Monday, July 27, 2009

Sprint Cup Series Continues To Baffle ESPN


The build-up to the Sprint Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was outstanding. It began with an exciting Camping World Truck Series race and peaked with a tremendous Nationwide Series event. Then, the green flag waved at IMS and everything changed.

Rick Allen and the SPEED team had delivered a fun truck series race from nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park for the fans. That was no easy task as the trucks had lots of new faces and almost a third of the field did not finish the race. With only two pit reporters and three announcers in the booth, Allen and his team drove home the excitement of this series by concentrating on the racing action and chasing the stories.

ESPN walked into ORP on Saturday night, where Marty Reid led his team on one of the best NASCAR telecasts in recent memory. Reid set the excited tone from the start and had Randy LaJoie alongside contributing great comments. Rusty Wallace stepped-up and did a credible job amid those two high energy guys. Down on pit road Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and Jack Arute hustled to cover the stories.

Reid is a versatile announcer with extensive play by play experience. His role was to describe what was happening on the track, lead the analysts into commenting on the action and get the pit reporters to work hard.

Sunday morning, ESPN offered one hour of NASCAR Now and then ninety minutes of NASCAR Countdown before the Brickyard race began. These shows contained outstanding interviews, emotional features and a live introduction of the drivers that really set the tone for the race.

The telecast then shifted to the broadcast booth for the actual race. The speedway is notorious for being a single-file track for the larger NASCAR cars. This is no surprise to the fans. Apparently, it was to ESPN.

Once the cars strung-out and the strategies began, the announcing team settled into a very familiar rhythm. Jerry Punch was calling his third NASCAR race at the Brickyard for ESPN. His style has been the subject of columns on TDP for one reason.

Punch is miscast in the play by play role and once the coverage began, that was driven home to NASCAR fans watching on TV very directly. The pattern is for Punch to return from commercial, briefly offer a reset of the track, the lap and the leaders. Then, the interview begins.

Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree spent the better part of this telecast answering questions asked of them by Punch. There was absolutely no play by play call of this race at any time. Regardless of the level of excitement or passing on the track fans deserve a competent announcer who can keep them excited for the telecast and updated on the stories of the race. ESPN could not deliver this all afternoon.

Once again, Jarrett and Petree jumped into the play by play role when things got to the point of complete embarrassment. Awkward silence is something not normally heard during a live race at the speedway. Thankfully, both Jarrett and Petree have become very familiar with helping out during these telecasts.

Over-producing is a term that is used when too many cooks are in the TV kitchen. ESPN missed the race into the first turn after talking about the start for hours. The much hyped bat-cam was useless and rarely used. Instead, ESPN concentrated on playing back all types of content while avoiding the actual racing.

Viewers saw endless drivers in pre-recorded comments talking about all kinds of subjects while the actual live racing was presented over their shoulder in a video box. The drivers were front and center while the racing was in the background. This was the theme of the coverage. The racing was nothing more than background noise.

Time and time again, recorded radio conversations were played back after Punch introduced the driver and the topic. Pit reporters acted like fans were getting inside information when most of the comments were beyond obvious. This format needs to be abandoned and fast. Nothing breaks the momentum of green flag racing like stopping to play back a radio conversation from laps earlier.

Cars that fell out of the race were mentioned and several drivers were interviewed in the garage. Unfortunately, following up on these stories proved to be impossible for the TV team. Fans emailed and sent comments again complaining that they had to turn to the radio broadcast and online scoring websites for information.

Speaking of the radio, once again there was an incredible difference in the amount of information and excitement provided by the radio team vs. the TV announcers. Energy provided by the radio broadcasters really drove home the point of how badly ESPN needs a change in the booth.

Punch hosted a fantastic Ultimate NASCAR TV series. He handled the rain delay programming from the infield on Saturday without missing a beat. Eventually, he may be honored in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport in the 1980's. Unfortunately, no one has been able to muster up the common sense to sit down with Punch and end this fiasco.

There are sixteen races left in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. All of them are either on ESPN or ABC. Jerry Punch is assigned to them all.

We welcome your comments on this topic. 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 hanging in there with us on this tough day.

160 comments:

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet---You hit it on the head.....

TexasRaceLady said...

After all the build-up, the fantastic races from ORP on Friday and Saturday, I was looking forward to today.

*sigh*

Once the race started it was as if all the oxygen was sucked out of my living room. Instead of seeing the race, I saw canned interviews, useless tech centers, driver cams/bumper cams/roof cams until I was nauseous.

It's going to be a long day's journey into night, folks.

alex said...

My comment copied from the live blog:

"As much as we think JP is miscast for the PXP role, I don't see ESPN making any changes. We've had 3 years of saying, "This race ___ shows why there should be a change in the PXP role". As bad as it got, ESPN never made the change. Sadly, I don't see why this race is any different from all those others we didn't like to watch. Get ready for 4 long months."

Positives were DJ, AP, and the cameras put out beautiful shots of the cars on the track. Unfortunately the cameras often switched around too much or were at strange point of view to make the race enjoyable. I'll probably watch Pocono next week, but I can't say I'm looking forward to it.

bevo said...

Can't argue a single point JD. There was racing back in the pack which was obvious to anyone looking at the scoring.

ESPN just absolutely drains any joy out of the race. No one sounds or acts like they enjoy racing. They trudge in, punch the clock, do their work by the numbers and wait until it's time to punch out and go home.

It's depressing.

Anonymous said...

My comment copied from live blog:


In case you just joined us, ESPN's coverage was really really awful. For all the reasons listed here. Clearly, there are no changes coming. I suspect the only change will be how the ratings will go down, down, down.

Makiki
Honolulu

brad said...

Doctor Punch was one of the best pit road reporters in his time. However, in my opinion his time has passed. When ESPN got back in the game it seemed nice and maybe even the right thing to do to reward JP for his loyalty by giving him the lead play by play slot. Now in year 3 I think a tough business decision needs to be made. There are numerous personalities that are already on payroll for ESPN that could easily replace JP. One of these individuals needs to be injected to revive excitement in the product that is being shown. At the end of the day the "product" should be the most important thing. Sometimes I don't think the powers that be stick to that philosophy. Probably won't do any good but that is my opinion. Thanks JD for the site.

Karen said...

Someone on JPM's team must have told him he was speeding on two segments per NASCAR and he accepted it. Otherwise, I was hoping for a little more fire from him.

ESPN, boring, boring, boring.

TexasRaceLady said...

Did you hear the excitement and energy in JP's voice when he did the Sunday night baseball promo.

He was on the chip.

Why couldn't he do it during the race?

Bobcat Pete said...

All true, but at least the televised coverage has pictures of cars moving around the track. I had to leave the TV broadcast to pick up dinner just before the last round of pit stops, and if your definition of the "interview" style is exactly what the IMS Radio Network did... with no pictures. I found myself racing back home to get back to ESPN.

Guh.

Anonymous said...

This race was Boring first of all and Jerry Punch made it worst as a PXP guy.I don't know why Espn can't switch him up with AB. Man is gonna be tough to watch these races. I muted the Tv to listen to the radio and man what a difference that was. Jerry Punch is a reporter not a Play by Play guy.
JD, Are you the only one in the media that suggest a change be made or other writers also see this.

Ron said...

i hate to keep saying a similar thing, but: watch 10 minutes of versus indycar coverage. i believe nascar sprint cup is the elite series, indycar a struggling series... but which one is a more exciting telecast?

Newracefan said...

Granted ESPN wasn't given a stellar race, Indy isn't know for a lot of passing but Damn. There was some and we never saw any of it including the winning pass for the lead after a restart. I am a JJ fan but I am half asleep after this race and I should be jumping up and down. Between the monotone PxP and jumpy camera shots it was just awful. All I can think was I gave up my Sunday afternoon for this, perhaps I should have sat by the pool and listened to the radio.

Daniel said...

I want to know why the TV companies don't resolve speeding penalties live on-air - they have the speeds (they are used on the in-car graphics and side-by-side views).

One 20 second replay and the whole matter is put to bed, either giving NASCAR credibility (and making JPM look stupid for mouthing off) or proving that there is something fishy going on. I know he's an emotional driver, but he seemed so certain on the radio afterwards....

Clearly the system isn't perfect though, or else they wouldn't have apologsied to Juan Pablo for getting it wrong in Phoenix!

Jojaye said...

Mr. Editor,

Your words regarding the alleged coverage of the race are far to kind.

Please allow me to put it in words espn may understand -

Your Coverage Sucked Period.

I turned you off @ lap 44. It did not get better,as my husband had you muted & we listened to the radio call the race. Visually it was just a mess. There was racing on the track - yet we never saw it. You were focused on junk!

Between the bad network & the extremely questionable penalty I will follow my driver through the seasons end - next year well I just don't know. I doubt it.

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

Daniel, thanks for coming over and leaving the comment. I thought that was a very important point to make. No camera shots, not explanations...nothing.

Anonymous said...

