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Couch Potato Tuesday: Inclusivity Is Needed — Badly

Couch Potato Tuesday: Inclusivity Is Needed — Badly

In what’s becoming more and more of a common sight in NASCAR, all three of the sport’s national series were hard at work this past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series hitting up Michigan International Speedway while the Camping World Truck Series returned to Gateway Motorsports Park. With a new-ish track on the schedule, combined with TNT’s second broadcast of the season, it was sure to be a weekend with its share of storylines.

Drivin’ For Linemen 200

Saturday night saw the Camping World Truck Series return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the first time since 2010. There were a number of young guns that were in the hunt, helped along by NASCAR’s rule change allowing drivers under 18 years old at tracks 1.25 miles and smaller.

During the Setup, the primary feature was a piece about Joe Nemechek, his son John Hunter Nemechek and Joe’s late brother John, who died in a Truck Series crash at Homestead in 1997. The Nemechek brothers were best friends who loved to race together. Joe actually owned his brother’s trucks and also shared his Burger King sponsorship with John during the inaugural NASCAR SuperTrucks by Craftsman season in 1995. Viewers got to see the dynamic between Joe and John Hunter and the brothers’ dynamic when John was still alive. It was a great piece, and an important one; a lot of fans that watch Truck races today might not remember John Nemechek on track (he had only four top-10 finishes), so the piece may have served as an introduction to the late driver.

Having the feature on Nemechek was prescient, as the 17-year old had one of the best trucks all night. FOX Sports 1’s coverage definitely let you know that. In fact, there was too much focus on the young racer, his father on the pit box and so on. Granted, Nemechek had a nice duel for the lead with Matt Crafton, but the focus was so heavy on those two that I lost any real idea of what else was going on. Darrell Wallace, Jr., who eventually won the race, was invisible for nearly 100 of the 160 laps. It’s sad when you really think about it (WHY? Tom delete this, just had to ask)

Normally, a Truck Series race on FOX Sports 1 is more inclusive than what we saw Saturday night. Even without the No. 8 in the mix, there was still a heavy focus on the very front. When that happens, I can only speak for myself, but I would not have a frame of reference for almost anything else that happens on the track — but that said, what did get covered was covered quite intricately.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet 250

The Nationwide Series traveled to Michigan International Speedway for the first of two NASCAR races at the track over the weekend, but in terms of field makeup, many of the drivers up front ended up being the same across the board — and that’s not necessarily a good thing.

In addition to the near constant refrain of inclusivity that I’ve been preaching in the Couch Potato Tuesday column for approximately the last three years, there are two things that really stood out. One, as you probably know by now, was Joey Logano and his loss via cut tire. I know it was late, but I would have liked to see one of the pit reporters show us that tire. I know that it had a one-inch cut because Jeremy Bullins (Logano’s crew chief) said it on the radio, but I’m a visual learner in this scenario.

Secondly, there were a number of incidents (and near-incidents) caused by cars on the inside of a side-by-side situation wiping out. That is what caused the Trevor Bayne-Dylan Kwasniewski crash. The booth seemed to pin it down to simple inexperience, but I argue that it’s a little more than that. The fact that Kwasniewski nearly took out Brian Scott on the first lap of the race in a similar fashion speaks to that hypothesis.

I believe that the commentators might be a little too easy on Kwasniewski. I know he’s just 18 and a rookie, but this stuff can’t keep happening. The dude needs to learn a little patience. I’m sure Steve Turner and Harry Scott, Jr. aren’t liking having their cars crashed every week. He needs to get called out on it from those in the booth.

Since the race ended relatively early, there was time for some extra post-race coverage — which allowed a nice rundown of the results. Unfortunately, ESPN apparently didn’t have a photo of Ross Chastain to put in its unofficial results setup in the scroll at the finish. That’s a double ouch; ESPN basically ignored the No. 80 team all day, then didn’t even have a picture to throw up there. It should be noted that Chastain finished 12th, on the lead lap.

