Saturday, June 14, 2008

Pre-Race TV Shows Face New Scrutiny


Sunday should bring an interesting mix of NASCAR TV programming to fans long before the first engines are fired. During the TNT stretch of the Sprint Cup season, there are actually four-and-a-half hours of live pre-race shows on three networks.

NASCAR Now on ESPN kicks-off the festivities from the ESPN studios in Connecticut at 10AM Eastern Time. Either Ryan Burr or Nicole Manske hosts this program, which uses reporters and the ESPN race announcers at the track to provide news and commentary.

ESPN has been very straightforward in speaking about the discrimination lawsuit currently in the NASCAR news. On both Friday's NASCAR Now and on the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show Saturday night the current facts about the topic were presented and various personalities offered concise comments. The information was also presented on SportsCenter and ESPNEWS.

This article by ESPN's David Newton really fans the flames and perhaps Kyle Petty might like to re-think some of his comments. It is especially ironic that Petty is quoted, after he recently finished the thirty minute Tradin' Paint program on SPEED without ever mentioning a word about the lawsuit issue. The topic was never raised. Newton should be on NASCAR Now Sunday.

Next-up for fans will be RaceDay on SPEED at 10:30AM. This network has avoided the lawsuit topic like the plague this weekend, but often Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace are rather outspoken on controversial topics. Normally, Wendy Venturini handles the news stories, but the lawsuit is strictly about the Nationwide Series which is carried on ESPN.

It should be interesting to see just how SPEED and the NASCAR Media Group which produces the program choose to address this issue. RaceDay is loaded with guests including Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, David Ragan, Kasey Khane and Brian Vickers.

Features in the show include a Harry Gant update, a Petty Enterprises follow-up and a look at fathers and sons involved in NASCAR. Venturini's Real Deal is an interview with Clint Bowyer and his father Chris. John Roberts will host the program as usual with contributions from Hermie Sadler and Rutledge Wood.

RaceDay was moved to not conflict with the next programming block. NASCAR on TNT Live! begins at 12:30PM and runs for one hour. This is the feature-oriented program hosted by TNT's Marc Fein. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds will join Fein on the set and Carl Edwards will stop by for an interview.

The Pride of NASCAR feature will focus on Ernie Irvan, who almost lost his life in a non-racing crash at MIS. Reporter Ralph Shaheen will get a behind-the-scenes look at Jack Roush's personal garage and the vehicles inside. Wally Dallenbach and Petty will use two COT cars again to show viewers the dynamics of racing at MIS on Wally's World.

Second year TNT reporter Lindsay Czarniak will have a very interesting feature in this show. She is looking this season for off-beat stories that might not normally make it into a race broadcast. Sunday she will be talking with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Washington Redskins player Chris Cooley. These two professional athletes are friends away from the racetrack and the football field.

The final pre-race show is Countdown to Green at 1:30PM for thirty minutes. TNT's Bill Weber hosts this program along with Dallenbach while Petty makes his way up to the booth. Marty Snider and Matt Yocum will be reporting from pit road. The show focuses on the race stories, but this Sunday will also feature Joe Gibbs and focus on his grandson's battle with Leukemia.

Yes, TNT's own Bill Engvall will be on-hand as Grand Marshall and will no doubt make his way into one or both of these programs before giving the command to start engines. That should be a memorable way to finish off four-and-a-half hours of NASCAR TV before the first engine has even started.

This post will serve to host your comments about all three pre-race shows. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

31 comments:

haus20 said...

I think that most of the segments where the former drivers who are now reporters get into cars and drive are pointless.

Fox does this as well and so does Speed and TNT, but I don't think it accomplishes anything that it is intended to accomplish.

IMO

Anonymous said...

The Dale Jr. - Chris Cooley feature could be interesting. Maybe not much of a reach for a local Redskins show co-host to "find" that story

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Nicole Manske covered the lawsuit in a very matter of fact fashion
re stating the facts of the case this time adding the NASCAR N'wide officials names - which ESPN hadn't done (tho' everyone else had) till today. Marty Snider came in with tape and a few details.
And to finish it up she mentioned the fact that neither Ms. Grant nor her attorneys would make themselves available for interviews with ESPN. Very well done again, factual - if you had never heard of the lawsuit till this piece you were given the bare bones outline of it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Good test for Manske. ESPN has really done a pretty good job with this topic.

There is no doubt that Manske got a lot of help in writing that script, but it covered all the bases.

Marty Smith did a good job with the Brian France package. Too bad France did not dress better and sit up straight. This is footage that will be in the trial, if it comes to that point.

Smith is in a tough place, because this is a Nationwide Series issue and he works the Sprint Cup beat. His words about Max Siegel made sense, but offered nothing new.

Nice touch by Manske to make sure everyone knew Grant would not talk to ESPN.

JD

Joan said...

Sorry bout the mix up with Martys its ealy for me. Heck I just realized I was annon. (which I hate) You know thats what was wrong with the France tape he was to casual!

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

ESPN has stepped up to the plate. Very good commentary, the last few days. It keeps the casual informed. Yes Joan I agree w/your comment of 1020am

Anonymous said...

"Smith is in a tough place, because this is a Nationwide Series issue and he works the Sprint Cup beat."

JD, I don't agree with this. Marty covers NASCAR and has for many, many years. He knows everybody and is proud of letting everyone he knows everybody. It's why he's the Lead Reporter on ESPN TV.

