Sunday, July 12, 2009

TNT Ends Another Summer Adventure

It certainly was a summer to remember for the NASCAR on TNT team. They lost their veteran play-by-play announcer after an internal dust-up at a hotel in New Hampshire. Then, the network got a tremendous present from NASCAR to spice up the traditionally boring TNT events. The new restart rules changed everything.

One trademark of the TNT broadcasts has been the simple and straightforward pre-race shows. Marc Fein has done a good job of letting Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds have the spotlight this summer. Both Carl Edwards and Jeff Gordon stopped by for interviews this week.

TNT has paid tribute this year to NASCAR's history with the Pride of NASCAR series. This week, former driver Fred Lorenzen showed that his passion for the sport had not diminished over the years of his retirement. Matt Yocum handled this assignment with just the right touch.

Ralph Sheheen took a tough situation and made the best of it with his play-by-play ability. Replacing veteran Bill Weber was not easy and Sheheen pulled it off with class and dignity. From expecting to be one of four pit reporters to suddenly being the face of NASCAR on TNT, Sheheen certainly deserves a lot of credit.

The personality of the Chicagoland track was quickly on display once the race started. The TNT team kept the camera shots wide so that viewers could see groups of cars racing and eventually who the leader was about to lap. There was no real strategy involved early in the event, effectively muting Larry McReynolds.

It was up to Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach to keep the conversation going. Luckily, the production team continually peeled back through the field to tell the stories of those teams struggling and those on the move. TNT has also been very careful to treat Dale Earnhardt Jr. as just another driver this summer. That has been noticed and appreciated.

Now, after six TNT races it is hard to even remember the Fox hype and single-minded focus on Earnhardt and Kyle Busch. Even more amazing is the fact that the same TV producer handled both the Fox and TNT races. That certainly says a little something about the influence of the Fox Sports executives in what is shown on TV.

There were some tough moments in this telecast. From the beginning, the commercials inserted by the TNT Master Control were much louder than the audio from the track. TV viewers had to ride the remote every time a commercial break aired until just before the halfway point of the race.

When NASCAR waved the caution flag several times, TNT was unable to deliver the debris. That might not be a big issue, but certainly with the complexion of this event the famous mystery caution was going to be alleged. Once again, TV allowed the debate to continue.

Great pictures from the track only got better when the sun went down, but it appeared that TNT's announcers treated the Sam Hornish wreck rather casually. On TV, smoke seemed to be filling the driver's compartment and putting Hornish in danger. Simply by reassuring viewers that it was only tire smoke from the spin, a lot of fans would have relaxed.

The pit reporters meshed on this event and simply provided information whenever needed. The pit producer worked to integrate the reporters through pit stops both under caution and green flag racing. This was an outstanding feature of the telecast and continued with focused and timely interviews after the event.

NASCAR's restart present to TNT eventually paid off with some excitement in the closing stages of the race. This has been the best improvement of the season and took viewers minds off the sheer boredom of this gas mileage track. No fuel strategies came into play and the race was decided with some drama.

Mark Martin continues to be a popular winner, but Tony Stewart is the talk of the season. Stewart has been wonderful with both Fox and TNT so far this year. It should be very interesting to see how he reacts when the ESPN team comes calling in two weeks at The Brickyard 400.

TNT came into the sport this year at a time when fans desperately needed a change of pace from Digger, DW and the Fox attitude. Boy, did they deliver. Suddenly, boring races like Pocono and Sonoma were fun again and this TV team is a big part of the reason why. Petty is the star and his outspoken and technology-driven approach to announcing is going to be missed.

As TNT departs, please take a moment to add your thoughts on the Chicagoland race and the overall TNT coverage this season. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Jack from PA said...

Very well put, JD.

A big kudos to Ralph for stepping up when he needed to, and also to Adam Alexander for stepping up and delivering two near flawless races on pit road in place of Sheheen.

I think what you said about the producer being the same for the FOX and TNT races says a lot about the directors the two networks have, and how much each pays attention to detail, and what the fans really want.

Mike Wells deserves something for putting together a run of races which featured just about everything the fans have missed since ESPN left the air in November 2000. I cannot express enough how useful and thankful I am for the wide-angled camera shots that are constantly used.

Without a doubt, it is sad to see TNT go, especially when we've basically been exposed to what ESPN has in store (nothing). Someone posted in the race comments section that it's only 46 weeks til another TNT broadcast. I think that is definitely looking on the bright side.

