Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Marty Smith Returns To ESPN In Style

Wednesdays on NASCAR Now have sometimes been a little slow. The weekend highlights are now old, the next race is days away, and there is usually not a lot of news.

NASCAR Now's Lead Reporter Marty Smith returned from a recent vacation with some information that served to spice-up this Wednesday in a very big way. The Tony Stewart empire was beginning to shake, and Smith knew the reason why.

Since the Joe Gibbs move to Toyota, racing veterans have been wondering how Stewart was going to balance his long affiliation with GM and his new high-profile role with Toyota. Smith's news was that Stewart was trying to explore his options to get out of the Gibbs stable at the end of this season.

In the past, this type of story on NASCAR Now would have ended right there. This season, however, ESPN has committed to using all their NASCAR veterans to support this TV series and that is exactly what happened. It was Dale Jarrett who appeared next to speak directly to Smith's report and the Tony Stewart situation.

Jarrett's opinion carries a lot of weight, and he spoke about the fact that Stewart may have been approached by a Chevy team that perhaps put an ownership stake on the table. Jarrett's perspective was that Stewart was now in a different time in his racing career, and his priorities may have changed.

Without missing a beat, host Ryan Burr brought-in Daytona 500 winner Ryan Newman with the Talladega Superspeedway looming. Newman continues to be a great interview for this program, and once again spoke about a wide variety of topics with candor and honesty.

The previews of Talladega began with Jarrett talking about the upcoming COT race. He mentioned the new surface and the drafting while calling the racing "intense." He pointed to a key to success being patience, something he mastered in his career. Having Jarrett preview this event was exactly the type of high-profile personality that is going to make viewers tune-in on what is normally a slow Wednesday.

Reporter Jamie Little stopped-by to review her win in the Toyota Celebrity Race in Long Beach, CA. After a brief recap, she moved on to handle the story of Kevin Harvick not racing in the Nationwide Series at Talladega at the request of Cup team owner Richard Childress.

Little also updated the status of Kyle Busch and his possible change in direction to focus on running the entire Nationwide Series. To add commentary to this issue, Burr then turned to Brad Daugherty.

Outside of the Monday one hour version of this show, Daugherty is struggling to find his role on the 2008 ESPN NASCAR team. With the addition of Dale Jarrett in the booth and the move of Rusty Wallace to the Infield Studio, Daugherty is overshadowed by experienced professionals everywhere he turns. Even the best efforts of Allen Bestwick are not enough to help Daugherty with his struggles.

On this show, Daugherty "guessed" that Kyle Busch will run the entire Nationwide Series schedule despite having absolutely no information on that topic. He offered an opinion that Harvick not running the Nationwide race at Talladega was not a problem. Again, no reason why. Finally, he talked in general terms about the Nationwide race and predicted the "big one" would happen and perhaps a young driver would win the race.

Why NASCAR Now continues to put Daugherty in this situation is any one's guess. Rather than let him prepare feature reports and use his owner experience to interact with the top personalities in the sport, he continues to be put on the spot for opinions that almost never turn-out to be accurate. This role damages his credibility when he appears on NASCAR Countdown and on the Monday "roundtable" shows. This season, Daugherty is the new Tim Cowlishaw.

Burr closed out the program by promoting a special one hour NASCAR Now show honoring Dale Earnhardt Sr. scheduled for next Tuesday. It was Dale Jarrett with a final comment who predicted it may well be Senior's son who is celebrating next week, and it may be with a Talladega win.

This program packed a lot of information and even some breaking news into thirty minutes. It was exactly the type of show that will make NASCAR fans think about tuning-in every Wednesday. Maybe Marty Smith should go on vacation more often.

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Anonymous said...

I agree, it was a good report by Marty Smith. My only reservation with it is that it really wasn't breaking news. FoxSports ran a story just like it a couple weeks ago.

This is the link for that article if you're interested:,-Stewart-would-be-a-great-garage-voice

I have nothing against Marty, in fact he's one of my favorite NASCAR reporters, but I'm just saying the story might not be completely new.

Anonymous said...

Amazing- the article is from April 12th and ESPN is just now using it as NEW NEWS! I think it makes Smith look like a clown!? Don't print people get fired for stuff like this??

Anonymous said...

The Daly Planet said>>>>

NASCAR Now's Lead Reporter Marty Smith returned from a recent vacation with some information that served to spice-up this Wednesday in a very big way. The Tony Stewart empire was beginning to shake, and Smith knew the reason why.

Did you mean to say that LEE SPENCER reported this story on 4-12-08 and SMITH just decided to use somebody else's story on ESPN 2 weeks later.

SophiaZ123 said...

I had also heard this story from Lee Spencer and folks gave her grief on another message board so this was not 'breaking news' imo either.

If you go to SPEED forums, a poster there started a thread like on April 10 or something..and the poster got grief for it..well, turns out there is something to it.

So I did not see this as new news either..but what do I know.

