Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Up front is where focus belongs

LAS VEGAS – One of the big topics on “The Morning Drive” on Sirius NASCAR Radio this week has been how television coverage of races concentrates too much on selected cars and doesn’t “give” enough time to everybody in the field.

Sigh.

Folks, this is not community tee ball where everybody gets to play. This is the big leagues of auto racing. Sprint Cup is the biggest deal there is in American motorsports. It’s a meritocracy. Your driver isn’t going to be “given” coverage, he has to earn it.

There are two ways to earn coverage. First, pass somebody. Run up front, contend for wins and get them, make the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Second, be somebody. Have a story that’s compelling. Move the needle when it comes to the fans. Make people care about you.

Every second during a televised race where they’re showing me a battle for 26th what I know they’re telling me is that the racing up front is bad. I don’t CARE who’s running 26th unless it’s somebody who for the past 20 weeks has finished 10th or better.

If Matt Kenseth is running last this week at Las Vegas after winning at Daytona and California, that’s news. If "Your Name Here" is running 43rd and nobody is surprised by that, he’ll get on camera when he’s being lapped and he ought to be glad that’s the only time his name might be mentioned.

It’s not up to Fox or ESPN or TNT (or, for that matter, the Charlotte Observer) to help somebody get and/or keep a sponsor. Heck, if you ask me television goes too far overboard as it is to try to “showcase” sponsorship. Of course, they get a check for just about everything they do in that regard. If a reader found out I was taking $200 a week to make sure I mention a certain sponsor then that reader would go crazy – and he’d be right to.

Besides, I think the whole premise of this argument is flawed. Television did a great job covering the AJ Allmendinger, Jeremy Mayfield and Scott Riggs stories at Daytona. Fox tries hard to keep up with what Larry McReynolds calls “comers and goers” during a race. No, a guy running 19th doesn’t get as much air time as the leader or a former champion, but he shouldn’t, either.

20 comments:

Carl - Wisconsin said...

I think you are dead wrong. And if you weren't so ignorant and not open to other points of view on the matter, you might see things differently. I think the fact that Mayfield and Riggs hopscotched some spots due to late race attrition gave perfect chance for Fox to mention them. They didn't. The little guys will fail and you'll get your way with franchising and all we'll be left with are super teams. As a lifelong fan from the early 70's, I hate where the sport is going. If Fox wants to continue receiving big TV contracts in the future, it should do all it can do to ensure the sport continues to thrive and do well. We need the smaller stories. We can't continue with the top stories. Jeez, you need more story line than just the top 12.

Anonymous said...

YOUR Dead wrong Carl. In sports, you get coverage by succeeding, by being good. The argument "my guy doesn't get enough coverage" means only one thing - he stinks.

Anonymous said...

i see both sides. i think the more you succeed the more you should be seen but in there are fans of everyone out there, not just the top 12 drivers. if my driver is running 43rd, then screw him for sucking it up, but if he's fighting for 15th then let's see it. If my driver is only a 15th at best driver then why watch a race, it'll read about him later. i think they should at least show more of the top 20 and not cut from showing the leader to 7th or 8th place then cut back to the leader running single file while there is passing going on elsewhere. Go through the field more, they hardly do that anymore.

Richard in N.C. said...

Mr. Poole, you are only partly correct. Yes, Cup is the pinnacle of US auto racing, but it is also a business - the entertainment business. If a substantial portion of Cup fans (i.e., consumers) say the coverage of races is inadequate because it does not give enough coverage to all the participants, then by definition the coverage is inadequate - which is not to say that Scott Riggs deserves the same coverage as Jeff Gordon, but that he does deserve some coverage. If those who ultimately pay the bills (the fans/consumers) say the coverage is not what they expect, then there is a problem with the coverage.

Rob said...

Carl, first of all FOX doesn't "get" the big TV contract they pay NASCAR for the rights to broadcast each event, and if they are showing the guys running in the back what happens to their viewership? It goes in the toilet is what happens, if you wanna see the guy running 35th all race long sack up and buy yourself a ticket to the grandstands and you can watch him all you want. Now that you've stuck one foot in your mouth got room for the second and by the way, how's it taste?

Holleracha said...

Ive been a Mayfield fan since Sat nites at the Fairgrounds. I thought he got extra good coverage at Daytona and had an interview before Cali. After that, he ran lousy. I felt lucky to see the car at all! He wiil be running the Cali car at Vegas hope they fixed it!

Anonymous said...

If Jimmie Johnson is running 40th, he is without a doubt getting more coverage then Joe Nemechek running 40th. Thats a no brainer. Everybody wants to know why they are back there. We are not suprised with Joe back there.

Graceann said...

Here's your top ten drivers listed that are focused on by the cameras. The first number is 2008, second number is 2007. You be the judge, what's wrong with the way they are listed? Why are some shoved down our throats & others just barely recognized? Some of these drivers had wins and deserved more "focused" according to your article, but the cameras seemed to follow a different set of rules. The stats are from same place Jayski.com gets their facts so you can look up the rest yourself. (cawsnjaws)

Graceann said...

