Monday, February 18, 2008

Sunday Night Post-Race TV Coverage

What an exciting night for NASCAR fans this season as several TV networks went all-out to offer post-race programming after the Daytona 500.

This head-to-head competition between the ESPN Networks and SPEED was fascinating and at times difficult to watch. With all of the different programs and coverage, I am going to provide this page for your comments and reactions now that some time has passed. Here are some highlights:

NASCAR Now used ESPN for a one hour post-race special, and pulled-out all the stops. This show has been very effective on-site, and in this special one thing was made very clear. No one was in Connecticut. The ESPN Pit Center was used once again as the main hub of activity, and that is a welcome change.

Allen Bestwick anchored a show that featured Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty used effectively for what may be the first time in a long time. Bestwick keeps both of them on a very short on-air leash, and this works well to keep their answers concise and focused. Rusty, in his new role, was particularly effective.

Nicole Manske and Shannon Spake served as the field reporters, and both introduced recorded "soundbites" as their content. These two were professional, well-spoken and had all their information up-to-date. Manske's transistion from SPEED's glamour girl to ESPN's on-site NASCAR reporter and NASCAR Now co-host has been particulary fascinating.

Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis served-up the news, and Smith's style meshes well with Bestwick. This combination is going to be fun to watch all season long. Unfortunately, Tim Cowlishaw is a fish out-of-water with Wallace and Daugherty already on the set. The commentary Cowlishaw offered had already been covered point-by-point with Wallace and Daugherty earlier in the show.

The ESPN team matched SPEED's Victory Lane by having the winner on the set, and also provided Media Center "soundbites" and additional on-on-one interviews with the key players in the race. This program can be summed-up in one word, impressive.

SPEED's line-up of Victory Lane and then Wind Tunnel lacked the polish of the ESPN show, but as usual was a lot more raw and emotional. Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace worked hard to get the emotion out of the normally low-key Ryan Newman and owner Roger Penske. John Roberts was effective in directing traffic, and continues to raise his professional reputation with his level of on-air performance.

As I mentioned in an earlier column, no one worked harder on this day than Darrell Waltrip. Fans began the day with DW having coffee with Junior Johnson, and ended it some ten hours later with DW on Wind Tunnel with Dave Despain and Robin Miller.

Despain led another spirited discussion that featured all kinds of topics and even some viewer calls, but the focus was clear. NASCAR was again going to be the king of racing in North America because of the open-wheel mess. Even after all these hours on-the-air, DW made good points in this discussion with Miller.

SportsCenter and ESPNEWS both "re-purposed" footage and segments from the NASCAR Now Sunday special, but who cares? It was such a solid production that it served both those purposes perfectly. The profile of NASCAR has been greatly enhanced by the new user-friendly approach of these two groups.

As you watched the post-race coverage, what struck you as being an improvement and what did not work for you? These networks committed a lot of time and resources to this night, and it certainly was an incredible change from last season.

Just a reminder, tonight two big shows debut Monday in Studio form. The one hour edition of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 airs at 6PM. This is the Allen Bestwick hosted show that will feature the NASCAR on ESPN announcers having a "roundtable" about the weekend.

Over on SPEED, the first studio edition of This Week In NASCAR with Steve Byrnes will air at 8PM. This hour has Michael Waltrip and Kenny Schrader left over from Inside NEXTEL Cup, and the additional panelists are Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle. SPEED also indicated Ryan Newman would be along, but whether he is on the set or just being interviewed is yet to be seen.

Please feel free to add your comments about any of these shows and the general post-race TV coverage. To post your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks again for stopping by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

Interesting. To be honest, after FOX went off the air I watched The SPEED Report, Victory Lane, and WindTunnel.

Checking out the ESPN networks never even cross my mind. I guess that shows how much damage they did last year.

Granted, NASCAR Now has been much better in the past week so they are certainly making an admirable attempt to make NASCAR fans happy. I'll definitely check out ESPN/2/NEWS after Fontana next week. Thanks for the info.

elena said...

