News & Media

Six Pack: Petty oversaw plenty of change in Summer Series

July 19, 2011, Joe Menzer,

Kyle Petty, former driver and current NASCAR television analyst for TNT, answers this week's six questions.

1. Now that the NASCAR on TNT Summer Series has concluded, how do you think it went?

"One thing that's happened in these six races is that the complexion of the Chase has changed dramatically. "


Petty: I think it went really well, on a number of levels. We started with Pocono and Michigan, where you've got a couple of races that aren't typically the greatest races on the race track. They never have been. So let's be honest about that.

But our ratings were good ... and we had some great races. The one at Sonoma was a great race, then we went to Daytona for wide-open coverage and then we had the enhanced sound at Kentucky. I like to work with these guys -- because they try to think outside the box a little bit. They don't just put on a race and expect you at home to say, 'Oh, that's what the other networks do.' They try to think outside of that a little bit.

2. What storylines jump out at you that occurred during the six TNT races?

Petty: One thing that's happened in these six races is that the complexion of the Chase has changed dramatically. We've had a couple of different winners -- obviously David Ragan being one of them -- who now have a chance to get into the Chase not necessarily on points. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has fallen in our races. The points lead has changed a couple of times.

It's that time of year when teams have to really grind. You look at what [Kevin] Harvick's done; you look at what the 99 car [of Carl Edwards] has done. Some of these guys have established themselves as contenders -- and they're going to be there in the Chase. Some of these guys have fallen back; even with Tony Steawart you're wondering is he even going to make the Chase. And all of this has happened during our six races.

3. How has Twitter impacted the race broadcast?

Petty: It's been really good. I like it. People will send stuff in and I'll scroll. I try to read everything I can, but you can't answer everything. ... But race fans, if you're an avid Kevin Harvick fan, they may ask why did Kevin go from 10th or 11th to 25th on that last pit stop. We may not have covered that. So we can circle back around to [pit reporter] Marty Snider and say, 'What happened to the 29?'

So you figure it out and you say something on the broadcast about it and later you might look like a hero because someone on Twitter first brought it to your attention. That part of the social media, when you start looking at it, makes you realize that just because we've got 40-some cameras and whatever, we don't see the whole race, either. We don't pick things out as specifically as you might if you're a Harvick fan or a Tony fan or whatever. It's pretty cool to interact with fans who pick certain things up about their drivers during the race.

4. Because sometimes you guys in the booth are looking at a bigger picture?

Petty: That's right. So they see things that they can bring to our attention, and hopefully we can answer their questions on-air, eventually, even if we can't directly to respond to them [via Twitter].

5. You mentioned thinking outside the box. What did some of the innovations like the added microphones and enhanced audio that were tried at Kentucky add to a telecast?

Petty: I enjoyed a lot of it. Sometimes when a pit stop happens, and a pit reporter is talking over it, you lose the true artistry of what a pit stop is. But when you hear that guy run around the car and grunt as he hits his knees, and you hear that air gun, that's good. I'm not sure we need to do that every pit stop, because we do need to be informative, but I think it adds something to it.

The cars coming in, the cars braking, the in-car cameras of the guys down-shifting and trying to find their pit boxes and some of that stuff, I really like that. It's another layer that really no one else has done.

The wide-open coverage at Daytona was cool. Even as the commercials were going on, we were in the booth talking. You're hearing the commercial at home -- but if something happens, they shut the commercial off and it's like the [coverage] of the race never stopped. We're still going.

6. What do you hear from fans about RaceBuddy?

Petty: The comments I get from fans on Twitter about RaceBuddy, well, they love it. Again, it's just another layer of information. If I'm sitting at home, watching a race, and all I'm hearing is what Wally [Dallenbach] and Kyle [Petty] and the pit reporters are saying, I get that view of it. If I'm watching it on TV and also with RaceBuddy [via a computer], you're getting some enhanced audio and you're seeing two or three different angles and you're on Facebook or Twitter interacting with others who are doing the same, your experience of that race is broadened.

I think that's going to be the future not just of this sport, but all sports. It's not just going to be guys running up and down the basketball court in the NBA Finals. It's not going to be just a baseball game. There is going to be so much more to bring the fans closer to all sports, and this is part of that. It's really amazing.

It's so interactive. You can be doing a race in New Hampshire, and some guy in Washington state might see something he doesn't understand. And he can directly have access to the guys in the booth or a producer in the truck. He can ask, 'Why did this happen?' And you can answer him. Then that guy in Seattle says, 'Yeah, he answered my question.' When you can make that connection with a fan, that's huge for any sport.