Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Darlington "In The Dark" On Thursday

The NASCAR action starts at the famed Darlington Raceway on Thursday at 3PM. Both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series will be taking to the track for two practice sessions.

All of the stars of the sport will be on the newly-paved raceway trying to get their cars dialed-in for both qualifying and the two races. With afternoon and evening practice sessions, there should be some interesting stories for the NASCAR television partners to tell the TV viewers live on-the-air.

Unfortunately, none of that will happen.

As the exclusive TV network of the Nationwide Series, ESPN2 will not be televising any of the Nationwide practice sessions on Thursday or Friday. The network will also not be televising the qualifying for the series.

ESPN2 will be on-the-air at 7PM Friday for the Nationwide Series race. That is the total amount of the network's on-track NASCAR programming from Darlington.

The NASCAR on Fox telecasts of the Sprint Cup Series races are transmitted over the Fox Broadcast Network through the local Fox TV stations. This allows Fox-owned cable TV network SPEED to "partner-up" with NASCAR and show Sprint Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions.

The SPEED commitment to the on-track action has been significant. The SPEED Stage and the TV programs produced by The NASCAR Media Group have met with great success. One element of this presence that has been a big hit with the fans is coverage of selected practice sessions.

Analysts like Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Hermie Sadler have been outstanding in explaining what is going-on during this live coverage. Long runs, short runs, plug checks, qualifying trim and the myriad of adjustments taking place in the garage are almost overwhelming.

Once viewers have seen these sessions, they have a whole new perspective on qualifying. During practice, the TV reporters in the garage area can deliver the stories as they actually happen. Fans can know first-hand the issues and the struggles of the teams as they approach qualifying like never before.

On this Thursday at Darlington with speeds approaching two hundred miles an hour, those stories will once again be underway. Unfortunately, there will be no one on-the-air explaining them to the TV viewers.

Across the nation, the TiVo's and DVR's will not be humming. There will be no need to record the action to view after work. Darlington will be "in the dark."

During the early Sprint Cup practice session on Thursday, SPEED will be showing a mud race as Lucas Oil presents On The Edge. As the Cup cars take to the track under the lights in the evening, on-the-air will be another presentation of PINKS followed by Pass Time. That TV series is a drag-racing game show.

In the days before cable TV, professional golf was reserved for the weekends and the broadcast TV networks. With the advent of ESPN, TV golf veteran Frank Chirkinian brought live coverage of the Thursday and Friday rounds of PGA Tour events to the nation on cable TV.

Suddenly, America discovered that there was sometimes more drama in trying to simply make the cut than in winning the tournament. Sometimes, the favorites were in big trouble. Sometimes, an underdog was at the top of the scoring sheet.

This Thursday in Darlington, the NASCAR teams will be scrambling to make the cut and get in the race. They will be doing whatever it takes to get their car "in the show." Some of the favorites might be in big trouble. Someone no one expected might be at the top of the scoring sheet.

When SPEED finally comes on-the-air this Friday at Noon, the Nationwide Series practice sessions will have concluded. SPEED will televise the remaining daytime Sprint Cup practice and then transition into qualifying for both series.

What will be left on the TV table unseen is almost six hours of cars on the Darlington track at speed from Thursday in day and night sessions.

As both the sport and the TV technology that surrounds it continue to evolve, the fact that this on-track full-speed NASCAR action is not available to the public is quickly becoming an issue. With the NASCAR TV contract now in its second season, fans are starting to realize what they are missing with this "new" deal.

Over at NASCAR.com, there will be a live leaderboard during the Thursday practices. In the garage area, the NASCAR media will be walking around and looking to create their stories before raceday as they always do. The missing piece of the Thursday puzzle is television.

Whether the "dark" practices are uplinked by DirecTV, shown on ESPN Classic or put online at NASCAR.com, there will ultimately have to be a solution.

Discussing this topic in May when the Sprint Cup championship is still wide-open is one thing. Missing Cup practices at tracks like Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas during the height of The Chase in October and November is going to be quite another issue.

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


Mary said...

Just put all Nascar programming on Speed - end of story.

Anonymous said...

if only it were that simple. In *many* markets with cable you have to not only have digital cable to get SPEED but also have to purchase a higher digital sports tier.

