Monday, August 16, 2010

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Michigan On ESPN


The high banks of Michigan served ESPN quite well on Sunday afternoon. Allen Bestwick started the day with the NASCAR Countdown show. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty were alongside. This was a one hour program.

This time of year, the challenge for ESPN is to mix stories about making The Chase with the stories of winning the race. That challenge was again on display in the pre-race show. Strangely, Dave Burns narrated a poem that was set to NASCAR video footage. Update: Now being told the narrator was ESPN feature reporter Chris Connelly.

Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree handled the call of the race from the TV booth. Reid kept his excited tone while continuing to come up to speed with the teams and personalities in the sport. Petree was much more vocal than in the past while Jarrett continued to be the statesman for the sport.

On pit road was Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns. The pit reporters were key to this telecast and were very busy. This big track needs effective updates from the reporters assigned to the various teams.

ESPN recovered from a terrible Nationwide Series telecast on Sunday with a big change in approach to the race coverage. Wider shots and many split-screens put a lot more of the racing on the screen and eliminated the single shots of cars and long periods of simply following the leader.

Both Reid and Bestwick continue to push the agenda of continued excitement and pumping up the stories of the actual race. Coverage included a ton of focus on the Chase early, but that faded among the actual racing and the stories unfolding on and off the track.

ESPN made good pictures and had no technical problems. In-car cameras worked great, but once again burned the director as key passes from the in-car perspective just make bad TV. As usual, replays from in-car angles are great.

This was a very different presentation of NASCAR on ESPN. We want to know what you thought of this coverage. Please take a moment to leave us a race wrap-up comment focusing on the TV coverage. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Suggestion to NASCAR wrtiers and ESPN in re: vocabulary. No one seems to be properly conceptualizing the standings at this point of the season.

We keep calling it "bonus points" when we're talking about the chase re-ranking and bonus points for wins.

But they aren't merely "bonus" ad ons, they actually ARE the point standings.

Kevin Harvick is not really in first. And as long the driver is basically locked in, as the top 11 basically are right now, we should start talking about Johnson and Hamlin as what they are now - THE EFFECTIVE LEADERS OF THE POINT STANDINGS.

Enough of this wear they are in the top 12 talk, more recognizing the reality that the standings are now Johnson, Hamlin, Havicks, the Busches, Biffle and the rest. End of story - there's nothing "bonus" about it.

We could have been having a good, relevant discussion about strategies at the end of this race based on the real fact that wins were the only thing that mattered at all for Hamlin, Stewart, Johnson, etc. Instead, we got another ignorant discussion that analyzed the entire race as if people were still racing for points and to arrange themselves in the top 12. It ignores the reality.

OSBORNK said...

It was a pretty good broadcast (B+)with a few glitches. I think it is the best CUP race ESPN has done in a long time. I don't listen to the talking heads a lot. The action on the screen is what is most important to me. I just wish they would hold the camera on the finish line and let us see the finish unaltered.

Anonymous said...

LOL Case in point: Vince Welch: "Denny, how much were those 10 extra bonus points on your mind?"

Denny: "Uh, obviously it's win or nothing for us...."

GinaV24 said...

Very good race broadcast. I enjoyed seeing the race -- wide shots and split screens really made the race come alive and the booth did a nice job although I consider Rusty, Brad and Brewer irrelevant.

Marty continues to do a nice job with DJ and Andy. Allen B could do the infield studio all alone and it would be great.

I was a little worried early on in the race that it was going to be all chase, chase and the points as they run, but it turned out to be a very well done broadcast.

I hadn't thought about it until I read Anon 4:13's comments but that is quite true. Since the first 26 races are all about seeding for the final 10 and we are now close enough to be able to see most of the contenders for the 10 race title run, the only thing that matters for most of the top 12 will be wins.

thinking about that kind of takes away from my potential enjoyment of the next 3 races. I'm probably not alone.

GinaV24 said...

oops, sorry, I'm not sure what that nonsense at the end was though -- keep a camera locked on the finish line. that screwed up the end.

