Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Race Wrap: Sprint Cup Series From Bristol On ABC

There was lots of action, but ultimately Denny Hamlin won the race. The big winner, however, may have been NASCAR. After a season of lots of talk but little action, there was hard racing from start to finish at the "new" Bristol Motor Speedway.

Nicole Briscoe had some Little League World Series issues, but the NASCAR Countdown show featured Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham. As in years past, the problem with this race is that once the pre-race is over there is literally no time for this group to get on the air again. 15 second laps and critical pit stops combined with a heavy commercial load make on-camera time almost impossible.

Allen Bestwick was the other bright spot of the night. He called a race with enthusiasm from start to finish and coaxed the best out of Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett. While the pit road group was adequate, Bestwick was the person who really shouldered the load and made it work.

The racing on the track was constant, but ESPN's philosophy of showing two cars at a time continued. It's almost embarrassing to have to replay an incident at a tiny track like Bristol, but that certainly was the case on Saturday night. Zooming-in to make pretty pictures results in missing the moments that make up the race.

For once, the stars of the show were the drivers. Pushed into a new situation at a critical time in the season, they responded with hard racing instead of some of the points racing we had been seeing earlier this year. The results were the elements fans want to see. Intense action and good storylines with some caution flags along the way are the elements that built the sport.

Missing from this telecast were the beautiful wideshots of the track after restarts with the cars running almost all the way around the race track. Instead, the hyper-tight shots of single cars were mixed with in-car cameras and replays of the incidents that were missed. It's a formula.

Sunday night SPEED will return with three hours of motorsports. It should be interesting to see the driver, owner and media comments that SpeedCenter, Victory Lane (replay) and Wind Tunnel will relay to fans. This race is going to cause a buzz that will last for days. That is just what the sport needed.

We welcome your opinion of the ABC/ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Bristol. Comments may be moderated prior to posting. Profanity, hateful speech and derogatory comments are not in the spirit of this blog. Thanks again for stopping by.


Buschseries61 said...

I think this was one of the best races of the season. It connected fans with opposing views if Bruton should or shouldn’t have touched the ‘New’ Bristol. Both got what they wanted, there was still multiple grooves, but there was only 1 dominant groove, the outside lane. 43 cars fighting for 1 lane led to a lot of bumping and incredible racing. Helmets were thrown and tempers raged after years of tamer times at Bristol. (Plus, lots of cautions meant we didn’t have much of the Bristol green-flag commercial nightmare this season) Hopefully now everyone can understand what the other side envisioned and the beauty of both perspectives working out.

As for the broadcast, BRAVO to Allen, Andy, Dale, Dr. Punch, Dave, Mike, & Vince. Jobs well done!

The only (and typical) ESPN/ABC complaint is the direction. I was screaming at my tv when ESPN chose to go to the Carl Edwards bumper cam as Brian Vickers nearly wrecked twice trying to pass him for the lead. It was bad enough making the mistake the first time, but when they did it again I was livid. We missed it live and had to resort to replay. When Edwards was out of gas with 5 to go, we watched him inside the car driving the car onto pit road for what felt like 20 seconds. Why were we watching Carl Edwards inside the car with 5 to go at BRISTOL?!? I can’t see how slow he is going watching his helmet inside the car! Zoom out! Give us perspective!

I hope someone in the control room gets peanut butter or hot glue stuck under the in-car/on-car/under-car buttons, so the truck can’t switch to toy cameras in the middle of great racing.

Wild Bill said...

race commentary left a bit to be desired with little color.

We need real racers not talking heads.

KoHoSo said...

I don't know if there was actual improvement, my standards are getting lower, or I'm just trying to find any reason to not have this be the last NASCAR race I ever watch. I just feel like this telecast deserves somewhere in the C range on a grade instead of the Ds and Fs almost every other race this season has deserved.

For me, this feeling started during the NNS race where I thought it started out with the usual "hyper-tight" coverage and then improved about halfway through. It was admittedly nowhere near what I would like and can see being done back in the days of ESPN v1.0 coverage, but it was better than usual. During the Cup race, it seemed the hyper-tight was kept at a minimum from the start and camera angles were catching a slightly larger number of cars.