Quicken Loans 400

Last weekend’s Pocono race, the first for TNT this season, was a bit of a mess in places, and the network didn’t exactly rise to the challenge of besting its previous score for the Sprint Cup Series’ Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Countdown to Green was its usual feature-filled self. What really stood out here the most was Marty Snider’s sit-down interview with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Generally speaking, Earnhard is an excellent person to interview, provided that you can get the time to talk to him — which, obviously, is not easy. Once they got away from the PR stuff, Earnhardt talked about “being unprofessional” during his time at Dale Earnhardt, Inc. and Hendrick Motorsports. Granted, you can only be so unprofessional when you win as much as he did in the No. 8, but it seems that he really wasn’t in tune with the team. He’d show up, drive the car and then be a ghost. That was interesting since I cannot recall Earnhardt saying anything along those lines in the past. Also, it’s possible that this unprofessionalism may have caused some of the conflict between himself and his stepmother when he was still at DEI, although it was left unsaid here.

As you remember, last week’s Pocono 400 telecast was marred by technical issues. The second half of Michigan’s telecast was better in that respect, but the first half still had some issues. The audio stuttering briefly returned, but was fixed quickly. Also, the color would drop out of the broadcast during certain intervals. It should be noted that I watched the first half of the race on one television, and the second half on another. I had no issues on the second television. Regardless, we’re seeing issues that we simply shouldn’t have to deal with.

Overall, the amount of action on-track shown was middling at best. Yes, there was a fair amount of action in and around the cautions, but once we got away from the yellows, there was very little action on-track for position. There was a lot of discussion (especially in the second half of the race) about strategy, but that’s about it.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. looks over his No. 88 with his Hendrick Motorsports team. (Credit: CIA)

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. looks over his No. 88 with his Hendrick Motorsports team. (Credit: CIA)

Also, TNT did a rather poor job when it came to finding debris. There were two yellows on Sunday for debris and TNT couldn’t find either one of them. Clint Bowyer apparently hit the debris that caused the second debris yellow, yet TNT still didn’t have any footage. Bowyer had an in-car camera. Make use of it.

Interestingly, after the race, Kevin Harvick, who finished second, outright declined an on-air interview with TNT and with MRN Radio. It was not relayed to viewers that this was the case. However, he briefly showed up in the media center for his mandatory press availability. There, the tempestuous runner-up did the absolute bare minimum to not get fined before he left.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend, we’ve got plenty of road racing for your pleasure. The Sprint Cup Series makes its annual trek to Sonoma Raceway, while the Nationwide Series travels to Wisconsin to race 200 miles at Road America at an earlier time. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, June 17
Time Telecast Network
10:00am-11:00am Moto3: Catalunya FOX Sports 2*# (from June 15)
11:00am-12:00pm Moto2: Catalunya FOX Sports 2*# (from June 15)
12:00-1:00pm motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of Catalunya FOX Sports 2*# (from June 15)
5:00-5:30pm NASCAR America NBC Sports Network
5:00-6:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
6:30-7:30pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 2*#

Wednesday, June 18
Time Telecast Network
5:00pm-5:30pm NASCAR America NBC Sports Network
5:00-6:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
6:30-7:30pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 2*#
7:00-9:00pm World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars Gettysburg Clash CBS Sports Network*/ (from May 14)
7:30-8:00pm 100,000 Cameras FOX Sports 2#
8:00-10:00pm Pro Motocross Championship Series: Glen Helen NBC Sports Network*/# (from May 24)
10:00-11:00pm Kurt Busch: 36 Director’s Cut NBC Sports Network#
11:30pm-1:30am Pro Motocross Championship Series: Hangtown NBC Sports Network*/# (from May 31)

Thursday, June 19
Time Telecast Network
5:00pm-5:30pm NASCAR America NBC Sports Network
5:00-6:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
6:30-7:30pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 2*#
7:30-8:00pm Empty Cup: Quest for the 1992 NASCAR Championship FOX Sports 2#

Friday, June 20
Time Telecast Network
8:00am-9:30am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Free Practice No. 1 NBC Sports Network
10:00-11:00am motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of Catalunya FOX Sports 1*/# (from June 15)
11:30am-2:00pm Camping World Truck Series Drivin’ For Linemen 200 FOX Sports 1*# (from June 14)
2:00-3:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
3:00-5:00pm Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1 FOX Sports 1
5:00-5:30pm NASCAR America NBC Sports Network
6:30-8:00pm Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 1
6:45-8:45pm NHRA Auto Plus New England Nationals First Round Qualifying ESPN3.com$
8:00-9:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
9:00-10:00pm The 600: History of NASCAR’s Toughest Race FOX Sports 1#
10:00-11:30pm Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 2*#
10:30-12:00am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Free Practice No. 2 NBC Sports Network*

