Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"Preseason Thunder" Officially Starts SPEED's NASCAR TV Season

Steve Byrnes got the familiar feeling going for NASCAR fans as SPEED marched into the network's Preseason Thunder series despite the lack of activity at Daytona.

It was Jeff Hammond who appeared with Byrnes in the new SPEED HD studios while Bob Dillner reported from the very empty Daytona International Speedway.

Dillner touched on the fact that some teams are testing at non-NASCAR tracks before the season despite the attempt by NASCAR to eliminate all pre-season testing and the costs that go along with it. This is a story that SPEED will hopefully follow as the reality of who is testing and where continues to unfold.

Why Dillner was actually in Daytona rather than at a team shop or in the SPEED studios was never really made clear. Dillner looked rather lonely, but did manage an interview with the DIS president about the situation at the track.

Adapting to change is going to be the theme of this preseason and both Byrnes and Hammond were not afraid to expand on this topic. Hammond's point was that taking the new testing situation as a challenge was going to be something successful teams would have to do. The tough guy in Hammond is still apparently alive and well.

David Ragan appeared in the studio at just the right time as the show was certainly in need of a guest. Ragan continues to mature and may well be one of the key stories of this season.

Testing again was the theme, but Ragan pushed aside the notion that the lack of Daytona preseason activity was going to affect the Roush teams. Ragan's confidence in his team engineers, crew chief and his own ability was apparent. Just like Kyle Busch, Ragan has certainly grown-up right in front of the TV cameras.

This SPEED series focuses on preseason issues and serves as a preview of the new year. Lots of NASCAR topics were not included in this first thirty minute show, but there are plenty of episodes of Preseason Thunder left to cover the rest of the January happenings and NASCAR news.

The rest of this week finds Preseason Thunder at 6PM ET. Next week the shows move to 7:30PM as Wendy Venturini and Randy Pemberton join Dillner to report on the annual NASCAR media tour. The final week of shows leading up to speedweek will be at 7PM.

It will be Ryan Newman who joins Byrnes and Hammond in the studio on Tuesday.

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PammH said...

I enjoyed the show, but missed seeing the cars at the track. Just as an aside, I have Dish TV & Speed is now in HD

Jessica said...

I thought everyone was looking good. The Preseason Thunder series is a nice way to ease back into the season. I have comcast in Minneapolis and despite having the Big Ten, FSN and Golf in HD...no Speed :(

Anonymous said...

Have we heard anything about any changes in FOX's NASCAR coverage yet? Will Steve and Jeff get expanded roles?

TexasRaceLady said...

I, too, enjoyed the show. There may not have been cars on the track, but it was still racing.

I loved Jeff's comment about the sportcoat. ROTFL

David Ragan has really become at ease with cameras and speaking.

Newracefan said...

I was very impressed with David Ragan and thankfully Hammond left the Sport Coat home. Dilner in an empty Daytona was a little strange but perhaps that was the point. Thanks for the update about next week.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it as well. I look forward to the other shows and chatting with the boyz.

It wasn't the same without the "noise" but at least they're trying to bring us *something* after this hiatus :)

I'm glad that they're still having events for the fans to come out. One day I'll spend my birthday weekend out there, hopefully next year :), that's been my dream for many years.

Anonymous said...

I thought it was a pretty good show and a filler for those of us who are missing Nascar. I did like hearing about the tracks the guys are testing at and it would be great if this show could go to The Rock and to the five mile test track in Phoenix, just to see how things are going.

jennifer6973 said...

All I have to say is that it was awesome to have something on.

Also I hope Dilner brought his Winter gear with him, since there is a cold front coming through and the highs are only supposed to be in the 50's.

Daly Planet Editor said...

It certainly would have helped during the past six weeks or so to have exactly this type of program on the air.


Anonymous said...

I agree JD! It definitely would be nice to have a nice 30 minute weekly show to keep us updated. While short of "breaking" news there wouldn't be enough to warrant a daily show, but a recap would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

ESPN needs to have NASCAR Now year-round. It used to be really devoted to NASCAR. It is been devoted almost solely to the NFL for the last several years. That frightens me.

Anonymous said...

They could also make NASCAR Now one hour every day so that I would not have to watch PTI anymore, which has gone in the toilet the last couple of years.

Dot said...

I'd like to know who has tested and who hasn't. The big teams can go wherever they want. I thought there wasn't going to be any testing anywhere in the off season. Why didn't NASCAR just let all of them test at Daytona and call it good? The thunder would be back in the Preseason Thunder.

Btw, Dillner looks better without the glasses.

I agree with you, JD. SPEED could've given up some time for an offseason recap show. Would've one less rerun of Pinks killed them?

majorshouse said...

I definitely enjoyed the show and like JD, this is something that we should have had six weeks ago and it was great to see it on the air and Steve Burns and Jeff Hammond seem to work really well together too.

Anonymous said...

SPEED's big and most unreasonable failing in my mind is the absence of The Speed Report for the past 6 weeks or so.

I just discovered that I now have SPEED On Demand - so I can watch Pinks and shows on car tests whenever I don't want, but nothing on racing.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Daly
I wonder if you happened to see the FOX promotion for NASCAR and Daytona that aired during the NFL games last weekend?
Just when we all jump down the ESPN throats because they don't hear us fans, FOX has literally featured "Digger" in their NASCAR promo! So, it would appear that the folks running FOX sports have even less regard for NASCAR fans than ESPN. They are going to jam that annoying "video rodent" right up our differentials. Could it be that the prospect of selling tee shirts on web sites and private financial side deals trumps the will of the fan?

Anonymous said...

