The view from my couch

Time Out, TV!
by Sally Baker
March 28, 2004

Near the end of the race at Bristol today, the boys in the Tower of Babble said Tony Eury, Sr. was being called to the Big Dumb Truck for criticizing NASCAR's exhaustive use of caution laps near the end of the race. Isn't it interesting that, with the new series sponsor's big “Push to Talk” campaign for NASCAR, the “push” for NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs' is to shut up? If Tony Sr. gets fined, I will personally send money to defray the cost, because he said exactly what I was thinking! With the recent aim or making racing more like football, it's enough to make me wonder is NASCAR cut a deal with Fox to give them “TV timeouts”, guaranteeing them plenty of time to run their large blocks of commercials.

I'm sure NASCAR will protest that they are using the extra caution laps to set the field. Then they give them “2 to go” before a green flag? After 10 to 15 laps of caution? I suppose, if NASCAR is content to exhibit the competence level of the Keystone Kops while sorting out the running order, who am I to question?

All I know for sure is that, for the first time I can remember, I was bored during a race at Bristol. Yes, the word was B-O-R-E-D! Luckily, I had a book on hand to read during all the lengthy commercial breaks, Dick Berggren's “live commercials” trackside, and the boys in the Tower of Babble reminding me how much FUN I was having. Watching the races the past 6 weeks has taken me back to the days I used to sit through the segments about curling or cliff diving on ABC's Wide World of Sports, hoping to get a glimpse of a race. At least then I EXPECTED to see passes for the lead on replay, not missing it because they were showing a wrecked car being loaded on a hauler.

These are “trained broadcast professionals”, right? At least that's what they keep telling us. They cover drivers “in the field” in such random order, it's impossible to figure out where they're running. Mike Joy told viewers, at various times, that Jeff Green was driving the 30 car (twice), DW won 9 races at Bristol (it's 12, Mike), “Brian”, not Brendan Gaughan was driving the 77 car, and Ryan Newman was a lap down. He wasn't. I guess he was LOT more excited than I was.

If it really takes NASCAR 20 laps to sort out the running order with the new rules, they have a very big problem. Why not admit they're taking a TV time out? And they wonder why ratings are dropping? With the coverage the fans have been subjected to lately, it's amazing to me that anyone is attempting to watch at all. NASCAR used to be fun. I never thought I'd see the day when I was bored watching a race at Bristol. They have set a new standard, proving you CAN ruin a good thing.

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