The view from my couch

NBC Coverage of the Subway 500
by Vivian Simons
October 20, 2003

Photo by Lou Lauer

Hi, My name is Vivian. Cheryl has graciously allowed me to write the broadcast review for the Martinsville Cup race. About me: I currently reside in Oregon but formerly lived in Florida where I attended many Daytona and other local races. I lived in California for a few years where I was mostly into open wheel racing, especially World of Outlaws. I like 90% of all types of racing but Cup continues to be my favorite. I am from the old school which means I like real competition and I firmly believe rubbin' is racing. I like telling it like I think it is so here is the way I saw it.

Countdown to Green Pre-Race:

The show seemed to be chock full of interesting items. Bill had a short recap on the Championship race for Kenseth, then an interview with Harvick & Earnhardt Jr. as the closest competitors. Also a short interview with Jeff Gordon. Dave then talked about gas mileage and how it effects the race outcome. A great interview with Stewart's jackman, Chuck, and then the most interesting clips of Robbie Gordon and his water sports. I especially enjoyed the ride around the track with Rusty Wallace subbing for Wally and explaining to his son, Steve, how to drive the track. Before going to the broadcast booth, they gave a recap of all the driver and car changes that will become effective next week. Good pre-race show.

The Race:

Normally I don't like the music at the beginning, but for some reason I did enjoy the music "Raise Up" and the short clips they showed of several drivers. Just don't know who was singing it.

I must admit that I have been partial to the NBC broadcasts this year, but as they cut away from announcing the starting line-up to give us other little bits of information on various drivers, I was once again disappointed. I can't help but think that somewhere there are fans who are disappointed because they don't get to hear their favorite driver introduced. They did show a partial lap of DW taking his Victory Lap complete with checkered flag to honor all the years RJ Reynolds and Winston supported Cup racing. They also updated us again on driver changes for next week and cut to Dave who explained how the yellow curbing at Martinsville could hurt a driver if he hit it.

During the first 21 laps, they did show a lot of competition in the pack. They also informed us that Robbie Gordon had been sick which might have been effecting the way he was driving.

Until lap 167, they had commercials during cautions, which was great. They also managed to keep us apprised of the pit stops and who was doing what in the pits and for how long. It seemed that on all caution commercials except for one they were able to get back in order to show us the green flag restarts. This was a good thing. They kept us updated by showing us replays of what caused the cautions and who it created problems for in a timely manner. They kept us up to date with where everyone was on the track and who was going down laps plus who the Lucky Dog was after each caution. I still don't like the name, Lucky Dog, and wish they had chosen some other name or phrase for that circumstance.

Grouping some things together: They advised us that Robbie Gordon had gotten a warning from Nascar not to get so close to other cars. They explained that Burton went through too many pit stalls before he got to his stall, so he had a black flag. They explained why Nascar chose to give Jamie McMurray his lap back. We got to hear several radio conversations during the day and this was good. I enjoyed Johnson saying he might have to bump someone out of the way close to the end of the race and then was told to race clean. For once, the Cingular question was not so very dumb. At least it was a question you could answer objectively rather than by wishing or by hoping for your favorite driver. They did their first Through the Field at lap 219 and went all the way to the 15th position, plus Kenseth who was 22nd. They made mention of the fact that John Andretti seemed to be having a lot of left rear tire problems and speculated as to the possible reason. They did several running scrolls at top to recap things and although this takes part of the screen, it is not as annoying as some of the picture in picture ads or bubbles that we sometimes get treated to. I still don't like the Aflac duck. They did a good job keeping us informed as to who was laps down and who had gone behind the wall most of the race. Also got a top 10 Through the Field and advised us that a record was set for the most caution laps at Martinsville. The 24 Pit Crew of self-intros was great as this also gives us an idea of who some of the behind the scenes people are. They came back from commercials twice to update us that cautions had happened and then went back to commercial once they updated us. The inconsistency of opening pit road created a problem for the first 3 drivers around lap 230, and there was a bit of complaining from the drivers and the crew chiefs. It was funny when Benny suggested a caution to get them back on the same schedule for pit stops if in fact Nascar had erred. Later Mike Helton came in and explained what they do in some situations and why they don't always wait a lap before opening pit road. Guess they are still "tweaking" it. After the last caution, they really zeroed in on the progress of the 8 car. We did not get to see many other drivers after that caution. Did get to see the winner for the last 2 laps, which was appropriate for the end of a race.

Post Race: We were treated to interviews by the top 5, plus a couple of others and also the winner's crew chief. Unlike last week, they had scheduled enough time for the post race activities. In the interview with Tony Stewart, they once again mentioned the filter he was wearing for carbon monoxide. It again shows that safety is always on everyone's mind.

All in all, I was pleased with most aspects of the broadcast. In my opinion, NBC did a great job and overall has the best announcers and pit reporters.

You can send email to vivian@speedcouch.com.

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