The Frontstretch: Waltrip Finds His Voice, But The Camera Falters At The Finish At Martinsville by John Potts -- Tuesday April 1, 2008

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Waltrip Finds His Voice, But The Camera Falters At The Finish At Martinsville

The Race For Ratings Points : Critiquing NASCAR TV · John Potts · Tuesday April 1, 2008


While most of Martinsville was a misty mess of rain, clouds, and fog, my TV signal was coming through crystal clear. During a week filled with near misses, here’s a look at some things during the past week of TV coverage that were spot on — as well as some criticisms of what missed the mark.

The Good…

I liked the placement of the Gopher Cam this week for FOX. The camera gave us something of a unique view, as the cars seemed to come around the corner at it.

Darrell Waltrip finally found it within himself to criticize Kyle Busch during the last lap incident during the Truck race. The way he’s been singing his praises, I didn’t think it was possible that could happen.

NASCAR Performance” continues to be a bright spot on the SPEED lineup. “Bootie” Barker and Chad Knaus offer different perspectives on the subjects, since they’re really at opposite ends of the spectrum as far as teams go. I was particularly interested in Chad’s insight about how the dynamics of a pit stop have changed with the new car, and Bootie’s take on the fuel pickup question with the Gibbs cars was neat. I was wondering if it was something specific to the JGR cars, or if Hamlin was just lower on fuel than everybody else at Bristol; turned out, it was probably the latter.

Another bright spot for DW this week came when he commented on Mike Wallace doing the spotting for his daughter, Chrissy: “I’ve never had a spotter call me ‘Honey.’”

In Sunday’s prerace show, Ray Dunlap did a nice job explaining NASCAR’s reason for making the door plate a single piece. Amazing how much trouble those teams will take to save an ounce or two.

Three abreast at Martinsville is exciting enough in itself; but when viewed on dual screen coverage, it’s downright phenomenal.

A comment on FOX’s directing work. Dual screens when two battles for position were going on wasn’t a bad idea – but multiple screens for pit stops didn’t work quite as well this time…

At least the wrecks were covered. Even on a short track, it’s hard to have a “battle” camera on everything at the instant it happens, but FOX did a reasonable job of at least having footage of nearly every incident for the replay.

Oh, and smelling rear end grease burning all the way out in the production truck? Neat touch.

The Bad…

On Sunday, Mike Joy tried to paint a better picture of a sparse crowd by saying a lot of people probably had tickets, but didn’t show up because of the weather. Undoubtedly, there were some no shows, but it’s hard to believe there were as many as there were empty seats; especially when Clay Campbell had admitted in a print media interview that ticket sales had been “softer” than usual for this race.

I also have to wonder if mentioning that it was really “only a 100 lap race” had the effect of making viewers switch channels for a couple of hours. Apparently not; FOX’s overnight ratings were a 4.9, equal to their coverage of the race a year ago. But it’s still never a good idea to tell your viewers only the last hour is important…

I’m wondering about something else, too – do drivers get frustrated when somebody from the booth calls just as they’re preparing themselves for a start?

The Ugly…

Chris Myers. This guy is a tremendous talent, with a lot of knowledge about a lot of sports. Unfortunately, racing isn’t one of them. I couldn’t believe he had to ask Jeff Hammond what an air gun is used for.

Too much Gopher Cam during the Truck race.

In general, FOX’s coverage of the Truck race was tough to swallow. Switching coverage to a broadcast channel from SPEED is noteworthy, and maybe good for the series, but they should at least use SPEED’s complete crew, with people who have more insight and closeup knowledge of the series.

And, once again, the production truck — with apparently someone’s head still full of the rear end grease smell — forgot about everyone but the winner as the checkered flag came down. Shots of the winner celebrating in his car are good, but what happened behind him? There were some pretty good battles going on for the next few positions (as we were told earlier), but nobody got to see how they turned out until the finishing order was posted. As soon as it became obvious that Jeff Gordon wasn’t going to catch Denny Hamlin, that spot was decided; the coverage shouldn’t focus on the winner in that case at the expense of everything else.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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

Larry Johnson
04/01/2008 09:35 AM

Camera in ground sucks.D.W.‘s know all, L.M.‘s know nothing and C. M.‘s less than nothing, make a long race but not showing the finish (race after race)is very bad TV coverage. JMO

04/01/2008 11:42 AM

I’m wondering about something else, too – do drivers get frustrated when somebody from the booth calls just as they’re preparing themselves for a start?”

