Thursday, May 6, 2010

NASCAR On FOX Limps Into Darlington

This past weekend, ESPN delivered a solid Nationwide Series telecast from Richmond International Raceway on Friday night. Then, SPEED delivered a great Camping World Truck Series telecast from Kansas Speedway on Sunday afternoon. In between the two, there was another race on TV.

After failing to profile the disabled soldier for whom the race was named during the pre-race show, FOX then struggled though what should have been a simple telecast on a short track that the network had visited many times before.

Here are the TV results from Sports Business Daily:

Overnight ratings for the Sprint Cup Series race from Richmond dropped from last year's already subpar level. FOX drew a 3.4 overnight for the race on Saturday night, down 8% from last year (3.7) and down 19% from 2008.

This marks the lowest overnight rating ever for this race on broadcast television.

Additionally, the 3.4 is tied as the second-lowest overnight ever for a NASCAR race on FOX, ahead of only last year's Subway Fresh Fit 500 (3.3).

Once the race was underway, the first round of green flag pitstops put NASCAR in an interesting position. Only nine cars were on the lead lap. Our friend Phil Allaway over at did a good job of describing what happened next on TV:

Jimmie Johnson, running in ninth, was fighting with leader Kyle Busch to stay on the lead lap. Just as Busch got a fender in front of Johnson, the caution came out for debris. No one ever found that debris and showed it to us. Now, it could be assumed that there was none, meaning that the whole yellow was a sham. Maybe there was some, but they never found it. I don’t know how many cameras FOX had at Richmond last weekend, but they probably should have been able to pick up something. Or, at the very least, notify the audience that they could not find the debris.

Allaway went on to reference two other popular topics. Those were the continual focus on the race leaders and the extensive use of in-car cameras. Fans stopped by after the race and left these comments:

Again we were "treated" to a very poor mixture of camera shots giving neither the experienced racing viewers or the NASCAR newbies in my home Saturday night a full sense of what was happening during the race. (KoHoSo)

I could not follow what was going on whatsoever. Confused broadcast, confusing the fans. Sure, I can read that tracker at the top and miss the action that should be on TV. But they never explained what was going on to make those movements happen. (JohnP)

Fox refused to establish any kind of flow or provide context for what the cameras were showing. They must have a bingo caller in charge of switching cameras, surely no one with any broadcast experience could do that bad of a job. (bevo)

I always look forward to the short track races, and Richmond is one of the best. Last night, I had no clue as to what was actually taking place on the track. The in car cams and isolated shots of one car running alone gave no insight as to how the race was developing. No full field rundowns, no explanations of why so many cars had gone laps down so was a mess. It made me realize why my interest in NASCAR has been waning the past couple years. If I can't watch on TV and get caught up in the excitement, there's not much point in watching. (Sally)

Toward the end of the race, FOX analyst Darrell Waltrip offered several different versions of what he thought would happen and who would win. Waltrip and Larry McReynolds have been set free this season to talk overtop of TV veteran Mike Joy. Once again in Richmond, three voices tried to call the action down the stretch.

After being called out by several mainstream journalists for poor post-race coverage, FOX has twice made a last minute switch to the SPEED cable network for additional programming. That was again the case in Richmond.

We have been told this decision is made on the fly according to the circumstances of the race. This Saturday in Darlington brings yet another night race. It seems a bit ironic that SPEED is on location taping the Victory Lane show for a delayed Sunday broadcast while the SPEED network is used by FOX for the live post-race show.

After years of asking, we will repeat the question. On the Saturday night Sprint Cup Series races, why not do Victory Lane live after the race for the full hour and then replay it Sunday in the scheduled timeslot? Fans can simply change channels whenever the race ends and SPEED will get a solid TV rating.

The format for Darlington is the same as last week. A two-hour RaceDay show on SPEED at 5PM, followed by a thirty minute pre-race show on FOX and then the live race. This Saturday SPEED has an AMA Supercross Special on at 10PM for several hours. It will be interesting to see if the powers at FOX decide to cut into this high-profile program with the live NASCAR post-race show.

