Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Post-Race: Sprint Cup Series On ESPN From Chicagoland Speedway


The weather cooperated but the racing did not. A dry track sent cars out again for what fans have seen too many times. An aero race where pit road, restarts and fuel mileage made the difference.

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

The race started on time with no weather delays. There was a competition caution early on to check tire wear. Several times during the race a debris caution came out and TV was unable to show the debris on-camera.

ESPN resumed it's signature style of producing NASCAR races. Tight shots of small groups of cars dominated the telecast. The focus of the coverage was moving between individual battles on the track mixed with following the leader and using in-car cameras.

"Hyper-tight" is a term we coined last season for the style of coverage that ESPN uses for the Sprint Cup Series races. Time and time again, the camera zooms to the tightest possible shot of two cars racing for position. This eliminates any perspective of where on the track the cars are racing or who else is racing around them.

Bestwick is put in the position of talking about the cars the director and producer have chosen to put on the TV screen as opposed to calling the race by looking out the window of the TV booth. It has affected his ability to add excitement to the telecasts.

Petree was once again more outspoken than Jarrett, who has seemed to embrace the politically correct NASCAR environment. Petree is key at adding strategy comments to the telecasts and he is not afraid to call a team out for making a bad decision.

Bestwick has taken to calling these type of events "strategy races." He is politely saying there is very little racing involved and most of the decision making is done on pit road and by the crew chief. Fuel mileage is dominating the racing.

ESPN Nonstop was used in the second half of the race. It lets the race video continue on the screen. Fans kept suggesting that more commercials had been added, but that is not the case. Same amount as usual in these telecasts.

Ultimately, the race came down to fuel mileage. ESPN let Stewart cross the line but was unprepared for the rest of the cars running out of fuel on the track. Most of the top finishers were missed and the sequence on TV was just chaotic. Once again, pit reporters were talking to drivers about a finish TV viewers never saw.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Chicagoland. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by.

27 comments:

OSBORNK said...

I felt like I totally wasted a perfectly good afternoon watching a disaster. Lousy "race" with even worse coverage. Without a ticker, you had no idea who was where and most of the race, that didn't help much without an interval. NASCAR needs to return to the larger fuel tanks they used to use so fuel mileage is less of an issue.

Anonymous said...

That was some bad television produced by some evidently incompetent and apathetic personnel who would much rather be somewhere else and doing something else.

When my home state NFL team has played badly in past years I have always channel surfed to anything more satisfying to watch. Now that NASCAR and ESPN have combined to make some terrible and unwatchable my channel surfing has resumed.

Sophia said...

Turned on LITERALLY for last 2 laps only. HAPPY to see Tony Stewart win but why so many out of gas??

Ludicrous. I am glad I was busy doing other things on the laptop so I did not try to sit thru this horrible coverage.

HyperTight is not the way to show the race.

Jimm57 said...

Wow, where to start? Boring race track, no crowd, strung out racing. TV broadcast was 2 min behind the scanner radio, Race buddy was delayed more than the TV! It was a twilight zone nightmare. Not much action, and ended up in a fuel duel. The TV shots were tight, rarely showed more than 3-4 cars at a time. Stories were not covered, drivers were not shown. Glad Tony won and the 48 ran outta gas!

9 to go, hope they do a better job than this.

Thanks JD

scarletandmaize said...

ESPN should consider itself lucky it didn't have to go head-to-head with the NFL yesterday if the coverage is going to be like this.

KoHoSo said...

I can't say much about the whole telecast as I was (and still am) at work. Still, I watched the last 18 laps uninterrupted. The coverage of what was happening at the finish was abysmal. Considering how races on the cookie-cutter tracks have often gone for the past several years now, how could ESPN be so unprepared to cover cars running out of fuel?

Sophia said...

p.s. I can't BELIEVE they left the air without telling what happened with all the cars running out of gas.

This fake "Chase" is supposed to be like a playoff (According to Brian France?!) And this is how ESPN treats the first race?

Insulting. They really don't deserve to cover NASCAR.