Saturday, June 21
Time Telecast Network
12:00am-1:30am Pirelli World Challenge: Belle Isle Park NBC Sports Network*/# (from May 31-June 1)
1:30-2:30am Formula Off-Road: Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix NBC Sports Network*/# (from May 31)
2:30-3:00am The Grid NBC Sports Network
3:00-5:00am Sprint Cup Series Practice No. 1 FOX Sports 1*# (from June 20)
5:00-6:00am NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1*# (from June 20)
8:00-9:30am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Qualifying NBC Sports Network
10:00am-12:00pm World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars Texas Outlaw Shootout, Night No. 1 CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 18)
11:30am-1:00pm Nationwide Series Qualifying ESPN 2
12:00-2:00pm World of Outlaws STP Sprint Cars Texas Outlaw Shootout, Night No. 2 CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 19)
1:00-1:30pm NASCAR Live FOX Sports 1
1:30-3:00pm Sprint Cup Series Qualifying FOX Sports 1
2:00-4:00pm Blancpain Sprint Series: Nogaro CBS Sports Network*# (from April 21)
2:30-2:45pm NASCAR Countdown ABC
2:45-6:00pm Nationwide Series Gardner Denver 200 ABC
4:00-6:00pm Blancpain Sprint Series: Brands Hatch CBS Sports Network*# (from May 25)
5:30-7:00pm GP2 Series: Austria Race 1 NBC Sports Network*
7:00-8:00pm NHRA Auto Plus New England Nationals Final Qualifications ESPN 2*/
8:00-9:30pm Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 2*# (from June 20)
9:00-11:00pm ARCA Racing Series Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care CBS Sports Network
9:30-11:00pm Sprint Cup Series Qualifying FOX Sports 2*#
11:00pm-12:00am The 600: History of NASCAR’s Toughest Race FOX Sports 2#
11:00pm-1:00am Blancpain Sprint Series: Brands Hatch CBS Sports Network*# (from May 25)

Sunday, June 22
Time Telecast Network
1:30am-3:00am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Qualifying NBC Sports Network*# (from June 21)
3:00-4:30am Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 1*# (from June 20)
4:00-6:00am Nationwide Series Gardner Denver 200 Fired Up by Johnsonville ESPN 2*/# (from June 21)
4:30-6:00am Sprint Cup Series Qualifying FOX Sports 1*# (from June 21)
7:30-8:00am F1 Countdown NBC Sports Network
8:00-10:00am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria NBC Sports Network
10:00-10:30am F1 Extra NBC Sports Network
10:00-11:30am Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour FOX Sports 1*# (from June 20)
11:00am-3:00am NHRA Auto Plus New England Nationals Eliminations ESPN3$
11:30am-1:00pm Sprint Cup Series Qualifying FOX Sports 1*# (from June 21)
1:00-2:00pm NASCAR RaceDay FOX Sports 1
1:00-2:00pm Blancpain Endurance Series: Monza CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 13)
1:00-4:00pm NHRA Auto Plus New England Nationals Final Eliminations ESPN 2
2:00-3:00pm Countdown to Green Served by Sonic TNT
2:00-3:00pm Blancpain Endurance Series: Silverstone CBS Sports Network*/# (from May 25)
2:30-3:00pm F1 Countdown NBC Sports Network*#
3:00-5:00pm Formula One Grand Prix of Austria NBC Sports Network*#
3:00-6:30pm Sprint Cup Series Toyota/Save Mart 350k TNT
5:00-5:30pm F1 Extra NBC Sports Network*#
7:00-7:30pm NASCAR Victory Lane FOX Sports 1
7:00-8:00pm GP2 Series: Austria, Race No. 2 NBC Sports Network*
8:00-10:00pm ARCA Racing Series Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care CBS Sports Network*# (from June 21)
9:00-11:30pm 1 NBC Sports Network#
11:30pm-12:00am F1 Countdown NBC Sports Network#

Monday, June 23
Time Telecast Network
12:00am-2:00am Formula One Grand Prix of Austria NBC Sports Network*# (from June 22)
2:00-2:30am F1 Extra NBC Sports Network*# (from June 22)
4:00-5:00pm Kurt Busch: 36 Director’s Cut NBC Sports Network#
5:00-5:30pm NASCAR America NBC Sports Network
5:00-6:00pm NASCAR RaceHub FOX Sports 1
*- Tape Delayed
/- Highlighted Coverage
#- Repeat Coverage
$- Available via password-protected online streaming. Check with your programming and/or internet service provider for availability.

