Sunday, June 14, 2009
TNT's Michigan Coverage Also Ends On Fumes
What a tough chore for the NASCAR on TNT team. Despite the parity of the COT's and the new fancy restarts, MIS once again offered little in the way of racing excitement as the Sprint Cup Series took to the track.
TNT is loaded this season with all kinds of good pre-race interviews and features. After the rather unique pre-race approach of Fox, Marc Fein and his TNT show has proven to be right on-target for the last two races. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds look at ease and really provide a good one-two punch for the network.
After the troubles of last season, TNT worked very hard to revamp the Wally's World feature with mixed results. There is no doubt that this season's offering of Dallenbach superimposed over racing footage is unique, but the information being offered is sometimes lost in the special effects.
Bill Weber retired the sky blue jacket and led Dallenbach through the second pre-race show. These two work well together and their conversation around the TNT cocktail table covers a lot of topics that other networks would never touch.
One issue addressed by TNT honestly throughout the telecast was the start-and-park teams. After the dents in the credibility that other NASCAR TV networks took by not mentioning the many teams who retired early, TNT kept the viewers updated as the numbers grew.
No matter how hard the cameras searched, there was quickly little excitement to be found on the track. The COT's stretched out and the familiar pattern of passing on pit road began again. TNT kept the triple-splits on the caution flag pit stops and set a good example for other networks to follow.
Weber also worked very hard to provide updates on the field. Sometimes using his pit reporters and sometimes just going it alone, this is an element that really helped the TV viewers whose only perspective is the TV screen for the entire race.
RaceBuddy was again a hit, but with one glitch along the way. The NASCAR.com team did not do a very good job of matching the in-car camera video to the correct team audio. Other than that, the designated pit reporter and the battle-cam make this online-only function a total success that should be exported to other networks.
Kyle Petty continues to be the star of the show, speaking his mind and opening the kind of dialogue between announcers that is just not seen on the other networks covering the sport. Petty enjoys picking the brain of McReynolds, the infield genius working his calculator all race long.
In Pocono, TNT focused on winner Tony Stewart even as other cars spun-out and ran out of fuel racing to the finish. At MIS, this problem was corrected with a tremendous wideshot of the finish line and an electronic graphic displaying easy to read information. It was perfect. Unfortunately, it was after the race that problems began again.
Last week, TNT left NASCAR fifteen minutes before the scheduled "off-time" of the Pocono race. The race was over, but there was plenty to talk about. This week, the network left more than twenty minutes before the scheduled end of the MIS coverage. How and why this has become an issue is unknown. One thing is for certain, it left a bad taste in the mouth of many fans. TDP comments and email tell the tale.
The reason for this frustration is easy to understand. Before the MIS race, there were over five hours of pre-race TV coverage on three different networks. One of those networks was TNT. Fans were asked to watch ninety minutes of TNT programming before the green flag fell.
Why then would a network so dedicated to getting NASCAR information to the fans leave the air and then have the audacity to show TNT viewers twenty minutes of a show on police chases? The closer is that TNT only does six races a year, so why the rush? On the TV side, lots of stories were left untold.
TNT has four races remaining with perhaps the most challenging up next. The network has struggled at Sonoma, but this year's on-air line-up and production team seems ready to finally master the road course chaos. It should be interesting.
We welcome your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Michigan. To leave your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Thanks for taking the time to stop by and have a great week.