Saturday, November 17, 2007

NASCAR Fans Have Made Their Demands


It was a simple suggestion from my girlfriend. I was searching for a way to ask NASCAR fans to express their true feelings about this year's TV coverage going into the final race weekend of the season.

Her words were brief and to the point. "NASCAR fans...make your demands," she suggested. That sounded good, so I wrote the column in this link.

Little did I know the incredible outpouring of emotion and information that would be the result. From across the country, from Canada, and even from Alaska the comments began to build. It was clear that we hit a nerve.

Those contributing were sometimes veteran fans of twenty years or more, and sometimes new race fans brought into the sport when The Chase moved onto broadcast TV a couple of years back. The interesting thing is that almost all of them focused on exactly the same points.

Fans felt very strongly that all teams should be considered equal regardless of their place on the track. They wanted to remind the TV networks that groups of fans, dressed in their team colors, did not care if their driver was fifth or fifteenth as long as they knew what was going on in his race. Often, they felt the networks got "tunnelvision" and focused on the top five cars for the entire event.

Daly Planet reader "Charlie" suggested the network TV guys take a walk around the track before the race and look at the fans. In t-shirts, hats, and many other team colors the TV guys would see that every driver was represented. "Charlie's" point was that the TV networks need to understand the viewers are just like the fans at the track. Every driver is represented among the millions of fans watching on TV.

This theme continued with pleas for additional full field rundowns. "Sandie" said the one thing she never wants to hear from a NASCAR TV announcer is "where did he come from?" when a car works into the top five. Fans should already know "where he came from" and its the job of the network to provide that information, she maintains.

Several times this season, cars have been involved in incidents on the track and then never heard from again. My favorite driver, Dale Jarrett, was actually left sitting on the track completely crashed and still in the car.

Viewers never knew what happened until Kyle Petty later apologized for the incident. Jarrett is not only a former champion, he is also a part-time ESPN NASCAR announcer. Fans asked that the TV networks "pay off" the stories of every car that is no longer in the race.

This led to the very valid point of not updating the condition of drivers involved in on-track incidents. Imagine a pro football or baseball game where a key player leaves due to injury and his condition is never updated. It does not happen.

Just as one of the duties of sideline reporters in football is injury updates, the same is true of the pit reporters on NASCAR telecasts. Tell us how our key athletes are doing and do it every single time.

The word "time" was mentioned a lot, and for only one reason. NASCAR has been cheating the start times of both the Saturday and Sunday races back to get more TV viewers. Unfortunately, the opposite has happened. TV ratings are down across the board for the sport. Fans asked that NASCAR return to the traditional 1PM Eastern Time starts for a wide variety of reasons.

Since the start times were cheated back, the end of many races often comes after 7 or 8PM in the evening. While this might thrill some TV executives and Ad Salesman, it disrupts the real lives of the fans. "Robbie" from Atlanta said "having just enough time to run the race in perfect weather cheats the fans out of a full length race if it rains."

In real life, fans move off to dinner and begin getting ready for the week ahead, even as the trackside lights come on and the host TV network tries to keep the audience. As fans know from this season, the later start times have been a disaster.

The comments from the fans kept coming until they numbered well over one hundred. The email from media personalities and reporters also came my way. They suggested that we had provided for both NASCAR and their TV partners a free focus group.

Fan "demands" ranged from general respect for the sport to mandatory post-race interviews, qualified announcers and the use of side-by-side commercials next season for uninterrupted coverage. It was clear that this TV season was perhaps not NASCAR's finest hour.

Now, we have this final post on The Daly Planet before the big race. The same fans that suggested change and wrote so clearly about the TV issues this season will be watching the ESPN on ABC TV crew as they produce the Homestead finale.

It certainly will be interesting to see if anything changes, and if the suggestions of the fans have trickled down into the ESPN TV compound. Please join us during or after the race to let us know how you think this final telecast was produced.

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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by and leave your opinion.

37 comments:

Anonymous said...

C'mon John, you really expect us to believe you have a girlfriend? Kidding. Great piece today. Hopefully the networks can do something as simple as have focus groups with fans. Maybe get people on season tickets lists for tracks to really get them on the same page with NASCAR's viewership.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I believe we have the power to continue putting good quality information on this site through the reader comments well into the off-season.