OSBORNK said...

Gina, I think you have it backwards. If wins is the only thing that matters to those locked in the chase, they can run each race as if it was an nonpoints race. They are no longer points racing. I think that is good.

Anonymous said...

ESPN:good job today.
Booth is now a good mix. Bestwick is the best, as usual.
Pit reporters kept up with the action and provided lots of info.
Love the wide shots and you were somewhat restrained with the horrid in-car cams.
Please continue to show finish line, but, use a FIXED cam.

ESPN, most importantly, be CONSISTENT!!!
I anticipated another great NWS show yesterday and saw a disaster.
Today was very good, but, I still have to cross my fingers about next week.
You've shown you know how to produce a race. Please do so each time.

Makiki
Honolulu

Jonathan said...

Great job ESPN awsome broadcast nothing else to say :) A-

I agree w Gina hi btw, that the end was strange. Wish they would of let them fight, why do we always have to break it up?? Its a part of sports just like a batter charging the mound, looked like Ryan was ready to knock that punk out!

CaseMoney said...

Good coverage overall, I liked the production and the commentary. ESPN has made big strides from last year.

That said.. I really hate hearing the TV crew give continued hype and lip service to these ineffectual 'bonus points'.

A driver doesn't need the promise of 10 bonus points to be motivated to win a race. They want to win because they are RACERS! And when we viewers tune in to watch a race, we are interested in who wins and not merely interested in how the point standings unfold.

When you are interviewing a driver who won, or almost won, and the first thing out of your mouth is something about 10 stupid bonus points, that is just insulting to the driver and the fans, IMO. Hype, hype hype.


If I could bet money on the bonus points not making a bit of difference in who the eventual champion is, I will happily put my money down.

Jonathan said...

I have to say Kudos to ESPN I havent turned off Sports Center, im was outside grilling drinking and 70% of the time I step inside the SportsCenter was talking Nascar. Thats a great thing cause last year it would of been one taped 5 min segment and thats it. there going all out w Nascar love it thanks ESPN its about time you give us the respect we deserve

Anonymous said...

I though the coverage was good from where I caught on with the race. The racing was really good today and ESPN showed it.

GinaV24 said...

OsbornK, I hadn't thought it like that, but you are right which is how it would be IF the chase didn't exist in the first place or at least not to the extent that points racing has become the focus since the race teams began "stroking" for the first 26 races.

GinaV24 said...

Hi, Jonathan -- hope you had a good weekend.

LOL, I have to admit that I wanted to see them fight too. that's probably wrong of me and considering the size difference between Newman and Logano it wouldn't have been fair, but I'm not always civilized.

Anthony said...

I thought the coverage was solid. A little heavy on commercials at times, but otherwise I can't complain.

One thing I'd really like to see more of is multiple shots on the screen at once. With so many battles, the director was playing leap frog with all the battles. With HDTV's, you can put four nice-sized shots of four different battles on screen at once.

Otherwise, I was quite happy today. We actually saw the great racing that drivers rave about at Michigan.

Anonymous said...

I predict one of the major topics to come from this event will unfortunately be the horrendous rendition of the National Anthem. One or the worst ever. I would all all who share my views to contact MIS and Roger Curtis - Track President. They just don't get it still.

Daly Planet Editor said...

MIS got many complaints over the National Anthem. There is little doubt that this season one issue is the tracks coordinating who will sing at the events.

I expect this to be a topic discussed by NASCAR during the off-season. If and when info is released on any changes we will report it in our media notes posts.

I would like to avoid getting off on this tangent and concentrate on the job ESPN did with the Sunday race.

Thanks everyone,

JD

terri said...

The end of the race left me dazed. Please leave the camera fixed on the finish line until everyone has crossed it. Please, just for once.

glenc1 said...

it wasn't the most awesome coverage I've ever seen, but it was okay. Better than all of what they did last season. I agree on the 'bonus points' discussion. Camera work seemed pretty good. I like Reid's enthusiasm. They missed things that happened in the lower ranks...but, frankly, if my driver is midpack I expect that...

