Thursday, April 26, 2007

"NASCAR Now's" Erik Kuselias Steps Over The Line

"Why this place could be wild...and maybe dangerous if Jeff Gordon wins."

Those are the words of NASCAR Now show host Erik Kuselias broadcast on national television on Thursday, April 26, 2007.

Kuselias is speaking about Talladega, a fast track steeped in a tradition of big wrecks, exciting races, and strong feelings for the Earnhardts. He is not talking about three-wide racing, the tricky entry onto pit road, or a controversy about Goodyear tires.

He is trying to incite a riot.

This former sports radio talk show host has done everything possible to insult the sport of NASCAR during his tenure as the host of this show. He has posed hateful questions, forced ESPN analysts to "choose" one argumentative point or the other, and most recently has begun using the ESPN2 airwaves to suggest that violence and anger should play a more prominent role in NASCAR.

He believes this because of his love of stick-and-ball sports that regularly feature fights, ejections, and demeaning trash-talking. He knows bloody hockey fights, bench-clearing brawls in baseball, and NBA players going-after fans. This is the ugly world from which Kuselias has come. This year, he has been thrown into an entirely different group of people that he does not understand.

This group has very different values, a very different way of living, and a very different view of this country. Unfortunately, Kuselias has never met them, gone to a race with them, or respected them. They are NASCAR fans. To him, they are nothing.

For the past three months, Kuselias has treated the millions of NASCAR fans in North America as idiots. He knows absolutely nothing about the sport, and his only understanding of competition comes from the whiny millionaires of the stick-and-ball world. They bring their felonies, unwanted pregnancies, angry physical altercations, and endless steroid and drug problems to the field each-and-every day. And radio talk show hosts like Kuselias eat-it-up. They feed on it. They live for it. They even encourage it.

Now, Kuselias is in NASCAR. We have Tony upset after not winning, Montoya flipping the digit, and Junior taking over at DEI. No fights, no felonies, no gun shots, no strip clubs, and no steroids. Kuselias is lost. We have about forty-five drivers who live within thirty miles of each other and go fishing on Mondays in Lake Norman. We have the "guys" coming over and racing go-karts at Clint Boyer's place each week. We have crews that have Bible study before PT. We don't race on Easter.

This weekend, Jeff Gordon is one of forty-three drivers who have a chance to win the NEXTEL Cup race on Sunday. There will be strategy, competition, excitement, and lots of sheer luck involved in crossing the finish line ahead of the field. Families will picnic, camp in their RVs, and fill the grandstands for a fun race at a great track. These facts are lost on Erik Kuselias and the producers of NASCAR Now. They will not interview the fans. They will not show the reality of the NASCAR experience. ESPN cannot believe that other than racing...this really is...all there is.

Over the past two months, this desire by Kuselias to "create" something controversial has been documented in The Daly Planet time-and-time again. While hilarious and embarrassing to actual NASCAR folks, Kuselias is clearly trying to appeal to the same sports radio fans that chant obscene slogans, hurl objects, and make most professional football, hockey, and baseball games a nightmare for a family to attend.

Now, he has his eye squarely on Talladega. He has begun to pitch the scenario over-and-over again that if Gordon beats Earnhardt to-the-line, "something bad" just might happen. Of course, NASCAR Now has replayed the "great beer can throwing incident" each and every time Kuselias "suggests" that "something" might happen. So, they even suggested what the "something" should be. What great guys.

How much lower and dirtier can ESPN2 and NASCAR Now get than suggesting that fans should misbehave and "harm" Jeff Gordon if he wins? Kuselias actually said that Talladega "might be dangerous if Jeff Gordon wins." On NASCAR Now, on national television, on a Thursday before the race.

Jeff Gordon is a stand-up guy. I have worked with him countless times on TV shows and races. He is funny, talented, and comes from a well-rounded family. The best part is, he can drive the wheels off anything that comes his way, and he chose NASCAR. Now, years later, he is still regarded as a threat every race week.

