Sunday, February 1, 2009

ESPN2's "NASCAR Now" Stepping Into Chaos


Update: Many thanks to ESPN for putting out a media release on Wednesday with additional information on the NASCAR Now series for 2009. This column is now updated at the bottom of the post.

It will be Monday, February 2nd when ESPN2 resumes the almost daily show called NASCAR Now. In 2008, this program series found its legs and became a solid link between the sport and the fans.

NASCAR Now's basic format is to provide a one-hour talk show-style program on Mondays and then four or five daily thirty-minute shows leading up to the race weekend. Before ESPN takes over the Sprint Cup telecasts, there is only a preview version of NASCAR Now on Sunday mornings. During the final 17 Cup races, the network adds a one hour review show on Sunday nights.

This ten month series is a considerable undertaking that began in 2007 with severe growing pains and has now slowly become a show that works well the vast majority of the time. The glaring issue for ESPN2 is that every episode of the program originates from Connecticut.

SPEED has just relocated that network's headquarters to the heart of NASCAR country. Now, the new SPEED HD studios are just a short drive away for the NASCAR personalities. This new access became apparent during the Preseason Thunder series where NASCAR guests were plentiful.

This year, however, all the suggestions that ESPN invest in a Mooresville area studio are being put to rest rather quickly. Tough times are upon the nation and there are new priorities being established almost every day.

It is into this NASCAR environment that Allen Bestwick, Nicole Manske and Mike Massaro must walk. This trio is supported by Lead Reporter Marty Smith and will also make use of the NASCAR on ESPN personalities throughout the year. This is the first season for Massaro as a full-time co-host and the second for Manske.

Bestwick is the captain of this ship and played a role in revamping this series over the last several seasons. At a time when the program was floundering with bad talent choices and poor story selection, Bestwick provided an example of how to put together a straightforward NASCAR news program by simply doing it himself.

Click here for the 2007 TDP column titled "Allen Bestwick Rocks NASCAR Now To Its Core." That certainly was a moment in NASCAR TV to remember.

Now, Bestwick hosts the expanded Monday program simply called the roundtable. Over the past season, guests too numerous to mention have flown to the ESPN2 Connecticut studios and participated in a conversation about the weekend's racing.

ESPN gets credit for stepping-up, admitting some problems and working to fix them. Manske was a big question mark after coming over from SPEED, but she hit the ground running and never looked back. She established herself as a credible, hard-working host and interviewer. She did have some memorable moments in 2008, but the good news was none of them concerned her wardrobe choices or social life.

Massaro was originally a semi-regular guest on the Monday hour shows and something within him just took to the studio right away. This season he and Manske will rotate hosting the shows in the studio and flying out to report from the race tracks. It should be an exciting year for a guy who has seen it all where both ESPN and NASCAR are concerned.

ESPN is famous for big editorial meetings where lots of topics are discussed and on-air stories are selected. Those meetings are not always quiet, but they are usually very interesting. Trying to figure out how to step back into the NASCAR sandbox this season should be a challenge.

The news and issues in this sport never slowed down after the Homestead race last season and are now at a fever pitch as Daytona Speedweek approaches. Fans cruising the Internet for NASCAR news get all kinds of content from a wide variety of websites. Sometimes, it seems almost overwhelming.

The challenge for NASCAR Now is to sort this upcoming season out for the fans by looking at the three national series and speaking the truth. This season more than ever before it will be up to NASCAR Now to provide daily updates on the health of the sport in general.

The growing perception that the Sprint Cup Series superteams are again going to dominate must be discussed openly. The current overall status of both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series for 2009 has never been mentioned by SPEED during two weeks of programming and desperately needs to be put in perspective for fans.

While Bestwick has certainly been a NASCAR favorite for many years, he also has the ability to ask very direct questions of the analysts and reporters on his panel. The task of talking about the health of the sport is going to fall to folks like Dale Jarrett, Ray Evernham, Andy Petree and Rusty Wallace.

Reporters Marty Smith, David Newton and Terry Blount are going to be very busy sorting out the specifics of who is where and what exactly NASCAR is going to be putting on the track for fans in just a couple of weeks.

Update: Allen Bestwick will have Ed Hinton, Marty Smith and Boris Said on the Monday one hour program to kick-off the season at 5PM ET. The series will offer a special report on NASCAR and the economy next week and all shows during that week will be an hour in length. Thanks again to ESPN for the timely release of this information.

Please let us know what you think about the return of NASCAR Now and what you are looking for from this TV series in 2009.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

55 comments:

Anonymous said...

ESPN has the ESPN Regional studios in south Charlotte
where RPM2Night was done.