To TNT, thank you for some awesome telecasts.

Anonymous said...

I completely disagree with your critique, well though out as it is. Ralph Shaheen is a quiet, mouse-like figure, incapable of importing any voice into the race. Most fatally however, and though not as bad as Jerry Punch, Shaheen does a piss poor job of giving any perspective on complicated race situations that aren't shown on TV such as off-cycle pitting. Chicago didn't give a good example of that but it was obvious in previous races. That is where Mike Joy shines, and it's a big deal because it's really their only job - to make sense for us of what we can't see on TV. Dallenbach is sympathetic enough, but he, unfortunately, just says things that are flat out wrong and confused all too often. Petty is alright but a bit domineering, repetitive, and rambling. I'll give you the point that TNT has a relatively pleasant cast to listen to, but if it wasn't for McReynolds' occasional cameos, I fear the whole telecast would spiral into meaningless banter. DW is a bit annoying but overall Fox crushes TNT.

As for ESPN and the rest of the unfortunate coverage awaiting us... god help us all. Should we chip in to get Dr. Punch a reverse-lobotomy?

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...


I am going to let your comment stand, but no more cracks like that about Jerry Punch. If you disagree with his style, just tell us why.

Remember, Punch has a long history in the sport. His current struggles in his role have been a topic of debate here at TDP since 2007.

Let's keep it classy.


Karen said...

I agree Ralph was holding back tonight. The other races he did had more excitement in his voice. Wonder what's up with that?

Anonymous said...

Ralph did more than step in on short notice and perform adequately -- in my opinion he hit it out of the park.

There is just something about his on-air demeanor that is equal parts professional yet casual, smart yet curious, and able to inject his own sense of fun into the race without it becoming a bias issue. Like the way he smirked and laughed when reporting that Kyle Busch blew a cylinder. Obviously, there was some editorial in the presentation of the information (and the chuckles that ensued), but it was presented as him simply enjoying the race, not pushing an agenda.

To me, Ralph is the everyman announcer, and which he isn't the virtuoso Mike Joy is, he brings a commoner's charisma that is irresistibly enjoyable.

Kyle and Wally last year had a lot of fun in the booth - but they were paired with the proverbial school principal. Now, with Sheheen in the lead role, ready to enjoy himself, the combination was at times sublime.

The energy of the TNT team will only be highlighted by the contrast of the boring Dr. Punch-led team. Ugh - I am dreading the car-number bingo of Punch.

Final comment: I am so glad they have double-file restarts. If they did it the old way, with lapped cars, the leader would have just checked out to a 5-second lead effortlessly on every restart and the race would have been awful. It still wasn't the greatest race, but there was some incredible action in the lead changes in the final 30 laps. Jeff Burton is going to have to live with it, because DOUBLE FILE RESTARTS ARE THE BOMB!

Smokey14 said...

Oh, man. It's gonna be about 11 months until TNT gets to do this again. It is gonna be tough for TNT to say goodbye and I do hope to see them again next year at Pocono. Good call for putting Ralph Sheheen in the booth making for good commentary and chemistry between him, Wally and Kyle Petty. Good job by the production crew for camera work and the wideshots, and outstanding with RaceBuddy, the work on pit road, NCWTS' Adam Alexander stepping up as the 4th pit reporter, a great theme song from Buckcherry, and the Wide-Open coverage at Daytona, because it did not miss a single green flag lap. TNT really redeemed themselves this year. I'm absolutely not looking forward to the Worldwide Disgrace of NASCAR Racing that is ESPN/ABC, but TNT, I'm gonna miss them. Thanks TNT. Thanks for these last 6 weeks of great telecasts. I really appreciate it and I'll see you guys next year at Pocono. Really am going to miss you TNT.

Jimbacca said...

Not sure what race some were watching.
Ralph did great. Maybe not as in it as past races but still provided enough info. Wally and Kyle work great together. Kyle seems to cut out the PC BS that is normally live out there.
If it is the same guy directing as FOX wow. Just WOW the amount of wtf is off the charts on that.

Racebuddy great help. The animated pylons. I've seen them in V-8 supercars and in euro race coverage. It may seem cartoonish to some but it does give a good idea where the line is. Finish line was an improvement over other weeks but still a little odd with half the screen results and no clear finish line perspective.

