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Couch Potato Tuesday: Standalone Road Races Show Deficiencies

Last weekend, the Sprint Cup Series took the week off to relax, vacation, and in the case of Chad Knaus and Matt DiBenedetto, get hitched. Meanwhile, the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series dealt with the twisties.

Before we started, NBCSN’s Robin Miller did the voiceover on this tribute to Justin Wilson that aired on IndyCar Live prior to Sunday’s GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. I liked it, and I think you will too. Once the dreaded 30-second ad finishes, it should play. Tell us what you think of it.

Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville

Saturday brought the Xfinity Series back to Road America for their seventh assault on the 4.048-mile road course. The race was probably the most spread out of the NXS events in Elkhart Lake, but it still had its moments.

With Paul Menard being the only Sprint Cup points racer in the field, the NXS regulars (and the ringers who made the trip) were the focus of the broadcast on Saturday. Chase Elliott clearly had the best car. He was stomping the field. The yellow flying for Cale Conley’s rear end grease leak ruined his race.

Covering such a huge track does provide challenges. The field spreading out is just one of them, although it’s really nothing new if you’ve seen past races. The cameras need to stick to where the action is and supplement with that with the storylines of the day. What we got more or less was the opposite. The storylines ended up driving the broadcast. Since Elliott was taking names for much of the race, he got quite a bit of focus on the broadcast.

I found that the booth combo of Rick Allen, Dale Jarrett and Frank Stoddard works very well together. Stoddard serves as the technical expert here and does a pretty good job breaking down the mechanical and placement aspects of the race. However, part of those “placement” aspects Stoddard had to explain had to do with the ongoing plowing issues. Let’s face it, Kyle Busch. There is no money tree situated behind the paddock where George Bruggenthies (or any other track operator) can go and ask for money for paving grassy areas (Note: The thought of a money tree responding with something along the lines of “Sure, let me drop my branches” makes me chuckle.) These cars need to drop the splitter in favor of the valence. The plowing is irritating me.

I did have a couple of issues during the race. On the first lap, Tomy Drissi ended up in the trap in turn 5. We saw that Drissi went straight and simply couldn’t get slowed up before digging in with the aforementioned splitter. There was no mention on the broadcast of the likelihood of Drissi getting hit from behind. As far as I’m concerned, someone nailed him from behind. That’s the only reason he went straight in the first place. Damage could be seen on the No. 26 before he got in the trap.  They should have been on that a little better.

Much of the weekend saw constant references to the fact that Menard is from Wisconsin (Eau Claire, to be exact, which is apparently a four-hour drive from Elkhart Lake). While I have no doubt that Menard was happy to be home during the summer, which almost never happens for him, I don’t think viewers needed to be constantly reminded of it.

Post-race coverage was pretty decent. Viewers got to see half a dozen interviews, including a rare word with Blake Koch, who was right up there in contention (via fuel-mileage strategy) late in the race.

Overall, the telecast was decent, but a bit hamstrung by the surroundings. A four-plus mile course will stretch all the resources you have, and then some. I would have liked to see a little more coverage of other stories. I would have liked to know what put Jeremy Clements down two laps in the opening circuits given his quick pace all weekend (he started 11th, remember). I would have liked to hear from Conley after his rear end issues put him out. Quite simply, I just wanted more.

Chevrolet Silverado 250k

Sunday afternoon saw the Camping World Truck Series teams take on the 2.459-mile Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. It was a tough weekend as several drivers found the walls during practice, qualifying and the race itself.

The Setup had Ray Dunlap sitting down this week with ThorSport Racing’s Cameron Hayley, an interesting choice. Hayley’s interesting in this circumstance because fans might not know all that much about him. We do know that he brings funding to ThorSport Racing via his family’s Cabinets by Hayley, however (despite what looked like a tease of it), we never see Hayley in his home element in the piece. Instead, the focus is on Hayley and what he does with the team. Luckily, that is interesting by itself. A lot of times these days, drivers are not necessarily the most hands-on with their chariots. Hayley, at one point, was that guy. Now, he’s learning everything about building racecars at the shop. It was a different look at an up-and-coming racer. Granted, these scenarios are probably a lot more common in the Camping World Truck Series than you’d think, but it’s great to see a driver helping out his team at the shop.

Watching the race on Sunday, I felt that the broadcast seemed to be lacking something. For example, there were no side-by-side replays during the entire telecast. I know, that’s not a big gripe. However, it is noticeable when you get full-screen replays barely half a lap after a restart that normally would be covered via the split-screen setup. For much of the race, I really was wishing that they had it in play.

The lack of split-screen is one thing, but it seemed like updates on drivers were slow in coming, which is a bigger issue as far as I’m concerned. One example was Daniel Brown’s crash on lap 19. Viewers never saw a replay of the crash. Once again, Twitter came to the rescue well after the race. In a reply to another user, Brown explained what caused the crash.

Updates on Brown’s condition were also very slow in coming, which made the situation seem a lot worse than it actually was. We saw Brown in the tires with the window net still up, then the next time we saw the scene, a box truck was on the scene in order to aid in repairing the tire barriers. In reality, Brown was OK and came out to finish the race.

