Monday, May 21, 2007

One Hour Of "NASCAR Now" Does Not Double The Pleasure

A while back, ESPN2 expanded the Monday edition of NASCAR Now. The press release mentioned the fact that a one hour show on Mondays would give NASCAR Now the opportunity to recap all the NASCAR racing from the weekend, give fans more news, and present more behind-the-scenes coverage. In fact, it has turned out that the Monday hour has only done one thing for ESPN2. It has doubled the amount of commercials that fans must watch to see the same information.

This Monday, ESPN decided that the Craftsman Truck Series did not exist. Despite the fact that there was no Busch Series race, ESPN decided that they would fill almost the entire hour of NASCAR Now with NEXTEL Cup "All-Star" hype. It did not matter that the Trucks put on a great show right there in Charlotte on Friday night. Right there where the ESPN reporters were standing. Right in front of them.

Ron Hornaday pulled off one of his classic re-starts to beat the likes of Mark Martin, Ted Musgrave, and Kyle Busch. The race was live on SPEED under the lights and was much more exciting than the newly formatted All-Star Challenge. NASCAR Now viewers should have seen a full-length highlights package, and then heard interviews with the winner, and several others who had good stories to tell. They got nothing.

Instead, Erik Kuselias was alone on the set for a full hour of disjointed "hype" about everything from the Busch brothers to Juan Montoya. Somehow, even after all these disasters on Mondays, NASCAR Now continues to shoot itself in the foot. This show featured nothing but Kuselias and Boris Said. Kuselias "hyped," and Boris translated things back into reality. "600 miles!" Kuselias screamed when talking about the next race. "What do you do to get ready?" Boris before you get in the car...because you get hungry. Now, that's drama and insight.

Often times, when there is a Busch Series race on ESPN2, NASCAR Now will not show highlights on Monday. They began this practice a long time ago, and have stuck with it. Let's remind ourselves, these are highlights of their own race, on the same channel, at the same network. Does the left hand vs. right hand joke fit here?

With three ESPN announcers in the booth, four on pit road, two in the infield set, and a multi-hour telecast of every Busch race, you think the network might like to...see it again in highlight form. In the old days, the booth announcers would provide a "wrap-up" of the night after the show was off the air specifically for other ESPN news shows. Interviews would also be "fed" so that there would be new content when it came time to put together the highlight package. If we could do this when I worked at ESPN in 1985, what might be the problem in 2007?

For the past couple of months, The Daly Planet has been hammering away at the "Bristol Boys" that NASCAR has several outstanding regional touring series. Today, NASCAR Now finally caved and invited young Joey Logano on for a live interview. Logano had just edged out All-Star winner Kevin Harvick to win a combined division Grand National race. It was in front of a sell-out crowd at Iowa Speedway on Sunday. The kid is sixteen.

Unfortunately, Erik Kuselias did not know Joey Logano from the man-in-the-moon. His questions of this youngster were absolutely embarrassing. Logano has a great story, great connections with top drivers helping him, and a super future in the sport. The stuttering and stammering Kuselias was forced to ask ridiculous questions like "did you ask Harvick for half of his million dollars?" Every second in a limited TV interview is precious, and Kuselias should have let Boris Said handle this interview. It was very clear from the start that a sixteen year old "boy" was talking over the head of Kuselias with every racing term he used. Logano said he won by "saving his stuff until the end." The look on Kuselias face told the true story. Logano could have been speaking Chinese. Kuselias has no clue to "stuff."

As we reported yesterday, NASCAR is going to have to pow-wow with ESPN pretty soon. We are beginning the time of the year when every decision about what highlights, interviews, and features to show on NASCAR Now will be remembered and critiqued. The play time is over. Fans want to see Busch and Truck highlights on Mondays, they want to know what happened after the race. They want information on the Grand National, Modified, and Busch Regional touring series. They want feature reports prepared on the people behind-the-scenes. Basically, they want what you promised ESPN. This is our sport, and you committed to cover it. Now do it.

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 taking the time to stop by.


Vroom! said...

I was watching the Lagano interview and was embarrassed for Kuselias. How do you get it and ESPN does not? NN needs to become a race show with race knowledgable hosts...their hype ain't hip!

Anonymous said...

Has anyone else noticed that ESPN won't refer to any race by its official name, including the sponsor? The Dodge Avenger 500 suddenly became the Nascar Nextel Cup Series at Darlington raceon Sportscenter and every other highlight show. They even did it with THEIR OWN Busch race, instead of it being called the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, ESPN refered to it as the Nascar Busch Series at Darlington presented by Coleman.

Joe from Philly said...

so when are they going to roll out Chris Berman and make their ESPN ego push complete????

Bill Haas said...

I can't add any to what you have said. You did a good job saying what many feel. I only hope the powers to be see this and do something about it. We won't get overnight changes, but a few will help.

Anonymous said...

I just want to know what they put in Erik's coffee. I actually had to look up a few times to see if he really was on drugs, or it was just the way he read the highlights of the All-Star race. I can't refer to specific examples because I don't record this travesty of a show, but if I didn't know better, it sounded like he knew something about racing in order to make a "joke".

The sad part was that instead of that being welcome, it was even more annoying than when he just woodenly reads the script. If he'd done it from the beginning, it'd be one thing. But this is weird and forced, and not really an improvement.

Anonymous said...

RIght on! Im sick of ESPN and the lack of talent in the booth and on its so called NASCAR Now show! What a joke. If it doesnt change soon I know I wont waste my time watching it. FOX has them beat hands down and ABC needs some work as well as they look like a FOX wanna be! I know im being harsh but DW and the gang over at FOX have everyone beat and at least know how to cover a race and explain whats going on. NASCAR needs to get rid of ESPN and ABC unless they can hie real talnet that knows racing and how to cover it.

TCBritt said...

that picture is great, he has an arrogant look on his face like, "ive got a great job, and i dont even know what the hell im doing, thanks ESPN"

Sue said...

I would also like to add that they (ESPN) have no post race coverage directly after the checkered flag is waved. You don't see any interviews with the finishers nor any celebraion on track or in Victory Lane. I have yet to see a back flip by Carl Edwards on ESPN after the race was won. He has won twice in Busch and I had to watch SPEED to see the celebration. They often bump the showing of pre-race activities, national anthem, etc. with tennis matches or other sport. They need a big overhaul with their qualifying coverage (visuals) as well as race coverage (show hosts). It took FOX a while to get it right, with all of our comments maybe ESPN will make appropriate changes.
Thanks for reporting what we think and feel.

Richard A. Hodgson said...

ESPN need's to dump this show and bring back John Kernen (sp?) host of RPMtonite.

Anonymous said...

How does ESPN continue to let this show go on? It's the worst sports related show on TV and a VERY BIG DISGRACE to NASCAR!!!

Anonymous said...

"with all of our comments maybe ESPN will make appropriate changes."

I wouldn't hold my breath!

Who, ESPN change? They are "The Worldwide Leader in Sports". LOL, When it comes to NASCAR they are "The Worldwide LOSER in Sports"!

Anonymous said...

I think I just figured it out the problem with NASCAR Now. In short it can be called NN. that reminds me of another BAD attempt at NASCAR TV...called NASCAR NATION!!!!
NOT ONE TRUCK HILIGHT???? best racing of the weekend!!!
this show is being over produced by people at ESPN who have no clue!!!!
oh where oh where has that charlotte rpm2nite crew gone?