Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"NASCAR Now" Has Real Breaking News At Last

Of the three co-hosts of NASCAR Now, Ryan Burr is the one with the real experience in breaking news. The former anchor of ESPNEWS has been on-the-air with all kinds of sports stories that were in-progress. Wednesday, Burr put his training to good use.

Penalty news was flying as NASCAR Now hit the air at 6PM Wednesday with a live show. Burr quickly offered an update on Carl Edwards and his big penalties.

Fans of the show must have been thinking about the strong statements made on Tuesday by ESPN's Rusty Wallace. He called Edwards problem simply an accident and a mistake. Rather than heeding Rusty's advice, NASCAR instead lowered the hammer. There was only one thing to do.

That would be to bring Wallace right back on the program again and ask him about it. Burr did exactly that, and Wallace did not disappoint. Saying NASCAR threw everything including the kitchen sink at Edwards, Rusty stood-by his statement that the entire situation was a mistake.

"I think this is very, very harsh," said Wallace. "It was just unbelievable. I don't think there is any compassion here. I don't think there is even any common sense in this ruling."

Burr interrupted Wallace for some real breaking news. It was Lead Reporter Marty Smith over at Robby Gordon's shop saying that sources there had just told him Gordon's penalty has been rescinded. While a financial fine was kept in place, Gordon did not lose his points. This was NASCAR Now working overtime, and showing the resources that ESPN brings to the table.

Wallace was quick to point-out that this decision by NASCAR made sense, but was also quite a different issue than the Carl Edwards situation. He also backed-up Smith's report and comments about the harsh financial reality of Gordon's team situation.

After a quick wrap-up of testing from Phoenix, Burr assembled both Wallace and Smith for a conversation about NASCAR topics in the news. This trio is intense and fast-paced when it comes to NASCAR issues. The personality differences between these three NASCAR Now on-air "talent" made for interesting conversation.

Smith has the formal news training, the college education and the dry sense of humor. Wallace has lots of experience in the real world of NASCAR and is just now finding his TV niche. Burr loves to direct traffic, and it has been interesting to watch him learn the sport.

The conversation about the open-wheel drivers having problems, including Team Penske, was fascinating and informative. Wallace talked very frankly about his former car owner struggling with Sam Hornish. Smith suggested that Montoya's early success led to false expectations for the many other open-wheel stars. Both of these were great points.

Finally, Robby Gordon appeared in-person live to sum-up the hearing that he had just left. There was no doubt that Gordon was relieved, both for his NASCAR future and the very survival of his racing business. Smith was very professional, and his questions about the fan perception of Gordon and his team were right on the money.

How does it get better for fans than this? A driver straight from a NASCAR hearing walks back into his own shop and ESPN is there live. Wallace even got a chance to ask Gordon questions directly, and was as plain-spoken as usual. Two ESPN personalities asking questions of Gordon about one of the biggest news stories of the week. This TV series has truly come a long, long way.

This weekend in Atlanta, Burr heads-out to the track for the first time as the on-scene reporter, and Nicole Manske comes back to anchor the weekend shows in the studio. Allen Bestwick returns on Monday for the one hour roundtable.

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


Billy Delyon said...

Great show. That may rank as the 'Best' NASCAR Now to date for this fan.

Rusty has been on fire the last two days. Its like he's a new man in his new roll. This roll suits him SO much better than in the booth. Rusty can just be Rusty and let it all hang out. Good stuff. (note, I have never been a rusty fan, ever. That being said, I'm begging to warm up to the new Rusty)

I'm a huge Marty Smith fan, his reporting from RGM was outstanding.
His live interview with Robbie was great and fun to watch, Robbie was visibly very happy about the ruling, As you said JD, both Marty and Rusty were great with Robbie.
Ryan did a great job keeping the flow of the show intense and enjoyable to watch.

This show is seriously 'Night and Day' better than last season. Different show, all for the better.

Anonymous said...

I was blown away that Marty was waiting for Robby to get back to the shop so he could interview him. This is a prime example of why ESPN needs to have a local crew ready and waiting all the time.

I also liked that Rusty did not back down in his defense of Carl Edwards. It's nice to see someone have an opinion and stick to it - even if it disagrees with Nascar. After all, Rusty still is a car owner so it wouldn't have surprised me to hear him back down a little.

Finally, I liked the preview of next week's race. Last week's race is all wrapped up, hump day is over at work, and in just two days the action starts. This is the perfect day of the week to start getting fans pumped up for the weekend. I honestly don't remember if TWIN showed clips from last year's race on Monday or just a montage of many Atlanta races, my brain was still too full of Las Vegas to take in another track. Wednesday is a much better day to remind me of all the action from last year.

