Monday, September 10, 2012

Race Wrap: Sprint Cup Series From Richmond On ABC

Mother Nature made it a challenge, but the race finally got underway from the Richmond International Raceway. Rain was responsible for a very late night for most fans as the race ended well after 1AM Eastern Time.

Nicole Briscoe had Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham in the Infield Pit Studio for the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. A weather-delayed college football game meant that much of the country saw football and not NASCAR for about an hour or so. Eventually, all the ABC stations joined NASCAR before the race started.

Allen Bestwick had Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside in the TV booth. Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch, Dave Burns and Shannon Spake were on pit road. NASCAR started the race under green/yellow and after TV went to commercial the five to go signal was given. ABC stations just got back when the actual racing got underway. It was that kind of night.

Carl Edwards made his mandatory appearance in the Infield Pit Studio. Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon also stopped by during rain delays. Briscoe has become an expert at directing traffic and keeping her three analysts on a short leash. Having a sense of humor certainly helps that cause.

ESPN has a formula for racing and we saw it again. Tight shots, in-car cameras and lots of graphics are the order of the day and have been for years now. The broader perspective is sacrificed, even on restarts and races for position. It seems to be all about trying to make things exciting rather than just showing the race.

The good news is that split-screens were used for most green flag pitstops, the network held a commercial for a caution flag and despite the long night there were no technical problems from the track. ESPN has also started to show the lead lap cars finish and get away from the "drama" shots of just the race winner.

Allen Bestwick has been stellar this season and was again from Richmond. His eye for detail, understanding of the sport and knowledge of those involved is second to none. He has made Jarrett and Petree better this season and perhaps Bestwick may be included in planning the production philosophy for the upcoming Chase races.

This next stretch of races has been the Achilles Heel of ESPN's coverage. Trying to follow the Chase, show the race and keep up with the information flow from both has not gone well. This year ESPN has an opportunity to produce the races, let the Chase points fall as they may and use Bestwick as the face of the franchise. It just might be the combination the network has been chasing since 2007.

We invite your opinion on the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Richmond on ABC.


James said...

I was really disappointed last night, very little use of the overheads, and frankly some of the "dumbest" in car split screens, timed at the worst place in the race to show them. The director should stick to little league, because this is NOT RACE FAN FRIENDLY! I agree, they did use the split screen, but almost 1/3 of the screen was graphics and "fluff" that is just not needed. The constant new show commercials belong on a split screen, and when ESPN returns after a break, they spend 30-45 seconds showing useless shots of the surrounding areas of the track, while speaking about another commercial and not what took place while they were away? They missed at least three restarts and who knows what else because they did not look out the window. Dale and Andy are getting better, too bad the director does not feel the urgency to get photos of what they are saying, how many times did the booth call out action on the track that never was shown? For an event to determine the two "wildcard" spots, they did a poor job of it. The only thing good about this race was the lack of talking Waltrips and Marty. I DO NOT understand how he keeps his job?

Joj said...

The Good of last nights race coverage

- we saw more than the winner cross the finish line.Thanks

- Allen Bestwick was at the top of his game. Dale & Andy were good too. Thank you

- Most of the local ABC's stayed with the race coverage.

- Pit reporters were actually used for information & updates. Finally, do it more & thanks

- Commercial free for the (was it?) 25 laps or so. Thank you.

- Post race interviews - thank you (& JPM too)

- Shannon getting Kyle 's post race "interview" - Give her a raise. Thank you

Which brings us to the not so good to downright awful.

- The video presentation was just stupid bad. Pass for the lead,or positions? Problem on track? See it in (pick one) Close up, replay, Bumper cam. Same old same old. espn/abc is not going to give us wide shots. We are needy fans who don't know anything. Why would we want to see more than 1 car at a time?

- "the points as they are now" well the race would not have been called at lap 50 -but then again they do not know/care about that fact.

-The ignoring of non "bubble" drivers, not in the Chase , not good enough for TV unless you are Kyle.

- Playoffs? Playoffs? Really? Next week ( and every race) there really will be 43 cars on the track, honest. We will not see or hear about them yet they will be there. No one stays home.

