Sunday, June 12, 2011
TV Police: Sprint Cup Series From Pocono On TNT
It's going to take someone with a very good sense of humor to figure out the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Pocono. Detective Dwight Hendricks loves Memphis, his mother and singing the blues. He also uses his positive attitude to get through tough situations. Pocono was tough.
The TNT team broke-out all the bells and whistles for this race. RaceBuddy was online and for the first time available on iPad and iPhone. The TV commentary track was offered online along with four in-car cameras, two battle cams and a lot more. They would need it all.
The race unfolded after a foggy morning with the one hour Countdown to Green show. Lindsay Czarniak hosted Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds from the TNT infield rig in the windy and cool weather. The show featured opinions, interviews and a feature on the late crew chief Harry Hyde.
TNT's pit reporters started strong with Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and newcomer Chris Neville covering the stories and interviewing before the green flag. TNT uses the pit reporters a lot more than FOX.
Adam Alexander is in season two of his job as play-by-play announcer for the TNT races. Petty and Wally Dallenbach join Alexander for the telecasts. Pocono is a huge challenge for the PXP person due to the long green flag runs and the relative lack of passing.
Ultimately, the only way to make Pocono interesting is to continually update all the race strategies and go through the field. TNT does not use the "hyper-tight" coverage philosophy of FOX and the result was a very different looking telecast. Wideshots for perspective were mixed with close-ups that were selected for a reason.
The telecast viewed with RaceBuddy made for compelling video, especially with the fact that RaceBuddy continued without commercial breaks. Watching the telecast alone told the classic story of Pocono. Engine woes, big speeds and little passing.
TNT does "through the field" rundowns that give fans information on drivers and teams that have perhaps not been up front or in the TV coverage. It's a nice touch and a welcome addition after the reality of FOX and the lack of available information from those telecasts.
The upper-screen scoring ticker for TNT still has the team colors and numbers, but the names of the drivers can be clearly seen in black and white, literally. The ticker moves at a quick clip and additional graphics are often added to it, expanding the available information.
TNT runs a lot more split-screens, but seems unable to put McReynolds in that effect when he is updating on-camera during the race. It's more important than ever to keep green flag racing on the TV screen, so perhaps McReynolds might find himself sharing the screen for the remaining five races.
After leaving the race due to engine failure, Carl Edwards joined Czarniak and McReynolds in the tiny TNT studio used when rain is pending. Edwards even brought his failed engine part and had a brief conversation that detailed his issues. Then, Edwards stayed and continued to comment during the telecast.
As usual with Pocono, the racing action picked up late in the race. TNT continued to keep the focus on the racing action with Petty taking the lead on the race commentary. In this first race of the TNT package, McReynolds had a much smaller role and was not in the mix on strategy issues.
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