The view from my couch

TNT Coverage of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400
by Michael Sylvia, Jr.
September 7, 2003

Cheryl took the night off and left me to write up the broadcast of the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 from Richmond. Overall, TNT did a very good job this race. We missed one green flag start the whole race and the camera work was excellent. A note about my accounting of commercials, I count laps as being away to commercials if they come back and are still doing splash screens of commercials with the cars racing underneath. If I can't see the race, it's away at commercial.

On to the race. It was easy to tell Chevrolet had paid TNT for exposure. The last several races covered have left off the sponsor of the race after the initial announcement. Instead, they have told us who brought us the race. Good job in telling us numerous times during the race who the sponsor of the race was.

The usual announcements of the starting lineup took place with coverage of the first 11 rows and then the broadcasting crew started falling behind and selectively noted other drivers in the race. They did tell us the two drivers that did not make the race. At least they got a little bit of exposure.

We got a little bit of information on a select few cars once the race started. There was a question from Benny as to why Mark was falling back after leading the first lap and they were told by pit reporters Mark was set up for the long runs. Also, Jeff Burton took off quickly and pit reporters said he would be good on short runs and lousy on long runs. Good information from the pit reporters.

Our first set of commercials came on laps 17-23. We returned to find Robby Gordon bringing out a caution for contact with the inside wall out of turn 2. Good replays of the event from the cameramen. We saw some of the pit stops and then went to commercial laps 25-27 and the green came out on lap 28. I don't mind at all when they show us the lead cars pitting as track position from the pit stops is key at the short tracks. Benny explained the difference in tire wear between Richmond and Darlington to explain why some of those that pitted took various amounts of tires. We were also told Robby Gordon lost a lap due to his mishap and were reminded his last time here he was four laps down and went on to finish fourth.

We went back to commercials for laps 50-58. On lap 63 the caution came out for Greg Biffle and, once again, we were treated to good replays of his incident. We saw the pit stops again and went to commercial for laps 66 and 67, making it back in time for the green flag. We were shown problems Waltrip was having from the caution but never really got an explanation how it happened.

Back to commercial for laps 78-83. We came back for a caution on Elliott Sadler. The replay showed Matt Kenseth having some contact and spinning. Went to commercial after the pit stops for laps 85-89 and missed the green flag restart.

Caution again on lap 94. This brought out a long caution to lap 111. Multiple cars were involved and again good replays of the incident. We went to commercial for laps 97-100, 101-104, 105-108, and 108-110. We were treated each time they came back to an update on those involved and it turned out Tony Raines was involved and interviewed. Mark Martin reported into his pit, before the caution, there was oil all over his windshield and he was going to have to come in and have it torn off because he couldn't see. The pit reporter showed us Mark's tear away and it was pretty bad. After the restart we were told Park was a few laps down for speeding on pit road and speeding the next time down after he had been warned.

Next caution was laps 120-126 involving 7 cars and this time they listed those involved. We were at commercial for laps 123-126. Next caution was laps 129-133 for Tony Stewart walling it. Good replay.

Commercial for laps 130-132. Lap 136 was a splash commercial for AFLAC. Couldn't see the race underneath the ad. On lap 143 we got a run down of who was behind the wall. Caution again laps 144-148 for Casey Mears. We were informed who pitted. Commercials laps 146-148 and got some good passing for the lead coverage.

Next set of commercials was laps 164-170. Lap 173 was our "Through the Field" of those on the lead lap. 26 cars on the lead lap and the announcers got them all in. Good job!

Commercials laps 189-194. Tony Stewart brought out the caution again on laps 194-200. Commercials laps 196-198. Commercials laps 223-232 and again laps 244-252. When we returned we saw that Tony Raines was back on the track. Never mentioned by announcers. Caution laps 267-273 with commercials laps 270-273. Caution laps 285-292 for Elliott Sadler. Commercials laps 287-289 and 290-292. A review of those that pitted.

On lap 302 we were told there were only three cars out of the race. Commercial laps 308-316. We are being informed of cars that think they can or cannot make it on fuel after stopping on lap 273.

Caution laps 318-322 with commercials laps 320-322. More green flag commercials laps 337-342 and 349-355, they told us there would be no more commercials the rest of the race. That is, unless there is another caution. Caution laps 382-387 with commercials. Caution again laps 388-390 with commercials. Caution laps 392-396 and our last shot at commercials.

The post race interviews of the top five were good, where they could get those that hadn't been rushed off to the big red truck.

There were plenty of commercials during the race, but the coverage of missed action was good. We could have used another run through the field or two. I'm starting to like TNT more and more. We aren't constantly entertained by the announcers, rather we are informed by the announcers. There aren't a whole lot of graphics filling up the screen either. I still question why the networks are requesting more prime time races when they show them on the 2nd class networks instead of the big four. I give this broadcast an A-. Thanks for letting me add my two cents, Cheryl. You can send me email at michael@speedcouch.com

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