Sunday, August 16, 2009
Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series Race From Michigan (ESPN - 1PM ET)
Allen Bestwick begins ESPN's Sprint Cup Series coverage from MIS with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at 1PM. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty join Bestwick for this one hour program. Race coverage begins at 2PM, with the green flag falling at 2:16PM.
There are a lot of potential topics on the menu for this program. Saturday's Nationwide Series race ended with a bang both on and off the track. Race winner Brad Keselowski will be in the Sunday Sprint Cup Series event. So will Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers, the pair who led most of the race only to lose it on the final laps.
MIS is known as a fuel mileage track, but today the new NASCAR restart rules may add a twist to the single-file fuel runs. Pit stops will also be critical, both under caution and green flag conditions.
It will be Jerry Punch calling the action for ESPN with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Jarrett and Petree handled the play-by-play for the Saturday Nationwide Series race as a part of ESPN's "Backseat Drivers" coverage. Punch struggles on big tracks like this where multiple storylines have to be juggled from the start.
This is the time of the year when tempers are tight in the Cup garage. The ESPN pit reporters are going to have to think before they speak to avoid the kind of moments that ESPN has recently experienced on pit road. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch are the reporters.
Three elements have pushed ESPN's NASCAR coverage in a strange direction. The ill-advised use of in-car cameras, the use of pre-recorded material under green and the strange belief that the playback of old team radio conversations is important.
In-car cameras remove the perspective of the TV viewer. They are awkward to use after restarts or when cars are racing in a group. Cutting to them because they are available seems to be the current practice. Higher and wider shots made TNT's summer coverage exciting. Frequent in-car camera shots are ruining ESPN's efforts.
Since ESPN's Sprint Cup coverage began, the network has been playing back "soundbites" from drivers who are seated in front of a video window. While the recorded material plays, the live race is shoved in the video box. Instantly, the excitement of the racing is gone while viewers listen to dated comments on various topics. Nothing sucks the intensity out of high-speed racing like this feature.
Many NASCAR fans use the technology available online to listen to their team's radio channel. TNT even offered a free audio feed during the summer races via RaceBuddy. ESPN records the radios and then stops the telecast to have a pit reporter introduce the audio clip about to be replayed. By the time all of this happens, the race has moved on. Either use it live or lose it.
Multiple storylines will continue at MIS. Teams racing for the win with nothing to lose, those racing to make The Chase and some trying to put on a good show simply to survive. Tires, fuel and strategy will be a key challenge for the TV team.
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Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet on this weekend.