That being said, it was still frustrating at times to watch ESPN/ABC miss things that would have been caught live -- or, alt least much earlier -- in the days of yore. Perhaps even more maddening was how Bestwick would start to point something out yet the hapless director would or could not switch over to it. The most striking evidence of that was when the 2 wrecked some 15 to 20 seconds after AB started talking about that car being involved in some very tight racing.

You have to hand it to Bestwick...the man knows what's going on and what needs to be done. It's a shame he has to carry the broadcast all by himself at times. He was not helped elsewhere tonight as I thought Andy was way off in many of his observations and DJ continues to fade into the background and offer little of substance. Still, I would take an off night by those two commentators any day over the buffoonery of the infield analysts especially Brad who I found even more grating than usual for this race. Other than Dr. Punch, I don't think the pit crew was at its best tonight either and they are lucky Tony Stewart didn't get inspired to drop an F-bomb out over ABC.

I'm sure Bruton is happy as well as all of the motel owners in the Tri-Cities area who are already figuring out how much they can jack up their rates again as Bristol is poised to once again become a hot ticket. Still, it pains me to know that much action was missed and many drivers went un-noted because of Disney/ESPN's focus on telling stories instead of showing an event. That kind of crapola should be left to NBC and the Olympics.

Maybe one last time I will hold out some hope that things will trend in a more positive direction. I sure hope so because I can't take what we've been getting for another two years while we wait for something better.

Anonymous said...

KENSETH IS IN AFTER BRISTOL. After a lot of computation on my part, Kenseth is mathematically in.
Only 10 drivers can finish ahead of him (16, 48, 88, 56, 15, 2, 11, 29, 14, and 5 – Kasey Kahne).
The worst he can do is 11th. Carl Edwards, 12 th cannot catch him.
The only way Kasey Kahne gets enough points to catch Kenseth is if Kasey wins both of the last two races.
Also, for Kenseth to finish 11 th, all of the other multiple win cars (16, 48, 2, 11, 14) would have to finish in the top 10.
If Kasey wins both of the last two, then no one else wins either of the last two, meaning the 18, 39, 24, 9, 20 do not win any more races – all stuck on one win and behind Kenseth.
Kenseth finishes 11 th, with one win, and no one behind him has more than one win, he gets a wild card.

Anonymous said...

In car cam of Edwards with 5 to go? How much evidence do you need that the director is an idiot! This is pretty simple, I am watching the race to see the race. Get a producer/director that will show me the race! Family site, I will end now. MC

The Loose Wheel said...

Annon, you may be assuming Kenseth starts the last 2 races. As history has proven, that is never a guarantee for anyone. Neither here nor there though.

AB did a phenomenal job calling the action but had little support around him today. I recall 2 missed restarts by ESPN, and pretty much 1 entire caution glossed over after Kurt Busch and Regan Smith wrecked. Dave Blaney also received considerable damage in the wreck but ESPN again failed to update. Ontop of that, the wreck replay we were shown was cut off by a commercial and never shown again. The commercial load today really interrupted the "flow" I felt. Also, most of the commercials shoved in the middle of the race were extremely repetitive.

Bestwick on numerous occasions called action as it happened, but seemingly the production truck was asleep at the wheel. Often taking 3 to 5 seconds longer to show what AB would be talking about. David Ragan for example wrecks and is in flames. While Bestwick is talking about this we are being shown a hyper tight shot of a car slowing for caution on the opposite end of the track. This leads me to one of my most serious gripes and that is the complete absence of any "sense of urgency" by the production team or camera crews to show an incident. Something happens but the image on the screen is slow to match the voice calling something we cannot see. I do not feel like an excuse fits here.

Had a great race tonight, most of it was good. The tight shots and shortcomings of the production truck were very evident however. It doesn't matter if your PxP guy is on his game, or if your graphics package is the best. If you can't follow it up with decent pictures, who really cares?

Anonymous said...

every one is screaming how great the race was....well the first 300 laps or so was terrible. Cars couldn't pass and for the most part it was almost all about track position and or getting out of pit sequence, that's how most of the leaders came through the field. It was pretty sad that nobody in the booth had a clue to what happened to Kahne when he was leading and they had to watch the same replay as us viewers before commenting on it. If not for the Stewart meltdown, it would be unmemorable. I thought Rusty might have made a simular observation about lack of passing. The crew on Victory Lane couldn't wait to wave the NASCAR banner and refuse to critisize the racing. Kyle Busch hit it head on with his post race rant about it being a horrible race with the lack of passing. Still amazed at all the pre-race BS when it would serve us better to start the race earlier and have a 30 min. Post race show, the drivers say the same stuff every week before a race, at least we might have some tempers flare up in a post race interview outside of victory lane. But be ause of a helmet toss and a girl wagging her finger it will be hailed as a great race.

