Saturday, April 4, 2009

Halfway Home For The "NASCAR On Fox" Team

Darrell Waltrip and company are making the turn this week and beginning another seven race trip to the end of the NASCAR on Fox season. Last year, Waltrip became increasingly emotional as the final race in this TV package approached.

Unlike many members of the Fox team from Larry McReynolds to Steve Byrnes, Waltrip is essentially done on TV for the year when the final Fox race is over on May 31st in Dover, DE. Although Waltrip still has a column on the Fox Sports website, his visibility level lowers significantly as Kyle Petty takes center stage for TNT.

Waltrip also ends his run each season as a founding member of the Friday night Trackside show on SPEED. This one hour interview program is hosted very informally by Steve Byrnes. Over the years, it has given Waltrip a platform to expose his views on racing issues as well as his endless promotional deals. Most recently, Waltrip showed up late to the show with a full-size Digger character along for the ride on his golf cart.

Other members of the TV team who do not continue down the NASCAR trail include Mike Joy, Dick Berggren and Chris Myers. Joy can be seen on SPEED putting his extensive car knowledge to work on the Barrett Jackson auctions while Myers continues to be an on-air favorite of the LA-based Fox Sports executives.

This season the on-air presentation of the Fox gang has been a mixture of improvements and question marks. Changes to production issues like showing a wideshot of all the lead lap cars racing to the finish line have been outstanding. Using a triple-split on the caution flag pitstops has enabled viewers to see the critical races off pit road. Reducing the number of Digger animations during green flag racing in the past couple of events has been welcome.

Unfortunately, the biggest issue of the season has been the inability of the TV team to document what is going on outside of the top ten cars. Time and time again teams would fall to the back without any follow-up on the air. From penalties to performance issues, the result would be the same. That team would simply be relegated to riding the scoring ticker at the top of the TV screen for the rest of the race.

The COT has changed the complexion of the sport. Top teams that miss the set-up have been put a lap down earlier than ever before. Penalties have been handed out by NASCAR in bunches and they all involve moving to the back. Finally, pit road errors due to a wide variety of time crunch issues have meant teams sometimes fall way back after a blown pit stop.

Simply continuing to put the TV focus on the top ten teams on the track does not tell the story of the race to the viewers. The biggest complaint emailed to TDP about the NASCAR on Fox broadcasts is that fans have to listen to the radio to find out where their team is once it falls out of the top ten.

Other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Waltrip favorite Kyle Busch, every team simply becomes another backmarker when they have trouble. As fans know, especially with the COT racing, there is rarely a compelling story at the front of the pack in the first half of the race. The real storylines are unfolding toward the back of the field as the reality of the COT struggles continue to grip even the most experienced teams.

The irony is that Fox has by far the best team of pit reporters on TV at the present time. Fans who watch SPEED produce the truck races and ESPN the Nationwide Series see "through the field" summaries all the time. ESPN even sponsors this feature. On the radio side, both MRN and PRN rundown the field with stories and updates continually.

With a little tweaking of priorities, even a fast-paced and frenetic race like Texas can be done with an eye toward keeping the fans of all the teams updated on the status of their driver throughout the event.

If this is the only real glaring issue of the season-to-date, it suggests just how easily the NASCAR on Fox team handles all the other challenges associated with presenting a live TV event often times larger than the Super Bowl.

Chris Myers begins the live coverage at 1:30PM ET with the green flag falling at 2:16PM. TDP will be live blogging the race, feel free to stop by and give us your opinion of the NASCAR on Fox coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Texas.

To add a comment on this post about the NASCAR on Fox season-to-date, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank for stopping by.


The J said...

it is kind of sad to not hear mike joys commentary once fox ends their season. hopefully they can get some issues fixed over these last 7 races, and next year come out better than ever.

bevo said...

F1 race incorporated Fast and Furious trailer into the introduction on Speed. Look for the same thing on Fox today.

I gave my tickets to some friends so they could see their first NASCAR race. Plus it will be in the mid-50s with 20 mph sustained winds during the race - I'll just sit on my couch and enjoy :)

Anonymous said...

Join the FACEBOOK group "I hate Digger on FOX"
Type "Digger" in the search box!

The regular director is back this week after a 2 week vacation. Bet you see a lot more digger today than in the past 2 weeks.

Maybe one of these days they will do a show for us and not to amuse themselves. Wait, what am I saying? Never mind! I'll just go work in the yard.

Anonymous said...

The second half can't go fast enough. No more Digger, & no more DW, shilling for Toyota, & Mikey. What's not to love?


Rockin Rich said...

There are always things that can be improved. Overall, I think that FOX does a far superior broadcast than BSPN. TNT is OK with me too. I have been really surprised at how Bill Weber has changed his on camera persona.

