Tuesday, October 23, 2007

In-Progress At Atlanta: NASCAR RaceDay On SPEED

Noon Eastern Time on Sunday will begin the two hour live RaceDay program on SPEED.

With the Martinsville show moved-up to an earlier timeslot because of a network scheduling issue, this show will now return to its normal schedule of competing head-to-head with ABC's NASCAR Countdown.

John Roberts hosts the program, with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace alongside. Wendy Venturini reports from the garage area and pit road, and Hermie Sadler offers the track description and SPEED-1 ride-a-long camera car feature. Ricki Rachtman stops-by to participate in the RaceDay "office pool" and pick a race winner.

This page will host your comments about this two hour program on SPEED. Please restrict your comments to the TV issues associated with this show, and read the rules for posting on the right side of the main page before doing so.

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below, and follow the instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not require your email address. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your TV opinion at The Daly Planet.

In-Progress At Memphis: Busch Series On ESPN2

Saturday afternoon at 3PM Eastern Time ESPN2 continues its coverage of the Busch Series.

First up live from Memphis Motorsports Park is a thirty minute version of NASCAR Countdown. Then, at 3:30PM ESPN2 begins the race telecast.

TV veteran Marty Reid will anchor the ESPN2 coverage, with both Randy LaJoie and Rusty Wallace alongside for analysis. On pit road will be Allen Bestwick, Shannon Spake, and Vince Welch. There is no current info on who will host the Countdown show.

This page will host your comments about the ESPN2 coverage of the Busch Series in Memphis. You may add your comment before, during, or after the program airs. Please read the rules for posting on the right side of the main page before adding your comment.

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In-Progress At Atlanta: Craftsman Trucks On SPEED

Saturday is a big day for SPEED and the Craftsman Truck Series coverage.

The network begins at 9AM Eastern Time with a thirty minute version of NASCAR Live, and then covers the qualifying for the Trucks live. That session is followed by another thirty minute NASCAR Live.

At noon SPEED returns to update events at the track once again from the NASCAR Live set, and then the Truck Series coverage begins at 12:30PM

Krista Voda hosts the Craftstman Truck Series pre-race show called The Set-Up first, and then at 1PM the race coverage begins. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons will call the action, there is no official word on whether Michael Waltrip will join them. On pit road will be Adam Alexander and Bob Dillner covering for the suspended Ray Dunlap. UPDATE: SPEED informed us Friday Dillner will not be working the Truck race this weekend. No replacement has been named yet.

This page will host the Saturday comments about SPEED's coverage of the Trucks. Please restrict your comments to the TV issues associated with the broadcasts, and read the rules on the right side of the main page prior to posting.

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and then follow the instructions. Thank you for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion at The Daly Planet.

In-Progress At Atlanta: NEXTEL Cup Qualifying On ESPN2

Friday evening at 7PM Eastern Time ESPN2 will present NEXTEL Cup Qualifying from the Atlanta Motor Speedway. This program is scheduled to run for two hours.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Rusty Wallace, and Andy Petree will handle the announcing duties. Joining them on pit road will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, and Mike Massaro.

ESPN routinely has chosen not to present practice sessions other than Happy Hour or to originate any additional live programming from the NEXTEL Cup venues. This two hour program is the extent of their on-site coverage for Friday.

This page will host your comments about the ESPN2 coverage of qualifying. Please restrict your comments to issues associated with the broadcast, and review the rules for posting on the right side of the main page.

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions. Thank you for stopping-by and leaving your opinion on The Daly Planet.

In-Progress At Atlanta: Truck Practice On SPEED

Friday afternoon at 2PM Eastern Time, SPEED will telecast live the practice session for the Craftsman Truck Series. This show will be preceded and followed by a NASCAR Live thirty minute program updating information from the track.