It was a lot of fun to watch the different post-race coverages. I have to say that I even thought ESPN did a good job. This was not their show, and yet they were really committed to giving the fans a lot to cheer about. I actually noticed the same attitude from them after the Super Bowl. Even though Fox carried it, ESPN had lots of post-race coverage.

It was through ESPN that I found out the story behind Roger wearing a HMS hat. Before the race, Rick and Roger were chatting and Roger joked with Rick and said he wanted to wear one of his hats to get some of his good luck. Well, Rick came back and gave Roger a hat to wear during the race. Since so many sports people are supersticious, I wonder if Roger will wear that hat at every race!

Another comment that Ryan made on ESPN Fist Take was that Rick had come to congratulate him in the winner's circle. Others like Petty did too.

SophiaZ123 said...

Gee, how to somebody who is not a drinker, JD, I feel like I woke up with a "NASCAR Hangover" from all the viewings yesterday.

I am glad somebody here posted about ESPN NEWS, caught part of that but went to VL at 8pm but ESPN apparently carried more with Ryan/Roger at that hour.

I thoroughly enjoyed WT with Robin Miller and Darrell (Why doesn't SPEED put on WT during the WEEK instead of those other shows...many make similar requests on other boards??)

I even watched most of NN with AB hosting but gotta admit, my brain was fogged by then and near "black out status" from all the reading and viewing during the day about NASCAR.

But after my incessant yipping like an obnoxious dog about 'poor camera choices' during the race, I have found that ESPN CAN do things right. I got the biggest kick out of Ryan telling Rusty it was all about his team mate helping him (though the specificities of why R and R did not get along is questionable) Still I found it amusing but both were good at hiding ill feelings.

I liked hearing that Ryan ate 3 cookies and a banana before the race and was VERY HUNGRY during the interviews, LOL. His wife always bakes cookies as a racing routine. Glad it worked.

It was just a great day all around and after hearing how much ESPN focused on NASCAR immediately after the race, I hope they will continue to do so for people who do not get SPEED channel.

Oh, they had the wrong graphics up on WT and I think VL but they just said Mikey (as opposed to Darrel graphic) waltrip and Biffle will be on the show tonight. No mention of Kenny and Kenny was not mentioned last week as a member this week.

I hope this show does not become rotating PANEL as the chemistry is what makes it.

It was nice seeing Tony on ESPN saying how tough the loss was for him that he though he had the race until the last couple laps...I can see now why he was not ready for a long interview with Krista...that had to hurt. He put on a good face on SPEED but with the conference on ESPN was a VERY SUBDUED and depressed Tony.

So, I look forward to ESPN hour tonight with AB hosting, I hope.

Thanks for the rundown and the reminders. I have my tv reminders on for the shows.

It was a good night for NASCAR fans.

Anonymous said...

ESPN:I appreciated NASCAR Now simply beginning the show with Ryan Newman on the set, then going through the highlights with him there. Good interview. Allen, Rusty, Brad work together nicely and as you said, with Allen there the others don't ramble on.

The only flaw I saw, which seems to be a continuing flaw of NN the past two weeks, is too much time spent covering the fates of all the Hendrick drivers and the Gibbs/Toyota drivers. It's looking like we're going to get detailed reports on all seven of those drivers every day and every week no matter how they perform, and I'm not sure I like that (and I'm a fan- imagine non fans having to deal with it!). For instance, Robby Gordon was glossed over after finishing 8th and Sadler and Kahne -6th and 7th - weren't interviewed at all.

Nicole Manske also hosted the hour-long Sunday morning edition of NASCAR Now and was very good in that role. She now has a completely clean slate with me (I was skeptical) because she is doing everything the way she should be doing it. No complaints.

Angelique Chengelis was there on both shows Sunday and did a great job, but I guess they've given the TV role to Marty Smith for the most part (also great job). No Newton, no Blount. Tim Cowlishaw continues to look out of place.

Shannon Spake was OK on NASCAR Now, but ESPNnews was another story. Dale Jr didn't seem to like her link of questioning. He also (like Kurt Busch) appeared to have a hard time hearing her and had to ask her to repeat a question. She may need to project her voice more in her new role on pit road. I noticed they didn't use that part of the interview when used on the late edition of NASCAR Now.

