Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NASCAR TV Partners About To Be Put To The Test

Each season about this time there seems to be several balls in-the-air when it comes to NASCAR and big news stories.

Even as the elation of Dale Earnhardt Junior finally winning mixes with the sadness of Richard Petty selling-out, there is a feeling that perhaps something else is about to happen.

It is not going to be at the track, it is not going to be about the COT and it is not going to involve driver changes or cheating. What it is going to involve is a group of people who rarely visit the NASCAR world. When they do, things seem to get turned upside-down in a hurry. The mainstream news media is about to invade NASCAR.

NASCAR has a traveling press corp that everyone knows all too well. Some of the writers have even bigger profiles because of their TV and radio appearances. On the whole, they are a well-behaved bunch who know the rules and play by them. None of that can be said for the mainstream media that Americans watch tear people apart each and every day.

The cable news networks have 24 hours-a-day to fill and they will be happy to exploit every issue to the maximum. Tabloid shows will use any means necessary to embarrass and expose every seedy detail of a story. Even local TV stations will be happy to play a video on-the-air if it is sensational enough.

In today's world, the tail truly wags the dog where news is concerned. The Internet is finishing the process of killing-off newspapers as we know them and is about to do the same to local TV news before setting its sights on the cable TV news networks.

Who among us does not turn to the Internet first for news and video? It lurks there with no time constraints and no censorship, just waiting to be viewed. Regardless of the category, everything that can be captured on video or written about in a sensational manner is at the fingertips of every computer user.

Since Mauricia Grant filed her civil lawsuit against NASCAR, we have seen the coverage reflected in the industry publications, Internet sites and TV programs. All of these NASCAR-related companies have been diplomatic in their tone and the TV networks have gone out of their way to speak in factual terms about this issue.

In just a short time, all that will change. The sound you hear is the wave that is forming just outside the NASCAR community and is about to hit the beach with a force that will change the sport forever. Just how much damage will be done and how long it takes the sport to recover is going to depend on one thing. That is the NASCAR TV partners.

While the reporters in the Infield Media Center are busy pounding on their laptops, it is SPEED, TNT and ESPN that now directly invade the homes of Americans on a regular basis where NASCAR is concerned. In this case, the focus is going to be on ESPN and SPEED.

While TNT has a couple of Sprint Cup races, that network's agenda is to promote their Turner-related products and TV shows and then go away. Since the network does not televise qualifying or practice, the impact of TNT is felt on race days only.

It is going to up to SPEED and ESPN to handle the Grant lawsuit and deal directly with NASCAR as it goes forward. Originally, the idea was for Brian France to make his recent comments and then close the news door. As most of us know, that philosophy is not going to work.

The public now has Internet access to Grant's voice on the phone talking about the issue (video link on right). There is also an interview with her lawyer that takes direct aim at the credibility of the sanctioning body in no uncertain terms. On Wednesday, it was Grant herself finally giving an exclusive interview to Sports Illustrated.

Can you see how this release of information is slowly ramping-up in the media? Nicole Manske on Wednesday's NASCAR Now said once again that Grant and her attorney had turned-down another interview request from ESPN. SPEED read the official statements involved from both parties, but does not offer a true NASCAR news program of any type.

When we next see Mauricia Grant, it may well be on 60 Minutes or Larry King Live or Dateline. She should be appearing on ESPN's Outside the Lines or sitting down with SPEED's Wendy Venturini on her Real Deal segment for RaceDay.

If the NASCAR TV partners work to put the reality of this story into perspective, the wave will hit the beach with much less force. This lawsuit is about the Nationwide Series alone. There is no connection to or allegations about the Cup or Truck Series officials. In the mainstream media, this lawsuit has been sold to the public as a blanket condemnation of the sport as a whole.

ESPN has prided itself on having top reporters like Ryan McGee, Marty Smith and David Newton who have handled tough stories about the sport before. McGee's interview of Aaron Fike threw the sport into a tempest and caused NASCAR to appoint a commission to consider a new drug testing policy.

Where is the Worldwide Leader in Sports where this lawsuit is concerned? How many times since NASCAR Now began have we seen a reporter who tells us that ESPN has exclusive breaking news? Wednesday, the Grant lawsuit was not even on the NASCAR front page at the ESPN website.

