good of them to allow all 52(?) cars run.

Always enjoy the 24 hour race :). It would be nice to have the full 24 hours available. I was in the SPEED chat for a bit and someone asked about at least having it available online for the full 24 and the person answering said they were looking to see if they could make it an option for the future. It definitely would be a nice alternative if TV doesn't allow due to other commitments or if someone is at work overnight but able to bring in a laptop or have access on their work PC.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Bill,

The Rolex 24 was produced by the Lingner Group from Indy. Veterans of all kinds of sports TV on various networks.

The company prez, Terry Lingner, drover in the Rolex 24 one year.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Red,

What is done with Notre Dame Football is that TV viewers who want to see the band at halftime move to the Internet and watch the halftime activities streamed online.

Meanwhile, the TV network continues to show their own halftime studio show.

I hope SPEED might consider keeping a feed of the Rolex 24 online as the network moves to other programming during the night.

This would satisfy both the network and the viewers who only get a chance one time each year to see this spectacle.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

oops....."drove"

Anonymous said...

I would have liked to see Juan and the rest of the lead lap cars cross the finish line after watching that battle for so long.

Instead, they chose to do the patented Fox Sports finish of an auto race. Cut straight to the pit crew right after the winner crosses the finish line ignoring everyone else.

Just flat out horrible, disgusting.

hotaru said...

I watched both races and I must say they were covered very well. If only ESPN's NASCAR coverage was as good...

Tracy said...

Leigh Diffey rules! Loved his enthusiasm, his calls.

The ending, yeah, it was not cool that they pulled away from the rest of the field crossing the line. JPM managed to be both ticked off and gracious to his team. What do you expect, he came in second. He's a racer, he wanted to win.

I was just so happy to see racing and hear someone in the booth who loved calling the thing.

Saw the start of Irwindale, but had to get to bed since I teach Sunday School.

Anonymous said...

Enjoyed both coverages. With the exception of the constant JPM coverage during the final three laps of the 24, I still enjoyed it. As far as JPM being a racer, and disappointed about second place, I didn't get that. What I got out of it was him blaming the crew and everyone else, including equipment, for his failure to win. He couldn't admit that he was beaten by a better driver.
I also don't like the "race winner only on camera, then cut to the crew" visual.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the FOX portion of the ROLEX 24. I wonder why they only show the start on FOX. Why not show the start, and then the next day show the finish on FOX?

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
I watched most of the broadcast, but especially enjoyed the professionalism and insight of Bob Varsha and David Hobbs' efforts from Daytona (Leight Diffey easily transfers his excitement to the viewer - a breath of fresh air to what can be a tedious broadcast ...SPEED took the bull by the horns and came out on top ...nice break from Daytona to Irwindale with Mike Joy and Phil Parsons making it a treat to watch ...director's work deserves kudos for keeping the action on the screen throughout the show.
Walter

Brendan said...

Imagine all the confusing silence and awkwardness if Dr Jerry Punch was calling the end of the Toyota All Star showdown. Joy once again shows why he's tops.

Anonymous said...

The ending with "one car across the finish line" was typical fox and used to get blasted for this last year...somehow it seems acceptable this year.

WHo is the poster that wrote the very long, detailed posts last season with suggestions to TV folks? He was good...hope he is ok.

As anon said, the ending ruined it for me...but it was never mentioned in the column.

Richard in N.C. said...

I really enjoyed the Rolex 24 - good to have some quality racing and announcing back. After 2 months wandering in the no-racing allowed SPEED-EESPN wilderness, there's nothing like listening to Leigh Diffey's unique southern (UK) accent mentioning the bustling metropolis of Welcome, NC. 2 thumbs up.

If full-night coverage is impractical, I sure do wish SPEED would at least have a crawl with a field update during at least some of the night hours.

Anthony said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the 24 Hours of Daytona coverage on SPEED. It would be really nice if they showed the entire thing, but we would have missed the Irwindale race this year if that were the case.

The only thing I did not like was the later start time. I have always watched the 24, so it took a little getting used to that it didn't start and end at 1:15p/et. I guess now that NASCAR (Holdings) owns it, they have to do later start times, too.

