Monday, August 13, 2012

Race Wrap: Sprint Cup Series From Watkins Glen On ESPN


It was not the wild affair that many predicted, with drivers guarding their points for the upcoming Chase. Still, road course racing at Watkins Glen is a different kind of treat for fans before the reality of the Chase comes along.

Nicole Briscoe started the day by hosting the pre-race show. Marty Smith rehashed the AJ Allmendinger news. Brad, Rusty and Ray covered the topics in the sport but did not bring up the Pocono lightning tragedy or Dodge pulling out of the sport in a timely fashion. ESPN's priorities often do not match the real world concerns of many.

Allen Bestwick called the action, but was slaved to the pictures chosen by the production team. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree added what they could, with Petree again right on the money with his comments. The pit road reporters were on target, but the strategy stories faded toward the end.

The coverage was typical follow the leader, with most incidents shown on replay. Several key moments were missed live despite the fact they happened just outside of the live camera range. That was frustrating to watch. It might have looked good in HD, but perhaps the content should be the most important factor in selecting the images to pass along to the fans.

There were lots of other sporting events in progress, so it should be interesting to see just how many sports viewers decided to tune into this race. On the final laps, the TV coverage never mentioned oil on the track but continued to debate fuel strategy or perhaps a low tire on the Kyle Busch car.

In the end, it was widely known that the drivers had been complaining about a track-wide oil down for several laps. TV viewers were never informed. Allen Bestwick did the best he could on the final lap, but it was clear no one told him of the oil situation. After winner Marco Ambrose crossed the finish line, the ESPN director cut to his in-car camera and none of the other finishers were shown.

I'm going to take some time off and see if I can continue to be a NASCAR fan after the frustration of today's TV coverage. Happy to have your opinion of the ESPN coverage. Thanks for stopping by.

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

The race I listened to on MRN was not the same race that was on television. Why, ESPN, why? Are you people just dumb or what?

The Loose Wheel said...

I don't have a whole lot to say about the TV other than it seemed everyone just seemed incredibly misinformed today. From pit strategy to the oil down the last 2 laps. They seemed clueless.

Anonymous said...

you really need to get over yourself, there was nothing wrong with todays coverage

Buschseries61 said...

Was it really that bad JD? I read online the finish was pretty good.

Dennis said...

As a Canadian viewer I was unable to watch the race on TV. TSN2 will be showing the race at 11pm tonight.

Thankfully, RaceBuddy was up and I augmented that with MRN radio and Twitter. Am now watching NASCAR Victory Lane on Speed to see some video that I missed.

Sounds from the twitter #TDP1 that it was the usual non-sense from ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Maybe thats what NASCAR needs to have exciting finishes.......a jam car with oildown technology.

Joj said...

The complete lack of accurate timely information was lackluster in the extreme. If this was a professional organization it would have been shocking. Its espn so it was normal.

The last few laps were not enough to save this hot mess of a production nightmare.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Best road course race ever,too bad ESPN messed it up again.Perhaps they should't have raced with oil on the track,but an awesome finish.Did anyone see those replays?Half of it was trees.I listened to the radio for a few seconds during the finish,i think those guys were having embolisms!!!

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
ESPN missed another good race ...too scripted as pictures failed to tell the story despite best effort of AB and AP ...likely pit reporters knew of driver info about oil-down around the track, but production team failed to pass that along to their own booth team ...thankfully MRN/Twitter described what was actually happening on the track ...NASCAR screw-up ruined strong finishes for deserving teams ...and was it me, or did a lot of fans along homestretch come dressed as empty seats
Walter

tommy1946 said...

One car finished the race. What happened to the others? How do I choose the driver/car to cheer for when I am unaware if he will be shown finishing the race? I'm done!

John in Chico said...

Like I said at the end of the TNT coverage: Those that think that ESPN will do a better job are dreaming.
Who told them that they are "the worldwide leader", in anything?

Coffeesop42 said...

John in Chico Themselves.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 4:09 said...

"you really need to get over yourself, there was nothing wrong with todays coverage"

Hahahahahaha. Ha. Been working at ESPN long?

MPM said...

Best race of the year since Martinsville, worst broadcast of the year since Kentucky.

AveryNH said...