AS I EXPECTED FROM THE WORLDWIDE DISGRACE OF NASCAR RACING!!! ESPN'S FIRST SPRINT CUP TELECAST SINCE HOMESTEAD OF LAST YEAR, AND ALREADY THEY SUCK! SAME LACKLUSTER COMMENTARY FROM PUNCH, SAME LACK OF FOCUS ON THE ENTIRE RACE, TIM BREWER, SAME CRAPPY AND ANNOYING FULL THROTTLE, TOO MUCH IN-CAR, BUMPER AND ROOF CAMS, LACK OF TRIPLE PITS ON THOSE CAUTION FLAG PIT STOPS, AGAIN WITH TIM BREWER, EXCESSIVE COMMERCIALS, ETC. THIS RACE BROADCAST IS AN ABSOLUTE JOKE! GOOD THING I STAYED AWAY FROM MY TV AND TUNED TO IMS RADIO ON MY COMPUTER! ARE YOU LISTENING, NASCAR?! BECAUSE THERE LITERALLY NEEDS TO BE MAJOR CHANGES TO TV COVERAGE OF THIS SECOND HALF OF THE NASCAR SEASON! I DO NOT WANT TO GO THESE REMAINING 16 RACES WITH THIS JOKE OF A NASCAR NETWORK! ESPN IS NOT GOING TO TURN THEIR COVERAGE AROUND, THEN WHAT NASCAR SHOULD DO IS RIP UP THEIR PART OF THE 7-YEAR CONTRACT, AND DUMP THEM FOR GOOD!!!!!!!!!!

Labbie said...

Camera shots and direction - horrible.

Punch - Horrible. Does anyone really remember the "good" Jerry from the 80s on pit road after 2 years plus of the "new" Jerry in the booth? I know I don't.

The best thing I can say about this broadcast is that ESPN took some time and gave us a decent post race, even if they did toss to SportsCenter 15 minutes early.

Sophia said...

Great column JD but like Jojaye said, you were much too kind.
I;d second her post and would like to add this.

I guess the booth stayed boring (I turned on radio about same time Jo did) and tuned back for Jr wreck when i came back in house and at very end....

but

Dr. Jerry Punch could be animated as all get out and tap dancing on the desk in the booth.

Without Great Camera DIRECTION and valid pictures, it's all moot IMHO.

Visually IMS radio described what was happening all over the track.

ESPN BLEW THE END.
Only 3 cars crossed at finish.

p.s. Thank you to whomever said ESPN PUSHES TIGHT SHOTS to highlight the HD cameras.

I had NO IDEA.

I detest HD if that is what has happened to NASCAR. Funny Mike Wells did super job.

Sophia said...

ANONYMOUS

Normally I don't read all caps shouting- I do some caps for emphasis but you are so right.

this upcoming experiment with so many in the booth at MIS, a joke.
Wanna impress the fans?

Bring back better DIRECTION of camera. If that means Mike Wells duct tapes NASCAR powers that be in their seats to force them to watch the dreck we watch, in order to change the camera work, so be it.

Delenn said...

Haven't watched the race yet. Sounds like I should not bother.

Rodger3 said...

I watched the first few Fox races then switched to radio during the abysmal Phoenix telecast, TV was muted from then on. When TNT took over I cut the radio off, was pleasantly surprised and actually listened to the TV for 6 whole races. After today it looks like I'm going back to the radio. It may not have been a very good race, but that is a poor excuse for such poor coverage. JP should be listed as a controlled substance and come with a warning. God forbid someone operate heavy machinery while trying to listen to him.

It is not all Punch though, the production was just as bad. They seemed to ignore the race altogether at times. And as I noticed on the leader board several drivers having great runs, these were hardly mentioned since ESPN hadn't interviewed a clip of them the day before. Once again ESPN's coverage of the race was determined before the green was waved, by a group of producers who have likely never been to a race, it really is quite sad.

Dot said...

I'm sorry that my going to the pool didn't help. Well, except for Weed in the wall. His nice guy image is really being tested now.

I'm watching the race on DVR because Dan had to work. After reading the comments, I see what you guys mean. I did catch the last 24 laps live though.

NASCAR couldn't have JPM win, could they? I wonder about those speeding penalties myself. Just like those cautions JR alluded to.

JP needs to go. No way to sugar coat it. He is bad. Someone asked if he had any vacation time scheduled. Why doesn't he ever get time off?

Not to say I told you so.....I posted earlier that we sang the praises of the NW coverage. Then we get the CUP coverage. Night and day.

Pocono will not be any better.

majorshouse said...

Let's just end this and let DJ and Andy do all of the play by play, it would definitely be more enjoyable to listen to as well as watch.

Lisa Hogan said...

Thanks again, JD, for providing this site.

Today, at this house, we started with two TVs in two rooms on ESPN for the race. Not too long into the race, one TV was turned off in favor of the radio link from Nascar.com.

As the broadcast wore on, some drifted outside to hang around the grill, etc.

With the poor camera shots, and no help from the booth, I was the only person in front of a TV watching ESPN at the end of the race; but, I had the mute button engaged.

I imagine that this same scene played out with other NASCAR families.

I would think that ESPN would be ashamed that they are far, far behind TNT in their ability to bring a race to the fans at home.

Nathan Brice said...

Jerry is very knowledgeable about the Sprint Cup Series. If ESPN wanted to remove him from the play-by-play role, he is a nice enough guy to accept it. He would gladly go back to the pits, which is where he is probably best. If they want to switch him with Allen Bestwick as the host for next season, that would not be too bad, either. The coverage on ESPN is much better than FOX, but TNT made huge gains on both by putting Ralph in the play-by-play role. Bill Weber is probably much like Jerry in the role. He is not terrible, but he would probably best be suited in another role. Andy and Dale are really good at what they do, which makes up for Jerry probably being cast in not quite the right role for him. ESPN knows this and is probably already preparing changes for next season.

Nathan Brice said...

Just to be clear, TNT has had the best coverage so far this season.

Dot said...

@ Rodger3, ditto.

Stick said...

Jerry Punch has tons of racing+broadcast knowledge and experience. But why doesn't he use it? He just constantly tosses the action to DJ and Petree. Did his stock car knowledge get behind the times from all those years he spent doing open wheel races? Maybe the producers are grooming DJ for bigger and better things and want to feature him more.

Marty Reid would have made things so much more enjoyable today. Pity he didn't get the chance.

Martin Vincent said...

On the live blog, Holmes said "I don't suppose Jerry Punch has any vacations scheduled between now and November."

I offered this solution...

Bill Weber got an early vacation... Anybody seen Ocean's Thirteen? Somebody go to Pocono and sabotage Jerry Punch's room so he flies off the handle at the hotel staff. Of course, he'll be flying off the handle with his monotonous voice, so it might not work... Oh well, it was worth a try!

Vicky D said...

Martin, maybe the hotel can cancel JP's reservation so there won't be anywhere for him to stay . . . .

brad said...

With his knowledge of stats and history I think JP would be a great fit hosting Nascar Now. Jerry needs to be in a setting that allows him to give a few facts and then ask for an opinion. Being on the live broadcast just doesn't fit anymore.
NBC supposedly replaced Bestwick with Webber for a more serious broadcast. Maybe ESPN should shuffle AB up to the booth for a more fun upbeat broadcast. There is no doubt AB knows the facts too he just presents them in a different way.

Dot said...

@ Martin V, I thought of the same thing. Isn't it sad that we have to think of these things? All we want is some excitement in the booth and good coverage on the track.

rich said...

JD, as usual, your summary of the race was right on. Do you think the NW race next week is a big trial run? Personally I think Marty Reid does a great job PXP

Daly Planet Editor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
alex said...

I thought of another positive from today's broadcast. Perhaps track attendance will increase for the rest of the year, as people decide they would rather watch a race in person than on ESPN.

Holmes said...

I am not very happy with the broadcast today. Poor camera direction induced vertigo with the rapid camera changes. No one in the booth seemed to follow the race. No one in the production seemed to follow the race. ESPN produced and broadcast an entertainment special about a race at IMS while a race occured there but we really can't be certain there was a connection between the two events. This is one broadcast with no overview whatsoever. I believe a single camera on a blimp focused on the center of the facility with the lens zoomed out enough the viewer can see all the racing surface would have been an improvement. All the races cannot be a restrictor plate race with the accompanying door-to-door action from green to checkered. Yet there is racing from first to forty-third. I know this because I have attended numerous Cup car races in a long lifetime. How can the director and producer ignore it all so consistently. Is it because there is no ball to follow?

I am certain criteria exists for selection of personel to man these stations and positions during the broadcast but I cannot possibly deduce what they may be. Is it a liberal arts degree? Is it a condition of employment at ESPN that every broadcast must be a potential Emmy nomination from a liberal arts standpoint? If so, this may be a problem for the viewer at home. Perhaps a better criteria would be an obvious love of racing and a desire to document as much of it as possible to the viewers at home. Or have we been forgotten in the quest for the Emmys and ESPYs? The only question I have posed here that I can answer with certainty is the last one and that answer is YES!!!

darbar said...

This is a network that only knows how to show stick and ball sports. No....Wait.....They also do a pretty good job with dog shows, the spelling bee, and domino and poker tournaments. We all know that those events are critical to the health of ESPN, so of course they'll do the best job possible. It's obvious that Nascar isn't all that important to ESPN, so they devote the least amount of professionalism available.

Yes, Nascar has become a very boring and predictable sport. The only thing one needs to do is read in the morning paper which Hendrick car won the race. And I do agree that ESPN stinks to high heaven with their broadcast, Nascar continues to provide incredibly boring races, with cars strung out in one straight line just toodling around the track. Sorry, but I can't put the onus entirely on ESPN. Nascar is also at fault for forcing the COT down our throats, which makes it easy for one group of drivers to win every week.