Sooner or later, Grant will be doing a television interview. Her single print and Internet interview was with Sports Illustrated, a company whose website is a CNN partner. If Grant and her attorney show-up on Larry King Live and offer the same racial and sexist allegations already seen in print, it will change the media focus and public perception of the sport forever.

Hopefully, both ESPN and SPEED are working hard behind the scenes to bring NASCAR fans more information than "no comment" or "she declined our invitation for an interview." There is no doubt that this single issue is about to put both of these TV networks in a situation they have not encountered in their recent NASCAR history.

Like it or not, all of us are about to watch it play-out over the next several months.

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


Anonymous said...

I'm imagining the day when some public relations person for Nationwide Insurance makes a statement that this is not the kind of behavior the company was signing up to be involved with.

Kyle said...

I doubt there will be any resolution to this before 2010. Unless NASCAR settles, but $225 million is too much to even remotely consider in a settlement.

If NASCAR has even a half way competent legal team, they will drag this out as long as humanly possible (2-5 yeas) before even offering a small token $5 mil.

Anonymous said...

If you are this woman or her attorney, why would you go on SPEED or ESPN where people with actual racing knowledge exist? Her best shot to win public support is to go on a show where she can say "NASCAR is bunch of racist, sexist bigots" without any challenge to the reality of the sport. A reporter from ESPN or SPEED, especially a Wendy Venturini or Nicole Mansky, would confront her on her alligations with the reality of the garage. And I don't think this woman wants that.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:21PM,

The silence from Nationwide itself is deafening.


It is going to be up to ESPN to sell itself as the best location for her to speak to the real issues.

In her phone call, it sounded a lot more like she wanted the problem fixed and her job back than she got in this mix for the money.

It sure is going to be interesting to see what TV network ultimately uncovers the truth.


Anonymous said...

look for Ms. Grant to appear on Ophra...............

LuckyForward said...

Why won't you hear about the Grant case from a NASCAR broadcast provider? Because NASCAR broadcast providers NEVER criticize NASCAR for ANYTHING. The same power that Helton and France brought to bear on the drivers about their comments has quietly, and in the background, long been the norm for those who broadcast NASCAR.

It may be intuited that if NASCAR does not like what you say, you might not get a contract renewal.

Thus, Ms. Grant well may pop up first on "60 Minutes" or "Larry King Live" or even "Oprah" because NASCAR broadcast partners "quake in their boots" at the thought of making France and Helton angry.

Ritchie said...

I agree with Mr. Daly with regards to NASCAR's handling of this case. They really need to be doing more to control the news cycles. Either that or get this case settled immediately.

If what she claims happened really did happen, she deserves to be compensated. However, it doesn't even matter if it is true or not anymore. There is a segment of the media that would love to take hold of NASCAR and suck the life out of it. Now is their opportunity.

Then again, I have always heard that being an insider in NASCAR is similar to joining a college fraternity. So, if that type of behavior really is prevalent in parts of NASCAR, then maybe they deserve what's coming.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed this blog and comment area since I found it last year, but I'm quickly losing interest due to this issue. Evidently I don't belong here because I don't feel strongly about this issue, or should I say, I don't have the politically correction reaction that is required to keep my posts from getting deleted.

GinaV24 said...

It will be interesting to see how this plays out because as JD says, if Grant and her attorney winds up on 60 minutes, dateline or Larry King, NASCAR is going to have a larger problem than they have ever had to deal with and one that they can't "squash" by threats to the various NASCAR related news outlets. Plus, the sponsorship issues are going to come into play and that may open another whol can of worms. We certainly don't have a lot of the facts here other than what is in the lawsuit, but I'm betting that France and Helton are in way over their heads with this issue. The heavy handed attitude of "you will only say what we want you to say" isn't going to work on this stage. Sorry that Anon 8:38 isn't interested in discussing the issue considering the long term effect it could have on the sport, but to each their own.

Anonymous said...

Why won't you hear about the Grant case from a NASCAR broadcast provider? Because NASCAR broadcast providers NEVER criticize NASCAR for ANYTHING.
Exactly. They PAY for the rights, then act as if they're being given a gift that could be taken away.

Anonymous said...


I love your references to CNN. LOL

Wait until this gets on the #1 Cable News Channel......Fox News.

Larry King ALive! LOL

Bill O'Reilly and Brian France. That could potentially be a pay per view. France would look worse than he did in Michigan.

