Monday, October 20, 2008

Media Notes:
Ford pulls-out of Truck Series, but signs 5 year deal with Roush (
Profile of Jamie Little and Shannon Spake (
Mike Helton answers TV questions (
Darrell Waltrip says The Chase is boring (Orlando Sentinel)
Behind the scenes with ESPN at Martinsville (Roanoke Times)
David Poole talks to Brian France (Charlotte Observer)
SPEED gets into bistro biz at PIR (Carolina Biz Journal)

You can offer a comment on these topics by clicking on the COMMENTS button below. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Car counts seem to be cyclical with the issue of short fields coming up a few years ago. That led to questions about if NASCAR's TV contract with the networks stipulated there had to be a 43-car field. Is that the case?

That's not accurate. We're supposed to have a reasonable field of cars. That's NASCAR's determination as to what a reasonable field is.

John. Not trying to be rude here. But you always seem to mention how the network contracts for nationwide and cup have to have full fields and I always knew something was fishy about that. Mostly since last year there was a few times the then Busch Series had 41 and 42 car fields.

Daly Planet Editor said...

No problem, both the Nationwide Series and Truck Series have been discussed here with regard to the number of "real" teams.

We have never said network TV contracts were for a full field except for the Cup Series under the former TV agreement.

This has been a point debated in the media across the board where Cup is concerned. What does NASCAR have to deliver on the Cup side?

As you know, the Nationwide Series is a mess with "start and park" teams who don't even run to the first pit stop. Of course, they have no pit crews so that makes it tough to refuel. Remember ten teams packing it in when it rained in Montreal?

In terms of the Truck Series, we are watching it die...plain and simple. Even as Mike Helton says no plans to reduce field size the series has Dodge and now Ford gone for 2009.

There is no sponsor for next season and absolutely a total lack of TV coverage outside of the races. It is a total disaster.

In terms of the Cup Series, the wording of the new TV contract has been something up for discussion since it began back in 2007.

Now, Helton says "reasonable" is the key word. That is fine. It should be a good discussion after Daytona in 2009 to see just what that entails.

Currently, there are 25 Cup teams with enough sponsorship for next season according to the traveling press corps. Does that sound reasonable to you?


Anonymous said...

JD - Thank you for the links! It was to say the least an eye opening read. Ford pulling out of the Truck series, wow, you are right we are watching the series die right before our eyes.
Can the N'wide series be far behind? Lack of sponsors is bad when Jr is having a tough time finding one.
BTW is Mike Helton a lawyer? Just wondered since he answered the questions with almost non answers regarding "reasonable field" of cars/trucks.
I'm not a fan of boogitty stuff on Fox. I just admire DW for saying out loud the Chase is boring. Makes me feel better, I thought it was just me, & my irritation at a networks fixation with it.

Thanks again for a great Monday read & all the work you put in here

Photojosh said...

Trucks are screwed, that's for sure.

Start & Park is annoying since there isn't much reason for it but to have a "full field" (whatever that means going forward).

Though I do appreciate people like Stanton Barrett being a second car to the track to use as a sort of "testing" car (since he doesn't have the money to run real tests) and using the start & park money to help finance his real team car. It's been proven over and over that being a small time team, even in nationwide, is a tough row to hoe in today's nascar.

Anonymous said...

And Stanton has put a lot of his own money working as a stuntman into his team. So with whatever he does get from races/sponsors, he's also putting his own funds in there. While he's no where near a consistent mid-packer, he's definitely trying to do what he can with what he has.

majorshouse said...

I think we are definitely seeing the truck series die especially now that Ford is pulling their factory support and let's face it, this chase thing sucks and it always has and I am not sure what a reasonable field means, but if you have 25 cars that can race, then make a great race out of it and let's get decent tv coverage for the money that is being paid for it and I agree that the chase format has always been a pure bore.

delenn said...

I find a lot of these articles annoying, because of the Nascar point of view. Nascar is still burying its head in the sand. "Helton said he feels NASCAR needs to explain to longtime fans that this is still the NASCAR you fell in love with and allow them to accept all of the most recent changes." No its not. Not even close. WAKE UP NASCAR. Just because Mike Helton says its the same product doesn't make me believe it. LISTEN. Don't just ignore what everyone is saying. LISTEN. And then do something. Without us (the long-time fans) Nascar is nothing. No sponsorships, no money, no jobs. I don't need time to accept the recent changes. They are killing the sport I love.

