Thursday, April 24, 2008

ESPN Chases Tony Stewart Across TV Networks

The day after the Marty Smith's NASCAR Now story about Tony Stewart and his possible changes for next season, things continued to develop at a rapid pace. These days, ESPN's new commitment to NASCAR is paying-off like never before.

As many posters to The Daly Planet pointed out, the Wednesday story that Tony Stewart was considering a departure from Joe Gibbs Racing after this season was not exactly breaking news. Print and Internet reporters had offered speculation earlier about Stewart's possible scenarios. It was going to be up to Smith to follow-up his own story and clear the air on this issue.

Thursday's NASCAR Now host Nicole Manske wasted no time in getting quickly to Smith at Talladega. As the show hit the air, Stewart was on the track in his Nationwide Series car for practice. Smith quickly explained that Stewart was going to speak to the media when his practice session ended.

Manske reviewed the elements of Smith's Wednesday story and pushed Smith to speculate on Stewart's status for next season and why this change suddenly seemed so important. In the background, Stewart continued to practice.

Boris Said returned to the program as a commentator after his memorable Tuesday appearance as a disgruntled driver. Said is not a superspeedway veteran, and his limited experience racing in the COT made his Talladega comments a bit tough to take. With the available NASCAR personalities on the ESPN team, perhaps someone else could have addressed these topics with a better perspective.

It was Kyle Busch himself that was up next for an interview with Manske. She continues to handle herself quite well in the demanding role of studio host. She explored the season-to-date with Busch, and then pushed him on the two key topics of Stewart's possible departure and Busch himself possibly deciding to run the full Nationwide Series. She did not cross the line, and allowed Busch to give his answers in full and offer his reasoning on both subjects.

Meanwhile, back in the garage Marty Smith and the assembled NASCAR Media were still waiting for Stewart. Smith has the ability on-the-air not to take himself too seriously, and the media horde waiting for Stewart was fun to see. As the program closed, it was clear that Stewart was not going to be seen in the allotted thirty minutes. Then, something very interesting happened.

Manske told viewers that ESPN would chase Stewart across the ESPN networks. As NASCAR Now on ESPN2 went off the air, ESPNEWS and SportsCenter on ESPN would both continue to offer airtime to Smith if he got the Stewart interview. This is exactly the type of cooperation between ESPN networks that the sport needs for the rest of the season.

A short time later, ESPNEWS anchor Michael Kim introduced Smith from Talladega and began an entire segment on NASCAR featuring Tony Stewart. Smith offered his "intro," the Stewart press conference happened, and then Smith came back on-camera to interact with the ESPNEWS anchor in the studio.

Michael Kim did an outstanding job on-the-fly to deal with this in-progress story, and his NASCAR knowledge appeared to be solid. Smith and Kim had an informative conversation that allowed Smith to review the details of the Stewart news for viewers who has not seen the earlier NASCAR Now program.

The end result was that ESPN chased the Stewart story across their networks until they got it, and then it was presented in a professional manner immediately. ESPNEWS has continued to grow as an outlet for NASCAR news, and the fans have taken notice.

This Sunday, immediately after the Talladega Sprint Cup race, it will be either Dale Jarrett or Andy Petree in the ESPNEWS studio to offer commentary. Once again, the network will be live when the race is over for coverage of the post-race press conferences from the Infield Media Center.

It is a very positive step for fans that this key NASCAR TV partner has decided to utilize all of its network resources to follow-up on breaking news. Today's effort was an excellent example of exactly that.

If ESPN wanted a positive way to build-up momentum with the fans as the ESPN portion of the Sprint Cup Series approached, all they have to do is continue to offer this flexibility and commitment to the sport.

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Anonymous said...

Story on AOL says attendance at NASCAR race venues is off while ratings are up a scant 2%.

The fact is that NASCAR needs brash, arrogant and emotional characters like Tony to generate fan interest. Hes a talented driver who has won on dirt, open wheel and full bodied series.

His outbursts are almost farce-as in staged for his own promotion.

Wonder if he could end up as a team mate with the other master of dirt tracks, Ken Schrader?

BTW, Schrader will get a top 5 finish this weekend at 'dega

David said...

