Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Race Wrap: ESPN In Talladega

It was going to be an interesting weekend. Many believed that might be true despite the lack of racing in this new two-car tandem scenario at Talladega.

Nicole Briscoe hosted the pre-race show with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Briscoe and her husband, IndyCar driver Ryan, were friends with the late Dan Wheldon and his family. Briscoe worked her way through a tough segment dealing with the recent racing deaths and the risks faced by drivers. Her emotion was very real.

Wallace and Daugherty often reinforce what each other are saying, but for some reason Daugherty was on the Dale Earnhardt Jr. bandwagon. This might not have been bad, but Daugherty kept calling Earnhardt "Junebug" over and over again. It was very strange.

Wallace tried to elicit a reaction from Matt Kenseth, who was an in-studio guest on the perception that Kenseth was essentially....boring. Kenseth would not bite. Wallace is not having a very good Sprint Cup Series season on TV. Perhaps the different dynamic of having Briscoe hosting has affected him.

Allen Bestwick had his work cut-out for him. The tandem racing at Talladega looked more on TV like two cars trying to avoid collisions with one guy driving blind than actual racing. The incidents on the track happened when partners had a problem, not from racing for the lead or position.

Bestwick was accurate and informative, not sugar-coating the lack of racing on the track. The task was to do the best with what was going on and that was accomplished. This is the track where tension between ESPN and NASCAR first became public. A lot has changed since that time.

"It is what it is" has become a catch phrase used to try and explain this type of racing. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree never made it an issue, just tried to keep the viewers up to speed with the wide variety of agendas being used by the various tandems during the race.

This style of racing forces ESPN to say wide with the cameras as the tandems demand coverage of a "clump" of cars and not just one or two. The "hyper-tight" style of ESPN could not be used. Instead, the wider views made the video watchable and the use of the larger side-by-side video box for more features within the show was a plus.

Tim Brewer tries his best, but sometimes his explanations are just hilarious to a fan base that has watched the sport since February. Many of us have been fans for a very long time, so repeatedly telling us about the fundamentals of the sport is pointless. Give him credit, he is enthusiastic about his role on the telecasts.

The lack of incidents left the pit reporters out in the cold. There simply was not much to do and the cars that came off the track and into the garage were being fixed to return. Even a late caution that caught ESPN in a Nonstop commercial resulted in two cars being parked but no real stories to follow-up.

The final 11 laps were another pushing and shoving match between couples. Regan Smith showed the random nature of being involved in an accident in this style of racing. Luckily, he avoided injury. A late solo move by Clint Bowyer after a break-away with Jeff Burton won the race.

ESPN ran though the standard post-race interviews. There are certainly going to be a lot of new stories emerging in the media over the next couple of days. TV had a tough time keeping up with all the changes on the final restart.

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


sbaker17 said...

Wallace is not having a very good Sprint Cup Series season on TV

He never has IMHO. It's just that this season is worse than the others, if that was even possible

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Well all i have to say is this, i anm refering to what you said in a column post years ago.

There comes a time when it is impossible to give second chances to someone who refuses to change. There comes a time when things are so bad it is hard to believe they will get better.

jerry said...

Racing was good, broadcast was good. The race chat way too negative even for this place, I had to bail on the chat well before halfway. See y'all next week.

Palmetto said...

Good, wide camera angles today. Yeah, the plate format forced it, but we've got to encourage this behavior on the rare occasions ESPN demonstrates it.

I again applaud the booth crew for pointing out the strategy used when exiting pit road to keep pairings together.

Daly Planet Editor said...

jerry, every single fan has the right to an opinion, whether you personally agree with it or not.

Just so we are on the same page.

OSBORNK said...

I avoid the babbling idiots in the lead up to the race. I thought ESPN did a pretty good job with what they had to work with once the "race" got underway. What could anyone do with a nonrace "race"? When the "stars" are intentionally running at the back o9f the field and everyone is avoiding any confrontation, what did they have to show or tell us?

Buschseries61 said...

I thought ESPN did a good job with the racing offered. Bestwick, Jarrett, & Petree just went along with the prom and dating references and had fun. That was a good decision. Without the fun, this race would have been torture.
Bestwick gave us plenty of info and updated the front/middle/back of the field all day long. There were no surprises up front at the end.