I will provide critiques for next weekend’s Sprint Cup and Nationwide races at minimum here at Frontstretch. The ARCA race from Elko, Minn., will either be the third race covered next Tuesday, or it will be covered in the Critic’s Annex on June 26. This week’s edition of the Critic’s Annex will cover Friday’s Corrigan Oil 200 from Michigan International Speedway.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact any of the TV partners personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage from last weekend, please click on the following links:

FOX Sports
TNT
ESPN

At this point, there is still no public contact e-mail for NBC Sports. When they finally get around to creating a new link, I will post it for you.

As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Newsletter Editor for Frontstretch since mid-2008, Phil is responsible for the site’s Monday-Friday FREE e-newsletter that keeps fans up-to-date with the latest racing news, along with exclusive features and commentary. Our head news writer, Phil also doubles as our broadcast critic, keeping broadcasts honest for years with his Couch Potato Tuesday column. A writer for the Troy (NY) Record, Phil is also one of the lead reporters at Lebanon Valley Speedway in Pennsylvania every weekend during short track season.

10 comments

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  2. I agree with everyone that TNT is so much better then FOX. I’m finally able to turn up the volume on my TV once FOX leaves. I believe that it is FOX’s fault for the ratings decline this year. In fact, for the decline in NASCAR interest over the past few years. I bet it was one of their stupid gopher camera’s that caused the pothole at Dover.

    And wait until it goes to ESPN. Now they know how to broadcast racing! It will be like 1988 all over again. Wide angles and not pushing agendas. Plus, seeing every driver cross the finish line. There would be a riot at the Kentucky Derby if the director didn’t show every horse finishing.

    I’m still holding out hope that Bill Weber is brought back to NBC next season. A seasoned voice is needed for that refreshed broadcast partner.

  3. JohnQ, Bill B, GinaV24 and Bill W are all correct! It is probably post FOX euphoria but I good with TNT!

  4. Dylan K. better watch himself, I am starting to think of Steven Wallace. Must be that dumb crooked hat he always has on, take it off and let some air get to your brain. I am happy they were talking alot about John Hunter, it was a nice change from the usual suspects they always talk about.

  5. JohnQ, Bill B and GinaV24 you all are spot on.

    I still believe since part of the pit reporters are from Fox there is bias coverage of the #15 and #55. A good example was when under caution ,the #15 was shown from the time he came into and until he left the pits. At the time he was running !4th. Does anyone believe that since Fox broadcast the practice and qualifying that when that’s over that they pack up there camera and go home?

  6. Love me some couch potato. The motor racing on TV schedule is my go to for TV viewing plans. I ‘specially like the fact you include all forms of motorsport in the schedule.

    Keep up the good work. (glad you mentioned that Harvick declined the interview)

  7. Oh heck, TNT is so much better than Fox to watch – even with some minor technical glitches – that it doesn’t even compare. Except for having to listen to larry mac – I thought I left Fox behind? I really enjoy Kyle and Wally in the booth. Can’t get that excited about Adam Alexander – but otherwise, it is nice to actually watch the race rather than want to avoid it. It’s a shame that TNT has some of the worst races to watch on TV in their segment.

    I don’t watch the trucks or Nationwide races any longer – it’s a shame but the Cup drivers dominating these races has made me a non-fan and based on what i’ve seen about ratings and attendance, I’m not alone.

  8. I agree with JohnQ. The only glitch was the audio stuttering which, as stated, was corrected fairly quickly. TNT treats the race as much more of a sporting event than a reality television show. They limit the buffoonery. FOX could learn something but I guess when you hire buffoons to do the broadcast that’s the way it comes off.
    And I hope NBC is paying attention.

  9. Could be just a case of post Waltrip euphoria but I have zero complaints about either the NW or the Cup coverage. I feel like the booth talks to me like an adult. The commentary is insightful for the most part. No buffoonery. I love that with the exception of Goodyear MacSunoco (the sole Fox carryover) entire sentences are spoken without every Goodyear other Sunoco word being sponsor gibberish. PS: Larry we all know what kind of gas they use and none of us are wondering if they might take fahooor Hoosier tires this time.