Monday, May 30, 2011

TV Police: NASCAR On FOX From Charlotte Motor Speedway

On Memorial Day weekend, who better to investigate the long and complicated saga that was the Coke 600 on FOX than a Marine. NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not mess around. The former Marine gunnery sergeant leads a cast of colorful characters who always seem to respond to even the most difficult challenge. Gibbs speaks few words and his "look" is enough to get any one's attention.

The NASCAR on FOX gang began with an interesting pre-race show. Rather than focus on the racing, the program ran through a wide variety of topics. Memorial Day and military themes were featured, including Jeff Hammond parachuting into the track.

Michael Waltrip appeared to announce that his book was being made into a movie and Darrell Waltrip got "Revved Up" about NASCAR and the US Armed Forces. Chris Myers played his normal role and everything was tongue-in-cheek funny. Unfortunately, what FOX did not do was preview the race.

That was left to Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and eventually Waltrip from the TV booth. Despite McReynolds and his muted role this season, his explanations and race set-up were outstanding. It should be interesting to see what role he plays next season for FOX.

Pit reporters were Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren. Not much to do at times, but once again solid information relayed by personalities who know the sport. FOX has lots of talent waiting in the wings for new challenges while reporting on tires and fuel.

We are familiar with the FOX telecast production style. Hyper-tight shots, in-car cameras live on restarts and accidents. Single and double-car shots that show an individual battle without a race perspective. FOX loves it.

More aerial shots appeared, perhaps due to the solid amount of fans at the track. The low angle shots worked to reinforce speed and the split-screen effect is well-framed. The triple-split was rarely held for a full pitstop, but the info was solid in terms of positions leaving pit road.

FOX again had those strange in-race ads on an animated video board for a new movie. After watching the Indy500 with side-by-side commercials, it was tough to stomach that and the full-screen FOX breaks. Perhaps, that will change for 2012.

Late in the race, FOX snuck-in another side-by-side commercial. Instead of cutting the race, the video box only showed a tight shot of the leader. You could not even tell what turn he was in the camera was so tight. Even when innovating, it's always a struggle with this crew.

The racing picked up toward the end of the event despite the fact that several caution flags for debris resulted in no pictures of that debris making it to TV. In the end, the final 50 laps provided good racing and a solid storyline.

Waltrip in the booth is always interesting, but this season he had taken over the telecasts. On this Sunday, Joy stepped back into the lead role and actually directed traffic. He handled Waltrip effectively and called the action.

The problem was that Joy was consistently in front of the cameras where incidents were concerned. Joy would call out the corner, the issue and the cars before the cameras found the incident. By not following the best racing on the track and shooting hyper-tight, the NASCAR on FOX team has leaned on replays for incidents since Daytona.

It came down to fuel mileage once again and Waltrip admitted he did not know the fuel strategies of the teams on the track in contention with 20 laps to go. Ultimately, chaos ensued and it made for good TV. Video of the three RCR cars pushing each other was priceless. Junior ran out and Harvick stole the victory.

It was unfortunate that a profanity from Chad Knaus was aired live, but FOX is ultimately in control of what goes out over the TV. Using live team radios at a critical time can often result in just that type of moment.

It was a long day of motorsports capped by a long night of Sprint Cup Series racing. FOX has one race remaining with Kansas on the schedule next weekend.

This post will serve to host your comments on the FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related race summary, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet on this holiday weekend.


jerry said...

good stuff, would like to see Larry reassert him self as the crew chief.

Daly Planet Editor said...

He was great down the stretch.

Andy D said...

Exciting finish but I would have enjoyed it a lot more if we'd had 20 green flag laps to the end, then the surprise.

As I said in the live chat, the story with twenty to go was Junior. Biffle and Kahne were definitely low on fuel. We weren't sure if Junior was. And who was behind them if all three ran out. They weren't selling the suspense.

For all the over-promotion they do throughout every race, they can't sell it when it counts. Indy set a high bar but done right, they could have made this one just as spectacular.

Like Indy, I had no idea who the lead would default to when the leader went out in the last turn. I was not aware that Harvick was behind Dale.

OSBORNK said...

To me, the entire race felt like a manipulated reality show rather than an actual race. Mysterious caution flags were called at times when there appeared none were needed while at other times no cautions were called when it looked like they were needed. It was like watching someone playing poker with marked cards or watching a rigged ball game.

