Thursday, March 20, 2008

Regional Faces Take ESPN To New Places


There is no other way to describe the reaction to The Daly Planet asking NASCAR Now to cover the sport's regional racing action last season. The word is...ugly.

Comments poured-in from fans and self-appointed ESPN "loyalists." There were many angry words from those who did not seem to understand NASCAR and had never even seen a regional race. We believed that included many of the folks working in Bristol, CT on NASCAR Now.

Minor League Baseball they called it. NBA D-League and nothing more they said. Who watches the Nationwide Golf Tour? What a waste of time. The endless stick-and-ball comparisons gave a profile of what ESPN's attitude about NASCAR was in 2007.

As the season progressed, NASCAR Now found itself surrounded by regional racing action. One regional series ended the year live on SPEED. Other races found their way to Mark Cuban's HDNet, and also to SPEED. The racing was good, the stands were packed and it became clear that NASCAR Now had missed the boat on an entire slice of the NASCAR pie.

Thursday on NASCAR Now, host Nicole Manske spoke with Carl Edwards about his season and then allowed him to plug his Claritin sponsor. Kenny Wallace stopped-by to introduce his US Border Patrol ride, and talk about the on-going sponsorship woes on the Nationwide tour. But, there was one more NASCAR driver on the program.

L.W. Miller was interviewed by Manske, and that was a moment to remember. Miller is the 2007 NASCAR Whelen Modified Southern Tour Champion. This was not a random interview on a day when news was slow and there was a scramble for content. NASCAR Now was interviewing the champion in advance of the first race in this series for 2008.

On Saturday, March 22nd, the Modifieds take to the half-mile Caraway Speedway in North Carolina for the Whelen 150. There will be a 26 car field for the race. On NASCAR Now, Miller said he expected many more cars to try and make the field. In a year where "field fillers" have become a regular occurrence, the Whelen Modified Series will be sending cars home.

Over at the Whelen Racing website, the importance of the Modified and All-American Series is explained quite well. Whelen Engineering, based in Connecticut, makes the lightbars on your local police cars and everything else that has to do with emergency lighting for several industries. All their products are made in America.

Miller was a good interview for Manske, who asked the right questions once again. She followed-up with Boris Said about the future for Miller, and that put a nice cap on the formal introduction of regional NASCAR racing to NASCAR Now.

With the Northern half of the Whelen Modified Tour not getting underway until April, this Caraway race will be a great mix of Southern regulars and Northern "mod-wackers." Miller pointed this out in his interview with Manske.

Hopefully, NASCAR Now will be showing highlights of the Caraway race next week, and continuing to develop a maturity about NASCAR as a whole that would be a welcome change. Miller's featured interview was a strong step in that direction.

The Northern Modifieds begin their season April 15th over at Thompson International Speedway in Thompson, CT. That is about 70 miles from the ESPN headquarters in Bristol, CT. Perhaps, some of the NASCAR Now gang might want to make the trip and enjoy a regional NASCAR race in person.

ESPN2 has live coverage of Nationwide Series practice at 2:30PM Eastern Time from Nashville, and NASCAR Now hits the air at 7:30PM Friday night.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by.

25 comments:

TexasRaceLady said...

I was pleased when Kenny Wallace really spoke up about the cost of doing business in the Nationwide Series.

The interview with L. W. Miller was delightful. The modifieds put on a great show and deserve recognition.

SophiaZ123 said...

Even though it took a year, after being away from NASCAR many years, it's nice to see ESPN with NASCAR NOW showing respect to the SPORT again and the regional series.

Amazing.

Vince said...

Glad to see NN finally dedicate some airtime to this series. I grew up in the Winston-Salem NC area and spent every Saturday night during the summer watching the modifieds race at Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem. I've also been to Caraway (Asheboro, NC). I watched Bobby Labonte start his career there in a Late Model. I'd recommend all my fellow posters go support your local race tracks this summer. You'll see some great racing and who knows, you might get to see a future NASCAR Cup star in the making.

