Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Race Wrap: Sprint Cup Series On ESPN From Chicagoland Speedway

It is that time of the year. Chris Madigan from Sprint sent along this picture of the Sprint Cup sitting on pit road at Chicagoland Speedway prior to race one. Then, the actual race began.

Nicole Briscoe and her pre-race crew focused totally on the Chase. Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham were locked into discussing the topics planned in advance and it made for a less than interesting discussion. Many race fans had already watched one hour of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and then two hours of NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED. Those shows also focused on the Chase.

Allen Bestwick continues to be an expert at directing traffic and his comments in reference to the race are always accurate. He seems to be handcuffed in terms of looking back in the field, recognizing that is where cars are racing for position and then getting ESPN's producer to go there with the cameras. Once again, the plodding and hyper-tight coverage of this series on TV continued.

Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett did not have much to work with other than some pitstops, part failures and restarts. The racing, as expected, was limited. Bestwick worked hard to pump the drama of the final pitstops but even that did not pan out in the end.

As we offered in an earlier column, the problem for TV is how to cover this playoff within a live race. In the end, once again, the teams not in the Chase were cheated out of TV coverage unless they were leading the race. As we have said for the last six seasons, all drivers and teams have fans. TV is there to serve them.

What are your comments on the coverage after this first race of the Chase? Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

28 comments:

James said...

For all the hype and fluff ESPN the world leader in replays once again delivered a "show" instead of a "race"! Side x Side using 15% of the screen? You can not be serious, we waited all year through all the commercials to see SxS and THIS is the way ESPN handled it! They should stick to College Football, I was really disappointed. Camers work started out better, some overheads, wide shots and then LIKE ALWAYS back to the same ol stuff. The only improvement was a scaling back of the cam shots, very little attention to Danica. Its gonna be a long chase.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
I must disagree with your comment "vacuum between Twitter and ESPN" ...the vacuum is between the ears for ESPN's production team ...only one car finished the race, right, according to ESPN's coverage ...ESPN's weaknesses glaringly apparent in comparison to last night's IndyCar broadcast ...bring back the Lingner Group
Walter

Buschseries61 said...

I had a lot of work to do before Monday (Riverhead & IndyCar took up most of Saturday). I still love NASCAR, but I just can't see wasting 90 minutes of time watching them scratch off laps in the first half of the race. Like usual, the field spread out inbetween fake debris cautions. So I did my work with the tv in the background, peeking up every once in a while to listen in and read the ticker.

Dale and Andy sounded pretty bored. I did laugh at ESPN showing the safety truck searching for debris. The truck stopped, found nothing, and kept crawling ahead to find something to pick up.

Lap 114 I turned off the tv and turned on MRN as I traveled to the kitchen to eat. MRN was a lot more exciting than ESPN and stayed on the rest of the race. When Jeff Gordon crashed out I didn't really care what happened in the race and MRN became background noise.

At least in my case, what NASCAR has created and ESPN has presented didn't work today. It just wasn't attention grabbing racing or coverage.

Charlie Spencer said...

All season the booth crews wouldn't shut up about Danica. The chase starts, and nobody bothers to mention one of her best Cup finishes yet.

I don't recall hearing when Kurt Busch pulled off or what his problem was, but maybe I just missed it.

Joj said...

The weather was stormy here in Tampa so I was indoors mostly. The "race" did not follow espn script ( JJ getting a start on #6 or the second coming of Jeff) so it was tight shots of the 48 ( I don't hate the 48), a race shown in replay on TV. MRN was better, as was having RaceBuddy on, and Twitter.

I started to tweet - yet it was just SSDD, so I just canceled. Much like the "coverage" cancels my interest.

I hope the weather is good here next weekend. Tourists gone beaches less crowded.

lilrascal said...

