The view from my couch

Thank You, Dr. Punch!

October 4, 2002

I have to commend RPM2Night for the outstanding feature they had on Sterling Marlin’s season-ending injury on Thursday night’s show. Dr. Jerry Punch gave a very detailed and informative description of the cervical injury the former Winston Cup points leader suffered last weekend at Kansas City. Dr. Punch used a model of the spinal cord to illustrate how the hairline fracture of Marlin’s cervical vertebra most likely occurred. His explanation really brought home just how lucky Marlin was to escape a more devastating injury or worse. Dr. Punch also explained how, as a doctor, he agreed with Marlin’s decision to let the break heal naturally over the next 8-10 weeks, rather than staying in his car for the remainder of the season and risk further injury.

Although RPM is being canceled after this year, John Kernan and the producers of this show still strive to give the fans insightful coverage of NASCAR. Last night’s feature was an excellent example of the show’s commitment to the fans.

Dr. Punch, who was the former director of trauma surgery in Daytona Beach, Florida, has served as a NASCAR pit reporter and commentator on ESPN for over ten years. His love of NASCAR has always been evident in his reporting and his medical background has often aided him in providing valuable insight into driver injuries. I’m assuming Dr. Punch will continue with ESPN after the Truck Series moves to the Speed Channel from ESPN next season. I know this fan will certainly miss the unique perspective he provided to the fans.

Over the past two years, RPM2Night has been fighting a seemingly insurmountable battle against the new NASCAR partners of Fox and NBC. I, for one, feel they have done an excellent job in providing the same high level of reporting that the show has been known for over the last six or seven seasons. It’s a shame that network executives feel that the show is no longer worth their efforts. I know I am not alone in thinking the end of this show signals the end of a wonderful era in NASCAR history.

Fox and NBC may have exclusive highlight footage from NASCAR races, but last night, ESPN definitely won the night from the Fox show, Totally NASCAR, with Dr. Punch’s feature on Marlin’s injuries and prognosis.

You can send me email at cheryl@speedcouch.com.

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