Saturday, May 9, 2009

Mike Joy Takes Charge For Fox

Something had to change. The recent NASCAR on Fox telecasts had been off-balance and buried under an endless string of sponsor mentions, features and commercials. It seemed that the announcers rarely had time to tell the story of the race.

Darlington changed all that. No matter how it happened, the results were exactly what the NASCAR on Fox team needed. A great night of covering NASCAR racing.

While Chris Myers did a mediocre job of presenting the pre-race show, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond negotiated their way around his goofy act and talked racing. As Waltrip left for the announce booth, Hammond asked him if he could take Myers along.

The news of Jeremy Mayfield was still being sorted-out and Fox chose to bypass the drug suspension issue for the most part. Luckily, this was a short pre-race show and the Mother's Day theme worked to get things over to the race start with a good feeling.

Once the green flag fell, Mike Joy left little doubt who was in charge. He called for cameras to shoot specific cars, he called out the accidents in a loud voice with the turn number and he set a tone that would last the entire night.

The effort of the on-air team was outstanding and let Waltrip and Larry McReynolds shine. The excitement that many of us fondly remember from this group had returned. Joy used his two booth analysts, his four pit road reporters and Jeff Hammond in the Hollywood Hotel like we had not seen this season since Daytona.

Fox changed the pit stop order and framed pit road in one video box while the featured cars appeared in another. Once the race off pit road came, a nice big graphic showed the order instantly as the cars left. What a far cry from the chaos of Phoenix earlier this season.

Many of the over-the-top sales features were gone in this race and the ones that remained were expertly placed in the program with limited interruption. Even the Digger issue was muted, with an occasional animation and promo mostly under caution.

It almost appeared as if the Fox team just decided to do things a little bit differently this weekend. Wideshots of pack racing and the nerve to jump back in the field to show the action differed from the admitted philosophy of following the leaders that often made fans crazy.

Graphics were used effectively in this race and often worked well to highlight the issues being experienced on the racetrack by the drivers. Gone were many of the intrusive sales-driven graphics that made no sense at all but paid the bills.

Joy was tremendously effective in following his mentor Ken Squier in driving the excitement up quickly when there was trouble on the track. Michael Waltrip's engine fire was a good example of how a good play-by-play announcer can shape a TV broadcast for the fans at home.

It is unfortunate that Fox diminishes the intensity of the broadcast by continuing to add-in pre-produced "bumpers" leading into commercial. These feature awkward drivers doing everything from playing the drums to trying to look like tough guys. Time to put these on the shelf for the rest of the season, fans pretty much know who the drivers are at this point.

That minor issue did not distract from the fact that the on-air team had found a new intensity that let Joy direct traffic, McReynolds provide the details and Waltrip offer his veteran observations. On this night, even Hammond was used effectively in his infield role. The race recaps and cutaway car actually worked.

Just like the old baseball announcers, the Fox team called-out their Producer and Director several times during the telecast. They joked about the issues in putting together the telecast and acknowledged for the TV viewers that a race broadcast is a cooperative effort.

Late in the race, the incident between Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle was handled effectively using the announcers upstairs and in the Hollywood Hotel. Under caution, Myers also got the additional commercial material out of the way and returned the telecast to Joy with nothing left to do but call the race.

The last 75 laps of this event reminded many of us why we like NASCAR racing on TV. Under the lights with compelling stories and a constantly changing group of leaders, the race came down to the wire with a popular winner.

Next week SPEED hosts the coverage of the All-Star race and all of the NASCAR on Fox announcers will be involved. What a nice way to walk into the halfway point of the season.

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 out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

Fox did an obviously different and better job than all year. My wife usually is in the room with the race and plays computer games. BTW, she's a long time NASCAR fan. But even she stopped 'playing' about 1/3 way through, as the tv was keeping her interest.

Too bad it was late in the season but I really think they all did a great job.

TexasRaceLady said...

I had a blast actually watching the race instead of listening to the radio and following online.

Mike Joy did a whale of a job keeping the excitement going. I know it kept my adrenalin flowing.

The only minor downside, and I emphasize "minor", was the cutaway from the start/finish at the very end. I really didn't need to see Mark driving his car.

Kudos to FOX for an outstanding broadcast --- reminded me of the olden days. LOL

Anonymous said...

Thank you Fox! Its one of the few nights I've gotten to watch the entire race, & it was wonderful. You showed the Race, you focused on the Race & what was happening on track.

I was able to - for the first time in a long time- turn down MRN during the race! And only turned it up during commercials. What a difference! I kept forgetting to blog here - I just watched a Cup Race. On TV. Without having to multi task for info!