What a great job by ESPN today! They showed what can be done. I applaud their efforts today. I have criticized in the past but the passing of news seamlessly from one network to the next was awesome. I couldn't imagine this in the past...

Karen said...


Couldn't you find a more flattering photo? That looks like a mugshot.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I didn't see the show, but just reading the article I knew that JD had messed up and put "Kurt Busch" as the interviewee when it was really Kyle ...

Daly Planet Editor said...


That is a pretty famous pic these days I am told from the person who sent it to me.

Anons: Thanks for the correction!


Andrew S. said...

Top 5 for Schrader at Talladega? From your lips to God's ear. I can't think of anyone who deserves one more.

Anyway, I've heard it is a different Chevy team that Tony wants to join.

red said...

ok, so since this is a media site, here's what i'd like to see/hear:
* no repeat of the 24/7 coverage that was dale earnhardt jr team/number change. please learn from that interminable period that rumors will abound but the media doesn't need to report on each one as it arises. fans will have at it on any number of sites but that doesn't mean the media has to do the same.
* information should only be reported as "new" when it is actually new and "follow-up" in all other cases. should be self-evident to journalists . . .
* refrain from covering this unless there is actually new information to review. those who want to follow it are already well-versed on the rumors and the casual nascar viewer (if there are any!) won't care
* be VERY careful about asking the principles involved about this repeatedly. tony stewart is no dale earnhardt jr when it comes to being patient with constantly being asked the same questions. and when/if he becomes abrupt or even rude, then folks will be berating him for how he responds. even dale became exasperated at the constant repeat of the same questions, week in and week out.
* the intensity of this current period of discussion is acceptable but i'd REALLY hate to be stuck hearing and reading about this with no new information after sunday! again, learn from the constant hammering of the earnhardt jr story: even the most devoted fans of a driver end up screaming "enough!" update fans as the authentic need arises but there's no need to keep after an old story.
* when the decision is made, please do everything possible to bring it to us live and stay with it no matter how long it takes. no matter what the final decision is, it is news in nascar-land.

remember: there are other stories out there to be covered and discussed and there's a reason it's called "silly season"!

Anonymous said...

Re: Tony Stewart photo
Isn't that an official NASCAR photo of some type? I have seen the same unflattering ones of all the drivers out there. That lens makes everyone look bad, even Kasey Kahne.

bevo said...

Good Lord that picture is horrible!

I didn't get to see the ESPN coverage but I was driving around and Sirius carried it live. This is going to be a long, painful story for all of us as it's pounded into our brains over and over for the rest of the season.

Anonymous said...

"This is going to be a long, painful story for all of us as it's pounded into our brains over and over for the rest of the season."

I know. I wish Tony would pull a Bobby Labonte and say he's not talking about it anymore until he signs something. He opened a real can of worms by saying he's listening to offers, a season and a half before his contract is up.

Truex and Carl Edwards (who I think is the most valuable free agent of all for 2008, even more than Tony) have kept their mouths shut, I hope Tony and the media will do the same. As the above posts say, I don't want daily updates on this when there is no real news. Just tell me when a deal is done or about to get done.

Just me... said...

I think your article missed one critical piece - THE ACTUAL CONTENTS OF THE INTERVIEW - some of us didn't get to see it. It was nice to hear all about how ESPN kept with Marty, blah blah blah - but what we really want to know is "what did Tony say to Marty"....

SophiaZ123 said...

I am already tired of the Tony story.

Just like I am already tired of the question "When will Jr win again? Will it be Talladega?"

*sigh* I really like these two guys but detest how the media hammers stories into the ground. AS IF Jr is not aware that he hasn't won a points race in a couple of years....dogging the boy about it is not helping. On Letterman, Danica said how she got tired of the "When are you gonna win a race Danica?" Like she said, it's not like you could pick out a race on the schedule and say "this one". Things are what they are with race cars, drivers and teams from track to track.

Can we just talk about the racing? I heard a chance of rain this weekend. HOW BIG a chance or rain???

Please leave the Tony Stewart 'daily updates and rehash alone for now.

Also, it would be nice if NOBODY asked Jr "well do you think you may FINALLY win this weekend?"


LEAVE Jr. alone. :-)