Wednesday, April 30, 2008

NASCAR Without TV On Friday Morning

The excitement building up to the big Friday and Saturday night races at the Richmond International Raceway has been right on schedule.

After a season of bickering drivers and complaining crew chiefs, Talladega put the racing back in the sport once again. NASCAR's momentum going into Richmond is fantastic. TV viewers can hardly wait to see this track and the races.

This is the classic "two day show." Open the garage Friday morning and let chaos ensue. Put the cars on the track for practice only one time and then qualify. Race the Nationwide Series on Friday, race the Sprint Cup guys on Saturday and then head home.

This format puts the emphasis on the action that will be taking place on the track on Friday morning. The Nationwide Series has their only practice session from 8:45 to 10:55AM Eastern Time. Immediately following a track inspection, the Sprint Cup cars take to the track at 11AM for a non-stop session that will last until 1PM.

The stories of what is happening in both those sessions will probably be the stories of qualifying and possibly of the race. This little "bull ring" also has a reputation for incidents in practice that will make both these full speed sessions a bit more dangerous than normal.

The Nationwide Series has a fascinating mix of Cup drivers, Nationwide regulars, and new names like Ryan Hackett, Chad Beahr and Andy Ponstein. The practice session with all of these cars on the track should be fun to watch.

Unfortunately, that is going to be a problem. There is no live TV for the only Nationwide Series practice on either ESPN2 or SPEED.

On Friday at 8:45AM, ESPN is showing SportsCenter, ESPN2 has Mike and Mike in the Morning, and ESPN Classic has a vintage NBA film. SPEED has Monster Jam and then PINKS All Out.

While you enjoy one of these fine TV programs the Nationwide Series, featuring a dozen Cup drivers, will be trying to come up-to-speed in Richmond in a non-stop single practice session.

At 11AM, the Cup field will take to the track to try and get dialed-in for one of the toughest races on the schedule. SPEED is the network that televises practice and qualifying for the Cup Series during the NASCAR on Fox portion of the schedule. While the cars are on the track at 11AM, SPEED will be showing...infomercials.

What SPEED has decided to do is tape delay the practice and put a ninety minute version of it on-the-air at 1:30PM. This will follow a thirty minute NASCAR Live and after the practice is replayed there will be the weekly Go or Go Home show.

All of that will then lead into SPEED hosting the back-to-back qualifying sessions for the Nationwide and Cup Series. So, not carrying the live practice sessions lets SPEED make one big NASCAR block, despite the fact that Cup practice actually took place two and a half hours earlier than it is being presented.

Again this season we are seeing the interesting choices and some very public "posturing" as the NASCAR TV partners focus on their own agendas and schedules. Regardless of who offered the TV rights to whom, or what other programming issues are on the table, the only loser in this mix is the NASCAR fans.

Since SPEED does not have any of the actual Nationwide or Sprint Cup points races, why won't the network show the Friday practice sessions live? Monster Jam and PINKS have aired before, and missing an infomercial or two will not affect the network's TV ratings.

As the off-track shows like NASCAR Now, RaceDay and Victory Lane have continued to mature and develop, it is the on-track action that has suffered.

Fans are now used to "dark" practices with no TV. When the ESPN/ABC portion of the Sprint Cup schedule begins, TV viewers will once again not be seeing practice for the final "Chase for the Cup" races. That is simply amazing.

This is not batting practice. It is not football players tossing pre-game passes. No one is running lay-up drills on the court or stretching. This is NASCAR, and the moment that the cars hit the track every single practice lap has meaning in terms of both qualifying and the race. It is especially true in Richmond.

The stories about the sport each week begin when the engines fire for practice and continue through the checkered flag. It is a shame that the NASCAR TV partners and NASCAR itself cannot coordinate the availability of a cable TV network so fans can watch the stories unfold rather than just read about them.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.


Charlie said...

Very well said!

Anonymous said...

How come no mention of the Emmy's?

Anonymous said...

It is a shame that the NASCAR TV partners and NASCAR itself cannot coordinate the availability of a cable TV network so fans can watch the stories unfold rather than just read about them.

I agree JD. I know it's not plausible but this is why talk of a NASCAR channel comes up every few years on various channels. Fans would love one central channel to get all their NASCAR shows

I don't know what the numbers are as far as how many tune in at 8AM to Speed on a Friday in general and how many would be able to tune in to watch this. But having the option would be nice, heck, even Cali folks could tune in as they get ready for work :).

stricklinfan82 said...

Talk about not taking advantage of the momentum built by the huge NASCAR weekend at Talladega huh?