Much like every week. Their shortcomings are FAR less than the other's positives. 6 races and so few things to nitpick. Compared to half a season and tell people if they don't like it tough.
Thanks TnT hopefully they copy you or at least hire everyone to cover the race. TnT group and the trucks two great teams that cover a race.

Anonymous said...

Best lines in tonights broaadcast-Kyle Petty talking about the aftereffects of damaging the crush panels--hallucinations then cussing. TNT-thanks for a great Summer Series. Suer wish it was longer than 6 races. Extra kudos for bringing Ralph Sheheen into the booth. We want more of the "Three Amigos"!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Ralph and Adam! Both have done superior jobs!

Adam has shown that he's done his homework and knows the guys beyond just those who pop into the Pick 'em Ups from time to time.

I do hope that we get Ralph, Wally & Kyle again next season!

I'm going to miss the gang and wish they could be with us longer :(. I'm glad they stepped in to take these 6 races and Kudos to whoever came up with the RaceBuddy idea and made the improvements.

Anonymous said...

What makes me so made is the arrogance of ESPN/ABC to not listen to the viewers and make the changes. They should be embarrassed at ESPN/ABC how TNT just flat out kicks their butts on Audio and Video and commentary, and only has 6 races a season. It's amazing that ESPN/ABC refuses to listen to the people that buy the products that pay for their butts to earn a living.

Anonymous said...
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Dot said...

Great job by TNT.

Ralph really stepped up considering he was thrown into his new role. Props to Wally & Kyle too.

You can't fault TNT for not showing the debris. There wasn't any. Unless RB showed it. I only watched RB during the commls, so I may have missed it.

Thank you TNT for the best coverage. I'll miss you.

WickedJ said...

I have to disagree about replacing Weber, i have not liked listening to him call a race since he replaced AB

I hope TNT lets Ralph stay in the booth

Rob Tiongson said...

I sure hate to see the end of TNT's run for this portion of the NASCAR season. They were very great at delivering the not so exciting races into amazing fashion.

There's a lot of things that TNT did along with's RaceBuddy that we may not unfortunately see until this time next year. It was a fun ride.

Good luck to ESPN stepping up their performance down the stretch.

bevo said...

Great job by TNT. It couldn't be easy for Ralph to all of a sudden become the master of ceremonies trying to juggle everyone talking and being a traffic cop with commercial spots and staying focused on the action.

Wally and Kyle balance each other very well but I would like to see Larry Mc in more of a strategist role. The pit reporters did a great job giving information.

Camera work was excellent and replays were both timely and informative. The audio was a problem once again at the end of the race with an echo and tin sound. Thankfully they resolved the levels for the commercials.

RaceBuddy was once again the best addition to the coverage. Having a reporter was a great idea. I wish we had it for the coming ESPN schedule.

Finally a huge thank you to everyone at TNT for taking our input and responding. From the executives to the technical folks we could tell that they cared about their presentation and our enjoyment of the races.

50 yr. fan said...

TNT is now the leader in NA$CAR
race coverage. Competitors need to
"go to school"

A redundant comment, but when are
the networks going to learn that
the "blasting" commercials only drive folks to changing channels?

Anonymous said...

Although I really enjoy the TNT coverage and the Daytona wide open coverage was great, it seems like TNT goes to commercial every 5 seconds...

KoHoSo said...

Are there some areas in need of improvement on TNT? Sure. However, I'd bet dollars to donuts that almost all of them would be addressed if their portion of the NASCAR schedule was more than just a mere summer blip. Also, everybody here should remember that even the people we remember as the best in sports broadcasting made mistakes every week -- such a thing is inevitable during telecasts that are so lengthy.

For me, I don't care to list out anything for the race at Chicagoland. All I want to do is congratulate TNT for making it a pleasure to watch a Cup telecast again.

Unknown said...

I usually get focused on one driver during the race through Raceview, but have the tv on to catch replays, especially if I see a car flying past the screen (sometimes it's a computer glitch and sometimes it's real) or other action, if the announcers make it exciting. There were a few times last night I looked up at the tv because the announcers raised their voices to indicate that something was happening. If someone can tear my focus away from the computer, then they did a good job in my book.

My only criticism was towards the end Stewart and Kahne (or someone else) was battling for 3rd or 4th. The announcers mentioned it, but the cameras never picked up the battle and instead followed Mark Martin around the track. Sure there were 2 or 3 laps to go, but at that point Mark Martin had checked ou.

Anonymous said...