TV news updates: SPEED has no comment, but it looks like Jimmy Spencer's What's the Deal show seen on Monday nights has been cancelled. Also, it has been confirmed that Darrell Waltrip will join NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED for the six summer races televised by TNT. Kyle Petty will be gone to the TNT booth as a race analyst.

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RustyWaltrip,Jr. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sam said...

Yippee, more Darrell Waltrip blathering on TV. Count me out.

Sophia said...

Sorry about Spencer's show getting canceled. I couldn't take the poorly matched side kick for him or the cluttered office set and only watched it a couple times.

That said, if JS got canned, it must have been a good show. A certain member of SPEED on Twitter even mentioned Jimmy getting "censored" which I found to be an interesting choice of words. But the comment was made in brief passing.

Still, I found Jimmy to be colorful over the years even if he did stick his foot in his mouth at times. Least he has passion.

I hope he gets another job.

Maybe team him up with Robin Miller. :-D

I used to LOVE VL after the races. Didn't they do that one time VERY LATE when Tony Stewart won the summer Daytona race at like 2AM? Or was that a delayed show as well.

Anyway, SPEED used to have so much potential. Fox is full of promos/adds/inCar adds promos, I feel the announcers/pitRoad/camera peeps are at the mercy of SOMEBODY. :-(

If this is David Hill's hand print he has the blessing of Brian France.

It really makes me sad to FULLY realize I no longer WATCH the race on tv. I did sit thru the Dega race (listening to the online radio) but the camera work is the same mentioned in the article here.

Butchered & disjointed.

Been saying this for THREE years about the networks. I don't look for ESPN to change for the CUP series either. They did this last year IMPROVING the NW race then pulling same junk Fox does for CUP.

If ONLY we knew WHY this is happening.

NASCAR keeps saying "all the changes are for the fans" to the cars, the races.


I'd rather watch the birds & the squirrels outside.

NASCAR was a wonderful, FUN SPORT the first few years I started watching (2004) but it's just an aggravation now. Why waste 4 hrs TRYING to "See" the race live on tv?

Life is too short.

Unknown said...

All I can say is that I am VERY happy that I will be attending the Supercross in person on Saturday night. After Speed cut into the SX Lites race for their post-race "coverage" for Talladega, I gave up on Fox. Thank God that TNT is right around the corner.


KoHoSo said...

First of all...I was shocked to see my own "name" in a TDP column! While I am flattered to be chosen even though I thought bevo's "bingo caller" comment was by far the best on this subject, I honestly wish that Fox was giving us the type of coverage for which I could be quoted saying something complimentary instead of negative. :-(

One comment on the "mystery caution" mentioned in today's thing I strongly remember is the caution after that one where it seemed Fox took great pains to show us the debris at great length (first incorrectly showing IIRC a water bottle and then a bouncing spring rubber or something else of that sort). Were they ashamed of missing the reason for the previous yellow or...???

It's this type of inconsistent coverage that helps fuel what I call the "tin foil hat" portion of the NASCAR fan base. Fox does nobody any favors by not finding and showing debris that slows a race. It can't be that hard especially on a short track with their access to NASCAR's radio channel and cameras up the wazoo.

Then again, maybe it's time for me to put on the tin foil hat. I don't think it's too much of a stretch of the imagination to start believing that NASCAR is somewhat encouraging Fox's disjointed coverage as it gets fans used to not knowing what is going on thus making it easier for them to "adjust" a race where somebody is stinking up the show and/or a "teacher's pet" is about to get lapped.

Shoot, why not believe something like that these days? In a world where the Fox NASCAR crew -- once one of the best in all of sports and not just racing -- has become more intolerable to listen to than a 24-hour-long repeating reel of 20 cats in heat scraping their claws on a chalkboard, I can believe almost anything.

Sophia...Robin Miller has already been punched in his life once by A.J. Foyt. I doubt very seriously with his generally anti-tin-top attitude that he would tempt fate again by getting anywhere near Jimmy Spencer. :-D

mobilechamps said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
glenc1 said...

Personally, I think Jimmy was one of the worst analysts ever. Occasionally funny, loves the sport I'm sure, but his reasoning on any subject was dubious at best, and he contradicted himself constantly. Just pointless commentary; will NOT be missed.