Anthony said...

One other thing I wanted to add ... you could tell that Jerry Punch was back on pit road. Solid, solid job covering all the green flag pit stops and following up on the developments today. No offense to Jamie, but I'd rather Mike Massaro back on pit road permanently. Great job all around on that part of the coverage.

Vicky D said...

Yes, the National Anthem rendition was a national tragedy today. Also, I thought one issue happened when Paul Menard slowed up and ESPN showed him but we never had a followup why he went 3 laps down. I guess that is minor though, they were busy giving us the points as of now starting on lap 6. I like Marty, DJ & AP calling the race. I saw some tweets from Parker Kligerman and he couldn't believe how many commercials were shown during the race. I also enjoyed seeing Ricky Craven's comments after the race I think it was on SC.

Anonymous said...

Good job ESPN!

You are finally getting it right!

The only thing I would like to see is the cars crossing the finish line. I understand that they like to show the winning team and that's fine, but I think most of us want to see the drivers actually finish.

Perhaps there should be a slpit screen between the finish line and whatever else they want to show??

BTW good post race show!

rich said...

I thought ESPN did an awesome job today. They set up their stories well and stuck with the stories that needed to be told and let the action speak for itself. Keep up the good work.

Ritchie said...

I enjoyed the race, but I think what as been happening after the race may be even more important. I am talking about the SportsCenter segments after the race.

I realize that more than a few race fans don't care about other sports, however it is important to realize what forcing the SportsCenter crew to acknowledge and discuss NASCAR does.

Everyone has heard the demographic problem NASCAR has with younger viewers. Simply having all of the discussion of NASCAR on NASCAR Now and Speed isn't going to help. It has to continually be introduced to new audiences. It also has to be introduced with respect, not with two anchors staring blankly at a monitor as if they were just asked to explain the Pythagorean Theorem.

It may not be much by its self, but having Ricky Craven on SportsCenter may help NASCAR start the growth process again. Tonight Ryan Burr was on and he obviously doesn't need much help with any sport he covers, but I think it could be a real positive to have Ricky on with many of the other SportsCenter celebrities.

Anonymous said...

Time for Rusty and Brad to go...they have nothing to offer any longer. I vote to replace them with Vince Welch and Ricky Craven. Let's get some life up there with AB. Twittter @KellyNorCal

Anonymous said...

I think ESPN did a really good job at a track where the racing in spread out and sporadic.

Correct me if I'm wrong...points as of now on lap 6 was relevent when 12th place in points Mark Martin hit the wall and had to pit. It was important to note at that particular moment that "if" his status in the race didn't improve, 'this' would be the consequence. "This" being that Clint Bowyer would move up in the rankings into the coveted "top 12". I found it useful information. Having that pointed (no pun intended) out to me allowed me to check out the ticker and see where the 5 and 33 were running as the day went on. A sidebar of interest if you will.

My argument is that they show the Division standings in the NFL over the last few weeks during a game setting up the implications of that contest to each team during a drive or after a score . Why is it not ok in NASCAR?

Maybe I accept it because I just personally find it interesting.

Anonymous said...

@ 4:25 Osborne - yes this was exactly my point. If NASCAR want wins to be rewarded through the chase, and we want winner in, then stop complaining about the chase (Darryl Waltrip et al) and recognize the reality of it! It's creating win or nothing chaos among the top drivers now. We saw tons of haphazard coming and goings and experimentation this race based on the fact that numerous of the best drivers right now were just trying for a possible win, with 2nd to 30th being largely irrelevant.

Instead of highlighting these stories and recognizing this potentially interesting reality, NASCAR minds are still conceptualizing it as it people are racing for points. The chase is giving you what you want and you are failing to recognize it and explore this interesting dynamic.

Anonymous said...

I just thought of something else. The chase is working, and we just aren't recognizing it. But to make it even better, why not give an additional 15 points to the winner in every chase race on top of what they already get.

That way winning was rewarded in seeding for the chase, and its rewarded just the same in the chase. Whats to complain about there.

