Thursday, September 8, 2011

Post-Race Comments: Sprint Cup Series On ESPN From Atlanta

ESPN moved the Infield Pit Studio and Tech Garage down the road, but most of the production team stayed for the Tuesday race coverage.

There was no pre-race show for this event. The highlight of pre-race activity was the Grand Marshal saying "Gentlemen, spark your engines!" That was a classic.

Allen Bestwick was in the TV booth with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. On pit road were Jamie Little, Dave Burns, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch.

The stripped-down telecast resulted in a show focused much more on the racing and less on the hype and 11 on-air voices we normally hear. Bestwick kept things on the right track through a rain delay and several awkward incidents on the track.

The TV team sat through one red flag for rain, but hung in there and brought the telecast home before 4PM ET. While the information offered from the booth was accurate, the telecast started with the same type of focus on the early race leaders and the lack of an overall perspective on the field.

Late in the race, ESPN stayed commercial free for a significant amount of time. The rumor was that the network was going to practice with side-by-side commercial breaks in the second half of the telecast, but that did not happen.

The finish coverage focused on the two leaders crossing the line, but never cut back to watch the others on the lead lap racing. Announcers tried to reference it and after the race the drivers talked about it, but once again fans watching on TV never saw it. Tony Stewart fans were not happy.

Post-race consisted of interviews of tired drivers by tired reporters. It was a surprise to see a feature on Jeff Gordon's record run in full after the race. It was a long and extended race weekend and perhaps all parties are just happy it's over.

We invite your comments on the TV coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Atlanta on ESPN. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below.


w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Sadly the production team faded from a strong commercial-free run to the finish into same-ole, same-ole race end important was it to see crew chief kiss baby and son ...and again to see 41 other race teams and hundreds of team members dissed when all cars running were not shown crossing the finish line ...when will NASCAR choose to properly respect those who 'make it happen' ...just a small gesture to show all cars that finish the race ...patience can only last so long

WB said...

I don't always understand many of the complaints I read on this site regarding how any of the three TV partners present a race. (I particularly don't see why everyone gets in an uproar over having to see all the cars cross the finish line.)

Nevertheless, I think it’s obvious that "less is more". Not having the infield pit studio, and the extra voices/opinions that go with it made today's race much more listenable. I don't know whose big idea it was to add more commentators, but I've always thought it was a mistake, and days like today with the stripped-down broadcast prove it. Do we have to race on Monday or Tuesday from now it to make these races tolerable?

OSBORNK said...

The coverage started out well and the "less is more" program was working well. However, as the day wore on, both the commentators and director apparently tired and began mailing it in. The coverage reverted to the same coverage we have grown tired of and they never recovered. A great beginning evolved into a disappointing end. If the rain had stopped and the wind had calmed down, I would have found something else to do.

Anonymous said...

I'm both surprised and pleased that they got the entire race in. The never ending changes to the track raised havoc with the teams. Many in the front at the start wound up in the back and vice versa. I know that's the challenge, but it certainly scrambled where people had been running. In general, the booth was solid as it has been since AB,DJ and Andy stepped in. The pit reporters on all the Nascar networks have an anoying habit of embelishing how well even the driver with dismal results is doing. They try to make it sound like each driver/team has a stellar record and just got a raw deal during this race. I don't notice that with other sports. I wasn't the least bit surprised that the booth had no comment after clint Bowyer unloaded on Montoya. No one in media will criticize the little punk. I thought for sure that Bowyer would wreck him when he came back onto the track. Glad the race is over.

BToS JD said...

Throwback TV NASCAR broadcast with modern technology. I loved it.

Bobby O said...

I'm not a Smoke fan in general, but if I was I would be pissed as you stated JD.

As a race fan, I am pissed!
How can NO one in the broadcast notice five cars fading, and one car passing them all to get third place?

In general I wish ALL races would be rain delayed till Monday or Tuesday. When the useless rest of the broadcast team leaves, we get a decent "race" broadcast.

How does espn not see this???

Daly Planet Editor said...

WB, because the race is NOT over when the leader crosses the line.

On big tracks like Atlanta, there is plenty of racing still being watched by the fans in the stands after the leader has finished.

The job of the TV networks is to present to the viewers at home what the fans in the stands are watching.

No one in the stands is watching the leader slow down.


Anonymous said...

I have good eyes and an HDTV but unless I watch a quarter speed replay on my dvr, finish line racing details (when we're lucky enough to see them) are much more difficult to follow on TV than in person. It would help if the final camera shot was from the grandstand instead of the usual cars coming toward the camera shot.

ChrisK said...

While it would have been nice to know what was happening with Stewart, when you have that kind of battle for the lead, I want to see that. I would have been upset if they had cut away to show something else.

They should have shown everybody finish, though.

Roland said...

Well thaqt race gave us a lot to ponder.

First off Im so happy this race is over so I never have to hear about the Sprint Freaking Summer Freaking Showdown. Thank god thats over.

Big thank you to ESPN for a mostly commercial free second half of the race.