Daly Planet Editor said...

That is the location where the live shots were done earlier. They are full of college sets and there is no opportunity to move a new program in as of last season.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just so we are square, RPM2Night was done in a little hole-in-the-wall across from the Carowinds theme park originally.

ERT is located in the Ballantyne section of South Charlotte, which is about 40 miles south of the Roush, Hendrick and DEI shops.

JD

Anonymous said...

i just can't wait till racing starts period..then we can watch it unfold all by itself..let the finger pointing too begin at california race..personally i havent watched any of the shows didnt want too after hearing dismal performance on the shows..i even missed dale jr and brad keslowski on friday..i washed my truck that friday

Anonymous said...

The starting time is terrible.
Why would they not start at 7PM
when most working folks are at home

Daly Planet Editor said...

Without an ESPN3 or putting "NASCAR Now" on ESPNEWS, there is no room on ESPN's two event-oriented networks for a daily review show like this.

We had hoped that ESPN would stream the episodes of "NASCAR Now" on the ESPN.com website this season, but Turner Interactive still maintains a NASCAR exclusive over online content.

This means that other than the 5PM and the midnight or later re-airing, only brief snippets of NASCAR Now will be available online.

JD

Anonymous said...

C/p
Manske was a big question mark after coming over from SPEED

I feel she still is a big ? mark.If the telaprompter when out she is lost as her knowledge of NASCAR is well we seen that when she was on SPEED.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:43AM,

Is that the way you felt about how she did in 2008? I can certainly understand that perception after her SPEED Report days.

I kind of thought ESPN did a good job last year of putting her on the spot by making her go out to races to report and interview.

JD

Anonymous said...

As far as the the airtime of Nascar Now: ESPN2 has apparently decided that a second daily airing of ESPN's Around the Horn and Pardon the Interruption (from 6-7 PM) are more important and possibly more watched) that the first showing of NASCAR Now, which when it premiered in 2007 aired daily at 6:30 PM.

Ray Evernham has a fairly extensive interview on NASCAR.com. (and several other websites; apparently he invited the media to tour the new Ray Evernham Enterprises). He once again insists he is an owner of RPM in name only.

What I find more interesting, is that he once again seems to be hinting he'll come back to racing if -and only if- he can work with Rick Hendrick and/or Jeff Gordon. This is the second recent interview I've seen with him about saying if one of those two asked him about working on a team, he would. Guess it's better to work with known successes than unknown folks like the Gilettes.

"Nonetheless, Evernham said he is not done being involved with racing at the Cup level. He said he knows he has "a couple of big projects left inside me." Yet he scoffed at the idea that a return to the top of the pit box as someone's crew chief might ultimately beckon him.
...

He indicated that he would be more likely to help NASCAR if they ask for his assistance in some way with safety or some other initiatives. He also said he would never turn down inquiring phone calls from team owner Rick Hendrick or driver Jeff Gordon, with whom he won three Cup championships as crew chief.

"If [NASCAR president] Mike Helton came to me and said, 'Look, we need you to come up here and help us with NASCAR because it will better the sport,' I would do it. If Jeff Gordon said, 'Look, I'm thinking about retiring in a year or two years and I really want to work together, will you come help Stevie [Letarte, Gordon's crew chief]?' I would consider that. I can tell you Jeff believes in Stevie 100 percent and he should, because I believe in Stevie, too," Evernham said."


Interesting also that this interview didn't talk about his ESPN work at all, except one sentence mentioning he will be an analyst. Is he going to spend his time on ESPN auditioning for a Hendrick job?

Anonymous said...

Could Ray be on ESPN if he worked for NASCAR??? I don't know, I hope not, that would be crazy and make all other conflicts of interest look small. Maybe he is talking about after he is done with ESPN.

JD do you know how long he is signed with ESPN?

boyd said...

Wow,
ESPN will bring us NASCAR news and SPEED has become the water bearer for them.
Kind of puts things in a new perspective.

Anonymous said...

This season more than ever before it will be up to NASCAR Now to provide daily updates on the health of the sport in general

Ick - no thanks.

I'd rather see daily updates of RACING. You know, there will be races happening. And winners of races. And upcoming races to preview. Strategies to dissect. Personalities to comment on.

That is what I want to see. If NASCAR Now turns into the daily health update of NASCAR's economy, I will stop watching.

You see, NASCAR is my entertainment. I want to watch cars going fast and follow my sport. I don't need a daily broadcast reminding me the economy is in the dumper and the health of the sport isn't what it was.

Guess what - all sports are hurting. All industries are hurting. NASCAR Now better focus on the track, the races and the drivers. Leave that "daily updates on the health of the sport" to bloggers.

