Tuesday, February 12, 2008

"NASCAR Now" Stays On A Roll


One day after the first big Monday hour show, Ryan Burr took the studio helm of Tuesday's NASCAR Now and kept the momentum going. To make a statement about the new shared responsibilities of the co-hosts, Burr and Nicole Manske appeared on-camera right at the start of the show.

Burr updated the news with Lead Reporter Marty Smith, including the penalties for the Stewart vs. Busch incident. Smith and Burr work well, as they did last season. This time, the questions were on-target and the responses by Smith were clear and concise.

Then, for the first time, viewers were treated to Nicole Manske and Brad Daugherty in the big ESPN Infield Studio that the network built just for NASCAR. ESPN is working hard to involve Daugherty, and he seems to be working hard to diversify his TV activities for the network. Manske followed-up with Boris Said talking about Casey Mears and his slightly more high-profile teammates.

Twisting off the hardcore news, Burr returned ESPN to their corporate agenda with the beginning of a long year of NASCAR "fantasy racing" reports. There is no doubt that this activity is popular and important to ESPN. The question is, does it have a place in a thirty minute racing show that only has twenty-two minutes of content?

Manske worked with Brian Vickers on a studio interview that finally allowed her to talk freely and relax a bit. Vickers related well with her, and she was able to keep her feet and ask the right follow-up questions. This was the first time for viewers seeing Manske on the ESPN set at the NASCAR races, but it will not be the last.

As we mentioned in an earlier column, Brad Daugherty has been trying to spread his wings with ESPN. His feature report on Petty Racing and their move to Mooresville, NC was a great first step. Asking questions in his understated style, Daugherty got a lot of information out of Petty on his future plans. For those who understand Daugherty's start as a NASCAR fan, this opportunity had to be wonderful.

Tim Brewer made his first appearance on NASCAR Now for the season with a feature on the wind tunnel that was recently featured on the Media Tour. Brewer did a solid job in explaining the function of the tunnel, and how the information that teams need is gathered. It was again interesting to see how data-driven this technology really is.

Finally, the confirmation that the boundaries between the NASCAR on ESPN gang and the Fox Sports on-air team are finally down happened with the perfect person. Larry McReynolds works for Fox, SPEED and TNT. His agenda is clearly NASCAR.

Now, McReynolds sat on NASCAR Now talking about his Daytona 500 memories while wearing a NASCAR on Fox shirt. At the end of the interview, Ryan Burr on NASCAR Now promoted the Daytona 500 on Fox Sports. My, how times have changed for this program.

Burr mentioned Marty Smith's interview with all four of the Hendrick drivers, which will be featured on the Wednesday edition. That type of opportunity for Smith to act as more than just a talking head will be a good one.

This program series has changed almost everything but the studio set after last year's struggles. The on-air content today was solid, and the potential for the program to pick-up-speed as we head for the weekend is almost perfect timing.

Give credit to ESPN for making the changes that are continuing to result in improvements on the air where NASCAR is concerned. With NASCAR Now finally on the right track, it is almost time to find-out how the new broadcast crew will mesh.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the simple instructions. Thanks again for stopping by.

34 comments:

Anonymous said...

Burr mentioned Marty Smith's interview with all four of the Hendrick drivers, which will be featured on the Wednesday edition. That type of opportunity for Smith to act as more than just a talking head will be a good one.
Posted by Daly Planet Editor at 11:19 PM

JD, This already aired on Sportscenter. If you saw Sportscenter at 6:00pm earlier today, you might have seen it.

GS

Daly Planet Editor said...

GS,

All of the NASCAR "content" put together at Daytona is going to be spread across all the ESPN networks and websites.

I think it is nice that Marty and Brad get to step out of the assigned talking head roles they has last season. It should be interesting to see if this lasts beyond Daytona.

Thanks again for your tip on SC!

JD

Anonymous said...

Honestly, the fantasy segments don't have a place. Fantasy sports are an internet thing. If I want inside info on fantasy racing, I can go online without having to wait for it.