I wish I had free over the air NASCAR radio like we had years ago. Camera work sounds like it was atrocious & the last 2 laps was a mess.

I was only HAPPY because I've wanted TS to win for a long time...sheesh.

Buschseries61 said...

I watched the first half on RaceBuddy & watched the final 15 laps on another site.

RaceBuddy was not enough for the fans away from a tv. 6 In-Car cameras can not tell the story to those unable to watch. Very disappointing.

The last 15 laps were frustrating. Bestwick tried to describe what was happening, but the cameras had their own agenda. I was disappointed by the minimal post-race too.

The ESPN from Indy is gone. The NFL will stomp over NASCAR through November with this type of racing and coverage.

PanWahl said...

At what point does Alan Bestwick's stained-glass, grandma-appropriate presentation move from some crooked idea of needing the make the race family friendly over to just being incapable of expressing the realities of NASCAR. In two situations I found Bestwick's embarrased-good guy routine to be more than just gratingly unctuous (as is usual) but simply ignorant of the situation he was trying to explain.

One good example was Tony Stewart's interview. Stewart for once actually addressed the viewers not as a company stooge, spokesman tool, but a real driver, and the nervous Bestwick basically plugged his ears and issued and apologetic, strange analysis of what Tony had just said. Oh sorry Alan, it wasn't rated G so let's stick some rated G words in his mouth. (And it wasn't like Tony was being even PG13 here).

Grandpa Bestwick also came off looking strange when he went on a long riff about Martin Truex Jrs nobel attempt at a "strategy" play - a feel good story, delivered as if he didnt want to hurt anyone's feelings - that was instantly and properly deconstructed by Petre in one sentence - 'well he's going to run out of fuel well before the end.'

It's honestly like Bestwick is watching the race like it was an elementary school play day for disabled kids. "Everyone's a winner."

Sorry Alan, this is the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and not only won't I be offended with a little reality, your characterization of failing crew chief strategy and angry drivers in your "everyone's a winner" view of the sport is annoying and really just strange.

Grow up.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Typical ESPN broadcast ...putting in the time to collect the check ...oh yeah, they paid for it, so they'll do what they choose ...inept production as usual ...will NASCAR ever care about a quality race on 1-1/2 mile track? oh yeah, it's ISC's (NASCAR) own track ...to quote famous philospher, "What, me worry?" ...same ol', same ol' NASCAR ...never putting the fan first and respecting the drivers' ability to put no a good show ...NFL looking better every NASCAR broadcast ...thank you ESPN - NOT!
Walter

NorCalFan said...

Dear BSPN,
Thanks for the post race coverage. NOT! That was such a cluster at the finish wouldn't you think those of us that just wasted 3+ hours watching deserve to know what the heck happened?

Storylines abound. What about the #38 pushing the #17 car around the track on the last lap because he was out of fuel? That's a big no-no. Or the #18 car stopping for fuel on the white flag lap and then driving backwards down pit road to avoid having to drive all the way around the track to cross the start finish line? All the while the #24 crew chief is pleading with Gordon after pitting for fuel on the white flag lap to get back on the track and drive the last lap because they witnessed the #18 doing some shenanigans on pit road. Those situations involve chase drivers and their finishes affect the outcome of the championship. But obviously ESPN's job is done after we see the first car to cross the finish line, a quick interview of Jr., and the obligatory victory lane interview. Then POOF, cut to your regularly scheduled programming that regurgitates all the stick and ball scores from the weekend.

Yes, all the NASCAR fans at work today who DVRd the race to watch tonight will be thrilled at the post race coverage of old football and baseball scores. Way to go ESPN! NASCAR management should be ashamed they allow this to happen and then they wonder why viewership is declining.

It's not the fans fault there was a rain delay yet the network treats us as though the sport is just one big inconvenience. Would there have been a post race planned had the race been run on Sunday? We didn't need the in-field studio talking heads for post race--truth is we don't need them at all for any race.

ESPN, you just don't know how to broadcast a race and it's a shame it doesn't matter to management in Bristol. Even Allen Bestwick can't fix this.