I was watching the crawl on the bottom of the screen during SPEED Report and Preseason Thunder. Why was it listed that Red Horse Racing would be fielding 2 teams this year with Johnny Benson and David Starr? It was announced last Friday that Starr would not be returning.

Anonymous said...

@Richard in N.C.--I know...it's sad. A few years ago it was much better. They use to have Speed News and VL on there and a few other shows. They even had a quickie Speed News on there that was about 15ish minutes that gave a review of the important headlines from the show. Which was nice if you missed it or wanted to see it again. Now there's nothing, at least nothing of interest for me :(

Anonymous said...

I wonder if it would be fair to report on those teams "caught" testing. My bet is that they all are to some degree, at least those that are locked in to seriously run the full season.
Team A goes to Rockingham and gets reported on television, Team B goes to Canada and nobody notices. Why bother anyway, technically they aren't breaking the rule if it isn't a NASCAR sanctioned track.

Anonymous said...

BKroter wrote:

Could it be that the prospect of selling tee shirts on web sites and private financial side deals trumps the will of the fan?

Who do you think buys all the Digger stuff? It's fans, in case you wondered!

Mark Dyer, President of Motorsports Authentics, said that after reducing the number of trackside trailers last year from 49 to 25, they will continue to reduce the merchandize from driver's whose stuff does not sell well. Amoung merchandise they are increasing, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Digger, the Fox icon!

You and others on this site may not like it, but it's selling better than some driver stuff! MA is only interested in making money by having merchandise that the NASCAR fan wants to buy.

Kevin in SoCal said...

I wonder why they barely touched on the two big mergers between Earnhardt and Ganassi, and GEM and Petty. They assumed people already knew this information. But, since this is the first show since the end of last year, how would a non-internet fan know anything about it?

Anonymous said...

Tonight's show will also have Michael Waltrip as a guest along with Ryan Newman.

I loved the show. The new HD showed that Jeff Hammond does have some gray hairs and I don't have a HD tv just the old tube tv and it came in that clear.

It was good to have Nascar back on tv. I missed it so much especially now that the college football season is over. I will watch the NFL but only to have a sport to watch on Sunday afternoons. I am so glad that my University of Florida Gators are National Champs, but now I am ready for some racing and racing coverage.

Anonymous said...

It's good to see news about NASCAR. But when you compare what someone like DJ Kopp brings to a show and his excellent ability to explain things so well and then what Jeff Hammond offers it's too bad the networks are not trying to upgrade their talent.I know better talent is available if these networks were to try a little harder to find it.

Anonymous said...

anon at 12:40 pm wrote
Who do you think buys all the Digger stuff? It's fans, in case you wondered!

Mark Dyer, President of Motorsports Authentics, said that after reducing the number of trackside trailers last year from 49 to 25, they will continue to reduce the merchandize from driver's whose stuff does not sell well. Amoung merchandise they are increasing, Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart and Digger, the Fox icon!

so, by your logic, the fact that a snake oil salesman can hawk a couple of Chinese made tee shirts out of a trailer somehow legitimizes the intrusion of this element into the coverage of NASCAR? You have it backwards, pal.
Digger is a commercial creation of an entitiy that is SUPPOSED TO provide neutral,unbiased documentation of a sports event. FOX crossed an ethical, and certainly a customer service line on this one. The majority of viewers appear NOT TO WANT IT!!

Anonymous said...


Fact of life. Digger is a commercial venture. Get real. It's selling like hot dogs. You are not the know-it-all of NASCAR fans.

Fox is making millions and that proves fans ike it. Fans vote with their money. Diggger is only advertised mostly on NASCAR telecasts, so there is a target audience that is responding. Over 250,000 people entered the contest to name it.

You are entitled to your opinion: you think it is awful.

You are not entitled to your own facts. Fans at the track and online are buying. It is very popular. Fans would rather buy Digger than stuff from also-ran drivers.

Commercals are always biased. If they are cars, they sell either GM, Toyota, Dodge, etc. The are not unbiased and say, "Just go out and buy a car folks." Digger is a commercial venture. Maybe you didn't know.

Anonymous said...

Anon wrote

Digger is a commercial venture. Maybe you didn't know.

January 14, 2009 9:13 AM

Thank you!You affirm my point! IT IS a commercial venture foisted under the guise of race coverege. I don't assume to speak for any fans, nor any sales statistics. What I do speak to is the ethical breach that FOX has made with this character.
A- It interferes with coverage.
B- The fact that it drives a commercial enterprise clouds FOX editorial judgment on the frequency of use of that camera (as in its overused)
C- The fact that a company makes money from it is absolutely no justification! It is, rather more of an indictment.

Anonymous said...


You opinion, not facts.

Like millions, I like Digger.

Anonymous said...

anon at 12:04 said

You opinion, not facts.

Like millions, I like Digger.

January 14, 2009 12:04 PM

Okay.....so others can't cite numbers, but you're one of "millions"?! sure you are

there's a bridge in brooklyn fox will sell you too

kbaskins said...

To the Powers-That-Be at SPEED:

What the heck is your problem with re-airing new NASCAR-related programming?

First you schedule NASCAR 39/10 at Noon Eastern/9am Pacific, then Preseason Thunder at 6pm Eastern/3pm Pacific. Sure, many of us have DVRs or VCRs, but when my DVR puked on recording Preseason Thunder on Monday and I looked for the re-air to record, I found...


Not a single repeat.

What is up with that? We who live on the West Coast have no alternative but to record these shows, and if something happens to the recording, we're screwed.

I was hoping someone could explain to me why I'll never get to see the Monday edition of Preseason Thunder. I could however, if I so desired, watch the 10th re-airing of "Pinks" that was showing yet again...