Monday, June 11, 2007

Its "NASCAR Now" And Here We Come

The wheels came off of this ESPN franchise Monday in spectacular fashion. Splashing in the deep end of the pool for his on-air life, Erik Kuselias decided to pump-up the volume and try to yell his way through the one hour edition of NASCAR Now. Unfortunately, volume is no substitute for experience.

Tim Cowlishaw and Kuselias are a tag-team comedy act where NASCAR is concerned. Cowlishaw loves to "needle" anyone in sports, and racing is no exception. He threw in the dry comments and the subtle digs as Kuselias yelled his way through the Pocono NEXTEL Cup highlights. They are the "Martin and Lewis" of NASCAR Now. Lots of noise and very little content.

Wendy Nix was on-scene at Pocono, and delivered a nice crisp report from the track. Nix is new to NASCAR, and her presence was noticed by a whole lot of male reporters in Pocono. Apparently, they did not mind the rain delay in the Media Center.

Kuselias is absolutely relentless in dogging NASCAR at every turn. He and Cowlishaw tried to suggest that NASCAR threw the caution early so Gordon could win. Then, that NASCAR did not throw the caution when they should have for Johnson. Finally, the best statement from Cowlishaw in a long time was that "NASCAR has no rules." He actually said that on national TV. Should we send him the rulebook?

Does anyone from NASCAR watch this show? They are never given an opportunity to respond, and regularly take it right in the teeth from Kuselias, Cowlishaw, and ESPN.

Boris Said was the sacrificial lamb on the set, and he tried his best to dispute the hype and suggestions of dishonesty by NASCAR. Boris is outnumbered on the set by the "hype kings," and in this show they were determined to yell all the way to the end. Even Boris just shrugged his shoulders and gave up. Tough to make sense when no one is listening. No smiles on Mr. Said's face in this show.

Ryan Newman was the new target today. Boris carefully stated the improvements that the Penske team has recently made, but that was not enough for Cowlishaw. The King of Around The Horn is absolutely full of nothing but outlandish statements on NASCAR Now, and adds nothing in the content department. The entire show changes when Kuselias is the host and Cowlishaw is alongside. It turns into a chaotic mess of driver soundbites and then sharp-edged commentary from Cowlishaw. Newman apparently can't "win." Ridiculous.

Its tough when the panel talks about Jimmie Johnson's blown tire as the "worst finish of his career!" After even more loud hype, both Johnson and Chad Knaus weighed-in with interviews quietly explaining that there was no problem at all, they just blew a tire. Marty Smith put it all in perspective, and framed the "worst finish" in terms of the "Chase" format, which wipes the slate clean. There is absolutely no problem with Johnson making "The Chase." So, all the NASCAR Now hype was...just made up? Was that Marty nodding yes?

Halfway through the show, there was an attempt to discredit NASCAR again. Kuselias, who is actually a lawyer in real life, had decided that the "caution flag issue" was something that is not set-in-stone, and he could exploit it. When he has Cowlishaw on the set, the door is wide open to throw as many stones at as many people as possible during the hour. This time, it was a conspiracy theory that Jimmie Johnson's flat tire was "ignored" in order to get the race to halfway.

Reporter Angelique Chengelis was live to answer Kuselias allegations with facts. Kuselias did not like that at all, answered back with a snide comment, and moved along to Marty Smith without even a word to Chengelis. For some reason, Marty Smith was forced to report on a non-story which was the rumor that Jeff Gordon's plane had crashed. Why was this story discussed live on national television? There was no problem, there was never a situation, and no one else felt the need to report this information. The ESPN hype now extends to the reporters?

Thirty five minutes into the show NASCAR Now deviated from its normal obsession with the Cup Series, and showed very brief highlights of both the Truck and Busch Series. It continues to be very strange that the ESPN2 Busch Series announcers do not offer a "wrap package" from the track for NASCAR Now. ESPN has spent millions of dollars to televise the entire Busch Series, and with the likes of Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree on-site, why do they not appear in the Monday one hour news show? Only the lack of communication between ESPN departments explains this mistake.

ESPN is five races away from stepping up to the highest level of NASCAR racing for the rest of the season. If they can't get their Busch Series announcers on their own Monday news show, imagine the fun when the NEXTEL Cup and Busch Series are both on ESPN.

Last week, viewers overwhelmed The Daly Planet with emails asking for Allen Bestwick or Ryan Burr to host NASCAR Now. Both these talented men have hosted some individual programs before, but do not appear regularly. Erik Kuselias is obviously struggling, and could use a break. Now, over four months into the NASCAR season, there is no doubt that he does not like racing, does not follow it, and does not respect it. When he gets back to talk radio, he will be in heaven. Lots of yelling, and lots of sticks-and-balls.

The buzz that Bestwick first created at ESPN when he stopped in Bristol to host a mid-week version of NASCAR Now was huge. People stopped in the hallways. There was Allen Bestwick from NASCAR. They finally had a "racing guy" at the helm, and his first show was fantastic. How hard can it be to have that on a regular basis?

Even today as NASCAR Now "rolled out" with the tired Aerosmith version of "Back In The Saddle Again" viewers could only imagine the information that "could have been" communicated in this hour if racing guys were in charge.

