Sunday, October 11, 2009
Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series From Fontana, CA (2:30PM ET on ABC)
Here we go with a race that is wide open. The Saturday Nationwide Series race at the Fontana track sizzled. Now, the big COT's get ready to try and pass on a track known for aero issues.
It will be Allen Bestwick leading the ESPN production team on the air at 2:30PM with a one hour version of NASCAR Countdown. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. There are plenty of topics for Bestwick to talk about and hopefully the TV team will try to balance the stories of the race with the stories of the Chase.
Jerry Punch is next with the race coverage. He will take over slightly before the 3:31PM green flag. Punch is going to have a very long day calling the action. This is a 500 mile race and covering all the stories is going to be crucial.
Now in year three, fans are used to watching these races without a true play-by-play call. Instead, Punch offers minimal information, no excitement and begins to lapse into asking questions of his broadcast partners about halfway through these races. Fans still email me about his total silence during the Logano accident two weeks ago. How much longer ESPN will tolerate this remains to be seen.
Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree look and sound like they have had a long season. Jarrett has worked with Punch, Marty Reid and been also asked to handle the play by play alone several times this season. As a result, his formerly crisp and interesting comments are not as well-placed because he holds back.
Andy Petree is the one who has just stepped up and let it fly recently. His ability to step in and point out action on the track that Punch and the producer are missing is key to these telecasts. Petree often calls out the accident location and then fans wait while Punch and the TV cameras try to find it.
Tim Brewer is about out of new things to tell the fans. Saturday, he detailed for fans who have watched the sport since February what a driver has to unbuckle to exit a car. It was painful. Who ever is producing this venue needs to understand fans want knowledge, not repetition.
Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch are the reporters on pit road. Last week, this team was forced to ask post-race questions to everyone except the security guards as the network had to fill over thirty minutes. Amazingly, once the reporters got away from the questions they were forced to ask by the producers, they did a great job. Hopefully, a lesson learned.
Fontana is rough for tight camera work. It is rough to show the cars racing away from the camera. On the backstretch, only a wideshot shows the pack fanning out to set-up for the passing zone. In-car cameras work best for replays. How much of this is followed and how much is disregarded is about to be seen.
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