Sunday, August 5, 2007

Sunday's "NASCAR Now" Hype Machine Goes Crazy

It is certainly apparent that both NASCAR Now host Erik Kuselias and commentator Tim Cowlishaw have never been to a Saturday night short track race.

The events at Montreal in the Busch Series race seemed to be something alien to them. Hot tempers on feisty drivers on a bad track after a long race with lots of caution periods is about as surprising as ice cream melting in the sunshine.

How ironic is it that Tony Stewart's favorite ESPN reporter David Amber was the one interviewing NASCAR's VP of Competition Robin Pemberton for NASCAR Now? Amber knows absolutely nothing about NASCAR, and no one understands why Andy Petree, Mike Massaro, or anyone else on the ESPN Pocono broadcast crew did not handle this key interview.

Unfortunately, Jamie Little's interview of Robby Gordon's replacement PJ Jones was not much better. Little had nothing to work with, as PJ was just "filling in" and certainly was not going to be dragged into the Gordon vs. NASCAR problem. She kept probing for "personal" feelings, and PJ was having none of it.

Finally, Rusty Wallace was brought-in to speak about this situation. Rusty was a little muddy on his details, and spoke about the situation in general terms. Cowlishaw added absolutely nothing to the situation, and once again looked like he was having some personal issues in the health department.

Once again, as he has done all season long, Stacy Compton took a deep breath and slowly laid-out the racing reality to the "hype boys." The best part about Stacy's comments were they related directly to the ESPN production crew and their coverage of the incident. Compton is a cool head in the middle of the madness.

Rusty Wallace once again showed-up to comment on Pocono. Daly Planet readers may remember our call to integrate the TV broadcast crew into this show. Wallace gave a great overview of Pocono, and this type of appearance on NASCAR Now is exactly what the network needs to lend some credibility to the "Bristol boys."

Poor David Amber was standing in a suit and tie among the crew uniforms in the garage area at Pocono. As field reporters do, Amber "threw" to a pre-produced package about Dale Junior and other drivers trying to focus on the Chase. The package made no sense, and Amber was eager to end his report and "throw" back to the studio.

Reporting from the NEXTEL Cup garage for NASCAR Now should be done by a member of the ESPN pit road crew, like Mike Massaro. Just like having Rusty on, it "ties" this studio program back to the track with credible people that viewers trust. Needless to say, neither Amber or Kuselias addressed the Stewart vs. ESPN story. Had this been another network, it would have been first on their "hype" list.

Reed Sorenson was brought-in for a live interview, but instead of letting Stacy Compton ask informed NASCAR questions, once again Erik Kuselias took the entire time asking questions of Sorenson one might expect of a first year fan. What a waste of time when the experts are not allowed to ask the questions of the drivers.

Then, all of a sudden, things on NASCAR Now got very strange. First, they reported on the Whelen Modified Tour winner in "news and notes." Both the Hartford Courant's Shawn Courchesne ( and I have been pushing NASCAR Now to feature the other NASCAR Regional Series from around the nation since this show began in February. The next step is highlights on Monday's show.

As the program discussed the pending merger of Evernham Motorsports, Kuselias awkwardly welcomed Claire B. Lang from XM Satellite Radio into the program live from the Pocono garage. With Sirius holding the NASCAR radio rights, and ESPN managing its own sports radio division, it certainly made a statement that neither David Amber or any of the ESPN staff reported this story to NASCAR Now.

Claire is a wonderful person, a veteran reporter, and her brief segment really served to show viewers just how lame David Amber's presence and level of knowledge is on the NASCAR trail. Surprisingly, Kuselias then went back to Lang and allowed her to continue to report on other stories like Ginn Racing problems and the latest on Jeff Gordon.

All season long on NASCAR Now, there has been a simmering tension between the NASCAR Now "Insiders" like Marty Smith, Terry Blount, and David Newton and the show host Erik Kuselias. The Daly Planet has written about it many times.

When Kuselias is absent, the reporters come on with big smiles on their faces and have fun. When Kuselias is present, and in full "hype" mode, things get ugly fast. Marty Smith especially is one to talk right over top of Kuselias and even ask him questions in return, which completely freaks him out. Mike Massaro got so mad earlier this season he asked Kuselias a live question, and the resulting failure to know Jimmie Johnson's crew chief exposed Kuselias as just a "talking head."