The pit reporters didn't have much to do, but they did a nice job with the post-race. The only cringe-worthy question of the day was asked by Vince. The lack of garage/pit stories again makes me unsure what Jeff Hammond will do on FOX next season.

ESPN had a poorly timed commerical with 15 to go. They should have known after so many laps of riding around, the last 15 laps would be the best of the race.

Nicole was fine in the infield. But I still wish they let Brewer in and relieve Brad.

Finally, the finish line shot was good. Overall, a pretty decent ho-hum day for ESPN.

Roland said...

Not a good race. Half decent broadcast. Brewer's segments were laughable. At this point just get rid of him. His technical analysis consists of saying that tires are round, radios work, and soft walls are soft. Its insulting, not only to the intellegence of race fans, but to Brewer himself. Dude was a great crew chief. Wouldnt know it based on these clown segments.

Camera work sucked at the end. They didnt use split screen when they should have. Show the 2 leaders when its time, show me the big 4 wide pack behind them. A lot of times they would ditch the pack whenever there was one to show cars running single file at the front.

Nice interviews after the race though. I dont take those for granted anymore. I remember the days when the only interview was Jimmie. Thanks for the Blaney interview.

I could go on a hate parade about the tandem racing, but since this about TV coverage Ill leave it at that. All Ill say is they desperately need to fix it.

AveryNH said...

I think they need to get rid of the pit studio. They ruined the flow of the race. Also this tandem crap has gotta go. ESPN did a decent job today but cutting to commercial moments before labonte's crash even with nonstop was dumb. Real winner today was Blaney sneaking into a third. Loser: Hendrick. Ol' five time and Gordon are done and now looking up at Roush on top of the standings

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Style of racing at 'Dega dictates camera shots, so better than previous coverage ...Allen Bestwick provided his usual sterling play-by-play, DJ seemed on-his-game today and Andy again contributes pertinent info ...now we'll see if production team steps up again for Martinsville ...'hyper-tight' shots next week would be in-depth exposure of body cavities, not to mention unprofessional

Anonymous said...

Sports announcers need to concentrate on talking about the current race. Too much history, too much repetition between the announcers. Too, too many commercials and the smaller screen with no sound during commercials adds nothing except the announcers are quiet also.I especially liked Bestwick's comment " This race winner is determined on the last lap" Really?

GinaV24 said...

Didn't bother with pre-race and it was too nice to stay inside watching the 2 x 2 parade. I came in and out to see what was happening and the answer was 'not much".

ESPN did a decent job with what they had to work with on the track. I like AB, DJ and Andy. Avoid Rusty and Brad like plague.

In case the powers that be are interested, Side by side commercials are not keeping me from watching football during boring races.

Sophia said...

Never watch the pre race but DVRd it today just to hear the very emotional Nicole make it thru the Dan Wheldon tribute. WOW, great job of getting through with the breaking in the voice....amazed she didn't sob...had to be a very tough job for her. She showed she had it. Real but got it done.

I could go on a big old hate on the tandem deal (It.must.Go.)

But from a camera perspective, that I always gripe about, ESPN did well today imo.

It is what it is? Well it ain't what it used to be. RP isn't meant to look like this :(

But the truck did a good job as I mostly watched live though not a 100%.

Still, I remember Fox butchering the hail out of dega with constant in car/bumper cam intrusion. Today I really enjoyed the wide shots.

The only good thing as somebody mentioned was if there is a wreck in the tandem cars, it takes out few cars. Only good thing.

52 yr. fan said...

I was switching between the Panthers and Nascar today. Took a while to figure out Chris Myers
voice with his intelligent presentation. Talk about a Jekyl and Hyde personna. ESPN did great with the pictorial presentation today. The booth guys were pretty
good also considering the lack of
quality of race.

AllisonJ said...

Somebody. Shoot me, please. That was the most boring race yet, and a waste of precious hours of life.

The high point was crying with Nicole about Dan.