Both of today's races were determined by fuel mileage with a twist at the end. The 500 had a constant camera on Danica when she was leading even though it was obvious she would have to stop for gas and the 600 had a constant camera on Jr.(which made sense). Fox was so prepared for Jr. to win that they didn't do a proper checkered flag finish. Both races were saved from being very ordinary races by the finishes.

Andy D said...

As race days go, this was one of the better ones.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Happy to have your comments on the NASCAR on FOX telecast on this post. You can use to direct any other questions or comments to me. Thanks.

We do this "TV Police" after every Sprint Cup Series race all season long.

Jonathan said...

From what I saw it was a damn good race and Fox did an OK job!!! I was in the car driving home when the cautions for debi came out but comeone we have tv timeouts in other sports and even if there wasnt debri on the track who cares. its a long race everyone needs a break here and there! WHat a finish Jr is back and then some and he will get his wins sooner than later I say that cause I feel its true! time will tell but I had a blast today/night Hope Kansas is just as fun

Roland said...

Ton of mistakes bu the FOX boys tonight. Hate to say it but ESPN/ABC won the battle today. But its like a battle for 30th, you wanna win the battle, but in the end your still a loser.

FOX absolutely sucked tonight, and I wasnt even listening to the thing. I had PRN giving me info minutes before FOX would. I had PRN giving me full field run downs. FOX countered with a slow ticker. I had PRN give me close to 15 interviews during the pre race, FOX gave me ZERO!

What an embarrasment.

KoHoSo said...

DISCLAIMER: I only saw the race from just before the half-way point through the end of the telecast.

Booth: This was almost like an old Fox race. Mike Joy was energetic and Larry McReynolds was back into the telecast making good points and bringing good information. Darrell Waltrip was somewhat controlled by Joy as Mike did not seem to let DW stomp all over him. Still, I cannot recall one comment made by Waltrip that added anything to the telecast other than the sound of his voice.

Pit reporters: Generally excellent as always but, as has been the habit this year, still woefully underused.

Cameras: As I said during the race thread, better than usual but that's not saying much. There seemed to be more wide shots tonight that gave a better sense of the speed and what was going on through the field. However, these shots were still far too few and paled in comparison to what ABC did an excellent job of during the Indianapolis 500 earlier in the day or what Speed does on a weekly basis with the truck series.

Side-by-Side II: Ab-so-freakin' useless if all it shows is a tight shot of one car.

The Overall Day: F1 can be frustrating with its politics. IndyCar can be frustrating because it ain't what it used to be. NASCAR can be frustrating due to inconsistent rules and horrible television coverage. However, for those lucky or hearty enough to have watched all three big events today, it reaffirms why we all still love racing no matter how outside forces try to hog it up for themselves or think they know better than the fans.

It was a grand day for racing.

Andy D said...

I'll agree that Junior is having a good year and wouldn't be surprised if he wins one this year.

Isn't it established that Junior is good every other year? I thought I saw a detailed proof on that a while back.

I personally don't think Dale was ever THERE, much less coming back. Dale's in a difficult position and has a lot of expectations dumped on his shoulders. I saw Kyle Petty placed in a similar position.
I don't think Dale had to fight hard enough to get to the top to acquire the necessary fire to be a superstar.

If Jimmy doesn't win his sixth this year, I can see Hendrick pouring everything into a Junior championship run. If Jimmy gets six, Hendrick is gonna want seven in a row. Very strongly.

KY1WING said...

Saw glimmers of hope. It was almost like they were challenged by the Indy broadcast and actually made an attempt to show a race. But that lasted for about 500 miles or so and then they reverted big time back into their old ways.

Not knowing who was on what fuel schedule was inexcusable. If DW didn't know he had a ton of trained professional pit reporters who probably did know or could find out at his disposal, but it didn't seem to materialize.

I've never understood in fuel mileage races why they can't throw a graphic up showing who pitted when to give us some good data and help build excitement and use it as a lead in to interviews with the crew chiefs...

Where were the interviews with the crew chiefs before the gwc restart to ask the tough question of can you make it? A real chance to build excitement squandered.

