The view from my couch

USAR ProCup - Advance Discount Auto Parts 250
by CouchPotato

The show this week opened with a patriotic theme showing a collage of cars and flags. Nice. The race was more like a demolition derby, which takes up a lot of time for a tape-delayed, fixed-duration show to cover, so they moved right into getting the cars out on the track. A brief interview with Jason Sarvis brought his fans up to speed on his unusual start to the season. After a weak command to start engines, they got right into the field rundown as the cars warmed up. A nice part of the USAR field intro is that the announcers make an effort to always mention the sponsor names of the drivers - unlike the big money boys covering that "other" stock car series. It's usually the only time you'll get to see some of the drivers during the rest of the race, but at least they get a mention.

Location - New Smyrna, Florida
Race Date - March 29, 2003
Broadcast Date - April 3, 2003
Channel - SPEED, DirecTV #607
Announcers - Gene Crane - Booth, Brian Drebber - Booth, Mark Allen - Pit Road

Overall, this broadcast was much better than the last one from Pensacola. It appeared that all the usual cameras were working (or manned) and were in focus. Turn 1, turn 3, top of booth, speedcam, and pit road mobile cameras brought all the action to you. There were 2 in-car cameras this week. One from the #2 car of Steven Christian, and one from the #28 car of Michael Ritch. The "speed shot" camera was mounted at the start/finish line this week and did appear a little out of focus, but not too bad. After last week's tin-can sound, this week the sound quality was good. I noted how well the cars sounded during the broadcast. Hearing the cars is an important part of being able to "feel" the race while sitting in your recliner.

Unlike last week, I don't have a lot of negative things to say about the show. The race wasn't that great, but that's another story. This week, they had excellent replays of nearly all the incidents of the track - not a small task this race. Several times they had the camera "live" as the incident occurred. A big improvement over last week. Now if you can just reduce the size of the massive "Coca-Cola" logo and colored banners when you show the replays, it would be nearly perfect!

The race got underway with poor Michael Strother having problems getting off the grid. Poor guy. If it weren't for bad luck...Pit reporter Mark Allen (loosen up a little Mark) told us about the extra 2 tires that teams would get this race, My usual pet peeve was next. As the race started, they still had to show a fullscreen shot of the sponsor waving the green flag instead of covering the field. Split screen? There might be a dozen people who are interested in seeing their friend get to wave the flag but I'm assuming there are thousands (or millions!) wishing they could see the cars!

The cautions came early and often. A great shot of the lap 18 caution for Tony Amico's spin with several replays, followed by a nice shot capturing Joe Gaita barely missing the lap 25 wreck involving the 31, 33, 94, and 25 cars. A pit interview with the 31 driver, Vince Fanello, gave his side of the story. Then they were able to get about 17 laps of green flag racing in. During this time Mark Allen reported on some handling issues that Shane Huffman was having and explained the actions the team took during his pitstop during the lap 25 caution. Some good action in the top ten was covered, with Danny O'Quinn being featured. Lap 48 caution for a single car spin by Korey Ruble was documented by an excellent replay of the #33 car being the cause of the spin. It wasn't the first incident for Mowery and it wouldn't be the last! During this caution, the 84 came back to the pits for more adjustments and this time the mobile camera with RC at the control got the viewer very close to the action! I could have turned the track bar adjustment wrench myself! More pit action showed the 8, 9, and 25 cars as well as an interview with the crew chief for the #4, Shane Wallace, car. I'm not sure why Mark Allen chose him to interview?

Back to racing on lap 53. We got one lap before the #2 of Steven Christian goes spinning down the back stretch and into turn 3 after some contact with Buggy Pletcher. Great live shot of the incident as well as numerous replays including one from the rear-bumper camera from Christian's car. We also saw Joe Gaita stuck in the quagmire that the apron of the track had become after some recent rains. Gaita looses a couple laps which provided for some excellent racing later on as he fights to get them back. A full field rundown was shown on lap 60. My other pet peeve was still present - no laps down indicator, although they did have a "reason out" listed. Another dozen of so laps before the next wreck. Somewhere in there there was a brief pre-recorded interview with Shane Wallace about aggressive driving. Too bad that later on Shane forgot what he had said. Which brings us to the other Shane - Shane Huffman. On lap 87, Huffman makes a bad decision and spins the #18 car of Jason York. Excellent replays once again - a great trend continues!

