Monday, May 5, 2008

Story Links: Click On The Title

New Fox Real Time "Ticker" Has Fans Buzzing from 5/5/08
LaJoie And Massaro Have "Roundtable" Fun from 5/5/08
Great Article On The SPEED Stage from 5/5/08
Jimmy Spencer Faces-Off With "Old DW" from 5/4/08
Hunter's TV Comments Needed A Response from 5/4/08
Post Your ARCA TV Comments Here from 5/4/08
Baseball And NASCAR Clash Once Again from 5/3/08
NASCAR TV Partners Snag Sports Emmy Awards from 4/29/08

New Fox Real Time "Ticker" Has Fans Buzzing

It was a tough time for the NASCAR on Fox gang this season in terms of scoring information during the races. The upper third "ticker" that scrolled across the screen was having problems, and was often behind on the scoring.

As the Sprint Cup race at Richmond got underway, the TV crew quietly unleashed their response to the problem. It was a real time "ticker" that gave fans all they wanted and more.

Over on, Mike Joy has written a great column about the changes. You can see it by clicking here. Joy has been a friend of The Daly Planet and was nice enough to do an off-season interview consisting totally of reader questions.

Joy takes the time to put the creation and roll-out of the original Fox "ticker" into perspective. He recounts the initial reaction of horror from some TV viewers.

What Fox has changed is the source of the information. Now, the GPS tracking of each car serves as the source of the new "ticker." The interesting part is that now the information updates several times each lap live on the screen.

Initially, the movement is distracting as the cars change position live on the "ticker" but then it becomes old hat. There is no real problem, and the courage to change this in mid-season should be applauded.

Next week at Darlington, this should be fun to watch. It seems the Fox gang recognized a problem, created a solution and the ultimate winner is the NASCAR TV viewer. Not a bad deal.

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LaJoie And Massaro Have "Rountable" Fun

It was a three person panel on Monday Night for ESPN2's "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now. Host Allen Bestwick has seen a wide variety of personalities as panelists on this show so far this season.

Luckily, after a memorable weekend in Richmond, Bestwick had former NASCAR driver Randy LaJoie and veteran ESPN reporter Mike Massaro with him in the Connecticut studio.

On his previous appearance, LaJoie was somewhat nervous and soft-spoken. For those who know him, those two words are rarely associated with this gregarious and outgoing man. This time, the combination of two familiar faces in Bestwick and Massaro let LaJoie open-up and have fun.

While reviewing the Cup highlights, LaJoie made it clear he believed that Kyle Busch just "sailed it in there" when he hit Dale Earnhardt Jr. and ultimately it was a racing accident. He and Massaro made good points in reference to the post-race comments offered by both Busch and Earnhardt. LaJoie made sure everyone knew that in his opinion race car drivers "have small minds anyway."

It was Richmond winner Clint Bowyer appearing on the show from testing in Charlotte, and once again it was only Bestwick who asked the questions. Perhaps, NASCAR Now will eventually give each panelist the opportunity to ask at least one question. As usual, Bestwick did a solid interview with Bowyer and included a testing question about the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

It continues to be amazing that in almost every key video highlight this season it has been the exciting radio calls of MRN and PRN describing the action. On this Monday, MRN called the incident between Busch and Earnhardt Jr. during the outstanding edited feature recapping the Sprint Cup race from Richmond.

After this feature, the panel continued with an overview of the big multi-car accident in the race. LaJoie was clear in his evaluation that higher speeds at short tracks were going to continue to result in bigger accidents than fans are used to seeing.

In talking about the issues of Jeff Gordon, Massaro recapped the struggle from the back of the pack to a top ten finish as almost a victory for this team. Bestwick framed this effort as what can perhaps separate those teams who are champions from those still focused on individual wins. LaJoie added that Gordon was "a good shoe" as well.

It was a live report from the Lowe's Motor Speedway offered by Shannon Spake that gave viewers fresh "soundbites" from both Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was a very nice round-up of the events from Richmond that included mature drivers talking in conciliatory terms.

Spake talked about the added COT test at Lowe's and relayed that the same teams already dialed-in with the COT on the mile-and-a-half tracks were just getting better while the struggling teams were finally getting a handle on things. The entire panel reacted to the Hendrick Motorsports COT issues with LaJoie reminding everyone that Junior was the best Hendrick car right now, and that was a surprise.

The Nationwide recap was solid, and replayed Hamlin's comments describing this as his biggest win ever. The tire issue was key, and LaJoie did his best to explain why Harvick stayed out and ultimately lost the race. Pit strategy was almost a "no win" for Harvick and his team.