Victory Lane: Good show, also a good Ryan interview (but no crew chief McCauley interview). I also appreciated JR's funny and accurate impression of Dave Despain's voice when he promoted Wind Tunnel.

Bob Dilner did an exceptional interview with Tony Stewart after Stewart had calmed down (that guy is a split personality no doubt). Only flaw: similar to ESPN, VL spent too little time given to the unexpected top 10 finishers like Robby Gordon, Sadler, Kahne and Biffle. Performing well should get you interviewed no matter what your superstar status.

elena said...

Ryan has had a habit of nicknaming his winning cars. Well, on his ESPN interview, he let us know they had named this car "Buddy" in honor of Buddy Baker. I did not hear that in any other interview.

Brett Baldeck said...

I was very happy to see how much ESPN devoted to the Daytona 500 all day. They had NASCAR Now updates all morning.

Also as soon as Ryan crossed the finish line ESPN had it running as "Breaking News" On their ESPN/ESPN2 BottomLines. NASCAR Now on Sunday night was fantastic. Allen, Rusty, and Brad I think work together great! This is the perfect place for Rusty.

I think ESPN should do NASCAR Now raceday editions like they did from Daytona at every race. They should have the show from the race studio at the track every Sunday Morning and Night. Allen, Rusty, and Brad will already be at the tracks. Having NASCAR Now actually live from Daytona helped out a lot.
Do this for every race ESPN. It worked great!

ttc said...

Gee, everybody is so long winded around here!

One brief comment about NASCAR Now: both Rusty Wallace and Ryan Newman are great actors: everybody knows they hated each other as Penske teammates.

Their acting is almost as good as Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch on Raceday!

elena said...

sophiaz, maybe we are seeing a very new and improved Rusty. After knocking Jeff all last season, Rusty is now singing Jeff's praises. I was suprised how cordially Rusty was to Ryan.

Since Rusty is probably getting about a million for his gig, he doesn't want to lose his job the way Erik and others did last season. The fact that Rusty continually has to find funding for his Nationwide team, he knows he has to stay in the public eye.

I don't know what Rusty did over the off-season, but so far he has done a good job.

NASCAR_IRL Fan said...

I can't say enough how much I agree that performance should merit coverage. It appears as if this year NASCAR Now has already decided that the theme for the season will be coverage of the two "superteams", JGR and Hendrick Motorsports, and nothing will veer them off course.

I thought ESPN and the ESPNNEWS proper did a better job with placing Newman's win in focus moreso than focusing on the superteams like NASCAR Now last night. (They're stick and ball- for the most part if you win, they cover it.) NASCAR Now is going to have to watch that closely, because if it continues that they insist on sticking to a daily how-are-the-superteams-doing script regardless of results, I'll gradually end up watching less.

Brett Baldeck said...

I forgot to mention something that bothered my this morning on ESPN2. ESPN First Take interviewed Ryan Newman off the top, which was fine. Then they threw it over to the "1st and 10" crew to talk about the race. What a mistake!

I became so upset watching this. First they called it the "Indy 500". Then the two people talking about it were not NASCAR fans. In fact, they hate NASCAR. They said how boring racing is and they don't get the sport. Basically they jsut bashed the sport as a whole. It was so uncalled for. Did anyone eles see this? It was rediculous.

I think ESPN shows "1st and 10" sometime in the afternoon for those who want to catch it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:57PM,

I thought that Sunday morning NASCAR Now with Nicole really helped her to start again with the fans. Since she arrived at ESPN, her manner and dress have been nothing short of professional.

To see her handle Rusty, Brad and Ray on the set was something.


Anonymous said...

Gee, everybody is so long winded around here!
Perhaps they are, but I find their commentary much more interesting and helpful (since I didn't watch the ESPN programming and it won't be repeated) than what you just posted.

I am assuming that Ryan Newman will get a visit with his fellow Hoosier David Letterman within the next couple of days. I hope we hear something about that soon.

Anonymous said...