Calling the Truck Series practice will be Rick Allen with Phil Parsons alongside. Bob Dillner and Adam Alexander will handle the reporting duties from the garage area. SPEED has not updated The Daly Planet as to whether Michael Waltrip will join this team for practice.

UPDATE: SPEED has just told us Bob Dillner will not be reporting at the Truck race. They will update us when a replacement has been named.

This page will host your comments about this SPEED telecast. You may comment before, during, or after the program. Please restrict your comments to the TV issues associated with the broadcast, and review the rules for posting on the right side of the main page.

To add your comment, simply click on the COMMENT button below and follow the instructions. There is nothing to join, and we do not require your email address. Thanks for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.

Big NASCAR TV Weekend For Fans

This is a triple-header weekend for NASCAR fans with all three of NASCAR's national touring series underway. It should be very interesting for TV viewers.

SPEED handles the Craftsman Trucks from Atlanta early on Saturday afternoon while ESPN2 telecasts the Busch Series from Memphis later on Saturday. Finally, ABC hosts the NEXTEL Cup Series from Atlanta on Sunday afternoon.

There is live Truck Series practice on Friday featured on SPEED, and ESPN2 shows NEXTEL Cup qualifying in primetime Friday night.

Saturday morning SPEED handles live Truck qualifying, and then returns for the race in the early afternoon. ESPN2 has the live Busch Series from Memphis once the Trucks are done, if things go as planned.

The big race is Sunday afternoon for the NEXTEL Cup Series and it will feature the royal treatment from the ESPN on ABC gang. Brent Musburger will host the telecast which features the usual cast of characters.

For readers of The Daly Planet, this is a great opportunity to watch the way two very different networks cover the same sport. SPEED and ESPN are as different as night and day. One has a casual and friendly approach to the race viewers, while ESPN offers the more formal and grandiose approach of covering a race. The ESPN way is called "big event coverage."

The network uses tons of equipment, lots of announcers, and has news updates and features and walks the fine line of actually overwhelming the event itself. This has been the challenge of ESPN this season, how to "tone it down" when the ESPN executives are still wanting to "turn it up."

ESPN is "breaking off" a second crew to produce the Memphis Busch telecast. Both Rusty Wallace and Allen Bestwick are going to fly to Memphis from Atlanta for the race, but several other cast members are new.

Marty Reid steps over from both NHRA and IndyCar coverage to host, and he is going to be joined by the outspoken Randy LaJoie. It should be fascinating to watch the "booth dynamic" of Reid, LaJoie, and Rusty Wallace unfold.

The Daly Planet will have live event comment pages for every race and major program of the weekend. Please stop-by and leave your opinion about the performance of these NASCAR TV partners. Hopefully, with good weather, this should be a great weekend of NASCAR racing.

We welcome comments from readers. To add your comment to this column, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions. Thanks again for stopping-by.

Mike Mulhern Surfaces On "Tradin' Paint"

The Daly Planet once called Tradin' Paint on SPEED "the little series that could." This show was once considered a throw-a-way and has now attracted the attention of a big number of NASCAR fans for one reason. That would be Kyle Petty.

His addition to Tradin' Paint has made this little thirty minute show a must-see for serious fans and media members as well. The format is simple. John Roberts is the host, he throws out the topics and then directs traffic. Alongside of Roberts is Petty, who is the "designated driver" of the series. He appears in each show. Then comes the interesting part.

The third panelist is a random member of the NASCAR "media." This season, the definition of "media member" has been expanded a bit, and with good results. Formerly limited to print and "deadline" media folks, this season there has been a mix of TV announcers and reporters in the Tradin' Paint soup.

On this weekend, a face appeared that was familiar to fans of an earlier show on SPEED called Pit Bulls. This series was an attempt to get multiple media members together and let them discuss a variety of NASCAR topics. First, it was entertaining, and then it was a disaster. Eventually, it was cancelled.