A nice segment with Andrew Medlin gave viewers a more personal look at one of the up and coming drivers. Nice paint job on his #8 car as well this year. Ooops, we break from the sanity for yet another big wreck. This one comes on lap 92. Luke Hill breaks loose off turn 2 and gathers up the 84, 25, 92, and others. The 25 and 41 end up stuck in the mud. More good replays from various cameras show the incident. Allen interviews Luke Hill in the pits and we get to actually hear a driver admit fault! How refreshing! Allen's closing comment of "the force will not be with young Luke" was amusing.

A caution on lap 107 for a Roggen spin in turn 3 brings about the major pit stop of the day for the leaders. Good use of split screens allowed us to see the 5 car, the 29 car and an overall pitroad view. Pit roads at New Smyrna are very tight and the mobile pit camera allowed viewers to see exactly how crowded things get. I think they could use the mobile camera more often, even adding a second one to give a totally new view of the action from down inside the turns for example, not just for pit stops or driver interviews. The race restarts on lap 113 and Joe Gaita is anxious to get a lap back and gets black flagged for jumping the start. The mobile camera gave us a good shot of this and we also saw some good leader action from the #28 in-car camera.

Lap 128 brings out a caution for a major deal in turn 1. Shane Wallace apparently didn't remember his pre-race interview he made about having patience. He gets a little anxious and the 33, 4, 8, 44, and 28 cars are all collected up. Mark Allen interviews the driver of the 33 car, Billy Mowery for his view and we get "the truth" from Mowery. A good in-car from 28 show his involvement. Another interview, this one with Michael Ritch, gives a totally different viewpoint - his is that Mowery was at fault. Ain't racin' fun? I still think that the guy who wrecks the leader is the one at fault.

The race restarted on lap 137 with Gill leading. We saw some great action with Buggy Pletcher and Mario Gosselin. Mark Allen give us another interview concerning the previous wreck from Toby Porter. Porter blames it on Mowery also. You decide for yourself! A full field rundown showed the reasons that cars were out of the race - good info! An interview with "the Duze", some good shots of glowing red brake rotors, coverage of unexpected pit stops by Clay Rogers along with information on why he had to pit filled the next bit of time. Drebber gave us a report about the 44 car going being behind wall, then Allen and RC showed the crew working on steering arm problems. Good job! Gene Crane provided some background information about Danny O'Quinn as he battled with Wallace for 6th.

We come back from a commercial to see the "Next Race Update" info. The only problem is that the background on the darn graphic isn't transparent and it covers up the racing action! The mobile camera showed us the pit "graveyard" cars out of the race. That picture says it all. Plenty of racing action was covered with Gosselin, Pletcher, and Huffman. A pat on the back for not focusing just on the leader who was running by himself for quite some time. Caution on lap 238 as Shane Huffman wrecks the 51 car in turn 1 and brings out a red flag. Must be a Shane thing... A great camera shot of Mario Gosselin's car boiling over during the red flag! For some unknown reason, the leaders decide to pit with less than just a few laps to go. Good split screen camera action captured Gill and Huffman getting off pit road. The restart on lap 246 had several "end of lead lap" cars lined up ahead of the leaders and it looks like they had an influence on Huffman's chances to get to Gill and do some shorttrack passing. Gill wins, but instead of the cameras showing the rest of the field cross finish line, we got to see the winning pit crew. Not that they don't deserve it, but if SPEED had used PIP, they could have shown both deserving groups.

An interview with Duze and then one with Gill in victory lane. Some lame comparison about Tiger Woods was useless. Despite winning, Gill still manages to get in some whining about his lack of championship money. Another interview, this one with Shane Huffman gave Huffman the chance to apologize for one of the cautions he caused and poof, the 2 hours are gone!

Overall, I give this broadcast a thumbs up! Good sound, great replays, good action captured as it happened. Much better than last week! Keep up the good work Guys! Until next time, I'm going back to my nap. You can send me email at

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