JD, please delete if this is inappropriate, but Brad Daughterty is about to conduct a chat on in less than five minutes. (1:30 ET)

Unless you are an ESPN InSider, chats cannot be read as transcripts after they are complete. You can only read them live.

The address is:

Anonymous said...

Brett Baldeck said...
Then they threw it over to the "1st and 10" crew to talk about the race. What a mistake!

I became so upset watching this. First they called it the "Indy 500". Then the two people talking about it were not NASCAR fans. In fact, they hate NASCAR. They said how boring racing is and they don't get the sport. Basically they jsut bashed the sport as a whole. It was so uncalled for. Did anyone eles see this? It was rediculous.

I think ESPN shows "1st and 10" sometime in the afternoon for those who want to catch it.

February 18, 2008 1:16 PM

I saw that this morning and also became upset. Out of a panel of 4 only one remotely supported the sport, and he seemed like he just barely knew the sport. Compared to the other panelists who just seemed to hate NASCAR. They also seemed to bash Newman because he had help from a teammate to get to a win. They said you would never see that in tennis or any other sport where a teammate would physically push another towards a win. In addition to that, one panel member said, "all race fans want to see is big crashes. That's they go to a race for." The one NASCAR supporting panelist tried to rebut this claim but since he was the only NASCAR supporter he basically went unheard. And at the end, the host referred to the sport as "The NASCAR."

ESPN is a big operation. Even with the changes to their NASCAR divisions that I applaud, there are still some parts of the company that don't understand the sport at all.


Daly Planet Editor said...

No problem with the ESPN link, we like Brad. The First and Ten crew are on shakey ground after the Dana suspension, and they continue to lose ground in the ratings after being bumped from NYC back to CT.

It should be interesting to see how ESPN chooses to address this daypart in the future, which has been a tremendous problem for them.


SophiaZ123 said...

Upset to hear ESPN say boring race and EVERYBODY wants to see crashes??

No thanks.

See ESPN does well in one area, and shoots their toes off one by one in another area.

Then again, I could say the same thing about FOX coverage but with less drama of my quirks with them.

I must echo sentiments that ALL THE MEDIA is focused on JGR and HMS. Cripes...the new big story.

And the on and on and on about WHY Jr didn't make a pit stop, whose fault was it?

Whoever said that last years focus on Little E would be NOTHING compared to this year seems to have been correct.

All the "problems" at HMS will be the news for weeks to come I guess..and JGR.

We could all do w/o that and just give us behind the scenes stories of HOW EVERYBODY DID during the Daytona finish.

Like R. Gordon, Labonte and others.

Waltrip finished which is way better than last years Daytona


Anonymous said...

It never occurred to me to go to ESPN for any post race coverage at all. Since they have inevitably ignored or ridiculed Nascar, they are the last place I look.

I will, however, be watching the NN tonight with AB.

glenc1 said...

I watched some SPEED Rpt, VL, Wind Tunnel and much of NASCAR Now. Honestly--I really didn't have much to complain about any of them, just a bit of repetition (understandably so). And Spencer was out of line with his RCR vs. Hendrick/Penske comments (you can't make a judgement like that based on a 'heat of the moment' disagreement, but that's Jimmy. In three or four weeks he'll be interviewing Jeff and applauding how well the RCR teams work together as if it never happened.) As for Rusty, I did think he & Ryan were very professional considering the past, but we've seen that before in sports. When professional roles change, things look very different. In the past my problems with Rusty were only his annoying repetitive expressions and in this type of role, it's less noticeable.

I would agree with those disliking the overemphasis on the super teams. I know they can't ignore them, but tonight, they weren't the biggest story, and other teams deserved some more attention. That, however, has been going on for years and I can't see it changing drastically soon. I bet 25 years ago people were griping that the Pettys got all the press too. Just like baseball & the Yankees.

And why can't SPEED give Dave Despain his other hour back? I really don't care about the call ins (save the occasional good question), but I watch for the interviews and I would have liked to hear more.

Anonymous said...

