Sunday, August 26, 2007

"NASCAR Now" In The Midnight Mode

Another unique situation occurred for ESPN with NASCAR Now airing a midnight version of its thirty minute show after the night race at Bristol. Hyped as a potential crash-fest, the network instead found itself dealing with a clean and almost boring race with a runaway winner.

Right away, host Erik Kuselias talked his way though the video highlights with Stacy Compton and Boris Said alongside. Kuselias is always put in a tough spot when he has little lead time for highlights. There is no script that he can rehearse, so his lack of racing knowledge is put on display.

This was the case at midnight, where Stacy and Boris often stepped-in to help him with concepts like passing, running the high line, and the fact that drivers don't "plan" where to finish at Bristol...things just happen.

Instead of showing the actual racing action, NASCAR Now is caught-up in showing accidents and incidents as the stories of the race. Its kind of like SportsCenter only showing homeruns in baseball highlights.

Usually, this is only a small part of the whole story of what happened. Viewers need a recap of how the race shook-out, not who spun or blew-up. Key pitstops, great saves, and moments of patience can be just as critical as "he hits the wall."

Leave it to Tony Stewart to swing the hammer at the press and then for ESPN to replay it. "It was awesome" Tony said of the new pavement. "It was the most fun I have ever had racing at Bristol since I have been here" he continued. The reporters crowded around pushing him for controversy. They were egging him on with "how was it different?" questions. The gang wanted anger, they wanted outrage, they wanted "bad boy" Tony to explode. What a fun way to live your life as a driver, huh?

"Did you watch the race?" said Tony. "What did you think was different?" When the reporters said "um...not a lot of crashes?" you understood a lot better what these drivers have to deal with day-in and day-out from the media. Tony said "you might want to watch some more races." NASCAR translation: how is it possible that you are here in Bristol with a mic in your hand, press pass on your shirt, and you have absolutely no clue to this sport?

Once back on the ESPN set, Erik Kuselias immediately defended his colleagues. "We have Manny being Manny (Red Sox baseball reference) and I guess this is Tony being Tony." What Kuselias is saying is that Tony was out-of-line and giving the press a hard time again. Can you believe that is all he got out of Tony's comments?

Then, to swing his own hammer at Stewart, Kuselias said "let's talk about the guy who actually won the race, Carl Edwards." Wow. So, Stewart is just some backmarker who dared to spout-off at the high and mighty Media? That's going to play well on his radio show. Can you believe after all the problems with ESPN reporters and Tony this season that ESPN would choose to step back into this arena?

Stacy Compton and Boris Said both pointed to Roush/Fenway for getting their COT act together and the efforts of their engineering staff. This was, they both said, the key to Carl Edwards winning effort. Unfortunately, this type of racing inside information goes right in one Erik Kuselias ear and then out the other.

Recapping the race includes interviewing and featuring Dale Earnhardt Jr. every time. Junior kidded ESPN for their rain delay luck, and then paid a great compliment to the whole DEI team. With ESPN obsessed with The Chase and not the race, Brad Daugherty appeared live from the track to address more "Junior making The Chase" issues. Daugherty just needs a crystal ball on his set, because ESPN continually asks him to address issues involving "guessing and predicting."

Tim Cowlishaw again appeared to review information already discussed and try to create some controversy. He tried to stir the Stewart vs. Roush, Bowyer vs. Hendrick, and the Kenseth vs. Carl Edwards pots, but had absolutely no luck. The silence on the set from both Stacy Compton and Boris Said spoke volumes.

You have to wonder what these two veterans think about designated "mouthpieces" like Cowlishaw and Daugherty repeatedly talking about the obvious. Now seven months into ESPN's NASCAR efforts, the frustration level has got to be high.

Fittingly, NASCAR Now once again dug-out Aerosmith to show-off the fact that ESPN has some of the best sports editors in the business. Each week they work very hard to breathe life into this tired and absolutely ridiculous piece of video which closes the show.

The challenge of sprucing-up the lip-syncing of a fifty-nine year old man from Yonkers and his band mates into something that NASCAR fans can tolerate is no small job. But somehow, armed with a couple of fender-benders and a back flip, they made it work once again.

If NBC/TNT can win a national Emmy Award for Best Live Sports Series with their 2007 NASCAR efforts, than certainly the ESPN editors will sweep the 2008 Best Editing Award for thirty eight weeks of performing life support on "Back in the Saddle Again."

