Sunday, March 22, 2009

Bristol Tries To Generate TV Excitement

Does anyone not know that "12 Rounds" stars John Cena and starts in theaters soon? This Sunday, the NASCAR on Fox gang traded in Digger for an endless movie promo that was a nice reminder of the upcoming TNT promotion of "The Closer."

After airing the violent "Watchman" movie promo earlier this season, the "12 Rounds" promos were thankfully limited to a video insert on the screen during live racing. Fox is often guilty of crossing the line between enough and too much. NASCAR fans who watched on TV can come to their own conclusions on this topic.

It does seem to be an interesting mix between the over-the-top promotions of an animated gopher aimed at children and two movie promos for films each featuring graphic violence in the very same live telecast.

Chris Myers led Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond through the pre-race show that featured a good look at the news and issues of the week. DW and Hammond seem to be hitting on all eight cylinders this season, despite Myers again lapsing into his clown act that should have ended years ago. And we kid because we care.

Once underway, the day and the crowd combined to finally let the announcers focus on the action and not the grandstands. Several times Mike Joy mentioned that it was almost a sellout, but the stands looked full and those images transmitted around the country sent just the right message in the nick of time.

The Fox crew was making great pictures and sound once again. It led them into one of the cleanest broadcasts in recent memory. Perhaps, because of the weird pit structure at Bristol, the TV team used a triple-split on the caution flag pit stops and it worked like a charm despite an early hiccup.

Viewers saw the video of the movie promo many times, but it was silent and did not interrupt the broadcast like Digger. The animated gopher was used sparingly, but the logo was often inserted into the "speed shots" as the cars roared by. It was certainly nice not to hear the announcers try to make cute Digger comments during this broadcast.

Once it became clear that two lanes of traffic would be the norm, the Producer and Director did a good job balancing the leaders against the stories in the pack. Despite getting caught in commercial for several cautions, the crew replayed everything that needed to be seen and had a solid day.

Fox has jumped on the Twitter bandwagon and during the event when Dale Earnhardt Jr. got lapped, it was Jeff Hammond who sent the following note:

Hammond: Time to find out if Tony Jr. can make a difference for Junior now. If they don't figure this out, they may need to make a change.

Needless to say, when Junior got lapped for the second time the implications were clear. After nicely addressing this point in the pre-race show using Waltrip with fatherly words, this time it was Hammond pointing the finger and suggesting a change.

Hammond and Myers offered a recap at the halfway point, which is something Fox must do more often. Stories unable to be followed-up by the pit reporters or the announcers in the booth should be handled by the Hollywood Hotel staff.

Waltrip and Larry McReynolds told the tale quite well as the stories unfolded. In the last ten laps once the Logano caution flew, Waltrip set the possible scenarios with McReynolds reviewing the restart rules. A late race video promo for Martinsville robbed a little momentum from the telecast, but that's what TV networks tend to do.

The closing laps were solid and brought back some of the excitement that Bristol has been famous for delivering. Thanks once again to Fox for offering the full field coming across the finish line on-camera. That really is a nice touch, especially on a short-track.

There was a lot of time left for the Fox team to fill, so everyone except the parking attendants were interviewed. This included Marcos Ambrose, who finished in the top ten despite an ailing engine. The stories of the race were all reviewed, but none of them offered anything new with the possible exception of the Junior saga.

It was Junior himself with reporter Steve Byrnes who called the media reports on Tony Eury Jr. "not reality" and reaffirmed his confidence in Eury as his crew chief. This should be an interesting topic for the Monday NASCAR TV shows.

Ultimately, the entire NASCAR on Fox team worked together to close-out the telecast. This post-race content really showed the knowledge of Hammond, McReynolds and Waltrip that SPEED viewers see regularly on Friday and Saturday coverage. It was a nice way to end the day.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking time from your day to stop by The Daly Planet.


Newracefan said...

Well it was VERY anticlimatic for me I lost TV and internet with about 40 to go, was having fun up until that point.

Dot said...

@ Nrf, you didn't miss much, unless you wanted KyB to win. Same ol' finish when he's leading at the end. However, you did miss a boatload of driver interviews.

Sophia said...

NRF Sorry about losing tv and internet service. That is annoying.

Just wanted to echo what Dot said...the end was a snoozefest.

Watching NASCAR is like watching that movie "Groundhog Day" each week.

At least I was on the patio for an hour or so soaking up sun and vitaD and listening on radio.

AND keeping sanity here with everybody. So yes, it's tough to lose contact with INFORMATION. while it's happening!

Newracefan said...