"France and NASCAR President Mike Helton promised the sport's leadership would focus this year on honoring its history and securing the bonds with longtime fans -- bonds that by many indications might need such nurture." That means do it, not give lip service to it.
That means Rockingham, the Southern 500 on Labor Day. That means minimising cookie cutters. That means a stock car, not a COT. That means dumping the chase. That means ESPN producing a telecast not a 5 hour promo for Hendricks cars, or a lesson in reading numbers from the side of cars. That means drivers who can get out of the car and express their feelings (verbally or with fists) without a Nascar fine. That means tickets at a price a fan can afford. That means cars look like real cars. That means the Brickyard 400... Do I need to add any more?

France and Helton have got Nascar into trouble. Will they succeed in getting it out of it again? The odds aren't looking good.

Wisconsin Steve said...

Something tells me Darrell Waltrip would think the Chase was exciting if FOX were broadcasting it.

Photojosh said...

I'm not saying the "Chase" is perfect. But people like to forget that there were boring years under the old system also. Not every championship was a "down to the wire" affair. Plenty of them were decided well before the end of the season.

jamie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
delenn said...

Not every championship was a "down to the wire" affair. Plenty of them were decided well before the end of the season.
Exactly, and that is not a bad thing. This should be a fascinating race between the early winner and the late streak.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Did not understand your comments. Please come back and re-phrase them.


Anonymous said...

I'd much rather see the truck series go away than seeing the US automobile industry waste valuable resoruces, in a time of crisis, leading to their demise, and thousands of their employees out of a job.

Budgets have to be tightened, and racing is a luxury.

ESPN could devote an entire segment of NASCAR Now to the trucks, and that would not change anything about the state of the economy, and its influences on the auto makers.

The truck series was on its way down all along when fans didn't fill the grandstands. No people = no coverage.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:26PM,

I could not disagree with you more. The NCTS has been the best racing of the three NASCAR national series for the last two years (the new TV contract).

This series serves the non-superspeedways and short tracks that are critical to the survival of racing across the nation.

The dive in the stock prices of the American car companies has absolutely nothing to do with the NCTS.

As you may know with the other professional sports, integrating the TV coverage including the preview, review and Internet video is vital to the survival of any sponsor-driven sports organization.

No one understood this better than Bill France. Having a viable NCTS racing a diverse schedule in 2009 should be top priority.


Anonymous said...

I don't think that the chase is boring on its own. I think that the ESPN coverage that focuses only on the 12 chase cars makes for a boring racecast.

If nascar had a 500 lap race at Martinsville starting only 12 cars it would be hard to watch. So,in my opinion it is the focus of the broadcast not the chase concept that is boring.

Frank in Sebring

Anonymous said...

The dive in the stock prices of the American car companies has absolutely nothing to do with the NCTS.

You completely missed my point. The automakers are struggling, and have to make cuts somewhere. The truck series makes perfect sense given its exposure, and relative importance to the other two series. Maybe in your mind, Sprint, Nationwide, and Craftsman series are all peers, but, there is a clear pecking order.

That is EXACTLY what Ford and Dodge have done.

I want Ford to survive, and their workers to be gainfully employed. If that means they need to spend less money in racing, then so be it.

Anonymous said...

I know that this is off topic but it is a fun thought. Did an unpopular Nascar rule actually help JB win the truck race at Martinsville.

Remember a few races back Nascar ruled that the Toyotas had to run a smaller spacer. One that restricts the amount of air entering the engine. Less air means less fuel. The stiochiometric mixture (read perfect mixture is 15 lbs of air to 1 lb of fuel). So,less air less fuel, more mileage.

Don't mean much just a thought...

Frank in Sebring

Anonymous said...


"ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Tums QuikPak 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway earned an overnight rating of 2.9 from Nielsen Media Research, Street & Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports.

The figures is 12.1 percent lower than the 3.3 ABC earned overnight for the Martinsville race in 2007."

It's just as I figured. Talladega is going to be the high point of the Chase in ratings, and from Charlotte on, it's all downhill from here.

darbar said...

Did you all know there's a brand new version of the movie "Clueless" now being written? The new version will star France, Helton, Hunter and Pemberton as four clueless nudniks who try their darnedest to ruin what used to be the most wonderful of auto racing venues.