If you could get a 1-on-1 with Jimmie Johnson after he wins a race, you would run it. You can't, so you write about the health of the sport. Well, ESPN can get JJ after a race when he wins - EVERY TIME. So they run it and they should. I don't want ESPN to broadcast an hour of hand-wringing, or else I'll just tune into This Week in NASCAR instead.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:21PM,

So that is what we have seen for the past two weeks with SPEED, entertainment?

Thanks for sorting that out.

JD

Anonymous said...

JD do you know how long he is signed with ESPN?

I'd like to know too. Evernham sure seems to have a lot of irons in the fire for a person who's cutting back.

Who calls a press conference every year to announce they are cutting back from NASCAR? That would be Ray Evernham. he did it last year too. I'm thinking after this season with ESPN he'll move on back into NASCAR with new funding or a new team, and quit ESPN.

Richard in N.C. said...

Better late than never. I really enjoyed N-NOW last season, but I sure would like to hear an explanation of where EESPN has been as far as NASCAR news since Homestead. I watch some SportsCenter virtually every day and I do not recall hearing anything, at all, about NASCAR after the banquet - but I guess I am confusing EESPN with a news organization. I am looking forward to the resurection of N-NOW though.

Anonymous said...

Again, no matter how many times Evernham says he's just along for the ride with no input, remember he has a Financial interest in the Petty/Gem team. That is what creates the conflict of interest for him as a commentator, his wallet.

Anonymous said...

Jayski has a comprehensive outline of the NN new schedule. It really sounds like they are covering a lot of bases. I look forward to it.

I also don't give Nicole such high marks. I guess for being so new, and having such a thin resume, she's getting better.

I always remember that when she was on SPEED she said that her favorite sport is football, and if she could have her dream job it would be working for the NFL.

It's interesting that she spent a couple of years trying to win beauty contests, and on her last one, she came in dead last on the interview section. Who would have guessed?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Alaways welcome to post comments, but please refrain from posting content from other sites.

There is a link to Jayski on the right side of the main page. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

If NASCAR Now mentions one negative thing about NASCAR, ESPN should be banished from all Cup races they are not broadcasting on any of their own networks.

They have no business airing any dirty laundry or difficult situations the sport may be in. That is one tradition that should be strictly enforced during these times.

Anonymous said...

anon at 12:46, thanks for the mention of the Ray Evernham interviews. There's a billion of them! The best one by far is the one at scenedaily.com by Mike Hembree, in the Sprint Cup section. I've never seen Ray be that detailed and forthcoming. Ever.

Which begs the question, if he did all these interviews yesterday, did he do one with ESPN for airing on a broadcast? Like a Sunday Conversation kind of interview? David Newton has a long article about Ray on the ESPN.com, but since Ray is *THEIR* tv anaylst, shouldn't they get a feature story on him instead of everybody else on the planet? Maybe it would even get on SportsCenter!

I don't understand how all the analyst stuff works in NASCAR with ESPN. David Wells the former Yankee is trying out to be an analyst on ESPN and they made him comment about the new book about Torre and A-Rod and if all of the info was accurate - and he's only on a tryout. ESPN never asks their NASCAR guys much of anything hard-hitting.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of the chaos on Speed, did anybody else have issues watching last nights pre-season thunder? I got 10 seconds of random black screen, the Ryan Newman pre-taped thing and they went off the air 5 minutes early with endless Speed promos afterwards. They were supposed to talk to Larry Mac, but that didn't happen either. Was my DVR messed up or did that happen to everyone else?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:15PM,

That is the way it aired. There is an earlier comment about it. Been a tough season for the SPEED boys so far.

Anon 4:46PM,

I give Evernham lots of credit for getting proactive and stepping-up. He started with his PR piece with Raygan Swan at NASCAR.com and has been on the radio and now in print again about almost all the issues we asked about here at TDP.

Basically, he goes into the ESPN season saying he is totally hands-off at RPM and that he may consider an active NASCAR role again if the right situation came along.

JD

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the quick response JD.

Hopefully ESPN's Nascar Now will be good, I like the variety of panelists for the episode.

Anonymous said...

DalyPlanet Editor,

You have made reference to the fact that you used to work at ESPN. We can assume you no longer do. Since you are so critical of them, how about coming clean on the situation with which you and ESPN parted ways? You are demanding all these disclaimers from commentators - what are your conflicts of interest? Sounds like you have an axe to grind.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:59PM,

What axe are you talking about? If you want to email me, I would be happy to provide you a link to my bio.

You can also Google John+Daly+Insider+Racing+News.

