Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Whelen Modified Series Gets Time On "NASCAR Now"


It was LW Miller who was interviewed a couple of weeks ago on NASCAR Now. The Whelen Southern Modified champ was excited about the season opener at Caraway Speedway in North Carolina.

He made the point that because the Whelen North Tour did not start until April, some of the Northern drivers would be towing down and Caraway would be just like an all-star race. True to his word, Miller won the race being chased to the checkers by Northern regular Teddy Christopher.

Viewers tuning into NASCAR Now on the day after the Caraway race were disappointed to see only the winner mentioned in the news and notes segment. There were no video highlights, no winner interview and no follow-up.

Wednesday, host Nicole Manske welcomed Whelen Modified North competitor Todd Szegedy to NASCAR Now and got a lesson in regional racing reality. Szegedy joined Manske in the studio, and put a face on the series that has been a great tradition in New England for many years.

In response to Manske's questions about his strict workout routine, Szegedy said he rides his (stationary) bike in the basement and works his "regular job." Manske was not ready for that reality check.

Instead of asking Szegedy about his family, his life and how hard the commitment to racing weekends in the Whelen Modified Series really is, Manske asked some bad questions and then ran a silly and dated video clip.

This is the season for NASCAR Now to open-up and understand that veteran fans do not see NASCAR as only the three national touring series. Szegedy talked about the Modifieds running three wide up at Loudon going 140mph on the backstretch. He talked about ten or fifteen top drivers being in contention for the win every single race.

It was clear he was proud of his sponsor and proud of his series. Unfortunately, NASCAR Now did not even promo the race at Thompson International Speedway or indicate that it would be televised. The learning curve where regional racing is concerned is still underway.

When many NASCAR fans hear names like Mike Stefanik, Eddie Flemke Jr., Jamie Tomaino and Reggie Ruggerio it brings strong memories to mind of great racing at classic tracks from Loudon to Martinsville.

As the rest of the Wednesday NASCAR Now program demonstrated, ESPN has cleared-up the vast majority of issues with this series and is now ready to capitalize on the momentum of the last two months. Perhaps, that will include a bit more coverage of the enthusiastic and exciting regional racers that spread the NASCAR brand from coast-to-coast.

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22 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have to respectfully disagree with you here. On NASCAR Now, I want to see more coverage of the SPRINT CUP series. There are so many personalities and stories that are being missed on that level that I really don't care to see anything other than Cup (mostly) and then Nationwide and Truck. There's only so much time in a week, and quite frankly they are still not making the best use of it.

I am barely seeing any off track stories on this program, either about the drivers or the business end of NASCAR. I am seeing an increase in driver interviews, which is great (the equipment that NASCAR had installed at some shops is coming in handy). But they are all the same. Driver sitting in shop answering the same old questions. No variety, no imagination.

I may be in the minority, but I have no interest in the Whelen Modified Series or Camping World East and West being covered regularly on NASCAR Now, except in a weekly roundup of results like on Speed Report. They need to work on giving me more information about the Cup, Nationwide, and Truck drivers - and not the same 10 or 15 guys they always cover.

Vince said...

I have to disagree with Annon@8:41. We are over saturated with news and stories on the Cup series drivers and teams. Granted the coverage is focused on the drivers from Hendrick, RCR, JGR and Roush-Fenway, but those are the "super" teams.

I grew up watching the Modifieds race and I enjoy hearing more about that series and their drivers and tracks. Wednesday and Thursday nights are usually slow news nights and this is the perfect time for NN to focus on some of the Nascar weekly touring series.

Keep up the good work NN and ESPN. I'm seeing a vast improvement over last years product.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:41PM,

I think your concerns are on target, and my hope is that NASCAR Now can learn to make better news choices about the national stories while taking a couple of minutes (maybe on a Tuesday) to slip-in some regional video and results.

With no reporter on-scene every day in the Mooresville area, and these new cameras in the shops, this show has taken on a very different dynamic and it is still sorting itself out.

I wish someone would go do some reporting and find the behind-the-scenes stories that are not already headlines on Jayski.

JD

Ken-Michigan said...

First of all, someone needs to start televising some of the NASCAR Modified races on a regular basis before you start throwing some of these drivers at us IN THE STUDIO.

Dont get me wrong, I'd welcome the chance to SEE some races with this division, but until then, I really dont see a need to have several minute interviews with them.

This modified division means absolutley nothing to anyone west of the Mississippi.

Programming and producing them as part of NASCAR NOW doesnt work for me. I see this as a special favor ESPN is doing for the sanctioning body.

Until ESPN makes the modifieds part of their programming, leave this regional series in it's region. It does not appeal to the majority of the audience across the country.

Anonymous said...

I don't really care about the regional series, but it was cool to see the orange.

Anonymous said...

"Wednesday and Thursday nights are usually slow news nights and this is the perfect time for NN to focus on some of the Nascar weekly touring series."

That's the problem. There shouldn't be slow nights. If they don't have a lot of breaking news, they should have pre-packaged *current* (not recycled from other shows) features about drivers, teams, and crews in the "known" NASCAR series. They could educate us and entertain us. Example of "educate us": All the drivers who have contracts expiring this year: what goes into a NASCAR contract and how do the teams go about talking to drivers since there are no tampering/trade rules like in other sports? How much influence does the sponsor have?

Example of "entertain us": I read a short article about a few teenage Nationwide drivers who hang out once a week playing some card game (gin? rummy? gin rummy?) taught to them by one of their grandmas. The grandma stays up late at the driver's house playing cards with them - and basically tears them to pieces because she plays better than them. Now that would be a nice lighthearted feature to see on TV and would also make us more familiar with their faces come racetime.

