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Countdown begins for ESPN Anchor Paul Page

Countdown begins for ESPN Anchor Paul Page

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Published by Phillip Gary Smith
Legend radio and television announcer, Paul Page, announced his retirement from NHRA broadcasting; this article carries that theme into the world of drag racing's championship run called "The Countdown."
Legend radio and television announcer, Paul Page, announced his retirement from NHRA broadcasting; this article carries that theme into the world of drag racing's championship run called "The Countdown."

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Published by: Phillip Gary Smith on May 02, 2013
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05/02/2013

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Media Matters: Countdown begins for ESPN Anchor PaulPageIn the epicenter of walleye fishing, ESPN broadcaster PaulPage is given the hook.That’s what happened in Brainerd, casting a pall for a fewdays prior to the television shows produced at the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals in this Minnesota resort area.Casually viewing the broadcasts, though, one would never notice any changes at all were underway. No doubt somerecall that less than a year ago the Sunday morning raceshow, a staple for years, was cut loose, too. Page was not a part of that program.Whether by edict, design or just the inherent professionalism of the on-air personalities and productionstaff congregated in their own “zoo”—the nickname for the boisterous trackside camping—the race patter movedquickly ahead with, perhaps, relief the show could finallystart.On television sets, color me yellow was the paint of the dayfor those on the countdown bubble, lime remained theshade for those safely in, while black signified those left tothe spoiler’s role.As these things go, the race for pro classes working throughthe brackets’ maze became synced with Page’s yellow
 
status: are we going to survive the Countdown? Or, will we be lame ducks until season’s end? Early in the broadcast Page delivered an overture for theracers competing to win the race or capture a slot in thechampionship hunt:“Pressure gets in your way . . . eight rounds left to make theTop 10 in points.” By happenstance, eight events were leftin Page’s broadcast-ending countdown.Two Top Fuel teams battling one another just to make theCountdown to the Championship led top-end reporter, GaryGerould, to remark “This could be a very pivotal day.”While Bob Vandergriff’s C&J Energy dragster fought toretain their qualified spot, Clay Millican’s Parts Plus rideworked to oust them.Gerould pointed out the tantalizing possibility of the twomeeting in the quarterfinals if only they could make it outof the opening set. If only . . . .There’s a reason teams are battling at this late stage in the point’s battles just to grab one of the coveted spots: they’renot yet up-to-par with the top teams.After David Grubnic’s Optima Batteries entry sent Millican back “Walking in Memphis” as the song goes, Millican
 
admitted a need to step up performance when he said we’renot ready to run Elapsed Times of 3.70s.Vandergriff ran a competitive ET of 3.844 seconds yet theMatco Tools dragster of Antron Brown won the round witha holeshot that demonstrated the tree is one of commonways teams can lose in drag racing.The conditions Page described as “one beautiful day” led toother common ways to lose like tire spin affecting manyteams, particularly point’s leader Spencer Massey’s Framdragster.The last driver to lose in the first round this year, thethought occurred after Massey was gone: the odds haveincreased for something special happening in this class.In the meantime Cory McClenathan, not in the point’schase, took his Uplift Cranes dragster to the team’s onlyround-win of 2012, even leaving on starting-line ace ShawnLangdon’s Al-Anabi machine.Mark it down, surprise upsets count as a loss.McClenathan seemed nonchalant when his ‘chute didn’tdeploy: “Look at Cory,” exclaimed commentator MikeDunn, “No parachute and he’s still pumping his fist.”Though his broadcasting pal is about to limit-out, Dunnmissed no bites to his bobber this weekend.

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