Bestwick took a moment to sum-up the brief scuffle between Kyle Busch and Steven Wallace after the race. These two might be the most opposite personalities in the Nationwide Series, and Wallace came away as a very distinct personality who may be coming into his own at last.

In previewing Darlington, LaJoie reminded fans that fast racing is not necessarily the best racing. Since Darlington was made for cars to go 150 mph and some teams in testing exceeded 200, it was going to be a very different race than ever before.

Last season, LaJoie was a substitute analyst for several ESPN races and was a big hit with the fans. His sense of humor and easy-going nature worked well with Allen Bestwick, as it did on Monday's NASCAR Now. ESPN has indicated that LaJoie will be seen on-the-air in several NASCAR roles this season, and his continuing presence is exactly what the network needs to continue to build their NASCAR credibility.

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Great Article On The SPEED Stage

There is a great article up today from Kim Roberson over at Insider Racing News. She explains the inner workings of The SPEED Stage.

Here is the link to the story, which Daly Planet readers should enjoy. This is a very well-written explanation of what TV viewers see every weekend when SPEED is on the road.

Please make sure to drop Kim a line if you like the article. If you have any additional questions or comments, you can add them below. Thanks.

Program Notes: "NASCAR Now" And ESPN2 In Darlington

Just a couple of quick program notes about Monday's NASCAR Now and ESPN2's coverage of the Nationwide Series race from Darlington.

It will be Randy LaJoie and Mike Massaro that will join Allen Bestwick for a three man panel on Monday night. This "roundtable" format has worked well for NASCAR Now, and these three have personalities that might make the show a lot of fun.

When ESPN2 hits the air from Darlington with the Friday Nationwide Series race, there will once again be no Dale Jarrett. It will be Rusty Wallace sitting in on the pre-race show with Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty. Wallace will then join Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth to call the action with Andy Petree.

The coverage starts at 7PM with NASCAR Countdown. On pit road will be Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center, and Matt Kenseth will be the in-race reporter.

Keep an eye on this week, as there will be an article explaining the brand new "ticker" that fans saw in Richmond. That new innovation is certainly a welcome change from the old technology that burdened Fox earlier this season. When the story appears, The Daly Planet will provide a direct link.

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Michael Waltrip On SPEED Monday Night

The three hours of NASCAR-related programming on SPEED went by quickly on Sunday night. Nowhere in that time did viewers see Sprint Cup owner/driver, Craftsman Truck Series analyst and This Week in NASCAR panelist Michael Waltrip.

The SPEED Report, Victory Lane and Wind Tunnel all talked about the Sprint Cup race at Richmond. It was only Victory Lane that took the time to recap the Waltrip vs. Casey Mears moment for viewers, and to get an opinion from Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace.

One key person missing from Bob Dillner's post-race interviews on the show was Waltrip. After losing his cool and purposefully running Mears down the track and into the fence, he had been parked by NASCAR. Dillner managed to get both Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kyle Busch after the race, but apparently Waltrip was unavailable.

Now, Waltrip must put on his "other" hat and sit down for an hour of NASCAR TV with Steve Byrnes and Chad Knaus on Monday night. This will be the first time that Waltrip will be seen on TV after his "moment." It should make for some very interesting on-air situations.

Not only will Waltrip have to answer questions about the incident, he will also have to watch the videotape and try to explain himself. After that challenge is over, he will be facing two big hurdles. He will have to offer comments on Denny Hamlin parking on the track and bringing out a caution, and Kyle Busch losing control and taking out Waltrip's former DEI teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr.

When Kenny Wallace on Victory Lane addressed the Casey Mears issue, he simply said that he believed it was the new seat and the lack of vision in the COT cars that had combined to result in Mears squeezing Waltrip into the wall. That easy-to-understand explanation did not fit-in well with Waltrip's actions after the initial hit.

Perhaps, Waltrip will have seen Wallace and his comments by Monday night. With the way that Waltrip reacted, many feel there must have been more to the situation with Mears. One thing is for sure, Waltrip cannot avoid an answer this time.

This Week in NASCAR airs on SPEED at 8PM, and it will be up to Byrnes to get things on-track quickly in this episode. In the past, the program has briefly touched on the weekend race and then begun a twenty minute preview of the next event.

The format does not return the program to the "review" portion until the show is almost half-over. This week, in light of all the events of both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in Richmond, SPEED might consider talking about the present for a long time before sending viewers off into the future once again.

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