I'd give TNT a B+ overall. There is still room for improvement but they are on the right track. They covered it like a sport whereas Fox tried to make it a circus. In fact, TNT did such a good job with arguably 6 of the most boring races on the schedule that it makes me wonder, is the racing really that bad or is the way the races have been frameds and presented the problem.

racingwench said...

TNT has done a great job this year. I don't miss Weber who was the weakest link anyway. Ralph has done a great job. He has let Kyle and Wally shine and when it is needed to bring them back in focus he will gently nudge them. Adam has been a great addition to the pit reporters.

As far as the Chicago race what a snoozer. The racing was pretty bad except for the last 10 laps or so.

Onto ESPN we can only hope that the powers that be have read some of the comments and will take them to heart.

glenc1 said...

Overall I thought they did a good job. But I will say, at times the boys are *just* this side of getting out of hand with the silliness. I don't think they cross the line, but I can see where others might think so. I enjoy Ralph...he may not have all the background as some others, but I like his voice and he keeps the others from crossing the line. I did notice Wally asking Kyle about the COT at some point, not afraid to show his own lack of knowledge about the differences. The only danger is, as Kyle becomes further away as a driver, then neither of them would have the expertise. Same is true of the other crews though.

Unknown said...

TNT worked SMART! The others, not so much. Good trio in the booth, A.A. blended well in the pits. One thing that really surprised me, Did anyone else notice a large amount of spots for the Chicago race?
That said, well done TNT and I shudder to think what's coming for us next!

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree more, JD, we had friends stop by unexpectedly last night. So I couldn't post my big Thank You to TNT for 6 weeks of excellent race coverage & not covering up the racing as another network does.

One of our fiends near the end of the broadcast asked the $64K question - why the heck can't the other networks do it like this? It can't be that expensive or hard TNT does it better than the big boys for only 6 races. Best answer we came up with - they really like and respect NASCAR & it shows.

I would like to thank who ever camme up with the idea for Pride of NASCAR - awesome job!
Respectful, yet not fawning or syrupy. Matt did a great story on Freddie. Hubby wondered why he "just disappeared" ( hubby is 10 years older than me so he remembers him)

These 2 race fans here are really gonna miss TNT at the rest of the races.

Thank You TNT, for giving us what we wanted. Sorry if this duplicates other comments, I'm gonna read them next.

Sophia said...

I just want to second all the great comments! Loved TNT and going to miss them.

Also wanted to second Jo's comments about not fawning or being syrupy on the interviews with older drivers. There were great interviews with respect and well done.

ENOUGH with the young guns and same old same old big names being interviewed. SHOW us more HISTORY of guys who truly raced for the love of the sport and not the GLORY!

Rest of the season is gonna be rough after the FUN TNT BOOTH ENERGY and FANTASTIC CAMERA WORK!

Anonymous said...

It's frankly nice to see a TV production that doesn't have resort to the corn pone banjo picking style of Fox which just adds to the redneck stereotype. TNT's commentators are well spoken and limit the slavish praise and man crushes that have become now Fox's trademark choosing instead to stick with calling the race. And it's been nice to see the Fox gimmicks i.e Gophers and tired self promoting slogans go away for another year. I would love to see TNT do more races, ESPN is a stick and ball network and an oxymoron by it's own name Entire Sports Programing Network as long as they carry the coverage if they don't forget it it just didn't occur. One plus for ESPN is Jerry Punch a classy smart guy who knows the sport and has been around the sport for years, he will do well as long as he isn't saddled with poor broadcasting partners. Just another example of how vastly different former drivers are when going to the booth Benny Parson was the best and set the bar high, much too high for a couple others to jump, Wally and Kyle are a good mix humor and coherence. All in all a good year for TNT sorry to see them leave this year.

Anonymous said...

Really got to use race buddy on Sat nights race and it is fantastic. Listened to smoke talking to spotter was awsome - not like HotPass where they pick and choose what you hear as in censor.

Jim Noble's reports make commercials bearable and I knew about the yellow flag for the unseen debris before those watching TNT. NASCAR should make RB a required addition to Fox and BSPN.

Final question - Has Bill Weber been fired or not? Wikipedia says its so but its unclear. I tried to look it up so you wouldnt have to but it didnt work out.

Perhaps this is a topic for Dave Despain on Sun night (maybe the show after the show?) as Weber has been a guest in the past.