Anonymous said...

Loose wheel - Kenseth does not have to start either race - even if he earns zero point, Kahne does not catch him without winning both Atlanta and Richmond.
P.S. NASCAR finally updated their site to show Kenseth clinched a wildcard

OSBORNK said...

I thought this was easily the best race of the year.

I thought AB did the best job from the booth this year.

I thought the director did the worst job of the year.

We experienced a great race that we didn't see. If the director and the cameras can't find the action on a half mile, why were they there? In-car cameras should be banned from all tracks shorter than three miles.

53 yr. fan said...

I watched on Hot Pass on DirectTV with PRN announcing. Again, it far outweighed anything the ESPN
people were trying to show. When
the split screen showed a one or
two car shot, PRN was describing various battles around the track.
I think the ESPN director is not
even listening to the race and is just punching buttons with his eyes closed. Listening NA$CAR?

Another idiot move with ESPN/ABC was during the introduction yesterday of the Little Leaguers . They played Take Me Out The Ballgame during the International player introductions.
Not in the background but the same audio level. Unintelligble garbage.

Jake(Coffeeshop42) said...

Well,i agree with most of the sentiments that it was a pretty good race,i wouldn't call it fantastic,but good nontheless.As for the coverage,it was pretty much the status quo,there were some bright spots,but it was mostly overtaken by the continued reliance on hyper-tight shots and missing much of the real action.

Will we ever see wide shots in NASCAR telecasts again?Thankfully,as Buschseries said the cautions kept the green flag interuptions to a minimum.Again,it is totally ridiculous that AB can point something out and never have the camera get focused on it on a track like Bristol.I think the director is probably a OCD former auctioneer.Good race,average coverage.

And for all you of you that say we nit-pick about the coverage and that all we do is complain about it,all i can say is it's what makes the planet go round.

GinaV24 said...

thank goodness for Allen calling such a good race since the camera work once again wasn't adequate. for heaven's sakes, its a short track and there's no reason except by choice that the pictures weren't there for the TV audience.

Listening to the scanners you could tell that it was hard to pass but then again, that's how Bruton and NASCAR interpreted the fans call for "better racing". Like NASCAR and the TV partners, he missed the point. As a fan, do I want exciting racing? Yes, absolutely. However my definition of "exciting" isn't wrecking or rooting and gouging. It IS passing and close racing, not a parade of cars or one car 5 or more seconds in front so that no one can catch up or pass.

I once again used twitter and trackpass to follow the race because of the insufficient camera work.

GinaV24 said...

Anon 8:03, I agree about needing less pre-race and more post-race. I am not a fan of Rusty or Brad so I don't bother with it most times.

When DP wagged her finger at the offender, it cracked me up. All I could think of was "i'll get you my pretty. You and your little dog, too".

IMO she didn't get wrecked on purpose although I'm sure she thinks so. I held my breath when Gordon was back in the pack all night. The further back you are the more likely it is that the racing may not be as "clean" as it is closer to the front.

Anonymous said...

If it weren't for Bestwick at least offering a nearly radio-style, quality play by play, a lot of this would be unwatchable.

Many kudos to him for maintaining some booth integrity and work ethic.

Far as cameras...they need a new director, and if what I've seen on stuff like RaceBuddy is any indication, a review of camera operators.

Or at least clearer instructions to them. I realize they're likely aiming to get supporting shots and video bites for shows, but watching one car...

Eh. I've seen some improvement, here and there, but it's not hard to consistently capture what you can of the field and keep the depth of view/focus such that you can still recognize individual cars to about P25.

Jayhawk said...

The race was one of the better ones, but every time something exciting was happening they were on some tight shot, an in-car camera or, worst af all, a stupid bumper cam. The amount of action they miss with their tricky moving between cameras is incredible. And they came back late from commercials on several restarts. Are you kidding me? Do they really not know the restart is impending?

