Tuesday, November 6, 2007

ESPN Hosts A "NASCAR Day" Without NASCAR

Marty Reid has been working hard for ESPN on both the NHRA and IndyCar Series. He certainly has been an outstanding announcer and of great service to ESPN.

Suddenly, Reid has been turning-up on NASCAR Now, ESPN2's daily NASCAR show. There was never an explanation of why, but it was nice to see him. Perhaps, he was doing some vacation relief duty, even though the series has two regular hosts.

Tuesday night, Reid was once again hosting NASCAR Now, only tonight things would be very different. This episode of the show was ESPN's attempt to host a "NASCAR day" at the end of the season, and discuss some pressing issues about the sport.

Selected to participate were driver Jeff Burton, NASCAR Insider Marty Smith, and veteran Charlotte Observer writer David Poole. Reid informed viewers right at the top of the show that NASCAR President Mike Helton would not be participating due to "scheduling conflicts." NASCAR would not be represented in a TV program about them carried by one of their official TV partners.

Reid led the panel through a question about the length of the season, which broke the ice and let everyone participate. David Poole cut to the chase about the NHIS purchase and the amount of money each race is worth. The season will not be shortened. Several other topics were then discussed, with good results.

Reid then laid-out ESPN's plan to change the way NASCAR races are scored. It was an interesting moment in NASCAR Now history, and one had the feeling that Reid was fully aware of just how off-beat this suggestion was.

Reid tried to make the case that Dale Earnhardt Jr. checking the Redskins score during a race meant the race was too long. As many of us know, Junior is a Redskins fan, and keeps up with the team. Reid unveiled a graphic while asking "how do we make every lap count?"

He proposed that NASCAR divide each race into quarters, just like an NFL game. He continued on to suggest that the purse and the points be split into these quarters in order to make "these guys run hard all day." Reid first turned to Jeff Burton for a reaction.

"Well, the first word that comes to mind is absurd," said Burton. "The goal of racing is to be there at the end. This (ESPN) system would reward people for doing things that would actually hamper they way they finished the race. So, it makes no sense."

Burton continued "you used the worst example in the world of Talladega to expose a problem, when in fact we don't have this problem at most race tracks. You have to run hard to be competitive at almost every race track with the exception of Talladega, so I think that (concept) is absurd."

Marty Smith was next, and fled this idea at high speed. He suggested "making winning matter" and mentioned that David Poole had a good idea about this. In "TV land," that is called re-directing the conversation. Smith knew better than to get himself on TV talking about racing in "quarters" like the NFL.

The next topic on the agenda was the Busch Series, which will change to Nationwide Insurance sponsorship next season. This is the one NASCAR series carried exclusively by ESPN. After a brief conversation about Cup drivers "Busch-whacking," Marty Smith chimed-in with some views. They were very interesting.

Smith said "one thing that NASCAR should do is really promote the young kids." He was referring to the youngsters who have raced this season in the Busch Series in almost total anonymity. "Create a separate interest for the fan," continued Smith. His point was that the promotion of the Busch "regulars" is key to this series becoming healthy. Unfortunately, he missed one key issue.

The Busch Series has been ignored by NASCAR Now for the entire season. Somehow, that part slipped his mind. Clearly, NASCAR had entrusted an entire series to ESPN and they had summarily run it into the ground.

Any reader of The Daly Planet this season saw our outrage when the entire NASCAR Countdown show before the Busch Series race at Talladega did not even mention the Busch race. Thirty minutes of Brad Daugherty and company talking to NEXTEL Cup drivers about "the big one" and "drafting" without ever mentioning the actual race they were there to preview.

Incredibly, young Brad Coleman had taken his first Busch Series pole position and was not even interviewed. After the race, Coleman had landed himself a top ten finish and was not interviewed once again. Smith was right in saying that this series needs a distinct identity. What he forgot was his network was the one totally responsible for ignoring these same up-and-coming stars.

