Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Truck Series Reality Coming To TV Soon


The first of the three big races at Daytona will involve the newly-named Camping World Truck Series. The CWTS has consistently provided some of the most exciting racing and closest finishes in recent NASCAR history.

Whether it was on a race-by-race basis or for the season championship, this series did not disappoint. The secret weapon that brought fans to the trucks was the TLC given to the entire series by SPEED.

In a happier time and on a hilarious night, the CWTS TV gang posed for the picture above after producing the entire thirty minute pre-race show in costume to celebrate Halloween. Then, they delivered another sparkling TV broadcast.

Now, their world is about to change dramatically and no one can say what will happen as a result. Here are some words from a Monday column by SM Napier for The Bleacher Report:

So far twelve teams have confirmed they will be racing in 2009, of these nine are fully-sponsored. Three others still need sponsorship and one team is running a limited schedule. As of today, their are thirteen teams with open rides both full and part-time and four drivers with some form of sponsorship looking for teams.

Eighteen drivers are looking for a ride in 2009, with a few big names in the series still looking (including Mike Skinner). We've had about ten teams close after the 2008 season.


Napier's full column can be read by clicking here. Thanks to The Bleacher Report.

Over at Jayski.com, this page (click here) makes the reality hit home. Scrolling down to the team grid shows just how many teams are left and how many have closed.

Unfortunately, SPEED does not have any TV programming that is themed around the CWTS other than the pre-race show and the races themselves. Last season, TDP urged SPEED and ESPN2 to integrate truck series highlights and interviews into the live and recorded programming on Sundays.

This proved to be a tough challenge, because the CWTS drivers and owners were gone by the time RaceDay and the morning edition of NASCAR Now rolled around. Even SPEED's own This Week in NASCAR on Mondays rarely had an interview with the truck series race winner.

Lack of TV exposure for sponsors is an issue even at the Sprint Cup level and that series has many hours of national TV programming before and after each race.

Imagine how hard it is then for a sponsor to commit to the CWTS knowing the race itself is the only time their logo and team will be shown. There is no other regular TV exposure for this series and that is a key issue.

NASCAR.com's CWTS section is limited in scope. Clearly, the focus and effort by the Turner Interactive group that runs the site is on the Sprint Cup Series.

Over at SPEEDtv.com, the CWTS drivers and teams section sits blank while the news section offers four truck series stories before updating the Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge.

In his column, Napier called the Camping World Trucks the forgotten series of NASCAR. In the 2009 season there will once again be no TV programs (weekly or monthly) about the trucks. Hopefully, NASCAR.com's new online programming initiative may result in some regular updates and news where the CWTS is concerned.

As Darrell Waltrip said very correctly, every team that has a truck will try to make the race in Daytona because of the payday and exposure. Only once the series has made the turn and heads for California will the stark reality of what has been hidden from TV viewers so far this season emerge.

Just how many trucks will make the trip and what that will do to the racing on SPEED is something we will all experience together. Let us hope that Camping World and NASCAR will both help this series pull through what is going to be a very difficult season.

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. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

47 comments:

hotaru said...

Well said!

I personally prefer the truck series over Sprint Cup (for various reasons). They have been shunned for too long, and definitely need a program devoted to them.

The J said...

i think the truck series will have to stop racing by midseason due to these small fields. it will be a shame that the series with the best racing may have to stop.

AMS fan said...

And this is the series that I watch EVERY race. Come on Speed, promote, promote, promote. Each fan only has one mouth. Speed and FOX has a few more viewers. Get with it!

Anonymous said...

The most competitive (and exciting) NASCAR series last year is the one most likely to shut down this year...

...someone's doing something very wrong here.

Gymmie said...

I fear what the J said...unless a miracle happens we may not have a Pick 'em Ups series come this summer :(

I agree AMS fan, they really need to promote. I don't see a lot of Pick 'em Ups commercials on other networks. I see Cup on FBN and FNC and the rare time I watch something on FOX when they're not covering it.

Anonymous said...

JD. Time to get off the "Truck Series and Small Fields" theme now. This is about the 6th article about the topic you have posted in the last 2 months. Lets come up with some new topics please. Perhaps some that pretain to television and not NASCAR logistics.

Photojosh said...

At this point, helping the trucks might be like using a garden hose on a wildfire. The garden hose COULD HAVE helped, if you had started spraying when the fire was small. But now...

