Saturday, February 21, 2009

DW Tries To Put Daytona In The Rearview Mirror

Trackside is a show on SPEED that normally hosts some good conversation with drivers and team owners. Two guests appear in each hour show and the panel of Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds talks about a wide variety of topics. Steve Byrnes is the host.

Friday night from California, Darrell Waltrip tried to explain once and for all the decision by NASCAR to end the Daytona 500 shortly after 7PM on a Sunday evening.

Here are his well-chosen words:

Most of us are self-serving. We would prefer to have it this way or we would prefer to have it that way. We want everything kind of the way we want it.

NASCAR, in their defense, and people get on us all the time for taking up for them...but you have got to understand something. They don't just look at what is good for Steve Byrnes, for Larry McReynolds or Jeff Hammond or SPEED Channel or Fox.

They look at what's good for everybody. In these economic times, keeping those teams there another night in hotels to come back the next day and run 38 laps...I know it's the Super Bowl and I know that we would all have liked to see it finish...but it did not make sense to put everybody through that.

And besides that, even if the forecast for Monday was good...what if it wasn't good?

Waltrip also mentioned the fact that he was a guest on the WindTunnel show on SPEED and as he left the studio in Daytona and returned to him motorhome slightly after 10PM, it was still raining.

So, thank you for all the email about whether or not Fox interfered or suggested or pushed for the end of the Daytona 500 so the network could get off the air in time for the primetime entertainment line-up.

What Waltrip is saying and we are agreeing with is that the TV networks did not play a role in the decision to end the race. A bad weather forecast, a long travel week to California and even a common sense decision about team expenses combined to motivate NASCAR to act quickly, declare the race over and move-on to California.

Please feel free to add your comments on this topic. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly site and foul language or hateful speech will result in a comment being deleted.

Thanks again and happy posting.


bevo said...

I'll buy that there wasn't a direct conversation between Fox and NASCAR about ending the race. It's a case of a gentleman's agreement.

Also the economic situation is going to be a very convenient excuse for all kinds of things this season. Be interesting to keep a tally of how often it's used for items not directly connected to finances.

Dot said...

It was wise for NASCAR to end the race.

Think about it. Would/could the fans come back the next day? How many at home would be watching live? Winning the Daytona 500 is a big deal. I'm glad we knew on Sunday.

OT, any bets there's no Countdown show on? College Bball is on prior.

stricklinfan82 said...

As I said in a previous column I never bought in to the criticism that Fox played a role in NASCAR calling the race as quickly as they did.

Having said that, in my opinion Fox is far from blameless for the race being rain-shortened. When these television networks (not just Fox, but TNT and ABC/ESPN as well) keep insisting on these late starting times you're just asking for races to be shortened when rain interferes. Quite simply the later in the day a race starts, the smaller the window NASCAR has available to wait out any kind of delay.

It can not be argued that (barring unforseen red flags for non-weather related reasons) if the Daytona 500 started at 1:00, 2:00, or possibly even as late as 2:40 the fans would have seen a complete 500 miles before the rains came.

When you run a sport that can't run in the rain and competes at many venues that don't have lights that enable competition after sunset, it is my opinion that you owe it to the fans to start the races as early as possible to maximize the available window to get the events completed in their entirety.

Anonymous said...

DW was smooth as silk with his little speach. He avoided the real issue:

The 3pm start, had the race started at 1pm when it should have the rain would have been a non-issue. Now Old DW has to avoid that becasue he knows as well as all the fans do that FOX is the guilty party on the late start.

DW knows he looks foolish with his speach, but once you take the devils money, you do the devils bidding.

Newracefan said...

Call me na├»ve or whatever but I’m willing to take DW’s word for it, I like the fact that he tries to respond to the fan’s concerns.

Anonymous said...

The night of Daytona, I was really ticked to hear them call the race. But in the days that followed, as I learned about how long it rained that night and how long it takes them to dry the track, I thought it was the right call. The economic angle makes the call only the more correct. How were teams like Tommy Baldwin's upstart unit going to even physically get to California if they had to stay a day.

As for the 1pm start, that is just hindsight. No one knows when it is going to rain when they make the schedule. Let's say they take your advice and start the race at 1pm next year. Heck, let's start it at noon. Who knows if it will rain at 1pm or 4 pm or 5:29pm or what? No one knows and they might still have to call the race. Therefore, it makes sense to start when the most viewers are available. Plus, I really like the night finishes :)

Anonymous said...

When NASCAR releases the 2010 schedule, they will have no idea what time and for how long rain might last on Daytona Sunday. Are you suggesting that the evening before the race when weather forecasts are available, that they should all-of-a-sudden move the race forward two hours? That would be fun - 250,000 people show up between laps 30 and 100! Ha!

Anonymous said...

I agree Stricklinfan & Anon 4:43

They really need to start these earlier. I understand the *why* behind getting these races in prime time but if the race is called early after hitting half-way, then folks are going to feel short changed.

Someone mentioned on another forum re: "hurry up" mode. They mentioned that some folks skip the pre-race and tune in when it's time for the green flag to fall. And others head to the track when it gets closer to the race start. So if they had started an hour earlier to try to beat the rain that those fans would have been pissed off for missing the hour or two of racing.

