Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Wednesday's "NASCAR Now" Slams Craftsman Truck Series

Delayed twenty-five minutes by Little League play, NASCAR Now took to the air on Wednesday with a lot of things to talk about. Host Ryan Burr has always set a fast pace on the show he hosts, and this was no exception.

Burr led directly into the Tuesday race highlights from the program's opening animation and never looked back. He really brings a lot to the table as he voices-over the highlights, and adds a lot of excitement to the show.

Kurt Busch and his Crew Chief Pat Tryson appeared in a live interview right after the highlights, what a concept! Burr quizzed them both about the season, this past weekend, and the upcoming Bristol race. Busch certainly has come a long way, and Tryson seems to be just the person to manage his racing activities.

Burr kept talking to them both, and I had the feeling that it was a couple of guys who knew racing just talking. You can get the vibe from the drivers and crew chiefs as to whether they believe the person asking them the questions is clued-in, or clue-less. You could tell these two knew Burr was clued-in.

NASCAR Now did their own version of "through the field" with footage and sound from the key drivers in the NEXTEL Cup Michigan race. This recap format was outstanding, and Burr's information was first-rate.

Burr brought-in Brad Daugherty, who really has continued to improve in his strong and opinionated comments. His remarks on Dale Earnhardt Junior and his lack of momentum were clear cut, and his statement about Junior being overshadowed by Kurt Busch's team at Bristol pulled no punches. As we mentioned earlier, both Burr and Allen Bestwick really bring out the best in Daugherty.

Reporter Terry Blount loves to talk with Burr. Wednesday, he had center stage to talk about the new Chase format, the problems it brings, and why Hendrick Motorsports COT domination has faded. Blount was outspoken in saying both Jeff Gordon and Jimmy Johnson are his clear favorites for the championship.

Blount and Marty Smith returned for some news, including the logistical hassle of getting to Bristol for the Cup teams. These two updated the Scott Riggs, Toyota, and AT&T stories. Finally, the new rumor of the week is Dario Franchitti moving from open-wheel land to NASCAR at some point. Blount put the possibility of this move in perspective, including the team Dario was talking with about the change.

Unfortunately, NASCAR Now shot itself in the foot once again in the final segment of the program. Every NASCAR fan knows that this Wednesday night the Craftsman Truck Series is going to be live on SPEED. To ESPN, this does not matter. Rather than preview the Truck race later that night, the show chose to offer a pre-produced generic preview of the NEXTEL Cup race some three days away.

The struggle for this program is whether NASCAR Now is about NASCAR, or only NASCAR on ESPN. If there was a defining moment in that process, it might have been tonight. Some top names are in the Truck race, and this race will show fans how the new surface of the racetrack holds-up. Any way you slice it, tonight is big for NASCAR in many ways.

Pretending that any NASCAR race not on ESPN does not exist is unforgivable. NASCAR has a deep and vested interest in the Truck Series, and for ESPN to purposefully shun them in a program airing less than one hour before the race is simply wrong.

This type of bad decision affects the credibility of Burr, of NASCAR Now, and ultimately of ESPN. A great show ruined by one bad decision. Maybe they should just change the title to NASCAR on ESPN Now.

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.


Brian said...

I wish I knew NASCAR Now was on, I though it was gone for the whole week. I would of definitely watched with Burr on!

Regarding Burr, there probably isn't much he can really do about the Truck Series, they probably have him on a pretty tight leash with that, whether it hurts his image or not.

Good review as always though, John!

jfs-va said...

Judging by the crowds at the Truck races, and sometimes the Busch races, I don't think NASCAR fans consider them a high priority either.

I mentioned not missing Brad and Suzi at the Michigan race in another post, but I do like Brad when he's on. He has a real enthusiasm and uses "terms" the average guy might use to describe someone going fast around the track.

SophiaZ123 said...

It's too bad more folks dont' watch the Trucks. It took me a while to get into them..course the first year I did not have SPEED.

The trucks have the different body that makes the aerodynamics different or something...they say it's similar to COT but I forget the exact details. I love watching them.

stricklinfan82 said...