The one that cracked me up though was the Kenseth/Stewars wreck, and the laconic comment "Well that didn't work out for either one of them." I replayed that several times just to hear it again.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Pitiful production effort missed the to-the-point call of Allen Bestwick ...appropos that Disney calls the shots and portrays an unreal story of NASCAR - ala Fantasyland ...Bristol presents great opportunity for wide shots, but producer/director totally missed the boat ...great stories left untold, questions left unasked and unanswered ...atta boy 'Smoke' (AJ), way to show real intensity to the sport

Jim_812 said...

When the piling on of commercials is more important than restarts or replays of missed action at Bristol, you know where ESPN's priorities are.

They missed a ton of action and passing for the benefit of better shots of Goodyear, Sunoco, and few other major NASCAR sponsors.

It's all about the Mighty Dollar for ESPN.

Everyone's Spending Plenty Now.

James said...

As I said on an eariler post, I can see a better show on Victory Lane. I believe that we are being forced in that direction. Direction a function clearly lacking week after week of the "cam shots", beyond belief, eleven replays of the helmet toss, eleven! It sure looks like the focus is on the under 14 age group, just like the WWE, hook the kids to buy the toys, just like Disneyland! Does this actually shock anybody who remotely calls themselves a long term fan? The "show" is most important, manipulate whatever is necessary to get the "cool" pictures. The owners who pay for the destroyed cars must be real happy today. This was a "Crashfest", maybe Dale Jr had fun, but it was expensive.

Anonymous said...

It seemed like the producer or director were not too sure just what they should be doing.I think they missed a good race.The sweetest part of all though was not hearing any Waltrip noise.

Ancient Racer said...

I was at the race and I watched the replay on the Deuce this morning and I agree with most commenters and JD the broadcast was pretty good with the drawback being the tight shot fetish and this is compared with having watched it in person.

Of the four races since Wednesday I have to say, however, the Cup race was the slowest starter, but after a couple hundred laps the field settled in and some real racing began. The other three Divisions who competed on the track went, at least to my eye, balls out from Green with the heart stopping moment coming in the Modified race pigpile. When that occurred I thanked god for closed cockpits and it reconfirmed to me the lack of wisdom of Indycar open wheelers running on cookie cutter or smaller tracks built for stock cars.

My other thought on the Cup race is this: I would be, were I David Ragan, one hell of a lot more scared of what might happen in the future than I would be if I were Matt Kenseth. Not that I am unmindful of what getting the evil eye from Tony Stewart might mean, but I sure am a lot more leery about what getting the same thing from a 100 lb girl does. Perhaps it is because I am a man....

Lastly a note on the track changes. There was much talk and object evidence of the lack of grip at the top of the track where the 3 degrees were milled down and being the curious sort during a quiet period I went to look at what had been done. Sure enough what it looked like was what a street looks like when the milling machine has been there during a resurfacing job. There were grooves aligned in the direction of travel of the machine and the cars. Now, I am no engineer, but it seemed to my pea brain that the grooves, not the elimination of the 3 degrees, was the problem to the extent there was a problem. There simply was less surface for the tires to interact with and that meant less grip and it meant the area would have little chance or rubbering in. In other words, I think leaving the grooves was not something I would have done and the next time I own the track I promise to fix that.

Anonymous said...

One thing I found troubling was the Chase color coding on the scoring crawl.

At a couple points in the race when Joey Logano and Carl Edwards were leading, that win would have put them in the Chase as a wild card 'if the race ended now', but they never showed up in green. Newman and Busch bounced back and forth as the second wild card on the crawl, but the production truck's programming deglected updating the wild card standings to take into account a win in progress.

It reminded me of TNT at Richmond during the first Chase in '04, when their crawl used similar coding but they neglected to factor in the 400-point rule, which Allen Bestwick had to apologize for on the air when the points leader crashed and it became a major possibility.

If you're going to color code the crawl the whole race instead of just providing sporadic Chase standings updates at least be accurate with it, sheesh.

Anonymous said...

If you like follow the leader racing for most of the race, then it was a good race. They should realize that the in car, bumper cam, etc just does not get it for tv fans. Was the most awful Bristol show I have ever seen. No passing hardly and a one line parade most of the show. Hard to watch and hard to ignore them showing useless shots of their favorite ones.


