Saturday, October 17, 2009

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Lowe's Motor Speedway on ABC

Saturday night under the lights ABC carried the Sprint Cup Series race from the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

Alen Bestwick anchored the pre-race show that featured Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Center. This show has four pit reporters. Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns handled the interviews.

Jerry Punch handled the play-by-play coverage with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside as the analysts. Marcos Ambrose was the in-race reporter.

This race featured long green flag runs, green flag pitstops and a cluster of caution flags in the final 40 laps. ESPN's NASCAR team made good pictures and the sound was solid.

There was one caution for rain, but no red flag period. This race was a fast-paced affair with cautious drivers trying to stay in the Chase. Several big names faded early and were lapped. One pit crew member was injured on pit road and transferred to the hospital.

We would like your comments on this ABC telecast produced by the ESPN TV team that has been working together since February on the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series telecasts.

To add your opinion about the TV coverage, just click on the comments button below. We appreciate your comments which are read by many other fans, NASCAR media members and TV folks. Thanks for taking the time to give us your comments.

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series From Charlotte (7PM - ABC)

This is one of the biggest races of the Chase. Lowe's Motor Speedway is the home track for almost every Sprint Cup Series team. It's a night race under the lights and in primetime on ABC.

Allen Bestwick starts the night with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at 7PM. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center. Handling the interviews are Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Vince Welch and Dave Burns.

The pre-race show is thirty minutes and then the NASCAR on ESPN team takes the air. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will handle the live action.

Last night, ESPN started the night off with a great pre-race show for the Nationwide Series race. Bestwick handed the race off to announcer Marty Reid and the action began on a great note. The first thirty minutes consisted of wideshots of racing, aerial views of the speedway and interviews with drivers out of the race.

Then, ESPN turned the page and started down the road fans know all too well. Extremely tight shots of one or two cars. Recorded soundbites played back during the live race under the green flag. Bizarre oldies music blaring while the announcers threw to commercial. It was the same bad dream again for NASCAR fans.

Marty Reid and Dale Jarrett repeatedly told the producer and director that there was "three wide action further back in the pack." It did not matter. Stories like Mike Bliss and Dave Blaney carving their way through the field were poorly covered.

It was all Sprint Cup drivers all the time. It has been that way since Daytona with the exception of the short-track race this summer from Indy.

On this Saturday night it should be interesting to see if ESPN learns from the Friday night struggles or just repeats the same TV production pattern. One thing is for sure, we will all learn the answer to that together.

To add your TV-related opinion of this broadcast, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Live Blogging "NASCAR RaceDay" On SPEED

This is the home track for SPEED with the network's new headquarters and studios right down the street from the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

RaceDay is the franchise for SPEED. This program has been around for a long time and is now two hours of an incredible mix of elements. Last year, we described it as the Super Wal-Mart of NASCAR TV. Eventually, there is something for everyone.

John Roberts is at the heart of it all. Fans may remember that several years ago Roberts would put himself right in the middle of the funny skits and outlandish crowd baiting routines. Now, he has taken on more of a serious host role and there is a good reason why. Actually, there are two.

Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace began this TV series as two NASCAR drivers with mediocre pasts who were in the middle of a career change. Wallace had been a familiar face as a frequent panelist on the old Inside Winston/NEXTEL Cup on SPEED. His personality and outgoing nature seemed to be a natural for TV.

Wallace brought his St. Louis background to the table, while Spencer represented his rough and tough Pennsylvania roots with frank talk and sometimes harsh comments. Spencer quickly became the lightning rod on this show with Wallace providing the comic relief.

This season, the reporter role is being shared by two familiar faces, Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler. Venturini is a true television professional. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill with a degree in TV production and has worked in the field since then. Make no mistake about it, Venturini is the star of RaceDay.

One trademark of a TV pro is being confident enough to share the stage. Venturini has done that with Hermie Sadler. Coming from a minor role on the series providing track descriptions, Sadler was perhaps best known for spinning out the SPEED camera car during one memorable effort. Now, he has developed into a self-taught pro who is comfortable on-camera in a variety of situations.