Dot I'm looking for them now on the net and does anyone know if they show the postrace on the thurs replay? I did miss what Chad said when Jimmie fell off the jack, by that time I had found the radio but no TDP and no scanner it was really roughing it. LOL

Dot said...

I can't even imagine watching a race w/o TDP anymore. It almost kills me to get up and change out my laundry. I'm afraid I'll miss something. JD, your site needs to warn people that it could become habit forming.

Chad should mention the jack issue tomorrow on TWIN. Or, maybe on VL later during the interviews.

Newracefan said...

Dot what he says on TWIN will not be what was said on the scanner, heat of the moment and all. Chad is always interesting to listen to especially when the unexpected happens

Anonymous said...

Did FOX get a new director? The race broadcast seemed different. Not as many onboards, and a lot more view of the entire field. Less tight shots and more wide shots. Was it just me, or was there less Digger as well.

PammH said...

These races are not going to be exciting anywhere this yr when one driver (particularly one driver disliked by many)gets out in front and no one can PASS!! Can't make children salad out of chicken crap. Passing for the lead in the pits stinks!
Broadcast was abit rough around the edges, but it was because things were boring. At least we saw more cars come to the finish line.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:48PM,

I could not agree with you more. It was well done and looked different, especially from last season's race.

The big test will be the Martinsville Truck race that Fox will do. Last year they butchered it from the word GO. Love to have the SPEED guys back for that one, but not gonna happen.


Dot said...

@ Nrf, I thought it was an interview, not the scanner. I had to do things and missed some of the stuff after the race. Too bad BSPN isn't doing CUP. We'd hear it all week.

Anonymous said...

I thought the whole Fox crew did a really nice job today! :) It had depth and flowed easily, when it sometimes doesn't. They all supported each other again. But...what I really like the most was the post-race show! : ) Usually they get to the end of the race on adrenaline and then it's over, like hitting a wall. Today they did lots of interviews and added their own depth and when it was over I felt that it had reached a point of closure...not hitting a wall. :)

Dot said...

@ Marybeth, I agree with you. Good analogy about hitting the wall after the race. I would much rather have more post race than pre race.

Dot said...

@ PammH. I just reread your post. Children salad? Just had to bust your chops. Funny.

Anonymous said...

I thought the broadcast was great. I agree with a few of you that the camera views were different. There were more wide shots taken instead of focusing on two or three cars at a time, which is something we've been accustomed to for awhile in NASCAR. It seemed like an old-school ESPN broadcast, especially with the camera at the finish line waiting for everyone to cross. I felt like the racing (at least for the lead) could have been much better, especially during the GWC. As for the broadcast, it was probably FOX's best so far this season, and I'm looking forward to Martinsville.

Finally, AMEN to not too much Digger!

Anonymous said...

Much better broadcast. Digger was dialed back nicely. I can live with what they did. Was good showing racing.

The speed cam they had towards the end was a heck of a shot that should be used more often-I saw how loose the cars were coming around the corner into the straight. You don't see that from the other shots.

PammH said...

Dot-what a dummy I am at times!! All I can say is oops..:) Sure wish we had spellcheck here, but it would have passed anyway..LOL! I re-read it & grinned myself!!

Anonymous said...

The problem with today's race had nothing to do with Fox. It was just plain and simple boring racing. When a goodly number of the field is a lap behind by lap 100, that's pathetic. But, Fox did a good job in trying to make a very boring race, interesting.
What I did like was the pre-race Stop and Go question pertaining to how to get Jr to perform better. Father figure DW was right on target saying it's time for a change. As far as Jr trying to put salve on the whole Jr/Jr thing, to quote a not so famous person, "methinks thou doth protest too much".

Anonymous said...

On one hand, I really didn't like the endless promos for the movie. On the other hand - I am really glad to see that in this economy, a big-budget Hollywood film has chosen to invest in NASCAR as prime advertising. And given the coverage they got in the opening intro and throughout the race, I bet they paid a premium.

While the ads annoyed me, and doubtless many others, I think these send the right message: big money is still investing in NASCAR in a down economy. This is exactly the type of message that needs to go out there if Travis Kvapil and h is team is to continue racing in Cup (and many other teams, as well, incluing Nemecheck, the Earnhardt teams, and others).

I think as fans we should check out criticism with our desire to see NASCAR succeed. These are hard times and I am more happy NASCAR booked the ad than I am upset by the interruptions.

Anonymous said...

@ Anon, 9:00PM,

I couldn't agree more with the racing. I thought Fox did a good job of trying to show the action (what little there was) throughout the pack, and not concentrating on just the top 5 or so.

Anonymous said...

Someday, Fox and ESPN will learn to do "Through the Field" like NBC used to do.

Glenn said...