Obviously, I can get all of my news online as well, but unlike fantasy sports, TV gives a unique opportunity for those that the news is about to respond or react to that news.

Ritchie said...

I really enjoyed yesterday's NASCAR Now. I enjoyed the segment of Brian Vicker's sky diving, and I really enjoyed Brad's piece on the Petty move. Those are the kinds of stories that help us better understand racing and the personalities that make up racing.

This is the second day I have watched Brad interview Richard Petty, and I really like the way he asks questions. What I like about Brad is his enthusiasm about the topic and his folksy way of asking questions. I'm not sure what he has that other reporters don't, but my guess is that he really is approaching the subject as a fan. He doesn't really need the job, and he could easily call basketball games, but he seems to really enjoy racing. It's refreshing. I don't want all of the reporters to be that laid back, but he adds something to the mix. He could have a place just covering the human interest side of racing.

Tripp said...

NASCAR Now has become a show I actually want to watch. Catching up on a TiVo overload, I watched Monday and Tuesday's episodes back to back. The energy, information flow and good humor was the same both with Bestwick and Burr. This is good.

Brad's interview with the King was a treat and knowing that Brad's a long time Petty fan only underscored the pleasure in the watching.

It's good to see that ESPN has given Tim Brewer something to do other than point at brake calipers for 15 seconds. Having heard interviews with Brewer on Sirius, it's clear that he knows a lot more than he's been allowed to tell on TV. And he has a wonderful low-key style that came across in the wind tunnel piece. Let's hope this continues.

I could do without the fantasy league stuff but it wasn't offensive, and if it gives some fans a new way to get involved in the sport, why not.

The big surprise for me was seeing the smiling moon-shaped visage of Larry Mac in his "NASCAR on FOX" shirt. While I always like hearing what Larry has to say, what's remarkable is that the walls have come down between the NASCAR partners. This is good for the sport and the fans.

Overall, the track record of NN over the short course of this new season bodes well for what fans may expect from ESPN in the months to come. The network appears to have abandoned the self-centered approach to NASCAR and is now constructing coverage that is aimed at what the fans want. For any major corporate entity to change their modus operandi so drastically is a very big deal.

My hat's off to ESPN. So far, so good.

glenc1 said...

The show is starting to show some consistency, even with Ryan at the helm, and he is looking more and more comfortable. Again, I agree with those saying how nice it is that ESPN doesn't seem so ill-willed toward FOX (not that I don't understand it, I was there in the 'dark days') but times change and you have to move on. Nicole did seem fairly at ease with Brian, (and Brian spoke less in a monotone than usual, although I get that he was a guest here.) All in all, things are looking very promising. I'm also glad to hear ESPN is promoting racing on its other shows. It's all good.

Daly Planet Editor said...

What do you guys think about the Fantasy Racing? Does it have a place in a "real" NASCAR show?

JD

JHD said...

Wow, you all must have watched a different version of NN than I did. That was horrendous, especially if you're a Casey Mears fan.

What better way to emphasize Mears is the forgotten man at Hendrick by not talking to him at all in a piece all about him at the beginning of the show? They had maybe a sound bite or two from practice over the weekend (which weren't new), and then Nicole and Boris talking about how under the radar he is. He must be very far under the radar if they couldn't find him long enough to interview him. What exactly was the point of even doing the segment?

Badly done, NN.

Anonymous said...

Fantasy racing doesn't have a place in a NASCAR show, but it does have a place in an ESPN sports show, and since this is an ESPN show, it's staying. I don't like it either, but it's business. Trying to get them to drop it would be futile.

Whats gets me is the expert guy doesn't even really like NASCAR from my reading of his columns. He's OK with NASCAR now (I think he said he started following it a few years ago), but purely from the fantasy gaming perspective. I don't think he's interested in the actual sport. But that's common these days - I know plenty of football fans who would lose interest if not for their fantasy teams.