My impression of the TV broadcast today: 3 minutes of tight camera closeups on the 48 car - 5 minutes of commercials - 3 minutes of closeups... An occasional update on other drivers in the Chase then back to the 48. Must have been frustrating to have the 2 car spoil their fun and win, but they still managed to keep the camera inside BK's car while the other drivers crossed the finish line. Absolute frustration with ESPN's production of this race.

I can count on one hand the times I heard them mention non-Chase drivers. They may as well be sent home for an extended vacation because they are irrelevant. Unless of course one of them has the nerve to block the 48, which would be the Apocalypse...

Thank goodness for Race Buddy! Got to ride along with and listen to my favorite driver. Without it I think my 30+ year love affair with NASCAR would be over.

Sophia said...

Skipped the broadcast.

Tired of the annoying lack of race action we need with wider tv shots.

Listened to Reds game instead.

Last nights Indycar race was AWESOME and exciting as hail. Great broadcast, could clearly see what was going on, talked of different drivers and sadly, Bob Jenkins last night as race car driver. Classy night.

NA$CAR is not worth the aggravation of trying to watch.

Twitter told me who won the race without all the "Hype and chase talk".

Also same gripes about race, too tight camera shots. No perspective.

Oh, only one car finished the race according to BSPN.

Sally said...

On the plus side, we were spared the mind numbing 'if the race ended now' 'stats', but again, limiting the majority of the coverage to the 'chasers' doesn't make for compelling TV. Thought the booth did a decent job, but single cars shots just miss the entire point of trying to watch a race.

Jake said...

Didn't see too much of ESPN's telecast,but what i did see was status quo.I knew when they let the camera hang and i saw the big gap between cars we wouldn't see the lead lap cars finish.

I think they would be willing to show the lead lap cars if there's not too much interval in the field,but i don't think they want the camera to hang in the same spot too long for fear of damaging it(there's your dose of sarcasm).

I watched Race Buddy for a while,and was suprised to see it ran decent for the first half.But in the second half it had the same old problems(chain-freezing,VHS picture quality etc)so i give up on it again.It's so frustrating because when it works it's such a great tool,but oh well.

I am hoping we get a re-worked version of Hotpass in the future(the current version is good,but a bit boring),or could we see Race Buddy come to TV?I wish i could say something positive here,but it's just the way things are now.I wish i could just worry about how my driver's doing,but because of the TV and Race Buddy mess(along with not having Hotpass for now),i have to displace my attention on other things.See ya next week.

OSBORNK said...

This was the most disappointing race of the year for me. I tuned in to watch a race but I was presented with a show instead. From the TV coverage, there was no way to know what was going on in the race, what happened to drivers other than Hendrick Motor Sports or where most of the drivers were on the track. The side by side coverage was a joke and was of no use. It generally showed a little bitty picture of one car on the track during commercials and when something did happen, there was no coverage or explanation of it.

The Booth and ESPN were clearly rooting for JJ to win the race and their disappointment and shock were clearly apparent.

I thought the race was terrible but I thought the coverage was worse. I wasted an afternoon I can never get back.

GinaV24 said...

Pretty much as expected, a boring race at Chicago, which will probably be followed by another boring race at Louden. Hmm, how many tracks like this are in the last 10 races? the answer: too many.

It was a pretty day here, so I didn't want to waste the whole da by being glued to the TV but I came in and out and so saw enough of the broadcast to be glad I didn't spend my entire day inside. The hyperfocus on the chase is a bore. Once my driver crashed out, I no longer had any interest in watching the rest of the snoozer.

Alex Jordan said...

The whole broadcast was about the Chase- No suprise there. There wasnt that much racing which made the booth's job difficult. We saw a great battle for the lead between Johnson and Keselowski, and despite the lack of racing they did show us battles throughout the field. For the first up to speed they did updates for just the chase drivers. the 2nd time they did update by going through the field.The reality is that there are 43 drivers in each race. But in ESPN's reality there are only 12 when it comes to the chase races. It would be nice if they didnt put all of their focus on the chase drivers but i dont see anything changing.

