Monday, May 31, 2010
TNT Begins 2010 Sprint Cup Series Coverage
This season TNT arrives on the NASCAR scene with new faces, lots of online technology and a million dollar challenge. As you might have surmised, the network is pulling out all the stops to get fans back to the TV for what has traditionally been a tough summer stretch.
Click here to review the big TNT story. In what amounts to a pleasant surprise, the network selected veteran SPEED reporter Adam Alexander to provide the play-by-play coverage this season. Pit reporter Ralph Sheheen stepped-in last year after the network parted ways with announcer Bill Weber.
Sheheen will be returning to his pit reporter role along with Matt Yocum and Marty Snider. One personality not returning to pit road is Lindsay Czarniak, who is pictured above. TNT's own Marc Fein is now working on other assignments for the network, so Czarniak will move to the host position on the famous TNT infield stage.
Czarniak will anchor from "the rig" with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds for the pre-race show. This year that program will be one hour long. TNT's mobile stage is built around a one-piece commercial truck frame and drives from race to race. The stage can rotate 360 degrees and elevate another seven feet above the frame of the truck. With one push of a button, the entire crew can find themselves 26 feet above the ground.
Petty will move up to the booth with Alexander and returning veteran Wally Dallenbach Jr. for the races. There is no personality on the TNT team with a more curious presence than Dallenbach. A sports car racer who moved to NASCAR in 1991, Dallenbach had no Sprint Cup Series wins in ten seasons when he turned to TV in 2001 after failing to find sponsorship to race. His only remaining connection to NASCAR is TNT's six race package.
While TNT will again offer its "wide open" coverage at Daytona, the highlight for many technology-starved NASCAR fans is RaceBuddy. Pictured above is the Broadcast Slate 3000 integrated production system. This piece of equipment is located in the TV compound. It takes the camera feeds from the TV truck and converts them into an online video stream that provides the multiple sources for RaceBuddy.
The NASCAR.com website offers the RaceBuddy application free for all six TNT races. In addition to the multiple video and audio feeds which fans control, there is another bonus. RaceBuddy users have their own pit reporter. Jim Noble, a PRN veteran, will work the TNT races and interact directly with RaceBuddy users both on-camera and through live social media chat.
Every season TNT selects a music theme and this year "TNT" from AC/DC made the cut. This classic tune will serve as what is called the "primary music bed." That means it will be heard on the opening of the races, the music "bumps" into commercials and on the race promo's in other programming.
Finally, TNT has a nice little contest brewing on the NASCAR.com website that does not feature NCAA basketball brackets. Because there are official rules, here is the TNT explanation:
Fans will have the chance to select the drivers they think will be the top 10 finishers in each TNT race. Should a fan correctly select the top ten finishing drivers in their proper finishing order, the fan could win up to $1 million (if more than one fan selects the correct finishing lineup, they will equally share the million dollar prize). The game will open for upcoming races on the Wednesday after each previous raceday and will not close until 25% of the present week’s race is complete, allowing participants to change their line-ups for a portion of the race. Fans have six chances to win as they can pick the top 10 finishers for all six of TNT’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
It should be fun to watch the TNT races as the network comes in with new faces in new places and lots of interactive technology for fans. We will also be following the fan challenge to see if someone can walk off with a million dollars. The first telecast is next Sunday, June 6 at 12PM ET from Pocono, PA.