Still interested to hear how Marty Smith made the jump to "lead reporter" out of nowhere.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:53AM,

Why should NASCAR fans get cheated out of time for a fantasy sport? That is what I was asking. I understand business, but ESPN does their mobile phone and other business in commercial time.

I agree with you, that Editor does not like NASCAR, he speaks about the drivers like they are horses about to run a race. If you ever follow his picks, he is wrong almost constantly, and that is why I was asking this question.

He has no idea about racing luck or accidents or mechanical failures. He speaks as thought it is a robot competition or a math problem. Last season I asked that his past picks be reviewed every time he is on the air, have you noticed that never happened?

To make us aware of the fantasy league is fine, but if he is not going to be held accountable and his picks tracked each race, what is the point of him taking the time to pick?

I am not a fantasy sports person, but I have tons of friends who are into the football leagues. It just seems with only forty-three drivers, the "play" is limited.

JD

TexasRaceLady said...

I can't believe it --- another NNow that I enjoyed. This could get addictive.

The only part that grated on my nerves was the fantasy racing segment --- maybe part of the problem was its placement in the show. It would probably go over better at the very end. That would allow the racing content to flow a bit better.

The visiting with Richard Petty was a delight. Brad's enthusiasm comes across much better in an informal setting rather that stuffed into the booth persona.

Sgee said...

Two things.

I can't blame ESPN for wanting to talk up Fantasy Nascar. Fantasy Football makes so much money, I mean a ton of money (some estimates are close to a billion dollars, and 22 million people play each year, google it). So more power to them if they want to try to corner the market on NASCAR fantasy... However, I have played both, and I just don't think NASCAR Fantasy will take off like Fantasy football.
Real NFL shows constantly talk fantasy, and do it a lot more than NN does so far. I can deal with this short fantasy segment if the rest of the show continues to be high quality.

Speaking of high quality, the Daughtry Petty interview was great, and I hope ESPN lets Brad do more things like that.
I have always enjoyed Brad's take on NASCAR.
I would go on, but this strand is about Nascar Now and not Daughtry.

Well, I will say one thing because I think it kind of fits with the topic. As seen during the Petty interview and other times in the past year, I think Daughtry would fit in better at FOX. His folksy good natured personality would mesh better with DW and Larry Mac. I don't think he is stuck up enough to be on ESPN.

Daly Planet Editor said...

sgee,

I certainly hope they continue to let Daugherty do things like that after Daytona. I think his style is more suited to a coversation than a commetary.

JD

Anonymous said...

In response to JD's question about fantasy information on NASCAR Now - the dude they have on the show is a complete bozo so it is therefore a total waste of air time.

I watch NN on DVR so I can just skip the fantasy "picks".

I just hope they don't go back to the racer-chaser stuff. Now that is a real waste of air time...

Ron P. said...

Good Show,
I though the interview that Nicole Manske did with Brian Vickers was great. She had Brian at ease and she let him do the talking. Brad still has long way to go..... "just my opinion" and you know what they say about opinions.

I almost spit my teeth out when Burr introduced Marty Smith as ESPN the Lead NASCAR Reporter. I never laughed so hard in my life, it really made few people that post here look like idiots... I guess AB knew what he was talking about, so much for that argument huh!!!?

I found the Fantasy Racing bit just a shamless promotion for ESPN to get people to their website for hits and advertising gimmicks.
Leave the Fantasy part out, it's just BS anyway.

Can ESPN do 3 Three back to back??? We'll see, still not getting my hopes up.
(in ESPN Lingo, 2 men on, the batter steps up to the plate, and lets go to commercial.....)
RJP

Anonymous said...