Good job ESPN. Keep it up. Wednesdays and Thursdays are a great time for NN to do feature stories on some of the other NASCAR regional series drivers and tracks.

Wisconsin Steve said...

Great interviews by Manske tonight.

I also hope they will air some highlights of the race next week. Monday would be a great time to do it. With no Cup race to talk about and an hour to fill, they will certainly have the time.

Seiko said...

I was absolutely floored when they brought on the regional racing!!!!
I hope hope hope they continue to bring in others from the several regional tours in NASCAR. Would make for a heck of a Thursday show every week.

Side note, anyone catch the 88 Wilkesboro race on ESPN classic today? Talk about flood of memories, that was the first or second year I really got into NASCAR. Almost brought a tear to my eye. Tomorrow they are having the 99 vegas race on.

(sorry for the sidetrack JD)

John Newsom said...

The Whelen series *is* the minor leagues, at least compared to Cup, and I can understand the angst because TV time, unlike the Web, is finite.

But that doesn't mean there aren't some great short-track stories out there. As Vince notes, Bowman Gray is packed on Saturday nights for the modifieds, and Caraway's list of track champs also includes Mike Skinner and Dennis Setzer. Carl Edwards and Ken Schrader have run in borrowed cars at 311 during Martinsville week.

Speaking of modifieds, Junior Miller is probably the best driver that Bristol's never heard of. Someone should do a story on him before he calls it a career.

Tom said...

Great to see local stuff brought up. This is the direction that NN needs to follow on tues-thurs shows. Hopefully they will follow it up with results, highlights and perhaps commentary. I understand the need to bring in a high profile driver like Edwards to catch the average fans eye, but the sponsor thing has to go. Putting the word "Claritan" in the lower box as IF this was news is the wrong direction. Again, I get what is happening heree, but I don't think sponors should be put in the topic box unless it is part of an actual story (getting a sponsor; one leaving a team). Give them a sponsor background, let them even say why they are there, but don't ask sponsor related questions like "How can Claritan help the average person"? I know that wasn't a question, but it seemed that way to me.
Start following the local stuff, show the highlights, and get people invested in this stuff, and perhaps the need for sponsor driven interviews will become less.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

If anyone doubts the "racy-ness" of modifieds, I humbly refer them to the lap times/speeds that mods turn at New Hampshire and compare those to CUP cars.Whoah, Bubbah, them Yankees do go fast!"

Anonymous said...

The north & south Whelan Modified Tours produce some of NASCAR's best racing... big fields, close racing, and oh yeah... spectacular crashes !
.
This belongs on TV... Why won't the networks pay attention and air some of these races ???

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darbar said...

Well, I never would have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes. NN and ESPN actually listened to what the fans have been saying. Does this new interest mean that we'll be seeing less domino tournaments on the ESPN family of stations? What everyone needs to remember is, many of our greatest Nascar drivers started out in these satellite series. Perhaps we'll be seeing a future Jeff Gordon or Tony Stewart in these other racing series.

BTW, did you all hear that Darrell Waltrip has been advised to keep his talking to a minimum for the time being? His Nashville doctor has diagnosed severely bruised vocal chords, and he needs to rest his voice or risk permanent damage. I guess he should have stepped out of the booth last week instead of toughening it out.

Anonymous said...

I know ESPN does the in race reporter, but it's usually the booth guys asking a quick question. Now they are making it an interactive experience for fans to ask a question during cautions.
They have a page where you can ask questions and some will be asked of Carl Edwards during the race tomorrow.

Would you like to ask a NASCAR driver a question during a race? Now with ESPN's in-race reporter it is possible to ask one of your favorite NASCAR drivers a question during caution laps! Simply submit your query and then tune in to see if it is used during the in-race interviews. ESPN will be using the in-race reporter throughout the NASCAR season. So be sure to keep sending in your questions throughout the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series seasons.