All in all, I thought this was an excellent show. Thanks to all involved!

Anonymous said...

JD, Speaking of live shots and third party equipment, did you ever find out if the studio live shots in various cities use the facilities of local news stations or some other facility?

Daly Planet Editor said...

There are no local stations involved is the word I got. Why things are so secretive, I have no clue.


LuckyForward said...

I agree totally with Billy. GREAT SHOW! I am not a RW fan, but he HAS found his place on this show. Excellent reporting overall.

Newracefan said...

I was an fantastic show, Breaking News, on the spot interviews, opinions. This show has become even more than I could have ever asked it to be. ESPN had the right person in the right place with Marty, he got it all and scooped EVERYONE. GO Marty and Nascar Now. Guess that move from has really paid off for everyone.

Tripp said...

This show demonstrates why ESPN lays claim to the moniker, "The Leader in Sports Television". They grabbed onto the breaking news stories of the day and covered them excedingly well. Ryan is more than solid. He's getting a good flow working. Marty is great. And Rusty just continues to impress.

ESPN continues to build their reputation in the world of NASCAR each new day.

I look forward to seeing Ryan on location. He should do well and it will be fun to watch him in this new environment.

l_long said...

JD, thank you so much for YOUR timely report about tonight's ESPN breaking news. After reading about the coverage on Robby Gordon's story and how he won the split decision (yes on points, no on money), I be-bopped over to NASCAR.COM to get an update on the points as they stand...and guess what? THEY DON'T HAVE THEM UPDATED, and the banner story on Robby was timestamped at 2:04 PM.

THANK YOU for your efforts at keeping us informed when we can't be home in time to catch things on the tube that are real "breaking news".

TexasRaceLady said...

Damn --- this is the show I've been waiting for, and ESPN didn't disappoint.

Great show, guys. Ryan showed that he can "wing it" when the occasion demands.

Rusty is really hitting his stride now that he's out of the booth.

Mary Smith was on top of things waiting for Robby to appear.

Two thumbs up.

SophiaZ123 said...

Billy D

Ditto's to all your comments, including your feelings on RW!!

It's great to see all enjoying NNow.

I also look forward to Ryan being at the track on friday. I was surprised when he said that. GREAT SHOW.

Karen said...
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Karen said...

Wonder if this is Ryan's first in-person Nascar event as a spectator much less as a NN host? Hope he becomes a superfan. How could he not?

kenn said...

I echo the others. I enjoyed this one a lot, although I felt Marty and Rusty went overboard asking Robbie about the hypotheticals if he lost. He has already answered that question for every camera and mike more than once, and I don't see how that added. I did like the question Marty asked about how mad he must have been. It was better framed than the clich├ęd, "How do you feel?"

JD, I wondered if just a bit of that overkill I mentioned, redundantly asking Robbie what he would have done hypothetically twice was because the program was running short, because of prepared packages they had to kill to cover the breaking news.

Ryan Burr has found his legs. Even though he doesn't have a lot of experience with NASCAR, he's a better studio host than some others. Boy, what a nightmare the squinty guy, Doug Banks, was. He didn't know who he was talking to (that is, that person's reputation and position in the sport) half the time.

As of 9:37 PST, has not updated the Robbie Gordon story.

Brian Y. said...

NASCAR Now is the best NASCAR programming of the week, certainly better than any daily NASCAR show that Speed has got.

Oh, wait, Speed doesn't have any daily NASCAR programming.

Rusty is slowly growing into the job, having some things worth listening to. Remember that train wreck (or car wreck, as the case may be) that was Rusty doing IRL races for ABC/ESPN ?

Brian Youngerman

Anonymous said...

The Robby Gordon article on ESPN's website has the insights of Ray Evernham, whose Dodge team supplies technical support to Robby's team. He says the penalty was wrong and says why.

I realize NASCAR Now is only half an hour long, but if you've got Ray on staff, they should have interviewed him about this tonight. He said one of the GEM cars in inventory also was found to have the unapproved nose - has that been stated before?

It could be ESPN sees it as a conflict of interest to have him speaking about Dodge, but if they're going to interview him for the articles on the website about Dodge, he should be able to do the same on the TV network. It's a little strange to see him referenced on TV as ESPN analyst Ray Evernham and then on the website referenced as Ray Evernham, minority owner of GEM.

ESPN should figure out his role and iron out those conflicts to get the best use of him. If that GEM having another of those noses was indeed "new" news, it should have been said on air if it can be used on website.

I liked the Burr/Wallace/Smith discussion. Rusty is watchable now, something I'd never thought would happen.

Anonymous said...

Marty Smith's reporting in the program was stellar.