Daugherty is a fish out of water. He has no first hand knowlege of the sport (other than being a part time partial Busch team owner) which, by the way, would make about 12,000 other guys equally "qualified".
I'm all for diversity, but this guy is just an awe struck newbie fan, nothing more

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:56, you clearly know nothing about the North Carolina raised Daugherty and his history with NASCAR racing, so I'm not even going to try to enlighten you.

sgee said...
"I can't blame ESPN for wanting to talk up Fantasy Nascar. Fantasy Football makes so much money, I mean a ton of money (some estimates are close to a billion dollars, and 22 million people play each year, google it). "

One of the most intriguing things about the whole Microsoft -Yahoo possible deal is that companies (including ESPN, I believe) are salivating at the thought that Yahoo! Sports and its huge fantasy league business will be spun off and made available for purchase if the deal goes through. If that happens, the ESPN fantasy league talk will be everywhere. The Yahoo folks hate ESPN fantasy leagues and are already upset about the idea of a takeover.

I do not want to see the Driver Pick 'Em return to NASCAR Now. I can live with fantasy if they keep the Pick 'Em away.

Ritchie said...

In response to the fantasy racing question...

I am not that interested in fantasy racing, however I know a lot of people are. Therefore, I wouldn't be against having one segment a week to talk fantasy racing. That being said, I agree with some of the other posts that say the guy doing the segments now is horrendous. He obviously doesn't understand racing and has no business on the show talking about it. Of all the people out there who are fans of the fantasy racing leagues, surely they can find someone who can come on the air for two minutes a week to talk intelligently about fantasy racing.

glenc1 said...

About the fantasy thing--I actually have had an ESPN fantasy team with some friends for a few years now. Most of the time, I completely forget about it after a couple of weeks and I really couldn't care less, lol. But I get that it's a big thing to some people, so I can understand it warranting a short segment. But I'll admit my impatience, I flipped the channel when I saw the segment, almost forgot to flip back.

And about the Casey Mears thing-- Casey has done a number of interviews this weekend (and is probably tired of the questions)--I thought this was about getting Boris' perspective on the situation, not Casey's, which has already been seen by many of us. In other words, they're trying to develop their 'reporters' ability to analyze and expouse their opinions, not just interview the drivers, which, as you say, we have seen. Not only that, but most of the drivers were away from the track with obligations, and already have the group interview planned for today's edition.

As for Brad--I enjoyed the interview, but I think I want to see some more of this from Brad before I make any judgements (Richard is always a good interview). I think Brad is a good contributor in this format and would like to see how he does with 'tougher' spots. (Anyone notice how he had to duck through the shop doors, lol?)

elena said...

I thought last night's NN was about the same as it has been since the season began. It was okay. If you like NASCAR, you might be willing to watch anything that has to do with the sport. It's the same with fans of other sports. I also watch any show that has to do with the NFL. I don't care if it's on HBO (NFL show just cancelled), Fox, CBS, NFL, etc. I can never get enough. I feel the same with NASCAR. In my group of friends we never evaluate the shows. We may or may not like a participant, but we never vow to quit watching.

First, I notice that all the NN shows this week, except Friday, are 60 minutes. JD and other sites said the show would be 30 minutes. Also, there's no show on Thursday. Anyway, for all those who hate Fantasy NASCAR, they spent some 2 minutes out of a 60 minute show. Not a big deal.

The show started with Ryan and Marty with the lead story--Tony and Kurt. They showed the video clip and Marty brought us up to date on the penalty as well as the new and toletant "NASCAR." The piece was over and we go to Nicole. Well she does another segment on the same topic, but not in any way connected to Ryan and Marty. She and Brad talk about it as though it's a independant piece. And they say just about the same thing. What was the point? Don't they coordinate segments? If they are going over the same material, maybe Nicole could have said "for another perspective, or continuing the conversation, or Brad, do you agree with Marty?, or...

jhd, I totally agree. I thought Nicole looked and sounded very foolish when she introduced the segment on Casey Mears. For all the fans here who say they don't like to be treated like a novice or child, that's what she did. Nicole challenges the viewers to name the 4 HMS drivers and then accuses us of having to think before we could name them all. IS THIS WOMAN KIDDING?