The question is this, complainers: do you think Johnson/Hamlin or Harvick is a more deserved champion at this point of the season? If you care about wins, Johnson would be your champ, but I bet most would say Harvick should be.

So which is it that you want, wins, or the actual best average finishing driver? Maybe you dont want wins after all, I know no other way to explain away the enmity directed towards the Chase this year.

Buschseries61 said...

ESPN did a great job today. There need to be more wide shots and less in-car / bumper cam when there are battles on the track.

The coordination between the production truck and Marty Reid did seem off the first half of the race. Things changed the second half, but Marty was obviously tired and fustrated by that point.

@ Anon 9:34 - I hate using stick & ball comparisons, since NASCAR is nothing like stick & ball sports. But showing points as of now lap 6 is like showing baseball divison standings in the second inning. There are still more innings to go and the score will change, the information is not relevant. Plus, we are putting the actual event that counts in the background while tv hypothesizes what could happen.

Anonymous said...

anon @10:35

Huh?

Could you run that past me again in ordinary English.

Makiki
Honolulu

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:40PM,

Happy to have your comments. Not too happy to have you call other folks names. I'm leaving your post, but please relax and understand everyone's opinion is equal here. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

@Anon 9:34 responding Buschseries61 -

I understand the "not stick and ball" argument. I also think that it is relevant when a chase eligible drive drops out of the race or has a major issue.

Let me try to be more precise.

The race strategy of Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer will change with any swing in the points that affects them. Case and point. Last week in Watkins Glen when Martin learned that Bowyer went behind the wall said over his radio "ok then, I guess I better not wreck". He obviously backed off and raced in a more conservative manner because of the points implications. If I'm a Martin fan, now I know my guy is points cruising.

When Martin went a lap down early in this race, do you think Bowyer might have taken less chances to pass and been a little more conservative until Martin regained his lap? If I were a Bowyer fan, I might want to see the points to be reminded why my guy isn't sticking it down in the corner as hard as he did on lap 4.

If Kurt Busch blows and engine again next week and finishes 43rd, don't you want to know then that he drops to 13th and the 5 and 33 move up or do you want to wait until the end of the race to find this information out. If your a fan of the 2, you might not watch the rest of the race so you might like that info asap.

In stick and ball sports a W is a W and an L is an L. The points you score in an individual contest are not cumulative. In racing finishing in 4th vs finishing in 7th might be the difference in getting into the chase or not because the points count, not the finish position. But the strategy of getting to that finish position is a very real and immediate story that plays out in the points standings every lap. JPM admitted to it every week last year.

I respect that you don't agree with me, but I felt I needed to explain further.

Thanks ESPN for keeping me up-to-date during a broadcast.

Thanks JD for the time and space to calmly discuss our differences. A rarity in these times and I appreciate it from you and all the Planeteers.

Darcie said...

I was at the PGA up at Whistling Straights today, and just watched the race on the DVR. I thought ESPN did a pretty good job today with just a few problems. At the beginning, since they were so enamored with the early pit stop of Martin's, they missed the explosion of the 2 car in real time. Yes, they were able to get the replay, but it was a missed incident, which ESPN seems to do quite a lot.

I was disappointed that they kept cutting away from the Logano/Newman "fight". And I was even more disappointed in Logano who never seems to take responsibility for his lack of driving skill. Even though the talking heads did say it was a racing incident, they failed to see that Logano was having problems controlling his car, thus his hit on Newman. But again and again, Logano blames Newman for racing him too hard. Isn't that what racing is supposed to be??? Racing hard???

Again, the end of the race coverage was lacking. They really need to focus on everyone hitting the finish line and not cut to whatever.

As for the Anthem, do the people who hire these people ever listen to their recordings? This was the worst and most embarrassing thing I've ever heard. Why do you never hear anyone butcher the Canadian Anthem? Just asking.

alex said...

Regarding the Logano-Newman confrontation: If ESPN had a camera, couldn't they have had a microphone nearby and mute the voices in the studio to hear what was being said?