Let's stop kidding ourselves. CNN is the IRL of Cable News.


Anonymous said...

In a strange way this reminds me a bit of the Evernham/Crocker saga. Ray was playing by the old rules, where boys will be boys and you could screw around and the garage would protect your secret. I think he was unprepared for the internet and how information spreads. Evernham threatened Nascar beat reporters with removing access to interviews with Kahne if they broached the subject of him sleeping with his underperforming driver. He thought he could contain the info and in the old days, he probably could have.

I think the France family (and who ever is advising them) was guilty of this old style of thinking. Now, you can circumvent the old media and get to the public.

As for this case, she's not damning the whole industry, all lawsuits get filed with the kitchen sink approach and then you negotiate back to reality from there.

Anonymous said...

"NASCAR has a traveling press corp that everyone knows all too well. Some of the writers have even bigger profiles because of their TV and radio appearances.On the whole, they are a well-behaved bunch who know the rules and play by them."

Isn't that part of the problem? SPEED and NASCAR on ESPN play by NASCAR's rules, not traditional broadcast sports journalism rules. They're reluctant to investigate this story or any other controversy because they're scared of NASCAR top brass. Most of those stories simply die out because they refuse to examine them on a detailed level. But this one seems to have some staying power, and as stated by posters above, that's why the story will be told in the mainstream.

"This lawsuit is about the Nationwide Series alone. There is no connection to or allegations about the Cup or Truck Series officials. In the mainstream media, this lawsuit has been sold to the public as a blanket condemnation of the sport as a whole. "

I don't think this is an inaccurate statement. All of the series are interconnected. Officials are often promoted from Truck to Nationwide to Cup. Later in their careers, by personal choice or if there are issues with performance at Cup level, some move down from Cup to Nationwide or to Truck. (Same as drivers.) These officials in each series, especially NW and Cup, work together on a regular basis. They mostly live in the same areas and work at the same tracks on most weekends.

Teams are the same way. If a pit crew guy does well on a Truck or NW team, they move to Cup. Same with crew chiefs. It's not like Cup is dealing with a completely different pool of people, with different attitudes and thoughts just because they're in Cup. It's not as if they have no connection with the NW series and just applied to work in Cup without ever being in or familiar with the other series.

It's all homegrown, in Daytona and mostly, in NC. It would be silly to think the prevailing attitudes (whatever they are) are utterly different in the Truck and Cup series than in NW. There's no way the media is going to point out this is a NW series issue only, when there's no way to show that it is, and it's very likely it isn't. It's a NASCAR issue because they hire and manage officials for all series. Plus the majority of people don't even realize NASCAR has three major series because the same people compete in all of them. NaSCAR doesn't bother to separate them, why should the public?

By the way, you may remember a TV interview with Dale Jr from a few years back (I have it on tape) when asked about likes and dislikes and he said he doesn't like people making negative racial comments around him. He's in Cup, isn't he? It would be reasonable to believe if Dale Jr made that comment on TV and he spends most of his time in a NASCAR Cup environment, there may be a similar issue there.

Anonymous said...

I think Ritchie & LuckyForward have it right. We'll never get objective coverage (though we don't get that from the big news networks either) from the NASCAR coverage people. Too much fear & threatening environment. And I get the feeling Ritchie's last paragraph might be right on the money. It's a different world with the media and they haven't figured that out yet. And all the big TV news networks, cable and broadcast are owned/controlled by huge corporations who have their own interests at heart--kinda like NASCAR, and they cover issues with that in mind. I think print coverage will be the only place for real news--but then, I find that true for most issues.

But once in a while on ESPN Outside the Lines or one of those type shows, you do catch some piece that really does try and see both sides. Most of the time, though, I am left with more questions than answers. But If they try, they will be treading *very* carefully...

Anonymous said...

It is shocking that it has taken so long for an issue like this to be on the brink of hitting major media...the "sport" is laced with a HUGE number of dim, racially biased and sexist miscreants.

Will enough people care enough to enact change? They mave be forced to.

At long last.

Anonymous said...

IMO the "mainstream" media latching onto this lawsuit to the extent mentioned here is not going to happen. NASCAR is not seen as mainstream and the coverage of the lawsuit I've seen has mainly been limited to sports pages and sports columns, where is is getting more coverage than NASCAR usually does.