Awful, awful, idea. Answering fan questions during the race? How much more of you going to ask of these drivers?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
I know ESPN does the in race reporter, but it's usually the booth guys asking a quick question. Now they are making it an interactive experience for fans to ask a question during cautions.
They have a page where you can ask questions and some will be asked of Carl Edwards during the race tomorrow.

Would you like to ask a NASCAR driver a question during a race? Now with ESPN's in-race reporter it is possible to ask one of your favorite NASCAR drivers a question during caution laps! Simply submit your query and then tune in to see if it is used during the in-race interviews. ESPN will be using the in-race reporter throughout the NASCAR season. So be sure to keep sending in your questions throughout the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series seasons.

Awful, awful, idea. Answering fan questions during the race? How much more of you going to ask of these drivers?

March 21, 2008 4:32 PM

?????????
You email the question in...then the announcers might ask your question....It will be same format for the driver...He will be asked a question by the announcers...

NOT ANONYMOUS said...

Wow, no blogging during a stand alone event practice? Oh well looks like only ESPN showed up today..No blog of practice and not a soul in the stands!

Anonymous said...

which is exactly why ESPN should be there.

Anonymous said...

Would you like to ask a NASCAR driver a question during a race? Now with ESPN's in-race reporter it is possible to ask one of your favorite NASCAR drivers a question during caution laps! Simply submit your query and then tune in to see if it is used during the in-race interviews. ESPN will be using the in-race reporter throughout the NASCAR season. So be sure to keep sending in your questions throughout the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series seasons.

Man oh man. I can see it now. "hello, Tony? This is Celia from Buttox Tennessee and I was wundrin'.....what do y'all do when ya hafta go to the bathroom durin' a race? tee-hee"

Lord help us

Anonymous said...

anonymous said...

If anyone doubts the "racy-ness" of modifieds, I humbly refer them to the lap times/speeds that mods turn at New Hampshire and compare those to CUP cars.Whoah, Bubbah, them Yankees do go fast!"

---

Remember, the Mods run restrictor plates at Loudon

Daly Planet Editor said...

Guys,

Thanks for the comments. I did not believe that a short practice show would get any comments or interest on Easter weekend.

I will roll practice comments into a Saturday in-progress post for the ESPN effort. I apologize to those of you who expected an in-progress page for Friday.

Thanks again for all the comments.

JD

Anonymous said...

"Man oh man. I can see it now. "hello, Tony? This is Celia from Buttox Tennessee and I was wundrin'....."


people...ESPN will chose what questions to read so there will not be any bad questions. This is not an earth shattering idea. FOX does it all the time except they have DW or Larry answer the e-mails.

stricklinfan82 said...
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stricklinfan82 said...

First of all, caution laps should be used to get in commercial breaks, not for this ridiculous In-Race Reporter gimmick!

And now they are going to waste even more air-time during caution flags to have a driver answer questions from viewers at home??? Give me a break!

It looks like more missed restarts and less green flag racing for us since ESPN is going to be using caution time to have Jerry from Montana can ask Carl Edwards "What are you and your mom doing to celebrate Easter tomorrow?" instead of using up the comercial inventory.

Ridiculous. Terrible. Awful. Something I BETTER NOT see again. How about having him answer viewer questions on NASCAR Now, or ESPNEWS, or BEFORE THE RACE! Not during the race when you should be taking commercial breaks to preserve more air-time for green flag racing later in the broadcast!

ESPN's 0-for-2 this week with their Nashville coverage. First Allen Bestwick in the Pit Studio instead of the booth, and now a live chat session with Carl Edwards on the air during caution flag laps.

AHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I was a little upset about ESPN's lack of coverage this weekend, but then I saw SPEED's coverage schedule for Martinsville next weekend.

Why does TV have to continually step on NASCAR fans?

kenn said...

I'm glad for all you fans of the regional series. As for me, I couldn't grab the DVR remote fast enough. I spend enough of my life following Cup and Nationwide. For your sakes I hope they keep it up.

On another note, I agree with J.D. about repurposing ESPN Classic. It would be good to give NN a dependable time slot that would fit into prime time (or close) for both coasts.