Maverick24 said...

Racebuddy is fast becoming my favorite way to watch these races.

I was riding onboard with the 24 until his crash and then went off to do other things. It's amazing how much action you see just from that perspective.

Only one other thing to mention, and that's about the caution that came out in the middle of green flag pit stops that forced a few top guys to take the wave-around. They waved off the restart not once but twice. As ESPN used the opportunity to jam in a commercial, they mentioned they waved off the restart because of debris, but while listening to the 24 radio at the same time, Gordon was told by his spotter that NASCAR was having trouble re-positioning everybody correctly.

Really makes me wonder. Can't make the sanctioning body look incompetent on national TV now, can we? 1984 indeed.

KoHoSo said...

As I said on Twitter, I went up to the mountains y'all see above Fontana instead of watching this race live. Upon seeing whatever portion of it later I could stand without hitting the "whiz" button, I don't know whether I'm more disappointed as a race fan or as somebody that did a tiny amount of small-time TV sports production.

As the old UNCF commercials used to say, "A mind is a terrible thing to waste." So is wasting a great booth crew with nauseatingly tight and repetitive camera angles. So is wasting a great race series that now spends so much time just making laps while they have somewhat forced the TV partner to focus only on the chosen few that made the forced and false "playoff" in order to fulfill some Bozo's fantasy of competing with the NFL.

Then again, what do I know? NASCAR still gets big ratings with terrible TV coverage and boring races while IndyCar put on a great show last night in my current home town (plus was very entertaining most of the season) and the crowd could have easily all been on a first-name basis with one another...and I'll be surprised if NBCSN pulled a 0.1 even on Bob Jenkins' farewell.

Colorado said...

I watched CBS Sunday Morning, and they did a piece on Vin Scully, the longtime broadcaster for the Dodgers. I mention this here,because, the interviewer asked, "some of your best moments were when you didn't say anything. Why?" To which, Mr. Scully said, "Because I let the moment play out. Sometimes it's best to just shut up." WOW! is all I can say! Total respect for that man! Also, Saturday night's Indy race where Bob Jenkins retired: They showed some highlights over the years, and again, this man is a respected broadcaster, where he didn't need clowns, balloons, gophers, Ol' DW, etc. All he had was TALENT. That being said, I watched Sunday's race with much pessimism, as I am one of the few that really don't like Allen Bestwick. I don't like the "holding serve" quotes, or trying to use too big of words to comment about Stock Car racing. Not a fan of the tea and crumpets voice. As far as the actual race? Hard to believe that once the season starts, all 12 Chasers all of a sudden start running in the top 12 positions? WTF? Can't tell me NASCAR doesn't have an agenda, with suddenly looking the other way during tech inspection... 48 runs up front, and the ratings go down... Boring tracks like Chicago are certainly not helping NASCAR in the attraction of new fans... 5 tracks of the last 10 are the SAME track. 1.5 milers. Yawn.

Colorado said...

P.S. I have heard the word "PLAYOFFS" more in the last 7 days from the media, drivers, and owners than I ever had. I think that the Powers that be (Brian)are really trying to make sure that the casual fan understands that NASCAR is just like the NFL. No difference at all.

Ziggy said...

I believe I got lucky this weekend. Everytime the local NFL game(s) went to commercial I'd flip back to the Chicago Merry-Go-Around for a 3 lap update. Then my body's internal stop watch had me flip back to the NFL just as they were coming out of the break. Worked very well and I hardly missed anything from both broadcasts.
BTW, I screamed and threw peanut shells at the flat tube when BSPN showed very few finishers taking the checkered flag. Took 'em a while to find Danny Hamlin coasting down the backstretch too. What a joke production wise.

Tim S. said...

McRace, McTrack. Didn't plan on watching, and when I tuned in to the MRN broadcast with 70 to go and heard even Barney Hall gushing over the 48, that was enough. I couldn't have been paid to turn on my TV at that point.

Anonymous said...