Or Montoya, Brian France and Kyle Petty made a trip to Colombia a couple of weeks ago for charity and I believe there were about 30 seconds of it shown on Trackside and about 10 seconds of it on NASCAR Now. It looked really interesting -the whole (impoverished) town put on a big celebration for them, with kids doing a dance recital and playing baseball (the charity is for kids' sports equipment) and I wanted to see a lot more. How often do we get to see Brian France, anyway!

JD is right when he said they need someone (or two) in Mooresville who can do that coverage for them. Where is Shannon Spake, BTW? She used to do that kind of feature for NN last year and the old NASCAR Nation before that.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, there's no repeat of Nascar Now tonight. Baseball Tonight instead and then a repeat of tonight's Yankees game.

SonicAD said...

As soon as I found out Todd Szegedy was on, I just knew they were going to roll footage of the huge inflatable orange rolling across the track from Chicagoland. Sure enough, there it was. Hilarious the first time I saw it during live qualifying a few years ago, still hilarious now.

Kyle Fan said...

"Or Montoya, Brian France and Kyle Petty made a trip to Colombia a couple of weeks ago for charity and I believe there were about 30 seconds of it shown on Trackside and about 10 seconds of it on NASCAR Now."

Say what you will about Kyle Petty's driving abilities but he has a good heart - he said that trip with the Montoyas really affected him. He said he was going to try to get a sporting goods company here in the US to work with JPM's foundation because he thought it was such a good idea, and Kyle probably has more say with US sponsors than JPM does. I didn't know it was on television, doesn't sound like they showed much. If NASCAR Now advertised it in advance as something they would be showing for a few minutes I would have watched. I don't know hardly anything about modifieds, I don't think I'd want to watch much of them on NASCAR Now.

Daly Planet Editor said...

ken,

That is one reason I was pushing the agenda. Mark Cuban's HD Net is carrying a bunch of regional races live, SPEED is airing a bunch on tape and then SPEED has the Late Model finale live over several nights in the Toyota All-Star Shootout.

Just like the Truck Series gets a pop on Thursdays, maybe a Whelen sponsorship would get the Mods on Tuesday for a minute or two.

JD

Tom said...

As I have previously stated, coverage of modifieds is a great thing. Perhaps it is less relevant in some areas, because of lack of coverage, but a lot of these guys are the ones that will be getting Truck, Nationwide, and Cup seats in the near future. As JD pointed out, increasing coverage of modifieds could make this series more relevant to everyone. I also would prefer this to sponsored Cup interviews. I was disappointed that Nicole didn't follow up on the "regular job" angle, as many of these guys have to do that. The purses and sponsors just aren't that strong to allow someone to race full-time. Perhaps some highlights and commentary beyond the winner would help.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

yeah- i was glad to see it --- i'll be at the Ice breaker at Thompson this weekend... racing is ALOT more than just Sprint cup

Tracy said...

I liked seeing the Whelen driver in the studio, but the interview seemed awkward. He wasn't comfortable nor was Nicole. Still, they're trying to give us slices from other series, and I appreciate the effort.
Yes, where is Shannon Spake?

Anonymous said...

I didn't see a need for a modified series driver to be in the NASCAR Now studio. Maybe when the championships are done they can come to the studio - during Champions Week they are all in NYC - but otherwise it seemed odd to me.

Weekly video highlights is about all I'd want to see of regional racing on NASCAR Now, and I could live without those. No offense to anyone, but NASCAR Now cannot be all things to all people IMO. They need to focus or they're going to flail around and keep the interest of no one.

The truth: A lot (and I know many of them personally!) of Cup fans are just that, Cup fans. They are not really general racing fans. They only watch Busch/Craftsman races if their driver is racing or if someone affiliated with that driver is racing. If they watch Trucks, it's because they support someone who used to be a Cup driver. They don't watch F1 or IndyCars. They watch Cup.

If NASCAR gets its own network, that's where focus of the regional series should be. The NBA has a series with news on its developmental league on its network; NASCAR could do the same.

chad said...

Not totally fair on the workout question. He did mention a triathalon. That's a pretty good workout...

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I am very happy that the Modified Series is finally getting some airtime on NN. Any real NASCAR fan is not only a Fan of the cup series, but has a strong interested in all of the NASCAR sanctioned divisions. These are the divisions that should be the primary source of our new drivers. So get off your fannies and go to your local short track to support not just the Modified's but all local NASCAR sanctioned events!

Kevin in SoCal said...

As Ken-Michigan said, being in SoCal I had never heard of the Whelen Modified series until it was on the NASCAR video game from EA Sports a few years ago. I like seeing other racing, because I'm the type of fan who will watch anything with 4 wheels, a big engine, lots of horsepower, and a steering wheel.

Anonymous said...

Any real race fan should get off their fanny and go support ANY local racing, Nascar sanctioned or not. The Cup drivers of the future can come from anywhere. Living in the heart of Pennsylvania Sprint Car country I have yet to see a Modified race but would like to.

Dot said...

I don't mind that NN shows different racing series. You never know who will move up from there. Jimmy Spencer came from the Modifieds.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Hmmm, there's no repeat of Nascar Now tonight. Baseball Tonight instead and then a repeat of tonight's Yankees game.

April 3, 2008 12:36 AM

Could be happening tonight too. Since yesterday the ESPN.com schedule has put "TBD" in place of the Nascar Now replay scheduled for 12:30 AM ET tonight as well as putting "TBD" in the 7:30 ET timeslot that was NFL Live.

NASCAR Now for 7 PM ET still looks like it's on schedule.

Karen said...

Anonymous said...

"Hmmm, there's no repeat of Nascar Now tonight. Baseball Tonight instead and then a repeat of tonight's Yankees game."

Wonder how come I'm stuck with boxing then? Ticks me right off.