That is pretty inexcusable to completely ignore the truck race. I don't expect to see ESPN say something like "the truck series races tonight on Speed Channel at 8:00" but they could at least mention something about it. I'm sure there are a lot of fans that had no idea the Trucks were running on Wednesday night this week since that's so unusual so ESPN obviously didn't want to risk diverting NASCAR fans away from Little League Baseball on ESPN or the Mets game on ESPN2. Oh wait, I just remembered that ABC has their NASCAR behind the Scenes show on ABC on Wednesday night. I didn't watch NASCAR Now but can I assume that there was some sort of promo for the ABC show during the broadcast?

There is absolutely nothing going on news-wise Thursday night except for Busch Series open testing at Bristol so NASCAR Now's #1 priority on Thursday's show should be a review of the truck race. If they completely ignore that the race ever happened they have officially lost the last little bit of credibility they might have had left with the NASCAR fans that still watch the show. I won't be watching to see how it turns out but I'm sure Mr. Daly will gladly give us the update on the how NASCAR Now treated the Truck Series race on Thursday's episode on his next post either Thursday night or Friday morning.

Thanks as always for the updates on NASCAR Now's continued futility. Nope, it's still not safe to come back and watch yet, LOL.

Anonymous said...

Just because people don't attend the Truck races or Busch races in the same numbers as Nextel Cup doesn't mean they shouldn't be covered. The Yankees sell out but the Royals don't. Obviously the Yankees get top billing with their highlights running near the top or at the top of ESPNews or Sportscenter, but the Royals highlight will still run. Look, no one's saying that they should lead their show with Busch or Trucks, but they should at least get them in there.

Burr has no say over this. If they have a meeting of the minds every day, I'm sure he has some input, but the producers and executive producers have all the say when it comes to content.

I honestly don't think it has to do with the fact that the truck race isn't on ESPN. I really think it has to do with the fact that they believe it isn't important and that they probably have few people who know enough about it to cover it with any kind of credibility. For as good as Burr does, I wonder if he even knows anything about the truck series.

SophiaZ123 said...

Yea, it's TRULY amazing they never mentioned Bristol tonight but why does this not surprise me.

I have FINALLY let go of the aggravation of trying to watch NN. I read about it here and had it been good, would've caught the repeat.

I never thought about the total revamping of Bristol when I posted earlier but CRIPES.

Just another example of INSULTING NASCAR and the serious fans.

Tell me again why NASCAR is letting this happen?

Sure, I know, even I have said the deal is done and all have the money. But doesn't NASCAR have to answer to SPONSORS as to why ESPN is ignoring the Truck series all together???

Anonymous said...

Quick disclaimer: I'm not saying this is the right way to do things, just saying it's the way things are done.

I think the only sponsor that would get upset with ESPN would be Sears/Craftsman. Sorry, but the Truck series doesn't get a large draw, on TV or in the stands. So in reality, ESPN is catering to NASCAR by keeping their most high-profile series front and center regardless of what's going on. The same thing with Jr. He sells the most merchandise and has the most fans. As long as ESPN is all over him, NASCAR's going to be happy, because maybe the newer, more casual fans, will buy gear.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let me tell you straight-up, there is no excuse for not including one of only three national touring series in this sport. This comes down to TV network issues, not news priorities.

Erik Kuselias voiced-over a generic preview of Bristol Cup racing where the Truck story should have been.

Remember my analogy to College Gameday? Once Disney took over, only games on ABC are previewed. The other games, even Notre Dame, just simply do not exist.

Last week you saw this when ESPN gave up practice and qualifying to SPEED because ESPN had schedule problems. They simply ignored the fact it existed, and brought a Busch East Series driver into the studio to fill time.

They have never even shown, or acknowleged that series all season long. They simply would do anything to avoid mentioning SPEED, including dropping a preview of a truck race that had many top NEXTEL Cup stars on a exciting track just re-paved.

Do not be naive, these things are discussed well in advance in meetings where senior managers apply their brand of ESPN pressure to NASCAR oriented producers.

Can you imagine that meeting? What, ignore the Truck race at Bristol with Mark Martin and Kyle Busch? Why? Oh...its on SPEED.

If Baseball Tonight ignored the American League because ESPN carried only National League games, baseball fans would go nuts. Why would any NASCAR fan buckle under when the only national NASCAR show on TV ignores the Truck Series?

Mike The Madman said...