NASCAR should be ashamed of this new TV contract, absolutely ashamed.

ESPN has greatly improved the quality of their broadcasts but still haven't addressed the quantity issue.

TNT's "Summer Series".... HUGE mistake. No commitment to the sport whatsoever. They just show up and set up shop on 6 Cup race days, give a half-hearted effort, get their huge ratings numbers, cash in on the ridiculous amounts of commercials and in-race cross-promotions, and run away from NASCAR as fast as they can.

Fox and Speed Channel, what the hell happened? The production quality has gone down the toilet and even their quantity of coverage has been steadily declining.

Fox/Speed used to be the go-to network for NASCAR fans. They used to be there year-round for us and now NASCAR is getting pushed further and further down their prority list and getting replaced by car auctions, Pinks, Monster Jam, ... and now informercials on an increasingly regular basis.

NASCAR needs to step in and do something. In this advanced age where the amount of available cable and satellite TV channels are increasing more and more and more, somehow we are getting less and less and less TV coverage of NASCAR and that just doesn't make any sense at all.

We deserve better.

Anonymous said...

I don't know...SPEED is going to be on the air with NASCAR track activity from 1-7 PM, then the Nationwide race is on ESPN from 7-10 including the Countdown show. Then SPEED has Trackside at 10 PM.

I saw that schedule on Jayski yesterday and immediately thought "NASCAR is going to be on the air for 10 straight hours, on a Friday!" I think it's pretty impressive, as there's no way in the world I'm watching all that (and I'm off tomorrow and could do it, I just have no interest in watching 10 straight hours of NASCAR on Friday when there's also a Cup race on Saturday night. I'll pick and choose a couple of hours plus the Nationwide race and maybe Trackside.)

I don't really think I'm losing out in this situation and don't really care that Cup practice is tape delayed for the afternoon, though I respect the feelings of other fans who do. I actually commend SPEED for airing so much coverage tomorrow, along with 3 1/2 hours of programs on Saturday before the race. shows that the Cup practice will be a full two hours, from 1:30-3:30.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:09AM,

There was an Emmy story on Tuesday, the day after the awards. Please scroll down the main page.

Anon 2:37AM,

Qualifying and SPEED Stage shows are completely different from watching the live drama of "racing reality" unfold for the Nationwide and Cup teams in practice. I wish there were another word rather than practice, because there is so much going on.

If you have watched Larry McReynolds talk about the teams and cars while they practice and heard the on-going garage and pit reporters follow the stories live, it is sometimes dramatic than the race itself.

I only wish the new and casual fans were treated to a TV effort during practice that equalled the money and effort spent for the final race.

Thanks for your comments.


Anonymous said...

Could it be that SPEED is not showing the morning events on Friday because they are not allowed too? I believe infomercials are on SPEED every weekday. Networks sign contracts and HAVE TO show the infomercials.

Anonymous said...

"Cali folk?" why are you worried about what they watch in Colombia?

jfs-va said...

Fortunately I'll be able to see Cup practice live because I'll be heading down to Richmond on Friday morning and will stay until the end of the Nationwide race. I'm having my son play hooky from school.

I'd love to know what the numbers are as far as how many people can actually watch practice live in the middle of a workday. I work from home full time but I would imagine a large number of NASCAR fans go to an office and couldn't possibly watch it live anyway. Not saying they shouldn't air it, but the numbers no doubt are small.

Anonymous said...

One thing to consider: The SPEED or ESPN2 broadcasting staffs would have a very long day - on the air- if either aired the Nationwide Practice.

I don't think they have the manpower or womanpower to have broadcasts through the day, (more SPEED than ESPN). You've got camera, production, and on air crew that would have to be there. Most importantly is on air crew. They alternate some on SPEED in the booth for longer days, but this schedule with 8:45 practice would leave them with less people in the garage for interviews if they put some in the booth. The garage interviews are one of the main reasons I record practice. I would rather have fresh commentators and pit reporters for Cup practice - whether recorded for use later that day or not - and qualifying than see the NW practice or the Cup practice live.

I also don't think the amount of people watching practice that time of day would be very many (I wouldn't be able to), so they may feel it doesn't justify the "wear and tear" on the on-air crew.

There may be budget considerations too. Longer day may mean spending more money on various expenses. That may factor into SPEED bundling the events together.

Ken in VA said...

I think the lack of coverage is a reflection of the direction other media is going. I live in what used to be strong NA$CAR country between Bristol and Martinsville and subscribe to the closest daily newspapers of both racetracks. Both papers used to cover NA$CAR extensively but they how have an occasional paragraph or two and I get most of my information online. My local radio stations used to have a couple of short daily NA$CAR programs that have now been discontinued.

