Friday, February 29, 2008

SPEED And ESPN2 Combine For Saturday NASCAR Coverage

The strange and sometimes fascinating "NASCAR marriage" between ESPN2 and SPEED continues to keep a firm hold on NASCAR fans this Saturday.

It is another weekend where SPEED enjoys hosting the practice and qualifying coverage of the NEXTEL Cup Series because the actual race is on big brother Fox Sports. The bonus for viewers is that SPEED also steps-into the Nationwide Series and televises practice and qualifying. ESPN2 just shows-up for the race.

Saturday kicks-off on SPEED at Noon Eastern Time with Nationwide Series qualifying. Viewers saw Hermie Sadler have a change to step-into the analyst role alongside of host Steve Byrnes and veteran Jeff Hammond on Friday's practice coverage. Perhaps, we will see Sadler again for qualifying. He has come a long way, and is still working hard on his TV mechanics as he increases his on-air exposure.

Next-up at 1:30PM will be the two practice sessions for the Sprint Cup Series. This coverage should be hosted by the NASCAR on Fox gang and feature Mike, Larry and DW. The two sessions run back-to-back and lead directly up to 4PM and the beginning of the ESPN2 coverage of the Nationwide Series race.

The NASCAR Countdown program scheduled for 4PM on ESPN2 is directly following a live college basketball game, so viewers should be on their toes if the basketball broadcast runs long for any of a variety of reasons. Countdown is scheduled for thirty minutes, and is hosted by Allen Bestwick from the ESPN Infield Pit Center. The ESPN media release this week said Bestwick will be joined by Dale Jarret and Brad Daugherty. There was no mention of Rusty Wallace or Ray Evernham.

At 4:30, ESPN2 will start their coverage of the Nationwide Series race, which is scheduled to run for three hours until 7:30PM. Jarrett will move up to the booth to join Jerry Punch and Andy Petree for the event. On pit road will be Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns.

Switching back to SPEED, Larry McReynolds hosts his favorite program entitled NASCAR Performance at 7:30PM. This is followed at 8PM by the always interesting Tradin' Paint featuring John Roberts and Kyle Petty. Unofficially, we are hearing that Jenna Fryer from the AP is the media guest.

That is a good long day of NASCAR coverage from SPEED and ESPN2 combined. This season there has been a nice relationship growing between these two parties. They promo each other's races, use audio of the race calls and work hard to respect each other on the air. This change may have been the most positive aspect of the 2008 year in NASCAR TV to this point.

While you might think this time frame only involves two races, it does not. SPEED has been on the air with NASCAR programs constantly since testing began in January. ESPN2 has been working hard with a re-vamped NASCAR Now and a heightened NASCAR presence on ESPNEWS and SportsCenter to push the sport back onto the ESPN front burner.

With good weather and a lot of fans, Saturday from Las Vegas should get NASCAR back on the right track after a mess in Southern California. Please feel free to post your comments about these programs. There will be a specific post up for the Nationwide Series race about one hour before air time.

To add your opinion to The Daly Planet, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Anonymous said...

JD, great point about cooperation between the networks. I as a viewer really appreciate it and notice it.

You mentioned SPEED/FOX and the gopher cam/claim jumper silliness in the other entry today. I'm trying to figure out if they came up with those gimmicks on their own or if they are being encouraged by NASCAR before the season to think of gimmicks to draw us TV viewers back in.

I just saw comments on SceneDaily in which the president of TMS is offering a donation to charity for any driver throwing their helmet during a race before Texas. And Bruton Smith says we fans need to see a driver get out of a car and slap somebody else.

Those would be incidents that would be shown widely on TV if they happened. So I'm figuring maybe all NASCAR partners were encouraged to come up with these gimmicks to make us watch? Maybe not, but it's strange how this is all happening at once.

(I think the Texas and Bruton ideas are way over the top and will backfire on NASCAR sooner or later. 'Planning' racing anger and outbursts is fake like wrestling and has nothing to do with the real emotions of racing.)

Anonymous said...

JD, Are the infield Photographers hired by ESPN, SPEED/FOX, or NASCAR Media Group? I know some of them freelance for NASCAR Media Group/NASCAR Images, but I heard the infield crews are not. Is that true?


SophiaZ123 said...

it is GREAT to hear both stations mentioning the others and to see NASCAR NOW using FOX images and voices. It makes so much more sense since we are talking about the SAME sport they are all promoting.

I hope this keeps up.

AND we will all benefit from practice/quals sharing.



Am I the only one truly excited about this season? Yeah, Cali was a fiasco, but it usually is one but with a full race on Sunday.

I mean there is a tempo this season that I have not seen in a while and I like it!!

How 'bout ya' NASCAR fans?!?!?!

Daly Planet Editor said...


The TV photogs work for their respective networks, but everything funnels through the NASCAR Media Group, which is the new name for NASCAR Images and NASCAR Digital Entertainment.

All of the NASCAR TV and radio and rights and Internet and everything else was merged into one new company for this season in advance of them all moving into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, NC.

That will finally put this splintered organization in one place and let it begin to get organized at last.

NMG controls the TV compound at the races and networks bring some of their own equipment and then share other stuff, like camera positions, audio and in-car cameras.

I hope that helps with your question.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:48AM,

This is rapidly becoming a time where NASCAR needs to mobilize the court of public opinion in its favor. Trucks and Nationwide Series are limping along, and Sprint Cup is once again Vanilla ice cream for TV viewers.