Feb 6, 05:08 AM
How many times were drivers focused on in 2008? Do sponsors think it was worth the expense?
Posted by Cheryl Walker under Racing Article


Hi NASCAR fans. My off-season hibernation has ended, and I have begun limbering up my fingers for the season to come. I am looking forward to seeing what happens during this new racing season, and keeping track of the commercials during the Cup races, as well as the number of times drivers were focused on, as I have since 2006.

This is my report on how many times certain drivers, crew chiefs, and other NASCAR crew members were shown on-screen during the 2008 racing season. I keep these statistics in addition to the breakdown of commercials for every Cup race. If a driver and/or his car are on-screen for longer than a few short seconds, I record it.

There are professional agencies out there that do more detailed reports of sports marketing, and provide their clients with ‘sponsorship impact measurements’.

The information I provide is basic: how many times were the drivers seen on-screen, starting with the Invocation of the race, and ending with the waving of the checkered flag. NASCAR fans might be interested to know that Jimmie Johnson, ‘08’s Champion, was focused on 3,162 times; while Robby Gordon, ending lowest in points of all of the full-time drivers starting in 36 races, was shown 532 times. Not many folks would be surprised to learn that Chad Knaus remains the Crew Chief that the networks love to observe, with 150 focuses; next up was Bob Osborne, with 72.

Beside each driver is the number of times he was focused on. In parentheses are the numbers I recorded in 2007, but please note that it was not for the full-season. I only began keeping records of the driver focuses in April. From here on, though, I will have full seasons worth of data to share with you to peruse and compare, God willing.

Have fun comparing the focuses in any way you want to, but take a moment to look at the stats not always from a fan’s point-of-view, but a potential sponsor. In these economic times, every individual and entity wants the most bang for their buck, as we all know.

SEASON TOTALS:

Car No. / Driver / Focus Total in ’08 / (Focus Total in ’07—partial season)

(48) Jimmie Johnson – 3,162 (906)
(88) Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2,857 (763)
(99) Carl Edwards – 2,709 (461)
(18) Kyle Busch – 2,687 (566)
(24) Jeff Gordon – 2,338 (928)
(20) Tony Stewart – 2,097 (604)
(11) Denny Hamlin – 1,769 (507)
(17) Matt Kenseth – 1,654 (579)
(31) Jeff Burton – 1,587 (352)
(16)Greg Biffle – 1,530 (194)

delow24 said...

I agree in part. There are a lot of drivers who don't deserve the attention. Take Earnhardt Jr. as an example. He is never winning, but we are constantly shoved information about him and have to listen to Waltrip calling him "Junebug" all race. I also hate when they are focusing on just one car for several minutes when no one is around them racing. It is an obvious ploy to get ad time for the sponsor. This time could be spent showing someone else actually racing in another part of the field. I don't care who it is or where they are, I would rather see some kind of race than one car plodding around the track.

Anonymous said...

You are never going to please everyone, so you go for the numbers. Of course you go for the front guys. You also go for the interesting stories, like Speed and Logano, Mayfield and Riggs, and the new Petty group.

The thought that Fox or ESPN don't know what is going on with the fans is crazy. Electronics gives them a ton of information. You see a video on their site of Jr or Kyle Busch, and see how many hits as opposed to say Terry Labonte.

Richard in N.C. said...

Knowing and caring are 2 different things, and EESPN has clearly demonstrated that they do not really care what racing fans think as clearly demonstrated by last fall's Phoenix switch - but then, of course, EESPN did invent modern sports broadcasting and are clearly much more knowledgeable than any mere fan.

Anonymous said...

Poole is just covering his rear.
He only covers and shoves down our throats the teams of HMS,RCR,and SHR.But!You have to understand...these are the teams NASCAR pays him to shove down our throats week after week.Poole couldn't even spell Roush after Daytona.Think about this when Jeff Burton and Mark Martin drove for Roush, Poole never wrote about them.
As soon as Burton went to RCR Poole proclaimed him the smartest driver in the sport.He now calls him the spokes person for Nascar.He will never admit that the team that benefitted the most in getting or losing Burton was Roush with Carl Edwards.And he still creates stories about Burton and shuns Edwards as much as possible.
Then we have Mark Martin...Poole wouldn't give Martin credit for washing his hands after using the bathroom when he drove for Roush.
Then he went to DEI.According to Poole it was the greatest move in NASCAR..Martin couldn't be any smarter.The when he moved to Pooles favorite team to write about (HMS) the manure got deeper and now Martin (according to Poole)is on his way to a championship.
Poole works for Nascar as do the rest of the media reporting on the so called sport.Thats why he only creates stories about certain teams,the same reason you only see certain teams on TV.NASCAR owns the TV and NASCAR owns Poole.
Now some drivers may not like Poole..and that could also be a reason he don't write about them.Go to youtube and type in David Poole...you'll see what I'm talking about.
My name is Wilbur and bring it on.

Monkeesfan said...

Some of the negative comments here are incredibly stupid. The fact that Mayfield and Riggs gained some spots in a race because of late race attrition is not relavent to anything. FOX had no duty to mention them because they weren't doing anything and haven't all season; they got far more coverage than they deserved to start with because they formed slapdash "new" teams and people wanted to believe the myth that "in this economy" it somehow was possible for a new team to sneak into the sport and actually accomplish something.

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