KoSoHo...had that same thought about that next debris they were embarrassed about not showing the other one that we *really* wanted to see. Richmond's not ' should have been easy for them to spot IF there was any....

mshjamh said...

When a sport tries to rig it's championship system to guarantee a close finish why would anyone find it hard to believe they would throw the caution jsut to bunch up the field and "create" drama???

Not showing the debris would be the equivalent to now showing a holding penalty that negated a 90 yard touchdown. TV always shows us that even if the replay makes it look like a bad call.

51 yr. fan said...

Waltrip and Wallace on Race Day.
What a Joke!

Anonymous said...

I got it...Why doesn't FOX hire this Goodman guy that's doing the HOF to direct their races. With his 269 emmys and nominations, he should be able to direct a race with one eye closed...right???

TexasRaceLady said...

@Anon -- 9:11AM

Maybe that's the problem -- the telecasts ARE being run with one eye closed!

GinaV24 said...

Good news, I'll be at the race in Darlington so I won't be subjected to the Fox broadcast this week. Hooray. I'm way tired of being subjected to this limp excuse for a race broadcast.

NASCAR should realize that if they are trying to attract fans to actually buy tickets to the races, a good TV broadcast would make them want to do that.

I try hard not to be a conspiracy theorist, but the "caution" that came out to keep Johnson from going one lap down was just a little too fortuitious to my mind, especially when we didn't see any debris. Nascar's use of the reasoning "the fans like it" for the double file restarts and the multiple GWC is foolish. How about if we actually get to just see a race play out the way it should, not be manipulated in some way for excitement.

It would be fun to be able to see the VL show live from Darlington after the race and then have them broadcast it in its regular timeslot, too, but since that's not going to happen, they are missing a great opportunity.

I guess I'll be tuning out Raceday, I'm with 51 yr fan, Waltrip AND Wallace. Nope, not for me.

It will be interesting to see if the golf cart carrying Myers and Hammond out to the road tries to run over the fans after the race like they did last year. Rank hath its privileges, I guess.

midas micah said...

I'm probably stating what people have written in, but now we get jabber jaws on TNT too. This baffoon has gotten so full of himself that I'm finding it harder and harder to watch the telecasts. Add the other bozos in the booth and it's a toxic mix. I've enjoyed the TNT telecasts before, but with jabber jaws on that network it's going to make it tough for me to stay tuned.

MRM4 said...

Everyone should read the column in Thursday's USA Today on DW being on Fox. He says he reads to criticism, but basically blows it off. DW isn't going to change.

One thing that was noted is how Joy has to get out of the way of DW and Larry Mac.

I suggest others leave comments as I did.

Anonymous said...

Sad that I watch the race on raceview when I have a $
42' HD tv, but if I want to see the race, best way. FOX is a disaster.

Anonymous said...

A two hour Race Day show is just torture to listen to. One thing I've learned over the years is that the Nascar TV coverage is the way it is because someone WANTS it that way! Whether its DW,Rusty, Dr Punch,etc., they are in those roles because someone on high believes that they know better than the 'huddled masses."

Zieke said...

Poor John Roberts. He will never be the same after listening to Waldrip on his once credible show. I fully expect Wendy to take a vacation until "Mr. know it all" is gone. What an absolute travesty of race broadcasting.

Anonymous said...

Where will Jimmy Spencer end up? Is this the last straw for him?
I kind of liked his not so political views.

Richard in N.C. said...

Except for just 3, or maybe 4 writers, I take media complaints about debris cautions with a grain of salt since writers are not responsible for the safety of race participants and I know how the media would try to crucify NASCAR if debris were to be ignored and caused an accident. With more and more of the media (like Frontstretch) the first rule is to find something to criticize NASCAR about - especially since real reporting requires some effort and is fast becoming a lost art, such as the sloppy, inept, incomplete reporting about Kasey Kahne's move to HMS, Mark Martin, etc. Anyone seen anything written about where Danica fits in the picture?

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think the only point Phil was making is that the TV network, that monitors the NASCAR officials channel, should easily be able to show viewers the debris or issue that caused the caution.


JohnP said...

I've gotta admit JD. I was stunned to see my comment in your article. Very flattering.