Anonymous said...

Same story...ESPN will never give NASCAR their due. Minimal post race, Allen Bestwick, bad coverage all make trying to follow the Chase like a trip to the dentist. Honestly..I'd rather see Discovery broadcast NASCAR. I don't understand why they buy the contract if the are going to show such open dislike for the sport.

Jason said...

I thought it was a very boring race, I know, I know they can't all be great, but its every time they go to these type tracks. It doesn't matter whether its, Chicago, Kansas, Michigan, or California. They're all boring fuel mileage races. Bring back the short tracks, or if they don't want to go back to the ones they left then build some new ones. Racing was always good at North Wilkesboro, Rockingham, and tracks such as these.

Karyn Stone said...

Yes Jason - bring back North Wilkesboro! Then I can attend a race and not TRY to watch it on ESPN or RaceBuddy - totally useless.

The only good thing about today is that Smoke won and Dale, Jr. was third!

Roland said...

Watched the first 50 laps on the watch espn app. It kinda sucked though. Couldnt turn up the volume since I was in the middle of class.

Came home and watched the rewatched the first 50 and watched the entire race.

Im shocked to read that everybody hated the coverage. I thought it was good. But there were a few things. The camera work was crappy. Zoomed in to the max. I never complain about camera work so thats saying something. Jamie Little should be embarrased about her work today.

Really impressed with side by side commercials, mainly because there were so few of them at the end. And they actually started before halfway. But I did fast forward through them because the box with the race is tiny. With the change to 16:9 Its possible to have 2 equal split screen boxes. This is what the side by side commercials need to be.

Post race was pathetic. I was surprised AB didnt say "this has been a presentation of the world wide leader in sports" during his call to the finish. They were gone in a heartbeat. And for what? a show called NFL Primetime. At 4pm on a Monday, a show called NFL Primetime. What idiot came up with that?

Anyway besides the bad there was some good. I give it an A-. Love having these bare bones broadcasts. Unfortunately next week theres a pre race show, a pit studio full of clowns, and Brewer. Yikes.

Roland said...

And whats so wrong with fuel mileage? Its unpredictable. Its exciting seeing the finishing order scrambled up. Mediocre drivers can win, dominant drivers can lose. Whats better than that? Love all the strategy. Its fun to play along with at home. Make mental notes on who pitted when and whos good. Its fun. Much better than strung out finishes at other boring tracks. Todays race was good. Lots of passing. Lots of side by side racing. No 1 dominant car, several different leaders. If you didnt like that then I dont know what you like. Its not a barnburner but its better than its ever been at these types of tracks.

Anonymous said...

These big,wide track are a total joke when it comes to "racing". The cars are all strung out with few cautions. If you start with the right setup,you're in. If not,ypu're 2-3 laps down or all strung out on the lead lap. In theory, "The Chase" isn't a bad idea,but blown engines, getting wrecked by someone else's stupid driving or driving over debris resulting in a wreck is a faulty concept over ten races. What a way to start to the Chase. They raced all season for this?

Zetona said...

You know the camera work is bad when a wide shot shows a gaggle of cars running three-wide and then the camera zooms in on the two cars running single-file directly in front of them.

The bigger problem is that almost every race at a 1.5-mile-plus oval this season has been extraordinarily dull, except in some cases for an exciting or tense finish, as was the case today. NASCAR needs to modify the cars somehow, maybe so that being in clean air doesn't give you such an advantage, maybe so it's possible to pass when behind another car; heck, maybe so that the cars are harder to save when they get sideways and we see more cautions. Fuel-mileage finishes can be exciting, but we shouldn't have to slog through 230 laps of drudgery to see one.

Dennis said...

The usual problems. Tight shots. Disjointed. Glad Racebuddy was available. I could ride around with a driver and hear what he was doing throttle-wise and radio chatter. Also, liked that Racebuddy had the leader board. But, it was frustrating that it was nearly a minute behind the broadcast.

