Monday, September 7, 2009

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Atlanta On ESPN

Thanks for continuing to give us your comments after the NASCAR TV telecasts this season.

Sunday night ESPN handled the Sprint Cup Series night race from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. Allen Bestwick opened the show from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty, and Ray Evernham. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Garage.

Up in the broadcast booth was Jerry Punch along with analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Down on pit road was Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

This was a very long race that started in the daylight and transitioned to night. The challenge for the TV team was to balance calling the race while keeping things in perspective for the Chase for the Championship.

ESPN continued with the colored graphics, emphasized the Chase drivers and was faced with a very interesting tire situation.

We would like you to review your NASCAR TV experience. Your comments can be of any length, we would just like you to stay on topic. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking some time out of your holiday weekend to give us your comments.


Walter said...

Dear ESPN -
(1) let JP's excitement show on PXP like it did on pit road or in studio
(2) or embalm him ...current effort won't be missed
(3) thx for aerial shots, but pls more racing action here
(4) great to see finishers
(5) lose flying heads
(6) drop-down works well - use it!
(7) better to show headlights, not tailights
(8) thx for taking time to read our thoughts
ps - it's easy to tell when you do

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for leaving us some comments on the race tonight.

Buschseries61 said...

The Good:
- ESPN moved out of the top 10 to show racing many points tonight. Throught the field updates on drivers from 1-23 was greatly appreciated.
- Dale Jarrett & Andy Petree. Kept the energy level up all night.
- Infield Studio. Allen Bestwick is great making sense of the chaos & directing traffic from the booth to the pit reporters to the fans. Ray Evernham was well used tonight & has shined this weekend.
- Showing every car finish. Just the right thing to do. Every driver has a fan & every competetor deserves respect.
- Atlanta Race. This is the Atlanta I remember. New faces up front, comers and goers, cars sliding all over the place. Great racing

The Bad:
- Struggle at the beginning: ESPN struggled with what to cover the early laps. Charges to the front by Juan Pablo Montoya & Dale Earnhardt Jr. were not noticed until they cracked the top 10. Many of Jeff Gordon's early passes were not seen. The mix of tight shots of a single car and wide shots of 5 cars in a battle made up the inconsistent start.
- Dr. Jerry Punch. Provided no S&P updates. He started out the night doing some play-by-play, but as the laps clicked off, a strange system developed. Dale Jarrett became the play-by-play announcer. Andy Petree was the primary analyst, Ray Evernham was called out by Dale Jarrett many times at the end and became the second analyst. Dr. Jerry Punch was just there to offer stats & cliches. It is painful to watch each week & guess when he will shut down.
- Tech Center: Should never be used under green flag racing. Breaks the flow of the broadcast & happened to fall when Carl Edwards had a problem. It vanished the last 100 laps. An unnecessary toy.

Overall TV Braodcast:
*** 1/2 / *****

Overall Race:
**** 1/2 / *****

peggyann said...

ESPN's camera work was a little better tonight, but...

Back in '01, Jerry Punch patted me on the shoulder when he was in the stands walking up to the booth at the Milwaukee Mile to call the Truck Series race. Little did I think that if it was today, I would trip him to keep him out of the booth!

Sally said...

A better than usual broadcast. A bit fewer in car and bumper cam shots, and that helps a bunch. Please remember that, in spite of the 'chase', there are 43 cars racing on the track. Covering only 1/3 of the field is not good. I realize the media is enthralled with the chase, but many of us fans are actually interested in the race taking place right NOW, not what might happen in another 11 races. Thank you for the wider shots which help us keep track of an overview of the field.

Jonathan SouthSide of Chicago said...

I enjoyed the coverage today! Dr P NEEDS to be replaced w AB ASAP! Espn did a lot of things right tonight I do have to give it to em great job. I didnt see one bumper cam (THANK YOU) and thats a plus! Just one thought, dump the spotter when u go full throttle

Anonymous said...

Off topic but I love Victory Lane being on live after the race!

David said...

Missed the whole race, caught the last 11 per PRN.

Victory Lane has been good, but they need to have a lap graphic for what the highlights are actually showing. Can't keep up with where the race is at with their clips without it!

Karen said...

Probably the best broadcast by ESPN in the last three years. That's not saying a lot though since every other one has been awful. Less bumper cams, in-car cams. More wide shots and more racing mid-pack that we, the fans, have wanted for so long.

