Thursday, August 16, 2007

"NASCAR Now" Finally Explodes My Brain

Please sit down before reading this column. I do not want to be personally responsible for injuries sustained when you collapse either from laughter, or as I believe happened to me, a small explosion at the back of my brain.

Here is the opening line from Thursday's NASCAR Now program on ESPN2. Please be seated and plant both feet firmly on the floor. Here we go.

Host Erik Kuselias shouts "was NASCAR's new 'Chase' format responsible for Jeff Gordon's spin-out with two laps to go at Watkins Glen?"

This is the part where the the internal bleeding began. Here is why it continued.

Kuselias then carried on about a regular monthly meeting of Chevy team owners that got cancelled. It got cancelled because Gibbs has not yet chosen Chevy or Toyota for next season. So, the Chevy guys wanted to wait until Gibbs decided to have a meeting. This was the lead story on NASCAR Now. A monthly meeting got cancelled.

For those of you who need a moment to recover, it will be short-lived.

Kuselias then asked "Why was Jeff Gordon racing so hard on the final laps, why risk a wreck?" Can you feel the pain my friends? Kuselias continues that "those already in The Chase are only racing for wins." Say it with me...only racing for wins.

"This was most evident at The Glen when Jeff Gordon spun-out with two laps to go. The message was quite clear, second place is just the first loser" continued Kuselias. The show then played a sound bite from Carl Edwards who said about The Glen "I just didn't want to finish second." That is all he said...literally.

Then, the new ESPN conspiracy theory took full flight. "But it wasn't just Watkins seems that once NASCAR announced its new rules, there was a new focus on winning" Kuselias added. As he spoke, ESPN played video of the finishes of Atlanta, Martinsville, and believe it or not, The Daytona 500.

The show then played a sound bite from Jeff Gordon about The Glen who said "I wanted to win real bad and I know points don't mean anything, so I pushed...and I pushed too far." I am pretty sure I heard him say...points don't mean anything, right?

Poor Boris Said must think he is in a meat grinder some days in his role as an analyst for NASCAR Now. This was going to be one of those days. Kuselias had now set-up his conspiracy that Gordon spun trying for the "bonus points" available in The Chase format. He pointed to this being a problem, and then brought on Boris.

"What do you think of the new system that puts more emphasis on winning races?" asked Kuselias. "I think its awesome" exclaimed Said. Meanwhile, the graphic at the bottom of the screen actually read "added pressure of racing for bonus points." This is apparently what Said was supposed to be talking about, but he did not get the memo.

Boris indicated that the drivers pretty clearly in The Chase can be more aggressive than those still racing for the top twelve. He never even referenced any kind of bonus points. He basically said they can let it all hang-out, and the others cannot. This did not go over well with the host after all this work on the latest ESPN NASCAR conspiracy theory. He gave it one last shot.

"Is there any down-side to the new Chase format?" asked Kuselias. In typical Boris style he said "no, not at all." As Kuselias slithered away to commercial, the bottom of the screen still read "added pressure of racing for bonus points."

So, we had just watched the national TV host of ESPN's NASCAR show try to convince the TV audience that Jeff Gordon spun at The Glen because of The Chase format. Perhaps, when Gordon himself came on and said the points did not matter and he had just pushed too hard, ESPN might have gotten a clue to this issue.

Let me tell you what ESPN was doing with all this garbage. Normally, they would be hyping qualifying and who had to get in on speed, who was on the bubble in The Chase, and who were the contenders for the pole. But this week, something had fundamentally changed. SPEED Channel was covering qualifying because of schedule conflicts at ESPN.

NASCAR Now's response to this was to eliminate any mention, in any way, of the live practice and qualifying telecasts. In this show, they only promoted the Busch and NEXTEL Cup races. Even though SPEED was doing the network a favor by stepping-in and providing live coverage, ESPN decided it did not exist.

The Daly Planet has spoken often about the Disney influence at ESPN bringing a sense of entitlement to the staff. If it is not on "our network" it does not exist. Such is the case for Michigan practice and qualifying, which ESPN would normally be doing. They are not doing it, so it does not exist...period.

Well, what would the national NASCAR TV show do on a Thursday when they were trying to avoid talking about Friday at the track? The answer is simple. Bring live on the set a Busch East Series driver for an interview. Suddenly, because of SPEED, NASCAR Now discovered the East Series existed, and they needed a live interview right away.

The glazed look in Erik Kuselias eyes told the story as he had absolutely no clue as to what his Busch Series East driver was talking about. The Toyota All-Star Showdown could have been the space shuttle. After purposefully avoiding the NASCAR regional touring series like the plague, ESPN suddenly made room for a live in-studio interview on this day. What a coincidence.

The show closed with sponsored Truck Series news, the DJ Copp pit tips, and Boris doing the horrible "driver pick 'ems." But what a story the first twenty minutes had become. A Chevy meeting cancelled, The Chase causes accidents, and a Busch East driver just happened to stop-by.

Sooner or later, someone from NASCAR will actually watch this show and pick-up the phone to ESPN. When ESPN's reality does not match NASCAR's reality, there is a fundamental problem that needs to be addressed. Hopefully, before The Chase causes any more accidents. Now if only the headache would just stop.

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 and leave your opinion.


matt said...

For the first time in a few weeks, I actually shut off NASCAR Now after the first 5 minutes. Usually I am able to tolerate this show, despite the nonsense, but tonight I could just not stand Eric's screaming into the TV and the lack of any "real" story in the entire show. Just pathetic.

Anonymous said...

Once again I have to ask: NASCAR, are you out there?? said...

What a joke. Thanks again for the update that NASCAR Now is still not worth watching. Thank goodness for the U.S. Open Warmup Tournaments that ESPN is covering the next few weeks! Speed Channel is back with live practices (yes, plural for the first time since Chiacagoland) and qualifying coverage of every car. Heck, Speed Channel is even televising BOTH Busch Series practice sessions, which is something ESPN hasn't even done for "their baby" all year.

Brian said...

That I think was the absolute worst NASCAR Now I have ever watched.

I echo the statements, than goodnesss SPEED is covering practice and qualifiying tomorrow.

This show is pathetic, I guess I have to wait to get the call that Ryan Burr or Allen Bestwick is on so I can watch this show again.

You would think Kusilias after doing so many episodes might get the hang of it, this surely isn't the case.

I wish people out there in NASCAR world would read this to see what people really think.

I guess according to ESPN, NASCAR doesn't exist tomorrow (Friday), too bad for them people realize there is a SPEED Channel showing everything without any x-game promos, or anything during a Qualifying Run.

I thought ESPN coming back would be great, but I perfer NBC/TNT instead, for the sole fact they let SPEED show everything on Fridays. I

I better shut up before ESPN gets a clue and tries to push SPEED channel out, so we get nothing on Fridays.

Good News! No NASCAR Now this Friday! (8/17). We have a full day of Practice/Qualifying/NASCAR Live on SPEED, and we have 1 less headache tomorrow with no NASCAR Now!

Anonymous said...


This is just not the espn of jenkins, punch, and so many of the announcers that understood the darned sport. This isn't the network that used to televise sprint/midget races where fans got a chance to see many of tomorrow's nascar stars today, the newmans, kahnes, etc. The old ESPN "got it" where autoracing in general was concerned, period, this espn couldn't buy a clue or a vowel if one shoved it in their face. To think I was once excited about nascar coverage returning to espn... sigh...

Race Ghost said...

A two-word answer to cure all of "NASCAR Now" problems...


Anonymous said...

I'm beginning to think ESPN is just doing this to prove that--nyaa, nyaa--they can do whatever they want. Don't like it? Tough!

Because they certainly aren't improving or learning.

And Erik will not stop shouting at the camera. Who taught him that viewers like that?

Anonymous said...

My sympathy toward you because it is your job to have to watch this program. It's sorta like staring into the sun where we are allowed to look away but you are forced to stare straight into the eye.

Anonymous said...

I agree with the other anonymous--I appreciate John watching this drivel so we don't have to...but I really think his brain IS going to explode if he keeps it up...

GinaV24 said...

I love this column so much -- I quit watching NASCAR Now a long time ago -- unless I happen to go by and hear AB or Ryan as hosts. Erik the Klueless is beyond hope and ESPN is so overbearing that I can't waste any of my precious free time on this show, but I really, really enoy the recaps that John writes (and I listen to you on Sirius radio, too) I'm a big fan. I was writing to both NASCAR & ESPN about this BS, but all you ever hear from them are their auto-reply messages and since they get a ton of money, why would either the network or NASCAR care what the fans think?

Anonymous said...

I try to watch NASCAR Now but I have not made it through an entire show without turning the channel in disgust. Kusillias is an idiot. Thanks goodness SPEED is covering practice and qualifying this weekend. At least we will get to see all the teams with their chance.

Busch Series Fan! said...

This was a fantastic article and I'm glad I didn't waste my time watching it. It is so much like the Houston tv station covering the weather and fading out stating - back in a moment to talk to you about the hurricane in the gulf (this was yesterday)! Hurricane Dean hasn't even come upon any land yet and they are sensationalizing the weather by stating it's in the gulf already. Instead of watching anymore Nascar shoes I'm just going to organize my sock drawer!

Anonymous said...

Wait, there was a hurricane in the gulf and the TV people said there was a hurricane in the gulf?


Anonymous said...

I suppose because Erik K. is an attorney, that he thinks that gives him the right to ask the same question in numerous different ways, hoping to get the answer that he wants. Maybe he should go back to the courtroom where a judge can tell him to behave and ask proper questions.

Busch Series Fan! said...

There was NOT a hurricane in the gulf but the news people in Houston were saying it was already there!

Anonymous said...

I don't even try to watch Nascar Now anymore. It's just pathetic

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now is a write off. It has ceased to exist for me. Or rather I have relegated it to a category that includes paid programs that promote "miracle" wax products.

ESPN has done OK on balance regarding actual racing coverage. I refuse to allow the sub par support programs to ruin the sport for me. I simply do not watch ESPN until the green flag drops.

Once I made that decision, my heart beat stabilized and the migraines stopped. My doctor recommends it.

Anonymous said...

my brother in law says he watchs nascar now because thats all he has to keep him up on whats going on in nascar. got to buy that poor boy a computer..

Anonymous said...

I can't stand Erik Kuselius and the driver pick 'ems are annoying. Every time I watch this show, I feel like I am learning absolutely zero new. It always seems like Erik makes the biggest deal out of something that means relatively little at all. I hate to be so negative, because this show could be great. But I'd rather watch Speed's Victory Lane, Trackside or Inside Nextel Cup. I feel like I get more out of those shows than anything NASCAR Now does.

Anonymous said...

Maybe there is a little bit of hope out there...I have noticed that since Daly Planet mentioned the fact of ESPN not telling us where their reporters were located, they have been mentioning that. Boris Said was in California and Angelique C. was in Michigan yesterday. Overall, Nascar Now is still pathetic, but maybe there is hope??? Then again maybe not.

jen said...

that's hilarious! this crazy new thing called "trying to win races" is causing people to drive aggressively!! what is nascar coming to?!?

i don't watch any of the nascar "news" shows, but i can tell you that the espn race commentators are really working my nerves. i can't wait for mike joy to be back.

w17scott said...

John - Thanks muchly for your ongoing commitment to the abuse of having to watch NASCAR supper is much more enjoyable and I get a chuckle from the continuing ineptness ...again, it was hearing TrainEri(k) Kuselias vocalize his customary screech's hilarious that he tries to project NASCAR knowledge that doesn't exist in his pea-brained head're on target about practice and qualifying ...wonder if they'll explain that the cars were testing at MIS and a race broke out ...oh, for the joy of Sunday Morning to watc a real 'race show' NHRA Today ...always fun to hear excitement of Dave Rieff and Mike Dunn and see the fans erupt with appreciation as the drivers walk past to reach the set ...did I mention they've resurrected John Kernan with NHRA ...nice to see a friendly face again

Desmond said...

Once Erik Kuselias is (hopefully) dispatched from NASCAR Now, he should host a court show on TV (e.g. People's Court, Judge Joe Brown). He would be perfect there. Leave the NASCAR coverage to the professionals!

KoHoSo said...

I believe that this is the first time I have found a sentence on this blog with which I disagree:

Sooner or later, someone from NASCAR will actually watch this show and pick-up the phone to ESPN.

I sincerely doubt it. If NASCAR cared about anything other than getting a check from those who broadcast their races, a lot of television-related problems would have been cleared up long ago.

I also must respectfully disagree with Race Ghost who said:

A two-word answer to cure all of "NASCAR Now" problems...PAUL PAGE

Have we become that desperate? Sure, Page would be better than what we have now. Frankly, my 80 year old grandmother would be better than what we have now. But, Page being a "cure all?" I don't think so. He has been marginally acceptable on NHRA telecasts. But, his last years of doing IndyCar events were abysmal. And, I sure don't need the return of hearing his sudden, loud "WOAH" every time a hot dog wrapper blows across the race track.

Anonymous said...

John, if anyone from ESPN or NASCAR reads your stuff, they need to heed what the fans are saying.

I like many others were looking forward in many ways to ESPN picking up the series. I remember the old days of Benny Parsons, Ned Jarrett, Jerry Punch and Bill Jenkins. I thought ESPN would roll with the same style and quality as "the good old days". So far, nope, but I am willing to give ESPN a break for now. They just picked up the schedule and are okay as compared to FOX and NBC. But I do suggest they get back in the vault and study the video of what the Jenkins led crew did versus what they are doing now.

As for NASCAR NOW, well MATT said it best with the words pathetic and nonsense. The host is a fool. I would say uninformed or ignorant but that would give the man an excuse. No, a fool would allow some producer to allow the trivial garbage to run as his main story line. A fool would try to box in a driver into his self made conspiracy theory. Let's face it Eric is hoping to be a serious host but very quickly he looks and acts like a fool. Heck, If I wanted to watch a fool, I'd watch Obermann!

So for now I'll give the race coverage a break & I give NASCAR NOW a big thumbs down.

busch series fan! I'm here in League city and I hate the way the local Houston news has gotten. It is as Dennis Miller said 'Crap concentrated".

Herkeng USAF (Ret)

Anyone want some freakin rain? We have alot to give away.

SophiaZ123 said...

I was kind of tuning in myself, to see if Bestwick or Burr were hosting..then I heard Eriks SCREAMING and the Chase causing J Gordon to wreck..and well, turned it off.

Kohoso must be correct, John. IF NASCAR CARED ABOUT MORE THAN MONEY, they would've DONE SOMETHING by now.

Let's not kid ourselves...NASCAR rules with an iron fist and if you don't like their sandbox, they make you leave.

Well, they are obviously pleased with the sandbox or rather, dirty kitty litter that NASCAR NOW has become and CONTINUES TO BE!!

NASCAR has the check and given free rein for the folks at Pee ESN to do what they want.

They have urinated off the fans, and made a MOCKERY out of the sport. Yet, aside from a few OTHER articles online a couple weeks ago, NOBODY is screaming for NASCARS TPTB to do something.

Nobody has the guts I suppose.

Thanks for trying and watching that PUTRID show, John.

Oh and I apologize to my cats for the kitty litter reference. I keep clean litter boxes! :-)

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

JOHN, Why would a supposedly smart organization entrust a $400 or $500 million investment to someone who is untrained, and proud of it?

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now is part of ESPN's overall strategy for all sports: draw in the "casual fan" with contrived storylines and celebrity athletes and hardcore fans be damned. They figure that, by doing this, they can bring in the "Who's gonna win: Earnhardt, Gordon, or one of them other guys" crowd, and we'll just sit back and take it.

ESPN takes real fans for granted in all sports, and it's about damn time that we started fighting back (by not watching and TELLING THEM why we're not watching). It's the same way for ESPN and baseball (Yankees, Red Sox, Other), basketball (Lakers, the Knicks suck, other), football (Cowboys, athletes in trouble, other), and virtually any other sports they cover.

They've pushed us around too long. Now, it's time to push back.

geez said...

I record Nascar Now so I can fast forward to Marty Smith, if he is on. There is really no need to watch as they replay all the features in the pre-race show anyway. ESPN has been a major disappointment over all in Nascar as far as I am concerned

Anonymous said...

This blog post is hilarious!!

John, you've been very professional all this time and we can tell that you've blown a gasket.......for a good reason. I personally don't watch NN because of a "say what?" experience with the only time I did tune it. This joker that ESPN has hosting the show is a complete turnoff and I won't watch that program. It's neat that the Boris, Compton, and the other experts set it straight.

Anonymous said...

I decided to watch CASHCAR Wow! last night because I couldn't find anything else worth watching at the time. That didn't last long. I broke out my DVD of a North Wilkesboro race and remembered what racing and broadcast coverage was supposed to be like.

John, the best I can offer you for your efforts is a shot of Wilkes County Champagne to ease yor pain. You're a far better man than I for having to watch this continuous drivel being served up as racing news.

Anonymous said...

"JOHN, Why would a supposedly smart organization entrust a $400 or $500 million investment to someone who is untrained, and proud of it?"

I don't know. Why don't you ask the Anaheim Angels and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim? How did imposing the "Disney Culture" on professional sports teams work out?

Anonymous said...

Fortunately Judge Judy is on every night when Nascar Now is on.

David said...

I have been gone a month, have not watched ESPN for a month and he still isn't gone? ESPN needs to pull their heads out of their "you know what"s if they expect fans to really embrace this return. They have brought some great elements back, but have shot themselves in the foot SEVERELY with this hype and "news" garbage they are trying to sell. It's worse then a used car lot.

Lisa Foster said...

Jeepers, I'm glad you're o.k.! :p

I didn't even watch any of the espn coverage, I was enjoying watching real qualifying and broadcasting on Speed.

Farfel said...

You are so there, D. It's come to the point where watching NASCAR Now gets me totally upset. We want CONTENT. Joe Costello on XM seems to be one of the few consistently good sources. He loves racing and it shows. That's what's missing in Bristol.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My friends,

These are some great posts. What a strong group of experienced and passionate fans we have in NASCAR.

Gina: thank you for the kind words about Sirius. We are talking about expanding that to allow for fan questions and comments. We need a forum for your opinions live.

w17scott: I agree that NHRA Today is one of the finest shows on TV. Next season, we may be expanding to cover all of the NHRA coverage...stay tuned.

lisa: thanks a lot, my double vision if fading a bit. :P

Anonymous said...

John - You set yourself up for disappointment/disaster when you said the show was really good the other day ... You should've known that ESPN would let you down a lot & very often ...

I don't attempt to watch the show mainly because I forget "when" it is on ... Plus, I'm just not that big of a masochist ...

I was one of those people who kept warning those who had their hopes set so high that the return of ESPN was not gonna live up to what they remembered it as ... I remember them showing the Craftsman Truck races at 2am ... I knew they would not be able to compare to Fox/Speed and I was proven correct during Speedweeks ...

Thank you for watching the show ... And taking all of the pain for us ... I'm not sure if Worker's Comp would pay you for your brain exploding whilst watching the show ... ;-)

Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you John! I don't know why I torture myself with this show, but I joined you in brain explode on Thursday! PTL we weren't tortured with the show on Friday, my brain needed that rest!

I guess my curiosity got to me to try to see where he was going with the blurb about Chase doing in the mighty Jeff Gordon. You'd THINK that after all these months, he'd FINALLY have a clue! But nope, continues to show his ignorance.

Can we PLEASE get John Kernan back?!?!? How about Allen? He's GOTTA be free to be the host! Good gravy! You could pull almost any fan out of the stands and they could do a better job than Klueless! If it weren't for Stacy and Boris, I'd probably be able to stop watching.