It's just a real shame. The trucks are a lot of fun. And with a little promotion in recent years, just a little, more people could have gotten to know the drivers and the storylines. If that had happened, I think the trucks (with their lower cost of entry) could have weathered this economic storm better than the cup series.

But no such luck. What's done is done. I'm not sure there is anything NASCAR could do now even if it wanted to. And I'm not sure that it wants to.

P.S. On a related note. I missed that truck series pre-race show from haloween and have been kicking myself ever since. Does anyone know how I could watch it?

Sophia said...

well i wonder if NASCAR doesn't WANT the truck series to die.

It's the best racing yet gets little notice. Being on SPEED does not help since not all homes get it.

If the truck series leaves, that really makes me wonder about keeping digital cable...if we could find F1 and IRL online...we would miss Dave Despain and TWIN something awful, but NASCAR is becoming less valuable or important.

Shame SPEED did not promote trucks LAST SEASON....sigh

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:18AM,

If you had taken a moment to actually read the column, you would understand that the Truck Series suffers from no TV exposure outside of the races.

This situation has been ongoing since the new TV contract and the biggest offender is SPEED.

The same network that does great field productions of the races cannot get together with The NASCAR Media Group and produce a weekly show following the series.

This has been the chief complaint from the Truck teams. There are few highlights shown on the other NASCAR shows and those that are run have no winner interview and last less than a minute.

Exposure on TV and in the media is going to be a key element in getting this series through the season and for some reason the TV networks just don't get it.

Have you seen a Camping World Truck Series day on Preseason Thunder? Think you will on NASCAR Now? Not very likely.

JD

Anonymous said...

Why people refuse to see this as the same reason there is no national show on D-League Basketball, AHL Hockey or AAA Baseball. Any network would show and promote a show that people watch and makes them money. SPEEDTV showed increase in trucks last year, BUT look at those numbers, very very small.

3bud said...

Sophia I have to believe you are on to something. I can't figure that the cost of SPEED to show the races doesn't warrant some sort of promotion by Camping World, NASCAR and SPEED. The best racing and no one seems to care enough to help it along. Hopefully Camping World can figure some sort of promotional campaign. Let's hope for a full Camping World Truck Series season.

Deborah said...

The Truck Series is going to race the full season no matter how many teams there are. There is a series sponsor for one thing, and while there might be less full-time teams they are still there, plus commitments to tracks and other obligations.

It would be great to see additional coverage of the Truck Series but at a time when even the TV partners are re-evaluating how they spend their money and tightening their budgets, I don't know how realistic it is to expect them to much more if it's going to involve extra programming, personnel and resources.

One thing that always strikes me is that there are a lot of fans who talk about how much they love the Truck Series and how great the racing is, but beyond a basic appreciation of the racing, there often isn't a lot of in-depth discussion of the drivers, teams or the series itself unless there's a big incident. While there are die-hard fans of the series and it's drivers, for the most part the drivers in the Truck Series don't seem to have the large fanbases that even less popular Cup drivers have. That's going to be noticed by those that cover this series as they're always going to give the most attention to the people and things they perceive as what fans are the most interested in. So maybe fans need to get more vocal in their support of the drivers and teams in this series beyond this blog to make a case for why the coverage should be expanded.

earl06 said...

Things look pretty bleak here for the trucks. Take a look at the Nationwide page at Jayski, too. Both these series are going to look like Champ Car at some points this season. CW East & West are going to be down on cars as well.

My thought is that NASCAR ought to consolidate these series into a promotable development series. Start investing in the future of the sport rather than milking the present for all it's worth.

No offense to the Mike Skinners and Bobby Hamilton, Jr.s of the sport, but I am much more interested in watching the development of the Austin Dillon, Brian Clausson, Brad Coleman, Colin Braun, etc. crowd. If NASCAR took it upon themselves to promote these young drivers the same way they promote the Cup drivers running in the Nationwide series, I'm sure they would find a following.

Vicky D said...

Sounds like it's going to be a pretty sad racing season for the trucks. On TWIN they show 30 seconds (if that!) of the previous truck race. What Speed needs is to expand TWIN to 90 minutes and do segments on the Nationwide & Camping World races. But I'm almost thinking it might be too late for them . . . .

Daly Planet Editor said...

Deb,

Just so we are on the same page, your comment about the series continuing because they have a title sponsor is 100% incorrect.

That is the reason we are up in arms about this situation and looking for NASCAR to actively "motivate" the TV partners to include the CWTS in all NASCAR TV shows this season.

Not too sure what your real motivation is for your recent comments, but stating opinion as fact is pretty dangerous. I know that first-hand after two seasons of this blogging stuff.