There have been hundreds of articles and boggs discussing Mears' place in the pecking order. The fact that he got a new chief and a new number. And excuse me, Nicole, he belongs to one of the most loved and admired families of motor sports! Maybe YOU have a hard time, but we sports fans do not. HMS has been called the Yankees of NASCAR and they always name the drivers. WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?

I'm not a Boris fan, but I loved the fact he gave his opinion on the Dale Sr car on display. He did not like it and said so in no uncertain terms. What I did not like was that after he answered, Nicole felt compelled to make an editorial comment (unsupportive of his opinion). She just could not let his opinion stand. I thought it was a bit disrespectful.

Shawnna said...

I caught this show late last night (trying to clean up the DVR!) and really enjoyed it. I didn't really care for the fantasy league bit, but that's what the FF button is for. I think it's great that ESPN is including other members of the media, such as Larry Mac and Darryl Waltrip and I'm one of the people who enjoys Brad D. I'm glad ESPN is giving him a chance and not boxing him in like last year. This show is much improved and I'll keep watching.

Shawnna in OKC

Daly Planet Editor said...

elena,

The Thursday 6PM airing was bumped by a news special, so the show will originally air at Midnight Eastern Time when it normally re-airs.

The one hour versions I think were a response to SPEED, and we all are going to get used to seeing NASCAR interviews and features on NN, SportsCenter, ESPN News and soon they will be included on shows like First Take.

I certainly hope Dale Jarrett gets a chance to appear on Mike and Mike soon. That should be interesting, especially if is before the baseball spring training starts.

TXracelady, that is a good suggestion about moving that segment to the end, I wonder how many folks like some other posters turn the channel when that comes on the screen?

JD

Anonymous said...

we all are going to get used to seeing NASCAR interviews and features on NN, SportsCenter, ESPN News and soon they will be included on shows like First Take.
I don't know - I'm skeptical about this. I think it's a repeat of last year on ESPN - wall to wall coverage of Daytona and the winner on all ESPN platforms, then they stop caring. As you said, this is the lull before spring training, March madness, and the NBA playoffs, so they give NASCAR some play. By the time Homestead rolled around last November, ESPN and the .com simply weren't interested anymore. I'll have to see proof that it will be different this year.

Speaking of interested, how about Danica Patrick and Mrs Jeff Gordon in the SI swimsuit issue? Hmmm...

Anonymous said...

No one is probably home to care (or justify a separate blog entry about Speed coverage), but Dave Despain announced on NASCAR Live that NASCAR is extending first practice a half hour to 1:30 ET because of the weather that's coming their way. They might not get second practice in (the trucks are supposed to practice too).

fistmagnet said...

As someone who has played fantasy NASCAR on ESPN for as long as it has existed, I think the fantasy segment on Nascar Now is a waste of time. Just do a quick promo for it during the show and leave fantasy man on the website. If I want to listen to this guy with no credibility spew a bunch of stats and half baked opinions, I'll go find him on the website. I hope ny opinion isn't outdated, since I haven't actually sat through a fantasy segment since around April of last year.

Manske assuming that Nascar fans would have trouble remembering Mears is a member of Hendrick's team is absurd. Sort of like thinking a Beatles fan would have trouble remembering the drummer's name.

Desmond said...

The mentions of other networks on the NASCAR Now programs so far reminds me of the line in the classic movie Casablanca. To paraphrase Rick, ESPN is "shocked" that other networks carry NASCAR. "Shocked!"

Also, the comments from another user at 11:46 am ET may explain why the Daytona 500, the first race of the year in NASCAR, is the biggest in the opposite of most other sports. It gets substantial media attention due to the time of the year - between the Super Bowl and baseball spring training. Even the Southern 500, which I understand many drivers called the most prestigious race, even more than Daytona, was wedged in September as football season starts and therefore received less attention from the mainstream sports media, including TV.

SophiaZ123 said...

I do not understand this whole Fantasy pics deal and I think it's a snoozerama. Just do a quick direct to ESPN website and give me more interviews, please.

I agree Brad D has been a great surprise. So far, Nicole is doing well.

