Saturday, February 9, 2008

"NASCAR On Fox" Off To A Good Start

That big sigh of relief you heard on Saturday night was the entire NASCAR Nation exhaling as the NASCAR on Fox guys took to the airwaves for the Bud Shootout.

After a tough summer, a rugged "Chase" and a very long winter the new NASCAR TV season had dawned just the way network executives like it. There was plenty of controversy, good storylines, and the one thing that everyone really needed. Good TV coverage had returned to the sport, just in the nick of time.

As the returning veterans of the NASCAR TV package, Mike Joy lead a crew of announcers who have established their own individual identities with the American public. There are no question marks, no one to get angry at, and no facts are in doubt.

The conversations from the Infield Studio are done by men who actively participated in the sport, and give good-natured grief to the one host who has not. The relationsips between the entire on-air crew are displayed for all to see. There might be some kidding, but this group has checked their egos at the door. The resulting level of communication is outstanding.

Fox makes good HD pictures, brings a good graphics package, and seems to have put their 3-D animation feature on-the-shelf. This on-air package, without a lower third "ticker" on the screen, worked cleanly and without a problem.

This time at Daytona, the Fox Producer and Director chose to show all cars equally, although Dale Junior will always be the story when he is at the front. It still is a little tough with all the cameras not to turn-up a replay or two, but that issue should be put to bed by the Daytona 500 weekend.

Mike Joy was in fine spirits, and led a group that enjoys the pace and enthusiasm that Joy can seemingly maintain for the length of any race. There just cannot be enough said about the importance of the play-by-play announcer setting the tone for the entire broadcast. This was a cast of characters that enjoys racing, and it showed.

With laps winding down, the Fox Director borrowed from the "old school" approach and kept the cameras wide so the size of the lead pack and the speed of all the cars could be seen clearly by the viewer. Allowing Kevin Harvick to directly comment on the action was a good compliment to the regular Fox voices.

While the graphics for the in-car cameras were large, the sound from the same location was outstanding. The audio mix was a key part of this program, and never did anything but push the announcers to talk over the actual natural sound of the event.

Timely replays are tough to insert in live action, but Fox kept them to a minimum and never interrupted with any in-action promos or celebrity interviews. The focus on racing was a welcome change from the disjointed TV effort during The Chase of 2007.

The final three laps after a restart were a nice way to finish the broadcast. Darrell Waltrip was outspoken and clear in his analysis. His points about the rear spoiler of the COT keeping the cars from crashing was just fundamentally interesting. Old DW was on top of his game, and the fact that Junior won was just icing on the cake.

Fox returns with pole qualifying on Sunday at 1PM Eastern Time, and then the countdown clock to the 50th running of the Daytona 500 gets down into single numbers. With the Bud Shootout as a warm-up, NASCAR fans can breath a little easier. The "pros" are back in town, and we even saw the entire field finish the race.

On a Saturday night in February, it was just nice to be able to watch good NASCAR TV again. Maybe, this year could be the shot-in-the-arm that NASCAR really needs.

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In-Progress At Daytona: Bud Shootout On Fox Sports

The veteran NASCAR on Fox team returns Saturday night to cover the Bud Shootout at 8PM Eastern Time. Finally, NASCAR racing action returns live to prime time TV.

Mike Joy continues to anchor the Fox Sports coverage, joined by Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds in the booth. On pit road will be Krista Voda, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes and Dick Berggren. Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond will also be along for the ride in the Hollywood Hotel.

With the race profile heightened because of the practice accidents and the Kurt Busch vs. Tony Stewart feud, this pre-season special will be a big draw for TV viewers.

SPEED has provided a full day of live coverage from Daytona, including Cup practice and the ARCA race. This included the NASCAR on Fox crew calling the practice session, and it was clear that they were confident and prepared for this evening's race.

As racing returns, fans will once again be watching for several TV production issues. Last season, the NASCAR on Fox Director chose to only show the winning car cross the finish line. Despite the roar of the fans, this practice continued throughout the entire package. It should be interesting to see what the production team chooses to show the viewers at home on the final lap.

Fans also had their fill of the "Fox 3-D" animated replays, which often showed-up to only state the obvious. This system from Sportvision uses GPS to duplicate in an animated fashion the locations of the cars on the track and then creates a replay effect. Even with the limited field in the Shootout, this effect was used last season with less than stellar results. Perhaps, we will see the updated version Saturday night.