Sorry, JP, but can't give you a good grade. Not your fault. You're just misplaced.

Dot said...

First, I want to thank JD for letting us update our drivers during the race. If BSPN won't cover them, we will.

I have questions.

Why show wrecks from a car cam view? The one they showed (I forget who), it was way in front of the car with the camera. It would make sense if there was some evasive action going on.

How fast did they have to change the script when Carl went to the garage? I wish he would have run better for Jody.

How come they didn't have another in race reporter? It's a curse. They ought to use it to punish drivers who miss the drivers meeting, etc. Forget about starting in the back, you'll be in the garage.

Surprisingly they didn't go on and on about Weed & Vickers. I thought they would have their own ticker.

Why not show the cars crossing the finish line? Or, at least the lead lap ones. How long could that take? Like Buschseries61 said, show some respect.

Why show the racing in the small box and fluff in the big one? Yes, TB is fluffy. Really? You have to show a driver in a dark car just sitting there steering? Now, that's informative.

@ Walter, ditto on 1 & 2.

DJ & AP, good job.

Sophia said...

I TOTALLY missed Vic LANE! would've like to have seen that. Never saw it MENTIONED here or during the race but i was multi tasking and not watching tv or listening to it much. DARN. just catching wind up of show.

I still thought way too many in car cams myself AND bumper cams. the restarts would just get going and they would switch to in car cams and side/car roof cams..THAT's WHAT drove me to PRN???

Everybody talking how improved this race was!?...well it must have gotten a LOT better AFTER I gave up...and when I looked at tv, too many in car cams...restarts were NEVER SHOWN WIDE angle so I got ticked off.

then again I did not watch even half the tv but everytime I looked up MORE in car shows in my comments during the race and other comments.

I think many are just getting "too used to them".

Typical BSPN coverage.

PRN gave some info but are the ESPN of NASCAR RADIO.

MRN is soooooooooooo much better.

Anonymous said...

ESPN needs to cover the non-chasers too. JP needs to be replaced asap.

Anonymous said...

The question Harvick get's asked after the race is so tortured and convoluted as to almost not make sense. At the end of the day, she ends up just asking and answer "what does this run mean to you?" So why not just ask that? Stop trying to sound smart or do a season-long summation in your question when the driver can't even hear you to begin with. Just ask him your final sentence and save all the histrionics for your dressing room mirror.

PS This was a good day for Jerry Punch... but only by Jerry Punch standards. By any other standards he was horrible.

Tgro said...

Its a shame many call this a vast improvement over previous efforts. While I'll agree that the crew seemed "slightly" less irritating, it still felt a long ways from a good broadcast. And we are just convincing ourselves that this is not bad because it was better than usual. We just seem to have lowered our expectations.

The #1 problem I have with ESPN is they are just plain boring. They add no excitement to the race. Their is never anyone with any interesting stories or in depth insight to a situation. Just continual comments of who is doing what with obvious statements throughout and told with as much drama as watching paint dry.

I actually drifted off to sleep for about 50 laps and struggled to stay awake for the remainder when I did come too again. It honestly seems like the same repeated nightmare week in and week out. These guys are so boring, I really think of doing other things with my time. Like taking a nap.

I'm sorry, there is just no comparison when I think of someone like Mike Joy calling the race and compare it to the job Jerry Punch does. I swear he makes every race sound exactly the same. He is so cliche in his approach to calling a race that he doesn't appear to know how to call a race without using one of his clever voice patterns that he hits us with every week. Im so tired of hearing him strain words for emphasis. It always sounds like he thinks it sounds cooler if he makes it appear he is saying things while taking a dump.

I know people like to give props to Dale Jarret and Andy Petree but I'm sorry, they seem just as boring to me as the rest of the crew. They both seem to be challenged in making a race exciting. There is more to this job than just providing info. And often when they do provide it it seems so blatantly obvious any of us could have given the same color commentary. Im sorry, in my book, Dale aint no Ned Jarret. Dale always seems like he is collecting a check. If I didn't already know it, I would never know Dale was ever a race car driver while listening to him on ESPN. While people may get sick of DW, you could always count on him telling us what situations feel like and the human emotion that comes with being a driver and facing certain situations. DJ just seems to tell us and we should just respect him for it because he was there. But he never gives you that feeling of what it was like. We just have to respect his authoriti'. Andy just aint no Larry McReynolds. He often sounds like a buffoon and seems like his thoughts are too slow to make his mouth move with any pace to keep us up to speed. He just is not a joy to listen to. He never seems to give us any strategy insight beyond what any casual fan could think of on their own.

