Sunday, July 26, 2009

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series on ESPN From Indy

Note: Please give us your post-race comments on the new column at the top of the page.

Hang on NASCAR fans. 12 announcers and 76 cameras are coming at you live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's time for the Brickyard 400 on ESPN.

Last season this was one of the biggest auto racing disasters in recent memory. The Goodyear tire problems unfolded live on global TV. ESPN could do nothing but watch the chaos and try to report the obvious. Now, things have changed.

The foundation of this season's telecast is clearly the incredible recovery of Goodyear from the struggles of last season to being a success this year. No tire problems will return the focus to the racing and the telecast coverage.

The 12 ESPN voices are familiar to NASCAR fans. Allen Bestwick will remain in the infield pit studio during the race. He will be joined there by Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham. Bestwick should serve to host the race recaps, the video highlights and the coverage under any extended caution flag period.

Jerry Punch is handling the play by play for the race, with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch. This is a veteran crew, but this is a very big stage today.

ESPN has a new camera that swoops down pit road at over 80 mph. This angle should be great on restarts and to cover the race off pit road. Look for the ESPN director to try and strike a balance between the in-car cameras and the tremendous amount of cameras positioned around the track.

This is the first Brickyard 400 with the new restart rules and the double-file strategy should make for a new wrinkle. Tire strategy will come into play and the pit reporters are going to be busy keeping fans up to date on what teams are thinking.

This post will serve to host your comments about the ESPN telecast of the Sprint Cup Series race from IMS. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking time from your weekend to stop by.

Pre-Race TV Shows Are Very Different

This is the time of the season when the battle of the pre-race shows really begins. ESPN and SPEED will both be offering hours of pre-race TV programming for the remaining seventeen Sprint Cup Series weekends.

Allen Bestwick is first with NASCAR Now at 10AM. Originating from the ESPN Infield Pit Studio, Bestwick has all the ESPN resources at his disposal. Joining Bestwick in the infield will be Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Mike Massaro, Nicole Manske and Marty Smith are the reporters.

RaceDay is up next and presents the exact opposite way of covering the sport on TV. Instead of three formally dressed men in a silent air conditioned studio, SPEED offers Kenny Wallace dancing on his desk in front of thousands of fans on an outdoor stage. Jimmy Spencer and John Roberts round-out the trio.

Instead of the tie and jacket on Smith and Massaro, RaceDay offers casually attired Hermie Sadler and Rutledge Wood. Sadler provides the interviews while Rutledge continues to be cast as the class clown. While Nicole Manske cruises the garage with her open-wheel background, SPEED's Wendy Venturini is on-hand with her well-known smile and lifelong experience in the stock car world.

RaceDay has two hours at Indy and plans to interview as many drivers, owners and news makers as possible. Just like ESPN, SPEED is going to feature Jeff Gordon as the Real Deal this week. This show should be the first good indication of the crowd at Indy and their mood after the Goodyear tire disaster of 2008.

ESPN has a double-whammy planned as the network has hand-crafted a ninety minute pre-race show that will overlap RaceDay by thirty minutes and start at 12:30PM. Plenty of pre-produced features have been done for this special show and they include an E:60-style announcer roundtable previewing the race. Some celebrities will be along as well and some of the surprises should be fun to watch.

This post will serve to host your comments about the pre-race programming from Indy. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. TDP will be live blogging the Brickyard 400 beginning at 2PM. Green flag is 2:19PM.