You know coverage aside how about that last lap huh? Kyle gets turned by Brad and Ambrose races him as rough and clean as can be. It was an all out duel to the finish. The last road race that exciting was montreal when Boris Said pulled it off over Max Papis. Absolute thrill to watch. My only gripe is when Gordon crashed they just showed him backwards and none of the countless other cars finishing and passing him. One of the best finishes of the year nonetheless. Props to NASCAR for not throwing a yellow. They let natural selection play out for better or worse.

Anonymous said...

"Maybe thats what NASCAR needs to have exciting finishes.......a jam car with oildown technology."

How about a robot car driving the wrong way on the track?


Good race, wish the trio in the booth new what the heck was going on at the end. But that's not their fault.

From the point Dale Jr. went off and into the pits, the track was a mess. I don't believe for a second that Nascar didn't know it, and didn't know who. If the driver knew it, the crew chiefs knew it. If the crew chiefs knew it, Nascar knew it and ESPN knew it.

Sally said...

Very disappointing coverage of a race that seemed as if it might be quite exciting...if you were allowed to follow any action that didn't involve just the top 10 runners. Glad I have lots of interesting things to do the next few weekends. I know I won't be missing much by not being in front of a TV.

53 yr. fan said...

Great day for points racing. Please get rid of the Chase!
Other than the last two laps, same stale product; same eratic camera work. Why is it so hard to pan the leaders immediately after the green flag?

rich said...

The race was absolutely impossible to follow with broadcast TV. Half of what they say happened 5 laps ago and the other half doesn't pertain to racing.
The pictures are another thing altogether. The direction/production was the worst that I have ever seen. I feel sorry for AB having to work in the middle of this mess.
Picture selection was totally random. And if we ever see anything live it is by accident (no pun intended). What a shame that this is what ESPN offers us because they have the ability to produce a first class race. I know that they can do better.

Anonymous said...

JD,
I must have been watching a different race, or at least actually watching the race without my head stuck up my backside like it appears to be in your case.

As usual, you are hyper critical on details ESPN has no control over. How dare a wreck happen off camera or during a commercial break.

I watch the races for enjoyment, and have enjoyed all of them.

glenc1 said...

I can't comment on the coverage since I was there, but I assure everyone that as Glen races go, this was an A+; it's unfortunate that it sounds like many of you did not get to enjoy it. Don't know if it was mentioned during the blog, but the crowd was very good. They have a lot more grandstands than they used to (many long time spectators are trackside campers) but they were fairly well distributed, and the berm was jam packed. It's too bad they couldn't get a title sponsor, but it was nice of them to give back & make it a tourism thing.

tvtrucker said...

THE ONE BIG MOMENT THAT i NOTICED THEY MISSED WAS AFTER TALKING ABOUT TONY'S REAR CAR CAMERA THEY NEVER SHOWED THE WRECK POV FROM THE CAM. (SRY ABOUT CAPS KEY STUCK)

Coffeeshop42 said...

Anon 7:41 Your entitled to your opinion but that was so far away from how good ESPN can do it's incredible.It's not like their short on technology.

It would be so easy for them to pan the cameras out and show more action.Maybe it wasn't the worst telecast ever,but the point is that it was so much worse than was possible.

They can give a much better broadcast than that.They continue to not meet their potential.

Anonymous said...

I really could care less about what they show after the start finish line for any race, this race especially. Unreal finish, best in years! They showed the finish in good angles and that's all I care about.

Maverick24 said...

Pretty easy to sum this one up...

Legendary finish. Some unbelievable driving from Ambrose and Keselowki.

But ESPN blew it with those horrid, horrid in-car and bumper cams. All that jumping around was just...ugh.

Jeff said...

I really didn't think the coverage was that bad. In car cameras stink and the shots need to be wider as usual. I really enjoy AB but I think Andy and Dale could be replaced with a Larry Mac and an I don't know who. It seems like they are the ones that are ill informed and they don't give very good analysis as driver and crew chief. in my opinion that is what leaves us wondering what is going on in the race. I don't bother with any pre race...I just turn it on when the green is scheduled to wave. This coverage is so much better than TNT and doesn't have DW so that is a plus. 53 year fan, I don't see what the chase has to do with the TV coverage.

Adam Wood said...

In my opinion, not a bad race at all coverage wise. The only comment I have is I noticed when they went super wide on restarts (such as overhead shots) I would lose the race for the lead from turn 1 until they came out of the esses. Let's show the whole field, but please keep the leader on screen too.

As for missed track action-you won't catch everything live no matter how hard you try. That's what replays are for.

GinaV24 said...

The finish of the race was certainly exciting but that was because NASCAR allowed the race to continue KNOWING there was oil on the track.

I watched the start of the race and then when ESPN settled into their "usual" coverage, I stopped watching full time and enjoyed the nice weather. I love road racing but I don't love the TV coverage of races any more.

Caught up via twitter and trackpass and then watched the end of the race.

Sorry, JD, you know how much we all miss your columns and chance to talk about racing - even when NASCAR and it's coverage is the pits.

Anonymous said...

It is pretty obvious to me that most of the posters here are not fans of road racing. If you were, you would not rely on the announcers to spoon feed you the race. Learn to watch and pay attention.

This was a great race. The tight shots showed the actual action between the chaser and the one being chased. There are not enough cameras to show everything on a track this spread out.

Real nice exhibit of drivers that can drive and those that cannot. Most of them have learned how to handle the road courses.

If you were familiar with road racing, you would know that they do not put a yellow flag out for oil on the course. They display a debris flag. Why stop a race if there are no crashed cars. The only reason there were crashes on the last lap was that fact that they were all Going For It to get the win or improve their position.

I enjoy the roundy round races, but the road courses show who can be an overall great driver. Stewart is one of the best and even he slipped up. (before the oil).

The telecast was one of the best that I have seen this year. It was virtually impossible for any network to make this anything but great. Wait till one of the upcoming races ~ no network could make them interesting!

JR

P.S. If you didn’t like it or didn’t understand it, watch some road races from other series and how they are broadcast for a few lessons.

Zetona said...

@Maverick24, I don't agree. The only jumpiness between Kyle taking the white flag and Ambrose taking the checkered was when they cut to Ambrose's in-car halfway through his huge slide in the Outer Loop. That turned out to be a great view from which to show him and Kez struggling through the rest of the corner and bumping on exit, though.

The last lap was very well directed in my opinion. The focus was 100% on the lead battle, even when Kyle spun off. In-car cameras provided some great views of the 9 and 2 bumping fenders. The out-of-car cameras showed just how out-of-control they were. Too much zoom on the 2 in the chicane if you really want to nitpick.

Otherwise, I didn't mind the coverage. It was certainly nowhere near bad enough to overshadow the amazing finish.

Bobby O said...

kids today!!!!

All have ADHD, and that's what TV will show them, jump from this cam to that cam, no this one....
Where is the content?

Glad I only caught a few glimpses when the Colts were at commercials.
Smoke that nascar, preseason football is better than your HORRIBLE tv coverage!

Anonymous said...

When NASCAR puts on a good race, as they did yesterday, the broadcasts are fairly tolerable. I spent most of the race in the kitchen working on pasta sauce but I was jumping up and down on the last lap. I don't care if the 22 says it was the oil that caused him to spin the 18; the 18 didn't win and that made me very happy. And the 22 didn't get the 4th win. I'm sorry my 88 screwed up on a road course again but hey, oil is oil so deal with it. I just want to know why ESPN had to handle Kyle with kid gloves after the race and not press him for a reaction...worried he'll have another meltdown? I'll bet the inside of his motorcoach is trashed! LOL

Michael said...

I sincerely thank Allen Bestwick for working his rear end off to fill in all the blanks his director left behind (Vickers, Blaney, Burton, etc.)

The choice of pictures was embarrassing. WE NEED A NASCAR DIRECTOR NOW! Zooming and in-car cameras is not the right way to cover and epic battle for a win.

Just like Saturday the director fumbled the finish badly. How can you justify switching to Ambrose's post-finish in-car camera while all hell is breaking loose with the races from third on back??? What happened to Biffle? Where did Kyle Busch end up after the spin? Jeff Gordon did WHAT on the last turn? I'm not saying they should have taken the cameras off the Ambrose-Keselowski battle while they were racing. I am saying once 1st and 2nd were locked in they should have covered the rest of the races for position.

You fixed the booth problem. How about working on the production problem now?

Anonymous said...

At least there is a Truck race this week so we can see some real racing the way it is supposed to be seen

procarry23 said...

Didn't see the race. Frankly, didn't miss it.

Anonymous said...