- Why in heavens name with ratings tanking, sponsors leaving does the TV Partners not try something new?
The old way is not working.

53 yr. fan said...

Once again, great coverage by MRN
on DirectTV Hot Pass with lots of
pre race (rain)coverage not shown on ABC. It totally amazes me that the camera people cannot pan shots at the green flags. They start and then wait for everyone to cross the starting line while the best
action is the race for the lead.
Time for NA$CAR to start a customer sastifaction department in lieu of the marketing geniuses.
Oh wait, Brian still believes everthing is OK. I seem to have heard that somewhere else recently.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
As much as I appreciate the racing action all around the track at Richmond (despite ESPN's inattentiveness), I couldn't hold out to the end. However, while I do accept weather-imposed limits on aerial options, I cannot see why in-car shots took preference over high shots or wide-angle views. Allen Bestwick is auto-racing's premier PxP. Nicole Briscoe shines in pit studio, despite Rusty's off-point comments and Brad's ramblings. At least Ray Evernham is on hand to lend insight and perspective lost to his fellow studio-mates. Great to hear an improved finish line view became to reality.

The Loose Wheel said...

AB earned his money tonight which was great! Petree and Jarrett did okay, but sometimes Petree was lost. AB did a fine job bringing him back. The production was just as bad as it has been all season. Never got a "feel" that they were on top of the scenarios like AB was. I liken it to this: Bestwick was crushing home runs out of the park and the production staff kept grounding out. They did a great job getting some comment out of Kyle Busch which was nice. Can't blame him for feeling the way he did either.

These races are much tougher to watch without having any pitcommand or audio help I will say. Felt much more lost in recent weeks without the ability to use those resources anymore

Alex Jordan said...

Nicole Brisco has become excellent at dircting trasffic. The booth and pit reporters were good as usual. Here are the other things that were good about the broadcast:
showing the lead lap car finish the race
using split-screen for most green flag pit stops
using split-screen to show more than one battle for position
not going to commercial when Bowyer spun and staying past the restart.
Here is the bad:
focusing on the guys fighting for the wild card spots. I know that this was the last race before the Chase but there are other drivers out there besides the guys fighting for the wild card spots.
no wide shots: even though there were shots that werent wide enough we did see battles for position.
JD, u say that ESPN has the opportunity to let the Chase points fall as they may. I dont see this happening. For these final 10 races nothing matters except for the Chase drivers to ESPN.

Maverick24 said...

Obviously, I enjoyed the race. That was one of the greatest comebacks for the 24 since coming from 3 laps down to win at Martinsville back in 2005.

I thought the broadcast did a great job keeping up with his progress, except they were a little behind on reporting the turning point adjustment that was cutting the sway bar chain when MRN had that reported before it even happened.

And other than your typical "Oh! Good racing! Quick, cut to the in-car!" which I've long given up on, DJ and Andy seemed woefully confused by the "points as they run" when it came to who was in the last wildcard spot. My theory is the bonus point the 24 acquired at the start of the race threw them off big time. Ironic, considering this new system was supposed to "simplify" things.

Sally said...

Idozed off not long after the red flag for rain, and didn't regain consciousness until the final 30 laps or so. The preoccupation with the 'bubble' drivers bored me to tears, frankly. The overkill of all the various scenarios for the past 4 weeks have left me numb. The 'chase' trivializes the first 26 races, and I frankly am not as consumed by who wins the champeenship as I am with seeing good racing every week. I pity those drivers not in the top 12, because they will become even more invisible for the final 10 weeks. I just don't care anymore, and with the majority of the tracks coming up being cookie cutters, and knowing that ESPN will concentrate on in car/bumper cam/ top 12 only telecasts, I'm giving up. Thought the booth (for the brief time I stayed awake) did a good job, but I obviously don't care about the 'wild card' spots as much as ESPN.

KoHoSo said...

Before coming here to comment, I went over to YouTube and watched extended clips from Richmond races in 2000 (ESPN) and 1995 (TBS). I shouldn't have done that because now I'm even more angry and sad.