We have lost the personal connection we used to have with the sport. Generic cars driven by generic drivers on generic tracks provides no reason for the traditional fan to watch or attend races. At one time, we went to watch people "like us" race but that is now found only at our local dirt tracks. I can spend $9 at my local half mile dirt track (Rural Retreat, VA) and see more true racing than I can get at a typical NA$CAR event

Ken-Michigan said...

From what I have seen and heard this year from all of the NASCAR coverage, especially on SPEED/FOX, is alot of repetitive stuff.

I would normally watch all the programming, but seems like each program gives a lot of the same information over and over and over again.

Maybe thats MY fault for watching ALL of this programming. From their standpoint, they probably dont expect people to watch EVERY show on a given weekend.

One issue I'd like to see covered is..... concerning the NEW CAR.
It was supposed to save money for these teams by being able to run the same car at different tracks.

Well, is it saving money?
Teams used to have 15-20 cars back at the shop...
with the NEW car, how many cars are at the shop now?

I'd like to know, if ANY TEAM is using the same NEW CAR this weekend at Richmond that they used last weekend at Dega. I know, its a stretch.

How many cars this weekend are on the track for the 1st time in 2008?

Which cars in the garage have been raced the most by the Cup teams in 2008 ?

Bottom line, I'd like to hear and see a topic like this followed thru a weekend, rather than time spent on the in-ground camera or some fella fillin his belly on the back stretch.

Anonymous said...

How many people would actually watch the practices in the morning? Some people have jobs, and most would still be sleeping!

We have had this topic before. Its a fact that most people would be watching other things in the morning than a Nationwide practice session. This is not the first time this has happend and certainly will not be the last. I think we just should get used to it. If you want to see the practice so bad go buy yourself a race ticket like we did in the old days when practices weren't covered on TV AT ALL!

Anonymous said...

I hear you about early mornings but some N'wide practices and qualifyings were on late afternoons and they didn't televise those either. This is just neglect (esp. by ESPN2) time hasn't been the only problem.

Anonymous said...

What's ESPN going to do IF the Nationwide race runs long ... and into their precious NBA playoff timeslot ?? They sure seem to have the events booked quite close together in runtimes ...

I don't understand how Brian France can be happy about the LACK of coverage of the Nationwide series that Disney is providing ... IF Disney didn't want to air all of the practices & qualifying sessions, they should've said so and then SPEED could've picked up what they didn't want ...

We're gonna get shafted again when there are Nationwide standalone races this summer ... Many of the shows on ESPN2 can legitimately be bumped & nobody would miss them ...

Anonymous said...

Actually. ESPN stated early this season that certain practice and qualifying sessions they could not pick up. I also don't remember saying in the contract "ESPN Will carry every Qualifying and PRactice sessions".

Anonymous said...

"Although the actual races will have scheduling continuity, the remainder of the weekend programming -- qualifying, practices and the Busch Series -- will be spread out all over the dial in deals that run through the 2014 season."

Justin said...

now NO coverage on ESPN Friday. Sad ESPN, sad

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- As usual, I believe I am TV confused. My impression is that the practice & qualifying coverage schedule was set in stone before the season began. Thus, making it almost impossible for SPEED or ESPN to re-jigger the schedule to take advantage of the buzz coming out of Talladega - correct?

SophiaZ123 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

What wasn't mentioned here is that the Nationwide race will now not be shown in HD. It will be on ESPN Classic. Since the Wizards beat the Cavaliers in the NBA, their game is scheduled for ESPN2 at 7pm. Then, on ESPN, the Celtics play the Hawks at 8pm.

I was perusing the TV listings to see if the race was on ESPN or ESPN2 and found that it's on Classic in all it's standard definition glory. Oh well.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:02, where did you get that information. The Nationwide Series race is Friday Night with coverage scheduled to begin at 7:00 PM ET On ESPN2?

Bobby said...

Also hearing NASCAR and Speed are working on having the race in HD using Speed HD.

Anonymous said...



Anonymous said...

The live telecast of the race in its originally scheduled time slot (7–10:00 p.m. ET) will air simultaneously on both SPEED and ESPN Classic.

ESPN2 will join the race live immediately following the Cavaliers – Wizards game and will also re-air the race in its entirety immediately following the conclusion of the race broadcast.

Both and will stream the race live.

ESPN and SPEED will begin on-air promotion today (Thursday, May 1).