I can't believe I watched NN two days in a row and have little to really gripe about.


Well, wait a minute...let me think..oh, they could get rid of the special effects of a space ship with the lines going down the screen with text (Next to somebody they are interviewing)

In this sound effects crazed world, I would like to push the mute button on that sound. :)

Oh and seeing Larry Mac was great! I wonder what happened in the off season.

Still, what we all really want to know is DID TPTB in NASCAR watch and ESPN RACE broadcast.

So far, NN has improved.

GinaV24 said...

I thought it was an OK show (I only caught part of it live but the DVR was running). I thought Manske's deal about Mears was dumb too -- he doesn't get as much mention as the other 3 drivers at HMS, but for heaven's sakes, most NASCAR fans can name the driver in any of the cars once they get done shuffling them around. The fantasy stuff doesn't do much for me especially since that guy that does the picks obviously knows NOTHING about the sport. I play in a Yahoo league, but I think the suggestion about moving it to the end would be a good idea. (I;m one of those people who flip channels when it comes on). I have the DVR setup for tonights show since it will feature the Fearsome Foursome as the media is calling the HMS drivers. Hope it is worth watching. And it looks like Marty Smith is still the Lead Reporter -- LOL

Anonymous said...

Most of what I noticed has already been mentioned by others here so I won't repeat that stuff. I'll add that I think they've shown improvement since last season, and it's just going to take time for everyone to be comfortable and find their respective grooves following all the changes that took place.

Also, I just read that Ray Evernham is joining NASCAR Now as an analyst as well as work during some of the Nationwide Series races. I know that ESPN hasn't broadcast anything on the Nationwide Series yet this year, but I already have one big concern -- too many cooks in the kitchen. If I recall correctly, you've already got DJ, Andy and Jerry in the booth; Rusty, Allen, and Brad in the pit studio; and the pit road reporters. That's a lot of people for any given broadcast.

Tracy said...

Loved the "feel" of the piece about Petty's move to the old Yates shop. Got a real sense of what that team is up against in terms of facilities compared to the bigger, richer teams.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the fantasy spot is out of place. Every time a sports talk radio station or TV broadcast starts talking about the wannabe-jock version of Dungeons & Dragons, I turn the channel.

Newracefan said...

Enjoyed most of the show and now that I have that DVR hooked up to HDTV I will be FF thru all that Fantasy stuff and Driver Pickem. Nascar Now has come a long way, if it continues I'll keep watching

Vince said...

This show has come a long ways since this time last year. For the better. Burr is looking more comfortable. Nicole is doing fine. I thought the Brad piece with the King was good. And to all the people who got all upset yesterday about Marty being introduced as the Lead Reporter, I guess he is, huh? As far as I'm concerned Marty always was the Lead Reporter, irregardless of the title.

The Fantasy racing segment is a waste of time. The bozo doing it doesn't know squat. They should just do a quick promo on the Fantasy league and get on with the show. I always FF through this segment.

It was good to see Larry Mac being interviewed on ESPN with his Fox shirt on. I guess the networks are playing nice this year.

All in all, I'm liking this new version of NN this year. It sure as heck beats what we had last year. No major complaints from me about what ESPN has done so far this year.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...Daugherty is a fish out of water. He has no first hand knowlege of the sport (other than being a part time partial Busch team owner) which, by the way, would make about 12,000 other guys equally "qualified". I'm all for diversity, but this guy is just an awe struck newbie fan, nothing more February 13, 2008 9:56 AM

You, my friend, are the awe-struck newbie fan if you think Daugherty has no personal knowledge of NASCAR. He was probably attending races years before you had even heard of NASCAR. I, personally, think he did a great job and I, too, loved his enthusiasm. Brad LOVES NASCAR and it shows. Call it diversity, if you want. I call it appealing to long-time fans who KNOW the difference between a quick understudy and a lifelong fan of the sport. Since I've been a racefan for more than 40 years, I'm pretty sure I know the difference.