Monday, June 1, 2009
Dover Closes The Door On The Fox TV Season
What a wild run for the NASCAR on Fox team this season. Words like controversial and arrogant mixed with TV terms like professional and polished. There is no easy way to look at the final product delivered to TV viewers and simply say that was good or bad.
Every large TV team is a combination of personalities who all play a role in the final product. Viewers may only see the nine on-air announcers, but there is an entire cast of characters who all play key roles in the race coverage.
Let's face it, Fox was forced to play the Digger game by their boss David Hill and once again this season they complied. Many of these same production people will work on the remaining Sprint Cup Series races without Digger and that will probably be a big relief.
TV personalities want to be judged on the content they create, not the sales features and commercial breaks that are forced on them by today's economic reality. Dover did not have the same sales intensity as Phoenix, but many fans Sunday were also watching the IRL coverage on ABC with the side-by-side commercials throughout the entire telecast. NASCAR is desperately in need of this practice.
Dover proved to be a typical Fox broadcast and a good snapshot of where things sit with this coverage. The harmless banter of the pre-race accomplished nothing but perhaps gave casual fans some information about the sport. Myers was back into his comedy routine and Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond know their roles in this play quite well. Let's face it, the Hollywood Hotel act is getting old.
Fox comes to the table with the best pit reporters and the best play-by-play announcer in NASCAR TV. Into this mix strolls Darrell Waltrip, now an emotional older man with so many different agendas, sponsors and feelings that he does not know where to start.
Dover was a great example of this as Waltrip had some harsh words for Dale Earnhardt Jr. that were very different from his feelings earlier this year. He also clearly missed Kyle Busch being up-front in this event. Waltrip's comments became oriented toward the race in general and not the specifics of drivers and cars. Larry McReynolds filled-in those gaps once again.
Mike Joy took the time to reprimand Kyle Busch for his temper tantrums when he did not win a race. Walking away from the media is not normal in this sport because despite winning or losing, national exposure on TV is what the teams and sponsors want. Joy waited until the final Fox race and let the younger Busch have it.
McReynolds, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes, Hammond and Krista Voda will continue on as they are in the group that will be working the NASCAR trail after this weekend. It is Myers, Waltrip, Joy and Dick Berggren who say goodbye.
We all know the Fox product and it has a very familiar feel to it. Unfortunately, parts are getting old and dated. Missing the problems with the Jimmie Johnson pit stop at the end of the race was a good example. This was perhaps the key moment of the event and there were some tired guys on the air that just missed it.
Fox chose once again in this race to dump the triple-split on the pit stops in favor of one video box showing pit road and another used to cut between the top cars. This is the reason they missed the Johnson issue. Had viewers been watching all three of the top cars, the Johnson problem would have stuck-out like a sore thumb.
TV ratings aside, there should be some thought to making changes to this team with an eye toward 2010 and Daytona. Ten years is a long time to offer the exact same line-up on TV for any sport and with any personalities.
Fans heard from Fox's Hill in an online chat earlier this season that he likes Digger, his current line-up and blames NASCAR for the TV ratings. So, despite the bumps in the road and the backlash against Digger it may be the exact same style of coverage next season.
What are you thoughts on both the Dover coverage and the 2009 NASCAR on Fox season? To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for watching the races with us and taking the time to let us know how you like them.