Martin Vincent said...

@Dot - I'm not sure the camera work would be any better, but at least we'd all be awake to see it if it ever improves.

On another note, the confused look on Carl Edwards' face when Jamie told him he started on owner points was priceless.

Jamie: What a day for Carl Edwards, started 41st on owner points, Carl, and you finished 15th, sum up today for us.

Carl: We didn't start on points, I qualified that bad... What was that?

Jamie: Owner points.

Carl: Oh, we made it on a provisional? Oh, great, even better!

ESPN, Jamie, guys,... provisionals haven't been used in the last 4.5 years. I don't know why NASCAR.com even bothers to stick a little "+" symbol that says the position was set by owner points, they didn't put a "+" next to Kurt Busch's name on the lineup and he too started behind Mike Skinner. Thanks NASCAR, good way to confuse everybody, but believe me, ESPN doesn't need to be confused any more than it already is.

Karen said...

And, darbar, remember that NASCAR wants to ruin the Nationwide cars with a COT.

Dot said...

@ dar, so true about the car. And then there's NASCAR/BFs arrogance of not letting the teams make them race better.

As soon as I can find a radio station that comes in, I'll be a listener instead of a viewer.

Jack from PA said...

I can't say I'm too shocked. SPEED for the most part has put together great broadcasts of Truck races, and it seems to me whenever Marty Reid is in the booth for any type of race, it is exciting. Add a little Randy LaJoie and Rusty and you have yourself a feel-good broadcast.

On to today. I had a bad feeling about the race, with the first two crown jewel events (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600) being jokes, I didn't have too much confidence for the Brickyard 400.

As usual, ESPN proves once again why they need new camera direction and a switch at PxP. While the racing itself wasn't very good, Mr. Mike Wells would have done a fantastic job of looking for the action and presenting it for the booth.

Dr. Punch needs to be reassigned. I think everyone here knows it, and I think most of the ESPN crew knows it. Why nothing has been done is turning into the 8th wonder of the world. I know this sounds like a broken record, and I'm sure JD is sick of putting it into every blog about ESPN's NASCAR broadcasts, but he is a great personality, just in the wrong role.

Hey, let's look on the bright side--only 29 more races until TNT is back! At this point, I'll settle for a return of Bill Weber.

Dot said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
PammH said...

This was a horrid calling of the race. Pre & post race coverage was excellent. Had to go to the radio after awhile. And I won't be back to the TV, except for watching. And I really like DJ & Andy...:(

PammH said...

btw, who on the East Coast will be watching BSPN at 12:30 in the morning? Just curious..

Jack from PA said...

This may or may not be related the coverage itself, but the piece with Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt was awesome and genuine. May be one of perhaps three positives that ESPN's coverage today had.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Jack, great content in both the NASCAR Now and NASCAR Countdown show.

Sophia said...

Holmes

1/2 of today's race I listened online radio. How they choose the camera to show cars to viewers at home?

I am convinced there is a dart board with camera numbers on it. Where ever dart lands go to THAT camera NEXT.

Until Mike Wells camera work is matched, NASCAR's finest in the booth would not help bring the visuals to fans on the couch. Bottom line

Anonymous said...

As more people drift away from ESPN to listen to the radio, maybe they will finally begin to listen to the customers.

I have my doubts, though, as ESPN is well-known for its corporate ego and attitude that, "if we do something, that makes it right."

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but I can't put the onus entirely on ESPN. Nascar is also at fault for forcing the COT down our throats, which makes it easy for one group of drivers to win every week.

That ain't NASCAR's fault, it's the fault of the other teams who can't get the job done.

I have been watching NASCAR since the days when a driver would win by several LAPS, not several seconds.

Do we want that back?

trish in nc said...

Sounds like I had more fun today in the 90+ heat on the rapids. Tivo'd the race but probably won't watch.

JM thing getting interesting.

Anonymous said...

I have two questions. What in the world has Allen Bestwick done to the "powers that be" to keep him out of the booth? He is an obvious choice for play by play...

Is it me or does the person picking the camers shots (I think the producer?)not "follow" NASCAR. If that person had even a smidge of fan interest, they would know what to follow on the track...

SOOOOOOOO frustrating to watch. At least when watching TNT, the announcers could see a problem on the track / a pack of tight racing / a car slowing through the field and would pick up on it and tell us what was happening. Or be able to pick up or what seemed like "trouble brewing" of one kind or another. Now, I see things happening that no one mentions.

How does that happen in a professional broadcast touted to have so many professinal broadcasters announcing the race?

PammH said...

trish & others that taped the race...they showed driver intros in their entirety! Introduced them like they do at the Indy 500-watch that part at least! It was great!

Vicky D said...

But JD, since we've been reviewing and complaining about the cup/nationwide broadcasts with Doc why hasn't ESPN done something about it? Surely we aren't the only ones noticing it. What is wrong with them?

Jack from PA said...

JD, I agree 100 percent. I think this proves that ESPN is doing something right-- they can put together pieces of a race (you know, the parts where the booth isn't involved?). Liked the post-race coverage, although I'm sure the race taking as little time as it did factored into that one.

I also felt like ESPN attempted to use a few wide shot camera angles at some parts of the race, but in the end it went back to what we've all been accustomed to.

Anonymous said...

After the Nationwide race last night, I had a big case of HOPE for today's broadcast at Indy. Well, crash and burn that! It was boring and frustrating - where was the racing up and down the track and the stories of individual efforts and, and, and......... Were they watching or munching on chips in the press room? I like DJ and hope he continues on but there is much that needs to be fixed. Does ESPN ever pay attention?

red said...

ok, so after 6.5 hours driving, we hit the hotel room at around 4:30, i found espn on the tv channel card and turned on the race, saw there were 20 laps remaining and then . . . and then . . . i heard dr punch say "in case you just joined us . . . " and i sat on the edge of the bed, dumbfounded.

yes, i DID just join you but i certainly never expected to hear that with 20 laps remaining. 20 laps left at indy and all i get is a monotone "in case you just joined us . . ."

i can't even tell you what was said next b/c i was so astounded that i just sat there, waiting for some sort of coherence to enter the PxP.

i'm still waiting.

and then i laughed, thinking "wow, the planeteers must be having a field day w/this hot mess!" and that was after only watching 2 or 3 laps. and it's not just dr punch: the little bit i watched as just a disaster: poor camera angles (why not use that great blimp shot from last night?), no energy in the booth and then that mess of a finish. just not what i drove over the speed limit for more than an hour to be able to watch. not even remotely close.

so, i'm done, espn. all finished. turning off the lights and locking the door behind me. if, in the last 20 laps at indy, your team can't bring some pretense of excitement into the booth, then it's all over for this fan. my race time is better spent on trucks and n'wide w/marty reid than w/the cup broadcasts on espn. those 2 broadcast teams have earned my viewership and i will make time to watch their work. but will i make time to watch a race on espn any more? hell. to. the. no.

trish in nc said...

@PammH. I will at least watch the intros.

i too wonder what Bestwick did that is so horrible that ESPN would rather sink than put him in the booth. I realize JP was loyal to ESPN after they lost Nascar but times change, people change. Does television viewership not have anything to do with what the viewers like?

Daly Planet Editor said...

I don't think it is fair to assume that Bestwick is the problem. Punch is the face of ESPN and changing his role is up to the ESPN executives.

This has been an on-going problem for three years and is now in a full-blown crisis mode.

Nathan Brice said...

I am not going to say that Jerry Punch is a bad play-by-play guy because he does not get facts wrong very often. He could do a better job of calling the action, so ESPN has a tough decision to make here. Allen might be a better play-by-play guy, but would Jerry accept a "lesser" role? That is the question that will persist the rest of this year.

Anonymous said...

You know, if Punch simply got in the booth and asked questions of Jarrett and Petree, we might get an interesting broadcast. But he is barely asking them questions. This is not expert pit reporter Jerry Punch getting to the bottom of the story... this is lost Jerry Punch, unsure what to do or say next, and offering up panicked questions because he is in the weeds. Like when, about 10 laps into the race, he asked Dale Jarrett if Tony Stewart could take more risks in this race. Well, Tony Stewart had just told punch that very thing when Punch asked him. Even DJ had to remind Punch of this.

If Punch were reporter-as-play-by-play it might work, but he is lost-guy-who-is-overwhelmed-as-play-by-play and it doesn't work so well. At all.

kang said...

I don't know if this has been covered here at DP or not(please delete this post if it has).Last week Dr.Punch was a guest on Sirius Tradin'Paint show.He talked about his intent to call the races as if he were sitting on the couch speaking with fellow race fans as they watched the race live.He said more along these lines but I would need a transcript to fairly report it.After hearing him today I would say he did what he intended to do.I didn't enjoy it but I was warned in advance.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks Kang. After hearing Rick Allen and Marty Reid call their races this weekend, the inability of Punch to handle this coverage was clear.


This is the third year of this mess in the ESPN booth. My real fear is that fans who stopped in to view the first ESPN race will not be back.

With races like Pocono and MIS coming up, ESPN could be in for a disaster even bigger than last year.

As one emailer asked "don't they know when enough is enough?"

stricklinfan82 said...

Complete train wreck from start to finish.

