Sunday, November 14, 2010
TV Police: Sprint Cup Series From Phoenix On ESPN
It's the PIR weekend, so we pick Sheriff Joe for our TV Police cover picture this week. This was the next to last race of the season and live on ESPN from start to finish.
Allen Bestwick anchored the coverage from the Infield Pit Studio. Bestwick tried over and over again to crank some excitement into the telecast, but that ended whenever Marty Reid took over.
The infield crew of Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham was chomping at the bit during the race, but was forced to sit back and watch several lengthy features during the pre-race show. Any momentum was broken as fans watched the videos.
Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were in the booth as analysts, but it's up to Reid to provide the excitement and he simply did not deliver. As we heard from Jerry Punch in the same role, Reid began to sigh deeply about one hundred laps into the race and was totally out of gas until the end.
The script for ESPN this week was the three title contenders and they followed it. Time after time, teams appeared on camera racing for position or even being lapped and no explanation was offered of how they got in that position. Kasey Kahne was reported to have gained over twenty positions after one pit stop. It was Bestwick who suggested that perhaps Kahne has missed his pitstall. He was correct.
Reid eventually surrendered any attempt to provide information before restarts on Lucky Dogs, wave arounds, pit road penalties or even the basic restart order. ESPN eventually surrendered any attempt to update anyone in the field except the three Chasers and the leader of the race.
This is exactly the type of coverage that we talked about before the Chase began. Despite the dominant performance of Hamlin, there was racing and storylines unfolding throughout the field. They were not even visited, only tolerated.
The "Up to speed" recaps done by ESPN were listless and infrequent. The reports contained nothing more than recaps of points as they ran right now. ESPN simply had a formula and they followed it to the letter.
This was perhaps the least informative NASCAR telecast in the four-year history of ESPN. There are simply no words to try and relay just how much information was not passed along by the on-air team on the telecast. Fans of drivers and teams outside of the top three in points were hung out to dry.
If this is what NASCAR envisioned with the Chase, then so be it. They can deal with the consequences of fans whose teams were never even mentioned leaving to watch NFL football. As for ESPN, they will forever be connected with the phrase "if the race ended now" for the endless fake updates on points.
You watched this race. Tell us what you thought of the TV coverage from 12 voices on ESPN for four hours. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.