Good column JD.
I agree.
Not to much to say about todays broadcast, no complaint's.
Overall a good broadcast.
I think Fox did as good as possible with a runaway race at all places, Bristol.

Anonymous said...

That was one of the best telecasts in quite a while. The FOX team was energetic, the camera shots were great, the on-track racing was pretty good, and Digger was mentioned once during the race.

I wish this kind of post-race commitment would be made each weekend by all the networks. It was nice to have Chris and Jeff reviewing different parts of the race and having the interviews follow.

I would have liked more from the pits, but I think that because the race was moving so incredibly fast there just wasn't enough time to cover everything.

Overall: A WONDERFUL JOB. That's the FOX telecasts I like watching. That's what made them better than NBC and TNT and what should continue making them better than TNT and ESPN.

Adam said...

The on track action was boring when I kept switching between that and the movie that I was watching on DVD (Tropic Thunder).

Was it just me or were there just too many commercials?

stricklinfan82 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stricklinfan82 said...

I enjoyed the broadcast. Major kudos to the people at Fox for finally putting aside their constant need to be "different" and "innovative" and getting back to a more standard NASCAR broadcasting approach in 3 key areas:

1.) The NASCAR pre-race show was not interrupted by a children's cartoon for the first time this year and the in-race cartoon influence was kept to (as best as I can remember) one brief appearance during a replay. It was still one appearance too many mind you, but certainly much more acceptable than the overkill we've been dealing during the previous 4 Fox races.

2.) Fox used the traditional 3-box on the left and overall pit road view on the right for yellow flag pit stops. They got it partially right a few weeks ago when they finally dumped the "4 pit stops and no overall pit road shot" method but still managed to disappoint when they still had to be different by keeping the "4 square" display. At last this week they finally swallowed their pride and for the good of the fans at home adopted the standard, accepted approach to presenting yellow flag pit stops on TV, and for that I greatly thank them.

3.) Similarly, Fox also adopted the standard wide-shot of the finish line on the final lap. Much like the 4-box, Fox got it partially right when they finally abandoned the "ignore the finish line approach" but still disappointed by changing to a limited view flagstand shot of the line. But at last this week they finally swallowed their pride in that area as well and again for the good of the fans at home adopted the standard, accepted approach to presenting the concluding seconds of a race on TV, and for that I greatly thank them again.

I enjoyed the extra-long post-race show as well and the on-air gang was top notch as usual. The only TV disappointment for me this weekend was seeing David Hill veto DW's appearance in the Bristol celebrity race. Major thumbs down to the head honcho at Fox for that but at the same time major thumbs up to the decision makers at ESPN for picking up that event in the 11th hour so we could watch it at home.

Tom said...

While I skipped the pre-race show out of fear of the rodent, I too was very pleased by what I saw during the race. Nice wide shots of the whole field! Finish line! wow! Somebody must be listening! (I am guessing it is NOT that Hill character). Way to show a race! Good job!

Inverness, FL

Tom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
red said...

yeah, what stricklinfan said!

as anon@7:48 wrote, it felt as if we were seeing the work of different director and so we were able to see the entire field thru out the race. one shot that i would have liked to have seen more at this size track would be the shot from the blimp (or whatever) that captures the entire track.

thanks for scaling back on the rodent but the "breaking news" chimes that announce the availablity of digger wallpaper fooled me every time! invariably, i was doing something else on the laptop and stopped to look up when i heard the chimes. pavlov never conditioned one of his dogs as well!

anthony, maybe one reason for less fom the pit reporters (especially during those long green flag runs) is simply the unbelievable noise factor at bristol. there was one point where a car was spinning and the reporter simply couldn't hear dw saying it so she kept on with her report. not her fault -- just so freakin' loud there.

loved hammond twittering during the race and would have like to have read more from him on racetrax. no doubt, his comment will keep the jr/jr discusssion going -- ah well. at least he's using the available technology to "talk" with fans!

overall, a solid job!

(and dw? you woulda taken sterling marlin without even breaking a sweat!)

majorshouse said...

I thought that the Fox crew did a great job with the broadcast, it is such a shame that the racing is still so horribly boring, not really fun like Bristol used to be too much political correctness and too much trying by NASCAR to make the racing in my mind look too much like Formula One and everyone be the same.

Anonymous said...

I thought Fox did a good job with what they had to work with. I don't think anyone watching the race will get the burning desire to spend their money and attend the August race even though it is a night race. I suspect the Bristol streak of "sellouts" will be history in the near future. I saw many empty seats but most were probably sold but the people didn't attend and couldn't sell their tickets. I've heard several people say that they are not going to renew their season tickets after this year. They say they bought their tickets for the "old" Bristol and they do not enjoy the "new" Bristol enough to spend the money to attend.

