Sunday, August 2, 2009
Pocono Weather Causes TV Networks To Scramble
It's not just the teams and officials that have to scramble to deal with rain delays in the Sprint Cup Series. NASCAR's remaining two TV partners, ESPN and SPEED, had to make a whole lot of changes on the fly due to the wet weather.
Fans saw the NASCAR RaceDay gang run inside at Pocono when the rain was really coming down at 11AM on Sunday morning. Eventually, the trio of Jimmy Spencer, Kenny Wallace and host John Roberts made it outside to the SPEED Stage. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler both did an outstanding job of chasing down the interviews and news despite the weather. Venturini was the only TV personality all day long who told the truth about the rain.
The RaceDay gang is going to stick around and provide a one hour pre-race show on Monday at 11AM ET. ESPN will only be covering the race, so this will be the old style of RaceDay, with the show leading right up to the green flag.
The ESPN crew from the Infield Pit Studio and Tech Garage flew back to Connecticut Sunday night. Originally, the Monday one-hour version of NASCAR Now was scheduled to be the annual pit reporters show. Instead, Allen Bestwick will be hosting Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Tim Brewer in the ESPN2 studios for a live version of the show.
ESPN's four pit reporters will stay behind, dry off and get ready for a full race on Monday. Joining them will be Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree upstairs in the broadcast booth. These three got an opportunity to loosen up and tell the TV viewers some stories on Sunday afternoon. The on-air change was amazing.
The strength of the NASCAR on ESPN line-up is their experience. That is often lost in the carefully managed and scripted world of the current ESPN production philosophy. When Punch, Wallace and Brewer got some time to tell some stories it really showed what this team could be if the ESPN management loosened the reins.
Sunday night, SPEED plugged NASCAR in a Hurry and NASCAR Smarts into the timeslot normally held by the Victory Lane show. That program will air at 8PM on Monday and take the place of This Week in NASCAR. Kasey Kahne was going to be a panelist with Michael Waltrip and Steve Byrnes, no word yet on rescheduling him for a future show.
ESPN cancelled Sunday night's one hour NASCAR Now show and just extended the XGames coverage. No word yet on a Tuesday night version of NASCAR Now. Once the race is over on Monday, ESPNEWS will have coverage from the track, including the live press conferences from the media center.
It would be a mistake not to take a moment and point out the tireless work of Allen Bestwick during the almost four hours of ESPN's marathon rain delay coverage. Bestwick is an organized and deliberate TV professional who likes to come in prepared and exit without a sound. On this day, he served as the backbone for ESPN and once again let the other panelists have the spotlight.
TDP will be live blogging the pre-race show and the race beginning at 11AM. Stop by and leave us your opinion of the coverage. For those of you recording the race, program in some extra time as the threat of rain is still in the area on Monday.
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