The ironic twist is that for over ten months now The Daly Planet has been asking ESPN to include Busch Series highlights and interviews on the Sunday morning and Monday evening one hour NASCAR Now programs. It never happened.

Two or three minutes of Busch Series highlights and interviews should not be a problem. Especially, when every race is carried by ESPN...and NASCAR Now is ESPN's "NASCAR only" TV series. Can this concept be any more fundamental?

Why Erik Kuselias was not hosting this show is anyone's guess. It was suggested that his level of NASCAR knowledge would not lend itself to this type of free-flowing conversation with three experienced personalities. Substitute host Ryan Burr was also nowhere to be found. How Marty Reid wound-up in Bristol on the NASCAR trail is a mystery. At least he was the right man for the job and someone viewers trust.

There are so many good news items to discuss, and getting these three "experts" together was a great idea. Hopefully, it will happen again soon.

Certainly, one thing fans will be talking about is ESPN suggesting that NASCAR races be like NFL games and played in four quarters. Also, the network making the case that the change is needed because that is the only way drivers would "run hard all the time." It certainly has been a long season.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Well, Marty Reid said he was there for three nights straight so that question has been answered.

Tonights show was really strange for NN. The concept is good... the questons were bad. I'll still take this over the normal EK and NN.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this show. I wasn't sure if I was watching today but it drew me in and I enjoyed it. Honestly, the four quarters of NASCAR thing was so ludicrous I forgot about it until mentioned here. I just enjoyed seeing real NASCAR experts going back and forth on things fans talk about - is the schedule too long, the top 35, which races should be shorter - instead of constant Jeff/Jimmie, Driver Pick "Em", the Eliminator, etc. The four quarters thing was just a fly in the ointment to me because they all immediately said it was stupid.

It was funny how in the first segment Marty Reid could not get control of the panel. My husband watched the recording and said "It's like they thought they were on Pit Bulls and forgot they were on NASCAR Now!" He loved them interrupting each other and following up on what each other said. We've already set the recorder for the next two days.

Did you notice the viewer interaction? The espn.com poll with results given at the end of the show, plus requesting viewer email to read tomorrow on the show? Telling who's going to be on tomorrow (Denny Hamlin) and what stories are going to be on espn.com?. Pretty drastic changes, seemingly overnight. I hope it's for the best. But I say good job NASCAR Now!

Matt said...

While I agree that the "ESPN Scoring" system was a rediculous-although interesting-idea, I hope no one will lay the blame at poor Marty Reid. He was only doing as he was told. What I don't understand is why this show wasn't an hour. If ESPN could do a "town hall" debate show on Barry Bonds and Michael Vick, why not The State of NASCAR? But, that's another story.

This show once again points out two major issues with ESPN. The first is that "ESPNers" have absolutely no idea what the point of NASCAR racing is and want to make it as close to stick and ball racing as possible. And they looked foolish trying to do it. Second, ESPN MUST have a studio in the Charlotte/Mooresville area. It will allow for a discussion of this type without the clumsyness of satelite delays, etc because the entire panel and the host could be in one place.

Despite all that, I appreciate the effort on ESPN's part and am really enjoying Marty Reid on NASCAR Now. I only hope this means he will be part of the ESPN NASCAR team next year.

carson said...

I watched the whole show and thought it was much better than usual. Having 3 guests who actually know what they're talking about helps a ton. I like Jeff Burton but thought he went overboard when he suggested having a "top 40" in owner points be locked into every race. David Poole was probably the best and should be on the show more often. Overall I agree with everybody that Marty Reid should be the regular host over Eric Kuselias. And once again NascarNow cant talk about the great truck race Friday night.

Anonymous said...

I did not see today's show but, from what I've seen before, Marty Smith has a lot more NASCAR knowledge than previous hosts. do you think this could be a good sign? thanks for the site.

p.s. Is this moderation thing permanent? Don't let one bad comment ruin it for the rest of us.

Illpolo said...