Where I lived in Cali, Sacramento, we had it available as an analog channel. However my friends in the Bay Area (same cable company) they had to have digital to get SPEED.

Even this past week where SPEED/Classic stepped up to combine forces, not everyone was able to watch, many had to wait for the game to finish so they could watch on the Deuce.

I'm not sure how it's balanced on DirecTV/Dish as far as the packages (i.e. if say they charge $40 for a million channels what that includes how the other channels are packaged).

But in many markets to get the first level of digital it's at least $50-60 a month and to get those higher tiers easily adds $20 to the bill. And with folks paying $3-4+ for gas, it's hard to afford it all.

Every once in a while talk on the various boards comes up about having a NASCAR channel where everything will be seen on the one channel, regardless of which TV partner is in charge. However it's not plausible because most likely it's going to be a channel on digital that not everyone can get.

stricklinfan82 said...

It would sure be a great time for an all NASCAR channel. We already have the NFL Network, NHL Network, NBA TV, Golf Channel, Tennis Channel, and the Big Ten Network. I would love to see NASCAR take that next logical step and follow the other sports in creating a network dedicated to the NASCAR fan.

This continues to be very frustrating losing TV coverage of practice and qualifying sessions thanks to ESPN's lack of interest in anything but the races themselves, and Speed's occasional pre-emptions of practices in favor of other forms of racing, car auctions, and the occasional paid programming.

With a NASCAR channel we could be guaranteed an outlet for live coverage of all on-track action of all three major series. No more pre-emptions or tape-delays due to scheduling conflicts, if they're on the track it will be carried live on the NASCAR Channel. On top of that they could add in lower-tiered NASCAR Series, open up their library of old NASCAR races, and sprinkle in some NASCAR Images original productions to fill up countless hours of programming the rest of the week. Plus we could get live, full-length, and uninterrupted coverage of the post-race news conferences for all the major series as well. The possibilities would truly be endless.

That would certainly a dream come true for this NASCAR fan that is tired of seeing less and less TV coverage of NASCAR as the years go by. I'm sure it will happen someday, I just hope I'm still around to see it :)

Anonymous said...
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AMS fan said...

Just another reason I don't watch ESPN except for the races and NHRA.
The most obvious for sure thing is, ESPN has not lost a thing by not having the Nascar viewer. They're not going broke nor losing money by not having us. Really I don't think they have time for the Nascar viewer. Speed channel is slack sometimes, IMO, but they do have a tremendous amount of Nascar coverage. Could they have more, sure, I guess the money just isn't there yet.
Like the other post, this isn’t anything new, every week we complain, ESPN just isn't ready to change.
Please forgive my grammar; I'm only a high school graduate.

Anonymous said...

As has been posted a million times..ESPN's practice and qualifying rights from NASCAR are limited to 1/2 of the Nationwide weekends - not the whole season.
The market place drives demand like any other business. Despite the few hundred of fans who post here weekly about this subject the reality is there is little market for practice and qualifying on a weekly basis - otherwise NASCAR would be "selling " them like they sell everything else.

wilson said...

stricklinfan said: It would sure be a great time for an all NASCAR channel.

I'm sorry but NASCAR already gets enough money out of the fans. It's bad enough having to pay outragouse prices for ticktes,food etc at a race, but then to have to pay to watch the races? No Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Sorry JD, but with the top 35 locked in I do not find watching qualifying worth it.

chase said...

John: I agree with Stricklinfan -- we should have a dedicated TV outlet which is not considered a 'pay tier' to watch racing and all that entails -- the smaller series as well as occasionally an F1 race. SPEED would seem the obvious venue but of course the various TV contracts would preclude that. NASCAR, in its infinite wisdom (assuming it had infinite wisdom) SHOULD focus on giving fans what they want - if practice and qualifying is boring to some then switch to another channel, but those who can't get enough of racing should have the outlet at hand should they choose to watch. Saturation in some instances is a good thing! Thanks John, as always.

Anonymous said...

"John: I agree with Stricklinfan -- we should have a dedicated TV outlet which is not considered a 'pay tier' to watch racing and all that entails"

Who is going to fund a NASCAR channel not on a pay tier? The cable companies? The satellite companies? None of the above. A NASCAR channel WOULD be on a pay tier, and I'm not convinced that every company would carry it, even on a higher tier. The NFL Network has been around now for several years and still can't get many companies to carry it because of the fee the NFL is asking for it. NASCAR would likely also ask for a high fee to offset costs - and also because it's NASCAR and they don't like to spend their own money.