The camera shots were beautiful mostly wide shots. The ones of the cars coming out of the turns were spectacular. OK its my first HD race (new TV) but still the shots were great.

Thanks to every one we see & hear, and an even bigger Thank You to those we can't.

Have a great Mothers Day all!

Glenn said...

Good show tonight. I thought I might have been on the Speed channel. Didn't get to post on the live blog, I was watching the race, WOW. I do want to say thanks for hanging in there to cover the wrecks and pit stops when it was commercial time. I liked the way commercials were done tonight. They worked for the most part. I have never understood why a commercial break HAS to be "3" minutes or "2" minutes. I much more enjoy a minute, minute & 1/2 as racing, pit stops happen. Yea, I guess it's a little more work, but I appreciate it. I don't feel I miss as much, and I don't have time to get up, so I win and the sponsor gets my attention.
As for coverage on Jeremy, we get news 5 to 6 days a week. It was short notice to the networks and race day. Simple I think was best. Let the dust settle this Mothers day weekend, we'll get the rest of the story Monday.
Good job FOX! I'll give it an "A" this week.

Jimbacca said...

Great show. Not so many sponsored moments or at least it was not as blatant as the past few races.

Covered the field pretty good. Great calling out crash turn ... and the few times no caution they seemed to be doing a ??? as everyone else. Yes the ball got popped on the final few laps. But did we really miss any battles while watching Mark handle the field?
No real wtf's as in the past few weeks. They even managed to cover the cars that wrecked in the event yet someone got back in the game. Good job.

Trolls can pass along this info if they like.

Haus14 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Haus14 said...

I just finished watching the race as I had other obligations this evening. I too was impressed with the tone and tenor of this race. It seemed that all 3 guys were on their toes tonight. Several times they were calling wrecks even before they were happening. Even with a record number of cautions, the guys in the booth were able to keep a flow to the race. Many times if I am watching a race on DVR, I will fast forward through some of the green flag runs, but not tonight. The guys were back on their "A" game.

The only thing I would like to see changed is the use of the in-car/bumper cams during green flag racing. There were several times where they were using the bumper cams and you couldn't tell if the car was getting loose or if they were just panning the camera. Save those shots for replays as much as possible, please.

Just a side note to Mr. Hill, I did fast forward through ALL of the commercials. I think I would reconsider your position on "side x side" commercials if I were you. More and more people are using DVR's all of the time.

NorCalFan said...

This was probably the best race I've watched on TV this season for several reasons. First, my husband and I watched it in a pub while vacationing in New Zealand (we carved the time out from sightseeing on a very rainy Sunday). Second, the Fox broadcast was great on SKY TV because it was only interrupted about 5 different times the entire race for local one-minute commercials. While fans in the U.S. were "watching" commercials, we got to see non-stop action on the track, just without any audio. So when Mike Joy would explain what happened on the track during a commercial break, we were able to see it happen live. And, lastly, DIGGER WAS NOWHERE TO BE SEEN OR HEARD (not that I wanted him to be found either). I guess Digger is superimposed on the screen just for American fans 'cause the rodent was not on SKY TV. What a nice Mother's Day present.

IMO, the Fox crew did a really nice job in keeping the excitement level up, reporting on who is off the track and why, who is back on the track and who is out of the race. It was obvious the guys weren't glued to watching their monitors when a few times they pointed out incidents on the track and the cameras were showing something else.

Back to the USA next week. I already miss NASCAR on SKY TV. (:>)

SallyB said...

Absolutely outstanding race coverage. After reading David Hill's Q & A, I was expecting another standard 'cover the top 10 only' race from Sox. Instead, they covered all the field, gave lots of wide shots, and kept up with the action on the track. This was the first race where I felt really involved and aware of what was happening on and off the track. It shows what a first class job they can do when they concentrate on presenting what happends, not what is scripted. I hope they remember this for the rest of their season, and for next year. BRAVO.

bevo said...

Best job by Fox this year. Other than the continued resistance to use "race breaks" for full field rundowns and the useless in-car camera showing Martin turning a steering wheel most of the broadcast was spot on. DW showed that he can be informative when he puts the goofy stuff on the shelf. Mike Joy showed why he is the best at his job in NASCAR.

Vicky D said...

It was a super broadcast the only minor irritation was them calling Mark the winner with 2 laps to go. I was sure MM would run out of fuel and finish towards the back and as TRL noticed them showing Mark in his car after the win wasn't necessary. I would have been happier seeing the lead cars crossing the start/finish line.

Ken said...