Also, since when during fuel mileage races do you not use wide shots to show the relationship between 1 & 2 (or if its really tight on fuel and really done right 1 and the car with the most fuel)? The hyper-tight lock in on the 88 ruined the drama and robbed the viewers of the excitement those at the track obviously enjoyed. Poor.

Course when the 88 took the lead and the wreck occurred behind, every seasoned fan knew no caution would be thrown. Had it been the 16 out front followed by the 88 the yellow would have been thrown before the 31 hit the grass.

Also, if the 88 had finished first how many think we would have seen the "Race to the Finish"?

Not a big 29 fan and a win sure would help the 88, but the way it all worked out really seemed to mess with this bunch as it destroyed their calls to the wire which I'm sure they had been working on since the last green flag dropped with the 88 in the lead.

Another disappointment me was the lack of following story lines within the top 15 finishers (and some poor finishers) Lot of new faces up there-Smith, Stenhouse to mention a couple. Indy radio did a great job of going beyond the obvious to give it's listeners a well rounded wrap up. Guess it was too much to ask here.

Did anyone see the points standings after the race? I'm sure it was shown, just missed it. Weird and wild finish should have shook things up some, just wondered how much?

Overall I thought it was one of there better ones (or maybe I'm just getting tired or soft) but it still scores a C- to D+ in my book.

One more to go

alex said...

I didn't mind this broadcast too much (other than Atlanta not seeing the initial green flag), but the "first time winner" storyline got old quickly. At one point there were 4 or 5 drivers that must be having their first win tonight, it was hyped up so much. Even to the point where Chris Myers called someone a first time winner instead of "expected" first time winner. It's one thing to sell those guys as potential winners, but at least wait until the last 100 miles.

Anonymous said...

fox gets an F+. It is too hard to read the ticker - it was really easy to do for the Indy race. Camera work was, again, very poor with too much in-car, front bumper, rear bumper, top car, etc. etc. cams - not so for the Indy race. Too much one and two car shots - not so for Indy race. fox's ONE side by side commercial showing close up of ONE car was a joke - not so for Indy car. Larry and Mike were the exception and get B's - they did the best they could with what the had. Somebody needs to do DW a favor and remove him from the booth. He is making a fool out of himself and he does not have the capacity to see it. I sat down with just the TV and enjoyed a race, watched a race, was kept informed about a race. Of course I am talking about the Indy race. DW and camera work caused me to turn off the nascar race. MC

earl06 said...

JD, you've been calling on FOX to use twitter, now that most of the crew is on, during the telecasts to answer questions and interact with fans. Hasn't happened yet...

What I did notice is that they are following stories on twitter and reporting them as if they had done the legwork. Several times last night, DW read verbatim tweets that I had just read myself. And Krista did the same at least once.

I have no problem with them getting this info out, but you have to wonder if all the folks in the media center digging up the info will continue to tweet it if they get no credit for it. And that would be a shame. I couldn't imagine watching without the twitter feed, it is a necessary complement to the broadcast.

zieke said...

Great finish to a long race. Fox got exactly what they deserved by going to Johnson's radio just when he blew an engine. What did they expect from Chad? Also goes to show that Mike and Larry could do the broadcast very well without loud mouth in the booth.

Anonymous said...

The end of the race certainly had its surprises, but I totally lost interest by the 400 mile mark. 600 miles is just insane to expect people to stay with the entire race. So many things happen that by the end, pure luck often determines who wins. I mean, other then Delana, did anyone really believe Harvick would win before the race started? Before the race, the 'experts' were engraving Carl Edwards name on the trophy. After the first run, he faded back. Nascar won't do it, but the cautions continue to look contrived. It's not at all clear to me why the caution flag is displayed or not. Nascar could communicate better with the booth on cautions, but that will never happen. On a super long race, I wish the booth would pace themselves and pick and choose where to build drama. As usual, they feel they have to talk non stop and they assume that we really care what their opinions are. All in all, it was vintage Fox coverage.

Jayhawk said...

KY1WING, I remember when they did precisely that. I think it was probably CBS, but I'm not sure of the network. Anyway, they posted a graphic of the leaders and showed exactly how many laps ago each car pitted for fuel. They even had neat little graphics of fuel guages.

Anonymous said...

