The view from my couch

EDITORS NOTE: I was enjoying the rain and mud up close and personal this past weekend at Charlotte. I asked one of my frequent readers if he would be a guest reviewer of the broadcast of the Winston Cup Race this week, and he agreed. (Thanks again!) I feel it's important that SpeedCouch reflect a wide variety of viewers' opinions about the race broadcasts, rather than just my own. So meet Larry Staton, who lives in Middletown, Ohio, but is originally from Kentucky. He's been a fan of NASCAR racing since 1964, so can provide some good perspective as a long-time fan of the sport. Larry, take it away!

Fox Coverage of the Coca-Cola 414
by Larry Staton
May 27, 2003

KNOCK, KNOCK………….HELLO, HELLOOOO. Is anybody out there?????? After the soggy weekend at Lowe's Motor Speedway, I figure those of us that weren't washed away from our sofas have their blow dryers and towels out, trying to get the water out their TV's. I'd have sworn that I had water running out of the speaker slots. However, for those of us that were able to tread water, we did get treated to a decent Pre-race Show. As a matter of fact at first I thought I had it on the wrong channel.

FOX started out with a Charlie Daniels song and a montage of the drivers, followed up by Chris Myers giving us a brief introduction and a reminder of why we celebrate Memorial Day. This along with the letter written by President Lincoln to Mrs. Bixby during the Civil War set the tone for a pretty decent memorial to our troups. Personally I thought the reading of the Bixby letter would have been more poignant had Veterans and present service people read it but, Jeff, Jimmy, Kurt and Ricky did a pretty fair job.

When they got into the race portion of the show however, they still refused to read through the qualifying order. It's almost like it's too much trouble to read through it and make a comment.

The Race

As the cars came down to take the green flag we were informed that they would be given the green and the yellow at the same time. This would allow the pace laps to be counted while they were lapping the track helping to dry out some of weepers and building up heat in their tires. We were also told that this would give the dryers a chance to run up and down pit road and do some additional drying to the pits. Although we were never truly informed as to why NASCAR made this decision, it was alluded to and I assumed it was because of the possibility of inclement weather shortening the race, which as it turned out was the case.

During this green/yellow race period it was announced that Jimmy Johnson's crew had made a decision to bring him in and top off with fuel when the 'one to go' signal was given. D.W., as usual, jumped in and made the comment that it was a smart move, he being the last car in the pack. Then we were informed that NASCAR had nixed the idea and typical of D.W., he started back pedaling telling us that he didn't think Jimmy would have been allowed to do that anyway.

This is what everybody fusses about guys. If you're going to jump in with these comments about race strategy, at least think through your comments. I'm sure you could see the pits and should have known whether they were open or not. If they were open then you could have explained why Jimmy wasn't allowed to top off, if they weren't open then you should have made that comment. The way it comes off is as if you're not sure what's going on or why, that NASCAR is changing the rules as they go along. That maybe the case, but it sure could use some clarification.

Well we finally got the green flag and low and behold we actually got to see 27 laps of racing before our first commercial. I was totally impressed. Usually we're lucky to make it through 3 laps. Now if you'll notice I tried my darnedest to avoid the BBB thing, but this time they went too far. During the broadcast not only did we have to boogie, we also got to listen to them try and change a pumpkin into a race car or visa versa, I'm not sure which. You know the line from Cinderella - "bibidy, bobidy, boo"? Maybe they thought because it also had three B's in a row it rhymed or something. Or maybe they're really living in a fantasy world. I wonder????

From this point on the broadcast was typical FOX. We were still subjected to the FOX Trax that doesn't always work and in most cases is just a plan nuisance. The only time I have ever felt like the FOX Trax would be of any value is when you're looking at an aerial shot of the whole race track and they use it as a means to show the separation of say the top five. Then only once or possibly twice during a race, just to give the viewer a perspective of the distances.

We were subjected to the split screen several times during the race and it seemed to do the job that it was intended to do, but you guys still insist on covering only about a third of the pit stops, and half of them are just mentioned, not really covered.