I also don't understand why the subject of Nationwide practice and qualifying comes up so frequently. Couldn't it just be a ratings deal and practice doesn't get good ratings? I've never seen information which indicates NW practice and qualifying are watched by a medium to large sized group of people. If a limited amount of people are watching, the network(s) has justification not to air it. Plain as that.

Since it involves extra hours (six, as you said, and an additional day) and extra manpower, it may not be worth it to the networks financially to carry practice and/or qualifying for NW.

We ARE getting final Sprint Cup practice and qualifying along with NW qualifying on Speed Channel this week. I see no reason to complain. Getting all practices on air for either series isn't going to happen -it's unrealistic. Whether we like SPEED programming (PINKS) or ESPN programming (poker) or not, they've put it there for a reason, they attract viewers with it. Neither network is the NASCAR-only channel and therefore have no responsibility to air every NASCAR activity unless contracted to do so. Unless and until NASCAR can show that practices bring in viewers, practice won't be a priority.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 8:15AM,

I appreciate your comment, but this has nothing to do with the current TV contract with ESPN.

In the old contract the cable TV networks chased every live lap that was available.

I understand very clearly that between ESPN and SPEED the rights to practice were divided in the existing TV contract.

That does not solve the problem that so many of you are just throwing your hands up and walking away from.

As Anon 8:48AM tried use the Top 35 rule for not finding qualifying worth a darn, things in NASCAR have taken one of the most dramatic turns in the 50+ year history of the sport.

We now see historic NASCAR teams outside the Top 35 thrashing in practice to get to qualifying speed and at the same time we see the top teams desperately trying to get track position on circuits like this one at Darlington.

We saw how valuable track position was on many tracks last season because of the tire issues.

I guess my point is regardless of the issues currently associated with TV rights and contracts and schedules, even a two camera shoot with no announcers and only the natural sound streamed on NASCAR.com or put up on DirecTV's NASCAR channel would be better than keeping those who want to see the product in the dark.

I appreciate your comments on this issue. It is not the last time you will be hearing about it.


glenc1 said...

I still think people need to get a life...

just kidding (really, I am). I do watch it if it's on sometimes, but...there are only so many hours in a day, ya know? Practice can be *somewhat* interesting depending on the track, but...most of the time, you don't gain a lot of knowledge. I do think qualifying should be available, even if it's not live. But I agree with anon 9:50...if there were that much untapped viewership, they'd be there.

I don't think any of the 'league' channels show *everything* (only one I watch is NFL network--but I have a dish), but NASCAR is unique. What do F1 fans have in Europe? I mean, F1 is huge there, do they get everyone on Eurosport or something, or do they have their own 'channel'? Just curious. I also agree with those saying we don't want to pay extra for that. Our Speed is on digital tier only also, that's why I got my dish (and I believe it's part of the lower tier, gymmie.) I think the difference in locations is, if they already had Speed before digital came around versus 'after' when they automatically put it on digital (we didn't have it at all until 2001 or so, so it automatically ended up on the digital tier.)

Daly Planet Editor said...


I would invite you to think about two points.

First, the ability to record TV shows and play them back exists in the home, at the cable system, and in the VOD areas of the cable dial. What we are simply talking about is live "at speed" action that is being wasted. It is not an issue of ad sales or marketing or anything else. That stuff comes later. These practice sessions were on-the-air back when TNN has this TV package. Things have not progressed, they have gone backwards.

Second, there is simply no stick-and-ball sport to compare to NASCAR. BTW, F-1 has every lap on global TV but that is a bit different than the Yankees taking BP for their over one hundred games. There is only a limited amount of NASCAR product that features cars on the track, it is up to NASCAR to figure out how to make it available to those fans who want to see how their driver is doing and what the new Darlington raceway looks like with cars at speed.

As I said in my golf analogy, people laughed at Chirkinian when he brought the Thursday and Friday rounds to cable TV, now that practice is standard. It will be up to NASCAR to figure out how to let you watch all their "race speed" content on any device you wish.


