Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weird Week Of NASCAR TV

This week is always a little bit different for several reasons. Luckily, both SPEED and ESPN have the Bristol Motor Speedway TV scheduling information out for viewers in a timely fashion.

Things kick-off Wednesday with the Whelen Modifieds and the Camping World Truck Series on SPEED. The truck TV team of Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons will offer qualifying at 5PM ET to start the day.

Then, coverage of the Modified race will begin at 6PM. Mike Joy and Dick Berggren will be in the booth for this event with Bob Dillner working pit road. These three men are deeply into the regional racing scene and always have a blast with this telecast.

Krista Voda, Hermie Sadler and Ray Dunlap start the truck series pre-race show at 7:30PM and then race coverage begins shortly after 8PM. SPEED continues to present the most consistent TV coverage of any NASCAR national touring series with the truck telecasts.

Thursday is Food City Race Night in beautiful downtown Bristol, featuring the hot rod shopping cart seen above. So there is no TV from the track, just NASCAR Now and RaceHub will be providing the usual Thursday programs.

Things pick back up in a big way on Friday. SPEED is once again providing all the support programming right up to race time. Rick Allen, Jeff Hammond and Phil Parsons will work the Nationwide Series sessions. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will handle the Sprint Cup Series activities.

Both qualifying sessions will be on SPEED, with the Nationwide Series at 3:30PM and the Sprint Cup at 5PM. As usual, John Roberts will handle the gaps between the on-track sessions with his NASCAR Live show. Randy Pemberton will be his reporter this weekend.

Marty Reid and the ESPN gang finally show up on Friday night at 7PM for a thirty minute pre-race show and then the Nationwide Series race. It's the usual cast of characters with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree working with Reid.

It's always interesting to watch ESPN try to squeeze 11 on-air voices into a live telecast from a track where a green flag laps takes less than fifteen seconds. Even more interesting are the commercial breaks. Think of it this way, two laps missed for every thirty second spot.

Mike Massaro offers NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 10AM on Saturday from the other Bristol with Ricky Craven in the studio. David Newton will be reporting from the track. This is the hour long Sprint Cup Series preview edition.

The chaos that is SPEED's RaceDay is always amplified for the Bristol night race. 5PM should bring an interesting group of fans to the stage for John Roberts, Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace. As usual, Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler will be holding down the fort in the infield.

The Sprint Cup Series race is on ABC and that poses a couple of problems this time of year. Those come in the form of NFL preseason games being carried by some ABC stations that will be preempting the live race.

Here is the information offered by ESPN for fans in those markets:

Due to some ABC affiliates carrying telecasts of NFL pre-season football games or other programming on Saturday night, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol will air regionally on ESPN2 in eight markets: Nashville, Tenn.; Duluth and Rochester, Minn.; Phoenix; Casper, Wy.; Sioux Falls and Rapid City, S.D.; and Weslaco, Tex. In Houston, the race will air on the local ABC affiliate's digital tier station.

What this essentially means is that ESPN will be providing to the cable systems in those markets the ability to use ESPN2 as a channel to replace ABC. Viewers in those markets should be able to see the entire race by simply going to the ESPN2 channel.

In Houston, that TV market is big enough for the ABC local station to have a second channel available on the cable dial and over the air. That is called a digital tier station.

This is a solid plan from the ESPN/ABC group designed to make the NASCAR race easily available to viewers in the affected markets.

The big finale Saturday night puts Rusty Wallace in the Infield Pit Studio with Brad Daugherty. These two get pretty fired-up about this race, so host Nicole Briscoe may have her hands full at 7PM for thirty minutes.

It is going to be a joy to have Allen Bestwick on the race call. After years of sub-par announcing of this event, ESPN has given Bestwick an opportunity to get this coverage back on the right track. One gets the feeling Jarrett and Petree are ready to help.

Sunday features the return of Dave Despain from an Alaska motorcycle trip to Wind Tunnel at 9PM on SPEED. Prior to that program the usual SpeedCenter and Victory Lane shows air. It's still amazing that SPEED cannot figure out doing Victory Lane live after the race would be a home run with fans.

So, set the DVR for Wednesday and get ready for some early racing this week. Keep an eye on the weather forecast as well to see what happens with Hurricane Irene and potential landfall on Saturday morning. We'll keep you posted.

Happy to have your comments on these topics, just click the comments button below.


Adam Wood said...

I'm glad that ESPN/ABC are broadcasting on ESPN2. No one should have to miss one live event for another.

Anonymous said...