I think on different crews and in different situations, these guys could be decent 3rd string sidekicks. But as it is, it seems we have 3 boring broadcasters with 3 boring viewpoints and the result is 1 very boring broadcast crew that can't seem to make any race exciting no matter what goes down in front of them. I honestly think as long as this crew is together, this will always be a lost cause. They need just 1 person in the booth who is fun to listen to and they just dont have it.

Its a damn shame this crew gets half the season. I think they should switch spots with TNT and only do 6 races. It seems like ever since TNT went to 6 races they got a lot more enjoyable. There is no way ESPN keeps Nascar fans tuning in year in and year out the way this is. They are single-handedly a huge reason why Nascar's numbers are in decline.

You just cannot be this boring every week and expect people to keep showing up. It's getting to the point where I think Nascar is boring and I always loved it. Im just left with having to say....

ESPN is just plain boring and its their #1 flaw.

Jim said...

The Sheer Guts award doesn't go to a driver this week. Give it to ESPN for trying to entice race fans to switch channels and watch a baseball game. Live stick&ball was shown in the big square, live racing in the small square.

TexasRaceLady said...

The first half of the race was nonsensical --- there was no rhyme or reason to the myriad of camera shots. Example, why use a roof cam of a wreck when all you could see was smoke at the other end of the track?

I could never get into the "flow" of the race because the commentary and pit reporting were so disjointed. And the tech center is a high-tech toy that has no purpose other than raising my blood pressure.

The intense coverage of only the Chasers, or occasionally the top 10 cars on the track, had me wondering if all the other competitors had left!

The second half of the race was a bit better. More wide camera angles made it a bit easier to see the racing. The booth got a bit better when DJ and Andy began actually telling us what was happening.

The infield studio was a hit --- all night. AB was at his best keeping us up to date and coordinating the chaos that was this broadcast. Ray took a bit to get going, but when he warmed up, he was superb --- giving lots of info and insight.

I appreciated the still shot of the finish line --- but it would have been a bit better had I been able to see who was finishing where. The flying heads don't do a thing but make me dizzy.

brad said...

Rather than beat the dead horses, I'll just ask for 1 thing at a time. Please ESPN replace Jerry Punch. There are better places to utilize Jerry's talent and better options in the booth. Allen Bestwick would be great in the booth and it would be a perfect fit since he is already on the payroll and as luck would have it at the track every week anyway. And if you replace the play by play guy I think some of the other issues with your broadcast would fix themselves. An on the ball PxP guy will guide the camera shots as the race unfolds. You need only look at the way Marty Reid guided the coverage of what was happening on track and then the production truck put it on my screen. I realize it is easier said than done but the concept is simple and on occassion you prove you can do it. I know we cant rebuild Rome in a day so lets take baby steps and go 1 at a time. And please don't take our criticism of Jerry Punch as a call to fire him. We would like to see him reassigned to a better position for his many talents. I think in a poll most would agreee we like Jerry and think he is a good interviewer and very knowledgeable about the history of Nascar but just don't like him in a play by play roll.
JD Sorry to use so much space but purposely spelled out everything because i sent a friend this way last week and being new he didn't understand the abbreviations for a lot of things. Hadn't thought of that problem before. Love the blog and hope someone with a big desk at ESPN is reading and takeing these comments seriously.

brad said...

All that typing and forgot to put that the reference to Marty Reid was the Nationwide race from Indy.

Tim Robinson said...

Look, the coverage was still an *ss whipping as far as I was concerned.

It is rare anymore for me to sit through a complete race, and this proved why.

Jerry Punch is horrible. He needs to be back on pit road, or just plain gone. He likely would improve the entire pit road reporting, as they could send Vince Welch back to Indy cars where he seems a little more comfortable. And why must Carl Edwards be referred to as "Cousin Carl?" Stupid!

Tim Brewer and the tech thingy is a complete waste of time, especially during green flag racing.

It seems as though AP and DJ are OK, although I find Petree repeating things that were said a couple laps ago by someone else. He seems to be not always listening.