Anonymous said...

Thursday and Friday golf no longer airs on the big cable channels except for the major tourneys. Thursday and Friday golf action is now mainly on the Golf Channel. NASCAR may have to wait until it has its own channel to have the luxury of having all practices aired.

It is not an issue of ad sales or marketing or anything else.

Yes, it is; they go hand in hand. TV is driven by ad sales, especially in this era of specialized channels. The TNN era is a thing of the past. If a company wants to step up and stream the NASCAR practice content online without announcers, that's fine (and probably the most reasonable solution), but that seems to contradict the original notion stated here, which is that practice is about telling the stories of the day from announcers, reporters, and drivers.

These practice sessions were on-the-air back when TNN has this TV package. Things have not progressed, they have gone backwards.

Again, viewers had fewer cable options then. Now they can change the channel to another of 100 or more options, or more importantly, they can turn the TV off and entertain themselves on the PC or with a Wii or video game (The new Grand Theft Auto sold half a billion dollars worth of copies last week). Execs don't have the luxury of putting something on the air which doesn't attract eyeballs. TV Viewership in general is decreasing quickly; why air something which doesn't retain viewers (and advertisers)?

glenc1 said...

JD, I think I get what you're saying but...just trying to think it through...(I was referring more to the Nationwide coverage than Cup, but I probably didn't make that clear.)

But in either case, if I am ESPN/Speed I'm asking myself which gets higher ratings/revenue *when* I am showing it (the numbers would say there are probably time periods where they have more/fewer viewers, plus considering what it on the other networks as competition). If it's just time-shifting that makes it a wash, then why *aren't* they showing it live (or at all)? I'm just thinking if it was ecnomically advantageous they'd show it instead of the programs, so I'm figuring there's more to it that I don't know. I know sometimes networks intentionally take a loss, like the Olympics, in order to use programming for promotional purposes. And as far as recording goes, there is also the issue of skipping ads, which most of us do. Does that affect ad prices for an afternoon event that's taped by many? I just don't think we can dismiss the marketing aspects of this. But in general, your comment "It will be up to NASCAR to figure out how to let you watch all their "race speed" content on any device you wish" I agree with. I just don't know what the best way to do that is (and apparently, neither do they...)

Speaking of the Yankees, I do actually have YES--but I never watch it, so I have no idea what they show. But you're saying the volume of what they have is way more than the limited amount NASCAR has available to share (even if it were deadly boring to watch hundreds of hours of batting practice...) I'm just kind of rambling here but I guess I just don't get it.

Was it worth more to TNN for some reason? Could it have been another way to increase ratings for the actual race itself? Are ESPN and Speed just being dumb? I just gotta believe there must be some kind of logic behind it. These are big companies that must have some reasonably intelligent minds behind them...

Daly Planet Editor said...

The problem is that you both are believing that in 2008 cable TV is driving the bus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The sports TV industry is in a time of turmoil, and NASCAR is right there in the mix.

It is going to be up to NASCAR to remember that they only have thirty eight opportunities to showcase their talented drivers "at speed" on the tracks.

38 is less than one half of a baseball season before the playoffs for one MLB team.

As I said in my column in February of 2007, we all knew ESPN and ESPN2 were "full" of existing programming when NASCAR made the deal. Our first question was what will happen to practice and how will Nationwide races get shown in football season?

The answer was practice is going to be dropped and Nationwide races will get moved to ESPN Classic. That is the bitter pill that NASCAR swallowed to get the Cup races on ABC.

Now, a year and a half later, teams like Petty and Woods and Ganassi are out of the Top 35 and all of a sudden practice is just not practice anymore.

Top teams with multi-million dollar sponsors are thrashing to save their futures and NASCAR fans are in the dark...literally.

Rise above the concerns that are upsetting you and think big picture. Maybe a nice first step would be streaming practice on NASCAR.com along with a live chatroom to see how it goes.

Thanks for all the views, it certainly does show very clearly the current state of cable TV and the economy.


JHD said...

I still don't get all the hoopla surrounding whether or not the networks air Cup or Nationwide practices. I usually find it incredibly boring unless I'm actually at the track.