Now, we find that on a weekend when Marty Smith was in Montreal filling-in as a pit reporter, somehow NASCAR Now could not find Blount, Newton, Chengelis, Spake, or any of the pit reporters to provide the information reported by Lang. Seeing XM Radio's chief NASCAR reporter, and one of ESPN's biggest rivals for stories, reporting live on NASCAR Now just might make Marty's hair stand-up even straighter.

This program series has never shown any mercy when it comes to picking apart the weakest moments and biggest problems for any NASCAR drivers or team members. They have purposefully gone out of their way to feature the most embarrassing moments, and cash-in on the "tabloid" side of the sport.

Sunday, they do an entire hour without even a word on the "Stewart vs. ESPN" saga that is being reported all over the racing world. No footage of what Skip Bayless or Tony Kornheiser or whoever it was at ESPN that shot his mouth off said. No comment from management, no comment from Cowlishaw, nothing at all.

The ultimate irony for a bully is that when the tables are turned, they are the first to run. NASCAR Now has been a bully this season, and the results have been a mounting frustration about them. Now, Stewart turns the tables and the show simply runs away.

Tony Stewart asked "do we always have to leave with a dagger in our back from ESPN?" There is only one group that can answer that question, and on this Sunday they chose to ignore it completely. Perhaps, we will get a better answer after the Pocono race Sunday afternoon. Once again, it should be interesting.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks for stopping-by, and leaving your opinion.


SophiaZ123 said...

Dear John

THANK YOU for having to watch these shows. I am watching Race Day who is once AGAIN having technical problems. But they are getting ready to interview Mike Helton!! somebody Erik K never heard of.

If I didn't know better, John, I woulud think you were writing on a parody of NASCAR NOW.

But your selection of the word TABLOID is perfect. ESPN is trash.

I think somebody at ESPN works for Jerry Springer and that's where they get their stuff...that and the National tabloids.

Sad to think THESE guys think they are even WORTHY of being PAID by NASCAR.

Raceday is addressing R Gordon getting sat for the Pocono race. Not too often penalties bleed from one series to another but OBVIOUS Robby gordon deserves it.

Off to see Helton.

The fans are trying to DROWN OUT HELTON with cheers of "Let Robby Race"


Anonymous said...

Claire B. that is a name from the past. She used to be a player on John Boy and Billy, but evidently was removed. Vanished, with no mention of her ever again. Not even on replays. Wonder what she did wrong?

And the "word verification" is actually called CAPTCHA, "Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart". Seriously. You can read about it on Wikipedia. It is there to prevent spammers from posting here, and I think the hassle is worth it. Sophia, it too always asks me twice for verification.

I am about to sit and watch today's race....I think we're all looking to see what ESPN does with Tony. It would be fun to see him win and call them out again-this time after a win.

SophiaZ123 said...

anon 11:54

Thanks for letting me know you have to word verify more than once.

Between that and John's nice explanation, my paranoia is gone. :-)

And I am no longer blaming my favorite browser, Mozilla Gorilla!!

Happy Race Day Racing fans.

Anonymous said...

I didn't see the entire show, but watched the first 30 minutes. I have to disagree with your comments about the Robby Gordon situation and how it was handled on NASCAR Now. I didn't see any hype. I actually think Kuselias has gotten much better over the season and I didn't think he or Cowlishaw hyped the situation. (A few months ago, they would have.)

Rusty wasn't muddy at all. He point blank said he thought Robby should have been the leadwe after the caution, but he also said Robby knows that you can't fight NASCAR, thus the suspension. Stacy Compton, on the other hand, came across as a bit of a NASCAR apologist this morning. Normally I agree that he is good.

There is still room for improvement on this show, but I think having NASCAR Now as an option makes it harder to watch Jimmy Spencer now, though Raceday itself is still good. It was almost embarassing to see how Spencer "bowed down" to Mike Helton in that interview today. Maybe the ESPN studio people have some things to learn, but they seem professional and somewhat objective, which is what NASCAR needs sometimes.

Neither show asked a very important question: why didn't NASCAR officials red-flag the race and force Robby Gordon to his spot or off the track. I still haven't heard this question asked -NASCAR made the decision to drop the green flag, knowing full well Gordon's state of mind. Somebody needs to ask that question.

Anonymous said...