Anon 7:38AM,

Take your stick and ball analogies elsewhere. The CWTS is a national series that was created to expand the NASCAR brand and generate a new audience of both fans and TV viewers.

With the proper support and TV exposure, this series could return to the medium and small tracks that it originally served and let NASCAR get back to basics, just like Brian France stated last January.

Hopefully, the series will survive this season and then adapt to what it truly needs to be and was at the height of its popularity.

JD

Gymmie said...

@Vicky D--I loved the 90 minute format but when Cup wasn't running it made for a long show that just didn't work :(. An hour isn't long enough but 90 is too long if all 3 aren't running. Of course there are ways to make the format work by highlighting the other teams and letting them tell their stories. And getting some exposure out there without the "shadow" of All Cup All the Time.

Anonymous said...

Mr Daly
Back when Camping World announced its decision to sponsor the truck series, I submitted an opinion to TDP in which I stated that Camping World was a "short money", face saving move for NASCAR and that Camping World would not financially survive the duration of the agreement.
My comments were met with accusations of being "overly negative" and out of touch.
14 truck teams? I suspect Camping World has an "out" for less than full fields/schedule of races.
Hate to say "I told you so, but"....

Bray Kroter

Deborah said...

JD, so you're saying that in spite of the commitments from and to various entities including Camping World, NASCAR isn't going to fullfill their obligations and will simply give up rather than run the full schedule? Perhaps you need to provide your facts to support that theory because it's most definitely not what anyone else associated with this sport is saying from SPEED who said the other day that they will be continuing to broadcast races as always regardless of how many trucks are in the field or the governing body of the sport who have expressed that the sport will continue to run races and move forward in spite of some challenges. If you are aware of something different - like a possibility of Camping World having an "out" clause like the anon above me suggests - perhaps you should detail it - with facts supported by sources not your own opinion - considering it would be major news if the sport was thinking about or could be forced to shut down this series.

As for anything else my motivation for posting is like any other fan - to express my opinion.

GinaV24 said...

I really like the truck races and watch them (usually with the sound muted so I don't have to listen to the mouth that roared - AKA Mikey Waltrip). I actually wish they would race on a Saturday morning then I could probably catch them on a race weekend, but since they usually run on the Friday night or sometimes even Thursday night, I can't make that fit into my travel schedule when I am traveling to the track. Its a real pain and a big shame that NASCAR and Speed in particular aren't doing everything they can to promote this series. By far, the trucks provide the most racing fun of the 3 series.

Anonymous said...

Deborah
My point is, that any entitlement negotiator worth his or her salt would write in language that guarantees a number of races and a number of participants in each race.

Bray

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bray Koter. Craftsman must have known early on about the struggles of the series. I don't think this is an example of the title sponsor not promoting, I think this was an internal bleeding that couldn't be stopped.Craftsman bailed because of the oncoming disaster.
Also, with an insiders opinion, NASCAR will pay teams to show up, and I'm not talking about purse money. They will be contacted, (Morgan Shepherd, Dave Blaney, et. al.) to bring a truck, and fulfill the field. If by chance, there are only twelve trucks at California, it will not be mentioned, a short shot of the starting lineup will be used, and only after the race, will the scroll graphic show an incomplete field. And of course, with Raceday, TWIN, and NASCAR Now not showing the highlights anyway, NASCAR won't have too much to explain.

Anonymous said...

JD,
You need to stop making outlandish claims on your blog. The Truck series will do okay. NASCAR is doing the right thing with the way they are handling the downturn in the media. You and the people that write negative things are the problem, not NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

i have a easy solution too the coverage issue..put dale jr too race in the truck series..ratings go right up and so would the coverage lol just a thought

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many truck fans, like me, quit watching the trucks just because they couldn't stand hearing Mikey Waltrip run his mouth constantly? It really is the best full fendered racing there is but Waltrip's mouth ruins the broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

JD, you should be the last person to tell someone they are "100% incorrect". You really dont have a 100% clue about whats going on within the sport. You are as much of a fan as the next person, not a reporter. You dont travel to the races as a reporter, you dont have conference calls with NASCAR and other representatives. You get your information from websites and such. Dont always believe whats on the internet.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how many truck fans, like me, quit watching the trucks just because they couldn't stand hearing Mikey Waltrip run his mouth constantly?

Are you kidding? He's the reason I started watching the trucks in the first place!

Anonymous said...