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.


Anonymous said...

I find it funny how you talk about the media and how they blow things out of proportion, like trying to get Tony Stewart to crack. But you are doing the same thing. Its the media. They ask questions. Your blowing it out of proportion.

bevo said...

The problem is that they are NOT asking questions. All they want are sound bites. Listen to these and count how many actual questions are asked. Most are just statements by the reports and they expect the drivers to expand those thoughts. If you're a reporter watch the race and take notes. Ask questions based on what you noted. Don't just throw a mic in front of a driver and expect him to do your job for you.

As far as Erik K goes... I don't care. If he's on I turn it off. He's had plenty of time to improve. It ain't going to happen. Man I miss RPM2Night (or Nite, however they had it).

Richard in N.C. said...

The hallmark of the modern media is the mental giant who invented the request (demand?) "Talk about (whatever it was you were doing)."

SophiaZ123 said...

I hardly think critiquing ESPN for their lame, clueless questions from their CLUELESS reports and pointing THAT out, is comparable to what is being discussed at this site.

Thankfully I did not watch NN but Stewart had a VALID POINT.

Erik K is just USELESS.

Pathetic show, putrid host, clueless producers/directors, etc.

Statboy said...

I'm just surprised they stopped talking about what number Junior will drive next year to actually mention anything about the race.

wow... didn't see that one coming.

cwebs said...

JD -

"Midnight at the Oasis" - I love it! Makes me think of Maria Muldaur...

bevo -

I agree, they're just looking for easy soundbites. Tony's far too wise(azz) to give them out so easily!

I think it was the reporter who was holding the "NEWS 13 abc" mic that Tony was challenging. It wasn't even the "not as many crashes" answer that Tony went off on. Since that was basically true (though painfully obvious), Tony prompted him to give another reason. The reporter then said something like: "It was faster?". It was after this pathetic answer that Tony went on is rant. Love him or hate him, you've got to admit that Tony isn't afraid to call a spade a spade!


Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now is clearly produced by someone who doesn't know the sport and doesn't care to know it, either. This person apparently assumes that race fans go to races to see wrecks, so they show wrecks as "highlights" and if there weren't many, they call it a dull race.

The importance of pit strategy and who-passed-who-when (and where) eludes them.

Is "Baseball Tonight" produced by someone who doesn't know baseball and thinks the most exciting part of a game happens if there's a fight?

Seiko said...

Explain something to me. What was NASCAR Now doing in studio? It boggles my mind. The little network that doesnt even carry the race has more people and more at track coverage then the network that owns the rights to air it!!!

I wont watch NN its too much hype and zero substance. Boris Said, it must be painful to him to appear on that show. I hope at some point he can take it in a better direction. I however doubt in ESPN HYPE WORLD even thinks that there is anything wrong with the show.

Just spit balling.... but how do you guys think Boris would be in Rustys spot?

Anonymous said...

At least ESPN had a post race show. SPEED is nothing but trash. Why the heck not show Victory Lane on the day of the race? They did when their corporate buddies FOX was the network showing the races.

I guess SPEED doesn't care to much to show a post race show if a different network is showing the race.

They either need to step up or step out.

steve from MD said...

So last night Erik demonstrated his vast knowledge of NASCAR, it's drivers and fans by comparing Tony Stewart to Manny Ramirez? This is the dumbest attempt at an anology I have ever heard! First of all, no-one outside of MASS and NH has ever heard the phrase, "Manny being Manny", and furthermore, Tony and Manny are totally different personalities. You really cannot compare Tony to anybody, he is his own man.

Erik also furthered the stereotype? of ESPN Eastcoast baseball bias.

The Saturday night broadcast was a vast improvement and I see a better product. Not so for the host of NASCARNOW, just keep him away from any ESPN microphone please!

John, who is the 59 year old from Yonkers you were referring to? Aerosmith?

Anonymous said...

I guess SPEED doesn't care to much to show a post race show if a different network is showing the race.
Nice try, but no. They have shown them before and will show them again. Last week, for example.

Anonymous said...

Nice try, but no. They have shown them before and will show them again. Last week, for example

Dude, you missed my point. Showing a post race show for a Saturday night race Sunday night is something only a crap network would do. SPEED needs to get with it.

SophiaZ123 said...

While I will agree MUCH of SPEEDS late night tv is TOTAL TRASH, i do not understand your hostility that they show VL on Sunday night. They used to repeat it on Monday night and should again.

