The view from my couch

Broadcast Odds & Ends

This past weekend was an off-week for Winston Cup Racing, but the Busch Series raced at Gateway International Raceway. Here are just a few quick comments about the FX broadcast of the race from Gateway and a quick review this week's Inside the NASCAR Busch Series shown on Monday night on the Speed Channel.

FX Broadcast of the Charter Pipeline 250

Overall, I thought this was a very good broadcast. It seems to me that when the Busch Series races at a standalone event that the TV networks present a more "no-frills" broadcast reminiscent of the good old days when ESPN or TNN were broadcasting races. And, personally, I find this is a really good thing. For this race, there was no Hollywood Hotel and best of all, no Darrell Waltrip. During the broadcast, Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds were joined by Jeff Hammond in the broadcast booth. The three of them worked very well together and provided some of the best and more focused commentary we have seen all year long on the Fox networks. Unfortunately, the producer still insisted on having a pre-race show, most of which I'll admit I did not watch. Unfortunately, when I tuned it at 3:00, expecting to see the start of the race, the pre-race show was not quite over and I got to see the little feature with Jeff Hammond showing the viewers around the St. Louis area, pretending he was Darrell Waltrip. This feature primarily mocked DW and was amusing. But it left me wondering why the the powers that be at Fox felt like they couldn't go just one week without featuring something involving Waltrip during a race broadcast. I understand that some viewers like Waltrip, but Fox needs to understand that an equal amount of fans are just plain tired of DW being shoved down their throats all the time.

The broadcast was very good, from a commentary standpoint, but I couldn't help but feel this race got the "b-team" from a technical standpoint. There seems to be less cameras than usual and a few technical glitches from time to time. Also there was no replay to show the major incident of the day. This is the one apparently started by Larry Gunselman and collecting pole sitter, Ashton Lewis, Randy Lajoie, and Coy Gibbs, who were all running in the top 10 at the time. It appeared FX didn't have a camera in that area of the track, but there appeared to be a crane-held camera in that area of the track visible in the shots of the aftermath of the accident. I understand that it may have been pointed elsewhere when the actual wreck occurred, but it would have been nice if the commentators could have explained specifically why there was no coverage of the incident. Some of the regular pit reporters were also off this weekend and TNN veteran, Glenn Jarrett, was a pleasant addition to the broadcast team. But overall this was a very good broadcast and I appreciated a weekend without the usual bells and whistles that usually accompany the Fox broadcasts.

Inside the NASCAR Busch Series

This show has quickly replaced Inside Winston Cup (IWC) as my favorite racing show on TV! Randy Lajoie and Hank Parker are really a pleasure to watch every week. You don't have either one of them trying to totally dominate the show like Michael Waltrip does on IWC, as he has become increasingly tedious the last few years. Hank and Randy, as well as host, Allen Bestwick, seem to developed a great chemistry together. Hank's sense of humor and Randy's refreshing frankness make this show a real pleasure to watch every week. I also really like that Hank and Randy seem to be able to get under Allen's skin from time to time. Don't get me wrong, personally, I think Allen is a great host, but their needling of him for his lack of flexibility is really quite amusing to watch. It's great to see Allen loosen up just a bit. Also, the revolving "third chair" on the show has resulted in some really stimulating guest panel members. I particularly thought Ron Hornaday and Brian Vickers added a lot to the program. This week, crew chief for Todd Bodine's team, Tony "Rambo" Liberati was really good. He wasn't afraid to speak his mind and interjected a lot of humor into his comments about the race and his actions regarding the extended caution period. I feel that having at least one different personality on the panel every week will succeed in keeping the discussions fresh and stimulating for the audience.

My only complaint about this show (and IWC as well), is that the producer is using footage from pit stops as part of the race review. Personally, I think this is useless footage as it adds nothing to the show. I can only assume since there is currently a lack of a lot of on-track action during both the WC and BGN races lately, the producer feels he must show something to fill the time. I don't agree as these kinds of things make the shows start to resemble a replay of most of race as I've seen on the Nascar Victory Lane show in the past. I found that show totally redundant if you watched the race; therefore, I don't tune into it. I'd rather see more discussion and personal point of views from the panel on Inside the Nascar Busch Series. But overall, I think this is a fantastic show and a must for serious race fans. I don't understand why it is shown in such a late timeslot on Monday nights.

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