Sunday, April 6, 2008

In-Progress At Texas: Sprint Cup Series On Fox

There is a great scenario developing for the NASCAR on Fox gang Sunday afternoon at the Texas Motor Speedway.

A spectacular crash in the Sprint Cup Series qualifying has been replayed countless times on TV stations across the country. It has been seen on ESPN and all of the cable news networks. The Cup race comes along while that memory of NASCAR is still fresh in the minds of these casual fans. Ratings may be affected by this additional exposure, the good weather and the potential for great racing.

Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip will open the program from the Hollywood Hotel. Look for Hammond to be in full Texas mode. Myers will have to review a lot of NASCAR news stories that are of a serious nature in the pre-race show.

The Petty Enterprises situation, the aftermath of the McDowell accident, and the resurgence of Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Hendrick are mandatory topics. The sponsorless Yates cars, the failure of the open-wheel drivers and the impending driver moves at Ganassi are also on the list. This is not normally the type of content that Myers enjoys discussing.

Waltrip will transition to the booth to join Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds. These three were on-the-air live during the McDowell accident, and did a wonderful job of handling the incident. Now, they are rewarded with what could be the best Sprint Cup Series race of the season.

The pit reporters will be Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Dr. Dick Berggren. This group has consistently been the best on pit road, and this big and fast track should present a good challenge to this team. If Fox continues to use the 4-car video box effect on pit stops, it should be interesting to see how the pit reporters handle calling the action.

Fans should be alert to the integration of "Digger" the track-level camera into the live action and how much air time this feature gets on the telecast. In addition, this track has been known for great finishes throughout the field. It should be interesting to see how the Fox production team has decided to handle the last lap and the field crossing the finish line.

This page will serve to host your comments about the Sprint Cup Series race from the Texas Motor Speedway on Fox. To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time during the race to share your opinion.

In Progress On Sunday: "NASCAR Now" and "RaceDay"

The battle of the Sunday morning NASCAR shows continues with two very different networks taking two very different approaches to the very same topic.

ESPN2 has a one hour version of NASCAR Now on Sunday's at 10AM that is anchored from the network's Bristol, CT studio. Ryan Burr and Nicole Manske rotate the hosting duties and use the studio as the base of operations. ESPN sees the racetrack as a location for reports and features. In line with the ESPN dress code, the on-air talent wear suits and ties while the ladies wear business attire.

Over at SPEED, they continue to do things just a little bit differently. RaceDay is a two hour pre-race show that encompasses almost every TV element surrounding NASCAR that viewers can imagine. From hardcore technical information to the up-to-the-minute news from the garage, the network certainly has NASCAR covered. This Sunday, the show is on-the-air at 11:30AM Eastern Time.

SPEED changed to a philosophy of moving the studio to the track for the weekend several years ago, and it has paid-off. Since that network has the Charlotte All-Star race as their only Cup or Nationwide Series related event, this is a smart way to be associated with the Cup Series on a regular basis.

This week, Denny Hamlin, Casey Mears and Jamie McMurray will be guests on the program. Veteran Wendy Venturini will present a Real Deal report on the struggle for sponsorship. It will focus on how teams integrate multiple sponsors to achieve success. The program will have a Texas flashback and also track the current Top 35 situation.

RaceDay is offered in a casual and relaxed environment. Venturini is kept apart from the panel of Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace. She is the news person who has to deal with the tough topics in the sport on a regular basis. The polar opposite of Venturini is Rutledge Wood. Designated as the class clown, Wood's last report featured the fact several drivers had flex-locked a bicycle to a fence. Sunday, Rutledge is going to file a report on his trip to a Texas rodeo.

The sophisticated ESPN attempt at a one hour Sunday morning show fell apart in 2007. The wrong studio hosts, the wrong reporters at the track and generally the wrong approach to the sport caused a big mess. Now, ESPN has changed course and is catching up quickly in the world of NASCAR TV.

Marty Smith has stepped-in as the Lead Reporter, replacing the "pool reporters" that formerly filed the news reports. Nicole Manske and Allen Bestwick have joined Burr as co-hosts, and the entire ESPN broadcast team at the track has been integrated into this program.

As the series reaches the Cup race at Texas, it should be interesting to compare RaceDay and NASCAR Now. Two very different approaches to the same subject matter that are now competing for the same set of NASCAR fans.

This page will serve to host your comments about NASCAR Now and RaceDay on Sunday. To add your comments, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.