FOX Corners "It"

Chemistry is everything in racing.

Drivers, crew chiefs and team owners like to toss the phrase around when teams are working well and when they're failing.

It's a concept that gets talked about a lot, though is very hard to pin down. It's just something that happens. Jeff Gordon and Ray Evernham had it. Robin Pemberton and Rusty Wallace had it. Tommy Baldwin and Ward Burton have it.

Chemistry, of course, is like the magic "it" in Hollywood. People know it when they see it, yet they just couldn't explain exactly what "it" is. It's what makes some people stars and other's stand-ins.

The concept is no different in television and that's why the FOX telecasts of Winston Cup events are better than their counterparts on NBC.

FOX last year hit on a concept with Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip in the booth that produced "it" or chemistry, and that magic, that relationship remains there today.

This isn't a knock on NBC's telecasts by any measure. Based on their performance at Daytona, and for the last half of the 2001 season, the network puts on a smart, smooth telecast that gives viewers virtually everything they need.

What separates FOX from NBC, though is the chemistry.

Granted, we're only one race into the new season for each, and NBC's chemistry can get better, but FOX has more of it.

Benny Parsons and Alan Bestwick are both competent, qualified, talented broadcasters. Fact is, they both know about as much about racing as anyone. And Wally Dallenbach, a TV rookie last season, is getting better and is still able to provide a current view of the race cars.

The trouble is, while they're each good on their own, together they just don't sing, they lack, well "it."

On FOX, though, Waltrip, Joy and McReynolds work together like a finely tuned engine, providing different perspectives on a variety of elements.

Indeed, at Rockingham, Joy, who once had to carry every telecast in the past, now sits back and lets McReynolds and Waltrip share their knowledge. To that end, Joy knows exactly how to poke and prod his boothmates to get good answers or commentary.

And Waltrip and McReynolds, because of their pasts as a driver and crew chief, deliver... often providing alternate views of the same situation.

"If I'm calling in and saying I'm slipping around the race track, what are you going to do?" Waltrip asked after mentioning the handling goes away at Rockingham. "I'm probably going to work on the air pressure," McReynolds said.

While providing basic information, the two guys offered up an informative look from inside the car and out at the same situation. All the while, Joy let the experts deliver the inside stuff.

And in another sign of having "it," FOX' boothmates tend not to talk over each other, which is an example of how well they work together. In a live telecast, that shorthand is hard to come by and they've mastered it.

Now, that isn't to say everything is perfect. Waltrip, at times, can get a little excited and goofy, but that's become part of his on-air personality.

Early on in Sunday's telecast, Waltrip pulled a few songs out, which tend to go over like bad jokes at Atlantic City. Yet, his solid work throughout the rest of the broadcast more than makes up for the silliness.

FOX continued on Sunday to provide bold, informative graphics, good in-car shots, and useable details throughout. FOX's way of identifying cars on the track, with lines pointing to the vehicles leading to cartoon-like bubbles on top with track info, work well.

One downside, though, is FOX's running order across the top of the screen, which seems to go a bit fast at times.

Minor quibbles aside, this is the FOX to chase for NASCAR coverage.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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