However, his hair has returned to the purposely spiked up and blonde-streaked Lyle Lovett-ish height levels of last season. The last thing I should notice is a TV reporter's hair while he is doing the (good)reporting. He's had it under control lately; I sincerely hope he gets it back under control again.

SallyB said...

NN has been quite a surprise this year. Last night's show was certainly the high point so far. SPEED better watch out, expecially with the lack luster TWIN that has replaced the previously entertaining IWC. ESPN has come thru in spades with this show.

Mike 24 said...

This show without question rates as the best so far this year and all of last year for ESPN.

Ive never been big Rusty fan but he has turned the page so to speak. I especially appreciate his candor, in this age of politically correct reporting Rusty isnt afraid to step on toes as are most reporters/drivers/anyone related to the sport of NASCAR. Keep up the good work Rusty.

Marty and Ryan make a great team, I believe ESPN has finally found the combination to make this show not only get off the ground but expand its base with interesting/intelligent reporting.

I can see the ratings for this show doing nothing but getting better by the week. I'll continue to watch as long as things dont revert to last years dingy Hollywood cast of clowns.

Keep up the good work guys!

Anonymous said...

Great Blog JD as always, but you missed the part where Rusty opened his big mouth and put his foot in it! After talking about the penalty, Rusty suggested that Carl make a donation to the Victory Junction Gang Camp, and then realized what he said and suggested maybe he should too because Nascar recinded his Daytona penalties! I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard that one! Talk about an off the cuff comment! I hope Carl picked up the phone last night and called Rusty out on that one.

glen1 said...

It was very well handled, particularly from Marty Smith. And Ryan made the transition from one penalty phase to the other very smoothly. It might have helped if someone had pointed out (I don't remember them doing it) that it is not NASCAR you appeal to, it's the National Stock Car Racing Commission--a lot of people don't realize the difference (someone reported on it a few years ago during another appeal). I also wonder what else Rusty wanted to say to Robby though...

I like Marty's spiky hair, lol--makes him look 'edgy'. Just the style of the day. Beats Rusty's 80's 'fro' anytime!

Anonymous said...

The show was OK but Rusty Wallace's comments on #99 car penalties were idiotic "The bad out weigh the good, fumes and smoke could harm driver vs small performance increase" All the more reason to pentalize the team for driver safety concerns.stick and ball players use drugs to better their performance at great health risk,isn't it about safety?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

This is a TV blog. Please restrict your comments to the topic at hand and make sure they include TV-related issues.



Anonymous said...

I like Marty's spiky hair, lol--makes him look 'edgy'. Just the style of the day.

It might have been the style of the day back in 1996, but not in 2008.

Marty Smith is an awesome writer and reporter, but sometimes I think he's not quite ready to be on TV. The hair, the way he talks out of one side of his mouth... Maybe I'm just not accepting of "differences" in sports broadcasters but he would do well to get some specific broadcast training in the off season.

He already has the different Southern voice (which is fine with me), he should leave it at that and not try to make himself into a "edgy personality" when he has solid reporting skills.

I'm not just thinking of his appearances on NASCAR Now, I'm thinking of appearances on First Take, SportsCenter, etc. He looks out of place on other ESPN programming, in my view, though his info is solid.

Look at how Nicole Manske has transitioned from SPEED fluff to ESPN NASCAR team member in appearance and presentation. Who would have ever thought that would happen. Marty should take the same cue.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Great show by ESPN. SPEED still rules the weekend but ESPN now rules the week.

BTW - I like Marty's hair. Nothing drives me more insane than talking suits with the same generic guy haircut...

ri88girl said...

All I can say is SH**T I missed it! From the comments it sounds like a knock out. I think now I begin to understand why everyone thinks so much of ESPN. SPEED better watch out unless they are not interested in maintaining parety regarding latest and greatest news.

I have learned my lesson, and will faithfully watch NN even if AB isn't there.

Anonymous said...

I believe the suits stick to the generic guy haircut so that the focus is on what they're saying and not how they look.

Which is how it should be.

glenc1 said...

I think the whole appearance thing could be an entire blog column for JD, lol. It's always going to be partly a matter of personal preference. Some prefer the generic/broadcaster hair/plain clothes look, and that has some validity in your credibility. But if you've established yourself by good reporting, I don't have a problem with someone 'being themselves'. TV is about both information and entertainment, and Ssports has always been a little 'looser' than straight news, since it's usually more in a entertainment vein.. I still think they if they all looked/sounded the same it'd be boring. Also, some people have hair that's difficult to manage so they find something that works for it and stick to it (no pun intended!)

Anonymous said...

