NASCAR Sprint Cup Starts '12 Season With Bud Shootout Overnight Up 3%
Fox earned a 4.0 overnight Nielsen rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Budweiser Shootout on Saturday night, up 3% from last year’s race. The telecast was the top-rated program of the day and gave Fox a win in primetime among all nets (Austin Karp, THE DAILY). In Tampa Bay, Tom Jones writes Fox' NASCAR coverage “is so good, you can't help but watch.” It is “right up there with NBC's NFL and NHL coverage, HBO's boxing broadcasts and ABC/ESPN's college football coverage as the finest in sports broadcasting.” Fox' NASCAR analysts “are a little too pro-NASCAR,” but they are “enthusiastic, and the production is exceptional, especially if you are watching on a high-definition TV.” The camera work Saturday night “on the crash that ended Jeff Gordon's night as well as the thrilling photo finish was as good as anything you're going to see on sports TV.” Fox has added “a bunch of bells and whistles to a broadcast that was already as good as it gets” (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 2/20). Meanwhile, in Jacksonville, Robert McGinty writes the NASCAR season “can be something of a grind,” and most of the races “are agonizingly long.” But Saturday night’s race “is a little bit different,” as it is “just 75 laps with a made-for-TV coffee break 25 laps in.” McGinty writes NASCAR “should take a closer look” at the Shootout format as fans “got everything they wanted in half the time with the dull bits saved for another race” (JACKSONVILLE.com, 2/20).
MYERS OUT FOR DAYTONA: Fox Sports VP/Communications Dan Bell announced that NASCAR studio host Chris Myers “wouldn’t be involved in the Daytona 500 coverage Sunday and would be replaced by Speed Channel studio host John Roberts.” USA TODAY’s Michael Hiestand notes Myers’ 19-year-old son Christopher was “killed in a car crash in Southern California Thursday.” The memorial service will be Friday in L.A. (USA TODAY, 2/20). Myers' absence from the Budweiser Shootout coverage was addressed at the top of the broadcast, with Roberts saying, “We are all here with very heavy, heavy hearts.” Fox’ Darrell Waltrip said to Myers, “I just want you to know we’re all standing with you, we love you, we miss you, we’re praying for you. Godspeed to you and the family.” Waltrip’s condolences were followed by a brief moment of silence, and a live shot of the track fading to a picture of Christopher Myers and the words, “Christopher Myers, 1992-2012” (“Budweiser Shootout,” Fox, 2/18). Meanwhile, in Charlotte, Jim Utter noted Motor Racing Network’s Barney Hall “is recuperating from an illness and will not be calling any races at Daytona” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 2/18).