I know in the past when the pre-race has been an hour or so, they've done "hurry up" mode.

Is there any type of rule about how early they can start a race from it's advertised start time? I know in the past it's seemed that "hurry up" mode took it about 15-30 minutes earlier than the original start time, but can they go outside that and start it an hour or two earlier?

It seems to be a "darned if they do, darned if they don't" situation. If they do start it earlier, those who head to the track closer to the start or tune in on TV closer to the start are pissed that they missed racing. And then those of us in TV land if they don't do the "hurry up" are pissed that they called race or didn't try to start earlier to miss the weather.

Anonymous said...

I thought the premise for the race all along was to schedule it so it would end under the lights in prime time, so it had to start late in the afternoon.

It has seemed to me all along that the best reason to call the race was to get the fans out of the track and on their way home since there were over 170,000 there, many from distant states, and at 7:00 rain was expected for at least a couple of hours and it would take 2 to 3 hours to dry the track.

In the past year or 2 it sure does seem that NASCAR has gotten the short end of the stick weather-wise an unusual amount of time.

GreenMeansGo said...

I think they could have done a much better job explaining why the decision was made to call the race at the time instead of after the fact.

Fox seemed to want to get out of there as soon as possible after the race was called. They were scheduled to be on air until 7:30. It's the Daytona 500 for goodness sake! A few more interviews and a further explanation of the call to end the race would have easily filled that last 20-25 minutes.

Unknown said...

So what is the window to run the race?

If you are starting at 3 or 4 local time and saying you need to get people out before it gets too late then that leaves a very small window for rain delays.

Being on the west coast I was much happier when the races started at around 10.

It's not about predicting future rain. It's about scheduling to allow more hours for the race window. By starting the races 2-3 hours later you are losing 20% plus of the race window.

Anonymous said...

Historically the Daytona 500 has always been a daytime race. I know many at home watching on TV could care less what time the race ends. But as someone who has been to the race I can imagine a 3pm start can be rough on the folks trying to leave and get home or back to their hotels at a decent time. Had the race started by 1 or 2 pm we would have seen the whole race,not just any race but the biggest race of the year. Lets face it you want to keep folks coming out to the races and in tough economic times they ought to get their moneys worth and see the whole race.

Anonymous said...

DW in his Toyota shirt and Hammond
screaming during truck qualifying
for his Red Bull tem are shills.
Their bias leaves me doubting
anything they say.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Well, as I said in another post, my husband and I were there.

It is so different being a TV viewer vs an attendee.

Agreed race should start earlier, for everyone. However, we had Fan Zone tickets and spent a lot of pre race in garage and pit area. It is a lot of fun to stand atop the garages and people and car watch! Also to watch the crews get ready in the pits for the race. And to walk parts of the track. So if the race did start at 1pm, we would have had to be in the FZ at 9AM. We like to be in our seats about an hour before to watch all the prerace. But a 2 or 2:30 start would work for us.

Second, this is our 5th Daytona 500and you would be amazed at the number of people who leave right after the race, when it isn't raining. Plus all the haulers take off. We know because we are parked in Lot 1, outside Turn 1 and the haulers parade by for hours after the race. To delay the race to Monday, although not an issue for us, would deprive a lot of folks who traveled far and spent a small fortune to see the race. And many wouldn't even make it home in time to watch the Monday race since they would still be traveling.

Next. If FOX didn't show the radar, shame on them. Because DW was right, it rained until after midnight.

Last. Maybe we are being selfish, but the Daytona 500 is such an "event", like the Indy 500 (we also attend) that it just isn't the same to run the next day. And as I said previously a lot of people have to head home, or like us have commitments elsewhere that would have to change.

Anyway, just a different perspective. We are now "viewers" again, so trust me...we are already throwing things at the TV...LOL! (Like the Fontana NW race staring at 7:30PM!! Glad we don't live on the east coast!)

Anonymous said...

The need to end the race early is clear, drying a rain soaked track takes appx. 2 hrs. believe me I hate it when a race ends early.
Everyone knows how this could have been avoided, start the race at a reasonable hr. Even 2:00pm would have allowed the race to finish.

The question of the day is when will Mr. France step to the plate and demand earlier starts. I was under the impression he was the man in charge, Im sure his Dad wouldnt allow this nonsense to continue.

We cant control mother nature but we sure can get the edge and make the best of a long day at the track with earlier starts.

The word "common sense", seems to be an oxymoron in todays NASCAR

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry. There is no way in h*** that DW is honest. He'll defend his boss, David Hill, til his dying days. Go back to the interview with Hill, and he defended DW and Larry's positions on the show. He thinks they make the show. I thought the racing made the show, but anyway, I will never believe that NASCAR called that race. "Animation Domination" was the reason. Fox was the reason.As the old saying goes, "you can put sugar on horse manure, it's still horse manure."

Anonymous said...

If the race has started at a decent time (East or west coast) we wouldn't be having this conversation. Period, end of quotation.

Anonymous said...

Darn, thought you went away. Guess your ego wouldn't let you.

Oh well, still a joke in the TV Compound and Conf. Calls.....


Daly Planet Editor said...

None of the texts from California and emails from the media center made any jokes. Nice try.