I thought they did a great job. I knew there was a new attitude when they were halfway into a commercial break and stopped when a wreck happened. The lack of constant attention to the 18 and 88 was refreshing. It was by far the most professional coverage I have seen from Fox in years.

Newracefan said...

My laptop returned to what it was meant to be last night, a way to listen to my favorite driver's scanner and a way to follow the race during commercials. My multitasking was at a minimum. Fox did an excellent job and I want to thank them for it. I finally saw a RACE. Let's hope this continues for the remainder of their races, I for one will be eternally gratful.

Jayhawk said...

I had actually intended to watch the race but a) have come to not really care about NASCAR enough any more to remember that b) races aren't on Sunday any more. I used to go to my local short track on Saturday night, and watch (or attand) NASCAR on Sunday. My local short track is out of business and NASCAR is on Saturday night, Sunday noon, Sunday afternoon, Sunday night...

I remember when they announced the first cable deal. "You won't have to look it up in the TV Guide any more."

Anonymous said...

I live in Souther Cal. Am I the only one who got no sound for the whole preshow? Well, thats not all to gether true. What I got was crowed noise. They had the feed working out in the crowed but no sound from the Hollywood Hotel. They finally got the sound fixed just before the race started. What I find most anoying is the sound worked perfectly during all the comercials. But once back to the preshow, it was all croud noice and the track anouncer. I guess I should be thankfull that I did not have to talerate DW for those extra 40 minutes.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
"The news of Jeremy Mayfield was still being sorted-out and Fox chose to bypass the drug suspension issue for the most part." I still don't know how I feel about that. We have talked about and complained for years that NASCAR tries to hide things/tries to cover things up/sticks their head in the sand, when it comes to various controversial issues.

Yet Jim Hunter(!), who is not known for being the most forthcoming person, holds a press conference at 6PM (not after the race, and not tomorrow or Tuesday) announces this HUGE news, and SPEED and FOX...basically ignore it.

I can't believe SPEED basically ignored the actual press conference (which they could have broadcast live on Raceday,since the press conference was announced about 5 PM - they had plenty of time to set up.) NASCAR did well this time; it's the FOX and SPEED that failed. Horribly.

The networks had about 90 minutes before the race to pull something together and have a discussion. At minimum, the press conference should have been live. Forget Kenny and Jimmy - Where were Wendy and Bob Dillner, the serious journalists, in all of this? Wendy or Bob or Krista or Steve Byrnes -whomever was available - also could have worked on the story and given an update during the race.

People complain about drugs and cheating in other sports, but at least when someone fails a drug test there, it's covered and discussed in the media the way it should be, i.e. as an important story. I know there's a lack of print media now because of the recession, but the NASCAR TV networks have the same reporters they've always had.

So, SPEED and FOX, there is no excuse for this, especially when Sunday is basically a day off for nobody will get any more news until tomorrow afternoon at best.

Also find it interesting that David Newton of (who has had many exclusive interviews with Jeremy since Jeremy left EMS, including spending time with him at his home) is putting in his article that there is concern "in the garage" that it was Claritin D that triggered the test. First of all, if you name the over the counter drug that may have triggered a positive, then you should name the prescription drug that Jeremy claims interacted with it. If Newton has info that it was Claritin, I bet anything Jeremy told him what the prescription was. So he should state that, too. If not, then I think the whole thing was made up - because no one wants to believe Jeremy may have been using something illegal or overusing a prescription.

Contrast Newton's statment:

There were concerns around the garage that it came from Claritin D, an over the counter drug used for allergies.With Jeff Gordon's statement:

“I think when they brought the new drug policy along, everybody knew how serious it was when they send you to specialists that do testing and you know there is random testing done by those same individuals every week,” he said. “You know you have to take it serious."And with Ryan McGee's (the reporter whose interview with Aaron Fike basically changed the drug policy) statement:

We don't know what banned substance Mayfield took. We know that it wasn't alcohol, which is on the league's banned substance list during race weekends once it reaches a certain blood-alcohol level. And few are buying into the hot garage rumor that he'd produced the positive with allergy medicine (Dr. David Black, NASCAR's drug liaison, told's David Newton that Claritin could theoretically be a trigger, but that the threshold was extremely high). Even fewer are showing faith in the "he mixed together a bunch of over-the-counter stuff to make a homemade remedy" theory.Interesting to say the least.

Unknown said...

Another pleasant surprise was the "Foot Camera"'s return.

One of the neatest things ESPN use to do 'back in the day' was place cameras in interresting places. Pedal cams on road courses, brake cams at Martinsville, cameras in the rear end of cars to show the ring/pinion/drive shaft, suspension travel etc.

