The Final Word – Saturday at Phoenix was nothing like Sunday at Phoenix

[media-credit name=”Simon Scoggins” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]They looked similar, with the same track and cars that appeared comparable. However, where the Nationwide race at Phoenix on Saturday was brutally boring, the televised action Sunday kept one interested from start to finish. So, what was the difference?

Fans tuned in Saturday primarily to see how Danica Patrick might perform as she competed in the second race of the circuit’s season. Daytona was not kind, and while she managed to finish this one, no small feat, the fact she was three laps down to finish 21st kind of dulled any sense of anticipation. However, even with the 29-year old raven haired beauty a non-factor, you would have hoped the action would be enough to carry the day.

Sunday, same track, and we had Kevin Harvick leading the way when Kyle Busch was not. As they thundered to a conclusion, Harvick was chasing down Denny Hamlin with a couple of laps to go when the gas gauge hit empty. Hamlin won, Happy coasted to second, as Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson, and Brad Keselowski hit the line ahead of the aforementioned Mr. Busch. If nothing else, Johnson is now out of minus figures in the standings, and even a 14th place result for Dale Earnhardt Jr was not bad considering he was outside the Top Twenty most of the day.

American Muscle

Both races featured cars finding the short cut through the old dog-leg, flying down to the apron and popping back up before the corner. It looked exciting Sunday, not so much Saturday. Why? Well, it could be something as simple as the difference between watching a Major League baseball game and one from the minors. One has the A-team, the other does not. Saturday’s camera shots failed to match the broadcast on Sunday. One was visually exciting, the other was not. One featured announcers that were entertaining, informative, and knowledgeable while the other did not. I like Allan Bestwick, and he shined on that old Inside Winston Cup show, but as a race announcer he comes across like an over eager kid, while Mike Joy has the voice and a real chemistry with his two cohorts. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are not bad, but they pale against the likes of Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Chris Myers and the Waltrip brothers are worth listening to, while Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty bring nothing to the table. Nothing.

Same track, similar racing, totally different results for the television viewer. Sunday kept me watching, Saturday saw the PVR get a work out. Even if I weren’t a fan, Sunday’s action gave me a good reason to watch the action coming up in Las Vegas. Saturday gives me reason to fire up the Sirius radio or tape the race and watch in high speed instead of high def.

Now, it would be no big deal, except later this season the FOX crew gets replaced doing the Cup side by the not ready for prime time folks at ESPN/ABC. After watching Saturday, I thought the action last Sunday would be terribly dull. I was pleasantly surprised that it was not. At least I know going into this weekend that while the NASCAR action on Sunday might take up a good four hours of my time, Saturday…maybe one. Enjoy the week.

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  1. I think comparing the Daytona race broadcasts elicits even more difference. All ESPN could manage at the finish was a pregnant pause, something from Bestwick once he figured out what’s going on, and a useless “unbelievable” from Dale Jarrett.


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