Nascar so wanted Jr to win that they did not call a caution at the end when clearly there should have been one.
I wonder if there will be any fines for the f bomb being dropped by Chad Knaus.

The Mad Man said...

The race had a lot of potential to be exciting and then DW opened his mouth and it went downhill from there.

NASCAR's consistent inconsistency with their rules took away from the race as did the mystery debris manipulations. Fox's poor commentary and camera work pretty much sunk it. With the last split screen ad, they really screwed up by keeping the camera on Biffle the entire time rather than showing us what else was going on.If this is how they plan on continuing with their split screen operation then it's as bad as not having it.

TNT can't get here soon enough.

GinaV24 said...

my favorite current TV "cop", Gibbs could cut right through all the "crap" that Fox continues to hand the fans.

I'm glad the prerace focused on the armed forces since that is the reason the holiday takes place, but I didn't tune in until around 6pm and even that was almost too much for me.

Fox did a better job at least some of the time providing longer camera shots, the one that sticks in my mind though was so far away that you could just about make out the cars on the track, so that was pretty useless other than being a pretty shot. however we still spent too much time watching the race through a variety of in car cameras. yep, that's the front bumper or the side of some car -- can I see the action with perspective please? I missed the side by side commercial this week.

I have the TV on with the sound muted during most of the race and since Fox wants to show me the race via replay that's how I treat it since I get most of my real time information via trackpass and twitter.

I watched a lot of General Hospital during the commercials. I know they need to pay the bills but when the commercials continue to overwhelm the racing and includes long intros for other products overlaying the green flag laps, then I tune out. I came back with 40 laps to go to see the end of the race.

it's a shame that no one in the booth seemed to know how to setup the fuel strategy. I knew my favorite was short because I was using trackpass. Unfortunately, the 48 blew up and that ruined the race for me.

It was stupid of Fox to use a live radio feed when it would seem obvious to any one who listens to the scanner that any comment from Knaus would not be G rated.

I was glad that Nascar's blatant attempt to ensure a feel good win for Jr by not throwing the caution at the end failed. Cars were wrecking all over the place - we could see it on the screen - I don't take the sanctioning body seriously at all at this point. He seems like a decent guy and I know he's got a lot of fans but geez, that was just over the top for me.

Vicky D said...

JD, maybe Fox needs the NCIS team in the booth instead of the regular Fox crew I would really enjoy that. I also noticed the side by side commercial and them showing only one car during it - big deal! Like you I couldn't even tell what place on the track they were. I also thought Mike Joy picked up the pace during this broadcast and several times I heard DW mention certain cars so I could tell he was actually looking out the window instead of a monitor in the booth. This was a very long race I'm surprised DW didn't slow down a bit at the end since he was probably really tired for someone his age!

MRM4 said...

JD, it seems to me the director is slow to changing to the shots rather than Joy being ahead of the action. If Joy was ahead of the cameras, they'd have no shot at all of one of those far away, can barely see what happened angles. Fox has always been slow in catching the accidents live. It's been that way for 10 years.

The Coke 600 has one of the best pre-race shows in NASCAR. Fox does an outstanding job in catching everything, complete with the emotion around the ceremony.

I found Michael Waltrip's appearance odd because I didn't know if he was selling a book or auditioning for a spot on next year's telecast on Fox instead of SPEED.

Larry Mac did seem to be back to his old self. I don't know if MW's appearance last week in his place woke him up or the powers at Fox decided to turn him loose.

Despite it being a long race where action gets strung out, I thought they did one of their best jobs of the season.

Sally said...

Why cnan't Fox understand that what makes the 'drama' in racing is seeing cars in relation to one another? Watching a car closing in on the car ahead...NOT from a bumper cam, which tells us nothing.
Seeing someone getting set up for a pass can't be effective from an in car camera. Tight shots just don't engage the audience. Too bad they never informed us of who was waiting to pounce when cars started running out of gas...that would have been dramatic!

I won't fault Nascar for not throwing the caution (I know, someone circle this date). If they had truly wanted Jr. to win, they could have thrown the caution after he took the white flag and frozen the field, slowed down the cars and Jr. might have made it. How often have we complained about Nascar throwing the yellow when things rapidly cleared themselves up?