Talladega used to be the best race on the schedule. NASCAR ruined it. That ain't racing, and everyone knows it. Between the Two-Bys at 'Dega and guys pushing each other around under yellow to save fuel, NASCAR is killing oval racing.

As an aside, I thought that Tim Brewer was spot on today. Spot on.

The booth crew... I have nothing constructive to say so I'll just shut up.

Jonathan said...

Nascar is killing oval racing???? what??? I dont get it Nascar provides us with a lot of great oval racing!!!! Fromt the K&N Pro Series all the way to Sprint Cup???? Also provides racing Canada and Mexico! I dont get how there killing oval racing? Hey Talladega has always been a crap shot, yeah Im not a big fan of the 2 by 2 racing but today was exciting and ESPN did a great job all around if you ask me! Great job B and thats the best grade ESPN has gotten from me all year but then again I was at the Brickyard but heard that was a great broadcast as well. Say what you want but Talladega and Daytona have never been a racers race. I say its more of and entertaining race! I was entertained most of the race today they did a good job with what they had! Pack racing or 2 car tango Daytona and Dega are not a true racers race coarse but thats what makes Nascar that best racing series on the planet! From the 2.66 mile track we go to a half mile track then a 1.5 at Texas to to the mile track of PIR! Nascar is not killing oval racing my friend appreciate Nascar for what it is cause it sure beats watching football in my book

Jonathan said...

my only wish for todays race was that ESPN would please let us hear the cars for a few laps!

KoHoSo said...

What a shame. This was probably ESPN's best Cup effort since Indy, at least from the portion of the race I watched and judging by the live blogging comments I just reviewed. For me, it was completely marred by a style of "racing" that I can simply no longer tolerate. Sorry.

Mule said...

I have to give ESPN a B for effort, given the fact that they didn't have much to work with. Crusty and Sasquatch add absolutely nothing to the race broadcast. I'll bet Jr Nation cringes every time Brad refers to "Junebug". I can't really fault Tim Brewer for what he does because his topics are picked by someone in the truck. The truck doesn't seem to understand that everybody is not a novice.
Nascar is dying a slow, painful death right in front of our eyes. All they do is bury their heads in the sand and say everything is fine and blame the economy. This car and the Chase has neutered Bristol, Daytona, and Talladega IMO. No doubt just to give an excuse for adding another couple cookie-cutter, fuel mileage races.
Kudo's to AB and company to try and make it a bit more viewer worthy.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is that the racing(?) on mile and a halfs and the Super Speedways is a complete, boring joke. I've been a Nascar fan fan for 40 years and this crap is pathetic. Can anyone imagine all those empty seats at Dega? The COT may be safe, but it's a piece of crap from a racing standpoint, so you get fuel mileage and tire strategies and wave-arounds. The best Nascar racing this year has been anytime the NNS and Cup cars go to a road course!!!! Who would have thunk? Even Bristol and Martinsville had people shaking their heads when they were over. Yesterdays race ended and I said..."that was it???" The only thing positive about this year's Chase for me is that I don't bother watching the Nascar tv programs during the week freeing up my time. Why bother?

Anonymous said...

For at least 10 years, our best friends come over for the Daytona 500. I just had a horrible thought. Could the 500 possibly be as pathetic as yesterday's race? Now, I'm really depressed!

larry said...

It was such a boring race, I napped through most of it. I had nothing else to do, so I left it on.

Every time I woke up, it was "still waiting for the last 10 laps"...boring...

We were out late the night before. I needed the nap time, thanks NASCAR.

James said...

If you ever needed an excuse to not watch the manufactured racing that is todays NASCAR, todays entertainment was the centerpiece! From the contrived GWC, to the racing to the back to avoid the "BIG ONE", the biggest joke of a CHASE infomercial! I am sure BZF loved it. By the way, what ever happened to racing for the lead?

Garry said...

This is not a coverage complaint, but a racing complaint. NASCAR needs to stop this right now. Tandem racing is classless, boring, and pathetic. My Broncos game between an 0-5 team and a 1-4 team produced more excitement then this.

Stick with the Biff said...