I do remember during the Daytona 500 broadcast that I heard DW say, "I know that we are supposed to just focus on the top 10, but there is a lot of racing going on behind those guys". It may have even been Fontana, but I distinctly remember hearing him say that.

I am cringing at the thought of BSPN taking over the Cup broadcasts in August. I believe a significant factor in the quality of the reporting of the race is that the FOX team has at least one of the booth trio, (maybe more), watching the track. My understanding is that none of the BSPN booth does that. Another critical difference is the pit reporting. The BSPN crew is, (most of them), awful.

Finally, the most critical difference to me is the glaring lack of ethics in the BSPN approach to covering NASCAR. They must be paying Dale Jarrett a TON of money for him to remain associated with that low life outfit!

I can ignore Digger. I can ignore most of the self promotion that DW does. That's been his style since he started racing. I am interested in the content, and truthful information. BSPN loses the whole thing on that count alone as far as I am concerned.

I think I should start using the acronym EESPN. I think that is a more accurate label for them.

Anonymous said...

Goodbye and good riddance. Ignoring anything outside of the top 10 and constant shameless self promotion by the on air talent puts Fox at a distant third behind ESPN/ABC and TNT on my list.

Anonymous said...

Ignoring anything outside of the top 10 and constant shameless self promotion by the on air talent puts Fox at a distant third behind ESPN/ABC and TNT on my list.

Too bad ESPN and TNT also fail to cover anyone outside the top 10, or, later, the Chase.

Dot said...

If the CUP race is like the NW race, there is no excuse not to cover all the drivers in the race.

Bevo, it was nice of you to give your tickets to your friends. I wish you were there to give us updates of those not in the top ten.

kbaskins said...

KCPQ in Seattle is again showing the entire race without pre-empting the pre-race show for children's programming. In fact, they have no kid's shows on this morning. Instead, FOX Seattle is showing the ubiquitous "Paid Programming" until race time.

And just because I have one of my rare Sundays off, I'm sure today's pre-race show will be all Digger, all the time, just to drive me crazy. :-)


Newracefan said...

Hey Bevo your a good friend for giving away your tickets but I do have a Texas question (hopefully you're watching raceday) are people wandering around there dressed like Hammond?

Daly Planet Editor said...


Isn't that amazing? After all the grief those folks gave us over the past three seasons!

There is a new post up for the live Cup race.


Sophia said...

Well we forgot to tape F1 race and repeat is on AGAINST IRL and NASCAR we shall tape that..

But IRL needs to re think scheduling against NASCAR. We will be watching both races on the tv in the LRoom...but will not "count" on the HD signal to work.

Also I hope FOX normal tv does not cut the picture by a third like last week with oversized black bars.

Will watch the Dayton affiliate.

I got a snobby letter from FOX in Cincy last week. since I did not mention TW they assumed I had to have satellite as they carried the bar widescreen version. When I said I had TW they basically acted like I was lying that they downloaded and cropped the show FOX DID, and this station had no CONTROL over this.

Well an affiliate in Dayton filled the screen with 4:3 ratio and looked fine. A little black bars I can deal with but when the cars look tiny and the ticker font, microscopic, NOT GOOD.

So I don't know who to blame.

I just know with two races on, we wont' be listening to radio. But isn't it PRN this weekend? Don't like those guys anyhoo.

midasmicah said...

if nas$car and fox are looking to lose what audience they have left, they're going about it the right way. I'm watching the fox pre-race shoe and here comes a new piece of crap cartoon involving a stupid rodent (I won't even say it's name). Needless to say, I changed the channel for awhile. Fox just sinks lower and lower. Is there no common sense or sanity left in the minds of tv networks. Can't they see we just want to watch racing?

Sophia said...

Interesting the Cincy Fox affiliate has normal 4:3 feed with NO BARS.

So that PD or GM last week was too stupid to know HOW the race was broadcast.

So there was obviously a screw up and they chose to blame me for giving tech details on the diff between Cincy and Dayton affilites.

lt darro said...

i've solved the rodent problem. set the dvr, take a 2 hour nap, then hit skip every time he sticks his hairy head up. it also works on the drug store cowboy in the booth. lt darro

6thCents said...

I Love Fox, DW Mike Joy, Larry Mac, Hammond, even Digger, and the theme music, Boogity Boogity Boogity- Lets Go racin' Boys! They are cool, they have real personalities, and even for a dedicated fan NASCAR for 500 miles on ESPN and TNT gets rough! Those guys are trying so hard to be Fox "cool" but seems they are not real full time NASCAR fans. How many times on TNT and ESPN do I hear them calling car numbers in a hurry, but blank on driver names off the top of their heads. Plus, how often does the truck crew play the wrong video on replays for the same lack of knowing and loving the sport? Ya'll are too hard on DW and Fox, they are the class of the field; TNT and ESPN are ALWAYS a giant let down into June for me! I disagree with your ranting against FOX!