As far as after the race, I do miss that aspect but not enough to get mad over it. I think folks never knew when to TUNE to SPEED and often the show SPEED was broadcasting would get dumped for the race when they ran overtime...just my guess?

Well, ok...they did leave Michigan early but that two day rain delay messed up lots of INC, etc.

Just curious, you any relation to the ESPN supporters here. ;-)

Daly Planet Editor said...


That would be Steven Tyler, born March 26, 1948 in the Yonkers section of NYC. Good guess!

Steve in MD said...

Thanks John. That must be a little known fact about Aerosmith because after living in New England for so many years, I assumed Steven was born in MASS.

He is like the "Springsteen" of that particular area, but as you know, not nearly as popular as the Red Sox.

cwebs said...

I hope the New Yorkers don't come after you JD, Yonkers is it's own city, not part of NYC! ;-)

Yonkers actually has at least one connection to NASCAR. It was the birthplace of Larry Mann, said to be the first driver who died in a NASCAR race (way back in 1952).

Daly Planet Editor said...

I guess I could have said it a little bit better. Yonkers is just north of NYC proper. Yes, is its own city.

cwebs said...

Sorry JD, just some gentle ribbing from a confirmed Yankee of the "New England" variety. I know how touchy those "New Yorker" type Yankees can be about their city!

I need to call myself out too. I’m usually careful about the proper use of "its" and "it's", but I'll be darned if I didn't screw it up there in that post!

Anonymous said...

i watched nascar now once. that show sucks

Anonymous said...

What makes me upset is SPEED's decision to only air VL on Sunday, even for Saturday races leaves ESPN as the only option for post race coverage.

They could easily pre-empt whatever is on at that time and air VL live.

ESPN does something similar when an NBA or MLB playoff game is on another network. Once when the game is over, ESPN's post game show would begin.

SPEED should do the same thing.

Anonymous said...

Let's just get ESPN out of motorsports! I don't watch ESPN because I am not a sports junkie but a racing junkie, so I really don't understand ESPN at all; just like they don't understand racing.
I like reading this column, because I can't stand to watch much of the show.
Poor Boris and Stacy, I have seen enough to watch them squirm, but I really don't like watching torture!

cwebs said...

I've got to agree that SPEED should be airing Victory Lane live after the race, even late on a Saturday night. They could still re-air it in the regular Sunday night timeslot for those people who expect to find it there.

Since they don’t air it live on a regular basis, we are left to wonder why. Maybe JD can get the straight scoop on this for us???

Is it ESPN that is somehow blocking SPEED from airing it live? I guess that’s theoretically possible (if they have some sort of exclusivity agreement with NASCAR on post-race programming), but ESPN doesn’t even have their own live post-race show (after the race broadcast signs off, anyway), unless you count the obnoxious SportsCenter coverage as legitimate post-race programming (I certainly don’t!). Furthermore, for whatever its worth, they don’t seem to have the ability to stop RaceDay from overlapping with Countdown.

Here’s my theory -- I think it might have something to do with the cost of guaranteeing a slot on a satellite for the live feed. Because it's difficult to predict when the race will actually end, I'm guessing they'd have to pay lots of $$$$$$ to reserve a big block of satellite time. Since they can only run so many commercials during the one hour show, there might not be enough revenue to cover the satellite costs. This is just a WAG on my part, as I certainly don’t have any inside info…

Anonymous said...

Speed not showing Victory Lane after the race. Do you THINK maybe ESPN has an exclusivity clause regarding broadcasting rights on race day. Maybe you should listen to the annoucements made before or during the broadcast. I know baseball, football and hockey have these rights so I suppose Nascar may also.

Anonymous said...

No. Totally incorrect.

If you don't know the legalities, don't presume to tell others how they work.

Anonymous said...

The hallmark of the modern media is the mental giant who invented the request (demand?) "Talk about (whatever it was you were doing)."

Ah, yes, the hallmark of the reporter who doesn't know what to ask.

I recommend that any subject of an interview who is on the end of that demand say, "I'm sorry, did you have a question for me to answer?"

Desmond said...

I remember when SPEED Channel aired NASCAR Victory Lane on Saturday nights after races as late as this year when Fox had the broadcast rights. So ESPN must have had exclusive post-race show rights negotiated into their portion of coverage.

And Steven Tyler was born on 3/26/48? Wow! My mom was born just 11 days before that!