Mike Mulhern, a NASCAR reporter for the Winston-Salem Journal, was an original Pit Bull member. After being introduced by Roberts on this episode of Tradin' Paint, he said to the panel "the last TV show I was on got cancelled because Brian (France) didn't like what I had to say." That is certainly one way to set the tone.

Robert pitched the "top 35" rule as the first topic. Petty, who is right on the "top 35" bubble, talked about his experience this season and then Mulhern stepped right in. Calling the rule completely obsolete, Mulhern got the Petty blood boiling in less than one minute.

"That's bull crap," said Petty. "Its to protect the teams that have run all the races!" Mulhern was not going to be swayed. Petty made the point that NASCAR teams are basically worthless when sold without any type of franchising, and this was NASCAR's only way. The points from the previous year helped the team's value.

Roberts led the now brawling duo into the "Car of Tomorrow Land" which Mulhern promptly called a complete "boondoggle" by NASCAR. Petty responded that it was the media to blame, and told Mulhern where the COT was concerned to "get off it." His point was to protect the sport and give the COT a chance to run its first full season.

The problems at Yates Racing allowed Mulhern to address a bigger issue when he called for Ford to "get their act together on things." Calling attention to Robby Gordon, Mulhern said "the whole Ford Motor Company (NASCAR) operation needs to be re-vamped." Petty himself was on the hot seat for his recent merger rumors, and he put them to rest by saying "we do not marry the first pretty girl that comes along."

Petty expounded that the nature of the current racing business forces the "four team" rule to be pushed in creative ways. Petty draws the line at housing more than four NEXTEL Cup teams under the same roof with one owner, no matter how "creative" the finances or ownership.

The strong words from Petty about Joe Gibbs Racing were interesting. In the on-going GM final year vs. Toyota future debate, Petty's point was that any in-house problems at Gibbs should have been discussed behind closed doors. "GM has the perfect right to be upset with Joe Gibbs," said Petty.

When the subject of impound races arose, Petty and Mulhern quickly agreed that NASCAR had to change the rules for next season. Both suggested either all races or no races being impound races was the only way to go. This one was easy.

John Roberts has been a workhorse for SPEED, and his preparation for Tradin' Paint is not exactly what it should be these days. How can you blame him with the way SPEED has squeezed every possible on-air moment out of him for the last ten months?

It may be time to consider a new host, like a Randy Pemberton or Wendy Venturini. This would allow some separation of Roberts from this one SPEED show, give another SPEED on-air talent a chance, and perhaps result in some more structured questions for the panelists. Roberts is great, just stretched way to thin by the network.

Tradin' Paint has gotten itself back on-track after a little excursion to "owner land" several shows ago, and that is great to see. Now, the only thing left is for the series Producer to pick top-notch personalities as guests for these last handful of shows. November should see this excellent series go out on a high note.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the instructions to add your opinion. Please read the rules on the right hand side of the main page before posting, and thank for taking the time to stop-by and give us your thoughts.

Greg Biffle Calls Carl Edwards Out On "Inside NEXTEL Cup"

The tale of Inside NEXTEL Cup on SPEED this season has been one of an up-and-down TV series. Sometimes informative, and sometimes way off-the-mark, this decade old NASCAR series was rumored to be on its last legs.

Monday night, as host Dave Despain welcomed his regular panel of Greg Biffle, Michael Waltrip, and Kenny Schrader, things looked to be a bit on the boring side after a single file Martinsville race that featured little racing and lots of bumping.

After the opening conversations, Despain brought-up the on-going story of Carl Edwards pushing around Matt Kenseth after the Martinsville Cup race. This was made more real for SPEED because it was reporter Bob Dillner's camera crew that captured the brief confrontation.

In most circumstances, the current INC panel has been a group of peacemakers who put the best interests of the sport and the sponsors ahead of any momentary loss of reason that may occur after a long and hot race. Not this time.

Once Despain showed the footage, and asked the panel about their thoughts, things took a very interesting turn. For one brief moment, the kind of frank and sometimes brutally honest comments that made this show a hit years ago rose from the ashes.