We have been here talking NASCAR TV for over two years now, where ya been?

JD

Anonymous said...

Why do I have to email you to see your bio? Why can't you be open about it with your readers? Would it be acceptable to you if Everham simply emailed the viewers who has questions about his conflicts of interest?

Daly Planet Editor said...

You want me to post my bio in the comments section? I want you to email me so I can send it to you.

Editor@thedalyplanet.tv or just do the Google.

This Google blogspot is a pre-made template, so it limits what we can do. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Funny how when the tables are turned there are all sorts of excuses why you can't make a disclosure of your conflicts of interest. Yet when Everham or some ESPN personality you have an axe to grind with does it, it isn't acceptable and they get called out on your blog for it. How about applying the same standard to yourself that you hold others to?

Jennifer said...

@ Anon 5:15

that happened to me too.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:47PM,

Do black helicopters fly over your house? I work in healthcare in South Florida and have absolultely no connection to any TV network, NASCAR sponsor or anything else connected with the sport.

Nice try though. I hope it made you feel better.

For the record, I left ESPN in 1989 for Prime Network in Houston, TX after ten years of late nights and Dunkin Donuts coffee.

How about if you try to address the issue we are talking about?

Did you notice the thousands of other folks that managed to do that? Let me get this straight, you are too lazy to Google?

Either email me or address the topic my friend.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

Regarding Ray E. & RPM, frequently there can be no more lonely, powerless position to be in than to be a minority investor.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Richard,

It's nice that he talked about it before "NASCAR Now" hit the air on Mondays and the TV season was underway for ESPN.

JD

Daly Planet Editor said...

Google John+Daly+Planet+Insider+Racing+News for an article by Becca and let's try to get back on track.

Thanks,

JD

Dot said...

Why Boris? Is Ricky Craven busy?

I'm late in commenting. I set the DVR for NN next week. 2pm????? Really? At least I can watch it later and ff through the commls. Take that sponsors.

@ Anon 5:15pm, I watched Preseason Thunder and also wondered what happened. Maybe Steve was going to blurt out some truths and the booth guy freaked out.

Anonymous said...

Guess what - all sports are hurting.

Not like NASCAR. They don't have the same business model.

Racing requires sponsors, not just fans in the seats and watching their TVs.

Lack of sponors means fewer competitors to "go fast," something that does not happen in stick-and-ball sports.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so I googled that article you talked about and it called you a 25-year veteran of TV broadcasting, and a media consultant.

So, in fairness, would you please divulge the companies that you are currently consulting for? Are you doing or have you since the blog started done any paid consulting for SPEED or ESPN? I think you owe it to your readers to divulge this potential conflict of interest.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Hilarious. Just hilarious.

Anonymous said...

So you are saying that you have not done any paid consulting for either ESPN or SPEED since you began this blog?

Or are you saying that you refuse to reveal?

tom in dayton said...

To the blogger questioning Daly's background or potential conflicts:

WHO CARES?

This blog administrator has, over the past two years, put together one of the best destinations on the web to go to for information,commentary and education on the media aspects of auto racing.
I take at face value who he says he is, but he could be anyone - but he has knowledge of what he writes and that's good enough for me.
As to bias: of course he has some. So do I. I grew up in SCCA and Indy racing. I know one Cup driver very well and three others almost as well. My home tracks are IMS and Eldora. My stepdaughter lives in Newton, NC, so much of my visits there include spending time at the Speedway Club at Lowes and two raceteam shops nearby.I have my own biases and yet I come to this blog each day to be better educated on a different aspect of racing not only from Daly but also from the many posters here both pro and con.
So, stop in from time to time, post if you want to on the issues presented
or leave and find another group of bloggers more suited to your interests!
(And yes, since I live on the western approach to Wright-Patterson AFB, I get black helicopters, a ton of C5B's, fighters and the 747 Doomsday aircraft passing overhead daily and I'm still okay...I think!)Just my opinion...

Daly Planet Editor said...

Tom,

I have Wayne Huizenga's green and yellow helicopter flying over my Florida house.

ESPN and SPEED use freelancers for TV assignments, not too many consultant types. I am not or have not freelanced for any network.

This little Internet project has been taking up a lot of time over the last two seasons, maybe I should finally sell some ads.

So, my Anon friend, now that you have insulted me, refused to email me, hijacked this comments section and made a fool out of yourself, are you going to talk about the topic now?

JD

Anonymous said...

So, my Anon friend, now that you have insulted me, refused to email me, hijacked this comments section and made a fool out of yourself, are you going to talk about the topic now?

