Hood: Cup Gets Shuffled To The Rear By TV
By Jeff Hood | Senior Writer
If memory serves me correctly, the late Davey Allison injured his wrist by pounding his fist against the team hauler following a Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway in the early 1990s.
Realizing he had a car capable of winning, the second-generation driver from Alabama was livid that he been shuffled out of the lead and relegated to a finish outside of the top 10.
It turns out that many NASCAR fans across the country experienced a similar frustration Saturday night when they tuned in for ABC’s coverage of the Irwin Tools Night race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
According to a release floated to the media late least week, nine ABC affiliates were scheduled to air alternate programming in place of one of the year’s most-anticipated NASCAR events.
In each instance, NASCAR was bumped in favor of preaseason football with the exception of WXYZ in Detroit, which aired its annual coverage of the annual Woodward Dream Cruise.
It turns out that seven of the affiliates aired coverage of the race on its DT2 (Digital Tier 2) channel or on an alternate network. Those markets were Detroit, Houston, Richmond, Weslaco, Tex., Madison, Wi, LaCross, Wi. and Wausau, Wi.
The release stated that the race would not air in Joplin, Mo.
However, the Kansas City Chiefs preseason game wound up being broadcast on KSN, the NBC affiliate in Joplin, while the race was shown live on KODE, the station that airs ABC programming in the hometown of Cup driver Jamie McMurray.
The Bristol night race never made it on the television airwaves in St. Joseph, Mo.
That is unless you subscribe to DirecTV, which gives you the opportunity to watch in-car camera shots and listen to the audio of five different drivers and their teams each week.
It’s the equivalent of determining the player to be named later in a multi-player baseball trade.
After spending the entire day in Bristol last Friday, I drove home late that night and wound up watching Saturday evening’s 500 lapper on a television at a nearby gym.
Or at least that was the plan around 7 p.m.
While turning laps of my own on a treadmill, I anxiously awaited for the conclusion of a Little League baseball game airing on the Worldwide Leader, better known as ESPN, and the magical moment when Bristol Motor Speedway, 43 cars and more than 150,000 fans come to life.
I just happened to recall glancing at the minute-by-minute schedule a day earlier and realized the engines were about to fire on pit road.
How could this be happening? One of NASCAR’s marquee events was being about to be pre-empted by a bunch of 12-year-old kids from Taiwan (or somewhere like that)?
Then it dawned on me. There was no program alert at the bottom of the screen.
I immediately switched over to the ABC affiliate in Atlanta and there was Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 Chevrolet leading the field to the green.
I know realize that 14 of the final 17 Cup races this season will air on ESPN. The other three, night races in Bristol, Richmond and Charlotte, will be broadcast on ABC.
With all the talk about a consistent television package that makes it easy for the fans to find the race each weekend, wouldn’t it have made more sense for ESPN to air all 17 races down the stretch?
That would prevent the gearheads in Weslaco, Tex. from being on pins and needles on a Saturday night in October while wondering if they’re about to witness NASCAR racing from Charlotte or a calf roping and bull riding exhibition on their local ABC affiliate.
(Note: This story has been updated from an earlier version with new information)
– Jeff Hood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments