Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Dave Blaney Featured On ESPN's "NASCAR Now"

Each Wednesday, the daily motorsports show on ESPN faces a dilemma. Aside from the news items, NASCAR Now is basically without regular racing content. Over the last six months, this middle of the week day has seen all kinds of features and reports.

On other racing TV shows, this day was set aside to serve a purpose. Maybe it exposed a new racing talent, or featured a regional series that did not get a lot of TV time. Other uses have been a weekly behind-the-scenes feature or even a segment dedicated to hearing what the fans have to say. ESPN will have none of this.

After dispensing with the mandatory news that Dale Earnhardt Junior will not be leaving DEI with his number eight in tow, the show stepped around all the other NASCAR stories and revealed to America that ESPN has discovered drivers race during the week.

One of the most popular things for drivers to do, especially on the Cup side, is to go to local tracks to race mid-week. Over the past several years, a bunch of drivers have bought both pavement and dirt tracks. This influx of money and influence has been great for the local scene, with lots of upgrades at these facilities.

Earlier this year, we saw a ton of Cup and even NHRA guys fly up to Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway for a charity race. This one has gotten so big they offered it live on pay-per-view and managed to raise over a half million dollars for the Victory Junction Gang Camp.

The occasion this time was Dave Blaney's little Sharon Speedway in Hartford, Ohio. This small dirt track is owned by the Blaney family. Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer, former team mates of Blaney, along with sprint car friend Tony Stewart stopped-by to race the locals in a twenty-five lap feature.

This type of thing is done all the time. Fans who watch RaceDay or Inside NEXTEL Cup can hear Kenny Wallace and Ken Schrader talk about it almost every week. What lots of drivers like to do when they have some time during the race for fun.

NASCAR Now ran a long feature on this one night of racing, and added-in a lot of sound bites from the drivers talking Host Erik Kuselias voiced-over the highlights and found himself screaming "tell me that don't look like fun" while the Late Models slung some dirt.

After all this, Dave Blaney appeared for a live interview. As most of us know, Dave won his way into NASCAR by being one of the most exciting sprint car drivers of all time. Somebody should have told the host. He had no clue, and never even mentioned the rich Blaney family racing history.

Dave is a wonderful guy, but Kuselias just did not get it. People race like this all the time in NASCAR-land, and it was not a big deal. Dave kept trying to calmly explain this, that its just fun. That was not enough for the host.

"Critique Harvick's performance" demanded Kuselias. Dave said that was kind of tough to do, because he was racing Clint Bowyer for tenth at the same time. See, they all race at the same time on the same track. That's why its called "the feature."

After this nice video report, and then Dave answering questions politely, you just had the feeling it had to end. And brother, no one can end a good feeling on national TV like Erik Kuselias when NASCAR is the topic.

Carefully reading his script word-for-word, Kuselias lowered the boom. "Now that you're currently thirty-sixth in the standings as far as 'The Cup' is concerned, how are you going to attack qualifying differently now that you are just outside the top thirty-five?" he said reading carefully. Did I mention that no one can rain on a parade like this guy?

After all the good will, after all the video of Dave's family-owned track, and after Blaney coming-on and talking about that night, this transition was absolutely rude. Maybe if Kuselias had said "let me ask you one question about your other job" or something like that it would have softened the blow. This was just harsh.

The look on Blaney's face said it all, but he took what is now known as a deep "Kuselias breath" and responded. Richard Childress took the same breath this week when Kuselias asked to go hunting with him next time. That one was priceless. RC said he was going to Mongolia in a couple of weeks and Kuselias could be his gun-bearer. The lawyer declined that settlement offer.

Blaney said "well, we have had plenty of weeks outside the top thirty-five. All day Friday we will be in qualifying trim...we probably ran a dozen races like that earlier this year." Already done that a dozen times this year.

In other words, your question is ridiculous and beyond naive. When we have to qualify on time, we work on qualifying. When we are in, we work on race trim. Is there anyone out there who watches NASCAR who does not know that? Raise your hand.

The interview and the video report were over and the show went to commercial. Just about each and every week, NASCAR Now has Wednesday to use as a conduit for information that would not "fit in" on the other days of the week.

Wednesday would be great to expose any of the hundreds of Americans racing in NASCAR regional series across the nation. Tracks and fans would be happy to send in videos of their action, and it might include some names we have seen before.

Earlier this year, NASCAR Now featured names like Joey Logano, Chad McCumbee, and Brian Ickler. How are they doing? What are they doing? In "TV land," they call this following-up on one of your own stories. Its usually done...a lot.

NASCAR is also pushing hard with its regional Busch Series, its Modified Tour, and its Grand National West Division. By Wednesday, the FedEx truck could have made its way to Bristol with some highlights featuring this action and the NASCAR stars of tomorrow.

Don't get me wrong for one second, Dave Blaney is great and his family and the track were a good story. The point is, if you establish Wednesday as a day for a regular feature, then viewers will tune-in on what is normally a slow day.

Simply by focusing on the other areas of the sport in the only daily TV show dedicated to NASCAR, fans would get a completely different perspective about the amount of racing action going-on across the nation on any given weekend.

Regional racing action is great, and instead of a small favor by three drivers being the number two story on national TV, we could really be informed about what is going-on in NASCAR's other popular series.

If you wanted to know, Ickler was second at Fontana, Logano won at Adirondack Speedway, and McCumbee is going to sub for Kyle Petty who broke his hand. That would be...follow-up.

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, and leaving your opinion.

15 comments: said...

Wait a minute, are you telling me drivers that are lower than 35th in the owner's points approach the race weekend differently than the guys that are in the top 35? Thanks for letting me in on that secret, great investigative reporting by the four letter network's staff. I wonder what they're going to dig up next? The fact that multi-car teams share information with each other and that gives them an advantage over single car teams? I'm waiting to hear Erik Kuselius interview Jeff Gordon and ask him a question like "Jeff you have 3 teammates, so tell me the truth, just you and me talking here. Have you ever been tempted to sneak into any of your teammates' pits and steal their setups when you know that one of them is running faster than you, ha ha ha?"

I've long since given up on DVRing NASCAR Now so I appreciate your updates on how the show still hasn't changed one bit. Can anyone imagine Allen Bestwick asking Blaney that question? I can't, but yet the ESPN "suits" still don't understand how NASCAR fans can question the credibility of this show that, hello ESPN, is supposed to be a show designed for the diehard NASCAR fans.

It's hard to get more diehard than I am so when I've given up on this show there must be a problem with it. I don't know how the ratings are for this show, but if they are as terrible as I expect maybe ESPN should consider changing something other than the start time to fix that problem. I'm sorry ESPN but I don't think NASCAR Now's biggest problem is its start time.

SophiaZ123 said...

I no longer try to plan on watching "PSPN" NASCAR Now.


Out of morbid curiosity, I chanel surfed across this while awaiting the local weather to come on the local news (try to avoid VIDEO of news) I saw the interview with Blaney and was also mortified at the out of 35 question.

Again I have one word for the Pspn folks on their "host" ??


I turned off the show after seeing Blaney be so gracious as I sat there cringing.

Anonymous said...

Loved it when Richard Childress took up Kuselias on his request to go hunting with him. I screamed, "Take him and shoot him!" LOL! Just kidding. Maybe RC could leave Erik out in the brush somewhere though.

Anonymous said...

Erik Kissillyass is the reason why gators eat their young.

Anonymous said...

Erik, please stop shouting your scripts. This is not local TV sports.

jfs-va said...

I'm just waiting for Mr. Daly and Erik to meet at the track and have a Harvick/Montoya shoving match. :>)

JHD said...

What kills me is that NASCAR Now seems to know what would be good, and they almost get there a fair amount....and then they let Erik or Tim C. open their mouths on air.

The segment from Hartford was pretty good on its own. Then Erik had to insert his comments over the highlights of the race. And the less said about the interview afterwards, the better.

Drivers and team personnel, PLEASE consider this: do NOT agree to an interview on NASCAR Now unless you can guarantee someone other than Erik will handle the interview. Maybe that will wake the IiC up in Bristol and make the changes we've been asking for since February.

Anonymous said...

Most all of the "issues" at ESPN's NASCAR now seem to point at host Erik Kuselius.

When will they get it through their heads?

John - great spot on Sirius radio - keep it up.

Anonymous said...

Blaney was never a teammate of Boyers.Boyer replaced Blaney in the07. said...

In 2005 Bowyer ran in the Busch Series for RCR and made one Cup start at Phoenix in the #33 car for RCR while Blaney was driving the #07 car, so they were teammates at one point.

I. M. Anonymous said...

Maybe Blaney should've said something like, "Well, I'm 36th in points right now, so I'm going to hope it rains and washes out qualifying until I'm back in the top's that for an idea Erik, you freaking douche bag?"

I. M. Anonymous said...

And then Blaney should've asked if Erik wanted to ride around on the hood of his Toyota as Blaney qualifies at Michigan...

Anonymous said...

One thing that bothers me about ESPN Racing Shows is exactly what John said - that there is no coverage of lower divisions in NASCAR. The Modified Tour runs 80% of their races right in ESPN's back yard and there isn't an inch of footage. The Tour needs exposure and ESPN would be a great partner to provide it - highlights during the week, or even taped coverage. Not to mention the benefit of this exposure to the local tracks in Connecticut who are't exactly playing to SRO crowds any more. The modifieds this year have been reduced to running some of their schedule on bullrings in 50 lap features. How's that for the divison that is the roots of NASCAR? The mods are exciting, especially at New Hampshire. People ought to get the chance to see Teddy Christopher in action before he's past his prime. Just my opinion, but i think the modifieds are a growth opportunity in motorsports broadcasting. Cup has become big bu$iness, thanks in part to its early partnership with ESPN. The modifieds may never get there, but imagine 50 cars showing up at Thompson or Stafford once again to qualify for a 200 lapper. With the right TV package to bring up the purse, it could happen and the crowds will come back. Come on ESPN - let's get some grass roots racing back on the air. Bring back a show like Thursday Night Thunder and do some mid-week coverage of local racing. Your audience is waiting and damn tired of watching Pinks re-runs on SPEED.

Anonymous said...

I watched the show last night only because I thought that Ryan Burr might be hosting it. I should have turned it off when I saw "No brain". He really has no idea what he's talking about and proves it with every interview.

I'm sure that he was good at his former job and that is why he was given this opportunity. But,there comes a time when his boss needs to realize that this move just isn't working out. The only problem is that his boss probably doesn't know anything about NASCAR either so he wouldn't know that it wasn't working.

I'm just waiting for someone to get frustrated enough with him to call him and idiot on the air. Where's Jimmy Spenser when you need him?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I missed this interview.

SPEED does it best.