The Frontstretch: Couch Potato Tuesday: Narrow Focus Hurting NASCAR Telecasts by Phil Allaway -- Tuesday October 15, 2013

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Couch Potato Tuesday: Narrow Focus Hurting NASCAR Telecasts

Phil Allaway · Tuesday October 15, 2013


Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Couch Potato Tuesday, where race telecast breakdowns are the primary objective. Last weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series were back in action at Charlotte Motor Speedway. A veritable home game for everyone except Furniture Row Racing.

If you were looking for coverage other than Kyle Busch or Sam Hornish during the Nationwide race, you were out of luck.

Dollar General 300 Miles of Courage

On Friday night, the Nationwide Series returned to action at Charlotte Motor Speedway. How did ESPN do with the coverage? Let’s take a look.

For the first time in a couple of weeks, ESPN had Countdown coverage. No college football in the way. That makes me happy. However, they didn’t make the best use of their time.

There were four driver interviews, but those interviews were the two championship contenders, and two Cup regulars. Definitely set the tone for the rest of the broadcast.

The primary feature on the show was a sit down interview with Sam Hornish, Jr., where the topic was his career rebirth in the Nationwide Series. I was watching this piece and noticed a lot of things. The setting (Hornish’s house), the content, heck, even what Nicole Briscoe was wearing looked really familiar. Then, it hit me. ESPN rather choppily re-edited a piece that ran last year, added some video pertinent to this season, and passed it off as a new feature. Weak.

I suppose that you should get used to this type of content. Since ESPN is a lame duck for next season, I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually did this more next season in order to provide viewers with content without having to spend additional money.

During the race, there were two major stories. One was the championship battle between Sam Hornish, Jr. and Austin Dillon. The two drivers hung around each other for much of the race, so it was fairly easy to keep tabs on them. Then we had the Cup regulars (Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch,) who were all using the 300 mile race to warm up for Saturday’s 500 mile assault.

Outside of the championship contenders, the only Nationwide regular that got any real coverage was Kyle Larson, who was doing a great job of crashing the proceedings until he…crashed. Ok, Larson hit the wall, but it screwed up the right rear corner of his Target Chevrolet to heck and back and rendered him uncompetitive (he eventually finished 13th). ESPN is continuing to not tell the whole story of what’s going on during the races. I’m getting sick of only getting coverage of roughly 7-9 dudes out there.

Also, everyone seems to be in awe of Kyle Busch. What he’s doing isn’t new by any means. This is the third time he’s won ten or more Nationwide races in a season. Quit acting like he’s the second coming. You knew in Daytona back in January that he could do it.

Post-race coverage was ok, but a little lacking. ESPN provided viewers with four driver interviews, plus some words from Samantha Busch, who was hosting breast cancer survivors at the race. There was also a check of the point standings before the telecast ended early.

I don’t know what it is these days, but ESPN just doesn’t seem to want to fill their telecast slots anymore. The race ends, they do a perfunctory amount of post-race coverage, then regardless of time, they bolt. If a race runs long, I can understand it, but intentionally leaving early just sticks in my craw. The race coverage gets higher ratings than SportsCenter does, so that cannot be the reason.

Bank of America 500

On Saturday night, the Sprint Cup Series made their last appearance of the 2013 season on network television. A number of ABC affiliates chose to pre-empt NASCAR Countdown, but everyone was officially onboard for the race. How did ESPN do? Let’s take a look.

The Chase continued Saturday night, and ESPN came to the track determined to cover said Chase. Much of the discussion in the Quicken Loans ESPN Pit Studio was about how the race could affect the Chase. As much as I hate the Chase, I understand why it’s important. However, the race is just an afterthought now. I’d be hard pressed to believe that the tracks that host Chase races really like that fact all that much.

The primary feature of Countdown was a piece where cameras went to the new Rescue Ranch, a facility run by Ryan and Krissie Newman. Newman talks about how the ranch is home to a number of deer that are being raised and then released into the wild. However, while much of the piece was at Rescue Ranch, it wasn’t really designed to promote (although it will). In reality, it was supposed to be a look at the laid back lifestyle that Newman lives away from the race track. Honestly, it’s not that dissimilar to what Dale Earnhardt would do. However, I doubt that Earnhardt was all that big on deer conservation (I think he was more about deer hunting, mounting, cooking, and mastication).

Someone still needs to take away the giant fork from Brad Daugherty. Good lord, it continues to be ridiculous. I know that Daugherty looks like he’s having fun, but he’s scaring everyone. I feel like I need to make the trip to Talladega this weekend just to steal that fork and bring it back to New York with me. Unfortunately, that’s not happening because I can’t afford it, but it has to go. Please get rid of it.

In the race, there was some action for position, but those battles seemed to mainly be between Chasers. If you weren’t in the Chase, you were almost invisible. Denny Hamlin finished eighth Saturday night (his first top-10 in four months) and scarcely got a mention. I hate that.

With the long green flag runs that punctuated Saturday night’s race, I would have figured that ESPN would have gone a long way to showcase as much action as they could. However, that wasn’t really the case. The Chase focus stayed, no matter what was going on out there. They gave non-Chase stories, like the Kyle Larson and Brian Scott debuts, simple lip service.

ESPN also failed to show any kind of replay of the one wreck during the race, JJ Yeley’s incident that brought out the first caution. Once again, ESPN must relay the information to the public as quickly as possible. If they do not have the footage, they must tell the viewers that they don’t have it. In that case, I won’t exactly be pleased, but I’ll understand. Interestingly enough, this was a situation in which the recently terminated/released Marty Reid could deliver (and he had to in a couple of instances). All we ended up getting was aftermath footage of a badly damaged No. 36 Chevrolet and some conjecture from Allen Bestwick as to what happened to get Yeley in that situation. C’mon, ESPN. You can do better than that.