The complete BS coming out of Helton and France's mouths is beyond anything I've heard a head honcho of a professional sport speak, ever. "We've had all the change we think the sport can stand and needs" is so wrong on many levels. Yes, there have been changes, but quite a few of those changes have not been good for the sport. Cookie cutter tracks, boring Iroc cars with uninteresting racing, declining attendance (why all those "covers" on the grandstands at many tracks?), top 35 and other Nascar welfare has ruined the competition, drivers who only points race for the first 26 races in order to make the Chase equals BORING racing, trying to sell the COT as a competition equalizer, and the increased white bread/corporate licking/boring personality drivers begs major changes to the sport. And don't get me started on ESPN's horrific coverage, which Nascar ignores and fans continue to complain about.

As for Waltrip's comments on the Chase being boring? I agree and I've felt that way since the beginning. Face it, most drivers are only points racing for the first 26 races, so they can secure their spots in the Chase. Jeff Gordon said as much after the second Bristol race and Dale Jr said it right after Daytona. You're not going to see these guys go after each other, racing hard, for fear that crashing will hit their points totals.

As for the Truck series, it has produced the best racing, and most interesting stories this season. These guys are characters, and they race their hearts out, with real wheel to wheel racing. This is how racing should be in the Cup series---guys busting their humps and racing each other hard every week. But with the almighty dollar as king in Nascar, the great racing days of Pearson, Petty, Roberts and the rest died many years ago.

I just laughed my way through the article on Little and Spake. What a bunch of bologna. And since when is Jamie Little a full figured, plus sized woman? Is the author blind? While I am no fan at all of either Spake or Little, to call one plus size is in no way pertinent to this article and their supposed job performance (which IMHO is pathetic).

Dot said...

Boy, are Helton and France out of touch. They can't see the forest for the trees. Here they made all those changes (most of them unpopular) and now they won't make any. Then someone thought to change the Bud Shootout. Good move. Another unpopular change.

Re, the COT. I agree with the safety features, good idea. However, racing them sucks. Why don't they get the crew chiefs together and let them work on them? The info could be shared among the teams so we could see better racing. I won't even go into the TV coverage. Btw, this is not the racing I fell in love with 12 years ago.

I liked what Mike Helton said about making headway. Yeah, heads way up.....

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I'm still trying to find a credible source that confirms and explains Newton's allegations re Ford and the Truck series. Ford does not have a recent history of bright moves, but cutting off support of the one race series that showcases its best selling and most profitable vehicle would seem dumb even for Ford. Regardless of the current economy and gas prices, pickups are not going away - many people actually have real uses for them. To survive and be profitable, car makers must sell product - you can't cut enough expenses to generate a profit.

Anonymous said...

@Dot yup heads way up...
Thats why I asked if Helton was a lawyer. He spoke much said very little & it wasn't relevant to the questions asked which were never directly answered.

Anonymous said...

@Anon 5:09

According to JB (I think), the smaller spacer ia actually less fuel efficient. He wasn't sure that he had enough gas to do a victory lap.

Anonymous said...

The nostalgia expressed by some NASCAR fans is no different than in other sports.

New York has 2 stadium going up. Thousands of the fans are furious with the Yankees, Jets and Giants. The cost to keep your season tickets are tremendous. There have been articles in the paper on folks who have had tickets for 20-45 years and can no longer afford them. Some of the fees for licenses are more than $80K. And these are fees (on top of ticket price) for regular every day people. Guess what? The owner's don't care. It's all about money and they are getting plenty of corporate money to cover the loss of individuals.

All fans, baseball, football, NASCAR, etc. feel they have made the sport. The only thing is that they did not put their money on the line.

The "stars" in al these sports never say, "Hey, I'll take less money." Just look at the purses. I can see the top drivers like Jimmie J and Jeff Gordon, but drivers who are 30-35 in the standings have their own planes and boats and take exotic vacations. I bet teen Joey Logano is a millionaire already.

It's all about the money. You cannot put the Jeannie back in the bottle.

Sophia said...

"Helton said he feels NASCAR needs to explain to longtime fans that this is still the NASCAR you fell in love with and allow them to accept all of the most recent changes."