This year, we have gotten great feedback from the TV networks, announcers, and producers. They may not always agree with us, but they understand our viewpoints.

Once things settle down a bit after Thanksgiving, I will begin a series of columns asking for fan feedback on specific issues.

This will keep the topics important to fans on the front burner and out in the public eye during this short winter break.

JD

Anonymous said...

I don't know when or what changed, but tomorrow's race allotted timeframe changed on our online cable guide.

As of early this week, the guide said NASCAR Countdown from 3-3:30, then the race broadcast from 3:30-7:30, followed by Funniest Home Videos at 7:30. That's what it's said for races the last two weeks.

Now NASCAR Countdown says 3-3:45, then the race from 3:45 - 8:00, and the Music Awards at 8. Hmmm...

Hopefully that change was made so that ABC affiliates wouldn't even consider leaving the race for the Videos show and hopefully also leaving more time for the champion presentation.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Countdown show is 45 minutes, and the race does not start until around 4PM Eastern Time.

This is the reason I wrote the earlier aticle about this situation. The margin for error is slim, and if the race goes past 8PM it is going to be interesting to see who goes where and what happens.

I live in South Florida, and there is a chance of showers tommorrow afternoon. How about that for even more fun? Its a lot easier to dry a track when the sun is out than when the lights are on, and our sun goes down at 6PM.

We shall see what happens.

SophiaZ123 said...

the thing is, with cautions or red flags, this still does not leave elbow room for a POST RACE SHOW for the last race of the season.

But seeing how even SPEED dropped the ball early to bail out on a useless 12 minutes of a tv show for the truck race, I am expecting zero from ABC in the way of making the FANS HAPPY.

NASCAR is not interested either.

Oh and I always saw listed online the race starting at 3.45. Don't know anything about the video tv show..don't watch that fake stuff either. :-) My cable guide on digital (TW) has listed the race until 8pm for days, I thought. Or maybe I read that online.

SophiaZ123 said...

Geez, I just saw JD's post about the rain after I typed my post earlier.

Oy vey!!! What INDEED would happen? CERTAINLY they can delay the stupid award shows can't they???

Or we have a rain out until Monday and case closed. Get all the time we want on ESPN unless there is a scrabble or knitting tournement I am not aware of...MEOW HISS.

Anyway, I hope the sun shines tomorrow so we can get this season over and done.

February can't get hear quick enough tho I do hope Fox got rid of their toy car animation thingie. I found that everybit as annoying as Draft tracker.

Now, if I can just avoid watching SPEED while they hype the hello out of SPEEDWEEKS.

I am already tired of that brunette HYPING specials of PINKS and such for Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

:-)

Anonymous said...

Hey JD, how do you think the coverage tomorrow should handle the Kasey Kahne "incident" involving him and security guard who had some issue with his credentials Friday afternoon? It seems like a minor thing (but then again Kasey was handcuffed for a minute and Homestead police were called), and Kasey says it was a misunderstanding, but here are some links:

http://www.nascar.com/2007/news/headlines/cup/11/17/kkahne.homestead.incident/index.html

http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/story/7458752

From your TV person view: Should they mention it on the broadcast tomorrow, like the preshow, or not. I don't think they mentioned it today, or I fast forwarded past if they did. Sounds like the police released him without charging him, so I don't know what they should do. It's on all the news websites, so do you think they will or should mention it? You know if it was Tony Stewart it would get mentioned, but I don't know if that's a good excuse to mention it either. Thanks for your site and all of your suggestions for change.

Bobby said...

The only tracks where start times were recently moved back are Atlanta, where the March race started 30 minutes earlier (2 PM EDT vs 1:30 PM EST), and the October race started 1 hour 55 minutes earlier (2 PM EDT vs 2:55 PM EST), and Las Vegas (moved to 1 PM PDT instead of the 1:55 PM PST start it had). In those cases, the races were moved into Daylight Savings Time by the 2007 regulations.

Sometimes the day-to-night races pose a tougher challenge for teams.

Richmond and Darlington had 1 PM starts because of postponements -- in fact, Darlington would have ran aground of South Carolina Blue Laws (which states no race starts before 1:30 PM except for 250-mile or longer races, and that includes combined race distances of 250 miles) had it not been for the 250-mile exemption some state legislators want removed in anger because of the Ferko settlement.