Kyle Petty has personally put twitter on the map - and of course TDP.

Now two weeks til Indy then 17 weeks of ESPN awful announcing.

On bright side only 7 months til Daytona 2010.

Ken said...

I thought TNT did a great job even though they are saddled with some of the worst races on the schedulte. The fake "debris" cautions makes NASCAR look like a motorized version of professional wrestling. Can you imagine watching this patch of boring races on ESPN or FOX? The only thing that kept me watching the races was TNT with Racebuddy.

With the boring nature of the last few races, the manipulation of the races by NA$CAR and the arrival of ESPN coverage, I expect viewership to drop even before the expected influence of football.


Geeze said...

I wonder if they could sustain the quality of their broadcast over a full season? I sure would like to find out. I enjoy these guy's.

SallyB said...

A huge 'Thank you' to TNT for actually covering the race, rather than following a script! The mix in the booth makes it feel as if I'm watching the race with a bunch of friends, not a TV telecast. Being stuck with what is possibly the most boring set of tracks in Cup racing, they have kept me interested in the race from start to finish. You will be sorely missed, as we know what to expect from coverage until this time next year.

TexasRaceLady said...

*weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth*

I HATE having to give up TNT until next year. They've made racing FUN again.

Thank you, TNT gang, for a most enjoyable 6 weeks.

FOR RED -- you asked a question last night "and anyone know why old man martin took his shoes off in victory lane before he hoisted the trophy? most curious."

He may have taking off the heat shield booties the drivers wear.

Anonymous said...

For me, what I liked best about the TNT coverage was the replacement of Weber with Sheheen. Listening to Wally just drives me nuts. You'd think he was some famous, accomplished ex Nascar driver. Quite the contrary,he never did anything in Cup. I'm no fan of Petty but he occaisonally offers up some good points from a drivers perspective. Unfortunately,he often lacks focus and rambles on while big things are happening on the track. Some times, he just loses it like when he said that Kyle Busch was trying to blow up his engine by over reving the engine leaving the pits. He certainly knows that with the rev limiters, you can't do that. But, oh well... I don't look forward to ESPN and the 'channel change tango'. I always have time for DJ and Petree though.

batchief said...

Nice job TNT. Ralph and Adam stepped up to the plate and did a great job (no doubts here that they wouldn't). Double file restarts would have been nice from the beginning of the season. Can't wait until Daytona and Fox, sure hope they utilize their excellent pit reporters more, that would make a good broadcast even better.

Anonymous said...

ah the channel change tango

remember that NASCAR wants all races on ONE network -

(Digress to Fox carrying Monday postponements on the FOX network this year and while TNT has not had rainouts they would still be on TNT- end digress)

return to NASCAR wanting races on one network like Fox and TNT do -
ESPN2 and not on Fox/FX or NBC/TNT so what do we get

NW (may apply to cup) may start on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC. But during college football and other events that go long- the pre-race or possibly actual race may start on ESPN classic - which most cable systems no longer carry - then move to ESPN or Deuce.

Last year SPEED simulcast one or two NW races cause (ALMOST FORGET) - the ENTIRE NW race was on Classic and while its bad enough that most don't even get classic - ITS NOT IN HD (but the telecast is)- for those HD snobs like me.

Aren't you glad that those in Daytona Beach or Charlotte have made it easier to watch NW races - I sure am.

Anonymous said...

Don't remember if it was here or twitter but someone mentioned that AA learned his pit road experience from the truck series. While that is true he was also a pit reporter for MRN cup races for many years and drivers do know him.

Anonymous said...

What will be missed the most is race buddy. That's so much better than watching a race on tv. Fox and ESPN need to have their own race buddy.

Chicago, for example, was so boring to watch on tv but so exciting on race buddy because you could always see position battles on the track. It really shows you how much action on the track never makes it on tv. Race buddy is the future and Fox and ESPN need to get on board.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:32PM,

It was NASCAR that decided to split the Sprint Cup Series TV into three slices to drive revenue.

Each slice fits the needs of a single TV network and each contains a "hook" that the buyer gets as a bonus.

Fox has baseball in the summer and football in the fall. By giving them the first portion of the season, they get to hang their hats on the Daytona 500 and then get out before their stick and ball sports begin.

TNT is a cable TV network that dabbles in sports but makes a living from entertainment. By paying a very high price for a summer six race package, TNT gets the summer Daytona race as the prize.

