Saturday, November 21, 2009

NASCAR TV's Super Bowl

It begins at 10 o'clock in the morning and does not miss a beat until 11PM that night. Thirteen straight hours of NASCAR on four different television networks.

There will be thirty-four on-air television personalities involved in just this one day of coverage. They will offer preview shows, on location specials, studio programs, a live race and then four hours of review, commentary and discussion.

Locations involved will be the beach next to the infield lake, the SPEED Stage, the ESPN Infield Pit Studio, the ABC TV booth, the racetrack and Victory Lane. TV reporters will roam the garage, pit road and the Infield Media Center.

The Daytona 500 may welcome racing back after a winter break, but the Super Bowl of NASCAR TV is the final Sprint Cup Series race in Homestead, FL. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the previous ten months by the NASCAR TV partners in rights payments and production costs.

Now, the end product is about to be judged by the NASCAR fan base and bring to a conclusion one of the longest and most complicated TV seasons of covering professional sports in North America. Endless man hours, hundreds of thousands of airline miles and thousands of hours of live television have all played a role in shaping NASCAR's 2009 season.

NASCAR Now from ESPN2 will start and end the day. Many TV series, including that one, will end their 2009 run on Sunday. Others will provide one more show on Monday or run right up until the Sprint Cup Series banquet on December 4.

Most of the television people associated with the sport work on NASCAR only. The length of the season and the amount of travel involved make it almost impossible to work other days of the week or on other live sporting event series.

TDP will offer three live blogs throughout the day. The pre-race activity beginning at 10AM, the race coverage block beginning at 2:30PM and finally the post-race programming that runs from 7 to 11PM.

What are your thoughts on this long season of NASCAR TV as the final day approaches? What memories stand out as defining this year of coverage?

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 drop by The Daly Planet.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series Race From Homestead (ESPN2 - 4PM)

Here we go for the last time in 2009 on the Nationwide Series trail. ESPN has twelve on-air announcers coming at you for the live race from Homestead.

Allen Bestwick has done a stellar job of keeping order from the Infield Pit Studio this season. On this final race, he is joined by Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Daugherty seems to be the odd man out and the presence of Evernham certainly is interesting.

Tim Brewer is in the Tech Garage, although it is not very clear what he can say or show that has not been repeated many times this season. No doubt Brewer understands the topics he explains, but the forced nature of many of his explanations just rubs some folks the wrong way. Especially, under the green flag.

Pit road will be covered by the four ESPN reporters who have been on the NASCAR trail all season long. Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch will once again be reporting before, during and after the event. This group has responded well to the addition of Marty Reid on the Nationwide events and seems to finally be having some fun.

Reid will call the action with what appears to be a very tired Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Instead of continuing to use Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie in the booth for the Nationwide races, ESPN caved and made Jarrett and Petree do the exactly type of double-duty that Reid came in to help Punch avoid.

This race is clearly a showcase and audition for Reid. Punch has been stumbling this season and after three years things are at an all time low for NASCAR on ESPN. After cutting the IRL TV contract to only a handful of events, Reid is now clearly available for an increased NASCAR role in 2010.

Homestead is one of those tracks that needs wideshots of pack racing. The drivers search high and low for grip and speed. Like Michigan, there is racing all over the track. The Nationwide race has all kinds of unfolding storylines.

ESPN will keep one eye on the leaders and one eye on Brad Keselowski. How this driver is treated by the Sprint Cup cross-over drivers in the race will probably be the big story.

This post wil host your comments on the Nationwide Series race coverage on ESPN2 from Homestead. 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.

Thanks again for a great season of Nationwide Series race chats and thanks to Jeff Gluck from for the picture.

Marty Reid's NASCAR Moment

The coronation is scheduled for Sunday. The fireworks are scheduled for Saturday. Jerry Punch will describe the solemn ceremony. Marty Reid will handle the explosions.

Last year at this time, Reid was not even a blip on the NASCAR on ESPN radar screen. He had spent the last couple of seasons moving between the NHRA and IRL coverage for the network. Reid had even trained Rusty Wallace on the IRL for an entire season before Wallace was deemed ready to debut on the new NASCAR product.

Now, Reid is in an amazing situation. Brought in this year to call the last dozen or so Nationwide Series races, Reid finds himself in Homestead with a plateful of dynamite. In one hand he has a wick and in the other a lighter.

The stars have aligned to shift the focus of NASCAR fans squarely to what is often the forgotten race of the weekend. The Truck Series title was decided even before the Friday race. Over in Sprint Cup Series land, the have-nots will be tip-toeing around the #48 team on Sunday to avoid being on the evening news for all the wrong reasons.

It is the Nationwide Series that has all the potential for the kind of old school knockdown dragout season finale that fans want to see. Amazingly, the championship will be handed to Kyle Busch once the engines are fired. It is what may happen after that point that could put Marty Reid very much in the spotlight.

The sizzling feud between the hard-charging Brad Keselowski and several of his future contemporaries in the Sprint Cup Series next season may well come to a rather dramatic conclusion once the green flag falls on Saturday's race.

In a script right out of central casting, Keselowski finds himself surrounded by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann among others. The hard feelings extend to Nationwide Series regulars like Steven Wallace, Brendan Gaughan and Mike Bliss who are watching Keselowski saddle up in a Penske ride for 2010 and leave them far behind.

Just as there are two storylines in the Chase races, the Nationwide Series will share that split personality in Homestead. TV cameras will have one eye on the racing action toward the front of the pack and the other squarely on Keselowski at all times.

Reid will step up to call the action with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. In Phoenix, Reid set the excitement level high from the start and forced Jarrett and Petree to come along for the ride. Both analysts responded with perhaps their best live ESPN telecast of the 2009 season.

From emphatically announcing each start-and-park car as they pull off the track to joyfully teasing Rusty Wallace at every opportunity, it has been made very clear that Reid marches to the beat of his own drummer.

Pulling no punches and playing no favorites, Reid often has the politically correct Jarrett on his heels where commentary is concerned. It is the quick-witted Petree who has responded favorably to Reid's fun loving nature and jumped into the deep end of the pool.

Using a classic play-by-play call, Reid is looking for a supporting cast that can offer information and expert commentary. This has been a challenge for Tim Brewer in the Tech Garage and for the ESPN production team. Several times, Reid has simply said on the air that the cameras are not following the best racing on the track.

Surprisingly, it has been the four pit reporters who have stepped up their game and gotten involved in providing the kind of updated information that Reid demands when talking about a team or driver. The corps of pit reporters have turned in some of their best performances on Nationwide Series races since Reid came on board.

Unfortunately, one topic that has to be mentioned are the possible changes in the ESPN line-up once the season is done. Over the last two years, not being able to deliver the desired results during the final seventeen Cup races of the season has already resulted in changes. Jarrett was added in the booth, Wallace was moved to the infield and Bestwick was designated as the show host.

Now, the focus is on Punch. His low-key style and deliberate approach did not catch on with the TV viewers. While maintaining his place in the hearts of NASCAR fans as "the doctor," Punch has failed as the frontman for the team. There is little doubt his role will be changed for next season.

In the harsh world of sports TV, the door is now open for Reid. An exciting and memorable telecast on Saturday may go a long way toward helping the ESPN executives in their decision-making process for 2010.

With all the potential excitement on the track and a decades of motorsports television experience behind him, Reid has an opportunity to take a major step in his new NASCAR TV career once the green flag flies at 4:45PM Saturday on ESPN2.

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 again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.