What another example of NASCAR thinking their stupidity will have us drinking their Kool Aid. NOTHING could be further from the truth. Yes there have always been changes in the racing rules but this COT is a mess. Safer yes but more expensive? yes? Impossible to drive? almost, yes.

This is why I no longer will SIT for 4 hours WATCHING PUTRID coverage on tv. I can check here during the race for more info than the tv.

I am no longer hitting jayski twice a day or even daily!

I'd rather just keep up on the gossip and the facts and what's going on with the drivers. And the post race shows of SR, VL and WT to keep up with all forms of racing.

Truck racing IS the best RACING and that stinking France family has the money to HELP BAIL THEM OUT imo.

thanks for all the links, JD. Appreciate all the work you have added to the site this year.

Anonymous said...

I think the Truck Series is gone.

As far as the economic situation, immediate and future, my wife and I are cutting back. We are not in a dire situation by no means, but we sat down and did some cutting. My main cut was the $1,000 I spend between two race at MIS (camping for the week, tickets, food, etc.). Next year is going to be an "eye opener". You thought there were empty seats this year?

I know that I will be able to go down for a day and get a ticket for half price.......if my budget allows.


Vicky D said...

If the sponsors start cutting back, I wonder if the owners are asking their drivers to take a pay cut to help the team? That would be the first thing to start saving money. Testing less would be next, but then only a couple of teams could probably keep up the pace of this year. Do Helton & France actually think old fans are happy with the "new" Nascar?

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up about the Monday NASCAR TV shows. Thanks.


stricklinfan82 said...

One of the linked stories said....

ESPN wants to appeal to more than just the die-hard NASCAR fan, so the race telecast will also include features on the drivers and taped sound bites from them.

It would seem to me that ESPN's "ignore the track" strategy referenced there is failing miserably. This lack-of-coverage style has driven many "die-hard NASCAR fans" to Hotpass, MRN Radio, and Internet sites for actual race coverage, and the "casual fan" is clearly not intrigued enough by Chase drivers filling the screen with calm pre-taped conversations or the live racing being interrupted with highlights of races from years gone by to stay tuned in.

Jayski has a great TV ratings breakdown on his site that I think everyone should read for some perspective on this subject.

Taking away the races that aren't "apples to apples comparisons" (races run on different days of the week in different years, races with long rain delays, races that had network shifts, etc.) - California (1), Darlington, Richmond (1), Dover (1), Pocono (1), Chicago, Michigan (2), Richmond (2), Kansas - look at the Cup TV ratings for 2008 vs. 2007:

Fox: 6 races UP, 1 race DOWN, 2 races EVEN

Speed Channel: 2 races UP

TNT: 3 races UP, 1 race DOWN

ESPN/ABC: 2 races UP (only the first race on each network, when fans didn't yet know what "2008 ESPN normal mode" and "2008 ESPN Chase Mode" were about to have in store), 5 races DOWN, 2 races EVEN

People can blame the CoT all they want for ESPN's ratings being down, but the CoT was still there when Fox, Speed, and TNT had their ratings improvements earlier this year. In fact the racing has been much better, in my opinion, during the ESPN portion of the schedule. The fall Richmond, Loudon, Dover, Kansas, and Talladega races all had very exciting finishes. People can blame the NFL all they want for ESPN's problems as well, but remember the NFL was still there on all these fall race weekends in 2007 as well.

When the on-track product has been basically the same throughout 2008 (if not actually better during ESPN's portion), and the other 3 TV networks saw their TV ratings rise while ESPN is seeing theirs fall, I don't think the network needs to look any further than the mirror in front of them for the cause.

It seems to me that all fans - NASCAR fans and "casual fans" alike - have sent a message loud and clear that they are not interested in ESPN's ignore-the-track approach to covering NASCAR.

Tracy said...

Richard in N.C. - I agree, it's completely idiotic for Ford to pull out of truck racing, when the Ford truck has been around for working men for generations. My husband drives a pickup, always has, always will, and believe me, he won't buy another Ford if they're showing so little support for their own product.

Truck racing is simply the best out there. You see it all - wily veterans, youngsters anxious to make their marks, just plain old-fashioned racin'. I saw Dario Franchitti punted aside at Martinsville in the truck race last year, when he was clogging up the veterans, and I thought "hmmm, he ain't gonna make it in Cup." Guess what.

If only Speed could step in and give this series a visible, viable boost, this late in the season. If wishes were horses. . .