Stay strong with the site and don't worry about the negative, trolling posters. There's almost no way around it, as I have learned from doing something similar, but deleting the posts and moderating is definitely the way to go. Besides, hopefully the regular readers can ignore the baiting comments from those looking to ignite them...usually their only goal is to get a reaction.

As for the Nationwide Series, I would LOVE to see them become more of a separate division that allows younger drivers and the borderline Cup drivers the chance to excel and make a name for themselves. As it is now, the Busch races almost feel like a warmup for the Cup stuff, while the Truck series has become much more exciting to watch. Instead, we should have three distinct races each weekend where we can follow different/our favorite drivers and really have a lot to look forward to every weekend. Myself, I am a big Scott Wimmer fan and I feel he could do even better than he does now without the Cup guys overshadowing him every weekend (if he has the chance to race, since even Jeff Burton races in the Holiday Inn car for most Busch races) and he is the exact type of guy who could excel in Busch and possibly get a full-time Cup ride as a result. With things the way they are now, it makes it harder to expect him to win against Cup drivers or "make it" to the next level.

Anonymous said...

I like NN tonight. I was impressed with the format and the flow. I hope they do this next week. Much better than having Boris.

I was surprised with Marty's question "points and purse." I had the same reaction as Jeff. The idea is stupid. NASCAR has so many rules on equipment, pit road rules, number of personnel, paint schemes, etc. The driver gets to use his brains and use strategy to win the race. Whether to pit or not, whether to drive at the back of the field. Marty Smith made a great observation. If Marty's rule was observed in the Pats/Colts game, the Colts would have gotten the most points, not because the won, but because they had lead for 3 quarters.

I was happy to hear Jeff state forcefully that the 35 rule should be extended to 40. Wow, after suffering with Boris' complaints, this was great. Jeff's position was that the 35 rule had been adopted on owners who had already spent millions. As new teams are formed, they know the rules and what they are up against. I agree that the 35 rule has pulled the rug from under older teams, and they should have protection.

Jeff made a point to say that he was okay with limiting the participatiion of Cup guys in the Nationwide, but said that would not solve the problem. He mentioned that he and Jeff Gordon were noticed because they were beating Cup drivers. Busch guys are not beating Kyle, Carl, or Kevin. Eliminating Cup guys will not prove these guys can drive and compete.

Like I said I thought the show was great. I think if they do a de-briefing after the show, they will see that some questions needed a bit more time to answer and so maybe in the future have fewer topics.

Lisa Foster said...

I actually watched today. I normally don't because NASCAR Now usually neither entertaining nor informative.

But today was beyond idiotic. The revamping of the point system idea, the once again harping on Dale Jr's asking for Redskins score.

I don't understand ESPN. I've said this before, ESPN doesn't care about NASCAR fans. They have us hostage monday through friday for daily news content, and then saturday and sunday for the race broadcasts. They know they are IT and they have no reason to improve their content.

It's beyond fustrating.q

Ritchie said...

I suppose this show was ESPN'S answer to SPEED's "Trading Paint". Maybe a trial run to see its response. There also seems to be a trend at ESPN to have more of the "in-depth" news shows.

It would be a good idea for ESPN to have a show with serious disscussions about NASCAR and its issues. Otherwise everyone is going to simply turn to SPEED for everything but the race.

I wouldn't say that it was a great show, however it was nice to see a discussion without one guest trying to bully the other guests (Kyle Petty would be an example). Maybe with a little work it could turn into something good.

Kathy said...

I thought this was a great improvement over the recent Jeff vs Jimmie shows. I'm tired of it and maybe ESPN is too. I really like Marty Reid as the host and thought the discussion was great...a little off the wall in spots, but brain-storming can be that way.
Interesting input about the length of races and food for thought about the Top 35 rule...I'm against it, as a fan...but the thought of a top driver going home due to a flat tire doesn't seem right either...hmmm.
Actually, I'm looking forward to the next two shows to see what is coming next.

