The Frontstretch: Missing DW's Voice ... Seriously, A Missed Question To Kevin Harvick, And Missing A Mystery Caution by John Potts -- Tuesday March 18, 2008

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Missing DW's Voice ... Seriously, A Missed Question To Kevin Harvick, And Missing A Mystery Caution

The Race For Ratings Points : Critiquing NASCAR TV · John Potts · Tuesday March 18, 2008


I suppose some folks considered the FOX telecast of the Food City 500 at Bristol to be the best so far this season, since Darrell Waltrip couldn’t talk much. Personally, I sort of like listening to DW (but could do without him bursting into song now and then).

In fact, the best part of the show, to me, was the presentation of his 1981-82 Buick to him during the pre-race portion of the broadcast. Waltrip was obviously taken aback by it (speechless doesn’t seem to fit in this situation, considering the circumstances).

I’m pretty new at this TV critic business, so bear with me, folks. Perhaps in a few months, Waltrip will render me speechless when the FOX season is all said and done…

Juan Pablo Montoya “rained” on DW’s boogity parade this weekend in Bristol.

Bristol Sprint Cup Racing Broadcasts
TV Networks : FOX and SPEED

The Good

From SPEED’s pre-race show, I appreciated the explanation of bump stops on the shock absorbers, as well as the various shims that could be used. Also, the debate between Kyle Petty and Bootie Barker about bumpstops on “Trading Paint” was pretty interesting; giving technical expertise in terms the general public can understand is never a bad thing.

The funniest moment in the TV coverage at Bristol came in Friday evening’s “Trackside” program on Speed. DW asked Juan Pablo Montoya how you say “boogity” in Spanish, and Montoya replied, “I don’t even know how to say it in English.”

Another comment from one of the open wheelers got my attention, one of those great answers you can snag only by being “caught up in the moment” on TV. Dario Franchitti said the short tracks were particularly challenging because you could be “half a corner back” from an incident and couldn’t avoid it. That’s the type of analysis people are looking for.

But the greatest directing brilliance on the weekend came when FOX put a camera on Kim Burton, capturing the moment she jumped out of her seat on top of the pit box when her husband made the winning pass. Burton’s raw emotion was showcased perfectly; and seeing the kids actually participate in a post-race interview afterwards wasn’t bad, either.

By my count, we had more than 120 commercials during the race program — 127, to be exact — which took up nearly an hour of air time. But at least more and more of the commercials are getting to be entertaining. The best new one involved the talking bird on the NAPA spot with Michael Waltrip; it was just in time. Seeing the guy dump that model of Michael’s 1990 wreck at Bristol is hilarious, but it was starting to get old.

The Bad

Why did FOX keep pounding on the fact that there were 160,000 people at Bristol, and that it was a sellout? I never understand that. We all know Bristol is always sold out for the Cup race, don’t we? At least, the millions of NASCAR fans who have tried to get tickets know about it…

During the race, I was a bit curious as to why TV didn’t question NASCAR’s judgment on the caution flag brought out by Jimmie Johnson’s non-spin. Earlier, no caution was shown when Dale Jarrett got almost out of control; and in this case, Johnson never even pulled a full 180.

But the biggest disappointment for me this weekend came near the end of the telecast, when the pit reporters talked to first Kevin Harvick, then Tony Stewart about the late-race contact that ended with Stewart hitting the turn two wall. That led to some frustrating words over the radio, anger which transitioned to Stewart’s spotter above the track as he tried to spread the word over to Harvick’s crew. But when a confrontation on the roof was revealed, why didn’t FOX ask Harvick the details of what happened between the spotters during the aftermath? The man obviously didn’t have any problem describing it to a reporter, because it showed up in the print coverage the next morning.

Secondly, why wasn’t Steve Byrnes (who obviously drew the short straw in having to interview Tony) informed that Harvick had admitted the wreck was his fault, and would thus have been able to mention that to Stewart? It might have softened Tony’s response a bit — but maybe FOX doesn’t really want that.

Editor’s Note : Sources on the FOX broadcast crew confirmed to us Wednesday that Stewart’s interview was taped beforehand, making it impossible for him to respond to Harvick’s comments. Sometimes, taping such an interview is necessary due to timing issues: drivers can be swarmed by other broadcast outlets, or may be looking to leave the track immediately after a difficult race. However, it was duly noted that the network never mentioned the taped interview to the viewers, creating the impression they had “dropped the ball” on this interview.

The Ugly?

My congratulations go out to Harvick, who merely glared at a spectator who had obviously mouthed some kind of non-complimentary offering during a later interview in the garage. A couple of years ago, he was jumping over cars to get at people who ticked him off.