I will keep harping on FULL THROTTLE until they get rid of it. It drives me nuts to hear all the psycho babble spotters talking over each other. It is the dumbest thing ever.

Like I said, just a complete *ss-whipping!

red said...

my thoughts and observations: i was determined to just listen to the race on prn and watch the visuals from espn but that got blown away when prn went stupid on me and failed to consistently call the race. so then i went to watching lap times on the leaderboards and glancing at the screen for visuals for the balance of the race. moderately better.

the few positives:
* aerial shots were great: use more. and when you think you've used enough, use even more. an aerial shot is THE best way to show viewers what's happening on the track.
* i actually turned up the sound for the tech center on the broken axles on johnson and vickers. it was one of two interesting pieces i've seen this season. and it wasn't a topic we've suffered thru repeatedly. nice job.
(the second? a piece from sometime this weekend on edwards' issues with the throttle and his ankle. best part of that piece was the all-to-brief explanation of how the throttle spring might be adjusted to help edwards.)

things that continue to annoy:
* flying head finishes: please just use the standard drop down: it works so much better
* "bubble drivers" racing each other thru out the night and the cameras would stay with them right until it became REALLY tense . . . and then shift to a single car shot of the leader or a driver already in the chase. make up your mind: cover the "bubble boys" or don't but don't switch just when it becomes compelling viewing.
* big box is for the race; little box is for everything else and . . .
* race fans don't appreciate the live baseball updates during a race! if someone wanted to know how the padres (!?! the padres?) were doing, my guess is they wouldn't be watching the race to find out.
* BIG miss: a battle for first and we (finally) get a thru the field. really? seriously? do i have to explain why that was a monumentally bad choice right then?

the "why do i even watch this?" moments:
* bumper cams, in-car cams, all sorts of cams that not only didn't add to the coverage but actually detracted from it.
* lots of facts but very little information. statistics have a place but the race shouldn't be reduced to that.
* PxP vs analyst: figure our which role you want for dr punch and then let him go at it. by the way: if, as he claims, he's been told to "bring it down a notch," then whoever advised that should be demoted immediately
* we still have to rely on multiple sources of information -- including each other! -- to learn basic information. read thru the live comments and see how many times someone asked "what happened to so and so?" or "how did so and so fall so far behind/move to the front so fast?" or (my favorite) "why was the #31 blackflagged?" (never did get the explanation for that from the booth.)

overall? does it really matter what i think?

planeteers may be a minority of race fans and we may be more vocal about the telecasts than most. but we're intelligent, informed fans who are deeply committed to our sport and wait each week for these races. we give live feedback, we use multiple sources to keep up with the action, we're focused and determined to stay for the entire broadcast.

so why is it that when we take time to compose our thoughts and offer specific feedback, nothing changes? if there was ANY interest in connecting with the viewers, it would be different. if there was any sign that some of the easiest complaints to fix would be addressed, it would be different. if there was an sign that our voices are being heard, it'd be different.

but it's not. it's just more of the same.

so, show us you get it, espn. show us you understand our frustrations. make some changes in the off-season that indicate that you really ARE committed to "this nascar thing" and that you are interested in making race broadcasts a great experience for your viewers.

that's the gauntlet thrown down at your feet by me. do you have the cajones to pick it up?

Anonymous said...

gotta say
the play by play was so dispassionate and so uninspired that I ended up watching women's us open tennis.
Now THAT has never happened in 40+yrs as a Nascar fan
thought the coverage cameras mad the track seem empty
when the field gets spread out, find racing somewhere!
ESPN din't do it
The womens tennis match ws great

Matt/Canuck said...

Great race, loved the show.
I just can't handle all the what if's finishing here or there.
Let them finish and then explain what it means.
Best ESPN coverage of the year.

allisong said...

I thoroughly enjoyed the race last night, including the broadcast. I thought all the guys sounded like they were having fun, probably because the racing was unpredictable, with several dominant cars and an "anything can happen at any time" kind of vibe.

Only two things stood out to disturb my viewing experience. Listening to Ray give his opinion on Danica's ability as a racer was kind of creepy to me, and I normally like Ray. And Bestwick's assumption that since the NASCAR fan base is close to 50% female, that Danica's move here would generate much excitement was insulting to me as a female race fan. Please don't assume that since I am female and a race fan, that I would automatically be all atwitter over the possibility of her racing in NASCAR, and become her biggest fan. Because this female fan couldn't possibly care less.