As for the final debris with 27 laps to go, I’m fairly confident that I spotted the debris that caused it before the final stops. It was a small piece on the apron exiting Turn 2. I could not tell what it was, but something was there. I doubt it really warranted a caution, but NASCAR decided to overreact for the 27th time.

Knowing that ESPN had a four hour timeslot on ABC Saturday night, post-race coverage was kind of short. There were six driver interviews, plus a check of the all-important points before ESPN’s coverage ended so that viewers could get to their late local news. With the speed of the race (it’s the second fastest 500-mile race ever run at Charlotte Motor Speedway), there was plenty of extra time. Yet, ESPN chose to leave 15 minutes early. Weak.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend is Talladega, 2.66 miles of high speed action and craziness. The Sprint Cup Series will be there for 500 miles of action (assuming there are no GWC’s), with the Camping World Truck Series as support. Meanwhile, the Izod IndyCar Series will hold their season finale Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, October 15
Time Telecast Network
2:00am-2:30am NASCAR Now ESPN 2
12:00pm-1:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1

Wednesday, October 16
Time Telecast Network
4:00pm-5:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1

Thursday, October 17
Time Telecast Network
2:30am-3:00am NASCAR Now ESPN 2
4:00pm-5:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
8:00-9:00pm IndyCar Championship Preview NBC Sports Network

Friday, October 18
Time Telecast Network
1:30am-2:00am NASCAR Now ESPN 2
10:30am-12:30pm Camping World Truck Series Practice FOX Sports 1
2:30-3:30pm Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1 FOX Sports 1
4:00-5:00pm Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 1
5:00-7:00pm Camping World Truck Series Qualifying FOX Sports 2
7:00-8:00pm Izod IndyCar Series Qualifying NBC Sports Network*

Saturday, October 19
Time Telecast Network
1:30am-2:00am NASCAR Now ESPN 2
11:00am-12:00pm American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans Part 1 FOX Sports 2
12:00-2:30pm Sprint Cup Series Qualifying FOX Sports 2
2:30-6:30pm American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans Part 2 FOX Sports 2
3:30-4:00pm NCWTS Setup FOX Sports 1
4:00-6:30pm Camping World Truck Series Fred’s 250 FOX Sports 1
6:30-8:00pm American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans Part 3 FOX Sports 1
7:00-8:00pm Firestone Indy Lights: Fontana NBC Sports Network*
8:00-9:00pm American Le Mans Series Petit Le Mans: The Finish FOX Sports 2
8:00pm-12:00am Izod IndyCar Series MavTV American Real 500 NBC Sports Network

Sunday, October 20
Time Telecast Network
10:00am-11:00am NASCAR RaceDay Fueled by Sunoco FOX Sports 1
1:00pm-2:00pm NASCAR Countdown ESPN
2:00-6:00pm Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV 500 ESPN
4:00-5:30pm Pirelli World Challenge: Houston NBC Sports Network*
8:00-11:00pm V8 Supercar Championship Series Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 FOX Sports 2*/
11:00pm-12:00am NASCAR Now, Post-Race ESPN 2

Monday, October 21
Time Telecast Network
4:00pm-5:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
5:00-6:00pm Crowd Goes Wild (with Tom Bowles) FOX Sports 1 *- Tape Delayed
/- Highlighted Coverage

Note that the IndyCar Championship Preview on Thursday night will preview the showdown in Fontana. It will also include the unveiling of the 2014 IndyCar schedule. I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Camping World Truck and the Izod IndyCar Series races for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. For the Annex, we’ll have Lime Rock coverage for the Continental Series this week. Petit Le Mans will be covered on the 24th.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:

FOX Sports 1 and 2

Note: If you’d like to contact the NBC Sports Network about their coverage of Formula One and/or the Izod IndyCar Series, unfortunately, you’re out of luck. The contact page on their website legitimately cannot be found. Hopefully, they get that fixed right and proper soon.

As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

Contact Phil Allaway

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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…


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10/15/2013 11:51 AM

totally agree about Brad D and the stupid fork! I never watch the pre-race shows but was looking for the local news & so had ABC on when it came on. Since I was making dinner, I just left it on. Boy he was scaring everyone else on the set & annoying me at home. I finally muted it.

Race broadcast was the usual stuff – the race was fairly boring (as in follow the leader) for the major part of the race – made me very glad that I had chosen to stay home instead of traveling to NC for it. I can’t say I was sorry that NASCAR decided to manipulate the end of the race. the best racing of the night happened in those 20 something laps.

Carl D.
10/15/2013 04:40 PM

Yes Kyle Busch has beaten up on the competition in the Nationwide series. Too bad he can’t put together a championship season in cup. They used to call that the Peter Principle… “a proposition that states that the members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability.” I call it the Shrub Principle.

Do people still watch the pre-race on TV? I quit watching that drivel a long time ago. Ditto commercials. That’s what DVR’s are for.

Mike Danvers
10/15/2013 09:38 PM

It didn’t matter what ESPN did on the broadcast, and they missed Kyle Larson going out with an engine failure, the race was BORING! You wonder why people who won’t watch Nascar say, “it’s just a bunch of cars going around in circles.” That was about it Saturday night. Bruton Smith’s idea of mandatory yellow flags should be heeded.