Races in November, because of Standard Time, are easily reachable into the night. In 2004, the Southern 500 in Darlington started at 1:30 PM (NASCAR's standardised start time for the season) and had a 1:50 PM green flag. That race ran into the night.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Kahne "incident" should never make air.

I am not quite sure what you are saying with all those start time stats, but more power to ya.

just FYI, the awards show will not be delayed. Sports is over by 8PM, and the Entertainment Division owns the network at 8PM. Can ya see where I am going with this?

Phil said...

First off JD thanks for this website, its great. I hope Jayski continues to post your blogs.

I wanted to ask if you had ever gotten any feedback from Nascar on any of the issues that thousands of fans have raised concerns about. It seems to me that they are the ones who could easily nip the "bad TV coverage" thing in the butt if they wanted too.

Carl in Alaska said...

Thanks for your forum allowing us fan’s to vent some of wretched venom that we’ve built up weekly. Some are new viewers or long time to at least early ESPN days. Many of us have never been to a race but know every driver and team. Still we buy merchandise and follow our teams as closely as those who get to one or two or all the races. My wife was slow to NASCAR but fascinated when she saw Joe Nemechek’s car here in our hometown of North Pole, Alaska and is now a fan. That is what the NASCAR fan base is and it is alive and well in Alaska. I moved from C-band satellite to DISH several years ago to get more NASCAR. Fans like me and throughout the lower 49 may never see a race but deserve good coverage no matter the network and NASCAR needs to hear that loud and clear.

In tomorrow’s race I would like to see:

1 Coverage of the entire field
2 All the stories, not just Jimmie and Jeff
3 Return from commercials for cautions except debris
4 Resetting the field after
5 Follow up on wrecked drivers
6 All the cars crossing the finishing line
7 And last, post race coverage of other than #1 or 2

Let us all look forward to next year and NASCAR stepping up to, pardon the pun, the plate and taking control of our viewing pleasure.

Hold a soldier, marine, sailor, airman or guardsman in your heart this coming holiday season. Without them we wouldn’t be enjoying our sport and it is a sport, such a sport!

Carl
North Pole, AK

P.S.
NO MORE DRAFT TRACKER

SophiaZ123 said...

JD

I am not sure where you are going with all of this...but if there is a rain delay, or many cautions or long red flags; and thus NO POST RACE, can you say NASCAR ratings in the sewer.

It would be most difficult to get the fans back after such a cramming of racing into the busy schedules of an overly crowded ESPN gang..and the ABC primetime stuff.

And like I have said ALL ALONG and many others are SCREAMING, NASCAR is ALLOWING this to happen.

so, one needs to rethink their love of a sport that treats the fans like dirt.

Sandie said...

@sophia--I have Time Warner too and it's had the Countdown 3-3:45 and then the race 3:45-8 as well. I can Season Pass everything except the race so when I went to make sure everything was set last week or the week before, I noticed the "off" time (usually it's all the top or bottom of the hour).

@JD--yes it's definitely going to be interesting to see. I've never wished for weather/cautions so much in my life.

I'm so glad I was told of this site! It's great to be able to vent and know that you're not alone! And if all our venting brings better coverage in 2008 it definitely will be worth it!

Todd said...

If you watched the Busch race yesterday on ESPN 2 it was the SOS! Same old stuff heh, heh, heh.

Rob from Canada said...

