Simply put, Phil Parsons' interview with Kevin Harvick after Sunday's race at Pocono made Fox's post-race coverage from Phoenix look like an Emmy winner.
Parsons, who was the topic of Jenna Fryer's Four Wide this week, is an analyst for the Speed Channel's coverage of the Camping World Truck Series and ARCA races. Plus, as we all know and have discussed before, he's owner of PRISM Motorsports (Dave Blaney and Michael McDowell), which start and parks in the Sprint Cup Series.
And yes, I know that ESPN has its own conflicts with Cup team owner Brad Daugherty and Nationwide Series team owner Rusty Wallace. But they are both analysts – people paid to give opinion and perspective. That's not what Parsons is being asked to do as a pit reporter. He's being asked to gather information and report it back to the viewers. So long as he's also at the track in the role of a team owner who has cars in the race he is covering, he can't be taken seriously in either role.
Sadly, Jenna Fryer's worst fears were realized.
With Harvick sipping a Coke on pit road, this was Parsons' big chance to show the world that he had the chops to be a good pit reporter. His first question, a generic one about the dustup on-track between Harvick and Logano was fine. It could have been a perfect set up to a follow-up.
Except that there was no follow up. After Harvick's one line response, Parsons said "Pretty good points day for you?" and then said something about how Pocono hasn't been Harvick's best track.
We don't know if that interview with Harvick was taped or live, so Parsons does have the benefit of the doubt about not asking about Logano's comments about Harvick because he may not have known about them at the time. But a start-and-park interview with Harvick about an incident that will be one of the most talked about moments in the 2010 Sprint Cup season is flat out inexcusable.
Had another TNT reporter been assigned to Harvick, we probably would have gotten a much better line of questioning. Instead, fans were unlucky enough to have Parsons -- who has no journalistic background outside of commentating in the booth -- assigned to Harvick and they paid for it dearly.
The Good: Well, there really wasn't much good. Adam Alexander found his groove as the race wore on, and he gets a mulligan anyway because this was his first race in the booth. TNT did a great job of talking about and showing us the pothole.
The Bad: After watching more and more replays of the Harvick and Logano incident, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach backed off their statements of the incident being Harvick's fault.
The Grade: F. I never thought I would be giving a F to any of the major networks for their Sprint Cup coverage this season, but Parsons' questioning singlehandedly made this grade a fail.