Thought ESPN kicked Speeds butt on the post race-but as Sophia so eloquently put it with regard to this morning, ESPN goes and embarrasses itself on the sport and un-does all the good they hustled so hard for on Sunday.
Shot their while foot right off-again

elena said...

First and 10 is a programs that focuses on the top stories in sports. That means they cover all stories, even if they know nothing about the sport. Even on the sports they know about, I find them to be bafoons.

Last week when Mary Carillo did a piece on Dario Franchitti for HBO, Bryant Gumbel made a rather stupid comment about "What's to tough about driving around making left turns" . (Not an exact quote)

As far as Dana, at least she is pleasant about the topics she discusses. (While at work)

Re: Nicole, misprounounces many words, and I suspect maybe she's reading. I don't know, but she either misprounounces or just trips over her words, like her eyes are faster than her mouth. Hope she does better this week.

Anonymous said...

Scene says initial TV ratings are up 1 percent over last year's race. 17.8 million viewers on average and 33.5 million watched some part of the race.

Glad they increased, but I'm sure they were hoping for better than 1 percent. Maybe the full ratings later will have a bit more increase.

Anonymous said...

Ryan is on David Letterman tonight.

He's listed at the Letterman show site as a guest. Probably the second guest after Dennis Quaid.

He'll be on Regis and Kelly tomorrow morning.

boyd said...

Liked the post race coverage last night, but like sophiaz123, was almost od'ed on it.
I watched First Take this morning, as usual, and thought that Skip and the Two Live Stews were like fish out of water answering the NASCAR question the way they did. I would have respected them more, if they just said that they don't like it and go on.
I agree that this show may be on the way out. The Dana fiasco wasn't handled well, and it has cast a black eye on the whole two hours.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Tell you what, if there was ever a night where Wind Tunnel should have been two hours, this was it.

I really hope that SPEED considers expanding this show to two hours on a regular basis soon. I am a big NHRA fan, and with that season getting underway, there is plenty of content and phone calls to fill the time.


darbar said...

So far, Ms Manske has won me over. She's been nothing short of professional in both knowledge and appearance. Finally, a woman broadcaster every woman Nascar fan can identify with.

Since switching from Cold Pizza to First Take, that show has gone downhill. I've even stopped Tivo-ing it. If the guys on 1st and 10 have no knowledge of a sport, as evidenced by the Two Live Stews and the ever-obnoxious Skip Bayless, they should not have that sport as one of their topics. It's well known that unless a sport uses balls as large or larger than a baseball, Skippy refuses to acknowledge it as a sport and he's made it know numerous times that Nascar is stupid and boring. And as JD has said, with the major problem and the recent suspension of Dana Jacobson, I think that show is headed for the door.

It was a bit of overkill this weekend, and I'm looking forward to "normal" race coverage this weekend, but I must say, ESPN must have listened to their complainers because that network has improved greatly. Their productions have been very good and their announcers/hosts have gotten their stuff together. BUT, I will wait until ESPN has their hands on the Sprint Cup races before I pass final judgement.

One final note: I watched the final two episodes of Shifting Gears and was rather disappointed in them, especially the final hour program, broadcast last night. While they did have a tiny bit of new footage, most of the show was nothing but a rehash of the previous shows, with repeated interviews of Kelley Earnhardt Elledge and of Jr himself. I would rather have had them delay the show for a while instead of basically showing a repeat of the previous two shows.

boyd said...

Just noticed that Ryan will have the interview with Newman on Tuesday. (on
As the winner of our "Superbowl", wouldn't this interview be better handled by Alan Bestwick? I don't think that any station would choose a new reporter to interview the Super Bowl winner.

Newracefan said...

"Nascar Hangover" boy Sophia do you have that right, I am exhusted today from doing almost nothing but watch the TV for the past 2 days, we won't even get into what went on before that. I also can not wait for next week and back to normalcy. Nascar Now did an excellent job (agree about Tim C. not belonging), my only comment is that I'm so tired of hearing Rusty and the "money" comments. Call me crazy but I like to think these guys do was they do because they love racing and not just to get rich, Rusty please stop bursting my bubble.
It will be interesting to see if all the ESPN post race coverage continues at this level now that DAYTONA is over. Even the local AM news/traffic/weather radio station in my area gave me the top 3 for this race. The only other time I hear anything Nascar is maybe Dover (it's close by).