GinaV24 said...

I thought the TV broadcast was well done. I really enjoyed the wider angle camera shots and not so much in car stuff, but like many here, I thought it was a boring race to watch. It was a pretty clean race, except when JPM punted Jamie McMurray, but it sure wasn't exciting, especially the end. Heck the field was bunched up from the caution and it was a GWC, I thought there would be more racing at the front. Too bad really, I'm glad I got to see a race there BEFORE they "fixed" the track.

Anonymous said...

Was there a race yesterday???
I'll I saw were commercials for a bad movie and adds for Fox's Digger T- shirts.

Anonymous said...

With regards to the pre-race and post-race shows, I thought this week was the perfect balance. A half hour pre-race and an hour post-race. Too bad the post-race time was a fluke. I guess they planned on a few more cautions along the way.

Dot said...

Talking about pre/post race shows.

Why doesn't FOX scale back their prerace show and show more postrace? They have to know that many have already watched Raceday and the FOX prerace is redundant. Just different people saying the same thing.

Anonymous said...

It was a fun race, and the only complaint I have with Fox is not having a run-down at the finish as cars crossed the finish line.
I think it's refreshing to see Kyle Busch dominate these races. Especially because it make so many people irate, and they pronounce that the race was "boring", because their driver stinks.
Up here, we were lucky to have the SU game we could watch instead of the pre-race show. It ended just in time for racing!

Sophia said...


Many folks dont' have SPEED or it's more pricey, on the second digital here, for instance in Ohio. But I also like a shorter PRE race and longer post race.

I still say I liked RD better when it was ONE HOUR.


Anonymous said...

I taped the race and watched it all in 45 minutes eating Cheerios Monday morning. Perfect. If it was a sellout, a lot of those folks left early. A wide angle of the victory lap certainly showed a lot of shiny aluminum planks.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:02 AM,

I think the reason for not having the rundown at the end was because of an error with the ticker-tape. They kept trying to put it back on the screen, but the timing and scoring was out of whack.

boyd said...

Thought the race was a bit ho-hum, but thanks to the b-cast team for keeping the energy level high.
I also vote for the best coverage of the season. Less rodent=good day.
I skipped the prerace for fear of seeing the little critter, but it seems he wasn't on there according to the TDP-ers.
Oh, and I missed the name of that movie. I think they may have had one or two mentions during the day.

Tracy D said...

I was at the race - our first time to Bristol. All I can say is, what's the big deal? The stands looked full from a distance, but quite a few seats were empty, many in blocks. My guess is, they sold but the buyers couldn't resell them. We had plenty of room in our section - not the typical squeeze. I think people just spread out more since there were plenty of no-shows.

We listened to PRN on our Fanview, and let me tell you, it was BAD. Tons of dead air time, they'd go to commercial, something would happen on the track, and they'd come back from the commercial and not mention the incident. MRN is much better at calling a race.

The race was a snoozer. Just not what I expected at all. Glad we went so we don't have to wonder what we've been missing. Which is, not much. Richmond is by far a superior race.

Pamm, I want that recipe for Children Salad. It sounds way cool.

. DOSVader said...

You would think that sooner or later, the media (and NASCAR) are going to notice what Busch is doing is incredibly special. Right now, Busch is racing's Tiger Woods, but Busch hasn't captured the public's imagination because the majority of the racing media and NASCAR are too busy reporting Earnhardt, Jr’s. latest struggles, what Jimmie and Jeffy are doing in their spare time, or shoving the exploits of the annimated (inane?) character Digger down the fan's throats.

Anonymous said...

You would think that sooner or later, the media (and NASCAR) are going to notice what Busch is doing is incredibly special.

I think they've noticed.

He's not the new media Wonderboy because he acts like a child and he's disrespectful.

Immaturity is not very attractive.

Dot said...

@ Tracy, sorry you had a bad time. Don't you hate that? Hype, then deflation. Btw, I like my Children Salad with celery. Love you Pamm.

@ Anon 6:30, Ditto.

The Loose Wheel said...

Thought it was a solid broadcast start to finish, they had their weak moments during the race but it was a good race. Glad it wasnt a typical Bristol wreckfest though FOX could have done a better job keeping fans informed about the rest of the field by using those 2 long green flag runs to go through the top 20 or so much like they do on radio.

Good post race, one of the few times we will probably get that this season.

Agree with JD about the SPEED guys doing the truck race though, that would be a huge aid for the fans watching that Series since the SPEED guys know the drivers and the stories and cover them week in and week out.

PammH said...

Just glad I could crack everyone up...we need that in this day & age! Sorry I didn't proof-read tho..;)