The other coverage has been a simple news scroll on cable "NASCAR official suing for discrimination" with no added information. This is not getting coverage like Isiah Thomas and the woman who sued the Knicks. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, LA Times, haven't touched this story other than the basic news summary (the Times has a blog on it today, but not a story). The CNN link on the lawsuit takes you to, which indicates they still see this as a sports story, not a news story.

People just don't care as much BECAUSE it's NASCAR. If the Fike allegations had occurred in another major sport, the media coverage would have been overwhelming. Because it was NASCAR, Fike's story didn't get much coverage outside of the traditional NASCAR media. Which was a shame because using drugs while driving a truck at high speeds seems to be more dangerous than an athlete using a ball or bat under the influence, but that shows how little influence NASCAR has in the mainstream.

It's still considered a niche sport in many quarters, and because of NASCAR's history, this lawsuit is seen neither as surprising...or all that interesting. In some cases it's not even considered a sport. One of the Times' TV critics today ended her review condemning a new primetime TV show by saying she'd rather watch NASCAR (not the NASCAR Sprint Cup series, just NASCAR) than be subjected to this new TV show again.

Anonymous said...

If Oprah does get a hold of this lawsuit and gets an interview with Grant, look out! Can you say "new ball game?" France and Helton have to be thankful Oprah doesn't do her show in the summer and will be in repeats until after Labor Day. If the lawsuit continues for the next year or more, though, Oprah would be an option for Grant.

And it's not that Oprah is anti-NASCAR. She had Kyle Busch on a long time ago, when he won a race (his first?) and he donated the money to hurricane victims.

Vince said...

I have a feeling that NASCAR, France and Helton think that if they don't say anything else on this issue it will quietly go away as far as media coverage goes. They are going to find out they are sadly mistaken. I just did a Google search on Mauricia Grant and got 74,800 hits for her on the Internet. I for one am going to love seeing France getting grilled by the main stream media.

The only thing that surprises me at all about this whole mess is that it took so long to happen. When I first saw women showing up in the pits years ago I knew this was going to happen at some point in time.

The main stream media is not going to differentiate between the Nationwide series and Sprint Cup series. That doesn't mean a thing to them. NASCAR racing is NASCAR racing. So everybody is going to be under the microscope, not just the Nationwide people. If I was a major sponsor in NASCAR right now, I'd be very worried about how the public was going to perceive my involvement in the sport.

If NASCAR, France and Helton just think this one is just going to go away, they are smoking some really good stuff.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that in America you are innocent until proven guilty except by the Media. In the US, the media proclaims your guilty until you prove your innocence, and even after you are found innocent you will still be vilified in the Press.
It is a no win situation, and NASCAR has been lucky to duck this until now.
Once it make main stream, the gates will be open and once again NASCAR and it's fans will be a bunch of Drunk Racist Rednecks.
The only good thing is that we are going to Sonoma this weekend and not Talladega.
I have a feeling that NASCAR will be trotting out a lot of Yuppie sweater wearing wine drinkers in front of the camera this weekend to try and keep the redneck image at bay.

Sophia said...

I don't see Oprah touching this story while in litigation.

She got HAMMERED years ago for making statements about eating beef and mad cow disease connection...when some people were on her show she made some comment "I will never eat a cheeseburger again" which of course she STILL does eat meat.

But allegedly the stock prices for the beef industry tumbled and she had a HUGE lawsuit against her for MONTHS in Texas. That's where she met Dr. I don't see her jumping on the band wagon to TRY to take sides until this is over.

She's been there and done that with lawsuits. Not fun.

I do agree her show has power but in some cases that really bothers me but that's another story for another place. :-)

Anonymous said...

With all of the media presence in the race track garages, it is hard for me to believe that they didn't jump on this when it was happening. It appears that several things were "said" that would have been within earshot of several reporters.

I would say that there may be some substance to this, but I also believe much of it is just retaliation against NASCAR. Ms. Grant said she was asked about what it was like to be black and other similar questions. It seems to me the opportunity was there to educate folks (who MAY have REALLY wanted to know). If people won't respond to questions about themselves it's difficult to know what their situations are. She could have also responded with "I'd rather not talk about it" and that might have stopped the questions.