TexasRaceLady said...

Now that I've recovered from my 3-day bender called Daytona, I may be able to make coherent comments about the coverage.

Sunday's race coverage was great. The minor irritants involving mostly sound, eventually became just more noise.

Sunday night post-race coverage was delight. NNow was wonderful -- right down to the silly grin on Ryan's face. AB does a great job of keeping things in hand. Brad and Rusty contributed, then shut up. LOL

I could have used more than just a phone call from John Force -- so I was wishing Wind Tunnel was longer.

I'll be watching tonight to see if the good start continues.

Anonymous said...

JD, will the Monday versions of NASCAR Now start at 5:30pm like last year, or at 6:00pm.

Anonymous said...

Alan Bestwick does a good job as host/moderator on NN.

ON Monday's NN, discsussing the Daytona finish, Bestwick said that no one complained. On Fox's broadcast, Kyle Busch had two
complaints in his post race interview, one being that he was forced below the yellow line, and I wish it was broadcast again, so we
could see his other complaint.

Many broadcasts of Triple Crown horse races show the replay of the race, with the winner highlighted. This is very interesting, showing the dynamics of the race.

Fox, Speed, and ESPN have shown the last one-half lap ad nauseam! Why not show the last two laps? I would love to see where Kurt and Ryan came from, and who forced
Kyle Busch below the yellow line.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Monday versions of NASCAR Now will be at 6PM on ESPN2. There is now a new column up about this week's program. Thanks.


elena said...

Kyle's other complaint or excuse for not winning, was at the last start, the 2 Dodges held back and then punched the gas. He even complained why the had gotten away with it. So diferent from Tony, who was disappointed, but still gave kudos to the winners. Kyle is just a poor sport.

PammH said...

just a quick two cents..I NEVER even thought of tuning into E-channel to find any Nascar coverage after the race! And imho, they will fall off,since the Great American Race is over. No way they will keep up w/headlines/highlites after this race!!

Richard in N.C. said...

Personally I find Skip Bayless to be clearly biased and the most arrogant, obnoxious, and mean-spirited on-air person at ESPN. As a result, I never watch First Take and turn the channel, or at least mute the sound, when he shows up on SportsCenter.

Anonymous said...

Newman on Letterman was disappointing. Six minutes near the end of the show.

It wasn't disappointment because of Newman, who handled himself pretty well (he made a couple of jokes and seemed like he would have made more if Letterman hadn't kept interrupting), but all Letterman wanted to talk about was Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch getting in a fight the week before.

You could tell after a minute that Letterman knew he went on too long with that tangent (the audience wasn't into it - we could almost feel them feeling uncomfortable for Ryan that Letterman wasn't really talking about him, plus it wasn't all that funny) so Letterman paused and jokingly asked if Ryan could come back tomorrow. Probably to start all over.

Regis and Kelly don't know anything about racing (Kelly knows more than Regis). They may be a little ignorant of racing, but at least they'll probably try to ask Ryan questions about him and not Kurt and Tony.

Anonymous said...

The NASCAR love has only half arrived at Pardon the Interruption.

Watching Mike Wilbon (who has been trying to follow NASCAR since last season) try to explain Kurt Busch pushing Newman to the victory was pretty priceless. Mike is so into it now (though he said "I'm not trying to come off as Mr. NASCAR" )and Tony is so bored. It's funny.

"Every time I watch this race, the last two laps are the whole race. And I sort of wonder why they do the other 495 miles." So sez Tony.

Mike Wilbon actually explained things pretty well. He's not just paying lip service. Still I think this is the only time we'll hear NASCAR mentioned on PTI until the Brickyard.

Geez said...

The stick and ball shows on ESPN will never do a good job discussing NASCAR. They don't care and don't care who knows it. My local news station's do the same thing when NASCAR is in town. They don't know anything about it and don't want to, and it shows.