The pre-race show was filled with taped features that we had already seen over and over and over again during the week.

The racing cars were constantly ignored for full-screen taped comments, commercial bumpers, full-screen race recaps, and NASCAR 101 Teaching Sessions / complete guesses as to what just happened to (insert car here).

Cars went behind the wall right and left and went completely unnoticed on ESPN. Bill Elliott suddenly lost a lap after running in the top 15 all day and ESPN didn't notice.

ESPN had one chance to present a round of yellow flag stops on TV and they were completely lost and confused, as if they'd never seen the 'organized chaos' of 30 cars pitting at the same time before in their lives.

Then came the most embarrassing moment of them all. We finally got a caution with 20-something to do. Passing was nearly impossible and cautions were basically nowhere to be seen. Most educated observers watching realized the race would almost certainly come down to the double-file restart, and would be decided by who won the race to turn 1 - Johnson or Martin. This was IT, the 2nd biggest race in the sport was going to be decided in this moment. ESPN had prepared for this very instant in time for 9 months since Homestead. And they responded with.... FULL THROTTLE! What time but this race-deciding climactic moment could be more perfect for an annoying sparkling animation (with real-time leader MPH mind you, not just arbitrary numbers, WOW WEE!), a completely unintelligible mixture of 30 team radios, and a nonstop barrage of tight speed shots and in-car cameras? By the time the dust had settled and the goofy animation / nonsensical audio mix / speed shots were finished, Dr. Punch was left to pick up the pieces and deliver the bad news to the viewers - (paraphrasing) "30 seconds ago while we announcers were being muzzled and you viewers were watching other complete nonsense, Jimmie Johnson took the lead and basically just won the race."

Two things have become very clear to me watching NASCAR TV these past few years:

1.) If you don't like something a network is doing, tough. Nothing will change until the following off-season at the earliest.

2.) ESPN just doesn't care to take this sport or its fans seriously.

I admire that you keep putting up the good fight JD but I've finally had enough. There's no more use wasting my time and energy trying to talk to an inept network that doesn't listen and doesn't care. I feel so bad for my fellow fans, the competitors, and especially for the group of passionate ESPN NASCAR people that do work very hard and pour their hearts into their job but have their efforts completely overshadowed and smothered by inept leadership somewhere in the behind-the-scenes / upper management chain of command.

Daly Planet Editor said...

stricklinfan, we will see very shortly if this mess is going to be sorted out or if we are going to have to deal with it for the next four months.

JD

Glenn said...

I started watching today's coverage about noon eastern time. All was going pretty good. I was enjoying the shows. I had set the timer to change channels at 1:00 pm., Raceday was more important to me than the other one. The channel changed and I continued to watch the ESPN pre fluf. It was good, so I thought this might turn out ok. I guess it was 2:00 when AB sent the broadcast up to the booth. In less than a minute it felt like all the pre race buildup was gone. I like DJ and AP, they are knowledgeable people, but when they are with JP it seems that he just sucks the life out of them. I've said before I haven't watched and listened to a JP pxp race this season. I swore he and ESPN would not upset me another year. That has worked out well until today.
I tried to watch, but as the race started and JP did not even call "The green flags in the air" or any variation, I knew we were doomed. There was just silence. All 3 men sounded like they wanted to be somewhere else. Just drab dreary, monotone voices describing what I could see for myself. I think I made it to lap 20, not sure though.
After a good truck broadcast, an excellent Nationwide broadcast, I had a faint glimmer of hope that good would continue. I WAS WRONG!

After I cut the TV off I went on outside to finish some school stuff for my daughter. I cut on Sirius NASCAR Radio and what did I find, I know you're dying to know, so I'll tell.
There was a HUGE EXCITING NASCAR RACE running. There were cars running into things, car(s) blowing engines, pit stops happening, some cars were even fast enough to pass other cars. So much was happening it took 4,5, or six people to tell us about it. The sound of their voices would go up like they were excited about what they were seeing.
After reading the comments from the live blog I have came to a conclusion.
There were 2 NASCAR races running today. I knew where the TV folks were, and the radio folks said they were at the same place but they had to be lying.
I realize radio and TV are done differently for obvious reasons. The radio people are artists; they paint a picture with words for us to "see" the race. Not only do they paint pictures they also have to keep up with everything else.
On TV there's not much need for artists, no painting needed. That is, unless you DON'T SHOW THE RACE, by covering it with drivers kickboxing, playing rock band, dancing etc. or tech center full screen when the track is hot, I guess you get my drift.
So far I've been able to watch and listen to some ok and some real good truck races and cup races. I'm just a little depressed now I have to trade the cup races for Nationwide races.
I have watched and listened to 2 NASCAR Now shows all year. I have not watched any practice sessions covered on ESPN, and will continue.
I only watched about 20 or so laps today, which I won't make that mistake next week or the rest of the year.
I'm a fairly new fan and I can see the difference between the coverage among networks and tell the difference between good and bad. I really feel for longtime fans that have watched since the beginning. I've seen some of the old races, the coverage was great IMO. Racing was shown, people were interviewed at appropriate times and viewers were kept current on what they could not see.
As far as I'm concerned, cup season on TV is over. No more for me. I won't get to see them practice or race.
Sirius NASCAR radio is the way to go.
See you folks next year; I'll have no reason to comment on cup races.

Sophia said...

StrLFan
I was waiting for your report. So true, so depressing.

JD, ESPN will never get a clue especially about the shoddy camera work.

NEVER. I am w/SLFan. We've wasted our energies long enough.

West Coast Diane said...

Ok. So JJ & Tony make comments about how they hope the fans had a great time watching a great race. Where were they racing today? They would be shocked if they had to watch the entire race on TV.

Just saw the Jaime interview with Carl (behind on post race) talking about starting 41st on owner points, saying he got in on a provisional. What the...heck!

I'm with Stricklinfan. It is just falling on deaf ears.

My only hope is they don't "feel" they can make a change this year. That Marty Reid is doing NW in preparation for taking PxP next year in Cup.

Oh wait...someone at the door...oh it is the local mental health people telling me I'm delusional and need to be committed.

Anonymous said...

I've said this here before, and I guess I'm stuck having to say it for another year.

Bestwick is a perfect fit for the studio shows.
Dr. Punch does not fit in the PbP role at all.

While AB might be a good fit in the booth, ESPN is the worldwide leader in large part due to studio shows - Baseball Tonight, Sunday NFL Countdown, College Gameday. It may be the risk of compromising the Nascar Countdown/Nascar Now franchises (which survived an abysmal launch) is too great for Bristol.

So, that makes Marty Reid the logical lead announcer. However, I have a hypothesis that the upcoming Michigan Nationwide race may be an attempt at something else, as JD pointed out, all about DJ.

But what if . . . DJ morphed into the PbP role and Dr. Punch didn't leave the booth. He became a reporter in the booth. It wouldn't be unprecedented - Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football comes to mind. In Nascar, Dick Bergren had a stint, hat and all, in the announce booth on TNN, I believe with Buddy Baker and Eli Gold.

If DJ could be a PbP guy, Dr. Punch could provide commentary and read baseball promos.

Just an alternate theory.

Dot said...

I wholly agree with Strick.

Does JP watch the TV broadcast from the booth? He must. He's only saying (when he does) what we're seeing, which is nothing. At least the TNT guys ooohed and whoaed before the camera got to the action.

The combination of JP and the boob running what we see/don't see is what's killing the CUP coverage. If this keeps up JD, I'm afraid your going to lose business on Sundays. But hey, it'll make room on your business card.

NorCalFan said...

Same old song and dance. I'm frustrated and disappointed once again at ESPN's broadcast. If all that ESPN execs require of their PxP announcer is to call out car numbers, driver names, and track position with nothing more injected of any value or interest for the viewer at home, then JP does a fantastic job.

And the camera direction--or lack of. I almost threw my laptop through the TV but then I realized if I did that then I wouldn't know what the heck was happening. At one point all that was shown on the TV was a closeup of Kasey Kahne's car for what seemed like 5 laps around the track. It looked like he was qualifying. Since when if someone in the booth (not JP) is talking about one of the cars does it mean the camera has to zoom in on that particular car for a closeup until the conversation on said car is finished? Hey, ESPN, there's a race going on. Do you think you could show it to the fans at home? Unbelieveable.

I learned more about the race by watching the little numbered circles moving around the track on Nascar.com's Pit Command. How sad is that?

Jimbacca said...

I'm not sure what they could have done for the race today. Maybe spread out the shots instead of being so close. Announcing yep it was there. No truck series, TNT, Marty Reid just there.

JPM that just sucked.

Full throttle is horrible. Lucky enough they warned us today and I could mute it.

With the way the track is I'm not really sure what the coverage could have assisted. Maybe reported on some of the items listed above, Wider shots, dog zapping collars, Attention assist like the new e class.

If the network folks do indeed read this blog then hopefully they can take away something from the comments for me 'full throttle' is as back as that insipid digger on the screen. There I typed it full throttle is ESPN's digger.

Just to show how great the even was... How fast did Nascar now cover the race in recaps? That should tell you right there how eventful it was.

Anonymous said...

I decided to paint my garage today rather than watch ESPN cup coverage at Indy. Judging by JD's comments and reader posts, I made the right choice.

Ken-Michigan said...

