Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chris Neville Joins TNT As NASCAR Pit Reporter

The countdown to TNT is on once again. Kansas this Sunday is the final Sprint Cup Series race for FOX in 2011. TNT comes into town for a six race TV package that features a unique trio in the broadcast booth, original online offerings and lots of network promotion.

Former truck series TV pit reporter Adam Alexander, NASCAR on SPEED analyst Kyle Petty and current VERSUS IndyCar analyst Wally Dallenbach Jr. make up TNT's trio in the booth this summer for NASCAR.

To say this is a complete switch from the well-connected Mike Joy, the deeply conflicted Darrell Waltrip and the darling of the press corps Larry McReynolds is an understatement. TNT brings irreverence like FOX brings the party line.

Petty is already a star for SPEED and does a very popular live video chat from each Sprint Cup Series race. Alexander has been busy trying to get the new Speed Center show dialed-in and Dallenbach has been getting his TV feet wet again in IndyCar.

In a way, the TNT package feels more like folks taking a break from their day jobs to work on summer vacation. McReynolds comes along to be the "race strategy guy." Lyndsay Czarniak, a Washington, DC local TV sports reporter, hosts the pre-race and stays to anchor from the infield with McReynolds.

Last summer Czarniak was switched to host from her pit reporter role. That left Ralph Sheheen, Matt Yocum and Marty Snider from the original group. TNT decided to tap SPEED's Camping World Truck Series analyst Phil Parsons to replace Czarniak.

Unfortunately, Parsons has a tough time working the top series. Between the baggage of his own start-and-park operation and his lack of previous interaction with some of the Cup stars, he was left in a lurch. While several of his "moments" were comical, some were downright embarrassing. Parsons will not be returning.

As the Parsons news broke, it was also made public that this season the TNT online application called RaceBuddy will not have its own pit reporter. That put veteran Jim Noble out of action. Noble had done a great job of holding down the online fort and interacting with fans. Perhaps, he upstaged the guys on the TV side.

Since Parsons was not returning, many thought Noble would get the TV pit reporter job after his hard work on RaceBuddy. Instead, TNT stepped out of NASCAR and tapped SPEED's sports car pit reporter Chris Neville as the new kid on the block. That is Neville pictured above talking with driver Scott Pruett.

Although the news is not official, Neville has already changed his Twitter bio and sent several tweets about his new role this summer for TNT. Neville came up through the racing ranks as a driver starting with go-karts and then moving into various sports car series. He has been working for SPEED for ten years and is a solid TV pro.

Neville has worked on ARCA telecasts, but is not a NASCAR TV veteran. This is not necessarily a drawback, as Czarniak has succeeded on TNT using her news skills and personality on the air. Neville may be the breath of fresh air this package needed on pit road.

TNT was caught in a lurch when ESPN suddenly made an announcement about using the side-by-side commercial format for the second half of all Chase races this season. It has consistently been TNT and Turner Sports pushing new innovations both on TV and the Internet for the last several years in NASCAR coverage.

Other than the "Wide Open" coverage at Daytona, the other five TNT races this summer will have the standard full-screen commercial breaks. Daytona will again have the same type of split-screen approach that some viewers love and some really hate. Advertisers get additional time on the screen and while the cars can always be seen, there is a lot of sponsor content rolling by.

There will be an official announcement on all of this from Turner shortly. This summer package rolls by quickly and begins to be overshadowed by the approaching ESPN coverage once the July Daytona race is over. In the meantime, FOX gets one more try this weekend in Kansas to show us some racing.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

Just 1 last week of FOX, YES! Hopefully TNT is strong as usual.
Looking foward to WIDE shots and solid coverage of the FIELD.

Hopefully Adam Alexander will leave his shouting at SPEED and develop chemistry with Kyle and Wally. Honestly, this is the only criticism I can come up with.

Roland said...

The only part of this I dont like is that Adam is in the booth and Ralph is on pit road. A simple switch of the 2 would make a huge difference. Other than that I am really looking forward to TNT!

Adam Wood said...

In my opinion, TNT does the best job of NASCAR's current TV partners at covering NASCAR. They don't focus all their coverage around whatever Waltrip thinks like FOX and Every Sport doesn't Preempt NASCAR.

TNT also gets some of the toughest races all year. Most fans you talk to say that Pocono should only have 1 400 mile race all year.

Last year's Michigan race, if I'm not mistaken, was one of the shortest races time wise and featured one of the most questionable debris cautions with 20 to go in NASCAR history.

Road courses aren't well liked by oval-loving NASCAR fans. TNT previously had Chicagoland, the most boring 1.5 mile race all year. The Nationwide races at Kentucky haven't been too exciting in the past, can't say my expectations for Cup at Kentucky are very high.

TNT does get Daytona-which they do an excellent job. Sometimes the sponsorship messages can get annoying, but its worth it to see all of the green flag racing at Daytona. New Hampshire can see some short track excitement and could be a good race to end with for TNT.

My expectations for TNT are high. Don't let me down, Turner.

Sophia said...

Hope TNT still has the wide angle shots we've grown to love & appreciate.

SOMEBODY PLEASE tell Adam Alexander to stop SHOUTING.

Can't believe that hasn't been addressed by now. I no longer watch that show which is a bummer. But his yelling gave me a headache.

Hope the camera work still has Mike Wells fingerprints on it. Will probably actually tune in LIVE to Cup races again...maybe :)

Anonymous said...

Look forward to see how Chris does :). Not sure why I'm not remembering him from the ARCA races?!?!?!?!

I'll miss Jim from RaceBuddy :(.

TNTs 6 weeks do seem to fly by :(.

Anonymous said...