SPEED’s live coverage from Richmond begins at 1:00 p.m. ET with NASCAR LIVE and will continue straight through the live broadcast of the race until 10:00 p.m. ET.
“This is a busy time of year for live sports and we really appreciate ESPN and SPEED working together to come up with a plan that takes care of our fans,” said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR’s Vice President, Broadcasting. “ESPN and SPEED are working aggressively to promote tomorrow night’s simulcast.

Anonymous said...

On the CHARLOTTE OBSERVER website, there is a story by David Poole today concerning the switch of the race from ESPN2 to Classic, as well as simulcasted on and SPEED. He also indicates that the race will be replayed on ESPN2 after the NBA game.
Tom in Dayton.

Anonymous said...

I am so confused. I also read somewhere that SPEED Channel is now picking up the NAtionwide Series practice session? JD. Can you sort out all these changes for us?

stricklinfan82 said...

I'm lucky enough to have ESPN Classic and Speed Channel and thankfully read the announcement to know what to DVR on Friday night when I'm not home... but I sure feel bad for the many fans without these upper-tier channels like Speed and Classic.

ESPN2 will re-air the race in its entirety after the conclusion of the live "joined-in-progress" broadcast so that does give ESPN2 only viewers an outlet... but then again its gonna be hard for them not to have the outcome spoiled since its impossible to know when exactly the live broadcast will end and the full-length re-air will begin.

Yikes.... somewhere Brian France must be very proud of this new TV contract.

Doesn't TV have a major say in when these NBA playoff games get scheduled? I'm a huge hockey fan as well and know the TV partners have many hours worth of meetings to plan out when the games will be scheduled to cater to other TV obligations the networks have. I assume the NBA would work the same way, so I can't believe somewhere along the line ESPN allowed a scenario to occur where two East Coast game 6's would be scheduled at 7 or 8 on ESPN and ESPN2 on the Friday night of the Richmond Nationwide race. Unreal.

Brett Baldeck said...

Wow. I found out about the TV switch before some people at ESPN did. I asked Tim Colishaw in the ESPN chat at 3:30 PM ET why the race was switched to ESPN Classic. Here is what he said.

"Brett, I'm not really in tune with that switch. I know it is not permanent. My guess is ESPN has a bunch of NBA basketball on Friday night. That could be it. Not sure."

This must be news to those at ESPN as well?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, says Marty Reid is calling this race. Hasn't Dr. Punch had enough vacation yet? Is this the third race Reid has called out of eight or nine or what.

Rusty's in the booth again too, I guess DJ is staying at the Kentucky Derby this weekend.

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

It would have been nice if the race wasnt switched. But I don't think we got "screwed".

The race can be seen on ESPN360, ESPN Classic, SPEED Channel, and NASCAR.Com. And if for some reason you can't watch it on any of those platforms. ESPN2 is airing the whole race after the game.

Far from "screwed". "Screwed" wouyld just putting the race on ESPN Classic and no where eles. Having a race simulcast on an ESPN Network and NewsCorp Network is unheard of.

Anonymous said...

My cable company doesn't carry the espn classic channel, I have a feeling they already carry 3 espn channels and don't want to add another looser espn channel where they can put on something that will be watched. Another thing if basketball is so big a sport why is it played in a place that holds maybe two hundred people? I say preempt BB when it's time for NASCAR.

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

@anon 7:02--what?!?!?!

@jfs-va--that was my inquiry as well. What the normal Friday AM audience is for and how many might be able to tune in. It would probably work best for our west coast friends as many will be getting up and ready for work, so they might have time as they eat their Froot Loops to sit and watch a bit. Have fun at the track!

Had to delete my comment since my info was way wrong! Thanks for the info folks! WOW! It's going to be interesting indeed!

wickedj said...

i just want to be the first to LOL@ESPN. geez eighty brazillion networks and the thing you probably paid the most for is the one that suffers.

in the words of the guiness commercials..BRILLANT!

Diane said...

I have both Speed and Classic, so it doesn't matter to me but many people don't have Classic, so I think its great of ESPN to allow another unrelated network like Speed carry the race. Good job!

Anonymous said...

They made quick work of the ad changes. Both the TV and web ads for the race have already been changed to reflect the switch to ESPN Classic.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There will be a new column up about the Nationwide Series race shortly after 7PM Eastern Time.

Thanks for your patience.


Brett said...

Days like today make me thankful for The Daly Planet. Thanks John!

Daly Planet Editor said...

The new post is up about the Nationwide Series simulcast.

Lots of things are still shaking right now, there will be another update shortly.


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