In addition, the broadcast seemed to ignore the fact that Timothy Peters went behind the wall on the restart from the caution due to the aforementioned Brown crash. No mention was made of what happened until after Peters was back out on the course, seven laps down. Even then, they didn’t mention what happened to Peters’s truck to force him to the garage.  Once again, Twitter came to the rescue after the race.

Aside from those glaring issues, we got some good, hard racing for position on Sunday. The booth’s enthusiasm was quite reasonable as well. The camera shots for that action was pretty good as well.

Post-race coverage was just about average. Viewers saw a few interviews and a check of the standings. In addition to Erik Jones’s well-deserved win, the focus here was on Alex Tagliani losing the race (although he probably would have finished second had third gear not turned traitor on the Mario Andretti Straightaway) and Tyler Reddick’s wreck that flip-flopped the points.

Overall, Sunday’s race was pretty good, but the broadcast seemed to be missing something. International broadcasts can always be an issue. Getting all of the gear for a normal race broadcast into (and out of) Canada is a bit of a tough task. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the gear that is normally used on a Camping World Truck Series broadcast was left behind. We couldn’t always make what caused all of the issues on track. Reddick’s crash with Gray Gaulding is one example. The only replay we got indicated that Reddick was right behind Gaulding, Gaulding spun and Reddick was more or less guided to the tires. I could guess what caused that, but I’m not sure.

That’s all for this week. This weekend, it’s crunch time for those that are trying to get into the Chase. Clint Bowyer can create a “dormie” situation with a good finish Sunday night in Darlington. The NXS will be present as well. Meanwhile, Formula 1 has their final European race of the year at the super-duper fast Autodromo Nationale Monza. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, September 1

TimeTelecastNetwork
1 a.m. - 3 a.m.Verizon IndyCar Series GoPro Grand Prix of SonomaNBC Sports Network*/# (from August 30)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*# (from August 31)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from August 31)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from August 31)
11:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.Moto3: Great BritainFOX Sports 1*# (from August 30)
12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.Moto2: Great BritainFOX Sports 1*# (from August 30)
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of Great BritainFOX Sports 1*/# (from August 30)
2:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR ChampionshipFOX Sports 1#
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.A Perfect Storm: The 1979 Daytona 500FOX Sports 1#
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.BEING: Stewart-Haas RacingFOX Sports 1#
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, GTS ClassCBS Sports Network*/ (from August 22-23)
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, TC/TCA/TCB ClassesCBS Sports Network*/ (from August 22-23)

Wednesday, September 2

TimeTelecastNetwork
1 a.m. - 2 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, GTS ClassCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 1)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 1)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.Bike Road Racing: Northern Ireland, Part No. 1CBS Sports Network*/#
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.Bike Road Racing: Northern Ireland, Part No. 2CBS Sports Network*/
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.V8 Supercars Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprintCBS Sports Network*/ (from August 22-23)
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: KnockhillCBS Sports Network*/ (from August 22-23)
11 p.m. - 12 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, TC/TCA/TCB ClassesCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)

Thursday, September 3

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 1 a.m.Bike Road Racing: Northern Ireland, Part No. 2CBS Sports Network*/#
1 a.m. - 2 a.m.V8 Supercars Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: KnockhillCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 2)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 2)
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.Trans-Am Series Next Dimension 100CBS Sports Network*# (from August 15)
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.K&N Pro Series East Biscuitville 125NBC Sports Network*/ (from August 29)
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.TORC Series: The Chicagoland Slam, Part No. 1FOX Sports 2*/# (from June 18)
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.TORC Series: The Chicagoland Slam, Part No. 2FOX Sports 2*/ (from June 19)
11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.Red Bull Global RallyCross: Washington, DCNBC Sports Network*/# (from August 15)

Friday, September 4

TimeTelecastNetwork
12:30 a.m. - 1:30 a.m.K&N Pro Series East Biscuitville 125NBC Sports Network*/# (from August 29)
4 a.m. - 5:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy Free Practice No. 1NBC Sports Live Extra$
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 3)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from September 3)
8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.XFINITY Series Practice No. 1NBC Sports Network
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.K&N Pro Series East Biscuitville 125NBC Sports Network*/# (from August 29)
3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.XFINITY Series Happy HourNBC Sports Network
4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Happy HoursNBC Sports Network
6:30 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
9:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Happy HoursNBC Sports Network*#
11:30 p.m. - 1 a.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Awards BanquetNBC Sports Network*/

Saturday, September 5

TimeTelecastNetwork
5 a.m. - 6 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy Free Practice No. 3NBC Sports Live Extra$
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: KnockhillCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
6:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network*# (from September 4)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.V8 Supercars Sydney Motorsport Park SuperSprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy QualifyingNBC Sports Network
10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.Sprint Cup Series Happy HourNBC Sports Network
11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.XFINITY Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network
1 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
1:30 p.m. - 3 p.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network
3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.Countdown to GreenNBC
3:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.XFINITY Series VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200NBC
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
11:30 p.m. - 1 a.m.Sprint Cup Series QualifyingNBC Sports Network*#