Amen!Ive often wondered about that myself. DW has a VERY bad habit of doing just that, and it would just tick me off to no end! Just as Im preparing physically and mentally and trying to talk to my CC about things to hear “Ol DW in the Booth” blast in my ears to ask the vitally important “Whaddya think (insert driver)? Have ya got the car to beat today?”

I do notice however (biased though I am, and I freely admit it)that its NEVER an HMS driver they call is it? HMMMM….Nah theres no favortism.

Can’t be bothering those HMS boys though can we?

Also…DW…. PLEASE! I love ya man , but, PLEASE wipe the brown off your nose.
For cryin out loud I dont think the man can talk about anything non HMS related. If the conversation isnt centered on them at the moment, he turns it to them. “Wonder how Jeff’s doin?”. “That 24 cars a comin’! (Even though mired in the mid 20’s for laps)”, “We aint seen the last of that 24 (48) yet”, etc., etc., etc. and on and on HMS. just gets tiresome , and sickening hearing him ALWAYS making HMS comments, and then squealing with glee if they do ANYTHING, or chastising others if they happen to slow one of the HMS cars down, or get to close.

Jeez Loueze DW are you on the HMS payroll???!!

04/01/2008 12:54 PM

Blu are you nuts??
DW HATES the HMS drivers, except for Jr. He up Jr’s but so far it’s sick! As for JJ, Jeff and Casey, his hatred of them is obvious! That is the only reason he won’t talk to them. He don’t want to cause of his hatred for them! That is all.

Kevin in SoCal
04/01/2008 12:59 PM

Keep in mind the TV crew asks the driver/crew before the race if its ok if they talk to him on the air before the start of the race. Its pre-planned. If they dont talk to the Hendrick cars its probably because they declined to be on the air.

04/01/2008 01:18 PM

There is no question that the time has come to terminate the “Hollywood Hotel” gag and eliminate Chris Myers and his weekly display of his ignorance of racing. Jeff Hammond is a knowledgable former crew chief, but to pair him up with Myers is really a waste of the viewer’s time. I am sick of all the multitudes of personalities that Fox insists on showing every week. Race fans don’t need that many folks to keep track of. Give me two folks in the booth and a crew chief to explain the more nebulous engineering details, and everyone wins.
As for DW – anyone that is as deeply “involved” in a race team as he is with MWR should not be allowed to comment on Nascar races in a supposedly “unbiased” format. What he brings to the table in old school experience can easily be located elsewhere, with much better results…..i.e. Dale Jarrett or even Kyle Petty.

04/02/2008 11:00 AM

Johanna, I may be… but thats beside the point LOL :)

Seriously though, IMHO ,for a guy that supposedly “hates HMS” (JG and JJ specifically) he (DW) sure does go out of his way to make sure he brings their names up, and he sure does say the things I quoted above… A LOT.

I have NEVER, EVER heard him say anyhting bad about JG, JJ or HMS. In fact as I stated above, it seems (maybe its just me but it is my opinion and observation)he goes out of his way to mention , or praise them even if they are not the subject at the time. Again..thats just MHO.

I personally think its man love for “Mr.” Hendrick.

04/02/2008 11:04 AM

BTW Folks, sorry for the BIIIG letters in my first post.

Not even sure how that even happened but it was unintentional.

Blu :)

Not your fault Blu, It's what happens when you put a space at the begining of a paragraph. All better now though! --Ren

04/02/2008 11:08 AM

Johanna, Just curious but what do you base your Hatred of HMS by DW on?? Like I said I sure do see a different DW.

Max, I couldnt agree more!

Blu :)

04/02/2008 11:30 PM

THANKS Ren!! :)

04/03/2008 08:05 PM

And he never mentions Kyle Busch?