I've been a visitor to this site since the start of the 2008 season. At that time, I honestly thought that "some" people associated with the race production viewed this site for constructive criticism.

I hate to break your heart, but they don't listen to anything we have to say. So, although I check JD's site from time to time it's always the same complaints, but the networks simply don't care.

Last year Punch was struggling in the booth and some said, "they need rest", "they need to get away"....they have covered 8 races in a row....etc. I was one of the few that asked... vacations?? rest??
time off ??

For the 18 months I have visited this site, we have all bitched about Jerry Punch. He is terrible at play by play. Awful !!

This just in... He is still there !!
Nothing is changing ladies and gentlemen. ESPN is content with mediocrity for their NASCAR coverage.

NASCAR is content with an awful race car. NASCAR is content with mediocrity.

Who can boost the ratings quickly??
The drivers. Just that simple.
This is entertainment and the drivers better start paying attention. Jimmy Johnson could have orchestrated the finish to where he could "still win".... but put on a show and allow Mark Martin to get along side in the closing laps, get closer, make it exciting, make Punch loosen his tie and call an exciting finish. But when 1st and 2nd have 5-10 car lengths between them for the last 10 laps, its like watching paint dry... blah blah blah.

The COT is awful.
The drivers just don't or won't put on a show & the TV coverage suffers.

And we are left with Jerry Punch for 3 to 4 hours..... good god !!

I don't know everyone's background on here, but personally, I worked in radio & TV production for almost 30 years and the vast majority of NASCAR on TV as a whole, is very bad.
From Kenny Wallace's waving to the camera and fist pumping, to DW's boogity boogity crap....it's all bad TV.

And allow me to remind you, it's not going to change.

Anonymous said...

It really irks me that all during the race, ESPN was teasing NASCAR with "Feel Your Heart Race"-themed promos.... and they won't even show the "Feel Your Heart Race" show anywhere on their several networks. UNREAL.

Lesley said...

Whats to report gang! Until the very end nothing happened..How do you blame ESPN for that?I remember a time when the cars used to get faster every year!Oh,buy the way..Did I hear JPM threaten NASCAR??

Anonymous said...

Ron @5:42 pm wrote:
i hate to keep saying a similar thing, but: watch 10 minutes of versus indycar coverage. i believe nascar sprint cup is the elite series, indycar a struggling series... but which one is a more exciting telecast?

Ron, my boy you are an astutue observer.
For what its worth, the Indycar series production team is overseen by the gent who created ESPN SpeedWorld back in the 80's and brought us all that geat racing back then. Note that Versus also uses veteran play by play Bob Jenkins (who, by the way, was available to ESPN when they got the NASCAR rights back)In sum, what you see by camparision is that passion for and knowlege of the sport can do more with low budgets than tons of money, too many talking heads and arrogance can.

Anonymous said...

Leslie wrote:
"Whats to report gang! Until the very end nothing happened..How do you blame ESPN for that?"

My dear Leslie, you blame ESPN because there is, in fact, racing somewhere on the track every lap. The JOB of the production is to FIND THAT RACING and SHOW IT!!!!
The frustration that you read here in the DP is all a result of ESPN failure to do just that! They are incompetent. Period!

earl said...

"Speaking of the radio, once again there was an incredible difference in the amount of information and excitement provided by the radio team vs. the TV announcers. Energy provided by the radio broadcasters really drove home the point of how badly ESPN needs a change in the booth."

I had the Sirius channel with the Tower Feed on in the background. The radio guys were going bananas during the last couple laps, while Dr. Obvious was moping and mumbling along.

For chrissakes, put someone in the booth that sounds like they are having at least an OK time. Jerry sounds like he's calling a funeral procession. Plus, he drags DJ and Andy down.

I used to think that putting AB back upstairs was the right move, but I really enjoy what he does with Brad & Ray from the infield. DJ is the future for the PxP on this team. He and Andy would be great up in the booth, and one less guy would let them throw to the infield for more analysis when needed.

Addition by subtraction - axe the Doc and Rusty and they'll really have something.

Anonymous said...

On the plus side I didn't see that stupid "draft-track" used.

LuckyForward said...

I know it was ridiculously wishful thinking on my part, but knowing that some at ESPN read TDP, I was hoping they took notice of all the great comments about the TNT coverage and would TAKE A HINT . . .

I was wrong.

The race coverage was terrible. I grew SO TIRED of hearing in car radio conversations. Who cares?!

The majority of the race itself was boring, but the announcing team made all of it worse as two had to carry one and the race got lost in the confusion.

50 yr. fan said...

I agree that there really wasn't a
race to call. The only real excitement was the restarts and
the director always choses to
immediately move the camera from the front to all cars passing a point or go to the in-car of the next advertiser in rotation.

Why not a tech segment on the
pre-race for Brewer to spout his
dumb-down?

MRM4 said...

Jerry Punch lives in my town and is a weekly guest every Monday on a sports talk radio show. Last week, he mentioned how he just wanted to get through Indy because the racing usually isn't very good. I think Sunday's broadcast reflected that.

The only reason Dr. Punch is in the booth calling races is out of loyalty he had for the network when ESPN lost race rights after 2000. Punch had several offers to go to Fox or NBC, but decided to stay with ESPN to also call football and basketball games. ESPN does a lot of promotion based on loyalty (see Mike Tirico).

I have said from the beginning and still say today that ESPN needs to swap Punch and Allen Bestwick. Put Punch in the studio and let Bestwick call the races. Unfortunately for the viewers, ESPN will not be able use declining ratings to justify making a change because Fox' ratings were way down this year. Unless ESPN/ABC posts 18-20% declines, they'll just the excuse that everyone's ratings are down. I doubt we'll see a change soon, but one needs to be made.

Garry said...

First off: Brickyard= boring
ESPN= Boring
Jerry Punch=Boring
Jimmie Johnson winning= ratings dropping, boring racing, etc.
The whole combination screams "turn off the t.v"I said it the other day, and it bears repeating: ESPN had their chance with me three years ago and they blew it. I don't forget, and I don't forgive.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

A lot of comments here about the radio broadcast talking about racing all over the track that the TV crew missed. The radio guys' job is to paint a picture, because the listener (obviously) can't see it. Is it possible that the radio guys are just putting 'lipstick on a pig', trying to make the terrible racing sound better?
I have watched all the races this year (including TNTs coverage, which is widely praised here), and haven't see decent racing all year, except for plate races and Infineon. It's follow the leader, from 2 laps after a restart, until the next yellow.
Fox coverage is bad (mostly due to Digger, and DWs obsession w/ Kyle Busch), TNT's was solid, ESPN's is underwhelming again so far, but I think to say there's racing that they aren't showing us might be a stretch. Seriously, you really want them to show us Elliott and Gilliland battling for 30th at the Brickyard? That's what it's reduced to? If you have to go the the backmarkers to find racing, maybe the racing is the problem, not just the TV crew....

Oh, by the way, ESPN should put Allen as PxP, try to inject some life into the broadcast.

Jayhawk said...

"ESPN missed the race into the first turn after talking about the start for hours."

Martin and Johnson side-by-side on a restart, and what do we see? Tricky camera angles from bumpers and from ground angle. Finally, a full lap later, we learn that Johnson took the lead away from Martin, but we caught nothing but the most fleeting glimpses of their bumpers while that was happening.

The only exciting moment of the race, and they wasted it with their stupid fancy camera angles.

GinaV24 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dawg said...

Ah Contraire.....I have to disagree completely on this one. Dr. Jerry was perfect for Indy. Once NA$CAR has put the viewers to sleep, the TV crew should just let them sleep. Do you know how hard it is to get back to sleep, when someone interrupts your nap? Besides Dick Vitel couldn't have made this one interesting, let alone exciting.

bowlalpo said...

Sorry to be late but the use of Full Throttle with 25 laps to go was a case of the producer "acting stupidly."

I noticed that Fox had tweaked "Crank It Up" by letting a couple laps go by after a restart. They realized that with the COT that passes for the lead were few and far between and only in those first couple laps.

And ESPN could not realize this as long as they've been in the game?

Punch's highest excitement level came when JJ took the lead and only because DJP sensed (or was told) that all the noise distracted us from seeing the lead change.

No excitement from DJP when KB hit the wall. My first words (while shouting)..."he's now out of the Chase!" Not much more when Junior blew up.

It was my first time watching HD, and yes I agree that trying to use the best features of HD ("I'm ready for my close-up now!") only messes up a race telecast.

Anonymous said...

Just a random question, related to ESPNs coverage: I noticed that ESPN never referred to the race's title sponsor Allstate all week/weekend in promos, previews, or the race. I noticed that Fox ignored the race sponsor in a few cases this year as well. Does NASCAR have no control over how the networks deal with race sponsors? Is it a conflict for ESPN because they have a deal w/ Nationwide (for the Nationwide Series)? I've been curious about how that works between NASCAR & their TV partners. Any ideas?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:16AM,

Title sponsors need to purchase TV ads to have their sponsorship move over to the TV coverage.

JD

West Coast Diane said...

I agree the racing itself was pretty boring and ESPN can't control it.

However, at the start of the race the difference in points in the Chase from 5th to 12th was 163 points. There was a 146 point spread to the last chase positon among 4 drivers. So 12 drivers are trying to stay in or get in. We don't need to see a "points as of now" screen, but they could have updated some of these drivers throughout the race. Instead we get silence.