My favorite week of the year that's not Speed Weeks <3 Can't wait <3

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
What a week to enjoy racing ...even if the 'Bristol stomp' has been replaced by the 'Bristol waltz' - you lead, I'll follow ...Mike Joy and Dr Berggren openly show their enhusiasm and make Modified coverage a treat to watch ...somehow, we will survive NNS with expectations of AB guiding the effort for Cup coverage ...nonetheless, it is Bristol and excitement should come about as suddenly as ever matter how hot the racing, tempers will likely be hotter.

Greta said...

So if you live in Houston and have cable, you won't be able to see the race because it will be on the digital broadcast channel of ABC. Welcome to backward world!

John in Chico said...

Even more interesting are the commercial breaks. Think of it this way, two laps missed for every thirty second spot.

I went searching for and found this site after ESPN went to a commercial break with just fifteen laps to go in 2007. Are there new people in the truck that understands motor racing, Bristol in particular? Not likely. Can or will ESPN broadcast the race so that the viewers understand what is going on? ESPN was completely lost at the road race last week and Rusty was just unlistenable. If there was ever a race to use a split screen during the commercial break this is it. But no ESPN is holding back for the chase…..
I look forward to the new contracts coming up in a couple years. Gota’ hope anyway.

Anonymous said...

Adam -CUP race is on your local ABC station with noted exceptions. Whether Houston viewers on cable will see race or not - I do not know. Do they have sub channels on cable? Some do - some may not. Why do we have to go through this every football exhibition season? Nice way for NASCAR to lose viewers and fans. Lets see - ABC affiliates will not clear air time for Sunday mornings on West Coast and now they cant clear Saturday afternoon or night (depending on location)? Tell me again WHY ABC/ESPN has rights to carry these races again?

GinaV24 said...

I plan to be home to watch the whelen modifieds. I love this race and it's fun with Mike Joy and Dick calling it.

Anonymous said...

Will we once again have this race sold as being the Bristol of old? Cause it hasn't existed since 2007.

Anonymous said...

anon 12:32, no they do not have digital substations on any T-W tier (at least not where I live, can't say about Comcast or others.) And some would have to buy a massive antenna to get them.

James said...

We are about to experience the ultimate NASCAR race week and it should be interesting how ESPN and Speed "show" us they understand the race fan. The two best commentators are going to be showcased, the "MIGHTY MODIFIEDS" will be at a track that allows you to see the way racing was back in the day. Then the NCWTS with its flat sided speed machines take to the same track as the open wheel modifieds and we get to see the difference in the two cultures. Friday night the NNW series can try to redeem itself from the last two weeks of dismal coverage. Finally SATURDAY night the top cars with the top drivers and crews battle it out on what should be a wild last 100 laps of CHASE contenders trying desperatley to keep their hopes for the 2011 season. With rides and sponsors all on the line it will be a race fans delight to witness. However, if history proves itself again, they will miss the critical incidents which will be replayed and they will display the same attitudes we have seen with updates and promos of everthing but NASCAR. I hope I am wrong, but this should be intersting.

GinaV24 said...

I've always wondered what it would be like to drive that big shopping cart.

thanks for the schedule, JD.

Ramone Love said...

It is so great to have Bestwick back in the booth. He makes even a race like Michigan, which I personally find boring, watchable. And Jarrett and Petrie are also better because of Bestwick. Smart move by ESPN, let's hope they don't screw with it anymore.

AllisonJ said...

I don't get it. Everyone loves the MRN radio crew, and then thinks that Bestwick calls a good race?

Seriously, there is no one more clinical, more corporate than Bestwick. He could deliver the same [lack of] intensity doing the play by play for his own appendectomy.

glenc1 said...

I also loved the MRN crew when Bestwick was on it. If by 'corporate' you mean a professional broadcaster who doesn't yell at us or spout his personal agenda and gives us a clear understanding of what's happening during the race, I'll take 'corporate' any day of the week. Thank goodness we have him back.

Proud Dad said...

You stated "In Houston, that TV market is big enough for the ABC local station to have a second channel available on the cable dial and over the air. That is called a digital tier station.

This is a solid plan from the ESPN/ABC group designed to make the NASCAR race easily available to viewers in the affected markets."

No, it isn't. Only those subscribers to Comcast cable get the digital channel. Those of us who are on Dish or DirecTV (especially those of us outside the Comcast service area) do not get the telecast. Anyone who thinks an exhibition football game is more important than any Cup race, especially Bristol, is an idiot.