As far as the tracks they run the Chase on.... what is the sense in running Chase races on tracks where there is very little passing? How many times did we see someone in the top ten have a bad pit stop and then be mired back in the pack, unable to move forward?

Between NASCAR and the broadcasters, they are doing a bang up job of frustrating the fans.

larry said...

I DVRed the race and watched it in about an hour or less. No racing involved, simply close-ups of the advertising banners (sometimes called cars).

I watched the last 10 laps or so at normal speed and, again, no racing...slow parade hoping to have enough fuel to finish.

I would sure like to see racing again...someday...

Palmetto said...

Okay, advertisers, listen up. I am more inclined to remain within viewing distance of the television when commercials are on IF they are broadcast in 'Non Stop', 'Side by Side', or other format that displays the race concurrently. When they're shown in a traditional format, I go to the kitchen, pull weeds, dust, or engage in any variety of 2.5 minute activities that take me away from the set and your advertisements.

bowlalpo said...

Once again I was the victim of a mid-morning DirecTV banner change with left me with the 11am EDT SportsCenter (which was supposed to be the noon SC to which I had added three hours). I got the three extra hours but with the wasted hour up-front, my DVR ran out with 5 to go. Maybe in the 2011 NASCAR yearbook, which comes out in December I guess, I'll see who finished third-on-back.

I don't see how the coverage will get any better. I've been to Joliet several times and know how great the racing is mid-pack. But of course it doesn't matter to the production truck. And now since ESPN's paid what they had to pay for RaceBuddy, they have another reason to tell their customers, "you don't like it? Go somewhere else." Many restaurants (and maybe some TV networks?) have closed by sporting that attitude.

Anonymous said...

Putting a muzzel on Mr.Bestwick is a crime.Allthe networks that produce these telecasts have the attitude that they are the only game in town and if the viewer doesn't like it too bad,stop watching and we'll still make money.Ratings go down and they will only have to pay $1.00 for their right to telecast the races and show them at 1:00 A.M.

Anonymous said...

All this talk about pit issues with the 22 and 29, then pit stops, and guess what? Pictures of 4 other cars. Who was asleep here? What a perfect time to show the 22 and 29 cars pitting together, how they adjusted their parking positions and stayed out of each others way. So disappointing...

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

So sad & frustrating. ESPN has made some good changes...unfortunately, the most important one, good camera work, is not one of them.

I watched HotPass and will continue to do so.

I had to laugh though as I could see the ESPN broadcast in the 2nd window. On the Non Stop...I could see one car on the screen next to the commercial. Not like I thought they would show any racing, just thought it was funny.

Ps...thanks for those that commented on the issue with Directv's guide changing. I found the change when I went to change to manual recording. Definitely will do that next time since I've given up on ESPN doing anything to help the fan.

Also, anyone with an iPhone (probably other smart phones as well) the Directv app is really cool and easy to use. You just can add time to broadcast, so have to record subsequent shows for additional recording time.

Anonymous said...

Was at the race yesterday so I can't wait to see the replay on Wed. It wasn't boring at all. Some really great racing but obviously wasn't caught by the camera's. You want to hear bad you should have heard the track announcer at Chicagoland. If your a 48 fan you would have loved it as it was nothing but a Jimmie love fest. Curious about the lame ending by Tony. No burnout? Nothing? Were they told by espn to get to VL? Since we put up with hours of cold and rain over 2 days couldn't even see the actual victory lane since its hidden away at Chicagoland.

Many are complaining
about the broadcast but some of us who spent money and ultimately paid for a day off work to attend this were obviously not satisfied either. And I'm not even going to complain about the 2 hrs just getting out of the parking lot. Imagine if the stands would have been full. Well onward to New Hampshire!!

MIke (Detroit) said...

Anon @ September 20, 2011 2:00 PM: Thankyou, great stuff, thanks for the inside scoop at actually being there, (Why is the 48 so popular in Shy town?)
your very strong people for lasting that race weekend out, Good for you, and again, thanks for telling us how it was to actually watch, at the race at the track live. Just makes me shake my head at how much is lost when you see the race on TV,

Mike