I have a great many friends that are minorities (black, hispanic, etc.) and open conversation is the best way for us to understand each other. None of us are always right, and none of us are always wrong, but we respect that we are different and accept that there are some things that none of us are willing to change our views about. That said, we are still very good friends.

Anonymous said...

Nascar has always been considered the illegitimate child of sports. You know it's there, but it's not quite in the mainstream or universally accepted, and Nascar has seemed to like it that way.

But to be honest, I'm very surprised by how little coverage this issue has received, when compared to what's thrown down our throats with regards to the likes of Brangelina and Brittany. When one considers how much sex sells in our culture, you would have to think that an issue such as this lawsuit would be front page in the mainstream media.

What's the reason for this issue being basically ignored? Many reasons, I suspect. Since Nascar is viewed by the intelligencia as something out of the norm, being populated by lower class, beer swilling, Confederate flag flying uneducated rednecks, it's not surprising that you're not seeing the mainstream media jumping all over this. I can hear it now, "Oh hell, it's just those cousin-marrying rednecks.". Another reason could very well be the insular nature of Nascar. We all know it's very much a closed society, rather like the Masons or some other kind of club with passwords and secret handshakes. But I would also surmise that another reason is that we're constantly innundated by things such as this. We hear about the bad behavior of celebrities every day, so perhaps the media feels this isn't all that important.

As a side note, after reading the short blurb on this issue in this week's Sports Illustrated, I cannot at all disagree with Ms Grant's comments regarding Nascar.
"They need to stop hiring ignorant sisters, cousins and uncles and start hiring qualified educated people to work their billion-dollar business. Stop giving Uncle Frank a hookup knowing that he's ignorant". I think that says it all. When you look at Nascar as a whole, even teams and track owners, you see nepotism running rampant. Heck, Bruton Smith fires an icon in Nascar in order to promote his son to that position. Maybe Ms Grant has this one point right. Maybe Nascar needs to open the doors to a new workforce.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Anon 1:15--we aren't here to debate the issue, but the *coverage* of the issue. However, she says she *did* report it--to her supervisor like she's supposed to. If it wasn't properly forwarded to the PTB, I'm sure that situation will be dealt with separately. But that argument is lame anyways--many if not *most* of us would probably choose to live with something like that for a while in our own jobs--to see if things get better, hoping a particular person moves on, because we really need/enjoy the work--any number of reasons. It's part of why I think Brian came across in his interview so poorly; it was a weak argument. People who complain to their bosses always risk getting fired; it's kind of a no brainer. Going through litigation is also not something people should do quickly or without a lot of thought. It's hard to imagine that NASCAR never considered something like this could happen. BTW, I don't think there would be a reporter around when only the officials are left, they have deadlines and flights to catch.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...


Please try to put your comments into a perspective that contains your view of the media and how this story is currently being covered. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Let's be realistic -- there is nothing the mainstream media like better than an African-American-as-a-victim story. The same people who gasp in horror if you dare stereotype a minority will quickly stereotype NASCAR and all its fans and racists and bigots long before the details come out. It's a hypocritical double-standard that's been employed forever.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good comment above about how NASCAR shuts up any and or all news about their sport. I believe if NASCAR was put under the microscope, you'd see many more cover ups that NASCAR has done over the years, especially in their busines practices..Be nice to have good unbias reporting of the NASCAR news..

Anonymous said...

The sound you hear is the wave that is forming just outside the NASCAR community and is about to hit the beach with a force that will change the sport forever. Just how much damage will be done and how long it takes the sport to recover is going to depend on one thing. That is the NASCAR TV partners.

A little too over-dramatic for me John.

Anonymous said...

Because NASCAR is Ms Grant's former employer, I suspect they are somewhat constrained as to what they can say outside of court and, in any event, hopefully are being advised to be careful about public statements.

I suspect the amount of the claim may have been geared to attract media attention - but it is so huge that it might have instead raised questions with some in the media of whether the suit is just for money.

Whether Oprah might get interested is a really intriguing thought as her former (current?) significant other (Steadman Graham) is (was?) involved with a public relations firm out of High Point, NC.

Anonymous said...

This will blow over. This stuff happens in other sports all the time adn no one can remember a few months later and by the time a trial may or may not start, as long as Nascar has kept their hands clean, no one will care then either.

Anonymous said...

It may blow over for a while, but if it goes to court it will be a prominent case.