This page will serve to host your comments about the Bud Shootout on Fox Sports. To add your opinion, simply click on the COMMENTS below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

"RaceDay" Debuts On SPEED For 2008

Saturday evening at 6PM, the franchise is back for SPEED. Over the last season, the Daly Planet has called this program "SPEED-a-palooza" and the "Super WalMart of NASCAR." There were lots of good reasons why.

RaceDay is one of the most-watched programs on SPEED, and was used in 2007 by the network in one of the most controversial scheduling decisions ever made in NASCAR TV history.

After airing in the timeslot just before the NASCAR on Fox team took to the air, RaceDay suddenly changed course when the NEXTEL Cup coverage moved to TNT and then ESPN/ABC. This two hour live show was moved to go head-to-head with the pre-race shows of those two networks.

For the first time, NASCAR fans were forced to choose TV networks as two live pre-race shows were on-the-air at the same time from the same track. Ultimately, between the personality struggles of TNT and the credibility struggles of ESPN, SPEED came out on top. Later this season, that competition is going to be interesting to watch.

As the program returns to the air, John Roberts again steps into the host role and is joined by Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace. This trio has a fascinating dynamic simply because of the completely different personalities involved. The bottom line is that it works for the viewers.

Wendy Venturini continues to re-define the role of pit reporter, and her ability to interact effectively with the wide range of personalities in the sport assures viewers that SPEED is always in the news mix in the garage area. She is again joined by Bob Dillner, who had a good pre-season with his testing coverage and continues to be a consistent performer.

Hermie Sadler and Randy Pemberton continue to be utility players for this series, with Hermie's on-track features a solid addition to the program. Pemberton is in the middle of a professional comeback, and his knowledge of the key players in the sport served him well last season.

Rutledge Wood is a wild card, and with this program taking on an even higher profile in 2008, it will be interesting to see if SPEED includes him regularly in this show. Riki Rachtman will not be a regular part of the show, and will not participate in the weekly winner picks. He remains an anchor for's internetTV coverage.

The debut edition of the program should be interesting, with good storylines for the Bud Shootout, Daytona 500 pole qualifying, and the ARCA race that directly precedes the live show. Remember, lots of the top NEXTEL Cup cars are now in the ARCA field as NASCAR has adopted the COT full time.

This page will host your comments about RaceDay. To add your opinion, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. We do not require your email address, and there is nothing to join. We just want to know what you thought of RacedDay on SPEED. Thanks for stopping by.

Links Page For Current Posts

Here is an easy link to the current stories and posts:

"RaceDay" Debuts on SPEED for 2008 (6PM Tonight)

In-Progress At Daytona: "NASCAR Live" and Saturday Practice (On-Air Now)

"Shifting Gears" Makes NASCAR TV History (Dale Junior's Friday Night Show)

Ryan Burr And Daytona Media Day (ESPNEWS Coverage Thursday)

"NASCAR in 30 Seconds" Features Rutledge Wood (SPEED Program Comments)

Congratulations! You Made This The Top-Rated NASCAR Blog (Update And Comments)

Click on any title to be taken directly to the story.

In-Progress At Daytona: "NASCAR Live" and Saturday Cup Practice on SPEED

The SPEED schedule begins on Saturday at 10AM Eastern Time with a thirty minute edition of NASCAR Live.

The main host for this program is John Roberts, although SPEED has multiple announcers on-site and several sets operating simultaneously.

On-track practice for Sprint Cup cars begins at 10:30AM and will be followed by another edition of NASCAR Live at 12:30PM.

After lunch, practice resumes for the Cup Series at 1:30PM, and SPEED ends the afternoon portion of this live coverage with a final wrap-up edition of NASCAR Live at 3PM.

Normally a general news program updating events at the track and happenings in the garage, today will be different. It should be interesting to see if SPEED is drawn into the media feeding frenzy about the Tony Stewart vs. Kurt Busch accident. The network did a good and balanced job Friday dealing with the events.

This post will serve to host your comments about the TV coverage. This is not a blog about racing, but the TV and media coverage that surrounds it. This should be a good example of watching a network balance the features and events they have prepared in advance with the breaking news about possible sanctions on two drivers and other teams working to prepare cars that arrived at the speedway during the night.

To add your post, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the simple instructions. Rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. There will be a new post for the first edition of Raceday prior to the program airing at 6PM. Thanks again for stopping by The Daly Planet.