Backseat Drivers Fan Council

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Weighing in on TNT, Loudon and the Army

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<p> The Backseat Drivers Fan Council grades TNT's coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the race at New Hampshire and the US Army's decision to pull its funding from the sport.</p>

Few things fire up NASCAR fans more than TV coverage of the races. With the end of TNT’s six-race Sprint Cup stretch last weekend at New Hampshire, members of the Backseat Drivers Fan Council had a chance to judge TNT’s performance and offer critiques.

It wasn’t only TV that fired up the Council. Members opined on the Army leaving NASCAR and the New Hampshire race. Here’s what they had to say:


GRADING TNT’S COVERAGE FOR ITS 6 RACES

36.9 percent called it Fair
36.9 percent called it Poor
22.4 percent called it Good
3.7 percent called it Great

What Fan Council members said:
• The last few years, TNT's broadcasts have been the class of the field. I always looked forward to their "Summer Series.” This year I was left disappointed and, quite frankly, pissed. I understand that commercials are a necessary evil, but it just felt like there were WAY more than normal. Other than the commercial debacle, the coverage itself was very sub-par. The guys in the booth didn't really "call" the race. It was more like they were having a friendly conversation. The last few laps of the races didn't sound any different than the first few. I want the booth to CALL THE RACE ... make it sound exciting, even if it isn't. And the camera work ... no better than FOX. Way too much time spent zoomed in on a single car on the track.

• I went fair because the Wide Open coverage at Daytona makes up for a lot. I like their pre-race and post-race shows, and I really found myself enjoying the bits with Bill Elliott, Ned Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson. Larry Mac and Wally Dallenbach, despite their quirks, are strong points, however Adam Alexander is not a play-by-play guy and Kyle Petty doesn't shut up. Their graphics are decent but the delay of the "off pit road" feature bugged me. And as always, I like the "through the field" portions.

• Is there something below poor? Horrendous? They should change their slogan to “TNT Loves NASCommercials.”

• I understand that advertising pays the bills but TNT’s commercial-to-actual-race coverage ratio was horrible! Glad that was their final broadcast and it wouldn't hurt my feelings if they didn't come back.

• In my humble opinion, TNT's broadcast team is more knowledgeable and impartial than FOX's team. Adam Alexander brings a fresh voice and face to the sport. Yeah, granted their commercial coverage is ridiculous, but that seems to be the norm these days.

• Overall “Good.” I love the on-air personalities and they do a fantastic job of explaining the development of a race without overly injecting themselves into the call. I also am a huge fan of the Wide Open concept. The only reason I didn't give TNT an "A+" was the fact that the Kentucky broadcast, as well as the New Hampshire race, were just overrun with commercials. The first three races didn't seem to have that issue. Overall, I would rate the networks in this order: TNT = A-, Fox = D, ESPN (based on Nationwide coverage, as well as last year) = B.

• TNT is never my favorite stretch of the season, but this year was HORRIBLE. They didn't talk about action out on the track, they didn't update things after one of the 300 commercial breaks in the broadcast, and the camera coverage was awful. Sundays race had them focusing on Kyle Busch, who wasn't a factor after the 1st set of green-flag pit stops. It couldn't get any worse!

• They got it right a few times. The commercial issue is a given. I still like the commentators, the cut-away cars and how things work (but not in place of a live race screen). The track shots are great (when not at commercial).

• I thought TNT did a good job given the races they had. With the exception of Daytona, which they did a superb job with, they had nothing to work with. I still love the TNT booth much, much better that the FOX booth.

• Seriously, their race time vs. commercial time was a joke. Glad we are moving on to ESPN!

• I love Kyle and Wally, but TNT has no clue how to cover a race. Thank goodness for Twitter and MRN.

• Kyle (Petty) has definitely stepped it up, Wally is always great, and Adam is good at directing them and keeping them both in line. The entire sport had been hit hard and double-dumbed-down by the Waltrip boys over at FOX, so these three actually could do no harm. The TNT crew was more professional and most importantly, more knowledgeable. Mindless TWEETS on the other hand need to get the @#%@ off my screen! People have phones and tablets for tweets. Somebody needs to shoot that damned blue bird out of the sky so “Tweet” can join "Digger" in the roadkill department.

• Glad they are GONE! The verbiage did not match the video and the announcers are poor.

• Way too many commercials for anyone's tastes, as proven by a majority of folks on Twitter. I love the TNT "Inside Trax" feature, but other than that TNT wasn't good.


WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE ARMY LEAVING NASCAR AFTER THIS SEASON WITH THE ARMY CLAIMING IT DIDN’T GET AS GOOD A RETURN ON INVESTMENT?

