Sunday, March 6, 2011
Well, this season FOX rolled the pre-race gang out of the Hollywood Hotel and onto pit lane. Here are the boys last weekend. Today Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond will be front and center again with some good storylines developing in a still young season.
Last week Myers went back into his "play the fool" routine after a strong performance in Daytona. His stuttering and stammering act isn't working on the fan base and hasn't for several years. NASCAR on FOX needs Myers as a leader like Allen Bestwick is for ESPN.
Jeff Hammond continues to just kill it during the pre-race show. This may be his best season in terms of preparation and detail. Despite some joking about his cosmetic changes, Hammond is a workhorse for FOX and SPEED. Once the race gets underway, his role diminishes and that is a shame.
Waltrip moves to the booth for the race and that is where the problems have been starting. Last weekend, disjointed was the theme. After a good start, Waltrip just started talking in circles again about topics all over the map. Larry McReynolds now is a shrinking flower who adds only pro-NASCAR comments, instead of race analysis.
Some fan comments from last week included: "I want my three hours back, FOX is killing my passion for the sport and thank God for MRN (radio)." Tight camera work, rough finish line coverage and a sloppy post-race made it tough at times to watch.
The production team chose to revert to 2007 and show only one car racing to the finish line as if the race is over when that happens. Fans of the other teams on the lead lap were not amused. At least Waltrip allowed Joy to call the finish, which he did not do at Daytona.
When Jeff Gordon crashed, nothing was said of the damage and his progress was not tracked until he was back in contention. Post-race, Gordon blew his engine and nothing was mentioned before the Victory Lane interview. Once again, TV and reality clash.
This TV team needs something to shake it up. They are delivering the exact same product and expecting different results. Despite great pit reporters, strong technical experience and good racing, the final product is flat.
It may well be that FOX is going to run out the string with live telecasts of this nature. The potential for change is there, especially with the framing of the racing on the track moving the focus on the overall racing and not individual cars. This would extend to the finish of the race as well.
There are lots of stories throughout the field and the racing should be fun to watch. Topping it all is a sellout crowd at the speedway. That should look great on TV.
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