TNT cannot get here fast enough. You just do not know how much I am looking forward to being able to set down, turn on just the TV, and enjoy watching a nascar race. No rodent, NO DW (bless his heart, he just cannot see what he has become), better camera work, less schilling. Man, I just want it so bad! MC

glenc1 said...

I am soooooooo looking forward to TNT. As others have said, I'd rather have Ralph back in the booth though, that was the most fun any bunch of announcers had had in a long time. I was surprised Phil was as bad in the pits as he was--just something you don't know until you try it, I guess. I think Chris will be fine; he knows what he's doing. The Sports car races are always well done (soooooo much better than Cup coverage...) It is kind of a unique animal so they have to know their stuff.

GinaV24 said...

Hooray for TNT starting up - I love Racebuddy in particular. I'm a little bummed to hear that Jim Noble won't be doing the pit reporting for it, he did a great job. Still not a big fan of Adam Alexander, I'd prefer Ralph in the booth instead, but at least these guys won't be showing their bias.

I know that TNT will have its usual commercial load and "we know drama" silliness but having racebuddy offsets that for me.

hopefully this producer/director will give us wide shots and let us SEE the race. I'm looking forward to enjoying the 6 races before ESPN takes over and beats us all over the head with the "CHASE"!!! Ick.

Anonymous said...

I may be the exception, but I'm not expecting anything great from TNT in a few weeks. I overdosed on Kyle Petty long ago. Wally has virtually zero experience in Nascar much less such things like "winning Nascar races". So I hardly value his opinion. Obviously, DW is gone, but I'm not expecting any great improvements. If I'm wrong, and I hope that I am, I'll be the first to sing their praises on TDP!

Anonymous said...

I can't wait for TNT. Anon 5:48, The comment about poor DW not being able to see what he has become is right on the money. Can't wait for FOX to Be Gone. Everything about TNT is better. Their on air people do a much better job than those of FOX.

Tonybct said...

no more DW this year, YEA, this last race at Charlotte, I asked my daughter what was wrong with him, he kept stopping mid-yell sometimes, really losing focus, on the TNT side am looking forward to it, except maybe Kyle I too OD'ed on him,it's probably a rotten thing to say, but if he knows so much, why couldn't they win at Petty enterprises, I wish Ralph were in the booth also, he doesn't yell at me like Adam does, still, no DW,Chis M., Jeff H., something to look forward to!

Anonymous said...

I've noticed one common thread with this site. If I make a comment that's positive towards FOX/ SPEED it gets posted right away. When I make critical comments they sometime take many hours to appear and some have never appeared. That takes any credibility from this site. I do understand everyone has preferences and agendas that influence their actions.

Anonymous said...

That's funny, 4:54, I'll spray FoxBeGone all over my TV next week!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:04PM,

Could not disagree with you more. I don't know if you are new here.

Perhaps, you are including hateful speech or profanity in your comments. That will not get them posted.

We have been at war with FOX this season over the absolutely mind-bendingly awful live TV coverage of the Sprint Cup Series races.

Take a short stroll back through this blog and you will watch me call out every single time that FOX jammed a NASCAR-driven agenda down our throats.

SPEED has recently undergone a management change and the new senior exec has shaken things up all over town.

We disagreed with Larry McReynolds being removed from Trackside and am still not happy about Elliott Sadler as a network studio analyst for the Sprint Cup Series on RaceHub.

In addition, Darrell Waltrip will once again be working the NASCAR RaceDay shows this summer while Kyle Petty is off working for TNT.

There are a host of hard-working SPEED personalities that deserve a shot at this position and they did not get it.

If you ever have a moment where you feel something has not been posted or is off-base, just email me directly at and you will get a quick response.

Thanks for your comment and I look forward to hearing from you on this topic.


Anonymous said...

With Neville, we will have a real Pro!

Jim said...

I enjoy TNT's Cup viewer/fan-focused coverage when I can see it in Canada. They also have some difficult locations for races and a difficult time period (end of school year/start of summer) to try to draw an audience) Sadly, one of our main sources for live NASCAR Cup and NNNS races on cable is TSN...which is now majority-owned by ESPN. If there are no other conflicts for baseball, hockey, tennis or anything else, we may even see it live...otherwise we have to hunt around the digital stratosphere for tape-delayed/edited coverage, if we get the race at all. Sometimes, we're relegated to radio only via the internet.

Anonymous said...

TNT always does a good job, but then anything without DW is good so bring it on. JD keep up the good work. Your opinions are accepted graciously, just as they are presented.

Lois Lane said...

Good riddance FOX...Welcome back TNT.

Anonymous said...

Fox is the best coverage period!

Anonymous said...

Kyle and Waly are my favorite team of commentators. If they have any bias or agenda, they conceal it well. I like their enthusiasm, sense of humor, and willingness to call them as they see them. They also seem ready to disagree with NASCAR when appropriate. I enjoy watching a race with these two guys.

I also think Larry Mac has done his best work with TNT. I think he is most effective when discussing the pit strategy being used by different teams. That's what I want from a TV crew - adding information that's not readily apparent from watching the on-screen pictures. Clearly Larry Mac is capable of adding a lot of information to a broadcast. I can only assume that his limited effectiveness for Fox is a result of employer policy.

Fox and ESPN have turned me into a part time viewer because of the poor broadcasts. I expect to be a full time viewer for TNT's run. I welcome their return and regret that it is so short.

JS said...

That's really interesting...Chris Neville does a nice job on Speed with the Rolex Series (Diffey, Fish, Schroeder, Neville & Till are my favorite broadcast team in racing), so we'll see what he can do on the NASCAR side of things.