Busch Series Fan! said...

I was able to watch NN last night and thought Jeff Burton's comments were extreme somewhat but I liked David Poole's comments except for the 500 points for winning a race - did I hear that correctly? I don't know whether this would be feasible but why can't Nascar have more cars in the field at tracks a mile and a half and more that way more of the go or go home cars would/could make the race. I thought Marty Reid did a good job I'm not normally home to watch NN so this was refreshing. They need to expand the show to an hour too. I liked Becca's article too.

Anonymous said...

Saw the repeat - last night's show was not perfect, but still an improvement. The main thing was I actually watched it. Usually I've changed the channel by the first commercial break.

Liked the idea of them reading viewer email today but Marty read the address so fast that I couldn't catch it. It wasn't on the screen. I looked all over espn.com NASCAR page and I don't see it. So they need to to put a caption up with the address.

On espn.com they have an NASCAR Now Minute up with Marty Reid. He mentions denny hamlin being a guest Wednesday(as mentioned last night) and then it shows a clip of Denny commenting, with uniform on, from a track, which I guess means it must have been taped yesterday or earlier. That's a little disappointing, I would expect those taped interviews to be from no earlier than the morning of the show. The Minute also said Carl Edwards would be on today.

Komoman said...

I actually turned NN on last night with the hope that Tuesday would be a non-Kusileas night and was rewarded with that first segment. It was great watching those 3 stomp all over the producers and poor Marty Reid. That was the first time that I'd seen him host that show and I must say I wasn't terribly impressed. Whether it was the discussion format that left him out of his element or the fact that his nature is as a play-by-play guy I can't be sure. I try to picture Mike Joy in this role and while I think he would do a good job I think the host role calls for someone a bit more animated. Marty Reid is many things, but animated is not among 'em. Comfortable in the booth, but in the studio the jury is out.

However once ESPN turned to Kusileas-ville and Reid had to intro that "absurd" proposed points system, I tuned out. I had enjoyed the first segment so much that it was so disappointing to get hit with that idiocy in the face (for which I could just hear the production meeting in my head) made me turn the channel.

It's about the racing ESPN.. it's about the racing.

Lisa Hogan said...

I gave up on Nascar Now quite a few shows ago. Thanks to a poster on another column, I knew last night should be different and I tuned in to see. I enjoyed the show, as a whole. It wasn’t as good as it could have been; but, it was a much better effort than when I stopped watching.

I did get a good laugh out of the ESPN theory that races need to be shorter because Jr. asked for a game score during the race. I have to wonder, what theory ESPN would have developed had they heard Jr. discussing pizza during the race at Bristol a few seasons ago.

I did notice that ESPN is continuing the theme which they started at the first of the season. “Something is wrong and we need to fix it.”

Anonymous said...

Funny, isn't it, that ESPN thinks the problem is with the racing and race formats AND NOT with the pathetic way that they attempt to cover races?

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see more of these panel discussions on NASCAR Now; I agree that it would be better if it originated from North Carolina so all could be in the same studio.

I do disagree with another poster that David Poole should be on NN more; while he is great on the radio, to me he is not much use on a multi-opinion show like this because his opinions are so strong and unwavering (almost didactic) that it takes away from the debate. Almost like Kyle Petty also mentioned above. You can't debate with a person who's sure he's completely right and you're completely wrong.

This program was a nice change.

Anonymous said...

You know, when I was giving birth a few years back, the OB and nurse were discussing a Seinfeld episode. Does that mean Perhaps we could have reduced my labor by a couple hours? (I wouldn't have minded!) Just want to make the point that it is possible for professionals to think of something else while still focusing on the job at hand.

elena said...

Like I said before, I liked the show. Upon further refelction, I wonder about at least 2 of the issues that ESPN decided to discuss. Well, maybe all 4.

I think that a pressing issue could have been about the broadcasting of the races.