I think Fox/TNT/ESPN have catered a bit too much to the casual fan (how many times must we hear what tight or loose means???). The placement of these special cameras really makes it interresting to the more advanced fan.

Well done, Fox.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Thank you FOX! I have found myself, lately, reading a magazine or on my laptop while the race is on. Not last night. So much better. I loved the excitement in Mike Joy's voice. The whole race/commercial/reviews flowed so much better.

Also, loved the full pit view during pit stops.

Something I noticed in previous telecasts is the ticker. They have stopped (I think) showing extraneous info, car make, starting position, speed, etc. Even showing the interval ticker more than not. Thank you again!! I realize you can not always show my drivers or update them, so the interval ticker gives you a sense of where they are in relation to the leader and possiblity of being lapped :-(.

One negative. Regan Smith was near the top 20 all night and on the lead lap. I believe he finished 21st. Never once was his name mentioned. How hard is it for someone (in the booth or support staff) to occassionally scan the leader board for drivers doing better....or worse...than "expectations". No wonder it is so hard to find sponsors.

Last, regarding Jeremy Mayfield. I thought I read that the results of his test were provided to NASCAR at noon (est). Personally, I hate when everyone starts speculating or drawing conclusions based on those speculations. Also, several people commented on Kevin Grubb and FOX not mentioning suicide. Sorry, but in MHO, out of respect for the family who must be totally devastated, I don't think it was necessary. I for one would have thought it crass if then had mentioned it.

Dot said...

Why did FOX wait until now to start showing good coverage? Was it a fluke?

The one thing that did irk me was the in car replays of wrecks and near wrecks. Spoiled the perspective.

I did notice that the yellow wasn't thrown for every little incident. I think that made for a good race.

As expected, the Mayfield story is all over the net. I read that there is no appeal. Can this be true? What happens if he prevails? How will this make NASCARs drug policy look? Stay tuned.

stricklinfan82 said...

For the most part this broadcast resembled the much improved Bristol and Martinsville broadcasts. The pre-race show wasn't interrupted by a pointless cartoon, the in-race Digger appearances were kept to a minimum, the yellow flag pit road coverage was much better, the in-race sponsored content wasn't as invasive as usual, and the broadcast seemed to focus more on the best on track racing than usual. As usual, the on-air crew was top notch.

The only disappointment was the continued struggle of last lap camera work. Using a glorified 'speed shot' from the flagstand that makes the cars nothing but blurs and putting that shot in an extremely small box split-screened with a giant box of the winner doing absolutely nothing on the backstretch continues to be extremely inadequate, in my opinion.

I was also extremely disappointed in Fox and Speed's handling of the Jeremy Mayfield suspension. Raceday hyped the 6 PM NASCAR press conference over and over again and I stayed glued to the TV to hear the major announcement. Then when 6 PM rolled around Speed completely blew it off and left us watching Hermie Sadler goofing around with drivers in the infield. To me it was completely unacceptable for Speed to choose to broadcast Elliott Sadler and A.J. Allmendinger hyping their "Vote for Me" campaigns while the Twitters and bloggers of the world were breaking the major news story. Quite simply, the fans deserved much better, in my opinion. I'm all for having fun and entertaining the viewers, but in times like that the responsibility of being journalists needs to come first... particularly when your network has been hyping the news conference for some time.

It was also disappointing to me that all we got from Fox was a very brief passing mention of the fact that Mayfield was suspended for failing a drug test. A major bombshell like the first failed drug test by a Cup driver under this new drug policy deserved far more attention than that, in my opinion. I know it wouldn't be easy to alter the 'script' with less than an hour before the show starts, but in my opinion this very serious news story certainly warranted it.

Mïk said...

I was somewhat dismayed at NASCAR's announcing this during the race weekend, instead of on Tuesday, when their regular penalties are posted.

It was, basically a publicity stunt. The accused were painted broadly because of having the media amassed for the race. Even if Jeremy proves himself innocent, that stigma won't go away.

Plus not saying what 'substance' was abused played to the sordid side of story.

Patently unfair, as you can't effectively argue with the guy behind the microphone.

Daly Planet Editor said...

In order to move the Mayfield comments away from this post that is aimed at the NASCAR on Fox coverage of the race, there is a new post up where we will track the media exposure and treatment of Mayfield as he goes through this process.

TDP did the same thing through the Ron Hornaday steroid crisis last season.

Leave us your Mayfield comments on that post please. Thanks!


Anonymous said...

The Darlignton race was a pleasant surprise.

