Sunday, May 24, 2009
Two TV Laps To Go For "NASCAR On Fox"
It certainly has been an interesting season for the NASCAR on Fox team. Both on and off the track things have been scrutinized from every angle as the TV ratings continue to slip for the Sprint Cup Series races.
Sunday is the final home game for the group as they telecast the longest race of the season from the Lowe's Motor Speedway. The Fox TV season ends in Dover, DE on the following Sunday. That is definitely an away game.
In Charlotte, the regular Fox crew will assemble yet again and follow two hours of pre-race coverage on SPEED with a 45 minute show of their own. Chris Myers has plenty to talk about from the Hollywood Hotel this week. Topics range from the actual racing to the upcoming Sprint Cup driver's meeting on Tuesday morning called by NASCAR.
Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond have been on-the-air on SPEED for the past few days and the transition over to Fox is always interesting to watch. As Myers does his act, fans can quickly realize how little real information and NASCAR news filters through on this pre-race show loaded with gimmicks and cartoons. What a change from the simple and straightforward approach of SPEED.
Mike Joy had a very long day on the air calling Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series activity Saturday on SPEED. He returns to Fox Sunday to call the longest race of the year and should be a huge change of pace for TV viewers from ESPN's Jerry Punch on Saturday night. Joy directs traffic, calls the action and is not afraid to tell viewers when something goes wrong.
Last year, this was the first race where Waltrip began his slow emotional meltdown that caught many by surprise. Whether it is age or perspective, Waltrip seems to be genuinely and deeply affected by the end of his participation in the Sprint Cup Series telecasts.
This was also the event that exposed his deep affection for Kyle Busch and his belief that the talent of this driver is very special. Waltrip is unapologetic for his comments and has continued this season to be a huge cheerleader for Busch. Perhaps, the recent All-Star race telecast was a good example of this issue.
Larry McReynolds is the hardest working man in NASCAR TV and he will once again transition directly into the TNT telecasts while continuing all his duties for SPEED. He has been overshadowed this season by both Waltrip and Digger, but continues to offer the kind of solid and analytical commentary that made him a fixture on the NASCAR TV scene years ago.
Joy returns to SPEED as his vintage car hobby lets him have a great perspective for that network's Barrett-Jackson car auction telecasts. He jokes about having the off-season to research and find car parts only to have to go back to work to pay for them.
Fox emphasized Digger this season and it cost them dearly in the court of public opinion. They over-sold the races and the short event in Phoenix turned into a disaster on the air. Finally, Fox Sports executive David Hill hosted a one hour chat on his lunch hour and basically told fans he was doing things his way and if they did not like it that was "tough."
All-in-all, it has been a roller coaster since Daytona. Regardless of whether or not it has been a fun trip or a rough road, one thing is certain. Two more telecasts and this season's ride will come to an end.
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