It took more than a year for the Browne-Sanders harassment lawsuit against Isiah Thomas, the New York Knicks and its ownership to come to trial. People completely forgot about it between the filing and the court proceedings, but it was on the news a lot when the trial finally came around.

Browne-Sanders was awarded 11.6 million dollars from the jury, FYI.

If you want another example about how NASCAR tries to bury its news, the misdemeanor battery charge and lawsuit against Kasey Kahne (for supposedly shoving a security guard to the ground at Homestead) hasn't been mentioned at all - since the very beginning of this season - by anyone (TV or print media). Not a single media member has asked him about it - If they had, someone would have posted a summary of Kasey's comments on a Kasey message board or YouTubed it if it was on TV, as they do with most of his appearances.

Yet online public court records from the county where Kasey was charged list regular updates on the court proceedings in the criminal case.

His fans are (quietly) keeping up with the case more than the media is, apparently. The battery trial was finally set for May 5 of this year but one or both sides were granted a continuance in late April. Think we'll ever hear about this case from NASCAR reporters unless we look for it online? Nope.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:53PM,

Well, the idea was to make it clear that something was building "out there" and that is was going to head to Daytona.

Being a South Florida person, that is the best way I could get my point across.

I certainly would be open to your perspective on just how big you think this issue will be in the end.

Anon 7:02PM,

I really do disagree. If you listened to the phone call on the site link and read the interview, this is not your typical office issue.

She says these guys exposed themselves to her, used racial slurs that can be verified and eventually fired her for complaining. Talk about hot buttons for the mainstream media.

I wish I could agree with you simply for the good of the sport, but I have a feeling this will be a very long summer.


Dot said...

I haven't seen any real coverage on this issue outside of Jayski or links on his site.

I think Ms Grant has brought up some things that should be addressed. The $225 million is excessive, though. Would she make that much in her lifetime? She had to know going in she would work with idiots. And I agree that she had opportunities to educate the "rednecks". Except for the pigs who exposed themselves to her (whole different breed), there is a difference between ignorance and malice.

This will be settled out of court. Regardless, I hope NASCAR has good EPLI coverage.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Check out the story links in the lawsuit post on the main page.

We have an overview of media stories posted on the Internet about this topic.


E-Ticket said...

This is my perspective. If you only take half of what the lawsuits says it is is probably true. I remember Patty Moise in an ARCA race at Daytona after the BUSCH Clash and the scanner was all abuzz. Back then ARCA would let the cup guys run the show for them. I remember hearing that they should tell Red Farmer and all the other drivers they should back off Patty a little bit but not all the way. They said every chance they got she got hit. I could only imagine working on pit road with them... This is the Make or Break deal for NASCAR.. Nationwide basically waited out the lowball offers and won the series for around 10 mill.. The series is in Disarry big time sponsor wise and they took their shot.. I would have a come to some deity meeting with Bri Bri if I was Nationwide. They need to be very scared. The NASCAR media posse is soft pedaling this big time..

Dot said...

JD, I'm reading the lawsuit. Oh my God, is everybody in the garage a racist pig? NASCAR needs to sign up everybody for sensitivity training. I just can't believe in this day and age. It's one thing to think something, but to say it? Good grief.

Anonymous said...

In a perfect world, there would be ONE media outlet who would report the news in Nascar without any fear or prejudice. I'm so sick and tired of Speed and their shows, and even ESPN to a certain extent, couching their comments so they don't have to worry about recriminations from Nascar or their teams. I'm tired of Mikey Waltrip on TWIN being over the top politically correct---Nascar could sue him and he'd still not have anything negative or controversial to say against Big Brother Nascar. Every decade you'll hear something slightly opinionated on Raceday, but you'll rarely hear the tough issues being discussed. It would be great to have someone like Jim Rome, who doesn't seem to be afraid of anyone, tackle Nascar and it's important issues. But alas, this will never be.

I guess it's that way in all sports. The uneasy marriage between media and sports is a delicate one. Case in point; a few years ago, there was an athlete on one of our professional sports teams who was quite popular with the fans for his athletic ability. There was some quiet rumbling about him, but nothing substantial. But once that guys was traded away, boy did the fangs come out. He was called everything but good by the local media. I guess this just points to the fact that the media, be it print or electronic, must toe the line and kiss the behinds of whatever sport they're covering, or risk losing access. It's a shame, but it's just the way it is.