And to those who don't want to see cars in the back of the back. Why not? If nothing else is happening and 2 cars are fighting for a position..it's called racing. Rather see that than 1 car looking like it was on a qualifying lap.

Word veri.....dumba!

j said...

What was JP’s infatuation with “making history”?
-Lap 1 states “history could be made if Gordon is the first 5 time winner or Stewart could return the number 14 to victory lane”.
-Lap 5 “history is being made with the first double file shoot out style restart”. Granted it was not a restart but did they not start the race double file? Is it that big of a deal?
-Lap 20 restates his statement from lap 1???
-At the end of the race when none of his preplanned history making moments panned out, he comes up with the most innocuous stat just so some history was made… “Johnson makes history by being the winner to lead his first lap later than any other Brickyard winner”.

Kyle said...

Saturday's Nationwide Series race is the best that ESPN has done in a while. The only problem with the Cup team is Punch. They have to keep Jarrett and Peatree. Heck, maybe just have them do it. Or, move Bestwick up to the booth like I always say. After all, he has a lot of experience in PxP. Move Punch back down to pit road where he belongs. Then, either move one of the two girls that know pretty much nothing on NASCAR and ask the really, really obvious and moderately dumb questions and give us the senseless, time wasting reports to the pit studio.

You could also just use the pit studio in the pre-race, then have an analyst from the booth come down and help then go up for the race. Then, have the pit studio disappear for the rest of the night. it serves no purpose and just keeps me from information that much longer.

I think, as far as Nationwide goes, ESPN is much closer. As far as Cup, they are about the same. They wasted their money on the bat cam. Until they can get it to go up to 200 mph so they can follow a car directly over-head down a straightaway, it will be useless. It probably still would be even then.

tom in dayton said...

Just back from Indy this morning and have a few observations on the Brickyard race.
Started watching the race in the Pagoda where TV's were showing both the IMS feed(also seen on the Jumbotrons) and the ESPN feed and it was immediately apparent that two races were being presented.
Behind the first ten or so positions on the track, there was plently of double-file racing happening most of the day, so no shortage of good action! Moved outside for a while to my "forever" seats in the paddock press penthouse and continued to watch good mid-pack racing and green flag pitstops, so no shortage there!
Afterwards, moved to the postrace hospitality in the Pagoda and overheard a NASCAR bigwig bereating three guys with ESPN-logoed polos about the urine-poor quality of the broadcast just presented and other veiled comments.
Overall, a decent race this year, but not to have been seen on television it seems.
PS: the empty seats at IMS were mostly the first ten rows from the bottom on the outside, plus the fourth turn terrace and the north tower terrace - those seats are always the most undesirable. Elevated seating was full for the most part and the weather conditions were great!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Kyle,

I can't tell you how bummed I was that ESPN flubbed the bat-cam.

It would have been great to see a complete pitstop, from the time the car pulled off the track through the service and the race off pit road.

It would have been great on a pace lap to drive alongside of the cars as they made their way down the frontstretch. I thought they would do that right at the start when an extra pace lap was added.

Instead, just lots of "swooshing" back and forth like a jib cam shot. Really a waste of great technology.

JD

tom in dayton said...

Mr. D:
A quick note.
The bat-cam did not stretch the entire length of pit road.
On the north end, it terminated just above the Jeff Gordon pit stall(about 100 feet north of the pedistrian tunnel abuting the Pagoda)and never flew any further north than above the 18's pit stall.
Its southern terminus was a point at the bottom of the first turn upper deck, so it could only show pit road from the immediate north side of the Pagoda along the former F1 garages to the south end of pit road.
Just an FYI.

The Angry Engraver said...

I literally DID fall asleep during the race. What the heck happened to Dr. JP??? He use to bring such excitement to the races. Always talking about EVERYTHING going on during the race. Now it seems like a bother for him.

Thank goodness for DJ and Andy Petree. They are the only life in the booth now. They both talk with much enthusiasm and know what is going on. Seems like Dr. Punch is reading stuff off a teleprompter because he seems so dull and out of it. :-(((

Daly Planet Editor said...

Tom, I should have had you take a picture. Been searching for one on the web. Was supposed to run all the way down the pit road and frontstretch. Here is the ESPN info:

"The camera on a cable...will fly over the speedway’s frontstretch and pit road at more than 80 miles per hour to give viewers a dramatic look at the setting and action."

Thanks for the reality check.

JD

Ryan said...

This is more directed to the N'wide coverage. As much as I couldn't stand the rodent, Fox and Digger did a great job of getting my boys (6 & 7 yrs old) interested in NASCAR. ESPN has killed all that. We didn't watch the race at ORP, even though it's one of my favorite N'wide tracks. I can't let my kids be exposed to the crap that gets advertised there. When are we going to get TV-MA ratings on commercials? NASCAR needs to pull out some "Actions detrimental to the sport" against ESPN. As long as Extenze and related products are on there, I'm never watching another night race again. And if they ever decide to bring that stuff to day races, well I guess there's always Formula 1.

Anonymous said...

(sarcasm)
JD does that mean next week the state of Pennsylvania has to pay for a tv ad to have the race name on air
( sarcasm off)

on topic the race was called so bad that i was looking for any radio station online

Daly Planet Editor said...

Ryan,

We are trying to put together a column for your comments on that topic on Tuesday.

Needless to say, few want to comment because the money is flowing regardless of the truthfulness of the product.

Maybe the fans can bring the issue to the surface.

JD

Zieke said...

One of the really irritating things about ESPN is their constant "features" instead of showing the race. Fans tune in to see a RACE, not a bunch of garbage that no-one cares about. If they read these posts, it is obvious that ESPN thinks people are going to watch, no matter how bad the product. Let's just see how low they can go: have Jerry say "Boogity,Boogity, Boogity, let's play baseball boys"

Anonymous said...
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MRM4 said...

Angry Engraver, go back and read my comments from earlier this morning. Punch said on last week's radio show he does weekly that he just wanted Indy over with because it's not a good race. It wasn't good and he wasn't good. He mailed it in.

What gets me is so many comments of Punch that are critical, but the sheep of Knoxville will call in when Punch is on the radio and tell him how great he is, they don't like the others, blah, blah, blah. They must be remembering the Dr. Punch, the great pit reporter. If they'll listen to the guy in the booth, he's not the same person.

Anonymous said...

JD -

I just happened to notice that the Dish Network channel guide shows ESPN Classic broadcasting a replay of the Indy race from 11 - 2. The program information describes the race as "Allstate 400 at the Brickyard". I don't know who is responsible for the content of the program description - perhaps you could comment? Did ESPN let some unpaid advertising slip through, or is someone else responsible for the description of ESPN programming?

I have to give ESPN some credit for making some improvements in their NASCAR programming since it first reentered the sport. Some of the worst people were removed from the race broadcasts, and Nascar Now is much better. There are even some signs of hope for Nationwide race broadcasts. It is a mystery to me why ESPN management allows its flagship cup broadcasts to remain a disaster.

Anonymous said...

Your analysis is correct. E-SP-N: There is a reason that the "E" ("entertainment" for who? one asks) precedes "SP" (sport). ESPN production values have declined across the board in my opinion. The racing is not the product anymore.
ESPN producers continue to show their contempt for the serious race fan in favor of the marginal fan (many whom it seems have already moved on to the next cool thing). I either DVR the races or mute the sound and listen to MRN.

Bill said...

As I said on Sunday, ESPN needs to sell Alert, No Doz, Stay Awake, and Vivarin commercials. Do any of these come in an intravenous form?

After Sunday's broadcast, I've decided that if MRN Radio is doing the race broadcast, they will be my audio during the ESPN telecast. The pictures may not match the audio, but they don't always do so with the ESPN announce crew.

At least the MRN Radio guys are excited about doing their job.

darbar said...

When you look at the production and commentary for the Truck series, and compare it to the ESPN coverage of Nascar, it just looks like ESPN is made up of a bunch of high school kids running the school's TV station. ESPN seems hell bent on showing off their fancy doo dads, aka technology, rather than letting the action on the track to speak for itself.

JD, I know you say that networks read this site, and that may be true, but nothing comes of it when it comes to ESPN. They have an arrogance about them that screams "We know we're the best, and the ONLY game in town, and the fact that you can't see that just shows us you don't know good broadcasts from crap". IF ESPN really read these posts, going on to two years now, don't you think they would have changed?

Bottom line is, they don't care!!! Not one tiny bit. As long as their commercial time is sold, they won't give a rat's behind how terrible their broadcasts are--and to be quite honest, they probably can't understand what we've been complaining about. Until the ratings have dropped so low that they can't sell out all their commercial time, this sub-par race coverage will continue.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with the other comments that you are far too nice in hitting this nail on the head. While ESPN generally does a great job with other sports, they can't seem to figure out how to broadcast any form of auto racing whatsoever. Their IRL broadcasts were just as atrocious. Thank god they're not doing anymore IRL races this year. Now if we could get them off of NASCAR. ESPN could learn a lot from Speed and Versus.

fearless freep said...

Sprint Cup racing on ESPN. As Daffy Duck would say, "What a revoltin' development this is."

Anonymous said...

Ryan said...
This is more directed to the N'wide coverage. As much as I couldn't stand the rodent, Fox and Digger did a great job of getting my boys (6 & 7 yrs old) interested in NASCAR

OMG...are you allowed to say that on here??!!!