The entire SPEED cast did a great job. I hope this year to follow each one of the Rolex Sports Car races.

wickedj said...

Bob Varsha and David Hobbs need their own morning radio show. they absolutely KILL me

im not a Phil Parsons fan, i liked last year when Dr Dirt was in the booth

all in all good coverage but SPEED did kind of slack on some replays

Steve L. said...

It sure was nice to hear Mike Joy back at his best in Irwindale. The only complaint I had there was the sound. They needed better on-track sound of the cars running around the track.

I usually don't watch the 24 hour race at Daytona, but watched more this year than ever before. I too tired of the constant JPM talk at the end and was disappointed with the famous FOX ending showing finishline, crew jumping up and down, no other drivers crossing the checker flag.

Still nice to see some racing!

glenc1 said...

I was another east coaster who didn't make it to the end of Irwindale, but I saw the recaps on SPEED Report. What I saw of it was well done as usual.

I *loved* the coverage of the Rolex series. I watch a lot of the sports car racing on Speed and they do a great job. It was a great finish even with JPM's whining, lol. Pruett handled it with his usual class. Yes, it would have been nice to see at least each type cross the finish line, but I think they made up it some by interviewing so many drivers afterwards. And there was even a nice mention of Paul Newman during the broadcast. I thought Kyle Petty added some nice things as well in the morning.

glenc1 said...

BTW--I actually thought Kevin James on the Segway was mildly amusing (and fortunately, brief...)

Gymmie said...

I forgot to mention, I felt for Dr. Dick...his poor purple nose :p

Dot said...

I watched both races too.

I did notice that the coverage is much better when there are no bells, whistles and extra commentators. See BSPN & FOX, less is more.

I guess the tone is set for this years' racing on FOX when we only saw the winner of the Rolex race cross the finish line. One less thing to crab about since no one is listening.

One thing I'd like to know is, why does NASCAR take away wins in the other series, but not the Big 3? Yeah, yeah I know, the sponsors. I'd still like to see it though. Ickler lost his win sometime back for an illegal brake part. Now Joey lost his due to crazy driving.

Gymmie said...

It's rare but they've done it. It happened at Sears Point 1991 when Ricky lost his win to Davey Allison. Ricky spun Davey on the last lap and they credited Davey with the win even thought Ricky crossed first. But these days they fine and take points that in the end for the top teams doesn't mean anything. I think Jimmie has been in the teens in points once or twice and has never failed to be out the top 10 (now top 12) at the end of the day. So he can be fined all day and not drop out.

Newracefan said...

Enjoyed the 24, Leigh makes it easy to know when to give it all my attention. Had to FF through some just because it's a long time to sit in front of the TV. Irwindale is on tape for future viewing and based on what I read hear I will watch it.

Karen said...

Anon 2:17p,

I believe you're referring to StricklinFan as the poster with the excellent suggestions for TV. Now that you mention him, wonder where he is this year?

JD, maybe you can check on him.

Sophia said...

First, I also hope Stricklanfan is ok. Have missed his manifestos! :-)

I was shocked to hear of the move Logano made. He is young but I still can't believe he is the full time driver for HOME DEPOT..this kid was pushed too soon.

Stinks about the camera work at the end of Rolex. Did the same thing happen at Irwindale? I only caught that on SR Highlights and missed if that was commented here.

Karen said...

Sophia, no, Irwindale did not do the same thing. Due to the close finish and the circumstances, eyes wide open on this finish.

Speedcouch said...

The no-gimmick approach to the Irwindale race was great! But we felt Joy and Parsons went way to far in excusing Hornaday's decimation of half the field. Is it the TV crew's job to downplay the actions of a driver? It was like the "kinder gentler" approach to announcing where no blame is placed. Or was it because it was "big name" involved? That really bothered my husband and I both.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Speedcouch,

I think Mike and Phil stepped aside with their own judgements until NASCAR determined what they would officially do about the incident.

As usual, both sides have their points.

JD