been watching nascar in its televised forms since 1967..snippits on wide world of sports ..bud lindeman's show..etc etc..up to present full blown coverage..i'm not old..only 44..but my dad used to have me watch with him on the couch from age 4 :) and i got hooked..and thru the years i could see how the sport in broadcast terms grew to cater to the fans and present intelligent enthusiastic stuff for us all..and with it the sport grew leaps and bounds..now i see the fan isnt so important now as the corporate dollar is..hence the top 35 joke..the lucky dog joke..and a sponser for everything under the sun.."this sneeze has been brought to you by NO-SNEEZE nose spray" i basically avoid buying products hyped by nascar ad nauseum...in fact the sponsers have taken over the sport so totally that racing does not really exist anymore..we have cookie cutter cars on cookie cutter tracks being driven by cookie cutter drivers..and all they are trying to do..is keep the car in camera range to generate happy ad-exec faces..winning dosnt matter..as long as they are in front of the camera..at the beginning of the season i was watching races normally ..meaning paying attention..and i gave the ugly IROC cot a chance..then i gave up..i watch hilights and basically ignore the race..rather watch championship dog grooming now :( this..my rant..might not go anywhere..but you say a couple folks from the networks saw the previous article and commented it could become a focus group type of thing..that would be good..if it happened and was listened too..as i see it..fox and speed would be the best bets to pay attention as they still have a bit of the fan in them..speed moreso than fox..but i cant see espn paying attention..they would laugh you off..thier focus isnt on the fan anymore..and tnt..while the side by side was a great idea that almost worked...is still more itnerest in promoting thier horrifically bad tv shows..excuse my rambling..i have so much in my head that wants out on this issue and i might be jumping all over the place here..networks and nascar..pay attention..your losing us..in big numbers..fast..if you dont listen..well..welcome to battling dog shows and lawn bowling for air time

Rob from Canada said...

After some more thought..if you are watching Daly Planet peoples at ESPN..heres my ideas
1:Alan Bestwick in the booth..all your broadcasts ..its been shown the vast majority of fans want him..he's comfortable and never insults us
2:send rusty back to irl where noone watches and dosnt care that he mangles names constantly and dosnt really seem to know much..replace him with DJ or KP..people actually like those guys
3:brewer is a keeper
4:on nascar now..ship EK back to the minors and put someone there that actually respects nascar and actually has a bit of knowledge..that person is..brad doughtry..he's owned a truck team and has been a fan for ages..so he would suit that roll perfect..plus..most people genuinely like him..just feel he's miscast
5:goodbye brent..goodbye suzy
6:put dr jerry back where he belongs and thrived for years..pitroad..on old espn..he was great there
7:NO draft tracker..EVER..NO aerosmith EVER..i like rock and roll..but thats just plain ugly and annoying
8:the cutaway car segments are moronic repetitious and insult our intelligence...plus your wasting and intelligent personable person in the roll..making him look moronic and somewhat sad actually

i doubt espn considers the opinion of a fan important..but hey..ya never know..someone might be watching and have thier brain click in ..ok..i'm done rambling again :P

SallyB said...

JD, thank you for giving fans the opportunity 'say our piece'. I'm glad to know that you will continue this column after this season drags to it's end. It's been particularly gratifying ove the past couple weeks when much of the media has spent it's time chastising fans for not tuning in to 'the most exciting Nascar championship in years'. They have said it is NOT up to fans to complain, but to resign themselves and drink the Nascar Kool Aid. I say that, if you don't speak out, then you are just as responsible for the worngs as those who made them happen. While I've gotten used to being ignored or insulted as a fans of Nascar over the years, I've never been told to just SHUT UP before. I used to love this sport, and feel I have as much right to voice my concerns as Nascar and the media. Thank you for giving us all the place to do so. Whether anyone gives a rip is a whole other thing.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comments,and with most I agree. However we forget one thing.

This sport is fueled by sponsers, but thru the race the focus is usually on the top five. The rest of the field is forgotten, drivers as well as sponsers......Why would anyone want to be a sponser with no tv coverage, and home viewers never see their name. No wonder it is difficult to find sponsers in this sport.

NASCAR, flying backward one step at a time.




How long will sponsers put up with thi

Anonymous said...

While I was watching Busch Qualifying yesterday I was struck by what I think is the fundamental difference between the Fox/Speed Nascar coverage and the ESPN/ABC Nascar coverage.

Wendy Venturini had an airhorn that she was using to play pranks on and good around with the drivers. They were having fun together. Can you imagine anyone from ESPN doing that?

When watching Fox/Speed you get the feeling that you have a friend in the business who has invited you to the track, taken you into the garage, introduced you to some of the racers, and given you the benefit of his insider status.

When ESPN covers a race you get the feeling that they are a bunch of tourists exploring a foreign country while carefully keeping the natives at arm's length.

Anonymous said...