Anonymous said...

Well it appears after 4 races now ESPN is fixed, now its FOX's turn to get it right. Its not 100% where it needs to be, but it is a very watchable broadcast that shows a lot of racing on the track.

Producers of NASCAR on FOX, I hope you are watching ESPN and reading this blog and fix your coverage. If FOX would just go back to the coverage they had from around 2001-2005 then we would have all 3 networks with great coverage.

Anonymous said...

I thought DJ and Andy did a good job calling the race. Rusty needs to go. As long as Brad has been around Nascar,I don't think he has a good grasp of the technical side,but as an ex-professional athlete,he knows how the drivers think. I like Brad,and thought he made a lot of excellent points the last few weeks. In my opinion,the reason they don't dwell on showing the cars finnishing the race is that it would highlight how spread out they are. Michigan is usually a bore,but the resurgance of RCR and Rousch made it more interesting yesterday. Let's see how Nascar Now and the 'new' Race Hub treat the race.

GinaV24 said...

Ritchie, that's a good point about the use of SportsCenter. I hadn't thought about that at all. Since I never watch SC by choice, having the post-race coverage there intermingled with the stick and ball sports AND without the previous sneering attitudes could at least introduce fans of other sports to NASCAR.

Love the word veri -- merinade -- it made me think of something marinading or stewing in their own choice per se

MRM4 said...

I watched the race via DVR as I was coming back home while the race was actually on. So I can only comment on the racing itself, not on any of the pre-race stuff or National Anthem.

I thought it was another excellent broadcast by ESPN. I expected myself to fast-forward through most of the race, but I actually watcged most of it minus the caution laps and the one stretch before halfway when green flag stops were made and the field got strung out. The split-screen shots were excellent.

I did FFD through most of the post-race stuff so I could see the updated points. I was glad to see ESPN show and stick with the "chat" between Logano and Newman.

GinaV24 said...

Darcie, I had to laugh when Joey said that too. And even the ESPN reporter who interviewed him asked that question which seemed to elude Joey's ability to process it.

I don't think that Joey wrecked Newman on purpose, but as you said, he was having trouble controlling the car so maybe he should have backed out a little and got some control of it, rather than thinking that he could just bull his way past Newman.

Newman sure wasn't having any of it from Logano and if that was his argument, I can understand why Newman wanted to whack him on his pointed little head.

Anon: 10:40 - I don't like the chase this year, I have never liked the chase. IMO it takes away from the racing and was a gimmick knee jerk reaction from NASCAR and the TV entities who wanted "excitement" at the end of the season. Well, that worked out one year and ever since then, it has been a snoozer. Personally, I always enjoyed the end of the season when you could watch the drivers work hard to be able to improve their position in the standings. Now, if you're out of the top 12 once the chase starts, the best you can do for the season is 13th. I'll be very honest about it, I don't want to watch Johnson win a 5th 10 race championship this season and I'm afraid that once the chase starts, all we'll hear is the "historic" hunt for 5 in a row. He's not the points leader now and doesn't need to be since everything resets and he'll be in first when it matters for the chase. Gag me with a spoon.

sue said...

Another solid show by ESPN. You've got the right mix in the booth and on pit road. Kudo's on catching the action between Newman and Logano.

Anonymous said...

Coverage was great. Just one negative. ESPN needs to cut engine sounds down slightly so we can hear the announcers. The cars are so loud you can barely hear the announcers.

Anonymous said...

Darcie, No one butchers the Canadian anthem because it is a song that can actually be sung. I could go into a story about since the melody (if you cab call it that) of our Anthem came from a old Dutch drinking song, and how one time in Amsterdam I got some actual drunk dutchmen to sing it and the song it was based on, and how then I truly understood ... but I'll spare you that story.

Clarke

Lisa Hogan said...

I think that ESPN did a good job on Sunday. I repeat, on Sunday.
Yes, Bestwick could handle the infield studio by himself; but, if ESPN wants more people in that studio, Rusty and Brad are fine with me. Three people in that studio are more than enough.

