Saturday, March 19, 2011
Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Bristol, TN (FOX - 12:30PM ET)
After a week off, the NASCAR on FOX gang seems to be eager to get back to work. Some of the announcers have been working for SPEED this weekend on practice and qualifying coverage. The single storyline that has emerged is tires.
Equipment issues are the great equalizer. After trouble on Friday, Goodyear and NASCAR switched right side tires for both races. The Nationwide Series race went off without a hitch, but the Sprint Cup Series cars are a bit different.
Tires may be the hot topic for Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond on the pre-race show. Waltrip has already said FOX has a surprise in store for viewers. The hint is that the location of the outside stage may be rather unique.
On Saturday, NASCAR lost all timing and scoring at the track for a good part of the Nationwide Series race. Marty Reid responded by simply ignoring the big scoring pylon in the infield and telling viewers nothing. No top ten, no lap counts, nothing.
Luckily, Mike Joy is a veteran and is great at passing along information. The key to Joy being effective at Bristol is having Waltrip give him time to talk. Last year, the emotion of Waltrip overpowered the race telecast. Waltrip told stories, updated his opinions on NASCAR topics and generally ruined a good portion of the race for TV viewers.
The 16 second laps at Bristol require focused commentary from all three men in the TV booth. While Larry McReynolds has faded into the background this season, Waltrip has continued to dominate the telecasts. At Bristol, that leads to another problem.
Once the race begins, the pit reporters are basically in a bowl of sound. The noise is so loud hand signals are the only way to communicate with crew chiefs, officials and field producers. As the stories of the race unfold, the pit reporters are going to be key to keeping viewers informed, especially with the new points system in place.
On the video side, pictures from Bristol are both beautiful and challenging. Wideshots and aerial views can show TV viewers just how small the track really is in relation to the grandstands. Low angle "speed shots" work on restarts and replays, but are tough to cut-in live. In-car cameras live are just a disaster.
This season, FOX has refused to show the lead lap cars racing to the finish line on the final lap. Instead, the drama of the NFL approach is back. Several key members of the NASCAR on FOX production team also work on the network's NFL coverage.
While it might be nice to see a tight shot of a wide receiver catching a long pass for the winning touchdown, this approach has fallen flat in NASCAR. Watching only one of the 43 drivers who are racing in 36 events over a ten month period win a race loses a little something. That something would be the entire rest of the field.
As we have said since 2007, fans of all the drivers deserve to be treated equally by the NASCAR TV networks. While SPEED and ESPN do a great job on the final lap, the FOX production is simply a misguided mess. If only one car is seen crossing the line at Bristol on TV, there is going to be a fan backlash of epic proportions.
This post will serve to host your comments on the FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Bristol Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related comments before, during or after the race just click 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.