66.4 percent said it was a bad move
17.3 percent said it was a good move
16.3 percent said they didn’t care

What Fan Council members said:
• I think it’s sad to see things that bring the soldiers joy get cut to save a buck,

• (The Army) has to do what's best for them. I just don't understand why all the NASCAR media can't help with the sponsorship situation. Sponsors aren't getting enough attention, yet we usually have three hours of pre-race coverage. Rather than hashing and rehashing everything that's already been hashed and rehashed all week, why can't they run through ALL the cars, show the paint schemes, and let the drivers give their sponsor pitches. Just stop being selfish and stuck in the old ways of insisting on sponsor revenue for every mention. And print/internet media can mention sponsors more when referring to the drivers and cars. People whine about Mikey (Waltrip) always promoting his sponsors, but he's a sponsor's dream. We should have more like him — fans need to just shut up and accept it as a necessity for the sport to prosper. There have been so many times when someone announces a new sponsor and paint scheme but you never get a good look at it on TV. Everyone needs to give a little so the drivers can give their sponsors some airtime, and in turn the sponsors will be more willing to support the teams.

• If ROI is not there Army should pull its sponsorship.

• The Army can paint the picture with whatever brush strokes they so desire. But, the fact is a pig is a pig, and this was a move prompted by political persuasion.

• I hate to see the Army leave. My biggest question is how can they tell exactly what their ROI is per advertiser?

• With all the horrible waste of money by our government, it’s hard to believe that they can't determine that NASCAR and its fans are among the most loyal in supporting all our troops. Wait a minute, on second thought it is our government that can't pass or balance a budget!!

• Not gonna save me any tax money either way.

• My gut tells me it was politically motivated. I've always wondered what kind of person sees a display at the race track and thinks "that's it, I'll join." Almost like, "Hey hold my beer, I'm going to sign up!" That's a little frightening to me. My gut also tells me that those funds would be better suited to spend on our active soldiers. Maybe to help them out when they come home after having put there lives on hold for years. Unfortunately, the third thing my gut tells me is that money will just be squandered in a different way. The bad news is our government sucks. The good news: it's still better than anyone else's. Pretty sad.

• Very shortsighted indeed. It’s a bit of a slap in the face to a sport that does so much for the military families...

• I'm a Veteran and I think the military sponsoring racecars is a huge waste of the taxpayer's dollars.

• It's disappointing because no other sport honors the military like NASCAR, but I have quit caring about sponsor coming and goings. The politics of sponsors and owners gets on my nerves as much as actual politics.

• I think the military sponsorship is just a difficult ROI to gauge. Without giving each signed recruit a survey to ascertain if NASCAR influenced their decision to enlist, there is no other way to make the determination. While I loved seeing the military involved in our sport, I believe they should give enlistment bonuses with that sponsorship money.

• I am from Minnesota and ashamed of our Congresswoman who disapproves of military sponsorship in NASCAR. The monies will be spent somewhere (else) so it will not save government anything. I believe the Army is making a mistake.


GRADING SUNDAY’S CUP RACE AT NEW HAMPSHIRE MOTOR SPEEDWAY

48.5 percent called it Good
34.7 percent called it Fair
8.6 percent called it Great
8.2 percent called it Poor

What Fan Council members said:
• Threats of rain coming, the wild card race/Race to the Chase, Hamlin's mistake, and the last 50 laps kept me on the edge of my seat.

• I was so bored watching this race that I stopped watching 40 laps from the end and I almost never miss the end of a race unless I have to be somewhere.

• No passing my @$$. Did you see Denny's drive back to the front? Wish he would've caught Kasey! Would've been a heck of a race for it.

• Only thing keeping me from grading this as “poor” were the storylines throughout the day, such as: Could Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch battle back from their respective slip ups on pit road and how would Sam Hornish do in his first full week behind the wheel of the 22? Outside of that, the race was pretty much a snooze-fest to me.

• I just hate that the drivers don't really race until the end. Anymore, I watch the start and then head to whatever project I've got going and then watch the last 20 laps.

• Wasn't the most exciting of races, as passing was tough, but I enjoy these races more than the cookie cutter intermediate tracks.

• It’s never a good race when one car checks out and there aren't many cautions so that the rest of the field can adjust their cars. Now I see why phantom cautions get called.

• If not for the charge by (Hamlin) at the end, this would not have been rated as high as “good.” People are trying to blame TNT for presenting a boring race. Well, it WAS a boring race. If it were presented on FOX, DW would try to convince us it was exciting. It wasn't — it was boring and TNT gave it to us!

• The best part was watching Denny Hamlin mow through the field. Other than that, (it was an) average race.

• There were comers and goers, passes being made, pit lane and strategy problems which all made for a really good race. This was another example that a race doesn't have to be a caution- and wreck-fest to be a good.


The Backseat Drivers Fan Council was founded and is administered by Dustin Long. Fans can join by sending Dustin an email at dustinlong002@gmail.com.

Please include the following information:
Name, city, state, Twitter name, e-mail address and favorite driver.

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