JR--I watch road racing all the time; F1, Indycar, Grand Am, LeMans. Big heavy Cup cars are not the same as many other series that run on road courses. Race control is up to NASCAR, and they govern how they do things mostly as they do at other NASCAR races--if someone laid oil down you would expect them to throw a full course caution, in fact Robin Pemberton said that they would have thrown a flag if the course workers had seen it, it wasn't because they didn't consider it important enough. It's not that they would do that for some minor piece of debris that's easily avoided, or even a bunch of gravel spilled onto the track, but oil, yes. They also throw a full course if a car is not crashed, but stopped in a place that would put the driver in harm's way; happens all the time. I agree that road courses separate the 'real' drivers to some extent, but there is also a certain amount of strategy & luck involved. Do I think the drivers are a bit whiny, sure...but if you've ever slammed a 3400 pound car into a guard rail, I'm guessing you feel you have a right to whine. As for the broadcast, you rarely see an in car cam during a sports car race. F1 has as many overhead shots & bigger frames as anyone. ESPN *used* to know how to do it, but they seem to have lost their way.

Maverick24 said...

Zetona, fair enough. I've just always been of the opinion that I can appreciate what a driver is going through (bumping, wrestling his car, etc.) much better with a wide shot than a shot of his sponsor's logo.

I'm glad we agree on the last inner loop shot. All afternoon they had the classic wide shot from the camera stationed at the beginning of the carousel, but then the last lap they went for that close up camera which provided no sense of their lateral movement into the grass. Shame.

KoHoSo said...

ESPN not mentioning the two biggest stories of the preceding week during the pre-race show was absolutely inexcusable. I only wonder who made the call to avoid those topics -- Disney's happy land HQ in Burbank or the clowns at NASCAR HQ in Daytona Beach. After all, let's say that a college football team decided to change conferences or that somebody died in spectacular circumstances at a game the previous Saturday. Anybody would be insane to think that such things would not be mentioned at least briefly on ESPN College Game Day.

While this is not a media issue, the call to not throw a caution due to their being oil on the track was also inexcusable. Everybody on Twitter knew there was oil on the track so I don't buy the "we couldn't see it" excuse one bit.

Personally, I was going to wait until Bristol to see if I could keep going in this abusive relationship between me and NASCAR plus its TV partners. JD, if you don't make it that far, it would be sad but I wouldn't blame you one bit. More and more, this isn't a sport anymore. It's a clown car show with coverage to match...not to mention people like us aren't wanted anymore since we're "not real fans" and so terribly "needy."

Alex Jordan said...

I thought that ESPN's coverage from Watkins Glen was ok. Heres what I think was bad about their coverage:
1.start of the race, Kyle Bush passed Montoya for the lead at the start but we didn't see it.
2. when Montoya had his problem they showed him on pit road too long. they should have at least split screen so we could see the action on the track.
3. On one restart AB mentioned Biffle making a move but we didnt see it because of the camera angle that was being shown.
Here is the good:
1. when they showed turn one and showed us the top 20 cars
2. the battle for the win between Ambrose and Keselowski.
Im sure ESPN knew about the oil on the track the last few laps but failed to let the booth know. I don't know if they tried to interview Kyle Bush after the race but it would have been good to have gotten his reaction.

Sally said...

Nascar rarely throws a single turn caution anymore...it's full course or nothing. That way they can close up the field and give more cars their lap back, theu claiming a racord of cars finish on the lead lap. I watch plenty of F1 racing, and find them, even with few passes for the lead, much more exciting than what ESPN chooses to show Nascar fans. With good shot selection and excellent replays, a good booth of announcers can call the race as if they had some control over the shot selection. But then, they have better shots to call.

Buschseries61 said...

From the bits and pieces I have seen, I still believe ESPN is doing the best job out of the 3 Sprint Cup tv partners. I really like the trio in the booth, ESPN finally got it right. What ESPN could work on is its own culture of capturing and analyzing the drama with a 1000x magnifying glass when the big picture is right in front of them being played out. If some things change behind the cameras, I really see ESPN producing the races in a way that satisfies most fans, just like the ESPN of old and the Trucks on SPEED Channel.

JD, I'd certainly understand you taking a little tv timeout again before the chase. Detatchment can sometimes be the best thing to help refocus.

Fuzziebutt said...