Anonymous said...

Like many, I was a fan of Dr. Punch when he was a pit reporter. The ESPN team at that time was by far the best NASCAR TV team, and Dr. Punch was an important part of that. But what we have now is a travesty.

A comment above mentioned Bob Jenkins. I wish ESPN and Jenkins could patch up their differences. Jenkins in the booth with Dale and Andy, and Dr. Punch on pit road, might help make the ESPN races watchable. And who knows, with a competent play-by-play presence, ESPN might not feel the need to rely on flashy production gimmicks during the race.

Anonymous said...

JD-

If you're putting together a column on sponsors with misleading products, it might be worth reasserting the issue with U.S. Fidelis, the purported extended warranty company that has a sponsorship deal with Rusty's Nationwide team.

Dan said...

JD, to the uninitiated, the bat cam appeared to be no different than the camera used by ESPN/ABC for the 500 this year. Where the cables were strung were exactly the same. The pulley system that attached the camera to the wires certainly looked the same. While I didn't study the camera in in detail in May, I'm not even sure the bat camera head had additional rotational degrees of freedom. Has ESPN provided technical reasons why this camera is new or revolutionary, or is this a case of a network rebranding existing technology with an animal name for the sake of hype?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dan, they sent out a lot of promo stuff to the media about it. I really thought it would be a centerpiece of the coverage.

darbar,

You have to remember that things change slowly in national TV land. ESPN dumped the NASCAR Now guys and cleaned up that series. They moved Rusty downstairs and hired Allen to handle the infield.

They have DJ in the booth and brought in Marty Reid for the Nationwide Series. It really seems to me personally that moving Punch to another role is just something they can't bring themselves to do.

While we keep these comments polite and family oriented, some of the hundreds of emails I got during and after the race are just wild with anger at ESPN.

Groups that gathered together to root for one driver only to never have him mentioned once the race started. Had to turn on the radio.

Fans of Kyle Busch and Elliot Sadler livid of no follow-up after their problems.

Radio listeners livid that passing and racing on the radio broadcast meant nothing to ESPN as they continued to playback everything from radio transmissions to soundbites.

Took me hours to review and delete the email about ESPN.

Maybe change will come after the season, I just hope we can hang in there as fans that long.

JD

Anonymous said...

Don't know if I can say this or not.

Has anybody looked at other forums like "thatsracin.com" and others?

No wonder the brass from the various NASCAR orgs. come here.

Bill

glenc1 said...

okay after sorting through the comments best as I could...

thank you, Tom in Dayton for confirming what I suspected. I have been reading comments from people who don't go to the races blaming NASCAR for the COT's and saying it's not all ESPN's fault. I have been to several the last couple years, and found the racing to be just fine. Probably not true on *all* tracks, but true on most. The problem is ESPN. I was only half paying attention because the Brickyard (IMHO) is rather overhyped for stock cars. But I did notice the lack of follow up (suddenly driver Z was back on track with no explanation.) So I turned on MRN, and sure enough, there was a good race going on, unbeknownst to us.

And no, I don't think they're perfuming the pig. Lots of races with various types of cars over the years have had dominant leaders (think Jarrett at Michigan, whatever year he won the Cup, and the old days when Petty had lapped the field).....they 'stunk up the show' as they say. Those are the times when it's *really* TV's job to step up, and they have been failing miserably. Save the interviews for the pre-show. Use normal camera angles, or find better uses for the new ones you have. Better direction. I have no big issues with Brewer, Petree or Jarrett 90 percent of the time. I'm not a car person so I find Brewer's show helpful when used at the right moments.

I love Jerry as a knowledgeable race fan, but as a PxP guy...it's just not his best thing. Let him host prerace and, if he wants, be in the pits (maybe he could be the pit coordinator and help the hapless Little & Spake get better...) P...l...e...a...s...e...ESPN, just listen to us!

Liberty Valance said...

Ryan. Are you serious about how Digger got your boys interested in racing? I/m not being mean, but why does it take an animated cartoon character to get children interested in NASCAR? I am 43 years old, and have been a fan for that long. They never had anything other than racing to peak my interest. If the tv execs and NASCAR read your comment, they will take it and run with it. Please don't take my analysis personally. It's just that the RACING should be the focus for families, not circus side shows.
As far as the coverage: Hey, ESPN! Ever get the feeling that the natives are getting restless, and are about to become a mob?Sarcasm on:
In the words of Yoda:Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Sarcasm off.

Max said...

Where is it in the TV "bible" that says you must have 3 people in the broadcasting booth?

Just because it worked for a time with Monday Night Football?

It is amazing how TV can latch on to a ill-concieved format and never let it go.

Listening to the pontifications of two men is plenty enough for me.

I heartily recommend DJ and Andy - I think they do a great job. And the good Doctor can go back to the pits.

Having said all this, let us not forget the disease, not just focus on the symptoms.

Nascar racing is flat-out poor. and this flat Indy track with the flat corners is way over the head of the COT.

And that my friends, no announcer can cover for.

Delenn said...

Can I recommend those at ESPN look at the BBC F1 coverage this year? The coverage has improved immensely since last year, and the ratings are going up significantly this year.
The same could be true for ESPN.

Darren said...

The absolute low point came after they did the segment on Joey Lagano. Punch asked Petree "How did you like working with young drivers?" Petree, has nice as he could, replied "Well, I worked with drivers like Harry Gant and Dale Earhardt, so I really didn't work with young drivers."

Damn, it was painful...

I do respect Mr. Punch and thank him for his work over the years, but he HAS to get out of that booth!!!

Anonymous said...

As one who was actually at the race,I can tell you that the racing has to be difficult to cover as most of it was follow the leader all day. Those of you watching the race on TV cannot begin to grasp the space between cars as the camera shots seem to truncate what is real. The space between JPM and MM was so great that I could actually look over and talk to my wife before the next car went by.

I hope for the sake of all race fans that the excitement comes back in the form a new/old NASCAR that allows teams to use their ingenuity to tweak race cars. Perhaps JP recognizes this and it's just coming through in his commentary??

Remember IROC where the worlds best drivers from all forms of racing got together in identically prepared racecars?

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:43...so are you saying there was no racing going on anywhere else?

Lesley said...

JD..Would you please track down Paul Page and save the world? He was simply the best!

David said...

What else could ESPN have expected from Indy?

NOTORIOUS for single file racing and no passing, yet the #20 raced through the field as did the #29. Did we see either one? Nope.

Pre-race was okay but as goes my sentiments for the entire year, TOO much pre-race is burning me out before race time. Plus 3 of those pieces in the ESPN pre-race I had already seen at least once before it aired for the real pre-race.

They were late on interviews in my eyes, never got an update asto what the heck happened to Sadler, they never showed where Kyle Busch fell to in points and how far back he was, nor did they ever talk about anyone further back than 20th that wasnt named Busch, Gordon or Logano. Crying shame.

"The #17 crew has been great for Kenseth all year"

NO DUH JERRY!!! THATS THEIR REPUTATION! They are great every year! The #14 crew has actually been the most impressive, but go ahead and overlook it.

Montoya had a run away, I was okay with that. But they just dropped the ball with the restart coverage and depth to the broadcast once the green flag fell. They pretty much comentated on the pictures we could see and nothing more. Sorry but I need more information than just what I can see.

Montoya and Logano duked it out, yet they were slow to that battle too as most of the time they got there after something happened.

This was a massive production failure by ESPN. Jerry is Jerry. I cant expect anything more from that.

Disappointed DJ didnt step up and lead the charge to put an end to the endless interview.

Andy tried.

Again too many talking heads though. Brewer has really no use because they can do all their illustrations with Petree and a computer IMO.

-sigh-

Need my SIRIUS in the house again...

Lesley said...

To anom..4:56 There was no racing any where else..A friend of mine was there! Single file spread out all day parading around the track!!The highlight for me was JPM getting caught for speeding..I thought he was going to take Joey down for the day with him..and to ESPNs credit they kept a pretty good eye on that action..I will give you one thing..The Pit coverage sucked!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly,
what is your problem with ESPN and Dr. Jerry Punch. I think they did a great job, considering it was Indy and it makes for a very long, boring race. They did alot better than FOX. I just don't understand why you always "slam" Dr. Punch, unless you think 'todays' ESPN should be like the 'old' ESPN?

Daly Planet Editor said...

anon 5:26PM,

I would respectfully refer you to the 100+ comments above yours on this post.

JD

Anonymous said...

Anon 4:43: Sure you can search for racing through the field, but when it's obvious that cars are so similar that they can't pass each other, the race becomes somewhat of a joke. When a Ford is a Ford and a Chevy is a Chevy...and the guys can actually work on them......then we'll see some racin! Then no one will care about the booth talent being entertaining. The race will once again be the entertainment!

stu said...

The overhead pit-cam-on-a-wire (borrowed from NFL and college football) was great, so I'm not sure what else you people expect as far as camera shots go. At least the pit cam is NEW. How many crane shots or camera panning through the turns shots do we need? And thank god for the lack of Digger.

I think ESPN is playing the Southern Accent Card too much as well. Brewer, Petrie and DJ are too much for mainstream audiences. If you have to pander to the southern crowd, drop Brewer, unless you are pandering to the drunk-sounding uncle demographic as well.