While the cooperative attitude and the "go team" philosophy of Jimmie and Jeff last season was admirable, that is not going to help Gossage and Bruton sell tickets. TV ratings run this sport, and have for years.

If the return on a sponsor's investment is not enough through the TV exposure to justify the dollars, the whole thing starts to crumble. We have seen that start to happen in the Nationwide Series this season in no uncertain terms.

Since Lesa Kennedy from ISC is a low-key and private individual, what you get with Bruton, Humpy and Gossage are three strong and independent promoters from the old school. They are always fun.


Chad Little said...

Here is info to answer about where SpeedHD can be seen: Via SpeedTV

SPEED HD is currently available through the following video service providers:
• DirecTV
• Cablevision of Marion County
• Chesnee Communications, Inc.
• Foothills RTC
• Openband Multimedia, LLC
• Sjoberg’s Cable TV, Inc.
• Standard Tobacco dba Bracken Cablevision

Anonymous said...

JD - you have stated on several occasions "NMG controls the TV compound at the races".

You need to do your homework because this is simply not accurate. Like your Bestwick statment at Dyatona you sometimes present opinion as fact when it is simply not true.

All of the tv partners bring their own equiptment (except robo cams) and NONE of the other TV equiptment is provided by NMG nor do they "control" any of it. NMG does handle "common" location vendors like port o johns, power,catering, golf carts. There is a shared equiptment truck provided by NEP but that just does existing signel routing and robo operator controls.Credentials go through NMG as they would go through any sports league ala NFL, MLB, etc.

Some camera positions are shared but those are direct agreements between the tv partners - NMG has nothung to do with it.

Bottom line is your continued suggestion that NASCAR or NASCAR reps control the tv compound is just not correct.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:40AM,

Aren't you splitting hairs? The new TV contract called for NMG to coordinate the activity of the TV compound.

If we wanted to do an engineering breakdown of who paid for what it would take all day with the shared costs.

The NEP truck and all the on-site facilities except what the networks brought are all NMG, as you pointed out.

I guess I am trying to figure out what you are upset about?

I have great relations with NMG as well as the other networks. My former boss is the VP at NEP. If you are angry, just drop me an email and we can sort whatever issue is upsetting you out with no problems.

This season, we had hoped to do a detailed breakdown of the TV compound and interview the people responsible for that organization. I am going to be at NMG shortly, and will try to set that up. I think it would be fun for everyone to see just what a incredible task it is to build, operate and share the TV equipment for a race week.


Anonymous said...

The guest on Tradin' Paint is Jenna Fryer

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the update, that should be fun!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:40AM,

What was the Bestwick thing?


Anonymous said...

JD - you wrote about Bestwick "The network showed-off new stars Dale Jarrett and Ray Evernham. They brought along Jerry Punch, Andy Petree and Rusty Wallace. Once again, Allen Bestwick was the odd man out.

That is a shame, because NASCAR fans who have watched ESPN over the past four days know one thing from the TV coverage. Bestwick is now the man in charge of NASCAR on ESPN"

The fact is that Bestwick was right there with everyone else and spoke at the press conference. Your headline and above comments were wrong - just like your comments that NMG "controls" the TV compound. The point is how often you make representations that are just flat out wrong. Opinions are very welcome but misleading representation just expose what you do not know.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Well, I followed up my comments with some emails with media members who were present. They told me that because Bestwick chose to remain quiet and no media member chose to ask him a question he was never heard in the press conference.

I even used a pic that tried to show him in the background, which is what the story was about.

Do you think that your personal problems with me have colored you understanding of reality? Certainly, it seems that you have spent a lot of time looking at items you choose to label as important when others do not. Even as I ask you to email me to deal with your issues with me you continue to post your problems here, where you somehow feel that you are either in charge or vindicated.

There is no newspaper or media chain here, I have good relations with the TV networks and the other NASCAR media outlets. What is the point of trying to embarrass me when it is just one person putting out a column to encourage discussion?

If you find something wrong, just email me so we can fix it. That is what the other NASCAR journalists do who help me review my column.

If it makes you feel personally better to describe me as some power-hungry person, go right ahead. It takes all kinds to make a world.


Anonymous said...

Wow no comments on qualifing, must be perfect broadcast or not a soul is watching!

Newracefan said...

We're watching

Dot said...

I think it is great that there is co-opetition between SPEED and ESPN. Smart move on their parts.

TexasRaceLady said...

Wow no comments on qualifing, must be perfect broadcast or not a soul is watching!

March 1, 2008 1:18 PM

That's why I'm not commenting --- I'm too busy watching cars on the track.

ri88girl said...

It is very nice to see the two networks working so well together, but this is a team sport so maybe they decided there was no I in ESPN good job.

Someone on here mentioned that the FOX booth kept referencing SUNOCO fuel before pit stops etc. The guys Mike, Larry and DW didn't do it when they were on speed in quals and practice even when they talked about fuel. However, today in the Nationwide race DJ stuck in SUNOCO and GOODEAR every time he could. Something I will be interested to keep track of. Is it the networks? Or Nascar?

The Claim Jumper tag was thought up by one of the crew on a team. Can't remember which one, think it was a red uniform. It was during an interview with Dillnor on SPEED.