I don't really expect anything better out of Fox this year. And it will be very interesting to see the two Cup races done basically by Fox, but on Speed. I really don't expect any difference. If true, we have five more races under the Fox network. I hope I'm wrong and Speed picks up coverage.

Hugely disapointed in TNT for taking on DW in any fashion this year. I can't recall if he was there last year or not. But either way, it's greatly disapointing to see him on TNT after his disasterious performance this year on Fox.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, I watched, live, Felipe Massa almost get killed in an F1 race last year from a piece of flying debris. I am willing to give NASCAR and the TV networks the benefit of the doubt and I now believe debris is a far more important issue than the press apparently does.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I find that comment to be very far off-base from a debate on a "debris" caution at a short track when the four time champ was about to be lapped.


glenc1 said...

Richard--the issue is the TV coverage of it, not NASCAR's decision. If there was debris, it should be fairly simple to find it on a *short track*, particularly. If the TV cameras were unable to find it, it should be fairly simple to walk nextdoor to race control and ASK them what it was--granted, many wouldn't have believed them, but was 'sloppy' reporting not to ask. Frankly, I'm surprised this hasn't been more of a topic this week at other sites.

Charlie said...

Nice article. As I was reading I got to the part where you wrote "Kyle Petty will be gone to the TNT booth as a race analyst.", I got a grin on my face. It sure will be nice to hear him in the booth. He makes the telecast fun and he has some good stories. I am looking forward to TNT.

Richard in N.C. said...

All a reporter at the track (watching the race on the track) had to do was to look out the window for the truck going to remove the debris. It seems to me that most in the media view debris cautions as just another excuse to bash NASCAR, not a matter of safety for participants.

Daly Planet Editor said...


What's up? "Most of the media" is us now?

If there is a problem, just email me at anytime.

The topic of mystery cautions was around long before the COT, FOX or The Daly Planet.


West Coast Diane said...

@GinaV24 - I agree with your "manufactured" comment regarding GWC's. I understood having one, since many fans were complaining that too many races ended under caution. So pick your poison. But, three...I'm not liking it.

However, I think double file restarts are a positive. Otherwise we get a conga line or worse lapped traffic, much of which is usually slower cars, trying to race with the leaders. I like all the cars racing each other for positions to be grouped together. Just MHO.

That said, when they don't show the debris on a debris caution they are inviting the skepticism they get. I would sure like to understand the dynamics. Who is telling TV, and how do they tell them to show or not show the debris? It is aggravating. I don't care what size track. A truck is sent out to pick up debris...look for the truck! Or if someone thought it was debris and it was tape or a spring rubber, own up to it and say it!

Ps...I'm confused. Some folks saying DW going to TNT. I thought he was doing RaceDay in place of Kyle P, who is going to the booth for TNT.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, I said and meant the media - those who hold themselves out to be knowledgeable about the sport and should be at least trying their best to be unbiased. Unfortunately it seems to me that increasingly a larger and larger portion of the media (sports and otherwise) are more intent on writing something that will attract attention - and often rush to judgement. While the issue of debris cautions may have been around for a long time, I personally find it a more serious safety problem than how it is treated in the media.

Glenn said...

West Coast Diane said...

Ps...I'm confused. Some folks saying DW going to TNT. I thought he was doing RaceDay in place of Kyle P, who is going to the booth for TNT.

May 6, 2010 7:03 PM

WCD, your ps is exactly why "most blogger sites" cannot be taken seriously.
I love to read JD's columns; he has great insight and makes me see things from a different side.

It's not only this site but many others.
Comments to unasked questions, sentences that make no sense, misspelled words, and just as you stated "I'm confused". You're not confused, it appears you read JD's column.
Just as we expect the "commentator, pxp host, color analyst, reporter etc. "to get it right" "to tell us the truth", and in DW’s case " keeps talking just to hear himself".

The same expectations can apply to us.

Ken O said...

If debris can be seen by NA$CAR, it can be seen by a camera. If we don't see it, it must not exist. I once worked for a company where every action was supposed to be posted in a log. When we were downgraded for something not done in the log and we insisted we had done it, we were always told "If it's not in the log, it didn't happen". It's the same with debris, "If we don't see it, it was never there".