Because of the Butcher of N-NOW, I no longer watch it if I see or hear Erik K. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out why ratings for the Everything's Sinking P-Network are sinking in light of the corporate disdain with which they hold NASCAR and its fans.

Anonymous said...

I'm frankly shocked that ERIC K is still on NASCAR Now. He is clearly uninformed about NASCAR and the proof of this was on Friday morning's "Mike and Mike in the Morning." Erik and some other sports guy were filling in for the Mikes and were previewing the weekends events. Erik mentioned the NASCAR race and was asked if they were running the COT this weekend. After not answering and teasing everyone to "watch the race" Erik finally told the audience what car was being run this weekend: the COT! Enough said.

Darbar said...

John, do you think we'll see the same moral outrage from ESPN reporters seeing how Kurt Busch, while being interviewed on Speed's Victory Lane, told viewers to go out to a pub and celebrate their victory by drinking Miller Lite, to go out to a store and buy some Miller Lite and drink with us for the whole week? Since he's advertising a sponsor that their network gets dollors from, I bet there won't be any mention of his advocating drinking beer for a week.

cwebs said...

I actually thought Rusty made some sense when he spoke about the Montreal Mess on Nascar Now. He said exactly what most fans seem to believe - NASCAR was wrong to try and force Robby Gordon to fall back into the pack, but Robby was also wrong to do what he did afterward.

On the other hand, Rusty proceeded to give a much more muddled and ambivalent statement when the same subject came up later on Countdown. Frankly, what he said on Countdown was virtually indecipherable! I was actually impressed with his relatively bold statments on NN, but he returned to true Rusty form during the pre-race show. I wonder what happened in between???

Anonymous said...

Rusty was probably reminded of Article 4, which basically says he can only report what NASCAR approves. No independent thought or criticism of NASCAR is allowed.

Anonymous said...

Can someone count the number of times
Rusty Wallace says "I'll tell you what" during a nascar race.
It has to be over 200.

Anonymous said...

Amem Amen Amen Hallelujah - Nascar Now SUCKS!!! tell it like it is brother

If I didn't have another alternative like Speed TV I'd probably watch a ton less Nascar related anything

Thank you Speed for keeping this guy's interest

Anonymous said...

I think if I didn't have John Daly to read on Monday mornings, I would have thought I had gone mad!!! Sunday's NASCAR NOW was absolutely the worst to date (not that there have been any good ones!). The female automaton reading from her notes (Suzie) showed absolutely no interest in what she was doing - her eyes betray her to tell us all that there is nothing NASCAR going on in her head. It would be so easy to have ESPN hire really great people for their part of the 'season' and do it right instead of limping along with these very sad 'ESPN faces of NASCAR'. And to think we've got years of this silly contract with ESPN to go! God help us all!!!! Thanks so much John for fighting for us - sadly, no one at ESPN reads you because if they did we, the viewers, wouldn't have to suffer idiots gladly!

Anonymous said...

John - Because of your daily articles, I don't watch NASCAR NOW and like you, would love to see Allen Bestwick better utilized. But one thing I noticed last week is that ESPN heavily promoted thier Pocono race coverage via radio ads featuring Rusty Wallace. I heard the ad, 1-2 times a day for 3 days. The ad had Rusty encouraging people to watch the "Car of Tomorrow" race at Pocono and wondered if Hendrick would continue their COT dominance. Now I don't pay a lot of attention to which races are COT and which aren't, but imagine my surprise when I tuned in to qualifying on Friday afternoon, to find no COT's on the track! ESPN can't even get thier radio ads right! They had numerous opportunities to pull the ad or edit the ad, but no.......they had to run an incorrect promo in a large SE market. What idiots!

Anonymous said...

Eric K " Mr Mensa" is the WORST!, just awful. I watch him for the comedy. It was Woody Paige who made the Tony comment, about him "not being a role model" cause he was gonna have a beer..

Daly Planet Editor said...

Wow! You mean all this Tony "hub-bub" is about Woody Paige? Now things actually make more sense. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

I watch the pre-race show on Speed until it goes off and am then forced to switch over to ESPN. hence until the flag drops, I am doing anything but watching ESPN's pre-race show. Sorry, don't even know what they call it. I thought Speed handled the Stewart/Harvick "feud" with as much class as I have ever seen.They did not try to throw fuel on a fire between two friends, but instead, with good ole Jimmy Spencer, they turned it into a fun joke. It was great to see them not try to make something out of nothing.