My local station wants to cancel the Talladega race for a soldiers funeral but thought better of it and is putting the funeral online. I wonder if that was a mandate by FOX..I hope so..all the local stations are carrying the funeral and bumping other big stick and ball sports for a couple hours. Amazing.

Not to be cold but the funeral could be tape delayed LIVE SPORTS is not. WXIX tv in Oh/Ky/Ind is the station...not to get off topic.

But I have to say, I am disappointed in Marty acting like this story was his baby..but I guess nobody at ESPN had heard about this one.

Matt said...

Sports Illustrated also "broke" this story today, so ESPN wasn't the only one. Also, FOX did not report that Stewart has asked to be let out of his contact after 08. That was the big news, in my opinion.

AMS fan said...

"Breaking news" my ***!
This is exactly why I'm not an ESPN fan. There are to many ways for us to keep up with this sport. Don't blow smoke up my skirt and try to make me think it's big news. IT'S OLD NEWS!
If it wasn't for the other media outlets I wouldn't even watch Nascar Now. Mondays show was very good, but of course they blew it before the week is out.
I hate someone as credible as Dale Jarrett has to be associated with these smoke blowers. ESPN could use their time more wisely showing bowling or curling. At least it would be more real.
Ryan Burr really needs to find a job he knows something about.

RevJim said...

Lee Spencer also updated the story here, offering more speculation to the story than what Smith and Bowles had to offer, in a much more credible manner. The only news either Smith or Bowles came up with was that Stewart's PR guy and JD Gibbs both said Stewart would remain with Gibbs through 2009.
I will speculate, according to "unnamed sources" that Smith's "unnamed source" was Bowles and Bowles' "unnamed source" was Smith.
As for the story itself, I will go with Lee Spencer and wait to see what happens.

Anonymous said...

Missed the show....did Smith at least start the report with:
"According to Lee Spencer" or "Following up on a report by Lee Spencer"

Jo said...

For the record, I believe Marty was off the air not because of vacation but because his father was seriously ill. At least, that's what ESPN reported two weeks ago.

Anonymous said...

Marty was initially off the air because of family illness but then he went on vacation for a while during the Cup race break. He went to Italy and wrote about it on The Door-to-Door column yesterday.

Richard in N.C. said...

I enjoy Marty and his writing and was ready to throw him under the bus when I read JD's post BEFORE seeing N-Now. However, after watching N-Now I believe Marty really did have new, real info because he cited identified sources for parts of his report.

Anonymous said...

Can you imagine the column by Mr. Daly if ESPN and EK had done this type of "Breaking News" story last year?!!! I'll have to look back, but I seem to remember a column when JD trashed the show for just this type reporting of old news as new news.

stricklinfan82 said...


I don't know if you're planning on writing an article about this but I have to admit that I am disappointed that yet again ESPN is providing no coverage from Talladega other than the Nationwide race.

And to make matters worse, in ESPN's absence Speed Channel is also electing not to televise the Nationwide practice sessions on Thursday, so we TV viewers are being left with another "dark Thursday" like we had at Texas.

It sure would have been nice if ESPN2, ESPN Classic, or Speed Channel could have catered to race fans and interrupted at least part of their 4:00 - 7:00 programming to cover some part of practice:

ESPN2: gymnastics, Outside the Lines, NASCAR Now (how ironic), and a Jim Rome re-air

ESPN Classic: a 2007 college football game and Stump the Schwab re-airs

Speed Channel: Chop Cut Rebuild, On the Edge, Monster Jam, and Unique Whips

These TV networks certainly have the right to make their own programming decisions. If there was some other live event on all these networks I would have at least understood the NASCAR blackout, but as a fan it's definitely harder to swallow when NASCAR loses out to a bunch of taped programming on a day like this.

Anonymous said...

Good to see you Erik

Anonymous said...

However, after watching N-Now I believe Marty really did have new, real info because he cited identified sources for parts of his report.
He still should have given credit to and/or Lee Spencer because he was adding on to the story they initially had two weeks ago, not originating it himself. He could have said, "As initially reported by..." and THEN said "ESPN has learned that..." or "I spoke to JD Gibbs and..." to give the new information.

And I agree if anyone but Marty Smith had presented this information as new, it would be criticized severely by this site.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Great comments, all of which have been read by the folks involved in the reporting. It should be interesting to see if this is followed-up.


stricklinfan82 said...

Just happened to turn on ESPNEWS at 7:30 EST and they are airing a live Tony Stewart meeting with the media. Major thumbs up ESPN!

Newracefan said...

OF course Nicole said Sports Center and ESPNNews and I picked Sports Center and no Tony bummer. Hopefully they will put in on

Anonymous said...

The whole story is technically old ... very old ...

There have been rumors of Smoke leaving Gibbs since late 2006 ... when Gibbs became the subject of "What existing / winning Cup team will Toyota devour?" ...

Most people know how Smoke feels about Toyota (esp those who listen to his radio show) ... But, he's had to play Mr Politically Correct since JGR switched manufacturers ...

IF Smoke seriously wants to win the Daytona 500 ... He's got to go to DEI & help Mark rebuild the company ...