There were so many more stories from Pocono and Nashville, and so many good human interest stories like Chad McCumbee making the NEXTEL event, and then winning the ARCA race in the Petty Victory Junction Gang Dodge. Viewers may remember that Allen Bestwick patiently led young Mr. McCumbee through his first national TV interview a short while ago on NASCAR Now.

It would have been nice to follow-up with highlights and an interview since McCumbee finished 25th and on the lead lap, but many wishes of race fans have been left on the table by ESPN2 this season. This is just one more. Do you think Wendy Nix, the only NASCAR Now reporter at Pocono, would even know who Chad McCumbee is?

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.


Vince said...

Dear ESPN Execs,

I'd like to apply for the job of Producer of NascarNow. The current Producers of this show do not know beans about NASCAR, so I'm offering my services. Or maybe I should just apply for your jobs, seeing as you guys don't know what you're doing in regards to NASCAR either. I could probably teach a monkey to produce a better show than the mess you call NascarNow. Come on guys, get a clue!!

GinaV24 said...

I have to say that I listen to see who the host of the show is before I waste any time with it. If I hear Kuselias voice, well, it won't be worth wasting an hour of my time to watch it and if I try to "listen" to it during dinner, I just get indigestion. So, I can't comment on the show because I couldn't take more than 5 minutes of the no-nothing idiot spewing and yelling. I've followed NASCAR for too many years to bother with that junk -- Why hasn't NASCAR stepped in on this issue? They aren't usually shy.

Kevin in Indy said...

The train wreck that is NASCAR Now continues to pile up. Erik's disdain and total lack of respect for NASCAR is obvious. The smugness that he displays is annoying. I honestly believe that he thinks he can fool the viewers because he's so muc smarter than them. After all, he's a lawyer and in MENSA and we're all just a bunch of semi-literate rubes who are doing good just to be able to operate a TV remote. Why does NASCAR allow one their TV partners to put garbage like this out? I turns off their fan base and has not drawn new fans to NASCAR. Give us Allen Bestwick every day or a tag team with he and Ryan Burr. Until that happens, I will avoid this show.

Anonymous said...

No doubt, glad I missed this train wreck.

Anonymous said...

I was hopeful that NASCAR Now would have AB at the helm but no. I watched a little bit anyway because I like Marty Smith. I spent most of his report wondering if he was going to stop and say in a matter of fact way 'ya know this is all just pure BS' He was professional as usual but when what's his name asked if Mark Martin could still 'make the chase' when Marty had just got done listing Mark in the top twelve I turned it off. I made the mistake of going back later only to be asaulted by that girls breasts sticking out of her criss cross tee shirt. Anyone see Wendy running around pit lane in her skivvies? Fire suit anyoune? I realizd this was great for the guys but it made me as a girl, bust out laughing.

Anonymous said...

They need to change the name of this show to RMS Titanic because this "ship" is sinking fast.

Put Bestwick on there, get Ed Hinton or Monte Dutton to replace Cowlishaw, and you'll keep the "ship" from sinking.

Rick said...

Since Bestwick has been the host a couple of times,I do check out the show when its on to see if he's back. If that Kuselias is on I quickly change the channel! Maybe the show gets good enough ratings with that idiot Kuselias to please the suits that run it so they don't need a really good show? Maybe its good enough for the new fans that aren't informed or the part time fan. Na$car probaly likes the show because it doesn't put them in a real bad light. BRING back PIT BULL!

Anonymous said...

I've gotten to where I just fast forward the TiVO through most of the episodes when anyone but Bestwick hosts the show. They don't really put much more into the show besides what you can read on Jayski.
NASCAR Now has their e-mail address up on at the end of the show, flood it with e-mails for Bestwick. I've already sent e-mail asking for him full-time.

SophiaZ123 said...

Many of you have raised valid questions and comments.

NASCAR so closely likes to micro manage their sport.

So WHY is NOBODY watching the ESPN NASCAR NOW show and broadcast, to see the BUTCHERING and insulting of the sport they are doing?

The camera work has been horrendous in some races and we only see a couple of cars with no perspective of what is going ON.

Also, my cats could produce a better show than NASCAR NOW. For one, my two black and whites do not like the weird noisy space ship sound effects they play during interviews when showing a side bar graphic. (Are they still doing that?)

I do not watch an entire show if the Bombastic Eric is hosting. He looks like he is getting angrier as the season goes by and I do not need the aggravation.

Like most folks, I wait until the plethora of noisy sound effects and graphics is over to 'Hear' whose voice is coming at me.

I am started to get really depressed thinking CUP and Busch is going to be run by these NASCAR malcontents.

Thank God for SPEED but in my area, I had to upgrade to digital and get the second tier. But I am grateful for the access.

Anonymous said...

This was the first Nascar Now I'd seen in total. What a horror. Who is this Kuselias guy? And why is he on this show? And that goober Cowlishaw? I thought he was baseball's bitch on ESPN.

I could tell Boris was pissed, but he solidered on. This show sucks.

Clearly these assclowns were reading from a script-don't they know anything about racing?

Gosh, this just sucked. Typical H-Y-P-E (ESPN) pump up the confrontation television.

Holy crap-give it to TNT who had the wherewithall to have a person with a racing brain on the screen.

I may watch again to see what happens, but my gosh, you are right.

I'd seen that moron eyes-closed knucklehead Banks on here one time and I thought it was an aberration. Fraid I was wrong.