Why people refuse to see this as the same reason there is no national show on D-League Basketball, AHL Hockey or AAA Baseball.

Sorry, this ain't baseball, basketball or hockey.

The fact that you use this comparison shows that you don't understand racing any better than ESPN does--which is, not much.

Anonymous said...

it's most definitely not what anyone else associated with this sport is saying from SPEED who said the other day that they will be continuing to broadcast races as always regardless of how many trucks are in the field or the governing body of the sport who have expressed that the sport will continue to run races and move forward in spite of some challenges.

NASCAR isn't being honest about anything else these days--why do you think they're suddenly going to tell the truth now?

Same for SPEED.

Try listen to Sirius NASCAR radio if you want to hear a more realistic appraisal.

Anonymous said...

I have to say to Deborah, the Truck series will indeed go under if very small fields become the norm. There are costs associated with running a race, including Nascar's costs (officials, tech inspectors, etc), the promoter's costs, and of course Speed's costs. Fewer trucks = fewer sponsors = harder to sell ad time on Speed. Unlike the last days of Champ Car, Nascar isn't going to buy air time for the series, so it will just be put down. Its a shame too as they were the most entertaining races on TV most weekends. I don't know this for a fact, but I'm confident there are "escape" clauses built into the TV contract and the Camping World contract to allow the series to die if certain conditions aren't met.

Anonymous said...

Back when the SuperTruck Series was formed, there were two main purposes for the series. The first was to provide nationwide series that could have a low cost for everybody involved. We see today that costs have skyrocketed in this series.

Second, it was used to expand NASCAR into the Western U.S., in areas where NASCAR didn't have a market. With two races in California, two in Phoenix, two in Dallas/Ft. Worth, and one in Kansas and Chicago, NASCAR at least has a presence in the West.

I've heard that Camping World is paying less than what Craftsman is paying. It doesn't look great for the Truck Series. Which is sad, because it IS the best racing in NASCAR.

don said...

One more time! We don't need the Nationwide series, Its the same as Sprint Cup, (allmost) same cars, same drivers, not enough sponsors, blah, blah, blah. Get rid of Nationwide series and keep the trucks, now you have plenty of quality drivers and sponcors to fill a 43 truck field. The left overs can run ARCA.

Anonymous said...

The Truck Series may be a national series, but like it or not, its still just a third tier racing series.

If it was on par with the Cup series, races would pay out the same, and attendance would be about equal.

Colorado said...

In my firm opinion, I believe that the reason that costs have skyrocketed in all THREE series can be attributed to one man: Rick Hendrick. He was the first to start using 7 post shakers, the first to use wind tunnel testing, the first to use carbon fiber seating,etc. Although at first glance, these things should be commendable, the other teams had no choice but to emulate Hendrick Motorsports. Then when the competition got closer, he again started out-spending them. It's still related to this column, as my point is that the teams that couldn't reach into deep pockets, start to fade away. Thus the thin fields at ALL three series, and the sponsors just aren't going to attach their name to a failure.
It's known as the "slash and burn" policy. Notice how he doesn't field trucks, and only has a couple of Nationwide teams? He came in and slashed and burned everything, to where no one wants to be associated with it. Then he leaves with his millions, and wonders why he's not the most popular person around.
He may not be the sole reason for the Truck series demise, but I would say he's at least 95%.

Anonymous said...

Then he leaves with his millions, and wonders why he's not the most popular person around.

This ain't Little League. It's a business, just like any other sport.

Hendrick found a way to win, legally. He did nothing wrong.

Was he supposed to say, "Y'know, I like winning and all, but it just isn't fair to the other teams that I have to money to do this, so I ought to just back off and let them catch up?"

Maybe everyone could get a trophy, too, just like kids' soccer games, huh?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Why people refuse to see this as the same reason there is no national show on D-League Basketball, AHL Hockey or AAA Baseball.

Sorry, this ain't baseball, basketball or hockey.

The fact that you use this comparison shows that you don't understand racing any better than ESPN does--which is, not much.

My point was that the "minor leagues" show up on NBATV, MLB Network and NHL Network....You can't expect SPEED, ESPN,TNT and others to promote the minor leagues on their national stations. The promotion of NASCAR's minor leagues needs to be done by their TV Network...which does not exist!!!! NASCAR fans like to blame everyone else for their problems except NASCAR..NASCAR does not have the balls to start their own network, don't bash the networks that at least show us the sport.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR fans like to blame everyone else for their problems except NASCAR.

You don't read this blog (or any others) much, do you?

