NASCAR Nation Buckles Up for ESPN's Bumpy Coverage

Eric HobbsCorrespondent IJuly 22, 2009

JOLIET, IL - JULY 11: Mark Martin, driving the #5 CARQUEST/Kellogg's Chevrolet, leads a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on July 11, 2009 in Joliet, Illinois.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

So far this season, NASCAR fans have watched the Sprint Cup Series on FOX and TNT. Each broadcast had its weak points, but overall they were outstanding.

Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds combined is solid gold in a broadcast booth, and Kyle Petty points out things that no one else would think of, making him the best color commentator I've ever seen.

Now we enter the final phase of the broadcasting season and are left to deal with the embarrassing excuse for race coverage that ESPN provides.

Let's break this down by "position."

Dr. Jerry Punch has been the motorsports guy at ESPN since the RPM 2night days with John Kernan. Fantastic.

If only Doc sounded interested in the race he was calling rather than sounding like he was about to fall asleep, he may get viewers excited and more into the race. Besides that, he simply is not that great at running a smooth broadcast. I liken a play-by-play guy to a point guard, and Doc needs to work on ball-handling and passing.

Rusty Wallace has become nothing more than a guy who rambles on and on about who knows what, while not getting a clear point across. ESPN assumed that because Rusty could drive, he could talk about racing.

Sadly, this is not the case.

It's obvious Tim Brewer knows what he's talking about; he's just not gifted in communication. When they go to him showing something in the cut-a-way car, Brewer will point, but his voice is so mushy and mumbly that you have no clue what he's talking about. Combine that with his blank personality and you are left with something to be desired.

I don't even know where to begin with Brad Daughtery. He has no business being a part of the broadcast. What qualifications does he have to be an analyst? The only reason he is on ESPN is that he is a famous fan of the sport.

If fans can be analysts, I'll be first in line for next season. Odds are I could just walk up and contribute more to the broadcast than Daughtery does.

To be sure, ESPN does have some bright spots in its coverage. Andy Petree is not a bad commentator and he can bring some humor to the booth as well. Allen Bestwick is solid running the show from the desk. Dale Jarrett is excellent at telling us why something happened on the racetrack.

The pit reporters for ESPN all are serviceable, although they each have their moments where they each look as dumb as a brick.  

Despite the bright points on ESPN's coverage, they are outweighed by the negative aspects that we have to endure for the rest of the season.

Don't worry, NASCAR nation.  FOX will be back in February.