The goofy pop up commercials were still there, and as soon as I figure out how to block them I will. Maybe with all of the toys FOX seems to have they'll share that one with us viewers, the blocker that is.

We were fortunate that during most of the commercial breaks there was very little going on other than the cars making circuits of the track. But FOX being FOX, they still do a lousy job of resetting the field after commercials and pit stops. This was most evident when the entire field, with the exception of three cars had made green flag pit stops, then the yellow came out. At this point they should have taken the time to reset the field explaining the effect on those one lap and more down. Although after two or three laps of green flag racing a person could sort the field for themselves, it did make things a little confusing on the restart.

They did manage to get some good commentary and video of the incidents that did take place on the track. Ricky Rudd's slide through the grass, the explanation as to why Greg Biffle came in just long enough to remove a tear away from his windshield and the problem with Jr's brakes. All were well covered and videoed along with the wrecks and spins. I think this had more to do with the fact that they were live at the times of the incidents. The problem with Stewart's car however was not. Although we were given an explanation as to what they changed, no one took the time to comment on how he was running after the fact. Sure he was 31 laps down, but I would have liked to have known a little more about how the car was after the repairs.

Now this is where I get to get on my soap box. The coverage was better than it has been in the last several shows and I'll give you that. However, you guys still don't want to admit there are more than ten cars on the track. I really take exception to the fact that your race coverage of the rest of the field is poor. Many times the leader or leaders are just running around the track with very little change in position or spacing. At these times you should be taking the time to look back in the field and up date us on what's going on. Now maybe the teams don't want everyone to know they're doing poorly, but I really get tired of never hearing about the other drivers unless they are involved in an incident.

The storyline about Steve Park and Jeff Green, basically changing rides was not really covered at all. Terry Labonte has had a couple of good races, and ran middle of the field at Charlotte, nothing much said and on and on and on. Now I'm not talking about interviews during red flags and so on, I'm talking about what is actually taking place during the race. Their position on the track and what problems they are having. It's almost like they're not there until the leader gets to them. Then it comes off like they're a nuisance. Maybe they are to the leaders, but there are fans out there who would like to at least see their driver every once and a while.

I hope by next year you all will finally get the message

Now this is strictly to DW: I've been doing some cipherin' and I think I can splain out what your problem has been. Stevie has cut back on your soup beans and corn bread. You've been hangin' out with that bunch of ferginers and ain't been eatin' right. I'm from the eastern part of the state and I know if I don't get my soup beans every now and again I go plum brain dead. I'd almost bet you ain't been eatin' your green beans either. Probably been eatin' them store bought maters too. It's a wonder that you can even get up in the mornin'. The thoughts of you with a cappuccino instead of a good cup of coffee, well that's almost grounds fer takin' your rights to be called a Briar. Now during the off season you take that other bunch, especially Chris Myers and get them fed proper. Maybe it will help you'all to get your perspective back.

Well that's all I got. Hope I didn't bore you too bad. In case you haven't figured it out, I'm not Cheryl. It is I, Larry the Racing Recliner, coming to you from the hallowed pages of the SpeedCouch. For you less informed individuals among us, the one and only Great Couch Potato himself, grabbed the beautiful SpeedCouch, and threw her albeit gently, into the big maroon truck. They along with their fifth-wheel trailer, which was duly stocked with liquid libations and assorted snackies, abandoned us to our own devices this week. They in their infinite wisdom, which has come under some serious scrutiny of late, took it upon themselves to make the sacred journey to the hallowed Circus-Circus of racing, the Lowe's Motor Speedway. Where, they had hoped to find Nirvana and take a rest from the day-to-day grind of their existence. Although after realizing the amount of rain that fell in Charlotte this weekend, they might have stayed drier had they taken a white water rafting trip down the Colorado.

So while they are away, I was thrown into the breech, so to speak. Actually I was threatened with banishment from the web site if I didn't fulfill the obligation set before me. I felt that was a bit extreme, but there is one silver lining to this cloud hanging over my head. If you don't like what I have written, I don't have to hear it. TEE, HEE.

See ya'll and keep racin!

Publisher's Note: Ooops, I guess I probably shouldn't have included right here then huh? Tee Hee.

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