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TV just can't win with some fans

INSIDE MOTORSPORTS

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Wednesday, Jul. 20, 2011

It appears ESPN has won the good graces of NASCAR fans – at least for now – after announcing this week it made some changes to its broadcast team in the Sprint Cup Series.

Veteran Allen Bestwick will move into the booth as the lap-by-lap announcer for all of ESPN’s Cup telecasts, which begin next week with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Nicole Briscoe, who has been a host and reporter for ESPN2’s “NASCAR Now” show will become the regular host of the pre-race “NASCAR Countdown” show for all Cup and Nationwide series broadcasts.

How long will the good vibe last?

Probably until Bestwick announces for the first time that the broadcast is cutting away for a commercial break.

It’s an almost impossible battle the TV networks that cover NASCAR wage each week with unhappy fans.

The complaints fans make most about TV broadcasts the networks have little ability to fix.

With no “natural” breaks in racing, TV will likely be at commercial break when some critical event happens in the race. Even during the breaks there are – cautions – fans want to see the pit stops that happen then, too.

TV networks never spend enough time covering (insert fans' favorite driver here). With 43 drivers, there’s no way every driver gets mentioned enough to please everyone.

TV spends too much time covering the leader OR too much time covering the racing in the back of the field. Which side you come down on depends on where your favorite driver is running at the time.

Don’t get me wrong. There are problems that can be – and are – corrected in TV broadcasts. Those include factual errors, keeping up with story lines as they develop in the race and keeping viewers up to date going to and coming back from commercial breaks.

Will changes to ESPN’s broadcast team produce a new era of goodwill between the network and NASCAR fans?

It will for a little while – the next Cup race isn’t until July 31.

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