I always cringe when ESPN takes over the coverage. I get the impression that they can't wait for the race to end so they can move onto something else. They are not committed to Nascar.

Anonymous said...

The end coverage was not as bad as stated. Once Gordon spun, they cut to the camera shooting down the front straightaway and you could see everyone from 6th place Biffle on back. Since Gordon spun, they were going to cut away anyway. Its not like they dont show each driver's finishing position as they cross the line. I dont need to see every driver crossing the line when I can see where they finish as it happens.

This brings me back to complaints had about the NW race at Daytona when they didnt show Austin Dillon's crash and showed the field crossing the line instead and it was complained about, but if they showed the crash and not everyone crossing the line, they would have been ripped for that. It seems like they can't do anything right.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:46PM,

I appreciate the spin, but here is the reality.

Had Gordon not spun, you would never have seen any other car finish the race other than the winner.

It has been this was since ESPN started Cup coverage this season with the Brickyard.

This approach to the last lap is a disgrace to the sport, the fans and the teams. After every race I hear from fans of teams that finished in the top five and were never shown racing to the line.

Contrary to popular belief, teams race to the finish even if the winner has taken the checkered flag.

Many times, the story of those finishing behind the winner is more compelling and more important in the big picture than the driver who wins the race.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Buschseries,

When I know about oil on the track laps earlier through Twitter on my laptop computer by the pool, I think that perhaps someone at ESPN might be able to summon up the technology to tell Allen Bestwick in his ear about the situation.

Once the afterglow of finally having some beating and banging in the Cup Series is gone, this will be remembered as the time ESPN hung the announcers out to dry.

Nothing was mentioned about oil, Bestwick was trying to make sense of what was happening and unless Gordon had spun no car (including JJ taking the points lead) would have been shown on camera racing off the final turn to the finish.

We are being asked to bend to the poor fundamental coverage because it is the only game in town. I'm not bending.

JD

Joseph said...

Road courses get local yellows if there's a problem in one corner. Bobby Labonte soaked the entire track with oil. Letting them race through it at the speeds attainable there is inexcusable.

53 said...

Well said JD!

Anonymous said...

JD:
I understand your frustation with the TV coverage, but I'm old school enough to remenber the only coverage was a highlight or two from Daytona or Indy 500. So complaining about not seeing the finishing order pales in comparsion to no coverage

bowlalpo said...

ESPN's coverage shouldn't surprise anyone. Their motto for the past two seasons has been "nothing beats first place." To ESPN that's got to be a synonym for "nothing matters other than first place."

Of course we disagree, but it looks like there's nothing we can do to change it.

Coffeeshop42 said...

Anon 10:57 Understand what your saying but it's 2012,the point is ESPN has all the resources and technology to provide the fans with good coverage,and yet they fail to do it.

Alex Jordan said...

I agree with JD about showing only the winner crossing the line at the end. I agree with buschseries61 in that ESPN has a good booth. Fox also has a good booth. TNT has the worst booth. The TNT booth had conservations that didnt have anything to do with what was happening on the track. Fox and ESPN tell us what is happening on the track.

bowlalpo said...

We're really stuck here because we don't want the sport to vacate TV just because the networks don't know how to cover it (or they know how but aren't able to). And we will keep watching because we love the sport, despite the way the networks choose to televise it.

I bet that 90% of those here who write "I'm done" will sneak a short (or very lengthy) peek at the next race.

Most every summer day/night there are 15 MLB games being played. Every Sunday in the fall there are 12-14 NFL games. Per week, we only have one Sprint Cup event to choose from. I hate being held hostage, but, if we stop watching, they'll stop televising.

We're going to lose some, several or all races from other series once SPEED goes away. I guess we just keep watching and keep hoping. But we also need to keep the heat on. My burner's on 9.

glenc1 said...

I have only gotten through about half of the replay, but my general impression on the cameras was that they were rightly placed (I assume they use the same places every year) but wrongly used. For each start & restart, it's good for a few laps...then they start going with the in cars, the bumper shots, and losing perspective on the whole race. There were things I know that happened that they did not cover (like Logano had started pitting long before they mentioned it) that they were missing because they were focused on other things. I haven't got to the best parts yet, so I'll have to update later. BTW, we always mention when the crowd is bad, in this case, it was actually bigger than last year. I was kinda surprised.