Rutledge Wood is getting a little bit old to be the class clown. There is no doubt that he may be a nice guy in person but SPEED's continual use of him to portray the fool is ridiculous. If he has something to offer, let him show it. Wood is buried in sponsor-driven features, ill-prepared celebrity interviews and embarrassing TV moments.

RaceDay drives a lot of viewer email that is almost all focused on the words and antics of Spencer and Wallace. This year these two seem to be speaking directly to the viewers each time Roberts tosses them a questions. "Let me tell you something," says Wallace at the start of almost every answer. Something is missing.

Spencer has recently been added to the Monday This Week in NASCAR show and removed from Victory Lane. Larry McReynolds replaced Spencer on Victory Lane and the difference was remarkable. Spencer's emotional questions were replaced with informed inquiries about specific issues.

Every TV series goes through changes and it now seems like Roberts, Sadler and Venturini are in a different league from Wallace and Spencer. The first three are involved in heavy TV duties and interviews while the last two are disconnected and struggling to fit in.

Long gone are the judges robes, the fake court and the table dancing. Now RaceDay has become a serious pre-race show for hardcore fans who want information, interviews and opinions. As we watch this two-hour show from Lowe's Motor Speedway, keep these issues in mind.

We want your comments on this program and the series in general. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting.

TDP will be live blogging the Sprint Cup Series race with a post going up at 6:30PM for the 7PM pre-race show. Thanks for stopping by.

Drivers Use TV To Deliver "Think Pink" Message

It's a message that is very close to the hearts of Elliott and Hermie Sadler. Their mother Bell is still with us after a brave battle. It's a cause that picked up steam with the reality that prevention can be relatively easy and directly save lives. NASCAR is set to make a statement this weekend. Here is the reason why:

Susan G. Komen fought breast cancer with her heart, body and soul. Throughout her diagnosis, treatments, and endless days in the hospital, she spent her time thinking of ways to make life better for other women battling breast cancer instead of worrying about her own situation. That concern for others continued even as Susan neared the end of her fight. Moved by Susan’s compassion for others and committed to making a difference, Nancy G. Brinker promised her sister that she would do everything in her power to end breast cancer forever.

That promise is now Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the global leader of the breast cancer movement, having invested more than $1 billion since inception in 1982. As the world’s largest grassroots network of breast cancer survivors and activists, they are working together to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all and energize science to find the cures. Thanks to events like the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure®, and generous contributions from our partners, sponsors and fellow supporters, we have become the largest source of nonprofit funds dedicated to the fight against breast cancer in the world.

Five Sprint Cup Series cars are going with pink wrappers this weekend at the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Drivers running these pink paint schemes are Kyle Busch, Elliott Sadler, Bill Elliott, Michael Waltrip, and Bobby Labonte.

In the Friday night Nationwide Series race the three Braun Racing cars will also run pink schemes. Brian Vickers, Reed Sorenson and Jason Leffler will have new colors with the full support of their regular season sponsors.

Terri Miller is the Vice President of Marketing for Great Clips, the primary sponsor on the Leffler car. Her words really drive home the importance of this cause.

"We are so proud of Braun Racing for taking the opportunity to "go pink" and focus on this cause that affects so many people around the world," said Miller.

"Having been diagnosed with breast cancer almost two years ago personally gave me a new perspective on the importance of awareness and all the ways we can fight this disease and find a cure for our daughters. Great Clips is very happy to be a part of this effort and look forward to seeing the pink No. 38 on the race track."

Make no mistake, this is a grassroots effort that will bring millions of dollars in national TV exposure to this cause. The most impressive thing to remember is that these are completely separate NASCAR teams. Different businesses with different sponsors that have managed to all arrive at the same place at the same time for a good cause.

Here are some additional resources for those who are interested:

Click here for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure homepage.

Click here for the Passionately Pink homepage to get active in the cause.

Click here for the Circle of Promise homepage to educate young women about this disease.