Wow, easy does it. All I did was try and clarify if you had a conflict of interest or not. Talk about killing the messenger. Now I know how Ray EVerham must feel when bloggers ask him to reveal his conflicts of interest. He probably gets all huffy and can't understand why he can't just give his opinion like everyone else, too.

Seriously, JD, think about your reaction to this and the way in which you have attacked Everham for not coming clean. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:35PM,

Find me one sentence where we asked him to reveal anything.

You missed the point and have insulted me time and time again in this comments section.

I deleted your most insulting remarks to me because they were well beyond our guidelines.

The word is "disclosure." You see it every day on business, news and sports TV programs.

Merely by saying "I own 20% of that team" or "I hired that driver" before answering a question on an issue with which one is connected changes everything.

Evernham never hid anything. He just enjoyed two things from ESPN. One, he never disclosed anything in 2008 and secondly they gave him a free pass on tough questions when he was on-air working for the network.

As I mentioned several times before, Evernham has been on a public relations campaign that has addressed exactly these issues.

He has just finished doing exactly what he should have done. Told everyone what he is and is not doing for 2009 and can now walk into ESPN with a clean slate.

Whoever was giving him advice did a great job in the nick of time.

Next time, man-up and email me so we can deal with these issues in private and not tie-up an entire comments section. That is unfair to readers who do not share your problems with me.

A gmail or hotmail address is available free and takes no time at all to set-up.

Have a great day,

JD

Anonymous said...

Oh, puh-leaze. You ran entire columns demanding Evernham reveal this or that at your whim. Why? Because you felt his comments were tinged by a conflict-of-interest.

So it is only logical to ask you, when I sense that your comments are tinged by a conflict-of-interest, to reveal the same things -- information about your past paid relationships that might affect your opinion.

You are the one who got in a huff and viewed it as an attach. And I bet Evernham views your blog posts as an attack, too. But you can't see that.

Anonymous said...

It sure seems to me that every time that Ray's name comes up, all the bloggers on this site know chapter and verse about his life and professional bio.

I say enough is enough. Most of the commentators on the sport shows on all the networks hire ex-jocks, or managers, or owners, or executives. They do not have to do a disclaimer EVERY time they speak. If you watch these shows (and I do), you know what connections they had to the sport.I can see identifying them if they are a guest, but not a regular. Most of us fans have known Ray (and respected him) for decades.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Nice try again. You are late to this party and do not seem to have any agenda other than disruption.

I have no conflicts of interest in the sport or the media and generate absolutely no revenue from this site.

Come as often as possible and type as much as you want. TDP has been calling out Anons like you since we started. You cannot participate and refuse to do anything other than harrass.

This issue was around the season before Evernham evern joined ESPN. Rusty and Brad toughed it out in year one and learned how to disclose on the air with no problem.

Now, Evernham has just finished a PR tour and hopefully he will have a great season on ESPN and ABC.

Anon 12:32PM,

I have a lot of readers who are NASCAR fans and are also female. They have exactly the same right to their opinion as you do. I hope this season does a lot to mend fences between those fans and Evernham.

JD

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

OK, you are done. Thanks for playing.

Daly Planet Editor said...

For those of you just stopping by, I apologize for all the distractions. Please take a moment and offer your comment about "NASCAR Now" returning for 2009 on Monday.

Thanks as always,

JD

SallyB said...

I will be very interested to see exactly what is covewred on the first edition of NN. With AB hosting, I hope that some of the questions many fans have will be addressed. I wondered what was going on Fri. nite on Speed with their promo for Dodge as their last 'pre season' show. Very strange.

Newracefan said...

Would have preferred Ricky over Boris but otherwise I'm glad NN is back. It will be interesting to see how far AB and others take the economy factor discussion. I would like to see it brought up but not overpower the show. A list like Jayski has obout who might enter the 500 would be fun. I also hope they take into consideration that many have watched Speed and checked the Internet and don't act like we have no clue what has happened during this off season and just represent it all as "breaking news".

bevo said...

Does NASCAR Now have a single Producer for the whole season or does it switch? Seems like that would be the most important person to determine how issues are handled.

Anonymous said...

Roger Goddell was interviewed today on Mike and Mike. It is Super Bowl Sunday, so of course that is what is on everyone's mind.

He was asked a couple of questions about the effect of the economy on football, which he answered. It took maybe 1-2 minutes. That's it.

Anyone who does not realize that the economy is effecting every part of life in the world, cannot be brought up to speed in a short NN show. That's not why we watch sport shows.

On the media front, there will be 200 fewer members of the media this year. I'm not sure I think that's a bad deal, considering how many are losing their jobs.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Erik said...

I can't wait.