I know this is about the TV cast, but just a comment to all those blaming NASCAR on the tandem racing....*IF* they knew how to stop it, I'm pretty sure they already would have. They have probably analyzed every suggestion that's been made by anyone who has a clue about these cars. The problem is (I'm guessing) every way they've thought of to fix it would have some other repercussion that would be as bad or worse. They want pack racing--much as I dislike it. They could have lowered the banks at these tracks when they were repaved & they chose not to. I wouldn't be surprised if they did try something more drastic by Daytona, since they can test it in the off season. I don't think they like making big changes without trying it out first, no one likes a bad surprise.

I thought the broadcast was okay, other than having a host studio being completely useless. And unless Brad knew Junior as a kid, like DW and others, he has no business calling him Junebug, it's tacky.

Nicole did a good job. And she did it without making a lot of her personal situation, acknowledging it but knowing that most viewers were already aware. In fact it was clear she was trying to be professional about it as possible under the circumstances.

Matt had already stated several times this week that he doesn't mind being under the radar. Apparently Rusty hadn't seen the 10 other interviews where he said that (okay, maybe an exaggeration but I'm sure I saw it at least twice.) I like Rusty, but I haven't seen a way to use him very effectively as a broadcaster.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Due to operator error, did not DVR HotPass, so had to watch ESPN version.

I am not even going to complain about ESPN coverage.

Why? I can not stand the tandem racing.

Even if you don't like pack racing, this is not the solution.

Agree whole heartedly with JR...you have zero control of your own destiny.

He came out of pits ahead of JJ. But then supposedly JJ had an overheating problem. So JR said he would lift to let Jimmy get in front. So, what happens...they finish 25th & 26th. Stupid.

In the past a single driver could have made up alot of ground in a couple of laps. Maybe not won, but finish in top 10/15.

Sorry....just ranting.

Bill said...

Allen Bestwick is arguably the best PxP announcer NASCAR has ever had, and I'm big fans of both Mike Joy and Bob Jenkins. Ken Squier in his day was also very good.

However, none of them could stay on top of a race the way Bestwick does. Not only is he a stickler for details, but he juggles so many jobs at once, it's amazing, and if he ever misses something or makes a mistake, (which is inevitable with the lightning fast flow of information from all angles) Allen is quick to correct the error, and move on.

On top of all that, his love for the sport is obvious, and when he tries to generate excitement, it is genuine, and therefore infectious. You can tell there are times when he leaves both Petree and Jarrett speechless with the constant flow of timely and accurate information, all delivered with the enunciation, diction and articulation that would make any news radio professor smile.

And if that's not enough, Bestwick also nudges his pit reporters to find stories during a sometimes event-free race, which I believe has raised their level of play.

Mike Joy is the master of the understated, less-is-more style, which unfortunately gives the hyper styles of DW and Larry far too many opportunities to interrupt, relegating poor Mike to sit back and watch those two rant. A swap of color analysts between the two networks would prove interesting, to say the least!

Petree and Jarrett may work better in the more relaxed booth of Mike Joy, while Allen may be able to do a better job at keep those two motor mouths reigned in.

Oh, and this in no way is meant to indicate that Mike Joy is nothing short of one of the best race announcers in motorsports. He may have a more laid-back style, but he always has a bead on everything that is going on. Both he and Bestwick are two of the few remaining race announcers that still scan the track by actually looking out the window rather than staring into a couple of monitors. Nobody spots a crash faster than Mike Joy!

My only concern with Allen Bestwick is if he will grow weary of trying to right this foundering ship all by himself. If he does, and ESPN doesn't do its share to help him, he's going to need to start a work out program with Jimmie Johnson!

In sum, all I can say is bravo and Godspeed, Allen Bestwick! You have no idea how much you were missed! (Oh, and stay away from hockey rinks for a while, OK?)

MRM4 said...

There were pit reporters during the race?

Jayhawk said...

I was trying to follow Tony Stewart, and should not have has as much difficulty as I did doing so. He would be in the lead and then would disappear both from view and from the commentary. He would not return to the commentary until he returned to the top five position. What caused him to drop back and how he worked his way back up was never covered, and it happened several times. Since this guy is one of the leading contenders for the championship, that should never have been the case, and it was the case not only for him but for everyone other than the Hendrick cars.

bobby dee said...