Perhaps that has more to do with the TV coverage then actual practice. I still do DVR practice while I'm at work, but I can watch 5 hours worth of practice in under a half hour. Unless they're showing my driver out on the track, or interviewing him or his crew chief, I don't really feel I'm missing anything by not watching. And when they do manage to show my driver on the track, the analysts aren't usually even talking about him. (Usually they're droning on and on about his 3 teammates...)

So the point is, while it's great the networks have the opportunity to air practice, it's not must-see TV. And until the networks can figure out a way to make it consistently visually and audially interesting to someone sitting on the couch, I'm fine with the way it currently is.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that you both are believing that in 2008 cable TV is driving the bus. Nothing could be further from the truth.

But you've given no indication otherwise. If it's not the truth, what is the truth? Glenc1's thoughts and speculation about the situation are fairly right on, in my view.

In your original column and past columns you seem fixed on the point that ESPN and SPEED aren't carrying the practices. Those are cable channels last time I checked. So if these cable channels aren't important and driving the bus, what difference does it make if they carry practices? Why write about it? You said

The missing piece of the Thursday puzzle is television.

If TV isn't driving the bus, then take the practices straight to online and mobile content, without announcers, and then no one will have to worry if they're on the TV airwaves.

Rise above the concerns that are upsetting you and think big picture.

I'm not the least bit upset about practices not airing live (or at all) because I DO know the ad market and the big picture. I'm just puzzled why it has been the complaint so frequently the past few weeks when ESPN2 is making it very clear it has no interest in carrying most Nationwide practices or qualifying, at least while they're not carrying the Cup series. I'd guess they have their reasons (ratings, revenue, expenses) for that decision. Big picture, NASCAR practices are not high priority for TV. Whether they were in the past is immaterial.

glenc1 said...

I won't belabor the point (thank you anon 1:25), but in my limited business knowledge--a business doesn't do anything unless it's somehow monetarily advantageous for them to do so. I once worked for a retail company that had a flagship building full of history. It was costing the company millions to keep it open--when we closed it, the community hated us. They cared about tradition, and the outpouring was heartwarming--but it didn't pay the bills. Selfishly on my part, I would like to see as much programming as possible, but I try and be realistic about how that can feasibly be done.

I have limited speed DSL and can't watch things online without 'choppiness'. And I think a lot of NASCAR fans don't even have that, but it would at least be something to appease the fans who do, it's a good idea. But again, it would have to have enough use to pay for itself in some way.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Your comment about lack of broadband is a key to this discussion. The current broadband technology is quickly bypassing cable TV and moving video content directly to the end-user with the network middleman.

That is one reason the cable TV companies are crazy to get their broadband into your house.

Other than HD, there is simply not too much missing, especially when many desk tops can now feed a big screen as a monitor.

We have seen the DIRT and NASCAR and F-1 Series embrace live broadband presentations of racing and we can only expect this to grow.

If one sponsor like Bud or Office Depot steps-up, it might be interesting to see them take all the non-televised practices and stick them on NASCAR.com for next season.


Anonymous said...

Like I said before. In the TV contract it does not state "ESPN AND SPEED WILL CARRY EVERY NATIONWIDE AND CUP SERIES PRACTICE."

I don't know where you guys think that the networks are going to be carrying every practice session every weekend. Its not possible.

Anonymous said...

ESPN and SPEED aren't non-profit public television networks. They are businesses wanting to make money, and lots of it. If there was a market to air practice sessions on a general sports network, ESPN would pick them up. If there was a market to air them on a specialty network, I have no doubt SPEED would spend the production money to have everything in place when the N-Wide haulers arrive.

The fact remains that neither ESPN nor SPEED feel that carrying every practice session from a LONG 10 month NASCAR season is a worthwhile investment.

There may be a small contingent of NASCAR diehards that want this content, but if a specialty network like SPEED doesn't want to air all the practice sessions, then there just isn't a business case to carry them.

Throwing them on the Internet isn't a panacea in itself. Check out Mark Cuban's latest blog entry (blogmaverick.com) for his take on streaming video content. The production costs aren't any cheaper, though its much harder to generate the revenue to cover those costs for a variety of reasons. Again, the problem isn't the lack of a delivery medium. If SPEED or ESPN wanted to find the airtime, they'd do it in a heartbeat. You already stated the current programming, at least in your opinion, is rather light. It all boils down to the lack of demand.

stricklinfan82 said...