It would be one thing if the major league and minor league series for NASCAR were two different entities and played in different cities (like MLB and NFL). Cup and Nationwide are almost interchangeable because so many drivers from Cup compete in Nationwide. It's the norm that the two garages are not open at the same time in the same city. This weekend is a rarity when Cup and Nationwide are in separate cities.

For you or Marty to claim that he isn't familiar with Joe Balash and the Nationwide crew and drivers is not believeable, and sounds like excuse-making for the poor job (IMO) Marty is doing covering this story. Since the Nationwide Series isn't in Michigan this weekend, he should either be working the phones or letting someone else handle the story. You mentioned David Newton should be on NN today based on his espn.com story.

Well, where is he?

Anonymous said...

"It's the norm that the two garages are not open at the same time in the same city."

Correction, should say:
It's the norm that the two garages ARE open at the same time in the same city."

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:48AM,

Great point. What I was trying to indicate that despite the reporters who know NASCAR, it seems that this issue is primarily a legal she said/he said.

Even veterans like Smith are not going to get those involved to comment because of company policy.

Lee Spencer is the only writer/reporter I have seen so far who talked directly about her personal relationship with Grant in a public column.

One big problem is the fact that she worked in the Nationwide Series only, and those officials are not in the forefront like the Cup gang.

I hope that helped a bit to clear-up what I meant. Thanks for the comment.

JD

Anonymous said...

In case you forgot JD, a RACE will actually take place today in Michigan. I hope the pre-race shows discuss that. I don't recall you making such a big deal out of any other lawsuit.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Gotta let you know. I did enjoy the NASCAR Now w/Mike and Rusty. I thought the flow went well this morning.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:58AM,

Trust me, you are still not getting this. It has nothing to do with me. This is huge.

When the headline on The Drudge Report is about NASCAR officials exposing themselves, it is only a matter of time before all hell breaks loose, and he clock is ticking.

Only ESPN has dealt with this issue, and RaceDay and TNT are on the hotseat.

JD

Joan said...

Mike & Rusty were good today with Manske - a really good show. Nicole also mentioned AB will be on Monday in an all Wallace edition of NACAR NOW. Should be interesting.

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

Nice job by RaceDay and Wendy Venturini. Solid report right at the top of the show summing up the issue and playing the Brian France soundbites.

Venturini said SPEED would keep viewers posted and them moved along. Nice job to deal with it and then transition back to the other NASCAR news.

JD

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

Joan,

Mike Wallace could have a pretty good career if he decides to work on his TV skills. He is well-spoken and his experience in all three series works well for the varied topics on NASCAR Now.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:22AM,

If you have a moment, drop me an email at editor@thedalyplanet.tv and I will be happy to follow-up on that issue. Thanks.

JD

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Two down One to go. Very nice Wendy and Raceday. Still going to enjoy the race. Good pre race coverag so far. Real Deal, another good episode. Wendy has a niche w/stories like this. As they have care and feeling and she seem to care and it does show.

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Joan said...

I liked the Wendy report also. I'm really happy with the brevity & facts. This is one of those stories it would be easy to really make tacky and graphic. None of the shows this morning did that. Good job.

Anonymous said...

Whoever the anonymous person was that said Smith is doing a poor job needs to wake up. He's the only one with the guts to talk about it. He spoke to the only prominent black man in the sport. Wendy didn't.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Should be interesting to see what Marty does during the week.

Anonymous said...
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Lou,Kingston,NY said...

No anno 1242pm, ref my comment at 1141am, I plan to still enjoy the race also. Love the respect that in the USA we can express our opinions that so many have fought and died for.

Joan said...

Kyle Petty gave a good explanation of heat build up in the new cars. The TNT show is going well today.They are taking a few fan questions from RaceBuddy (RB) nice.

Anonymous said...

First, the lawsuit is a major deal, Second, until the trial, if there is one, we haven't heard both sides. Yes, the allegations are disturbing, to say the least. However, that's why they hold a trial (or settle), to get both sides. With that said, each of the race shows should make a comment recapping what is known and move on. It is a disservice to both parties for those in NASCAR to speculate or make comments supporting either side. If anyone wants speculation or investigative reporting, I'm sure the cable news networks with their bevy of lawyers will be able to satisfy your need for all the speculation one can handle. Diane

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:42PM,

Please move to another NASCAR blog or message board. This one is always TV-related regardless of whether the coverage is great, mediocre or a mess.

We deal with great stories of happiness and bad stories that test our patience. What you personally want us to do is not going to change the theme of this blog.

If you want to talk about the race, perhaps NASCAR.com or another blog would be a better location for your comments.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

What a positive change in Wally's World from last year.

Good technology as well.

Gymmie said...

@anon 10:58--I agree with Jd in how huge this could be. None of the other previous suits dealt with so much. Even Terry's former motorcoach driver, while there were alleged racial slurs, it still wasn't at the level that Ms. Grant alleges. While I have doubts about a good number of her allegations, it will be interesting to see how it all plays out (FTR, I'm an American who happens to be Black...I don't do that AA crap, but that's another rant).

@joan--yes they mentioned that the Wallace boyz would be on during the N'wide shows. Brad said how Allen wouldn't get a word in edgewise with them on and Allen joked how it would be like a day off :)