I liked the race. Two bad things though. I don't need to see the standings across the top, showing the cars that parked after a couple of laps. Also, I want to see if the wrecked cars are out or off, and how many laps down.

Anonymous said...

ESPN did good with what they had to work with. The best part of the whole show was the end when Burton and Bowyer actually proved there are no team orders at RCR. I cannot call what they did at 'Dega actual racing. It was refreshing to have different drivers at or near the front of the pack as it made the announcers talk about someone different for a change. I think the tributes to Wheldon was all well and good but I was sorely disappointed that neither Nascar nor ESPN gave no tribute to Lucas Oil off road racer Rick Huseman. Although he was not as well known, they should have at least brought up his name and condolances to his family and friends. His brother was also killed in the plane crash that took his life on 10/16.

GA Red

SWTB said...

geez...guess I wasted my time giving my opinion about the broadcast.

Dot said...

The one time I wanted to see a bumper cam, it was nowhere in sight. I'm talking about the Ambrose/Dinger wreck.

Again, BSPN was is a rush to get to their beloved comml that they cut Allen off in mid sentence.

Didn't I read here that DJ had his appendix removed? I was surprised to see him. Glad he was there. Now if only Rusty could have a mouthectomy, all would be good. Maybe he and Brad D can get a BOGO. Buy one, get one.

Props to Nicole to get through that piece about Dan Wheldon. Her emotion was the finishing touch.

Zieke said...

If Brad D. has chosen Waltrip to copy with the Junebug bit, he has made a very poor decision. He needs to right along with both Waltrips in a big hurry!!!

Charlie said...

During the telecast at least 3 times AB refereed to something that was seen during the None Stop Coverage. For example he said you saw the pit stop during none stop coverage. If the booth wants us to watch the race during commercial and get information from it the window they use to show the telecast should be a lot bigger.
When the none stop coverage comes on I go to the computer and look what this blog is saying, or check twitter, or get something to drink or eat, or a bathroom call. I don't watch during commercials.
I just want the booth to be aware that not everyone sits and watches that small window of the race during a commercial.
I recorded the last 2/3 of this race and watched it later and I fast forwarded through the commercials.

Delenn said...

I was at the Wembley NFL game last night, so I only just caught up with the telecast.
I really only wanted to comment on one thing. Nicole and the Wheldon piece. She was obviously very emotional, as she had been at the memorial on Saturday and slept in a car en-route from Florida to Talladega overnight into Sunday, but she and Ryan knew the Wheldons well. Well done Nicole for getting through it without sobbing, and well done to ESPN for letting her do what had to be done.

Anonymous said...

Bestwick tried like heck to engage viewers, keep everything relevant...but it was just a boring, insipid race. Can't really fault the booth on that front.

Not trying for doom and gloom - but I'm realizing something - Nascar is about making lots of money for a very few people. Isn't about racing anymore. The days of stealing tires out off cars in the parking lot are well over.

France is making enough money to call himself God at this point, though...good for him.

Think I'll take up basket weaving. Beats watching this stuff and getting more commercials than racing.

Anonymous said...

Props to Nicole Briscoe on the coverage and discussion on Dan Wheldon. You could tell she was doing everything she could to hold back the tears during the race, but how she brought the story to the viewers and hearing the emotion in her voice helped portray the story and I give her props for how she did the coverage.

For the race, I actually fell asleep during parts of it. I didn't fall asleep because the race was boring, which in parts it was, I was just that tired too, lol. This 2x2 tandem racing SUCKS! NASCAR! 2x2 TANDEM RACING IS NOT TALLADEGA OR DAYTONA!!!! NASCAR needs to realize that sooner than later. No way that place was sold out on Sunday. I saw a lot of empty seats. Wasn't Talladega and Daytona full at one point say 2-3 years ago?

And for the finish, if RCR wasn't 3 seconds out of the pack, it would have been even more interesting. I had no idea until today that the interval of the finish was .017 seconds. ESPN nor NASCAR.com nor anywhere else had that until today. Normally we get that info, especially when it was a close finish like that. And Petree's excitement got into the call at the end. AB was calling it and Petree got into the mix as well.