Greg Biffle was just back from being married, is a veteran Cup driver, and is a Roush/Fenway Racing team member. His response to Despain was fully expected to be coated in politics and cliches. Instead, what happened next was amazing.

"Carl came from a few rows back, bombed down into turns one and two, and door-slammed Matt up the racetrack. Then, to make matters worse, as they were on the corner exit ran him (Kenseth) off into the back stretch wall," said Biffle.

"If you drive like that, you have got to be able to take it," he continued. "You would expect that Carl would figure if he drives like that, somebody is going to race him the same way, especially a team mate. So, in the next corner...Matt just bumped the back of him and he lost two or three spots back to where he was," he stated.

But, Biffle and the panel were not done yet with Carl Edwards. Not by a longshot. Things were about to go from plain talk to harsh words. Greg Biffle ended with his parting shot at Edwards by saying of his actions after the race "I think the true colors (of Edwards) are coming out there." Then, in another moment that reminded viewer of the "old days," Michael Waltrip spoke-up.

"When I think about it, its disrespectful to Jack Roush," said Waltrip. "When Carl came up to Matt after the race with the TV cameras rolling and started pushing on Matt it really made me sick to my stomach. I'm a car owner now and I see it through Jack's eyes and I don't like what I saw," exclaimed Waltrip.

Kenny Schrader was to the point, as always. "They need to sit down and get over it, Carl didn't handle that right at all." His face told the story of someone who had been through a lot worse in racing, and thought Edwards antics to be ridiculous.

The remainder of the show was good, and it was good in part because Despain had stumbled across what former INC host Allen Bestwick knew so well. To get the best out of the three panelists, get them wound-up early on something they feel strongly about. Bestwick was the master at this, and he would then transition the panel into the highlights and things would take-off.

Unfortunately, Despain does not have this touch, and simply uses his monotone to read the script for the highlights, actively trying to quash all driver antics. In this show, the drivers continued to pour-out the good information, despite the repeated interruptions of Despain. He simply cannot lose "control" on TV.

The difference in this show was having Greg Biffle back on the set. On the subject of Tony Stewart, the panel again got Despain off-track and began a discussion of Tony "self policing" the Martinsville track. Said Waltrip, "there has to be somebody in charge." Biffle and Schrader were dialed-in to goofing around, and for once Despain lost his leadership position to good old INC laughter.

The panel was all over the correct information about the race, and several times corrected Despain while he was reading his script. Even teasing each other during their own highlights, Waltrip and Biffle were having a great time. Having a solid third panelist to join Waltrip and Schrader is a key to this series carrying on.

The candid comments and great information flowed better on this episode than they had in many shows. This was due in-part to Michael Waltrip keeping his head in the game for the entire hour, with no sponsor plugs and no changes of topic for reasons related to his team or manufacturer. What a difference a dialed-in Waltrip makes for the viewer.

Toward the end of the show, Waltrip stepped-up to offer the official explanation of the green/white/checkered flag finish. The panel led Despain through a recap of why and how things happened in the final three laps of the Cup Series race. Today, these guys were earning their money.

In a wonderful stroke of luck, the show came up "light," and this allowed the panel to talk about life outside of the NASCAR circle. Finally, it was clear to viewers how the personalities of these three drivers are so completely different. Waltrip talked sponsors and family, Biffle talked fishing, and Schrader said he was going out to eat later. This was the type of fun that SPEED viewers have been missing.

There are only a couple of episodes left for INC this season. After months of problems and turmoil, to see this type of free-flowing and orderly show clearly suggests that SPEED executives got involved and decided to put things in order.

If only for one night, the kind of casual and chaotic fun that allowed this show to become a hit was on display again. SPEED has not announced if INC will return for 2008, but with a fresh host and the continued support of the production executives, this franchise may have not taken its last breath.

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