Friday, May 22, 2009

ESPN Stops In SPEED's Backyard

Last weekend it was the All-Star race and the TV activity surrounding that event. This weekend, SPEED is once again the dominant TV network at the Lowe's Motor Speedway when it comes to the amount of hours on the air. That seems to be fitting, as SPEED's new headquarters and studios are literally right down the street from the speedway.

Saturday brings SPEED back once again to cover the Sprint Cup Series early practice, Nationwide Series qualifying and the Cup Happy Hour. Then and only then does ESPN step-up and originate live coverage of the Nationwide Series race at 7PM ET on ESPN2.

Dale Jarrett is back from his vacation, so it is only fitting that Rusty Wallace enjoys the weekend off. NASCAR pit reporters Jamie Little and Vince Welch are working ABC's coverage of the Indy 500, so Mike Massaro will step-in to team with Shannon Spake and Dave Burns on pit road.

As usual, Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree will handle the commentary with Jarrett, once he is done working the pre-race show with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty.

Marty Smith has been the face of ESPN during these back-to-back race weekends as the network has only originated live reports for its NASCAR Now news program. As viewers have seen, Smith has been busy working stories ranging from Tony Stewart's first win as an owner to the continuing saga of suspended driver Jeremy Mayfield.

Now, it will be Punch's turn to finally lead ESPN onto the air with a live NASCAR race telecast from LMS. The intensity of this Nationwide Series race is hard to top. Cup drivers having fun, Nationwide regulars trying to impress and young drivers with absolutely nothing to lose make for a volatile NASCAR cocktail.

There are many good parts to ESPN's Nationwide coverage this season, including the best pit road camera coverage and the outstanding graphics package. The downsides have included the return of a suggested script for the races and the continued tough time of Punch in the booth. Now in year three, it is very hard to watch a great guy like Punch stuck in the play-by-play position.

As TV viewers know from the All-Star race, LMS makes great pictures at night under the original Musco track lighting system. Low-level infield lights shine into mirrors to illuminate the track without tall light towers blocking the view of the fans.

With the COT cars parked in the Cup garage, this Nationwide event promises to be fast-paced and intense from the start. While Bestwick will surely set the stage, it is going to be up to Punch to capture that enthusiasm and continue it throughout the broadcast.

During this time of the season, the NASCAR on ESPN team seems to just show-up for the Nationwide races and then leave town. The TV team will next have to wait-out the TNT gang before the ESPN/ABC coverage of both top NASCAR series begins down the stretch in July.

So, SPEED kicks-off Saturday at 2PM and leads the NASCAR fans directly into the ESPN2 Nationwide Series telecast at 7PM. The complete weekend TV schedule is located on the right side of the TDP homepage.

There will be a new post up as we live blog the Nationwide race, but please feel free to add your comments on the SPEED coverage or the ESPN TV team to this post. TDP is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by on this holiday weekend.


Unknown said...

I wonder how long it will take them to show points as of now since SDDD will be starting in the back due to an engine change yesterday. Story line #1: See how long it takes SDDD to go from the back to the front.

Anonymous said...

I hope they do cover that. As much as everyone loathes the SDDD show, that will be a great story at the start of the race. Love him or hate him, the man can hold a wheel.
I just hope that they show other racing in the pack while SDDD makes his way forward.

Anonymous said...

Robyn said...
I wonder how long it will take them to show points as of now since SDDD will be starting in the back due to an engine change yesterday. Story line #1: See how long it takes SDDD to go from the back to the front.

May 23, 2009 8:16 AM

Wow...YOU ARE WATCHING RACING!! To see him come from the back will be great, more passing than shown in most races. Not sure why you would not want to see a car come from the back to the front...I find that very exciting and well worth a watch!!!

Anonymous said...

we have better things to do today
than listen to "punch-Bowl"

Unknown said...

This is what happens when I make comments before I am fully awake. I didn't mean that the storyline was bad. I was just giving ESPN a head start as to what to look for. Sure follow SDDD up through the field, that's fine, as long as they also mention Brad Keselowski's progress in a backup car that will be seeing the track for the first time today in qualifying.

And no, I don't consider watching a car that is supported by a Cup team driven by a full time Cup driver who has multiple wins in the Cup series and has competed for a Cup championship and who is still at the top of his game pass cars that don't have that same level of support and not driven by a driver that is not as accomplished(since they all have talent) racing. I liken that to a NFL team going out and playing against a high school team.

And once SDDD finsihes passing the other 40 cars and gets a 10 second lead, I don't need to seem him, show me others who are really racing, not just passing cars that are on almost all levels inferior to theirs.

My opinion is racing is not just flying by one (or two or three or four) cars at a time, but the battle to get past them.

Dot said...

The one good thing about SDDD starting in the back is the Odd Wads will get TV time as he blows past them. Sadly, once he's up to tenth in 5 laps, we'll never hear about them again.

Now that DJ is back from vacation, and Rusty is on his, when does JP get one?

Which car owner will Jamie Little irk at Indy? I have always confused Jamie and Shannon that I merged their last names to Spittle. Now that I know which one is which after Jamie's interview with Jack.

Hotaru1787 said...

I don't want them to 'stick to the script'... come on ESPN boys, throw it out', though it's not likely.

And SDDD has to start in the back? Didn't know that. How long will it take for him to get a mention once the green drops? My bet- 10 laps.

Mike said...

A weekend like this weekend is why I think ESPN follows a script. By not doing any of the practice or qualifying coverage it's as if they don't get a chance to see any other story line opportunities that might turn up. By doing nothing but the race itself, Punch is left referring to his notes he put together during the week.

The key to a good play by play team is the preparation for an ever-changing story. No 2 races are ever the same, even though the ESPN crew seems to think the opposite.

We shall see in a few hours if this trend rings true.

Dot said...

Mike says, The key to a good play by play team is the preparation for an ever-changing story.

Boy you got that right. In BSPNs case, it's the "never"-changing story.

Anonymous said...

@Mike--they have access to fancy smancy monitors that can pull up SPEED...they can check out how things went. Listen to the wrap up shows and know what's going on. Allen seems to be able to do his homework for his show why can't they?

Patrick said...

M-Joy says McDowell had a great lap. I suppose we'll just have to take their word for it, since their trend (unless they have an interview setup) is to show cool-down of odd-numbered (by order) qualifiers, one lap of even-numbered, commercial. I kid you not, they came back FROM commercial for about a minute (singular minute) to show the #81's time, #32 Vickers lap, more commercials.

Martin Vincent said...

Did Jeff Hammond just say he was spending time with Carl Edwards in his hometown, "lying with him"?... That's more than I need to know about those two, I think! :)

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think he had a different kind of lying in mind than you do....

Karen said...

Martin and JD,

Flying, guys. Flying.

Dot said...

At least he wasn't milking him.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for the live blogging of the Nationwide Series race on ESPN2.