Sunday, September 6

TimeTelecastNetwork
1 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy QualifyingNBC Sports Network*# (from September 5)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, TC/TCA/TCB ClassesCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
6 a.m. - 7:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Italy QualifyingNBC Sports Network*# (from September 5)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Miller Motorsports Park, GTS ClassCBS Sports Network*/# (from August 22-23)
7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.Bike Road Racing: Northern Ireland, Part No. 2CBS Sports Network*/#
8 a.m. - 10 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of ItalyNBC Sports Network
10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network
11 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals QualifyingESPN
2 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*#
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of ItalyNBC Sports Network*#
2:30 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: AlgarveCBS Sports Network*/ (from September 5-6)
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network*#
4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: Sonoma, GT/GTA/GT Cup ClassesCBS Sports Network*/ (from August 29-30)
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR America SundayNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.Countdown to Green, No. 1NBC Sports Network
7 p.m. - 7:20 p.m.Countdown to Green, Part No. 2 NBC
7:20 p.m. - 11:15 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Bojangles' Southern 500NBC
11 p.m. - 12 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network
11 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals QualifyingESPN 2*/

Monday, September 7

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.NASCAR Victory LaneFOX Sports 1
12 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
12:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of ItalyNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
2:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
2:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR Victory LaneFOX Sports 1#
3 a.m. - 5 a.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: AlgarveCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 5-6)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR Victory LapNBC Sports Network*# (from September 6)
9 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.NASCAR Victory LaneFOX Sports 1#
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: AlgarveCBS Sports Network*/# (from September 5-6)
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Final EliminationsESPN3$
1 p.m. - 4 p.m.NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Final Eliminations, Part No. 1ESPNEWS*
2 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR 120: Bojangles' Southern 500NBC Sports Network*/# (from September 6)
4 p.m. - 7 p.m.NHRA Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals Final Eliminations, Part No. 2ESPN*
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR Scan All 43NBC Sports Network
10:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.NASCAR 120: Bojangles' Southern 500NBC Sports Network*/# (from September 6)

Key:
* – Tape Delayed
/ – Highlighted Coverage
# – Repeat Coverage
$ – Available via password-protected online streaming

I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races from Darlington for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here on Frontstretch. As you’ve probably seen in the commercials, NBC is doing a throwback telecast Sunday night, complete with old-school graphics and old-school clothes. Expect very wide lapels to be en vogue. Watch Match Game on GSN at 8 a.m. weekdays and you’ll get the idea as to what they’ll be wearing. I have no idea what the throwback broadcast will look like, production-wise. I guess I’ll find out with the rest of you. I’m just hoping that we don’t have an effect on the broadcast to simulate SD cameras even though the race is being shot in HD.

Such a broadcast is new to NASCAR, but not to network TV. About 15 years ago, FOX did a special broadcast of their MLB Game of the Week where the broadcast progressed through different eras of sports broadcasting as the game went on. It actually started in black and white and eventually finished looking like a normal FOX Saturday Baseball telecast of that time period.

In the Annex, we’re going to step away from additional race critiques to finally take a good look at BEING: Stewart-Haas Racing, a show whose premiere a while back was scrubbed, but has recently been airing on FOX Sports 1. It should be fun.

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. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

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Note the new link for FOX Sports, which is accurate as of Monday night. As always, if you choose to contact a 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.

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JohnQ

No mention of the TV numbers. Interesting. Could it be that interest in both of these series has waned to the point where Sports Media Watch doesn’t even bother to track them? I doubt that I am the only one to watch the Xfinicup race because there was a chance that it an actual race might be broadcast instead of the usual extended Cup final practice. But it wasn’t to be. We were treated to fawning over coverage of the only Cuphole entered. Finally, what exactly is it that Rick Allen with his phony game show host voice is bringing to the party.

russ

Sports Media Watch just reported that the Xfinity race this weekend was a new season low,992,000 viewers.

russ

Just look at who Sports Media Watch reported ratings on yesterday. Everything from High School Football, to Premier League and of course the NFL. You may very well be correct, although they have reported them in the past.
But its pretty consistent that if ratings are good Nascar can’t wait to rush them out there. If they don’t do well, not much of a hurry.

GinaV24

Well I know they didn’t get much of my attention. I did turn the road America race on for a while but I was headed out to do fun things with what is a fast disappearing summer so never saw the end.

DoninAjax

Went to Swiss Chalet for dinner at the start of the last caution on Saturday. Came back and it was still under caution. They must have shown a LOT of commercials during that time.

Looking at the longer layout at Sonoma and thinking of the longer layout at Watkins Glen, there could be time for a lot more commercials during cautions if NA$CAR used the long layouts. And there would be more time to clear the track and the full-course cautions wouldn’t last so long. Oops, what was I thinking.

russ

Full course cautions are used by real road racers – for serious things like safety car on track, etc. But for a single car spin, car off track etc, a local yellow is fine. But full course caution on a 4 mile long lap because somebody ran out of talent and spun? Guess its the equivelent of a debris caution to bunch the field up.

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