Perhaps that’s a sign of progress? Until next week…

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Racing to the Point: NASCAR Has Its Own Heartbreak Kid
Beyond the Cockpit: Brittany Force, the Fastest Force
Voices from the Cheap Seats: Advertising for Dummies
Who’s Hot / Who’s Not in Sprint Cup: Off Week-Richmond Edition
Couch Potato Tuesday: Picking The Best IndyCar On-Air Personalities


©2000 - 2008 John Potts and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

03/18/2008 02:40 AM

B3 in spanish is “elstupido, elstupido, elstupido.

How is it directing brilliance to put the camera on Kim when Jeff is about to win? This has been standard fair since the ’90s and I’m pretty sure it was started by ESPN back in the day. They used to do the same thing in open wheel with Emerson Fittipaldi’s wife and on occasion Micheal Andretti’s also. Although Kim Burton is nice to look at I would much rather see the action on the track.

DW could not have lost his voice at a better track. If he had his yapper working we would have heard nothing but stories of his glorious 11 wins at Bristol between cheerleading for Toyota and building up Kyle Busch. I fugure no one could possibly be an athiest after this divine intervention from the Lord.

03/18/2008 07:55 AM

160,000 at the track???

Not according to the people there! My neighbor religiously goes down and says many empty seats the likes he has never seen before, and he took his motor home, (gee, he must be richer than I thought) and said plenty of open spaces, not all crammed in like previous years!

Every announce team is obligated to lie about the attendance. Like at California, the announcers said?? YEP! “A SELL OUT”, ditto at Vegas!

Folks! It is called “credibility”, and in the announcers booth there is none!! Don’t believe a word you hear!

And poor Tony, has mouth-full to say about being wrecked, intentionally by the way, and all he (is allowed to say) can say is “well, somehow it will turn out to be my fault”!


And you did not mention the worst of the broadcasts! There were apparently only TEN (10) cars running on the track! Cause thats all they were scoring!!

03/18/2008 08:49 AM

Yea, it’s nice to see the emotion with Kim Burton but she’s not the only wife up on the pit box. She’s just the only wife they ever pull the camera away from the track to make us watch. Aren’t the other wives thrilled to have their husbands in victory lane and a big, fat check coming into their accounts? I have to admit I was very critical of Fox’s race coverage last year. Then I had to endure the ESPN crap coverage. I was THRILLED to have Fox back. And one more thing, my TV will be muted laster on when Rusty Wallace and his crew take over because I can’t stand listening to him talk.

03/18/2008 08:50 AM

Want to find out why there are so many sell outs? Go to ebay and look at the scalper companies (entertainment package providers) trying to sell for a profit or the sponsership companies with “free” seats for their employees. Huge blocks of seats are sold off before average fans get a shot at them. That’s part of the reason why the track is sold out but there are so many empty seats.

03/18/2008 09:06 AM

I can’t stand DW.As already stated all he does is tell us how great he was and how great his numb skull brother is, and he is a walking commercial for toyota. I spent a lot of the day listening to Sirius Broadcast of the race, with the tv muted!!

03/18/2008 09:13 AM

While I agree with “Douglas” on the attendance figures and the credibility issue, I must disagree concerning Tony/Kevin’s wreck. First off, even as a founding member of F.A.T.S. (Fans Against Tony Stewart), I give Tony credit for his post-race interview. He was actually civil. I believe this is due in no small part to the fact that he and Harvick are good friends, and Tony knows that Harvick would not dump him on purpose, especially if it was so obvious to both of them that he (Harvick) had the much faster car. While I had originally thought that Kevin had done just that, the replays did show that he (Harvick) did exactly what he said he did – he went too low to get around Tony, hit the apron, and it sent him up the track into the 20. It would have indeed been very stupid for him to wreck Tony on purpose – it was his race to lose, and he ended up doing just that. Whether it was due to impatience, or over-cautiousness to try and avoid Tony, it matters not. He made a simple mistake, and by doing so, he luckily lost only one position. Too bad for him it cost him the race. One other thing: I guess I was lucky to have missed the whole race except for the last 15 laps. But when I got home and got the TV on, I was SHOCKED to see that there were only 10 cars in the race! FOR THE REST OF THE RACE! While FOX is arguably better than NBC/TNT and ABC/ESPN, they really dropped the ball there!

03/18/2008 09:17 AM

How brilliant is it to know Kim Burton will be bawling or making some sort of scene up on the pit box. It seems to me she’s always crying.