Digger was kept to a minimum, the commercial breaks did not seem excessive, there was solid coverage of cars throughout the field, and the crew even stayed with a crash that happened on the way to a break.

I was very happy to see this return to a reasonable format--I was able to enjoy the race again.

Not sure why Fox waited this long to start doing an excellent job again, but I'm glad they did it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:12PM,

Apparently you have not been reading the last few columns on the NASCAR on Fox coverage.

Your full comments on this topic will always be welcome.


The Loose Wheel said...

I actually feel like DW was the star of the night and I'm not saying that in a bad way. He was on the ball all night long calling trouble seconds before even Joy could get to it, he had solid analysis and really got back to DW basics. Its amazing how good this guy can be when he isn't pimping sponsors and marketing schemes all race long.

All in all I was really really happy with the race although you explained why there were no triple pits, it was confusing we didnt have them because LOTS of cars would play 2 tire strategy all night long and the triple pits with a strong overview of pit road would have been very helpful in sorting out who did what. However FOX was decent on recapping as best they could. Still need work breaking in on action that occurs during the breaks. What happened to reairing the commercials they interrupt and letting the break they cut in on finish after the fact?

This is a good build for LMS though. The All-Star race is going to be marketing and promo galore, but hopefully they get it out of their system before the 600.

Shocking one of the longest broadcasts of the year and they did extremely well...

Anonymous said...

I still agree with Matt McLaughlin of Frontstretch and others that other than Mike Joy, FOX has a very weak on air team and makes racing hard to watch, I am looking forward to TNT.

terry said...

fox had their prerace show pushed to speed for those of us who were watching red sox baseball...but waltrip correctly predicted mark martin and myers gave the correct info on mayfield without over-doing it. and mike joy is so boring..he acts like such a know-it all it makes me turn on mrn during the race.

linda said...

the myers hating should stop. and it is obvious daly loves mike joy.. you can have him..he has no sense of humor and sounds like a nascar employee...
the prerace gang on fox makes any race fun..and when jef and chris wrap-up the night they always leave us race fans feeling good..

gerald said...

i thought fox did a decent job but they were in commercials during some key moments..whenit is a long race i count on myers and hammond for recaps of things i might have missed...the darlington coverage had a nice mothers day tone and chris told a funny story about biffle and his mom and a burnout in high talks like he knows more than dw and larry...

laney said...

i liked the prerace show story with jeff gordon and his mom..chris meyers said a nice thing when he mentioned...there is no such thing as a non working was good racing on fox..

gerald said...

enough with mike joy..all the importnat things daly can talk about and he picks this is stale and bad least dw, larry, chris and jeff are entertaining.....

CHIBILL said...

DALY IS WRONG ABOUT THE MAYFIELD SUSPENSION. the news was announced after 6pm and when myers and dw came on at 7pm they had the straight bull...
fox has the best prerace show..and i wish they had more time to talk about things..daryl and jeff did give good info on mark martin !

nyexec said...

daly might know racing..but when it comes to your can listen in on scanners and on fox before they went on the air..people were saying a different driver than mayfield was suspended..and you could here chris myers double checking and working with his producer to make sure accurate information went on the air.. are mediocre !.. when a job is done right..give the guy his due ! fox led by myers..not joy was on its game in darlington..

Anonymous said...

i was at the race ..and could hear on scanners fox and production scrambling before the prerace came on about some baseball game running over...chris myers was smooth and professional like he is on other sports..even when things don't go perfectly..i didn't hear the final word on mayfield..but myers did his best with the producer to get the proper details..

Daly Planet Editor said...

Nice to have multiple comments from the same person with the same agenda. Not quite sure what that is, but that's what makes it interesting.

"The news of Jeremy Mayfield was still being sorted-out.."

This is a quote from my column. How this gets twisted into Myers having a problem makes no sense.

Anyone who has seen Myers on the NFL on Fox or on the Tennis Channel knows the goofy NASCAR act that he puts on is a joke.

I'll say it again like I said it last season. IMHO put Krista Voda in the Hollywood Hotel and Wendy Venturini on pit road for the Fox races.

That would provide some fresh faces and change the theme of the Hollywood Hotel from goofy to informed.

If you remember Voda from her earlier NASCAR TV hosting duties or have seen her on The SPEED Report or the Truck Series pre-race show, you know she has the goods for the job.

Something needs to be freshened-up after all these years of the same faces.


Anonymous said...

Mike Joy took the reigns with real, honest play-by-play.

Jerry Punch couldn't have pulled off the same thing in 100 attempts.

steven said...

great race, but that had nothing to do with fox. i'm sick of waldrip.