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WHAT TO EXPECT OF DAYTONA TV COVERAGE

Five things NASCAR fans are likely to enjoy about race coverage on Fox, FX and Fox Sports Net:

Darrell Waltrip: A three-time Winston Cup champion, he moves from the driver's seat to the booth and will be the breakout star of the new TV package if he doesn't lose the outspoken personality he had as a driver.

Feel the noise: A trademark of Fox Sports' coverage of other professional sports has been its ability to bring the sounds of the game to the viewer at home. Fox has 75 microphones planted around the track at Daytona to help translate the experience of being there to the viewer.

All-access passes: NASCAR is making it clear to its drivers and crew chiefs that the new television partners expect them to be accessible before and after the race. Fox won't have a lot of interview requests turned down.

Remember last week: Having one company do the first half of the season and two related companies do the second allows the broadcasters to start and finish story lines that might last more than one weekend. Fans won't be left hanging because the race is on a different network.

A friendly reminder: You won't have any problem remembering where the next race will be telecast. Future coverage will be promoted within each race and Fox and NBC have also been heavily promoting NASCAR coverage in other programs.

Five things you might not like about the coverage:

The ticker: At least until you get used to it, the ticker crawling across the top of the screen can be distracting. Maybe this one will grow on us.

Rounding off: In Daytona 500 qualifying and practice coverage, Fox has rounded off lap speeds to two places, as in 181.56 mph. NASCAR timing and scoring uses three places, as in 181.557 mph. Fox needs to be consistent with NASCAR, since a tie isn't a tie unless it's tied to the third decimal place.

Tower of Babble: With three announcers in the booth, three more in a studio downstairs and four reporters roaming the pits, too many people are talking at us. It's hard to keep up with who's saying what.

Not on my TV it's not: FX and Fox Sports Net aren't as widely distributed as ESPN and ESPN2, so some fans might miss some of the coverage until they can convince their cable operators to add them.

It's not ESPN: It's a basic fact: People don't particularly like change.

"Front Row" Joe Nemechek found himself in a familiar position Wednesday, as the pole sitter for the season-opening Busch Grand National race.

Nemechek will start the NAPA Auto Parts 300 on Saturday next to his new teammate and employee, two-time Grand National champion Randy LaJoie. Pontiacs took the top five spots.

Nemechek sped around the 2.5-mile oval at Daytona at 186.966 mph to win the pole, while LaJoie was a full 1.27 mph slower.

Could it be a one-two finish for Nemechek and his newest Grand National entry?

"That would be great if we could hook up and get away from everybody else," LaJoie said. "But you take the tape off and get in race trim, and everyone has a chance to win."

News Wire Services contributed to this report

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