Overall, NASCAR, change the product so ESPN and other networks can provide something good for the viewers at home. It is a shame that the 2x2 tandem racing has RUINED restrictor plate racing, 4 races I really looked forward to seeing every year. Right now, I really don't want to watch it unless it is the last 10 laps because that is when everyone does something.

Anonymous said...

I've already posted once on this thread, but the race and its coverage still frustrates me. Almendinger and Mark Martin each were involved in situations that resulted in wrecks. Did I doze off at the end of the race or did the pit reporters fail to interview them? Espn played the radio traffic from the #18 after they and Harvick got wrecked. You could clearly hear Kyle say..."the #42 rolled the entire apron to hit us in the right rear wheel". The booth and the truck had to hear it, but no one said a word or followed up. Speed later replayed that radio transmission on Speed Center. This is routine for DJ and Andy to stay away from anything controversial. Andy is the worst of the two. He'll waffle around a situation before saying "you can't tell." This isn't solely an Espn issue, it happens routinely in the booth. I am really concerned about plate races for next year. This tandem racing crap has to stop. Look at Denny Hamlin. Without a partner, he was 4 seconds a lap slower then the field and was almost immediately lapped. Have you ever seen a form of auto racing where a single fast car had no hope of competing by itself? Have you seen other types of auto races where the potential leaders tawdle around at the tail end of the field until 10 laps from the end? Was it Junior or Stewart who said at an earlier plate race that they were falling asleep? But of course, it's the poor economy that resulted in all those empty seats,right? I dvr'd Race Hub last night and replayed it later. What a waste of time. 90% was a replay of interviews and footage we saw Sunday evening. You'd think they could round up some drivers,crew chiefs or car owners for interviews,even if it was only phone calls. Instead we got the usually 'opinions' regarding the points standings. Of course, no one in the media covering Nascar predicted Bowyer and Burton would finish up front. Sorry about p'ing on everyones shoes so early in the morning, but my beloved Nascar is in deep doo doo, and I don't sense that Nascar recognizes the trouble it's in. For what it's worth...

larry said...

Ford spokesman says there were no "orders". I wonder if anyone has the guts to tell him that he's a liar.

Yeah...no "orders"...just the knowledge that if you didn't follow the 'non-order', you would have to find a job somewhere else...

GinaV24 said...

LOL, yeah, Larry, I saw that too and of course Jack Roush is denying it too.

And yet, NASCAR wonders why people aren't enjoying the racing as much.

I know that I wouldn't bother buying a ticket for a RP race at this point based on the utter boredom of the racing on Sunday.

We're headed to Martinsville this weekend but I won't be sitting in front of my TV for NASCAR the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

I was remiss in my previous post in not saying how impressed and touched I was with Nicole's Wheldon piece. Just broke my heart and brought back tears. Can't imagine how hard that was to get through.

On the issue of social media and the TV media. So true needing a "do you really want to hit send" button. TV loves this stuff and with scanners so much more info out there. I think Trevor Bayne got hung out to dry. He is young and still trying to make his mark in the sport. He was in an improbable situation when Matt ended up on his bumper at race end. A veteran driver would have probably stuck with Jeff, not because of honor necessarily, but out of chance to maybe pull off a win or top 5 finish. For a young driver I am sure the "non orders" orders played in his mind when the spotter said the 17 needed some help. Too bad, Trevor is a good kid. Hope they don't go after him with interview after interview at Martinsville. Although I am sure they will.

Anonymous said...

When you compare what Trevor said on the radio and to Gordon compared to the statements from Roush and Ford, you quickly realize that the Ford guys think we're all fools (well, maybe). On Race Hub last night, Spencer showed two instances where Dillon passed under the yellow during the truck race. Simple question....why do we have to hear that issue from Jimmie Spencer? Where are all the other "expert analysts" including the stooges in the booth Saturday afternoon.

larry said...

Now that Jack Roush has joined in perpetrating the lie, I have lost all respect for him. He obviously has no respect for the fans and thinks he can lie to us.

It was widely reported before the race that the team orders were in effect. When they were carried out and resulted in offending some fans, they lie to us.

I had expected more from Roush.