Improvements are still needed on using the “specialty” camera shots. Show us the race and stop trying to win awards with your choices. Think of your viewers first, then your mantle!

Improvements are still needed with the habit of interrupting green flag racing with useless graphics, tech garage, and pit reporters with old news. Green flag pit reports should be about current events, not something they learned “a few days ago”…..that’s for pre-race.

Improvements are still needed showing the finish of the race. Keep the camera on the finish line until all the cars cross it. You can use replay for the winning driver and crew…….and assorted relatives.

As always, Thanks, JD!

Charlie said...

I would give Espn a grade of “F” for their Saturday broadcast and a “C” for their Sunday broadcast. I think Espn is very lucky that they have a contract that can’t be broken no matter how bad they telecast a race. I don’t know how long Espn has broadcast races or how long this contract is for but they are doing a terrible job considering how long they have been in this business. One race they act like they have never done a race before and the race telecast is terrible. The next race they do better and they get praise. The next race is a guess, will this one be good or will this one be bad. What other business do you know of that is given such leeway. Let’s say you bought bread and the bread you bought was under cooked and no one would eat it. The next time you bought this bread from this same company it was good. The next time the bread was bad again. Would you go buy this bread for a special occasion not knowing if it will be good or bad, of course not. What if you were told that this company has been in business making bread for over 30 years? Would you praise them if they got a loaf of bread right?
Most businesses make money by being consistent with a good product and improve on it. Espn’s telecasts are hit and miss with years of experience. They would be gone and replaced in the real world. Espn should have excellent telecast each and every week and improve on their telecast each week. What we get from week to week from Espn is a guess. Will this telecast be good or bad? A top notch company is proud of what they make and strive to make it better each time. Espn can be good or bad and is still allowed to broadcast because they have a contract. Espn should be embarrassed for producing a maybe good or maybe bad telecast each week. Where is your pride Espn?

Darcie said...

ESPN really missed an opportunity to make some interesting TV when they didn't go up to Tony Stewart, who Logano said complains about Ryan Newman's racing style, and directly asked Tony if he thinks his own employee drives like a jerk, per Logano. I would love to have seen how Stewart answered that question. Lots of missed opportunities by all the broadcast networks.

Anonymous said...

Concerning
"Why do you never hear anyone butcher the Canadian Anthem? Just asking."

The guy "Jonas", I think his name was, did a fairly good job of butchering the Canadian anthem at the Montreal Nationwide race last summer. It was embarrassing to hear.

As for ESPN, not a bad job all around, but I do agree with others who stated that RW has to go. Really, he does Please!

glenc1 said...

Darcie, people butcher the Canadian anthem all the time--there was a real train wreck that was famously televised maybe 10 years back, I think it was a baseball game. Mostly it's from people not knowing it though, because it's easy to sing. Somewhat relevant to the TV blog, it irritates me that they chop the Canadian anthems by putting it before the invocation. But I guess TV time is precious.

Also--people should know sometimes they ask them to stretch it out, so that isn't always their choice (it's timing with the flyover.) It would be nice if the tracks actually listened to the fans this time. We've had enough. Someone needs to start a Facebook page or something, lol. I doubt MIS is reading JD's blog; heck, they're answering the phone in Daytona...(although I'm guessing that was because it was race day.)

Donna in FL said...

The big swings between quality & crap presentations from ESPN lately is making me carsick!! I've been enjoying the RACING across the board, last week now this week with the new NNS cars & Cup, RACING has been great!! What I've been able to SEE of it, that is! I still think that a better balance of commercials & screen presentation is possible (hello Versus), and I strongly hope ESPN (FOX & TNT) make solving the issue a priority for next year. I don't plan on saying another word about commercial breaks for the rest of this season.

LOL about the Anthem singing blather. I've never been to an event where it isn't a hit or miss, if the facility doesn't have a regularly employed professional. I agree this time was a miss but so what? That band was already there, paid to perform professionally. Why pay a THIRD? Why didn't the Canadian anthem singer just do it (and might've missed as well?)