Because if you did, you'd realise that NASCAR is everyone's favorite target.

Anonymous said...

Anon@3:45

Most people here view the truck series as a sibling and on the same level as the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.

Daly Planet Editor said...

How is it a target to ask for more TV coverage of a series I enjoy?

We have nothing to do with pointing a finger at NASCAR, this is the real economic pressures we all are feeling.

The way to solve them is to step-up and get on-board with some additional exposure for the sponsors that are in the CWTS and also for those on the fence.

It there was a weekly TV show on this series and a regular day on NASCAR Now where the trucks were featured it would be a good start.

Integrating the CWTS into other shows like RaceDay and Victory Lane would also help.

JD

fbu1 said...

IMHO, CWTS is not Sprint Cup junior, it is a stand alone series.

I have been wondering since its inception where the media support has been. NASCAR.com treats it like the unwanted stepchild who shows up at Thanksgiving. Neither NASCAR or SPEED do anything to promote it.

Where are the online lap trackers that the other NASCAR series enjoy? Where are the interviews and race reports. With SPEED's limited nat'l penetration, how about a Youtube recap? One would think a NASCAR series would merit at least as much attention as racing wives.

Its a matter of connecting the dots. Aggressive promotion is required to inform fans. Unfortunately, the CWTS seems to exist in a vacuum.

Anonymous said...

Another thing to think about is that the Camping World East & West series has much better racing with super talented youngsters and older drivers...much of the talent is now racing here instead of trucks.

Andrew from TN said...

On the issue of series sponsorship, I don't know whether the current owner of the Craftsman brand, Sears Holdings saw this coming in the truck series or not.

But, the company that emerged from the merger of KMart and Sears is rumored to be in trouble itself and may not survive the year.

If you're an executive of a company that is struggling to survive, it gets much easier to cut things like a race series sponsorship.

Anonymous said...

wow, i'm still in shock in the most horrible "pre-season thunder" i just saw. today is the last speed will be on my television till the 150's

DaveRodman said...

JD;

The comments -- as usual with many on target and many others sprayed all around the map, which makes this a great forum for debate -- got me fired up for a little research. 56% of 2008's truck races -- or 14 of 25 -- had short fields. The shortest was Las Vegas, 31 starters, two of which were start-and-parks. Nine of the 14 short races had 34 or fewer trucks, so with the economic forecasts we're all aware of, it seems likely a larger percentage of short fields will occur in 2009, which will certainly merit more investigation as the season unfolds.

Anonymous said...

"don said...
One more time! We don't need the Nationwide series, Its the same as Sprint Cup, (allmost) same cars, same drivers, not enough sponsors, blah, blah, blah. Get rid of Nationwide series and keep the trucks, now you have plenty of quality drivers and sponcors to fill a 43 truck field. The left overs can run ARCA."

Nice thought, Don. However, the Nationwide series, like Busch before it, gives the teams in Cup a place to sell off used equipment, and gives aspiring 2nd tier teams a source of less expensive cars and engines-albeit used. Unless trucks use the same chassis/engine combination that Cup or Nationwide do, there is a disincentive for owners to invest in Cup equipment. A bit of pretzel-logic theory, I know- but I believe its valid.

Here's a wild idea. For 2009 series, how about every car that shows up and enters a Cup race gets in. Entire field lineups based on qualifyfing. Cars in excess of 43 might have to share pits (like the old days)
This model insures that owners with short budgets are guaranteed to get tv exposure (unless they're on ESPN-ha!) and everyone gets a piece of the winnings

Bray

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

NASCAR has pretty much told us that races with Cup drivers are the only ones that matter. We see 10-18 Cup drivers running most NNS races, but are lucky to see one or two race in the truck series. That might help some.

Another thing that hurt the truck series is all the number of races that are run on Fridays or a stand-alone event with little promotion. Maybe they should reduce the number of NNS races and let them alternate weekends with the truck series.

Bobby said...

Sears Holding just renewed its Official Tool deal with NASCAR.

Randy Moss and David Dollar have just inherited much of last year's championship team and signed one of the development drivers and Mike Skinner as the drivers of the two Toyotas.

A few new teams are developing, and I see the teams are looking at a 12-man roster limit, 5-man pit crew limit (not a fan of it - bring back the old-style halftime breaks to save cash), and engines that must last two races (exceptions for some races will be included). The two race per engine rule is being considered for more NASCAR series as an idea to save costs. Better yet, I say this idea might be perfect to develop racing technology.