Between the 3 series, the Truck Series is probably the closest thing to being untainted when it comes to the actual racing. It's the way racing use to be in Cup and Busch. But because it hasn't been hyped to high heavens like Cup and Cup Lite, it doesn't get the attendance the other two series do. I'll take a truck race oner a Cup race anyday. ESPN needs to wake up about how they do their programs and coverage. Another great job JD.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, sure, ESPN can cover the truck series more than they have in the past. (Yes, there HAVE been truck series highlights on NASCAR Now). That will make the two dozen or so fans that go out and watch those races happy.

If Bristol had 160,000 for the truck race, I bet you that ESPN would cover it more. However, 16 fans just doesn't cut it.

If you want more coverage, than you better get NASCAR fans off their butts and into the stands.

The same goes for all of those NASCAR regional series. Tell me the last time you've seen highlights from a Class A minor leage baseball team on Baseball Tonight.

Coverage of anything is all driven by fan interest. If something isn't being shown enough, its the fans fault for not buying a ticket and filling up the stands.

Rick- NY said...

John,you were mentioned for the good job you do reporting on that puke show NN in Mad Mike's article today at LAIDBACK -Take a look!

Anonymous said...

As Rick, Phil and Mikey mentioned during the race, with the new concrete here at BMS,*every* NASCAR owner, driver, crew chief, and team member would be joining us fans to watch the first NASCAR race in the new configuration to see what had been done to 'their' favorite track!!

NN blew it big-time once again by ignoring real news.

Tom in Bristol
PS...the outside groove is there!

Anonymous said...

There should be no problem for ESPN to announce the tv schedule for upcoming Nascar events. They do it for the NBA. They tell you what nationally televised games will be on ABC, ESPN and TNT over the next few days. Fox / Speed and NBC / TNT had no problem cross promoting upcoming NASCAR events. It was in the best interest of the sport they were trying to cover. They were thinking big picture. HMMM a new concept!

If Sears / Craftsman wants to push the issue about the lack of truck highlights on Nascar Now, pull the sponsorship of the show. Craftsman is a primary sponsor...

Anonymous said...

ESPN SUCKS, period!!!

ps: Burr isn't much better than EK. Real fans don't want a "suit" or "bunch of suits" telling us our NASCAR!!!

Anonymous said...

For all of you so called NASCAR fans who do not watch the Truck don't know what you're missing. So far this year the trucks have been much more exciting to watch then the CUP part because of no Rusty...Weber and the like in the booth calling the race.

Anonymous said...

Once again ESPN proved how much they suck by failing to acknowledge the Truck race.

Prior to attending my first truck race last November here in Texas, I would watch them sporadically. After being at one and seeing how much fun they are and how exciting they can be, I've been trying to watch them faithfully ever since. The one thing that really stood out is how much more relaxed the atmosphere at the track is and the drivers are so enthuisiastic during driver intros, too. They actually acknowledge the crowd and wave-you can tell they are excited to be there. It's not 'oh here we go again around the track for the 80th time. ho-hum boring' while they yak with whoever is in the back of the truck with them.

One way that the truck races may get more attendance and viewers is if there were more stories about the drivers. Kinda like that one reality that SPEED aired a few seasons ago about the Cup drivers. I'd like to know more about the guys behind the wheel and their teams.

What about autograph sessions at the track? Where are their souvenir trailers? If they have trailers, why aren't they out all weekend? Some people who like the truck races may not be able to get to the track until Saturday or Sunday. How can they buy truck stuff if there's no trailers out? Tracks sit on acres of land so they could find room for them somewhere, one would think. NASCAR needs to get these guys out in the public more. The more promoting they do, they more people will pay attention. Maybe more people would attend the races, too.

Anonymous said...

The truck race at Nashville draws as many, if not more, fans than the Busch races held there.

If you look back this year where the trucks run at the same track with the cup drivers, the trucks are actually faster than the cup cars. Mainly because of the stupid COT tanks.

When all this shakes out with the COT, I would be willing to bet many fans will cross over to the Busch Series and the trucks simply because the IROC type of racing will turn off the real racing fans. The IROC series didn't make it, why does NASCAR think the COT- IROC type cars will?

Want to find out why ratings are down, ESPN and NASCAR are running off the loyal fans of the past and the COT will finish off the rest of them.

Signed: Almost former NASCAR fan...

cwebs said...