Margo L
03/18/2008 09:23 AM

The highlight of the tv broadcast weekend was the appearence of Dale Jarrett in the booth during the Nationwide race . What a breath of fresh air .
Now we all know for sure that DW adds nothing but his big mouth and giant ego to the Fox broadcasts.
Yes, interesting that drivers get sideways many times during a race , but only certain drivers seem to draw a caution , usually just in time to help that driver . It is a judgement call of course , but exactly who is making that call ?
For anyone who has listened to the Fox talking heads on the scanner during commercial breaks , you know that not telling Tony about Harvicks comments was designed to get Tony to explode on camera . It was scripted by the two people who are undeniably the worst producer and the worst director in all of broadcasting .
And for the millionth time , exactly what function is served by the embarassesment that is the hollywood hotel ? If Myers and Hammond were not on another broadcast ever , no one would miss them .

03/18/2008 09:27 AM

Copperhead said:
DW could not have lost his voice at a better track. If he had his yapper working we would have heard nothing but stories of his glorious 11 wins at Bristol between cheerleading for Toyota and building up Kyle Busch. I fugure no one could possibly be an athiest after this divine intervention from the Lord.

Amen, Copperhead, Amen!

03/18/2008 10:08 AM

I love DW. I wish Fox had told him to go home though.

03/18/2008 10:48 AM

I guarantee you as Jarrett settles in for the rest of the year on Nationwide telecasts, his expertise and style will build the inevitable showdown to get him on Cup telecasts. This is could be the only sure way to eventually be rid of DW as Fox would not want to lose the option of getting Dale eventually.

03/18/2008 11:25 AM

I knew there would be people picking on Kim Burton. What is your problem?? They have shown other wives when their husbands win. Newman at Daytona comes to mind. I think a lot of the wives aren’t even ON the pit box during a race. I find it refreshing that after all the years that Burton has raced, Kim can still get so excited about it.

Say what you want about DW, but his emotion is real. Not like some of the ESPN guys that come across as so phony. Voice or not, I don’t think DW was going to miss Bristol. After Tonys interview, DW’s mike was still on and you heard him say “Well, that wasn’t any fun.” Apparently he was thinking there was going to be a blow up too.

A couple of years ago, my son was living in GA and went up to Bristol without tickets for 4 races in a row. Each time he was able to buy a ticket from a “scalper” outside the track and he didn’t pay an arm and a leg for them. One time he got the Earnhardt terrace for $25. I wouldn’t want to travel for hours without the guarantee of a ticket, but my son and his friends thought it was great.

Kevin in SoCal
03/18/2008 12:37 PM

First, whether there is a butt in the seat or not, if the seats are sold its considered a sell-out. That’s standard practice.

Second, they mentioned at least twice during the broadcast that they were having trouble with the race tracker and could only show the top ten cars. It wasnt done on purpose. I was seeing the top ten shown once or twice and then the full field once and then back to only the top ten.

Third, and lastly, Rusty Wallace has been reassigned to the infield studio and prerace show during the Nationwide and later the Cup broadcasts on ESPN/ABC. Dale Jarret will be the third man in the booth for the rest of the year. Rusty is sounding MUCH better in his new role and we all know how comfortable Dale Jarret is in the booth.

03/18/2008 01:16 PM

Tony’s interview on FOX was not live. It was done after Tony exited his car and was walking to his trailer. On DirecTV’s Hot Pass, they were following Tony trying to get an interview. He didn’t stop for them but took a second to talk to FOX. I quickly switched channels to hear Tony’s comments, only to find the interview played about 5 minutes later. So it’s possible that Byrnes didn’t know about Harvick’s comments because they hadn’t happened yet. (FOX should tell you what was live and what wasn’t.)

03/18/2008 02:43 PM

The award for the best tv race moment of the weekend was the short video of Brian France with Juan Pablo Montoya and Montoyas’ charity . Could Brian have been any more unnatural looking or more uncomfortable around all of those Lexus challenged people . Montoya has a great charity for some very deserving people , but dragging Brian along ( i imagine Brian invited himself at the urging of the NASCAR pr department , photo ops are good ) probably won’t help the cause one bit .

03/18/2008 03:18 PM

Good article , about time someone mentioned the johnson almost spin ..amazing how that caution waves at just the right time for him REGULARLY !! to me though question shouldnt be why didnt commentators question it immediately , it should be why doesnt any of these so called news reporters ask about it after the race ..maybe ask one of the guys who ended up a lap or two down because the caution WASNT waved ?….or why it wasnt mentioned here until tuesday ?

03/18/2008 06:50 PM

Its hard enough listening to ole DW when he can talk, it gets worse when he cant. He just wont shut up.

03/18/2008 11:41 PM

I wish that some of you people would at least take English as a second language. The grammar is atrocious, and the conjugation of verbs is horrendous. Poor ol’ Douglas, mouth full of marbles again, eh boy?