By admin | November 8, 2009
By Richard Allen
One place you will probably never see the ABC/ESPN crew that covered Sunday’s Dickies 500 is at the final table of the World Series of Poker championship. In recent weeks they have had a bit of trouble hiding their emotions. In other words, they have not had their poker faces on.
When Jimmie Johnson spun and crashed early in the going at the Texas Motor Speedway it seemed pretty apparent by the tones of the voices of those describing the action that they were at least relieved if not excited that the outcome of the Sprint Cup championship would not be a foregone conclusion going into the last two races of the season.
I am not saying the television announcers were glad to see Johnson crash, but I am saying they were glad there was actually a championship contest coming out of Texas. If anyone doubts that, just go back and count the number of times they made reference to the misfortune of the #48 car during the remainder of Sunday‘s telecast.
Last week in Talladega, this same crew came under fire from NASCAR for telling the truth about the poor racing and the strange decision by the sanctioning body to impose a new policy on drivers about an hour before the drop of the green flag.
On more than one occasion this season, the announcers have made no mystery that they would like to see a caution displayed in the waning laps of the races they cover so that the field might be bunched for an exciting finish. And when that caution invariably would come out after their pleas were heeded by NASCAR the joy in their voices was quite often unmistakable.
Again, I’m not saying the ABC broadcast crew wanted Jimmie Johnson to crash. However, they are keenly aware that it is easier to promote a battle for the championship that goes down to the wire than to promote a driver’s leisurely cruise to a fourth consecutive title. And more, this piece was not written to necessarily criticize the broadcast crew. I like people who say what they think rather than what they think will be the least offensive. I appreciated the fact that they said what they thought in Talladega. Also, if I were involved in the broadcast business I would want a close championship battle as well.
But one thing to remember about Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty is to not look for them during ESPN’s telecast of the WSOP championship. They do not hide their emotions very well. The last few weeks prove that.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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