Half of all NASCAR fans are female. They are our wives, mothers, daughters, relatives and friends. Thanks to all the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series teams that took one weekend out of this very long season to focus national attention on this deserving cause.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, join us for a live blog of the Nationwide Series race on Friday night.
Note: Rain delayed Formula 1 qualifying from Brazil has cancelled NASCAR Performance on SPEED that was scheduled for 3:30PM. No word yet on remainder of TV schedule or a revised off-time for the F-1.

Update: SPEED's Master Control in LA just made a series of horrible decisions. The huge episode of NASCAR Performance with Chad Knaus and Larry McReynolds was joined in progress and 15 minutes was dropped.

Coming up later is NASCAR Smarts, a game show with fans. That program should have been collapsed and this HUGE episode of NASCAR Performance from LMS should have been aired entirely.

Documentary TV Series Right Thing For Johnson?

Here is the official story from Jenna Fryer of the AP that got the email and Tweets flowing:

CONCORD, N.C. — There's two sides to Jimmie Johnson, the three-time defending champion often perceived to be a stiff, corporate spokesman who has sucked the drama out of NASCAR.

But he plays hard away from the track, where those who know him well insist he's a laid-back California guy who loves a good party.

The public will get to judge for themselves next year when Johnson, who is trying for a NASCAR record fourth consecutive title this season, opens his life for HBO Sports' award-winning "24/7" program. The four-episode series will air beginning in January and focus on Johnson's preparation for the 2010 season-opening Daytona 500.

"I'm confident that my personality will come out, and for those who may think I'm boring, they'll see a different side of me," Johnson said Thursday from his office at Hendrick Motorsports.

The show will mark HBO's first in-depth venture into NASCAR, and it will be the first time its "24/7" franchise will stray from boxing.

The project was brought to HBO by Creative Artists Agency on behalf of Johnson, who signed on with its sports division in 2008 for a marketing, licensing and endorsement deal. CAA asked Johnson for a list of projects he'd like to do and "24/7" was at the top.

He and his wife, Chandra, had become hooked on the series during the Ricky Hatton and Floyd Mayweather edition, and Johnson wanted a chance to do a similar project.

"I think it would be awesome to show what goes on in my life, the team, NASCAR, and truthfully to hit new fans," Johnson said.

First up will be at least 1,000 hours of filming to create the four 30-minute episodes. Cameras have already filmed a bit with Johnson and his wife, and the project will pick up steam as they head into the offseason and then to Daytona next year.

Although Johnson said his wife isn't comfortable around cameras, he's confident they'll adapt. And he's trusting the experience will be much different from what good friend Nick Lachey experienced doing "Newlyweds" for MTV with his now-ex, Jessica Simpson.

"I feel that this is much different than a reality show," he said. "It's certainly our real life but it's more of a documentary than a reality show. That's a big difference. And Nick would kill me, too."

The show will have total access to Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports, and the No. 48 race team in its preparation for NASCAR's biggest race of the year. Greenburg expects an adventure or two with the notoriously intense crew chief Chad Knaus, who has little time for media when the pressure is on. Knaus can also be super secretive when it comes to strategies and planning, and the exposure could potentially unnerve him.

"We laugh about it, but it's going to be interesting," Greenburg said. "If Chad has trouble with it, that will be part of the story, too: Chad can't handle this.

"He may bite Jimmie's head off at times, and tell Jimmie to get these cameras out of here. Hopefully, we're rolling when that happens."

But Greenburg is most excited to expose NASCAR to a new audience.

"There's so much to this sport that people don't see," he said. "That happened in boxing (with "24/7") and that happened in pro football (with "Hard Knocks"), and we want to just bring it all out in NASCAR. We are going to show a different side of Jimmie Johnson to America and I think that people will maybe change their tune."

So, what do you think? Is this a star reacting to a call from the fans to prove he is interesting? Perhaps, Johnson truly believes this behind the scenes show will open parts of his life to the public that have been hidden. Either way, it will certainly expose NASCAR to a new group of television viewers.

We are looking for comments relating to the TV series, not Johnson's racing exploits or personality. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.