They should use Brad Daugherty and Alan Bestwick more, if they want to obtain more mainstream appeal. Rusty is ok, especially since he seems to have dropped "hot rod" from his vocabulary.

Lesley said...

Great point anon 5:33!

PammH said...

A little OT, sorry JD, but just heard something on NN that made me laugh out loud. Allstate has announced they are not renewing their sponsership of the B400 next yr!! Surprise, surprise...;)

Bryan said...

Just clear the ESPN booth and patch in the MRN broadcast. They know how to call a race. You would think with a full season of Nationwide coverage ESPN could "practice" and develop a solid broadcast for the Cup series. Like usual, if it's not a bigtime ratings sport, ESPN "half-butts" their coverage until it's time for the next Brett Favre update on Sportscenter. ESPN doesn't only have problems in NASCAR coverage, their network's coverage of sports as a whole has gone down dramatically over the years. Too bad they are a monopoly.

Karen said...

Was shocked when Kyle Petty said in their six races with TNT that the booth practiced their calling of the races. Granted, only a few races, and not calling together for long, but at least, they practiced.

ESPN could take a lesson there. Doubt it would matter though. JP has to know the bad publicity he's getting. He'd be blind not to. So why doesn't he just call baseball and football? And he doesn't need to go back to the pits either. Just go back to medicine.

Anonymous said...

I had ESPN's website up for the chat. As soon as I posted how bad Punch was and Bestwick should be in the booth, no more of my posts were accepted. Guess I won't be holding my breath for a change in the booth!

Anonymous said...

so apparently tom in dayton went to a different race than anon 4:43 or Lesley's friend.

Not saying Indy is the greatest racing. But plenty of races have been boring without a lot of passing with the old car, and with the really old cars. ESPN did nothing to make it better.

Vicky D said...

AB was asking pointed questions on NN tonight about whether the race was exciting or not. There were 2 yeses and 1 no (Evernham). Other good questions to the panel too.

Tom said...

heavy sigh. was really looking forward to the race but about ten minutes in i found myself longing for the TNT crew, or even the Fox team to be covering the event instead. as others have noted, what the heck has happened to Punch? he was one of my favorite broadcasters awhile back, mainly because of his obvious enthusiasm for whatever he was covering, but now he sounds like he is reading the dictionary from cover to cover and has gotten bogged down by the time he got to "B". For the remainder of the season, i think i'm better off working in the yard getting some sun and listening to the radio coverage. never thought i'd ever have to say that . . .

Dot said...

@ VickyD, Rusty also mentioned the car. Good for him. NASCAR shouldn't get a pass (accidental pun) for the crappy race at Indy either. Add that to JP and the boob in the truck and it's a recipe for disaster.

We're going to see the same race on Sunday, only it will be in Pocono.

trish in nc said...

I don't think it's fair to find fault with the announcers because of their accent. I like the job Tim Brewer does. He speaks slowly, in a teaching mode. Since he is inside, he doesn't have to yell which is a plus.

Sometimes I feel we need to get back to racing instead of learning but that's not Brewer's fault.

Everyone has an accent depending on where they grew up. Mine is also southern.

Steve L. said...

I was so bored with the coverage I could not keep from napping through the entire race. JP's mono-toned voice just kept putting me to sleep.

I new this was going to be a rough, boring race, but ESPN just botched it up beyond, well, bad. There's no information coming from the booth or the pits.

I feel we're all still being treated like fans that have never seen a race on TV with JP saying "There's the #29 car driven by Kevin Harvick" or on some of the simplest things about a car. We've been watching all year, we know what a lug nut is, what tight and loose is, what a blown engine is, and so on. We're not stupid and don't need to be told these things over and over.

It's time for Jerry to go. No, past time. We've tried it for way too long and it's just not working. How low are they waiting for the ratings to go before a change is made. Now ESPN, NOW!

Dot said...

@ Trish in NC, I like the southern accents. Funny thing is, I don't even notice DJs, APs or TBs. Now Larry Mac, his is noticeable. But that's what makes him cool.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Brickyard 400,NASCAR mixed the ingredients, identical cars,tires,gears and springs.Then ESPN baked the cake could we really expect much more than we got.

Frank in Sebring

trish in nc said...

@Dot
Larry Mac is an Alabama boy. That's a different dialect from a North Carolina accent.
Or at least that's my story!

cvt said...

@JD "You have to remember that things change slowly in national TV land."

Have to disagree. It seems to come down to who is calling the shots.Look at the evening news. They continue to lose viewers yet remain steadfast in their view that having anchors and reporters who make their opinions into the news is preferable to having on-air talent who actually report news. Cronkite is a case in point. All this praise for him but you can't name any on-air talent today who comes remotely close to him in delivering it in a way that approaches middle-of-the-road.

David Hill comes to mind. You aren't going to change his mind, or persuade him of the errors of his way. But if he reached that conclusion himself,he could do a 180 at Fox so fast you wouldn't recognize it as Fox.

glenc1 said...

trish, I agree on the accents. I was raised in the north but have many southern relatives. Doesn't effect me in the least. Just different.

Hagar the Horrible said...

I thought that the race was boring. That was probably because I watched the ESPN TV coverage. It made me miss TNT.

ESPN even missed JJ passing Mark for the lead on the last restart. Sheesh!

Dot said...

@ cvt, ditto.

@ Trish, pardon my ignorance. To you, you can tell the difference. I was just lumping them all together.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see them hire back Bob Jenkins and get back to their winning combination. Jerry Punch used to be THE man on pit road! He should go back to his element.

Daly Planet Editor said...

cvt,

That's a bit naive. These men have agents, TV contracts and an extensive network of ESPN marketing and promotion behind them that is in place for 2009.

Bringing in Marty Reid and making the decision to telecast the Nationwide Series race from MIS with DJ and three others in the booth was big.

We have to give ESPN some credit. This is the only glaring problem with the announcing team. I do understand there are conversations underway about the coverage issues.

Lots of management at the big events, we will see how things shake out in Pocono.

JD

Lesley said...

Bob Jenkins? ESPN? There is a time line here my friends..A time that was not always safe,but It is what sucked us all into NASCAR in the
80s...Each American brand brought Its own look and style..The race to the yellow flag was sometimes as exciting as the race itself!!No pit road speed!! It was crazy! but I never missed a race!!No broadcast in the world can fix this!!What we new then,Is now gone! I for one consider myself lucky to have seen those races when drama was high and the risk for those drivers was worth taking an afternoon of your time to say to a friend..These guys are crazy..Not Rusty,nor Jerry or DJ can fix what has already been broken!I guess Its for the best,but I sure do miss what gave me the passion of this sport in the first place!!

Anonymous said...

ESPN may have had boring announcing, uninsightful comments, lack of continuity, shoddy camera work and been poorly produced, but was still better than FOX. Bonus; no DW or the rodent.

Dan said...

Anon. 10:22 - The rodent was at Indy, just not on TV. There was a Digger merchandise trailer along side all the rest inside the track. Just one of many sights this past weekend that made me shake my head and wonder.

Anonymous said...

Hate to be late to the bashing, but I had to add my comment. Disney, the parent company of ESPN, continues to show their lack of commitment to the broadcast side of the business. To say the coverage was "Mickey Mouse" is NOT a compliment, but they just don't get it nor do they care. Just keep bringing in the money to cover the theme park losses.

But you cannot fault Disney for the poor performance from broadcast professionals who are just phoning it in. The pit road reporters lob in softballs like, "So Jimmy do you respect Mark Martin?" "How does it feel winning at Indy twice?" Are these "professionals" for real? After 3 hours of racing that's the best you can come up with? Questions everyone already knows the answers to? (Yes, he respects Mark greatly and winning at Indy feels great. Do you expect him to say anything BUT that?)

I think everyone associated with the sport is just bored to tears with what's happening in the Sprint Cup series and there's no way they can help showing it...in their questions, their commentary, the camera angles and the entire product.

Anonymous said...

to Dan re: the Digger trailer. It's simple economics...if people weren't buying anything from the Digger trailer, it wouldn't be there.

On questions from the media, don't forget that each question by itself IS silly. I think that's what Kyle Busch gets upset about, although it's part of the interview process. "How does it feel to win ____ race"? or "You just got crashed by the ___ car, tell us what happened" (when we probably can give a better answer after watching 15 slo-mo replays), "What would it be like for you to win at ______", "How big would an Indy win be", "How much do you want to win the Daytona 500"? They're all silly when you think about it - but no different than any other news reporting.

David said...

No shock Allstate didnt get renewed, they got screwed this weekend. Props to SPEED for calling the race what it WAS actually called.

JD whats the methood to ESPN's madness when they called it the Brickyard 400? Did Allstate just not pay ESPN to call it such so they blew them off but the 2 or 3 obligatory times they called the race what they were supposed to or what?

That would bug me if I was the title sponsor of a race and a network just blew that fact off and called the race whatever they wanted to...

Daly Planet Editor said...

David,

In order for title sponsorship to move over to the national TV broadcast, the sponsor company must buy TV ad inventory.

In other words, it could be the Hardees 500 at the track and the McDonalds 500 on ESPN unless Hardees buys commercials on ESPN.

This is a normal practice in TV land and is not a conspiracy. Now that you know about this, look for this practice in other NASCAR events.

Great question.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments with all kinds of different perspectives. Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment.

JD