TNT has built their Wide Open coverage around this event and until this year the other races were almost throw a ways. Now, with the use of online technology and the new restart rules, TNT has a nice little summer piece.

ESPN and ABC do not have Sunday daytime football. Covering the Chase and the seven races that lead up to it on a combination of cable and broadcast TV fit perfectly for them.

This gives ABC exclusive coverage of NASCAR's playoffs as their signature line.

Right now, there is little doubt that the Sprint Cup Series will remain on broadcast and cable TV for a very long time.


Vicky D said...

I thought previous telecasts from TNT were better than Chicago's, although maybe being a boring race had something to do with it. The cars were strung out so quickly it made for a long night for us. And the volume of the commercials really did it! All in all, better than ESPN's.

Kevin in Brownsburg said...

In the post-race interview with Kurt Busch, the pit reporter indicated that they had just heard from Jimmie Johnson and relayed Jimmie's comments about the on track incident between he and Kurt when they had not even aired the JJ interview yet. I found Kurt to be as pompous and arrogant as usual. I met one of his sponsor representatives at a wedding when he was still at Roush. He had just announced that he was going to Penske and this person said that their organization was glad to see him go because he was a pain to deal with.

Anonymous said...

I will miss TNT, come spring I will go back to radio rather than watch FOX.

Dannyboy said...

ANONYMOUS 12:18 #2 : "Kyle knows you can't blow an engine because of rev limiters"? Then maybe you missed when the next thing he said was, "I know, because I've done it myself!"

You run a Cup engine up against the rev limiter and hold it there and see what happens. They've talked for years about how tire smoking victory burnouts ruin engines, to the dismay of the builders back at the shop.

What is it that prompts fans to think they know more about Cup racing than drivers who've actually done it? Sure Kyle mis-speaks at times, but who doesn't?

KEVIN IN BROWNSBURG: Kurt Bush's demeanor had nothing to do with the actual racing incident: Jimmie kept his foot in it as he drifted up the track and smacked the #2. As many drivers have commented, "There's three pedals in those cars for a reason." Kurt's reaction was understandable, IMO. And I live about 5 miles from where JJ grew up and am a fan of his.

Nevertheless, add me as one BIG THUMBS-UP for TNT's coverage. Race Buddy was a revelation, and the broadcast team has made their mark. By the way, as a long-time Speedvision & SPEED viewer, I have seen Ralph Sheheen for many years doing anchor work on all kinds of motorsports. His voice-overs for the WRC events were unexpectedly excellent.

TNT/NBC coverage used to bore me to tears except for BP's color. Now I can't wait for their return.

Anonymous said...

Overall, the extras that TNT provides within RaceView and RaceBuddy are a big plus. Yesterday's Chicago coverage was a little too much analysis. Every once in a while it would be nice to just watch for a minute or two. Many times much of Kyles commentary seemed forced as to fill the gaps of silence and served no other purpose.

red said...

quick "back at ya;" to TRL: in re: old man martin and his shoes.

that's what i thought at first (that he was removing just the heat shields) but he actually took the shoes off and, for several seconds, had them balanced on the base of the trophy (!) before retrieving them and tossing them to someone at the front of victory lane. the hat dance then followed as if nothing was the least bit unusual about it all.

it was clearly his driving shoes: when they were balanced on the trophy base, i couldn't stop looking at them and thinking "whaaa?"

most curious. i'm open to explanations for one and all.

(sorry for the off-topic, jd, but sometimes RB shows us stuff that just begs for an explanation!)

GinaV24 said...

Great points, JD and Great job TNT. I will be sorry to see TNT go and that is a HUGE change from previous years. Once Weber was out, it was all good from my point of view. The wide shots from the camera let us SEE the racing - like it should be, not in car camera or single car shots like Fox obviously insists on and wow, fair and balanced voices in the booth, without cheerleading! What a difference from Fox's broadcast there, too. I thought Ralph did a very good job in the booth, I would like to see him back next year -- sorry, I have NEVER liked Weber and the broadcast is much more "fun" without his pompous attitude IMO.

I liked Racebuddy very much - it meant I could continue to watch the race even when TNT was in commercial and having a dedicated pit reporter for it worked very well. Plus it was pretty hilarious reading the live fan comments as the race went on. I also liked that the TNT booth used twitter and answered real time questions. In all, these 6 races were a real pleasure and I will miss it very much when ESPN takes over. ESPN may bill itself as the worldwide leader, but right now, they have a tough act to follow. Once more, great job TNT.