Anonymous said...

The only time Jerry Punch was competent was when he was describing which bones broke in Carl Edwards' leg. Beyond that, he is such a waste of talent. ESPN putting him in the PxP chair is like Hendrick saying "Wow, Chad Knaus has really worked his way up to the top of the organization, let's put him in the 5 car next year."

Chad Knaus isn't a driver and Jerry Punch isn't a play-by-play announcer. If you want talented guys like this to perform, you have to keep them in the right job. Put either in the wrong job and they will fall flat on their face. Jerry Punch is proving that every single week.

David said...

Only saw the last 40 laps on the re-air but it gave me enough to comment on these things. First off, this, by the expectations we all have for ESPN, was an improvement from what I could gather. But, it still left the world to be desired.

Something was just missing there at the end. Harvick comes out of nowhere to run down Montoya and pass him yet they missed most of his run. A lap by lap top speed rundown would have been awesome here as it was something the old ESPN would have done in that situation. Probably just me being nitpicky but I hate how for most all intents and purposes the networks have all gone away from using that tool.

JP was okay, I can't say he was any better or worse than usual. DJ tried, AP has still been a tick off I think but Ray seems to be really stepping it up which is great.

AB needs to be in the booth period.

One thing that has left me VERY disappointed from the highlights and recaps I've seen has been the HORRIBLE replay coverage of spins and wrecks. All you had of Kurt Busch was an onboard?! Jimmie's spin is only covered by an onboard from 400 ft back?! They only catch Bowyer from the turn 1 camera?

JD when are the re-airs for the race this week?

David said...

nevermind, i see its on classic. that means no luck for me. =(

Daly Planet Editor said...


Both re-airs are listed on the TV schedule on the right side of the TDP main page.


Anonymous said...

I thought the telecast was pretty good. The race started rather disjointed. I like that ESPN tries to bunch up the commercials early on, especially since they're usually short, and since we got to see the final 40 minutes or so without interruption, but it seemed to leave the announcers with no sense of direction in the beginning. Come halfway, though, and the telecast clicked. I didn't really notice JP. Some of the graphics/stats were nice, too.

I also didn't mind the ads for CFB as much as I normally do. I had ESPN on all-day on Saturday, and they were constantly promoting the Cup race. Seeing those endless promotions made me okay with having to see promotions for the other events.

All-in-all, this might have been one of their best Cup telecasts this season. Indy and Pocono were good, too, but this one was awesome because the race itself was good.

NorCalFan said...

Dear ESPN:
For the remaining 11 cup races left in the season, would you please utilize the "Backseat Drivers" format like you use in the Nationwide series and put Allen Bestwick in the driver's seat and put Jerry Punch either in the trunk or the studio? It's a given there would be a remarkable improvement in your NASCAR entertainment package and a whole lot less for the TV fans to complain about.

Like others posted, I thought the race was disjointed with the voices in the booth not matching what was been shown on the screen and I actually liked what I was seeing. I did have to use PitCommand the entire race to tell me who was where and who is in the garage. I did, however, find the camera work much improved just with the amount of wide angle shots compared to the number of bumper/roof/and in-car and other useless camera shots we normally are treated to during a race.

I actually looked forward to returning from commercial breaks because I knew AB would recap the highlights thus far and attempt to make some sense of the race. Basically he was doing JP's job in 60 seconds or less.

I really hope someone at ESPN reads our comments. As a fan, I simply want to sit back and just have fun watching the races on TV but ESPN's broadcast makes it impossible to follow a race without multi-tasking on the PC listening to the radio broadcast and following leaderboards. Doesn't anyone in charge at ESPN care about the quality of the product that is being broadcast? It is truly shameful and yet one of the solutions to this whole mess is staring them in the face.

Anonymous said...

Please replace Jerry Punch in the booth. I have to echo others' comments in that the commentary is BORING and half the time I find myself not really paying attention to what they're saying and just watching the action. The excitement is just not there. Jerry would be a welcome addition to the pit road reporters. Reduce the use of the Tech Center...I respect Tim Brewer but I feel like I gain nothing from having to watch this, and the issues could be explained by the announcers while racing is still occuring.

The wider camera angles were much appreciated!