To get any changes, ESPN -and NASCAR - may have to do something about Rich Feinberg, the VP for ESPN Motorsports. Mike Mulhern has an interview with him this morning. Just like any other time I've seen an interview with him, he thinks ESPN coverage is just fine; he can't figure out what the problems are.

“The product, in terms of television, we’re proud of the job we’ve done this first year. And if you look at our dot-com product, that’s gone through the roof since we got back in NASCAR.”

Is there just too much here on TV? Are there too many voices, too many cameras, too many nonracers talking?

“No, I don’t think so,” Feinberg said. “Yes, we do have a lot of voices, and a good mixture of voices. We’re proud of that.

“Just like we want to broaden our audience and bring new viewers in, we’ve been using a broader perspective in our talent. Like Suzy Kolber, who is a highly successful journalist and very successful in Monday Night Football, and I am so proud of what she’s done on the air as our host these last 17 weeks. She works as hard as anyone or harder, and I believe she’s being accepted.”


The link for this article is very long, so I don't think it will work here. It's on Jayski's article page from the Winston-Salem Journal. Title: "ESPN Shrugs Off NASCAR's Dwindling TV Ratings".

elena said...

I don't read any comments about the camera positions. For me, that's one of the crucial things that need to be addressed. The cameras follow 2-3 cars all the way around a turn or where ever. Then they'l do a wide angle shot. The problem is that you cannot identify cars with the very wide shots, especially when the cars have a special paint scheme. I used to be able to pick out the 8, 20, 24, but on special days--nothing.

I want to be able to see the car numbers. Most of the time when they are showing an accident, it's hard to pick out the car and the position until the impact happends. I sometime wonder if the people in the production truck are just playing cards.

Anonymous said...

IMHO, bad TV is only a minor irritant for me.

The main reason I have stopped watching TV coverage is the top-35 rule. When "my" driver "qualifies" faster than many other drivers and then goes home, I have absolutely no reason to watch a race. Therefore, I miss a lot of the bad race coverage.

Paul said...

Oh man, not sure if this has been brought up but I cannot stand 'Let's go FULL THROTTLE'! Yeah, like I really love hearing 43 spotters all garbled at once. What a stupid gimmick!

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
The Kahne "incident" should never make air.

WHY NOT....AP story in my local paper...Story on SPEEDTV.com...also on my Yahoo front page..And you think the Network should not discuss????

Anonymous said...

"Several sources in the NASCAR garage said Saturday that guards were told to check credentials before allowing access to the motor home area after several unruly people without those credentials had to be ejected from that area earlier in the day."

Minimum wage worker trying to do his job gets bullied by a Prima Donna, another reason NASCAR is losing interest and becoming like the other sports.

Jennifer said...

I know for me personally TV coverage was fine until ESPN got here. I never had the urge to seek out other people that were feeling the same as me until September of this year, when I googled "ESPN TV coverage hate" and found this place (thank GOD). It was so wonderful to know that I was not the only one who could not stand to hear Rusty Wallace's and Jerry Punch's voices (not to mention all the other crap that I hate - too long a list).
I even enjoyed TNT's coverage - except, of course, Bill Weber; he seems very grumpy, and he took Allen's job - that made me angry. I like Wally Dallenbach, especially with Allen Bestwick - they actually seemed to have fun together.

Just needed to get that out.

Bill H said...

If for one reason or another the race today extends past 8pm, can ABC continue to carry it for the West coast and one of the ESPN networks carry it for the East coast?

BillWebz

Anonymous said...

JD,

I'm glad to hear that you will continue with topic-specific columns during the off-season. It'll be nice to have something that will make us feel connected and not be in limbo until Daytona.

Anonymous who posted this, 'When watching Fox/Speed you get the feeling that you have a friend in the business who has invited you to the track, taken you into the garage, introduced you to some of the racers, and given you the benefit of his insider status.

When ESPN covers a race you get the feeling that they are a bunch of tourists exploring a foreign country while carefully keeping the natives at arm's length.' hit one of the many nails on the head, so to speak.

This is EXACTLY what it feels like as a viewer. There's a real nice level of comfort and familiarity that Fox and SPEED bring to the screen. They make us fans feel like we're right there with them on pit road or in the garage. More importantly, they seem to know and respect that NASCAR fans are extremely knowledgable about all aspects of the sport and the drivers. Our intelligence is not insulted by the great reporters on Fox and SPEED like it is by those on ESPN.