Well, I didn't even get a chance to see NN dissing the Trucks! Since it was delayed, my DVR only caught the first half of the show. I even tried to catch the late-night repeat, but I don't think it ever aired! Sometimes I get the impression that ESPN is trying to cram 10 pounds worth of "sports events" into a 5 pound bag. I guess NN was one of the things that got squeezed out (at least partially) on Wednesday...


cwebs said...

Wow! It looks like NN has been completely squeezed out of ESPN's schedule until Saturday!!! There was no episode of NN on Thursday night that I could find, and my cable company's on-screen schedule shows nothing for Friday night either!

I thought NASCAR Now was supposed to be a DAILY show focusing on NASCAR news??? How do they get away with totally ignoring the Trucks, not to mention the Busch series??? Is ANYONE at NASCAR Headquarters paying attention to this travesty???


Anonymous said...

John, your "American League" analogy doesn't make any sense. The American League is the professional equal of the National League. The Truck Series, is NOT the professional equal of the Nextel Cup series. Again, it's AA baseball. How many truck drivers could hop out of their rig and into a Cup ride tomorrow and win in the NNCS? Nascar Now pays very little attention to the Busch Series as well for this same reason, and that airs on ESPN.

You constantly argue that because it's called "NASCAR Now" that all levels of NASCAR should be covered. I beg to differ. It's called "Baseball Tonight," but they don't cover AAA, AA, A, or Short Season baseball. I've been to many minor league games and their very exciting and very different from MLB. The Truck series is cool and has some great races, but it's minor league. I think at best, NASCAR Now should do a highlight, and that's it, unless something truly newsworthy happens at the race.

Finally, your complaint about College Gameday is baseless. I, as a graduate of a Big Ten school, watch Gameday every week. They constantly cover SEC games, even though the SEC's huge games appear on CBS. Notre Dame was ignored for a few years because despite their popularity, they stunk. Since Weiss has come to South Bend, Gameday has been all over ND. They take the 5-10 best games each week, break them down, and pick a winner. Sure the game they go to is one their covering, but that's just smart. Do you think CBS would allow them to broadcast from the stadium where they were covering a game? Obviously not. I've never gone a weekend and watched Gameday and said, "Gee, they didn't talk Georgia/Florida. Oh, the game is on CBS." Why? Because they DO talk Georgia/Florida. Finally, if they were only covering what they showed, they would only really show Big Ten and ACC since they have major contracts with those conferences. Yet they do tons of coverage on the Pac-10, SEC, Big 12, and Big East.

One more thing. I know you'll accuse me of working in Bristol, since you've done it before. The fact is, I'm agreeing with ESPN, I'm not on their payroll. Turns out, I'm entitled to my opinion, regardless of who signs my paycheck.

cwebs said...

I think Baseball Tonight would almost certainly cover a AA or AAA game if two major league stars as big as Mark Martin and Kyle Busch were participating it it!!!

This truck race at Bristol also qualifies as newsworthy because of the new racing surface. This was an important preview for the Friday and Saturday night races, and ESPN acted like it was invisible.

Imagine if Yankee stadium was completely rebuilt, the first game played there was by their AA affiliate, and both Roger Clemens and Derek Jeter were participating in the game. You can't tell me there would be no coverage of such a game on Baseball Tonight!


Anonymous said...

obviously some of you guys never leave your chair, or you'd KNOW that more than 30,000 fans were in attendance at Bristol FOR THE TRUCKS!
No the stands weren't close to full because they hold over 100,000 fans.
But a local short track would have a heart attack trying to do anything with 30000fans.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Its pretty hilarious that I am getting raked over the coals for a baseball analogy. My friend, I certainly disagree with your statements, but agree you have the absolute right to make them.

The NASCAR regional series is AA Baseball. Many Truck Series drivers have been featured in the Cup Series, and obviously many former Cup drivers with some years on them moved to Trucks to escape the grind. Never for one day has Mike Skinner, Jack Sprague, or Ron Hornaday been acused of being "minor league." There are three divisions of NASCAR that tour nationally. They all have national TV contracts, all have their races live, and all have been around for years.

Your analogy about Baseball Tonight and NASCAR Now is off-base. NASCAR has already had several daily shows on TV. They departed for a great variety of reasons, but had one thing in common. They understood that mentioning the Joey Laganos and Chad McCumbees of the world was vital to understanding the sport as a whole.