West Coast Diane said...

Just a big "thank you" to TNT! Head and shoulders above my former fav, FOX and light years ahead of ESPN.

Do you they make some mistakes? Of course. Nobody can be perfect for that length of time covering a live event. But overall TNT does an excellent job.

I can not express how much I am dreading the rest of the season. Wish is weren't so. Sadly, ESPN could fix it, if they cared about the product they produced. Or the fans.

Hotaru1787 said...

TNT- especially the last two races-a real step up from 'The Digger Channel' (aka FOX). I actually listened to some of their broadcast without irritation. Ralph is waaaay better than Webbs.

Look forward to going back to MRN 'till they take over next year. Boo, ESPN!

Anonymous said...

Ralph did a good steady, non-flashy job. Kyle and Wally were great.

I too thought the lack of concern for Hornish was odd, I was waiting to see him drop the net and did not, while the guys in the booth talked on. Fortunately he was OK.

Unlike last week, I used the commercials to walk away from the TV. Last week with them embedded in the race video much of the time I almost never stopped watching.

red said...

we get to this point in the season and i find myself sighing alot at the thought of losing tnt for the remaining races. this team seems to hit the ground running, putting together professional broadcasts as if they'd been handling the sport since the opening race at daytona. they have arguably the weakest part of the schedule and yet they give us broadcasts that make us smile and enjoy the time spent together.

so many contributing elements that i fear listing them in case i leave something out! solid producing and directing that we DO notice and of which we are appreciative: thanks, guys. solid work by the entire team in the broadcast truck, listening to what the booth is discussing and making certain we're getting the corresponding shot and appropriate audio while keeping bells and whistles to a bare minimum: thanks to all of you as well. RB technology and offering it to us free so that we have choices as we watch, authentic choices that add to our viewing and let us assume some control over what we choose to watch: thanks for respecting our intelligence! a pit road team who hustle to get us the information, check in on the drivers coming out of the care center, bring us strategy and images: you folks earned your stripes. to both the on-camera and behind the camera folks: thanks!

but the best part for me was the joy and excitement that the booth team brought to the races. as i said before, listening to kyle and wally was like watching the race with buds over a few brews on a hot summer day. the cameraderie and goofiness, the laughter and just rock solid information added to the time we spent together. i learned, i laughed, i held my breath, i cursed and i appreciated. thanks you, wally, kyle, bill and ralph.

the 6 races with tnt remind me of why i love our sport and why i continue to set aside blocks of time on beautiful summer days (or nights!) to watch. it is a joy and pleasure to have the entire tnt be my eyes, ears, and heart at the track each week. my thanks to each of you!

Matt/Canuck said...

TNT is by far the best broadcast.
I am now a new big fan of Ralf Shaheen, outstanding job.
And a note to JD, glad you have kept up with the blogs, love your site.

stricklinfan82 said...

Major thank you to Ralph, Kyle, Wally, Bill, Marty, Lindsay, Matt, Adam, Marc, Larry, and the entire behind-the-scenes crew at TNT for an enjoyable 6 weeks of coverage.

When summarizing TNT's NASCAR coverage in 2009 the key word for me is RESPECT.

In 2009 the Fox network slapped the NASCAR fans in the face and treated all of us like simple-minded 4-year-old children. The pre-race shows ignored the real issues of the sport and focused on games of dress-up, bad jokes, fancy video packages, and the NASCAR on Fox pre-race show cornerstone - a weekly cartoon about gophers that supposedly live under the racetracks. Once the green flag fell the cars were forced to share the screen with screaming cartoon characters or covered up by an overload of in-race sponsored content and the "wow factor" of flaming Fox logos and videos of drivers goofing around on drum sets and megaphones.

ESPN on the other hand just freely and openly mocks NASCAR as being a boring non-sport, and from all appearances is spearheaded by one or more behind-the-scenes leaders that would openly admit that they would rather be anywhere else but covering "cars going ‘round in circles" on Sundays. When NASCAR returned to ESPN the sport was immediately given the minor-league-sport treatment. The faces of NASCAR were Brent Musburger, Suzy Kolber, Chris Fowler, Erik Kuselias, and Doug Banks... none of who had the first clue about this sport. The faces in front of the camera may have changed but nothing has changed as far as the coverage style goes. For 3 years now practice and qualifying sessions have been deemed unworthy of focus by the network and have been covered up by video packages, rip-offs of Speed's Trackside show, and the current format of a rip-off of Speed's NASCAR Performance, with the booth announcers actually "calling practice" from the Tech Center. On race days the on-track action still takes a back seat to pre-determined scripts and a lack of caring to search for side-by-side racing.