With Kyle Busch out of the Chase picture his name came up very little yesterday. I liked that a LOT! Still, there were many battles behind the leaders they simply don't cover. That will forever bother me. Another oddity; on Raceview, my drivers audio was 20 seconds ahead of what I was seeing on my computer and about 23 seconds ahead of the television. That NEVER happens, in fact it's usually the reverse.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why ESPN is not broadcasting across scanners @ the track?

@procarry23 said...

For me, the NFL used to be a filler between NASCAR seasons. The way the games and coverage have been going, I might just have to say that NASCAR is a filler between NFL seasons.

On a side note, I wish the Indy race would've been broadcast on a channel other than NBC Sports. I don't get NBCS and missed what sounded like an excellent race. Oh well. I guess crappy Saturday night shows on NBC win...

MaidenNC3 said...

I'm ready for this whole series to fold like a cheap suit. I'm actually rooting for it to fail. I'm going to do my best to bash this crap whenever I can. I've been defending it for a decade or more. I've been watching since 1982. All of my former racing "buddies" are long gone. They haven't watched in years. All of the shills in the booth for this awful Sport. MRN is no better. Winston Kelley is a shill. Love how the HOF has sucked under his direction. Nobody seems to see the great big elephant in the room. Pitiful racing. Pitiful reaction from drivers whether they win or lose. Watch NHRA or the IRL last night. Passion. Desire. Bob Jenkins even stated that he hated the idea of that late red flag that occurred late in the IRL finale but it was better than the G-W-C. An OPINION that doesn't follow the company line. How refreshing. JD, you tweeted that "20 Years of Nascar on ESPN." It brought a tear to my eye seeing what this sport used to be. I remembered almost all of the races shown in those clips. The sport is a shell of what it used to be. And Dale Jr. isn't going to fix it no matter what he does. NA$CAR has managed to surpass F1 with all of its pretentious drivers/owners/broadcasters/sponsors. Amazing.

GinaV24 said...

Colorado, your comment about the drivers, media, etc using the word playoff so that the fans will think NASCAR is just like the NFL made me laugh.

I know I'm preaching to the choir here, but the big difference between the NFL and NASCAR is that during NFL playoffs, is that people actually care about the games. In NASCAR, there are still 43 cars racing each week, whether they are still in contention for the Superbowl or not.

Andrew said...

I didn't watch this race. I won't comment on the telecast, but it seems like it was a predictable one.

I watched the IndyCar finale. Heck, I've watched that series all season BECAUSE of NBCSN. They remind me a lot of good ol' days of ESPN. A knowledgeable group of guys who aren't pushed around by the sanctioning body. The way they balanced the race coverage with the championship battle should be a blueprint for NASCAR on ESPN. But it won't be.

After that race, I made the decision not to watch the Chase at all this season. I don't care to be frustrated this fall. IndyCar had a fantastic year and I want to end my personal season of viewing on a high note.

Buschseries61 said...

NASCAR at Chicagoland was crushed by the NFL ratings-wise. If you were NASCAR and ESPN, where do you go from here?

George said...

“Speaking of commercials, all ten Chase races will be utilizing the ESPN NonStop split-screen for breaks during the final half of each race. It's better than nothing, but certainly ESPN expanding this concept should they decide to stay in the sport after the current contract expires would make a lot of sense”.

Do not speak, those yesterday were awful split screen right side commercials with single car shots or Jimmy Johnson sittine there holding the wheel. In my book go ahead and do regular commercials.

GinaV24 said...

Buschseries, is anyone other than maybe Brian France really surprised by the ratings?

MaidenNC3 said...

I am looking forward to see where this crock-pot of BS will be in say....2 years. I mean how much further can the likes of France, Pinhead Pemberton, DW, and BSPN drive this sucker into the ground. Enjoy the magic mile folks. Zoom in. Sponsored by nobody presented by wheredidtheyallgo.com Can you zoom in a little more?