Wednesdays would be a great night to feature a regional series or a regional driver. Even RPM2Night, which covered all motorsports, had time for the minor leagues. With NASCAR Now only covering one slice of the pie, there should be plenty of time to step back and give fans a national perspective.

Finally, the College Gameday story is priceless. This season, it should be very interesting with some new regional networks and ESPN Plus back in full force.

As you might note from my column, I had absolutely no issue with their location. They have taken tons of flack for spinning the games on ESPN, ABC, and ESPN Plus to the top of the list, and ignoring their direct competitors.

When things crank-up again this season, we can visit this topic again. If you get a chance, maybe you can take a second and sign-up for a blue name so we can always reference your comments. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

John, AA and AAA baseball tour nationally as well. It's called "away games." Look, we just don't see eye to eye on this and that's fine, as I appreciate the debate.

Sure, Baseball Tonight will show AA or AAA highlights when a big major leaguer is rehabbing there, but it only gets a mention and the only line they show is the major leaguer's stats for that night.

I know Martin and Busch were in the race but it doesn't change the fact that 80-90% of the Truck Series drivers couldn't make it in Cup. Say all you want about people going there to avoid the grind of the Cup series, but the Cup series is the Show, everything else is minor leagues, whether it tours nationallly(AAA Baseball) or regionally (A Short season).

To Anon concerning attendance. 30,000 at Bristol is nothing. Seats 165,000. Quick math tells me that that's 18% capacity. Sure, 30,000 would be a ton at a dirt track, but it's not a dirt track, it's Bristol Motor Speedway. To compare to stick and ball sports,if the Red Sox were at 18% capacity, they'd have 6,985 fans. They sell out every night, and yet they play 81 games a year there. Bristol has the "National Tour" come around twice a year and they can only get 30,000 for a national tour??? The Red Sox held "Futures at Fenway" again this season, where the AA and AAA teams play at Fenway park. They got 30,000 people. So for AA and AAA baseball, Fenway Park was at 77% Capacity(38,805).

Daly Planet Editor said...

If you look at the front page of, what you see are the three national touring series.

To the left is the link for the regional series. The Trucks are considered the third national touring series by the sanctioning body.

There is no doubt that the Cup Series is the show, but that certainly does not exclude a daily NASCAR show from reporting on the third national touring series.

The issue is simple. SPEED Channel has those races, and until the designated day that Craftsman purchases TV ads on ESPN, nothing will be said. Then suddenly, when the sponsorship appears, there are the Trucks and even a driver interview.

Bristol was not always that size, and was specifically built for the Cup dates. To judge a stand-alone Truck race on that criteria does not cut it.

As for the remark about "away games," I found it to be in poor taste. I guess when my minor league baseball team here in South Florida travels to California, it must be one long bus ride.

Anonymous said...

John, you just supported my argument with your Craftsman comment. You said that as soon as Craftsman starts buying ad time on ESPN, NASCAR Now and ESPN will start covering the truck series. Actually, Craftsman already has ad space on ESPN. Craftsman sponsors NASCAR Now once a week. At the start of the show it says "NASCAR Now is brought to you by Craftsman." There's also a Craftsman logo in the monitor behind their desk. Again, it has nothing to do with what station the race is on. If that were the case, they'd only show baseball highlights of their game. They'd never lead Sunday night's Sportscenter with the Sunday night NBC NFL game, and only their ABC basketball games would be on the network.

Just because they tour the nation doesn't make them a major league. The "away games" comment wasn't in poor taste, it's true. It's also true that the Village People still tour the country but no one's gonna put them in the same league as the Rolling Stones.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My comments were framed in the context of Craftsman already having that sponsorship all season long on NN. That was my point.

Regardless of the actual news, who participates, or the profile of the event, it only shows up on sponsor day.

Truck fan said...

For what it's worth, Bristol Motor Speedway officials announced to the media on hand at the track on Wednesday night that there were approximately 60,000 people on hand for the NCTS race.

Granted, 60,000 is not 160,000...but as some have mentioned it was for a AA-level race on a Wednesday night.

The NCTS is great racing. If you love it like I do, great. If you refuse to watch because the so-called superstars in the Cup series don't participate, well, it's your loss.

For any NASCAR-related show to ignore what happens in other NASCAR series other than Cup is shameful. Not only should they cover Busch and Trucks, they should cover the Grand National and Modified divisions as well.