Friday, August 21, 2009
Live Blogging The Nationwide Series From Bristol, TN (ESPN2 - 7:30PM)
The "A team" returns to the Nationwide Series on Friday night for ESPN. All hands are on deck as the two Bristol night races hit the ESPN family of TV networks on consecutive nights.
Allen Bestwick will start the coverage with the NASCAR Countdown show from the Infield Pit Studio. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, both just back from their Wednesday trip to the White House and an audience with the President.
Wallace is deeply involved in the Nationwide Series and has been offering the best information for TV viewers on the series. Bestwick always gets his facts straight and Daugherty is a NASCAR cheerleader, so the pre-race should be solid.
Once the action starts, Jerry Punch will return to call the race after an absence. Last week, ESPN did not use a play-by-play announcer at Michigan. Marty Reid has been calling the races prior to that since ESPN started the Sprint Cup coverage.
Punch will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth. These two have been working well together this season and have become solid at jumping in and trying to add their own excitement to the race telecast when Punch lags behind.
On pit road will be the NASCAR on ESPN foursome that has been taking their lumps from the fans. Dave Burns, Vince Welch, Jamie Little and Shannon Spake are going to be dealing with some very loud conditions and cramped quarters.
As I mentioned last week, tempers are tight this time of the year and sometimes the pit reporters get the wrath of the drivers when they ask a "how do you feel about that" kind of question. ESPN struggled in the pits back in year one. It would be a shame if this weekend gets things pointed right back in the same direction.
At Bristol, TV viewers want to watch cars racing at them and not away from them. It take a lot of work from the director to continually cut the cameras in a pattern that make sense to the viewers. There has also been a tendency to keep the action low and not insert high camera shots to keep a perspective on the track.
Once the sun goes down, the pictures really get good and the action picks up. This track does not lend itself to in-car camera views live, but they are great for replays. The fixed "speed shots" also do not work well because the laps are just so fast. The simple challenge for the TV team in the production truck is to keep ahead of the action on the track.
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