Sally said...

the thing I saw in the race last night was intensity...which has been sorely lacking since the 'chase' happened. I thought Biffle's comment was dead on. If the single groove is on the bottom, when you bump someone out of the way, they have someplace to go...up the track. When the preferred groove is against the wall, they end up IN the wall. If the camreas had managed to follow the action as it unfolded and cover more than just the front of the field, the race would have made more sense. Thank goodness for AB keeping an eye on the actual race, because the 'director' certainly didn't.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just a reminder to those readers who are new to TDP.

We discuss how the races were covered by TV. In doing so, we mention the type of racing and the intensity, but this blog is not about the races themselves.

Bristol's changes yielded some interesting results, but the focus of our conversation is the type of coverage produced by the ESPN team for ABC.



Sophia said...

Same old camera problems I read on Twitter. tight shots, zoomed in, in car bumper cam baloney. I did see the Tony & Danica moments when I turned on the tv for a bit.

Here's an idea. If somebody is paying for the constant in car cam, bumper cam, fender cam, roof cam rubbish...why don't those same people offer you a wide shot of the track without zooming in or constant booth chatter moment! Wide shots, minimal camera changes with only the car engines for sound. Kind of a crank it up but don't hype it ...just quietly show the cars "headlights coming at us for a minute or two".

Maybe if the director's were forced to show what 'somebody is paying for' . . I could go back to watching the races instead of just reading updates on Twitter or from radio. But I really think a 10 yr old who plays video games is punching the camera switch buttons. Nobody has addressed this issue to Brain Freeze either. (Specificity of camera problems)

If this were a show on gardening, I'd be all for the zoom cams !!

But it's racing. Somebody took the simple act of aiming a few cameras at the cars to a "Rube Goldberg" production.
Convoluted and overly complicated truck production.

If Rube were not dead I'd insist that's who is in the truck. Don't know Rube? Look up the name.

bowlalpo said...

I recorded HotPass-88 and to my delight the audio was PRN but I can't figure out where the pictures were generated. It looked like the in-house feed with some ABC/ESPN shots sprinkled it. Probably all used ABC cameras with in-hose direction, keeping cams on PRN pit reporters for driver interviews. I liked it!

The best part? The only HP commercial breaks were the DirecTV mandatory breaks (the ad for Audience TV that we've seen 500+ times and the Diet Dew car/soda swap). Thus we got more of the in-house video in box #2, with track PA during PRN breaks, and more team audio.

So I can't judge ABC's pictures, but the mix that HP had to use was decent, still too many close-ups.

Sadly I'm guessing we got this mix because the race was on ABC.

Jake(Coffeeshop42) said...

bowlalpo Hotpass was using the Sprint Vision feed.I don't have Hotpass currently(HD set but no HD service)but i remember last year when they done that for the ABC races.

It wont be that way during the Atlanta race but will be again Richmond.Also will be done for the Charlotte race.As you said,it will only be for those races because those are on ABC.Totally agree they should do it as the regular thing though.

sue said...

At least here in the Chicago market the race was put "on hold" 3 times by some sort of glitch. I blame comcast since I didn't read about any other problems.

Espn didn't appear to have their usual we'll talk about 3 or 4 main drivers only night as it appears most drivers were discussed in some way. Also, for the first hour I continued watching the race on espn vs abc since the high school football game wasn't on. Can't believe that Nascar was on 2 channels at the same time! whoot!

DewCrew88 said...

I thought this race had one of the better displays of camera angle and shots in a long time.

Lot was left to be desired with coverage of drivers outside of the top ten. The Edwards 5 to go camera angle was puzzling, but he is their darling.

Alex Jordan said...

The race was very good, Bristol got it right and I agree with JD that the big winner might be NASCAR. The broadcast was good. the booth and the pit reporters were good. They did miss two restarts which is inexcusable. they should have been back in time for the restarts. One good thing was a caution came out while they were in commercial and they cut the commerical short to cover the pit stops. Wideshots were missing also which would have been nice

Anonymous said...


I'm also from Chicago but have DircvTV and had the same problems. It was absolute garbage.

Alex Jordan said...

also when Carl Edwards had his problems with 5 laps to go they stayed on him for too long. they should have gotten off of him sooner than they did.