ESPN: Worldwide Leader In Sports? I Say Not In NASCAR

Josh CorderContributor INovember 16, 2009

FORT WORTH, TX - NOVEMBER 08:  Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, drives by Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's Chevrolet, as Johnson loses control on the track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on November 8, 2009 in Fort Worth, Texas.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images


Jimmie Johnson wrecked on Lap 3 of the Dickie's 500.

When all drivers let off the gas, exhaust builds in the tailpipe, and some times it catches fire and emits smoke.  When it happens to the points leader, it's a cause for a super-slow-motion replay and a visit to the Tech Center to explain why it happens.

The Race to the Chase is so close that we need to know the points standings are they run during the race more than we need to know exactly how the other 31 cars are running on the track.  Never mind that Jimmie Johnson was leading and his closest competitor, Mark Martin the guy chasing JJ, was running in second place and holding.

Watching ESPN's coverage of the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 presented by Pennzoil (are the names of the races long enough here lately?) was mind numbing.  Every start of every broadcast featured a replay of Jimmie Johnson's mishap during the Dickie's 500.  The commercials during the weekend promoting the race coverage at PIR on Sunday featured a clip of the point leader wrecking at Texas.  Every episode of NASCAR Now throughout the week showed the clip multiple times.  If I never see that clip again, it will be too soon.

This all leads to my point:  ESPN, in it's current form, cannot cover NASCAR.  "The Worldwide Leader in Sports" needs a lesson in how to cover a race.  Let's cover some areas where fans feel ESPN's coverage needs some improvement:

  • Pre-race coverage is too long.
  • Booth commentators have no chemistry and at times seem to not even be calling the same race. 
  • Cameras focused on the leader's 6 second lead and not the action in the middle of the pack.
  • Full field rundowns do not occur frequently enough.
  • Debris cautions with no debris shown.
  • 99.9% of the coverage focused on Chase drivers.
  • Failure to explain the wave around cars.
  • Post-race coverage is not long enough.

From my perspective, that's just about the entire flag-to-flag coverage that fans and readers all of the Internet want to see improved. 

I have been lucky enough to make the trek out to 5 races this year.  Is the racing boring?  There are times that the action up front gets drawn out, but from a fan's perspective sitting in the seats with my FanView in my ear, there is plenty of action all over the track. 

ESPN, and NASCAR for that matter, need to listen to the fans and focus on the action on the track, quit fabricating storylines to add drama, and learn to call a race.