Today's ESPN throws away the great work of its stellar booth crew with tight camera work that gives no sense of the true action on the track. While I am one that embraces today's technology, I don't think I should have to turn to radio or Twitter to find out about anything happening away from the leader and "the chosen ones" when the main fix that is needed is to zoom out. Last night on Twitter, JD said he had given up asking for wider shots. If that request is now so hopeless and the only alternative will be the hope that, next year, NASCAR gives us some other online alternative to see a race in a more proper perspective...well, I just might be done for the rest of 2012...assuming I'm not totally done as I don't know if I can stand to start 2013 with Fox's Goobervision.

old97fan said...

I've skipped most of this season due to the disgust I have for the broadcasters and Nascar. I wasn't kidding when I said a few months ago that I was giving up Nascar for working with horses. Haven't regretted it a bit and I have been following Nascar religiously for over 30 years. Made the mistake of watching the race last night thinking that it might rise above the bilge I've seen in the few races I've watched this season. All I can say is.....nothing has changed. To many up close shots, very poor race coverage. Mr. Jarrett did ok but seem to be trying to spin a few things positively. Mr. Petree once again seemed to live in his own universe and didn't have a clue what was going on. The final straw there was his comments about when Tony Stewart was leading and Ryan Newman was catching him. Tony made it look good for the most part but everyone-The viewers, Nascar, the boys in the booth (except for Petree), could see what was unfolding was theatre, not actual car performance, to get Ryan in the lead. All Petree kept babbling was that it wasn't team orders, that Ryans car was better at that time. Never mind that Ryans car wasn't better at any time before or after that moment. Didn't matter though because pit strategy changed it all up anyway. Which brings me to Alan Bestwick. I like him and think he is quite good BUT!!!!Between the producers spending more camera time all night on Jeff Gordon than the race leaders combined, or Alan referring to him every other sentence. I think Alan should just get it over with and kiss Jeff on the lips and come out of the closet. Alan's man crush on Jeff was so apparent it was more than embarrassing and completely unprofessional. This has gone on for years and mystifies me why more haven't noticed. Oh well, at least I have the horses......

Anonymous said...

I think these production teams need to go see some short track racing. They might learn what real racing is all about.

Sophia said...

I just found out 2 hours ago Jeff G won the race via Wind Tunnel! That's how out of it I've been today. Puny and just listened to Reds on radio.

***WIND Tunnel note** the Graphics sound effects were so loud I turned that show off after 20 minutes. What jughead is trying to ruin that show even more with whiz kid noises?

Please get rid of the Co-host and Give me more Dave Despain. He needs no baby sitters

I TRIED watching last night's race by switching to BSPN a few times for 30 seconds.

Same old same old.

Took some photo's yesterda,y of local boats drag racing on small river. That was fun.I could hear them from the house but it was a 10 minute drive. Sounds carry on a river.

I mentioned a while back, I don't partake in abusive relationships and NASCAR is dissing it's longtime fans, big time.

I miss loving and planning my weekends around the races or at least watching the race on DVR. I don't even read up on details of the driver news anymore. Just bits on twitter or in the paper (Just started getting delivery again)

I feel for you fans that have been around for decades. I only started watching in 2004 but often watched the Classic races on some channel at that time..

Loved the old racing broadcasts of camera views of large groups of cars and cars coming at the tv. Commentators not on anybody's agenda, just given us the facts of the race. Not this inspid in car/zoom camera/bumper cam mania. It's "Ruint" the sport.

The Chase makes me wanna scream. Only last 10 races mean nothing for those not in the chase??

R.I.P. NASCAR.FYI, You'd never survive with your own channel broadcasting this mess.

JT said...

NASCAR is so deathly afraid of the NFL that they forced 75,000 fans to wait out two bouts of severe weather, rather than do the reasonable thing and postponing the race to Sunday afternoon.

The "Chase drama" all occurred between midnight and 1-something A.M. on Sunday morning, where the TV audience on the East Coast had mostly all given up and gone to sleep. I did and only found out about the race results the next morning on Twitter.

Meanwhile, ABC affiliates must have been boiling over when they had to postpone, or cancel their late local news programs. That's ad revenue directly out of their pockets, not the network.