The coverage was pretty good. Just like Michigan and Watkins Glen DJ came out of the box like he had chugged 5 Red Bulls and swallowed a bottle of No Doz. He would not shut up for anything. He was "hittin the chip" so to speak. He seemed to crash after halfway, thankfully. Somebody needs to calm him down. For real.

AB called the first half of the race from the perspective of a person who had never seen a race before. And thats understandable considering SportsCenter was supposed to be on. This is usually incredibly annoying, but AB just has a way of covering all topics and covering them well. His beginner level explanations of things did not annoy me at all. As the race went back to calling the race from the perspective of a race fan.

Jamie and Vince were completely useless today on pit road. It was just plain bad. They really need to be sat down and be shown tapes of their poor performances on pit road.

Espn really was a let down though at the end of the race from about 70 to go till the finish they just showed the 24 the whole time. I like mostly seeing the leaders, but they only showed the 24 and rarely anyone else. I dont care about only showing the leader cross the line. When theres 10 or less laps to go I only want to see the leader, not a battle for 11th. But up until then Id like to know where people are running.

The tuesday afternoon atmosphere for the race is just really cool. I cant explain it but I always enjoy these rained out races.

Congrats to Jeff. Excellent interview by Jerry at the end. I used to hate Jeff cause growing up thats what everybody did. Theres nothing to hate about that man. Great win and great interview.

Vicky D said...

I set the dvr to record the race, but nothing recorded so I don't have any comments. Hopefully we'll be able to see the replay.

SnowdogBob said...

- Editor

So can i ask what might be a silly question? Why aren't all the people we're glad to be rid of required to show up for a Monday/Tuesday race. I mean i'm glad they're not there...but if they're not deemed essential or important to the broadcast when it's on a weekday, what does ESPN think they're adding on Sunday they can get away without on Tuesday?

Is it just that their contract requires them to show up on a certain day and go home whether they put in a full days work or not while the ABs and APs are expected to work the race whenever it falls?

I know you might not know the answer, but i just find it it a practical matter that the stage is already en route to Richmond to setup for this weekends race.

Whatever the reason...I've enjoyed a couple rain outs the last few weeks.


rich said...

First things first--Hurray for 85. Now, once again the K.I.S.S. method is proven. All that money spent on all those useless voices is wasted. Todays stripped down coverage was better that the usual tripe that they shovel on us.
The last 20 laps were when the SPLIT SCREEN should have been used. Perhaps they could not find that button in the booth. Amazing. Totally ignore the rest of the field in the last part of the race and especially the finish. TOTAL FAIL.
Had the usual problems with Raceview. I will have to think hard about paying for that service next year.

Michael Stoffel said...

I was at work and missed seeing the race, but thanks to frequent refreshes here, (and that nice lap by lap commentary), I got the feel for it.
BTW, whoever writes the lap by lap on hates Jr. and his fans!

Bobby O said...


I agree with you that the lead was the place for the live camera shots.

But pxp in racing is not like stick and ball sports. They can actually talk about something without it being shown on the TV. DUUUUHHH.

There are many things happening at once in racing, and that's the information I expect from the TV guys.

When I go to races, I expect to be a bit lost on who is where, and who is moving forward or back, I never expect to know more than the TV crew when I'm watching at home.
Somehow now days, I always do... hmmmm?

Daly Planet Editor said...


A significant amount of NASCAR TV in terms of event production is logistics.

The Tech Garage, Infield Pit Studio and SPEED Stage along with as much additional equipment as possible moved to Richmond as planned.

These tracks are not pre-wired like NBA facilities or even some college football stadiums. The TV guys lay every cable to serve all kinds of purposes.

It's going to be a thrash to get things sorted out for the SPEED telecasts of practice and qualifying.

I hope everyone travels safely and things go off next weekend without a hitch.


Zieke said...

During the last half of the race I kept thinking about going to the restroom at the next commercial. That was quite a wait, but well worth it. I thought the booth guys were quite good, but I've always liked AB for announcing. The last laps were classic, with 2 of the best going at it tooth & nail. Shows just how good those guys really are.
Clint Bowyer- what a mistake he made cutting down on JPM. He should have known better, because of what he said in his interview afterwards.
And did anyone hear JPM say a word about Clint looking for a ride? No one in the booth mentioned it, but it was very clear.

PhoenixHotZonie said...

With 28 laps to go I noticed there had been no commercials for awhile. That was about 10 after the hour. Then, no commercials till they left the broadcast, 50 plus minutes of the finish & post race interviews.

Good for Jeff Gordon with 85 wins and his well earned place in the NASCAR history book. JG's driving skills are impressive today as they have ever been.

Trivia, I was at Eldora Speedway (a long time ago) and if I remember correctly, they(other sprint car drivers)would not let a certain young man race that night.Know why?
He was too young to possess a valid drivers license. Yes, that was Jeff Gordon.

If they only knew then what they know now. Race fans witnessed history in the making today(as they say).