The on-site TNT crew on the other hand RESPECTS the sport and its fans. The fans aren't patronized with an overkill of NASCAR 101 Teaching Sessions while cars on the track - this network treats the fans like knowledgeable sports fans that watch the sport regularly and understand its rules. And the on-track action is the first and only priority of the network - no screaming cartoon characters, no Race Break "halftime shows", no “ego”, and no pre-taped videos of driver comments, drivers playing the drums, or drivers having their fingerprints taken.

TNT isn't perfect. It's been well documented that they've made their share of errors this year. But I will gladly give my support to a network like TNT that has their flaws but treats this sport with respect over the other two Cup networks whose race coverage doesn't come anywhere close to respecting NASCAR or its fans.

Thanks TNT, I wish you could cover the entire season.

Anonymous said...

no more wooooo wooooooowww but tnt did do a better job than in years past but here comes espn OHH BOY

Anonymous said...

No Weber, no magic tricks from Larry Mac during green flag racing… TNT has come a long way in a year.

Anonymous said...

For the first time I hate to see TNT's coverage end. They need to dump Blondie and give Ralph a permanent gig.

Richmond, VA

Anonymous said...
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Newracefan said...

I thought the race coverage was a little rocky in the beginning and the full screen Larry Mac during green flag pit stops was a big oops. Overall TNT wasn't perfect but it was darn close. Ralph did a fantastic job and I really hope he comes back next season and I bet he will be even better. While I appreciate Wally's and Kyle's woooo and wow, I would prefer a little less woooo and a little more detail. I think this is where Fox shines and I bet by next year Ralph will be able to tell the story sooner a la Mike Joy. Even though I prefer Mike and the boys I am giving higher marks to TNT. Their camera work and lack of agenda; not to mention lack of a rodent put them far above Fox and ESPN. I am so afraid the remaining races will make me forget why I am a Nascar fan but perhaps with JP not doing both cup and NW it may help. At least we have 2 weeks to remember the good times.

GinaV24 said...
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Anonymous said...

I was surprised when you stated that the producer for Fox and TNT was the same! Fox must really influence what is shown then because TNT was a lot better at showing the racing versus just the top 3 or their favorite....gonna miss TNT.

Anonymous said...

TNT clearly "gets it."

A shame ESPN doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Kyle Busch was trying to blow up his engine by over reving the engine leaving the pits. He certainly knows that with the rev limiters, you can't do that.



(I'm being sarcastic because you're wrong.)

Anonymous said...

Kyle Petty was wearing very thin after six races. TNT did a good job though.

jamie in nc said...

after watching 'the fox racing comedy show', it was nice to watch a network broadcast a 'race.'

MRM4 said...

I thought TNT's coverage was better than Fox's coverage. Too many people have been slamming Fox because of Digger and some of the other things they do. They usually do a good job of calling the race.

TNT's coverage is just a touch better. They focus on the race and the action throughout the field, not just focusing on Kyle Busch, Junior, and Jeff Gordon like the Fox crew does.

I think Shaheen did an okay job. I don't think he did as good a job as some people have said. I never have really liked him as a play-by-play person. If Weber is out for good, I'd like to see someone else get that job.

I can't say that I am looking forward to ESPN taking over. I find their people and production to be boring.

Adam said...

I've got to admit I've watched less NASCAR this season and usually tune in for the final laps.

However, having Ralph in the booth was a big positive for me and the camera work on Turner's behalf was great.

A big improvement and probably the best quality of motor sports broadcasting next to Versus.

Zieke said...

Thanks TNT for showing those bumblers at FOX and ESPU how to broadcast a race. Please support all of TNT's sponsors to show your appreciation.

Marylee said...

I'll admit, I wasn't a fan of Ralph Shaheen at Daytona. He has improved, and I found Saturday night's broadcast enjoyable. I agree with you, John, TNT needed to do a better job regarding "debris". AND, I'd like a better understanding of the "wave around cars" on the double file restarts.

TBone said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...


Welcome to repost without the profane reference. Sorry about that, but we try very hard to keep things family oriented.