GinaV24 said...

I normally do not watch the countdown show since I think both Rusty & Brad are a bust in the analysis dept. However since they did this in the rain delay and my guy was being interviewed, I tuned in. Of course I had to sit through Edwards first, but still. It's funny that its a different story disrespecting a person when you don't have to do it to their face like they've done weekly with Gordon. I thought it was reaonably funny watching Rusty & Brad work around their comments. Ray did a nice job there with his comments.

I kept saying, I'm going to bed because this race ran so late, but somehow I just couldn't stop watching the end.

AB is great in the booth and I like Petree as well. DJ is still sort of bland but I guess that's just his gig. The camera work could again, have been better - after all, it is a short track, it's easy to pull out and do a wide shot and show the action. There were a lot of missed things in this race, but I was concentrating on following the scanner and twitter as well where once again, I would like to see it on TV.

Achilles heel for coverage - yeah, they go to Chicagoland which hasn't been all that great to watch on TV, then Louden - a flat track which has often produced some boring races with one car leading the entire race, then Dover which has also not been that exciting. Hmmm, ESPN needs to show us the racing and the excitment (if there is any) not play with their toys.

Buschseries61 said...

The Richmond marathon brought some life back to NASCAR. Like you said, Bestwick brings out the best in ESPN.

It still feels like the sport is crawling through muddy sludge, but the wheels are starting to move. This season has felt like the season of waiting. After the jet dryer explosion in Daytona we watched a pretty bland season develop with poor coverage FOX was too stubborn to change. We endured a pretty painful summer stretch with TNT - waiting for cautions so we didn't have to wait through a million commercials. Now ESPN has the bizarre with the oil at Watkins Glen and the rain at Richmond making these races as wild as can be. But the day after the race it still feels like nothing has changed. Hopefully ESPN has learned how to cover the Chase and it will lead to a fantastic season finale.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...


The only thing that will bring life to NASCAR is getting rid of the chase and COT

Anonymous said...

I just read on Jayski where the Richmond race had over a million less viewers than last year.

But hey, Brian France in his infinite wisdom says there's nothing wrong! Uh, huh. Looks to me like people are rejecting the fake debris cautions and COT for other sports.

Anonymous said...

You never post my remarks, but I'll make them anyway. Do you rubes really have to whine about TV coverage constantly, almost never having anything good to say? Are you so proficient and perfect in your work, or perhaps your work is Cheetoes and beer management! IT'S RACE COVERAGE PEOPLE! BE THANKFUL IT IS LIVE ON TV!!!! Remember when it used to be 10 laps on Wide World of Sports, or was on old TNN with Buddy Baker drooling on the mic! You guys who romanticize the old coverage, remember the pre-show? Two minutes maybe before the green? Post-race? Might do the winning driver interview on the two-way radio so TNN can get to "Pop Goes the Country!" I can even vaguely remember TNN going to commercial with 3 laps to go one time. Please people! Be thankful for something. Fox, TNT, ESPN, I'm happy for all of them and think they all do a fine job. Do miss Ned, Benny and Bob, but thing all these guys, including DW, do a fine job!

Anonymous said...

Well, I ended up napping through I am rewatching it on Speed (thanks, Speed...however numbered your days seem to be)

It sucks. Least as of lap 130, it's just gimmicks, tight shots, and frankly, my dear - I don't need to see the #24 in prolific detail. How about the other 99% of the track?

Tired of in-car shots, 4 car shots, and the only thing tying this mess together being Bestwick. I'm thinking, come 2013, I'll find something better to do than watch this and continually get insulted and enraged.

It just isn't worth it.

Anonymous said...

Do you people really think the networks and NA$CAR care about your negative comments on this blog site? Your complaining on this site makes about as much sense as filling out customer service complaint form and leaving in their restroom. If you've got a problem with something or someone, take it to source of the problem. Just maybe they'll look into it. Same goes for everything else there are problems(government). I must admit though, some of you have quite a way of expressing your opinions. Whew, thanks for letting me get that off my chest. Now lets get back on the racetrack!