Erik Kuselias is a hack. He is a sleaze artist. He talks down to anyone associated with NASCAR, as if they live in a trailer and watch COPS a lot. He has bullied drivers, upset reporters, and angered fans with his arrogant and demeaning behavior. Now, he is suggesting that Jeff Gordon might be "in danger" if he wins, and passes Earnhardt Sr. in the record book. This cannot be allowed by NASCAR to "just pass by."

NASCAR is over fifty years old. The sport races from coast-to-coast, and demands that drivers and team members give their entire year to it. There are charities, fundraisers, and time-honored traditions that make America what it is today. Anyone who has witnessed the national anthem and a military fly-over at a NASCAR race on a sunny Sunday afternoon knows they are creating a lifetime memory with their family.

Simply put, it is time for Mr. Kuselias to take a long time-out from NASCAR Now. It should happen without any hesitation on ESPN's part, and it should happen right now. It should be quiet and personal and come from the most senior management at the network. Do it now, and the "NASCAR nation" will allow ESPN this mistake in their first year back to racing.

But, if ESPN leaves this man in-place after his threatening words and sleazy innuendos, they will have cemented their return to NASCAR as a total failure off the track.

Unfortunately, if there is a Yankees-Red Sox game on in the ESPN Newsroom, no one will probably notice this "little issue" with NASCAR. Of course, we already know that no one at ESPN cares.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click-on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for stopping-by.


Anonymous said...

Forget complaining to ESPN2. Tell us the names and email addresses to reach the sponsors of this drivel. That will get the word to ESPN2 that this type of hype is not appreciated and that they need to clean up their act.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

ESPN is obviously not going to get rid of their host, or they would have by now. I think you have many readers who are tired of hearing about how out of place Erik Kuselias is in the NASCAR world. Please change the subject.

kswheels said...

And you talk down to people who live in trailer parks. You're not better. By the way, if you really think NASCAR is morally superior to stick and ball sports, you aren't watching closely enough.

As sleazy as his comments are, they're not totally off base. Talladega fans love Junior and haven't hown themselves to be the most well behaved fans on the circuit.

Anonymous said...

Keep after 'em John. RPM tonight was a great show that I never missed. But I haven't been able to watch a complete broadcast of this current show since it came on. Poor Marty Smith and Stacy Compton.

Anonymous said...

Your coments the past few weeks about NASCAR NOW have been right on target. I only wish someone in charge would realize the fans won't put up with Kuselias much longer. I know when I see him hosting I turn the show off because I know there will be little information forth comming. Marty on the other hand passes on all the top stories with inside information. Marty and the rest of the crew keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I personally think you are completely wrong on this issue. I have been to a race before and there are some fans that just get too intoxicated to know the difference between right and wrong. I have seen beer bottles on the track amongst other things. What if someone decided to throw something much bigger and more dangerous because Gordon was in the lead and they didn't want to see him win and beat Dale's record on his own turf? How dangerous could that be? In this case, ESPN2 was reporting the facts and good news. Have you been to a race before? I have seen some strange things happen and it's not out of line to ask the question that Kuselias did. Honestly, if you feel that you can host or produce the show better, maybe you should go back to ESPN and if not show some respect.

Vince said...

Great article and I couldn't agree more. I have a DVR recorder and if I see Kuselias or Banks as the host when I play back the show later in the evening, I just fast forward until Marty Smith, Terry Blount, Shannon Spake, Angelique Chengelis, David Newton or Tim Brewer are on camera. They are the only reporters that have something informative and intelligent to say. Kuselias and Banks don't have a clue. Banks seems like a nice guy, but is really out of his element. Kuselias is just plain obnoxious and is always trying to stir up some controversy. You can tell his background is talk radio and that he was a lawyer by trade before some idiot decided to put a microphone in his face.

Is there an email address at ESPN that us NASCAR fans can use to send our complaints to the powers that be in ESPN?

This show has gotten worse as the weeks go by. How many times do we need to hear about Dale Jr. driving Buschs car? Or The DEI contract talks with Jr. Now they're going to beat the Jeff Gordon tying Dale Sr. wins thing to death. How about some real news? If there is not enough NASCAR news, do what RPM2Nite did, have an Open Wheel Wednesdays, etc. Tell us about the truck series or Busch series. What about ARCA? ESPN's brass need to get a clue and talk to us fans about what we want to see.