I found the race interesting in spite of the TV coverage, not because if it. Shame on Fox. Won't be sorry to see them hit the road...and maybe they can find a nice spot to leave DW.

Anonymous said...

My favorite moment of the race was DW calling the Kyle Busch spin.

"Someone's spinning! It's Kyle Busch! He had help!"

Cut to mandatory Fox replay. Nobody is anywhere near Kyle Busch when he spins out.

My only complaint about Fox camera selection is that they don't use really good closeup shots. I can barely see the contingency sponsor decals on the front fenders. Fox needs to use closeup hi-def shots to show these decals in detail. Fox isn't showing the race, so they might as well give the contingency sponsors some exposure. They could probably generate a new revenue stream from this.

Anonymous said...

That was fun to watch at the end....maybe the board has me jaded, but I will have to agree that the inconsistency of the cautions was really surprising, especially at teh end.

Wasn't there a caution for a beer can at one point? They mentioned it I think. At one earlier point, I saw a blue beer car rolling down by the yellow line. Meanwhile, Indy cars were running through a PILE of trash.

I'm a little tired of having basic automotive things explained every week. Yes, a styrofoam cup stuck to the grill will cause a problem. Everyone knows this by now.

Agreed, in car/bumpercam shots are *useless*. The only time they are fun is if you a) don't have any other cameras, or b) are showing the 2nd place car trying to run down the 1st. Showing a 25th place car (Tonye Stewart) just to display the technology is pointless.

Lisa Hogan said...

Since my frustration meter was pegged last season, I made the decision to watch all races delayed through the DVR this season.

Fox has turned the race coverage decisions over to the Mkt/Adv dept. All camera angles have been sold before the race and must be used X number of times during the race.

The ticker situation is a mess. It has been turned into a color swatch parade with sponsor banners taking over at regular intervals. I now call it the "tocker"

One shot really made me laugh. The tocker was a banner for Toyota and the camera shot was the Lowe's in-car.

I have seen all the booth folks on other shows and know they can do a good job. My opinion is that they are doing as they are told.

I will admit that I am thinking of using FedEX/UPS to send DW a swami turban as he has been told to read all the driver's minds! :)

Anonymous said...

I hated the pre-show because there were no driver interviews!!!!!

The knaus swearing on live tv was priceless. I guess they want the Inside NASCAR ratings.

NASCAR totally held the yellow so jr could take the white flag. Ridiculous. These guys are not running a sport, they are putting on a show. They use the word show all the time and it's clear why: thy were trying to fix the end for a Dale jr memorial day win.

The announcers were good but they caught most every crash before the cameras.

rcbutler56 said...

So if NASCAR wanted JR to win, why no caution after the white flag? That would have put the 88 in Victory lane.

Daly Planet Editor said...


You are correct. If there was any conspiracy to put Jr. in Victory Lane, they would have given him (the leader) the caution flag when he came back around after the accident

That would have allowed him to save fuel, come around one time and win.

I spoke to several people at the race who said all the cars drove away long before Junior came back around.

PS - He lost!

Palmetto said...

This isn't related to the 600, but I watched the one-hour Indy 500 pre-race show. I saw a reasonably tight single hour that focused on the drivers and the race. ABC used only one hour to cover the 100th anniversary of this event, one of the few IRL events on broadcast TV, and did more with it than Speed / Fox did with three hours the week before for a NASCAR non-points event. The race coverage managed to track the stories highlighted in the pre-race without allowing those lines to dominate the coverage of the racing as it developed. I hope ESPN uses the same production values later in the NASCAR season.

The 600? My wife walked through a couple of times. Both times that animated rat was on again, eliciting a, "That's annoying" comment. Both times the rat was used during replays, it managed to block a substantial portion of the view. DW was totally out to lunch several times: calling 'Dinger Ambrose, losing track or the corners, etc. I can't wait for TNT to get here.

Boy, it was a lousy day to be leading in a National Guard-sponsored car!

Palmetto said...

KoHoSo, I watched all three, along with today's Grand Am event.

F1 - I'm still unable to tell who's driving each car. The ticket identifies driver and position, but there's not way for the casual F1 viewer to link the driver to the car. No number, no color scheme; just the assumption one is familiar enough with the series to already know who is who. I assume Speed is commentating over an F1-provided feed, but it's a very arrogant approach on someone's part.