The surest way to ruin a broadcast is to put a Waltrip on it. the second best way is to have a Wallace involved. Why would any network want to be involved with a Waltrip. If they are half as bad in person as they are on TV, it would be unbearable to deal with them.

Anonymous said...

Brilliant strategy by Fox. The Daytona 500 has lost 25% ratings in the past 3 years IIRC from what I read here. Other races are down in attendance and TV ratings. Now who benefits? Fox does of course! When it comes time to renew all they have to do is lay out these numbers and they pay less for the rights in the next contract. These people aren't fools no one could be this dumb. But how they benefit by putting on spectacular telecasts if driving away TV fans will save them money next time for renewal?

Daly Planet Editor said...


You can't just throw everyone into a pool and say they are media because they offer opinions.

There is a good group of mainstream reporters who follow the sport and offer timely stories on several websites.

But just like everything else on the Internet, every reader has to make up their own mind as to the credibility of the author.

I totally understand your safety issue and would be much more inclined to write it off on a track like Talladega or Indy.

Saturday night, FOX played an active role in this issue by not showing the debris and offering no other comments. I think that is what we are talking about.


Can you help us out a little more with the focus of your comment?

The USA Today story said DW was going to be working on the truck series for SPEED. Earlier, DW said he was going to be filling-in for Kyle Petty on the morning RaceDay show on SPEED during the six TNT races.

At this moment, Elliott Sadler is still scheduled to begin his run on the Friday night Trackside show once the FOX Cup races are done.

If that changes, I will pass it along. As you all know, there are lots of changes underway at SPEED right now.


Anonymous said...

I'll miss "What's The Deal?". I like Jimmy and Ray and the free-flowing chatter.

Why doesn't SPEED cancel some of their dumb reality shows instead?


Daly Planet Editor said...

Hearing that SPEED will be announcing a bunch of changes next week.

This network has undergone various transitions depending on who was in charge.

Now, the head honcho at FOX named David Hill is also in charge of SPEED and the Fox Sports regional networks.

It should be interesting to see what he changes.

Anonymous said...

"What's the deal?" is an always record and watch on my DVR! It is great they can't cancel it! Spencer tells it like it is IMO and it is refreshing to hear his take on things. I liked how they focused on the Truck Series event and talked about how it is always 100% from the drop of the green flag with the shorter races. Just the kind of publicity the CWTS needs!!

Oh lord now we get more smiley feel good soft ball interviews and pre scripted reviews of the events on SPEED right? At least I have my Showtime's Inside NASCAR! (I never knew Kyle had such a naughty mouth on the radio! Don't mess with his tearoffs lol!!)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Drivers still cannot believe that their scanner comments are airing without bleeping on Showtime!

IronEagle said...

I love it! I couldn't get over when I heard Harvick at Bristol IIRC say "tighten this farker up!!"

I used to race a lot on and if you had said any bad words over the radio/voice chat and were turned in boom instant 8 week probation. I thought NASCAR was like that with it's southern roots and many evangelical fans! Guess not! Makes the $25 bucks a month for Showtime and the other nearly useless movie channels (to me) worth it!

Dot said...

I seem to remember last year during BSPN's broadcasts that we couldn't wait for FOX's coverage in February.

I guess the old adage holds true, be careful what you wish for......

Anonymous said...

This is my frustration with the debris deal. I am at HOME. I *can't* look out the window to see the debris, so I depend on the TV guys to show, or at least TELL me what/where it is so I know NASCAR's not up to any funny business. I don't hate NASCAR, I don't think they're evil, I don't criticize everything they do, and I'm not the media. I'm just a fan who expects the media to report to me so I know NASCAR is being ethical (as they usually are.) It just goes to credibility. Other sports are treated MUCH worse by the media, so I hardly think NASCAR is being picked on.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Who knew? That is why TV is so interesting.


Chris from NY said...

Place your bets on whether or not CBS outbids FOX in 2014. It looks likely that CBS may bid for NASCAR coverage, because they own Showtime and had NASCAR reports on their YouTube channel. I'll bet they might do a damn good job.