Saturday, February 13, 2010

Live Blogging The Truck Series In Daytona (SPEED - 6:30PM)

The familiar team returns for SPEED to cover the only national caliber NASCAR series carried by the network from start to finish. The formula is now familiar.

SPEED has perfected the "less is more" philosophy of producing NASCAR races. Two pit reporters, Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander, cover pit road. One host, Krista Voda, handles the entire thirty minute pre-race show.

Once the race starts, Rick Allen lends his brand of excitement by calling the play by play action. Allen may be a homer, but it is very clear he feels personally attached to the teams and drivers in the Camping World Truck Series. SPEED likes the emphasis on what is going on at the front of the pack and the volume level on high.

Speaking of volume, Michael Waltrip will be stepping back into the CWTS booth to offer color commentary again this season. Waltrip keeps himself updated on the series, but sometimes has an internal battle about how to fit into a three man TV booth.

Alongside of Waltrip is Phil Parsons, also a former driver. Rather than go with the typical driver and crew chief combination, SPEED has kept these two personalities together. Most of the time, the two split the commentary and replay explanations.

The trucks have been the biggest victims of the financial squeeze. Top drivers like Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford have been forced to the sidelines. Crawford has a ride for tonight, but his future on the track this season is unknown.

It will be very cold tonight in Daytona, but the weather is clear and the trucks always look good under the lights. The SPEED producer and director team up to keep the focus on the best racing on the track and leave the hype and special effects behind.

This post will host your comments about the TV coverage on SPEED of the Camping World Truck Series from Daytona. 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 stopping by!

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Live Blogging The Nationwide Series in Daytona (ESPN2 - 12PM ET)

The first Nationwide Series race from Daytona is going to be run under very cool conditions. There are fourteen Sprint Cup regulars joining the Nationwide ranks on this Saturday and in the past they would steal all the TV exposure. ESPN had become famous for featuring the big names on the coverage. This race is going to be different.

Danica Patrick has been a media magnet from her arrival in Daytona last week to run in the ARCA event. Now, she is racing in the Nationwide Series. The TV ratings for the ARCA race went through the roof and ESPN is hoping for the same. That means a good dose of Danica throughout the coverage today.

Allen Bestwick has the task of setting the tone for the coverage as he hosts the one hour pre-race show from the Infield Pit Studio. Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham will join him. Fans watching coverage during the week saw both Daugherty and Wallace in the garage talking with Patrick during practice.

During this show, Bestwick will be using the ESPN pit road reporters for interviews. It will be during that time that viewers will discover which reporter has been assigned to the Patrick team for the race. Hopefully, ESPN will make a wise move and welcome Jerry Punch back to pit road by giving him that task.

Once live race coverage gets underway, it will be Marty Reid beginning a very long year of calling both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns and Vince Welch will all have an opportunity to call a Nationwide race this season. There are several stand-alone race weekends and Reid will also be calling the IRL races for ESPN and ABC.

Joining Reid in the booth today will be Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. These two appeared several times this week and seemed to be having a lot of fun with Reid's excitement and energy level. The race today should be a good test of how Jarrett and Petree will work with Reid this season in a very different booth environment.

Jamie Little, Punch, Burns and Welch make up the pit road reporting crew. Shannon Spake is still on maternity leave. With Punch joining the pit road gang, ESPN has already announced that Spake will be hosting some NASCAR Now shows and reporting during the week for the network as well as returning to pit road later in the season.

While ESPN has made many changes in the on-air personalities, perhaps the biggest question remains the decisions being made inside the TV truck by the producer and director. Staying with a script written before the live race has been a sticking point for three seasons of coverage. If Danica is the theme, than ESPN may remind us of the insane coverage of Jimmie Johnson offered down the stretch last season.

On the good side, once again the pictures and sound have looked great all season. No tech problems are on the horizon and the weather picture is clear of rain. Daytona is an incredible venue for TV where equipment is concerned. The in-car cameras in HD are looking wonderful again and should add excitement as the Nationwide cars move around much more than the COT machines.

We invite you to join us and talk TV today. To add your opinion on the coverage of today's race, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for starting the fourth season of NASCAR TV coverage here on TDP with us.

ESPN Looking For The Danica Factor To Continue

They come because they saw it on the TV news. They come because it's something different. They come because they are snowed-in and bored. They come because they want to see what all the fuss is about. As SPEED found out last Saturday, put Danica Patrick in a stock car and TV viewers will follow.

Now, ESPN gets a turn at the publicity machine as Patrick joins the Nationwide Series race on Saturday afternoon. Allen Bestwick will have a full hour to lead Brad Daugherty, Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace through a pre-race show that will no doubt have a whole lot to do with Danica.

Even as the network moves through the pre-race conversations with the fourteen Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series race, the question of how to deal with Patrick is going to be a constant. ESPN has made it a habit to emphasize speaking with the "big boys" who have come to play in the Saturday sandbox.

No one may be happier to have Danica dumped in his lap than Marty Reid. Now handling the play-by-play for ESPN's NASCAR events, Reid has the tremendous advantage of also calling the IRL races for the network. His voice is the commentary heard as Patrick won her only IRL event.

This knowledge gives Reid the opportunity to reference Patrick's IRL or stock car experiences from a very solid perspective. He may need both to either explain her struggles or perhaps relate her success on the Daytona track racing in a NASCAR series.

It would only be fitting if Dr. Jerry Punch was assigned the Patrick pit. For the first time in many years, Punch has been asked to return to the very role that brought him to the attention of NASCAR fans decades ago. Chronicling Patrick may pose just the kind of pit road challenge that Punch can conquer.

The entire ESPN team had Nationwide Series practice to get up to speed on working with each other, but the Saturday race is going to be a big event. After the bad taste left in the mouths of many by the network's Chase coverage last season, this is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Deep down, the entire ESPN team knows that this one event has the potential to be a TV ratings bonanza. If Patrick can keep herself out of harm's way and finish the race in a respectable position, ESPN and NASCAR may finally have found a way to make the Nationwide Series interesting to TV viewers once again.

TDP will offer a live blog of this race, but we would like to get your comments in advance on the build-up around Patrick. To add your comment on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks and we will see you Saturday at 11:30AM for live NASCAR TV chat.