Before I forget, kudos to ABC for their effective use of blimp shots on the restarts. They figured out pretty quickly that was THE camera angle for a restart style new to the event, and once they did they stuck with it effectively.

I love watching Grand Am on the tube. Minimal pre-race garbage, fewer commercials than the more popular series, relaxed commentators who do a good job of summarizing the racing format for those who don't normally see it, and a 'Just us guys watching the race' style that (ESPN? Fox?) tried and failed to pull off a couple of times last year.

Palmetto said...

One final comment and I'll shut up. I've finally figured out how Fox chooses it's camera angles.

It prefers those shots that look dramatic. The problem, as we all know, is that those shots just don't utilize the medium effectively to tell the story. I sometimes wonder if whoever positioned the cameras came from a music video background, or watched too many 'Fast and Furious' sequels. You can't tell much of a story when the cameras aren't properly positioned (what race fan would stare across the S/F line except on the last lap? who would watch a race from ground level inside a turn?); but you can get some very pretty ones. They'd make great stills for a print publication.

Anonymous said...

Biffle had problems with his cool box. Fox played in car audio of a frustrated overheated Biffle. Fox had in car thermometers showing temps of 130 degrees plus. Fox explained how a cool box worked and that the pit crew was gonna replace it. Not an easy task. Fox covered Biff's problem in depth. So every time there was a caution why didn't Fox show Biffle's stop and and cover his crew trying to fix the problem?

Anonymous said...

I know this is off topic....but with next week being FOX's last week any word on changes at either TNT or ESPN for the cup races?

Im pretty positive ESPN will be rolling out a new graphics package for the sprint cup races (Judgeing by the Indy 500 graphics....and test video for NASCAR Non-Stop).

Havent heard much from TNT though?

Anonymous said...

""F1 - I'm still unable to tell who's driving each car. The ticket identifies driver and position, but there's not way for the casual F1 viewer to link the driver to the car. No number, no color scheme; just the assumption one is familiar enough with the series to already know who is who. I assume Speed is commentating over an F1-provided feed, but it's a very arrogant approach on someone's part.""

Remember, F1 is FAR SUPERIOR to all other forms of racing (just ask the car forums). You must follow along on your own all week and come prepared to watch the race. There are no "casual viewers". :) :)

Grand Am could do a little better to show the driver *teams* for those casually watching it. When so and so is out of the car, show those that are also drivers on the car. It's sometimes hard to keep up if you're only casually paying attention. It'd be easy to do: Dixon/ROJAS. Caps are who's in the car.

Someone mentioned if a NASCAR race is going to be a fuel race, throw up some graphics about who last fueled. I re-watched the end of the Cup race, they barely mentioned Hamlin until after Harvick finished. It all happened quick and they were unprepared (while planning the Junior victory party).

robbiejr said...

Anybody else notice how Mike Joy kept saying "in it to win it"? He's been watching too much American Idol. That's the saying Randy Jackson wore slap out this year.

Michael Stoffel said...

A fine job by Fox on a race that can be a chore to watch due its length. I (sorry guys) enjoy DW, and they seemed to keep Chris Meyers to a minimum. I wish they had mixed the pit reporters in more on the last 100 miles to update the gas situation on everyone.
I cannot keep track of those Indy cars from anything but a close up shot. They all look alike from afar.

(How about using Facebook log-ins for identity's here?)

Anonymous said...

it was a long race..but exciting at the end and fox covered it well..the prerace show was patriotic for the weekend..chris myers always brings a bigtime feel to the broadcast...mike joy is so boring ... the fox slomo replays are special to watch.

RWar24 said...

The DW cheerleading is so tired. If he could still stay objective with his broadcasting, you could almost handle it.. But he's clearly can't and proves it time and time again. The earlier comment about DW describing the Ky. Busch spin is the prime example. Call it as you see it, not as you want to keep from hurting the feelings of the ones you're clearly rooting for. I hope Nascar and their partners are happy with the product, but they're going to be the only ones watching it before too long.

Ian S said...

Always have loved Larry Mac on TV. NASCAR Performance, both TV and radio are excellent. Can't wait to see him back with TNT, out from under DW's shadow. He seems to have much more freedom with that group.