A few suggestions, knock off the Fact or Fiction segment. How stupid is that? Oh, and the pick em segment of one driver vs another every week. This is not a sport where one driver is against another. It is one driver against the track and all the other drivers!

My final thoughts on Kuselias is to take him to Talladega this weekend, strip him nekked, put a Jeff Gordon hat on him and let him off in the RV lot on Saturday night. Then he'd get his controversy!

Anonymous said...

I'm not a big fan of his but he is right on this one. I wouldn't take my family to Talladega. They might get hit by a beer can.

Anonymous said...

It is an opinion….. Just like it’s your opinion of what he said…. Don’t bring attention to it and it will go away.

Anonymous said...

I agree Whole heartedly.ESPN is sulleying its wonderful past relationship with NASCAR by having this shock jock any where near the race fans.He does not get it!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I agree about Eric whatshisname and Nascar Now. I dont even watch the show anymore. It took about 3 shows before I realized that I wasnt going to see anything different from this guy. Hes looking for the dirt side of the story because he has no idea about Nascar in general. Who the hell thought that the Nascar fan could associate with this guy?

Anonymous said...

I quit watching because of that hack kuselias. It was obvious from the first show that he had no clue about NASCAR. Why not allow someone like Marty Smith or, hell, even Allen Bestwick host it. They have credibility with NASCAR fans and this snake oil salesman doesn't.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed Kuselias on XM radio, but he is clearly out of his element on this show. I vote with my remote. Goodbye Erik


Anonymous said...

The guy has no background in racing and it shows on every show. I thought more of ESPN/ABC before this...

Yes, I have been to Talladega, Bristol and many others. I'd sooner stay away from Yankee Stadium.

NASCAR Now beats the non-stories to death. Their own pole indicated that only 10% of people didn't like the Gordon Earnhardt flag deal and yet they have three stories on it every night this week.

If Kuselias wants to continue to play the role of ignorant jerk then he should do it away from racing. Racing deserves better.

Anonymous said...

I was an avid follower of Kuselias when he was host of the SportsBash on ESPN the radio.

I can say that in that time I never heard him be intentionally mean spirited in the vein of some other sports radio or ESPN sports radio talking heads (like Cowherd for example)

Kuselias is a well educated, articulate sports commentator and I am a big fan.

I will preface this by saying I haven't regularly watched ESPN's daily NASCAR show - so I'm not sure how he is in this avenue. I was also a bit surprised to hear Kuselias took the gig as he NEVER talked about NASCAR on his show, remember I listened every day for the entire 3 hours.

Another hallmark of Kuselias was to take the role of "Devil's advocate", again not in an ignorant or mean spirited way, but to spark debate (remember he talks/entertains for a living).

Also - this is ESPN's first venture back into NASCAR since its popularity explosion, they're still working the "kinks" out. Give them time before totally passing judgement.

And another thing, as a #24 fan, don't forget the ugly can/liter/debris throwing incident when he won a few years back when they threw the yellow on the final lap. Its hard to get past that for some people.

Anyway, I was just trying to bring a different perspective/angle to this debate.

Anonymous said...

they(ESPN) don't know what to do with suckelias. maybe he can do water polo now, He sucks at everything they give him. He loves to thear the sound of his own voice.HEmust be related to someone at Disney

Anonymous said...

you guys need to chill the hell out....i kinda like the guy!

Anonymous said...

Screw NASCAR..!!!! Its a Red-Neck Sport(if you want to call it a Sport), in which you watch cars go around in circles, WOO-HOOO, dont wanna miss that..!! Thats NOT my idea of Sport.! Its no wonder Eric Kuselias breaks it down like he does, the "Sport" needs a kick in the butt. Its NOT exciting AT ALL, in fact its almost, if not just as boring as suffering through a Div. III Water-Polo match, and its really just a WASTE of GAS in my opinion. You keep doin what your doin Eric, us REAL Sporting fans are behind you 'all the way'..!!