Alan Bestwick, Mike Joy and Wally Dallenbach are also fine reporters who I have forgotten to mention on the other blog about what NASCAR fans want from the networks.

Thanks, JD!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Daly Planet Editor said...
The Kahne "incident" should never make air.

WHY NOT....AP story in my local paper...Story on SPEEDTV.com...also on my Yahoo front page..And you think the Network should not discuss????

November 18, 2007 11:33 AM

--They did mention Kahne being investigated by the police on ESPNNEWS and also mentioned it on NASCAR Now, with Marty Smith repeating that Kahne says its a misunderstanding - but that neither he or his brother had credentials to get into the lot. Kahne says he brushed past the guard to get inside the lot and the guard somehow ended up on the ground, the guard says Kahne pushed him to the ground.

And these shows should have mentioned it. It was news involving a driver, who was handcuffed, and it happened at the track. The security guard was caught between a rock and a hard place, after being told to check credentials more carefully before letting people into the lot.

stricklinfan82 said...

ESPN's problems covering races in 2007 have been well-documented week after week. Missed restarts, too many commercials, draft tracks, Sportscenter Minutes, not following pit road strategies, not documenting why drivers fell out of the race, and using football announcers instead of NASCAR veterans as the broadcast hosts have been brought up by the Daly Planet over and over again by countless readers, including myself, and have fallen on deaf ears.

While these are indeed legitimate concerns, to me though the basic problem with ESPN's NASCAR coverage is much more deeply rooted. To me they are trying to "re-invent the wheel" with their NASCAR coverage. The powers-that-be that make NASCAR decisions at ESPN just don't understand the sport and what the fans want to see. All we want to see and hear about is what is going on ON THE TRACK, and ESPN shows everything but what is happening ON THE TRACK.

Look at ESPN's 2007 practice coverage:

Each week the ESPN producers have worked long and hard to pick something special each week to "spice up" their Happy Hour broadcasts. At Atlanta, while cars were on the track, ESPN spent 5 minutes showing a "behind the scenes" look at the ESPN Pit Studio. At Texas they spent another 5 minutes showing the TV audience a "behind the scenes" look at the ESPN production truck. At Phoenix it was the ESPN Tech Center, and at Homestead it was the "Draft Tracks".

Taking a deeper look, think about ESPN's Happy Hour coverage at Homestead. During the 28 minutes they were actually on the air (thanks to HORRIBLE programming decisions by the ESPN program director), a grand total of 5 cars were shown on camera while the green flag was out in the session for some reason other than being involved in a crash. 43 drivers and cars were on the track, all with their own story, all with millions of fans watching on TV searching for information about their driver, and all with either something to fight for to finish out this year or something to fight for looking ahead to next year - teams and drivers fighting for points positions, teams trying to attract sponsors for 2008 and drivers desperately looking for a ride next year.

ESPN didn't care about any of this. They made practice the "Jeff and Jimmie Show". Multiple taped video packages of the 24 and 48 cars' seasons and several taped interviews with the two drivers, followed by in-depth documentation of every change made on those two cars. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is making his final start for the company his father founded, and had a trying morning, losing a transmission that will force him to start in the back of the field on Sunday. ESPN either didn't notice or didn't care to report anything about Junior. Fans without Speed Channel or Jayski were left completely in the dark to the fact that anything happened to Junior this weekend. A bunch of drivers are battling for a top 10 points finish to make it on stage at the Awards Banquet, no mention of any of those "bubble" drivers. The 21 and 22 teams are fighting for the pivotal 35th place position in car owner's points heading into 2008, and neither car existed to ESPN. David Stremme and Tony Raines are looking for rides next year, apparently they're already without a job because they never appeared on TV during this practice session.

Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, and Tony Stewart appeared on camera for less than 60 seconds each, and Martin Truex Jr. and Clint Bowyer got some TV time thanks to incidents. Other that those brief moments, nothing mattered other than Jeff and Jimmie. Fans of drivers from Chasers Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, and Denny Hamlin, of popular veterans Mark Martin, Bobby Labonte, and Dale Jarrett, and of open-wheel veterans turned NASCAR rookies Juan Pablo Montoya, Patrick Carpentier, and Sam Hornish didn't know their driver was at the track. ESPN simply didn't care that they existed. Those drivers and teams' stories "bored" the ESPN suits.