#1- the number of races. I cannot even imagine lowering the number. NASCAR is bringing in millions and millons of dollars and are not about to lower the number of races. My goodness, they want to go to Mexico, Canada and Europe. Besides the money NASCAR makes, think of all the families that would be impacted if there were fewer races.

My parents are gone, but I used to have to tape races for my dad so that in the off-season he could watch races again. He would go into withdrawls between Homestead and February. I do too, but I love football and basketball. He told me about the old days when he would actually go to 2 races a week.

#2 Maybe we will see franchises someday and this issue will be mute. It might be nice to hear a real reasoned debate between the pros and cons. Jeff on his point compared it to the Cowboys. They know they are going to play every weekend during the regular season. Now, they are not guaranteed a spot in the playoffs, they have to earn that.

Not mentioned was increasing the number of cars allowed, especially in the longer tracks. In the old days they had as many as 50 competing.

#3- points-purse
This is so stupid that it really does not deserve to be discussed.

#4- Nationwide and Cup participants

There are not enough regulars to race each weekend. If not for Cup participation, they would not have a full field. Maybe they could have a rule of 35, and Cup drivers would have to compete for the remaining slots. But in the end, the people that are paying the bill (sponsors) are going to get their say, or they'll take their money and go home. It sure seems as though they love to have the Cup drivers there.

So in the end, it was a good conversation that did not seem scripted by the 3 panalist.

On ESPN Take First, Denny Hamlin will be inerviewed and they will also have some kind of discussion about JJ and Jeff.

JD, good job on your posts.

elena said...

JD, how do you rate Le Anne Schreiber, the Ombudsman for ESPN? She's written a couple of times 10-11 and 7-9 about the coverage on tv.

Is it surprising that she has not written on NASCAR and all the complaints?

I like her columns.

John said...

In the last week or so, It almost seems like someone at ESPN is starting to pay attention. Wishful thinking?

More of Marty Reid and Ryan Burr and less of Erik. Rusty from live the track. An interview with Mike Skinner from the, get this, truck series.

Also an interview with a Grand National driver and more. Are they seeing the light? I don't know how much input the host has on the content, but maybe with Erik elsewhere Reid and Burr are responsible for this.

In any event, I have seen some relatively decent shows as of late. I must say that last night's threw me for a loop. It could have been better, but was quite a departure for the normal show I've seen.I can alwasys hope.

Newracefan said...

I enjoyed the the panel discussion on NN. I actually think there should have been 1 less question/ or longer show and each person should have been given a little more time to answer. I was glad they interrupted and added things, it obviously wasn't scripted but not enough time was allotted for the discussion. Someone does need to work on the questions a little (4 quarters? I don't think so), hopefully they will do this again. I thought Marty handles it well, Eric would have been a nightmare and I don't think Ryan knows Nascar well enough. Marty Reid referred to that show again on wednesday and read some emails this was also a good thing. He even explained why no split screen in commercials although I would love to know who is not onboard. It's a shame it took to 2 races left for ESPN to try and fix the mess NN had become.

playingtime said...

Oh, great. Let's substitute a ball for the 43 car field and whoever has the ball is the leader and he runs at the front of the pack and whoever takes the ball from the leader is the new leader and I think I am gonna be sick. There is a Gump at ESPN somewhere with too much responsibility and he must be rooted out before he kills NASCAR. There is a Gump in Daytona Beach too, and his first name is Brian.

I have maintained since the announcement that no good can come from this. NASCAR left ESPN with a bad taste in their collective mouths at the commencement of the FOX contracts. Everyone remembers the parking lot interviews. I believe that ABC/Disney/ESPN will spend untold amounts of money to destroy NASCAR for this slight and thus far in their contact one would be hard pressed to field a credible argument opposing this theory.

My best guess is an approach to the problem there at ESPN can only be resolved by NASCAR. At one point in time we speculated FOX and NASCAR would make their purchase of Speedvision the NASCAR channel, but for some reason NASCAR pulled up lame just short of doing their job.