Anonymous said...
Like I said before. In the TV contract it does not state "ESPN AND SPEED WILL CARRY EVERY NATIONWIDE AND CUP SERIES PRACTICE."

I don't know where you guys think that the networks are going to be carrying every practice session every weekend. Its not possible.

May 7, 2008 7:20 PM

Sir or ma'am, what we are doing is simply stating that we would like to see these TV blackouts of select practice and qualifying sessions removed.

No one is accusing ESPN or Speed of violating the terms of their contract. And no one is saying that ESPN or Speed are not justified in not covering these sessions, for financial reasons, ratings reasons, or whatever the circumstances may be.

We are merely expressing that there is an interest on our parts to have an outlet for these currently untelevised sessions. I suggested an all-NASCAR channel, someone else suggested NASCAR.com, and I'm sure many others have their own ideas.

You may not care for qualifying and/or practice sessions and find them "boring". You are certainly entitled to your own personal taste. But I hope you can respect the fact that others feel differently.

We are not "wrong" for having a desire to see these sessions on TV and there is nothing unrealistic or impossible about adding coverage of these events in some way, shape, or form.

TV coverage of NASCAR is an evolutionary process.

People laughed at the thought of a 500-mile Cup race being televised live and flag-to-flag. That laughter stopped in 1979. People laughed at the thought of the entire Cup schedule being televised. That laughter stopped in 1986. People laughed at the thought of the entire Cup schedule being televised flag-to-flag. That laughter stopped in 1989. People laughed at the thought of the entire Cup schedule being televised live. That laughter stopped in 1994. And people laughed at the thought of Cup qualifying being televised every week. That laughter was silenced in 2001.

On this date you are laughing at the thought of every Cup and Nationwide practice and qualifying session being televised. But someday that laughter will stop as well, when NASCAR TV takes the next step in its evolutionary process.

Nothing is impossible or unrealistic.

Anonymous said...

stricklinfan82 said... On this date you are laughing at the thought of every Cup and Nationwide practice and qualifying session being televised. But someday that laughter will stop as well, when NASCAR TV takes the next step in its evolutionary process.

Daly Planet Editor said... These practice sessions were on-the-air back when TNN has this TV package. Things have not progressed, they have gone backwards....

Stricklinfan, You can't have it both ways! I guess the only people that were laughing where the executives in charge of the recent TV contracts when a suggestion was made to air all practice sessions live. TNN tried it, and after a careful evaulation, nobody felt it was worth while to follow them up on it. Its been done already, and there are some very good reasons why it hasn't been repeated.

Anonymous said...

I'm ticked at DISH network for not having Hi-Def. I probably will not watch the Winston this year.

Anonymous said...

@glen--thanks for the info!

I agree with strckinfan that the fans are hungrier for this information then they might have been when TNN was doing it. No, not every fan will tune in to *every* thing but for those of us who *do* want to watch as much as we can, it would be nice to have the choice.

Sure it might flop, but it would be nice to give us "new" fans a chance.

Anonymous said...

Operating profit at the cable division that includes ESPN and the Disney Channel rose 14 percent to $1.09 billion as pay- television operators paid higher fees to the company to carry its channels. Sales gained 9.3 percent to $2.11 billion.


Anonymous said...

Operating income at the television unit rose to $419 million on a 15 percent jump in sales to $1.8 billion. Cable network sales gained 27 percent to $1.27 billion on higher fees collected by Fox News, while operating income jumped 17 percent to $330 million.

News Corp. today reaffirmed its projection that operating income will rise about 15 percent this year.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I have wondered why there is no televised practice on either speed or espn2. I do believe that Speed does a better job, but question why ESPN even bothers with NASCAR. I agree with Mary who says ALL NASCAR programming should be on speed the entire season. I am not looking forward to TNT and ESPN2 for the Cup races, it is bad enough for Nationwide.

Thanks for having this blog. I know that they are being read by those who make the BIG decisions.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Well, it certainly turned out that this six hour period was one of the most memorable in recent NASCAR history in terms of practice sessions for both series.

Again, the technology to bring life to full-speed on-track sessions exists for a low cost. What fans missed at Darlington, on the first day of practice with the new pavement will never happen again. It is gone and that is a shame.