The same thing applies during qualifying on a weekly basis. Look at Atlanta. There was incredible drama on the track. Joe Nemechek, the final go-or-go-home car to qualify, bumped David Reutimann out of the field late in the session and TV viewers never saw it happen. The ESPN director decided that it was in the best interest of the fans to see Bobby Labonte's face talking to the boys in the ESPN studio and highlights of his 2003 win at Atlanta. The drama of the final qualifying "bump" was again "boring" to the ESPN suits. They were more interested in fancy video packages and their special guest. So viewers saw nothing of the most pivotal moment of the entire session. Imagine being David Reutimann, owner Michael Waltrip, or anyone associated with the Toyota team watching television in their truck waiting to see if they would make the field or not. Imagine the anger they felt when they were watching Bobby Labonte's face and highlights of a race from 2003, and NEVER seeing the 78 car's run, and not having a clue if they made the field or not. I'm sure that moment of on-track action wasn't as "boring" to those people and their team's fans as it was to the ESPN suits.

ESPN needs to get a clue and understand that all NASCAR fans want to see is the on-track action. No matter how boring that seems to the ESPN suits, THAT'S ALL WE WANT TO SEE. Show us the cars on the track during the race, show us the cars on the track during qualifying, and show us the cars on the track during Happy Hour.

If ESPN's only going to fix one thing about their NASCAR coverage in 2008, they need to look no further than these three words:

SHOW THE TRACK

That's all. If someone at ESPN is reading this, just write down those three words on a piece of paper and look at it before you're tempted to make any decisions like showing video packages, pre-taped interviews, and anything else that distracts from the event you are covering. Again, the 3 words are:

SHOW THE TRACK.

Daly Planet Editor said...

My sources tell me the KK thing was nothing at all. The "security gaurd" was a rental and there was no one from NASCAR present.

Drivers change firesuits and clothing all the time and go back and forth all day from this lot by golf cart.

KK and his brother were obviously not fans, and if there was a problem all the guard had to do was contact NASCAR. He is not gaurding a bank, or a business, just a bus parking lot.

Marty did the right thing in NASCAR Now by briefly mentioning it just as it was...nothing.

Anonymous said...

Doesn't sound like Kasey gave the guard time to check to see who he was before he "brushed" or knocked him over.

And as far as not being a bank or business, those guards protect extremely wealthy people and their families and valuables in that lot.

Just last week, five drivers from the Truck Series, including Stacy Compton, had their wallets stolen from the haulers in Phoenix during practice. Stacy said the thief immediately started using all his credit cards.

So Kasey may not be totally at fault, but if the drivers are harassing the guards for doing their jobs, then something bad is going to happen one day when a guard just says "let 'em through" to whomever. Kasey may not like it, but it's a good thing it's on the news so perhaps he'll learn that he can't just do what he wants to anyone he wants.

Anonymous said...

http://msn.foxsports.com/nascar/cingular/instantanalysis (Tom Jensen)

The inside scoop on Kahne
Q: What is the rest of story about the Kasey Kahne incident. What is the media not telling us. — Doris G. from Morganton, N.C.

A: According to my sources, a number of race fans — some of whom were under the influence of alcohol — snuck into the team motorhome lot in the infield at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday afternoon and were behaving in a rowdy manner. Police were called to clear them out and security guards were reprimanded and told no one is to enter the motorhome compound without a credential. After Busch practice, Kahne attempted to enter the compound to go to his motorhome to shower and change for a sponsor appearance. A security guard attempted to stop him because Kahne was not wearing his credential, which was in the motorhome. Kahne kept walking. The guard grabbed Kahne and in the process fell down attempting to stop him. When the police saw the guard fall, they in turn grabbed Kahne, handcuffed him and took him in for questioning. He was released without being charged, although the investigation is continuing. The guard — who is a temporary security person, not a policeman himself — complained of a sore back and high blood pressure. He was taken to a local hospital, examined and released.

Sandie said...

