The view from my couch
FX Coverage of TheTrace Adkins Chrome 300 from Nashville
As with the Busch Race at Nashville in April, this was an excellent broadcast. Mark Garrow was back to anchor the booth and I really enjoy his efforts. For this race, he was joined by Hank Parker Jr, BGN driver. Veteran pit reporter, Glenn Jarrett, was joined by driver, Rick Mast, making his debut as a pit reporter. Together, this group of four provided some great insight and heads-up reporting on the race.
I thought the use of the old Lovin Spoonful song, Nashville Cats, for the lead-in was really good. Now if FX could just get rid of silly things like having an actual cat jumping around during the accompanying montage, I'd be happy. What does that have to do with racing? The only other comment I have about the pre-race show is why on earth does a Busch pre-race show have to break away for at least five minutes to show Larry, Darrell and Mike at Pocono showing us highlights of Winston Cup qualifying from there. What exactly does this have to do with the Busch Series? Oh yeah, I forgot, the powers that be at Fox Sports don't think anyone will watch a Busch Race without some WC tie-in.
I really enjoyed hearing Mark Garrow and Hank Parker, Jr. working together. They seemed to have good chemistry and their jokes didn't seem forced or overly silly. Mark leads the broadcast in a low-key but very informative manner. At one point, Garrow explained to us when the on-screen position ticker was not working, but kept us up to date on the lap count and positions of many drivers. His radio background served him well here and throughout the broadcast.
Hank's self-effacing humor is very refreshing. He has a knack for bemoaning his lack of a permanent Busch ride in a way that is charming and not annoying. Hank provided some excellent insight about the track at Nashville, explaining that the concrete surface is not very forgiving when Brian Vickers had his early race spin. He also was right on the money when suggesting that Kasey Kahne seemed to have an exhaust problem. He also did an excellent job of explaining and illustrating where the track had widened the pit boxes on pit road. My only complaint about Hank was that he appeared to let his personal friendship with Kerry Earnhardt color his remarks about the on-going incidents between Earnhardt and Todd Bodine just a bit. The fact that Bodine was guilty of a payback was not clear from the replays we saw at home.
The producer and director seemed to show a lot of racing throughout the field all evening and this was also very refreshing. Rick Mast and Glenn Jarrett did a fantastic job of covering the pits throughout the race. It was quite obvious they were hustling to cover all the stories and interview drivers with problems. Rick did a great job for his first effort as a pit reporter. Glenn followed up to confirm Hank's suspicions about the problems with Kahne's car and said that the team had repaired the broken headers pipes with bungie cords. Glenn also followed up with an interview with Mike Bliss after his car fell out of the race and with Earnhardt after his accident. Rick interviewed Bodine after he fell out of the race because of a broken valve spring. The producer seemed to let the pit reporters stories integrate quite well with the comments from Garrow and Parker in the booth. I seem to remember this was the case with the first Nashville race as well.
There were quick and good replays of most of the on-track incidents. About the only one I don't believe we saw a replay of was when several cars spun into the frontstretch grass. One time, it appeared FX returned from commercial early to catch a pass for the lead between Bobby Hamilton, Jr. and Scott Riggs. It may have just been luck, but it was perfect timing.
There are only a couple of negative things that I saw in the broadcast. There were way too many commercials, but the viewers have come to expect this (not like it) from races shown on FX. There was one missed restart at lap 137 because of commercial.
Other than too many commercials, I thoroughly enjoyed this broadcast. If this is the perceived "B Team" for the Fox networks, I'll take them any day. Sometimes, just being quiet and letting the racing speak for itself is a really good thing. Hopefully, we'll see this team more since there are several stand alone Busch races coming up in the next few months.
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