Great show!!! Rusty, as always, sticks to his guns and it comes off in this new role. Some of the best Nascar coverage by ESPN since they started taking motor sports seriously.

Anonymous said...

I thought the show was pretty good although I'm not a big fan of Ryan Burr's right now. Not that he doesn't do a good job but it's his looks that I have a hard time with. Remember that famous MTV cartoon from way back? The one with the two dudes who used to put the poodle in the washing machine? Well, he kinda looks like them. Sorry! No offense to anyone but I can't help that it bothers me.

Anywhos, I loved the Robby Gordon bit and was relieved to hear that part of the penalty was rescinded. Why Marty had to ask him the same question twice about what it would've done to his team if the penalty stayed was kind of weird. I thought Robby answered well enough the first time around.

boyd said...

I think that ESPN has finally found it's NASCAR legs.
Great show last night. Having Marty on site was a great move, and I hope we see it more this season.
Did NN get a new producer directer or is it just the on air chemistry?

Anonymous said...

"But if you've established yourself by good reporting, I don't have a problem with someone 'being themselves'. "

I see two sides of the coin here. I would venture to say that most people watching NASCAR Now are familiar with Marty S. from, and maybe Speed Channel, so they're used to his accent and his hairstyle (I may be one of the people who remember when his hair was colored platinum blond). So we're more likely not to notice those things about Marty because, as the comment says, he's established himself as a good reporter.

But ESPN is a big machine. There are plenty of folks who watch the ESPN platforms - ESPNNEWS, Sportscenter, the morning/afternoon "talk" shows - who have never heard of Marty when he reports the news there and don't know his credentials. So I can see where they might look at him and his hairstyle and dismiss him as someone who can't be taken seriously. The same might be true for a new viewer of NASCAR Now. So, Marty might want to tone it down for that reason.

As mentioned upthread, I wonder why he's gone for the more flamboyant hairstyle again. I've been watching NASCAR coverage since testing and he started off with a solid colored, pretty neutral short haircut. Guess he just decided the heck with it, LOL.

Anonymous said...

The only other man on NASCAR tv coverage who has unusual hair is Rutledge Wood.

So Mart-dawg better think about the company he's keeping when he lets his hair go wild on NN - does he want to be associated with the John Roberts/Allen Bestwicks of the world or the Rutledge Woods?

glenc1 said...

anon 3:52, your point is taken. I watch my share of the network, but not as much as others, and I'm so used to Marty that I do take it for granted people see him as I do. I will admit there are other ESPNers who, when they appear, I can't hit the remote fast enough. I like his accent as well (and I'm not from the South), but it does take some getting used to, and I get that there are sad souls out there who think everyone has to talk 'midwestern broadcastese'. Now that you mention it, I do sort of remember him starting the season with more boring 'anchorman' hair, lol.

Dot said...

I know that this is supposed to be about watching NN, but I have a question about the oil reservoir thing Rusty mentioned. If it is such a safety issue where fumes, etc can get into the car, how come Carl didn't feel sick?
Another thought, didn't NASCAR paint themselves into a corner by going full bore on the penalties for the COT? No choice but to get the 100 point/$100K deductions and suspensions.
NN is getting better everyday.

Anonymous said...

I wish that the NASCAR Now talking heads would do some research into the Carl Edwards incident. I have read many articles on it and done research on it myself. A current crewmember for one of the teams has a blog and wrote an entry on this with pictures showing what happened and how it effects the car. The cover actually has four bolts that holds it on. One bolt failing seems plausible and would leave the cover loose - such as what happpened with Rusty's team. But all four bolts failing? Very unlikely. I also read in an AP article how not having the cover on can give you up to 10% more downforce.

So why isn't NASCAR Now showing us an example of the cover and what happened like that crew member did? Why aren't they refrencing the numerous articles I have seen telling about how the missing cover does provide more downforce?

Everyone can have an opinion on the penalty, but how about some facts and not just reporting Roush Fenway's take on it - of course they are going to say it was an accident. Jr.'s crew said the wrong bolts last season were an accident too and they still got the standard COT penalty.

Anonymous said...

Forgot to mention also, JJ Yeley was asked about it in Phoenix and he said that the windtunnel shows that having the cap off provides more downforce. Today on Sirius Jeremy Mayfield said it is a huge advantage as well as Jason Shapiro saying that any advantage is a big deal since these cars are all so similar and close. Basically, the only ones I've heard towing the no advantage line is NASCAR Now. Linda Cohn even reported the 10% downforce advantage on Sportscenter yesterday.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I think I saw somewhere that NASCAR had installed some sort of video epuipment in all the Cup garages in the Charlotte area. Is that correct and, if so, would that have been used for the interview with Robby G? Thanks.