@anon 8:19--yes indeed! That's one of the BIGGEST differences. They joke around with everyone! And it was cute seeing my Matt Yumyum with young Ford Martin as Ford was interviewing drivers and such! In VL, Tony is always messing with the boyz. IF ESPN had a show you wouldn't see that. IF ESPN covered Busch you wouldn't have known about Yumyum or Ford. Yes I know Yumyum is FOX/SPEED/TNT but in relation to if he had an ESPN tie.

@anon 8:46--there are several places on the net where you can shorten long links, the one I use is www.tinyurl.com and it's free :)

thomas said...

Jayski posted a story from the Winston Salem Journal today where an ESPN exec said he was scratching his head as to the dwindling ratings.

Are they really listening? The information is out there. Supposedly people are reading this site and taking the advise to heart. This reminds me of big government. They say they want to serve the people but do what they want. Can ESPN really be that hard headed to say they are scratching their heads. You have got to be kidding they their management could be that clueless.

This is a sad day for me because I have almost every Cup race dating back to 1988 on tape I am am strongly considering today's race my swan song as a fan. Think about it 20 years worth of races and I am ready to call it quits. I spent many an afternoon in the past waiting out rain delays. Spent thousands of dollars attending over 25 Cup races and it has come down to this. The powers that be have turned me off to the sport so bad that I am ready to quit paying attention. As late as 2005 I would turn the ringer off on my phone during races and now I find myself using Tivo and fast forwarding to the last 10 laps or so. I would have never believed my interest could disappear so fast. I spent this year hoping my interest could be won back but it has not happened.

Anonymous said...

1. TV race coverage is poor; not enough info. about cars o/s top five; for instance, cars in the back are pitting out of cycle and there is no mention - are they having suspension, brake, engine trouble? why is #78, #7, #36, #49 or any other car not owned by HMS, RCR, DEI, GEM, etc. several laps down?
2. tv camera coverage is obviously geared towards cars whose sponsors also buying ad time on the broadcast. I have noticed on several occasions that when the camera is following the lead car, let's say the Lowe's sponsored #48 and it is coming up upon a lapped car, let's say the #49, #78 or #36, the camera shot will actually move to keep these kinds of cars out of view; but if the #48 is near the #31 (at&t), #55(napa), #11(fedex), all of whom buy ad time, and they are a lap down, the camera angle will keep them in view. Also, I remember the 1st LV race this season, the tv coverage actually covered a lap or 2 down #00 come to the pits in an unscheduled stop and kept the camera on them for almost the whole stop while the race was going on. Since BK buys ad time, is there a deal for Fox or ESPN to show the "ad" buying sponsors? It appears that way and it stinks!!!!
3. when they show the camera shot along the fence, it always shows the first 10-15-20 cars and then cuts back to top 1-2-3 cars and never stays on to show the entire field. this is part of the problem that you can never tell where your driver/car is if they are 25-43rd.
4. If you watch ESPN classic races (I just did last night) the coverage was much better, the on board shots were just as clear or better (considering these races are5-10-15 years old- how can it be that the on board cameras are no better today?), the announcers were covering the whole race field, the background sound was even better
5. get rid of the cut away car!
6. get on board cameras on every car! it would solve alot of guess work on the uncovered wrecks.
7. show some crowd shots when Jr. takes the lead! it seems like the crowd is not even there during the broadcast.
8. give some honest opinions about the drivers - who has respect in the garage? who does not ? why? I would expect Rusty to talk more about different driving styles, attitudes, past incidents with the drivers from his experiences.
9. which drivers are the most accessible for fans? which are the least? why?
10. what really happens in the nascar hauler after a race? can they film it and show it later in the week on SPEED?
11. make it so the booth can talk to any driver during a caution, not just the one designated driver for the race (today's was #99 turn again) OR was this another "tv" deal because Office Depot buys ad time?
12. start the races earlier!
13. stop showing the same commercial 10 times during a race - ask the tv sponsors to get more commercials made to reduce the repitition.
Thanks for question, sorry about the rant

Anonymous said...

Until EVERYBODY turns off the TV, nothing will change! Don't leave it up to the next person to make the point, you matter!

Can somebody please explain to me why the media ask Brian France the "state of the sport" question? What do they think he's going to say, he's incharge? WOW!!!