Therefore, all the focus on the 24 & 48 at the finish...understandable & acceptable. Good post race interview by Dr Punch. "Oh yeah by the way, congratulations on your 85 wins" by Dr Punch to Jeff Gordon(and Jeff's ah ha moment) was priceless.

Today offered something for everyone, good or not as good...Racing.

DewCrew88 said...

Alan Bestwick was fantastic.

95+ laps of no commercials was fantastic.

The rest...........................

Anonymous said...

I have to say that listening to the race on PRN was a joy and had me on the edge of my seat. ESPECIALLY the last 25 laps. Too bad the booth can't call the races like PRN/MRN radio does. Their excitement when calling the race is contagious.

GinaV24 said...

I was at work so didn't get to see the race on TV. Obviously I am very happy that Jeff won the race and esp that he beat the 48 to do it. congrats to Jeff on 85 wins!

I caught the highlights on RaceHub last night and will record the replay on speed today to watch later.

Kyng said...

One thing that was bothersome was the split screen near the end with the on-track action between the 24 & 48 in only a SLIGHTLY larger window than the two others, which were showing each crew chief spinning around and around to watch the cars as they circled. Yeah, no kidding - they are the crew chiefs - I'm SURE they are watching.... and so would I !!!

Anonymous said...

They totally missed Tony coming up through there...when I learned he finished third I had no idea he was up there seeing as how they chose to show only the first 2 guys for the last waning laps....I understand, that was a great battle..but split screen would have shown what ELSE was going on also...I just don't get it...and apparently ESPN will never get it either..

Anonymous said...

I recorded and watched the race last night. It was great without all the other people they usually have. I wish they all had less media on tv. The finish was fun to watch with both JG and JJ sliding and pushing for the win. My main disappointment was at the finish when I saw Tony finished third. What happened and how did he pass everyone to advance to that spot? Would have loved to see that.

Thanks, JD for your articles and letting us speak our mind!

GA Red

The Mad Man said...

Now that Jeff has tied Bobby Allison with 85 wins and passed DW's 84 wins, I expect some sniping to come out of DW being the egotist that he is.

Maybe JD can find out but why does every pit reporter have to say the brand of race fuel? We know what it is. There's only one brand. Is there something in the TV contract that makes it mandatory for the pit reporters to say the name of the fuel every time there's a pit stop?

Showing the crew chiefs kissing their kids is fine but not at the expense of showing the cars crossing the finish line. Just because the winner is across doesn't mean that somebody else isn't battling for position in the field that could make or break them getting into the play-offs, landing a sponsor, signing a new contract with their race team, or possible even a wreck from drivers trying to improve their position before the finish line.

Palmetto said...

I gotta go with ChrisK. I had Stewart on my fantasy team and was pleased he improved 4 positions in 2 laps. I would have liked seeing him do it, but a show like Gordon and Johnson put on is why I watch racing in the first place.

Anonymous said...

Great race and I think we had another 70-90 some odd laps without a commercial again! That finish was good, even if JJ was sideways! Why does NASCAR not think Atlanta needs two races? Even the drivers were saying this was fun! Viewers at home, especially just getting home from work, looking for SportsCenter, or even soccer or tennis had to enjoy that, especially the explanations from AB. He really brought something special to the broadcast Tuesday.

I don't know if it was just me, but Andy Petree really was jumping in on everything, especially when DJ and AB were going to say something. He was as some on this blog would say, pulling his "inner Waltrip" out.

You could tell AB was really trying to get excited for the finish, especially with the history of Atlanta. DJ was right. When you have a finish like we saw Tuesday, especially with 85 wins for Jeff, you had to stay with that race since it decided the winner. The only other thing you could have done was split screen the chase by Tony up through the field, but then people would have complained about it. The race for the lead was the best on track at the time, and it decided the winner. ESPN did well on that in my opinion.

ESPN has had two rain plagued races. Pocono and now Atlanta. In both of those races, we have seen the 70-100 laps of no commercials. I wonder if ESPN has learned to air the commercials during the delays and then show the racing, something FOX or TNT hasn't done yet?

Overall, great broadcast I thought, except for Petree. He is normally good, and provides good insights, but was just talking over DJ and AB all day imo.

MRM4 said...

I would have bashed the announcers for no updates on Stewart passing 4 cars on the final 5 laps. But I was also caught up in the battle for the lead that I didn't pay attention to it either, and I'm a Stewart fan.

GinaV24 said...

I'm not sure why they didn't use a split screen to show the race between Gordon & Johnson and showing Stewart coming through the field -- that would have been better than watching the crew chiefs watch the cars go round and round.

Now that I've seen the race via DVR, I can say that.

Palmetto said...

Anon 2:42, the simple reason Atlanta has only one race is the same as why Darlington has only one and Rockingham has none: because there weren't enough butts in the seats.

Jonathan said...

I agree I think we should see most cars cross the start finish line! I remember when every race would finish with at least showing the top 10 finish with a drop down menu

Theres is still plenty of time to show everyone celebrating

Its like watching a great movie w a bad ending!