Monday, February 2, 2009

Ed Hinton And Marty Smith Finally Get Their Chance

There is a new post up about the Monday NASCAR Now program, please click on the TDP logo at the top of the page.

Rarely has there been a NASCAR TV controversy brewing even before the first engines are started at Daytona.

Normally, SPEED puts on a January review show of the preseason testing and adds-in some interviews with various drivers and crew chiefs. All in all, it's usually nicely done but pretty boring.

This year, however, things have changed. The economic chaos has turned all three of NASCAR's national touring series into complete disasters. There is no other word to describe this situation.

Tuning into SPEED for both Preseason Thunder and Trackside did nothing to help fans get a handle on what had happened to their sport.

SPEED opted to hold the party line and present factual interviews with drivers that stayed away from the on-going problems. The SPEED/Fox announcers appearing on-camera kept things upbeat and positive. It was their choice and it was a very bad mistake.

Monday, it will be ESPN's opportunity to venture into this rapidly changing landscape and show TV viewers how the network will handle the two weeks prior to the Daytona 500.

Instead of using veterans Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree or Ray Evernham, the NASCAR Now producers turned to two reporters that fans know very well for this first show.

It will be Marty Smith and Ed Hinton that join host Allen Bestwick for the first Monday roundtable show of the season. Smith has been with ESPN since the new TV contract first started. He paid his on-air dues in 2007 when he spent a full year dealing with the original NASCAR Now host Erik Kuselias.

Hinton joined ESPN last season and immediately provided a breath of fresh air with his unique style. Both Smith and Hinton transition between Internet reporting and TV appearances with little problem. Having them both together as the first NASCAR on ESPN "faces" that viewers will see this season is an interesting selection.

It will be Bestwick's challenge to either follow the style of SPEED and toe the party line or let Smith and Hinton talk openly about what is really going-on. How the sanctioning body, the teams and the tracks are handling this unique and challenging situation should make for good conversation.

Joining this pair will be Boris Said as the third panelist. Again, an interesting selection by ESPN. Last year, when TDP questioned why Said was on this program series, he responded directly and pointed out his NASCAR connections that included extensive testing and behind-the-scenes coaching of other drivers.

This year, with testing banned and the fields slim, it should be interesting to learn if Said will make more Sprint Cup Series starts. He is currently (click here) listed as the driver of the #60 Mark Simo Ford for Daytona Speedweeks.

Bestwick developed this one-hour Monday show for ESPN2 single-handedly and his hard work showed by the end of the season. Various guests came and went with Bestwick easily adjusting to whatever hand he was dealt each week.

This first Monday show should be a big challenge in several ways. People are currently deciding what and how to prioritize their lives for 2009 in this economic mess. As we all know, when things get tough a new reality sets-in and we all view the world very differently. Our priorities are rapidly changing and it is not by choice.

Since SPEED declined to enter into a realistic discussion, ESPN has the opportunity to open the door and start a conversation with the fans that may be critical to getting NASCAR through this economic crunch.

Getting fans to the tracks, getting viewers to the TV sets and keeping the NASCAR exposure level high during 2009 is going to be a huge challenge. Most fans consume NASCAR through the TV and the Internet.

Between NASCAR Now, ESPN-owned and the NASCAR portion of, the entire ESPN company is going to play a role in this effort from the start.

This first NASCAR Now airs originally on Monday at 5PM Eastern Time and re-airs at 1AM, or 10PM Pacific. We look forward to your comments on this program.

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.


Anonymous said...

I was looking at the schedule for ESPN and it looks like they will be showing the full nationwide series final practice session from daytona. It will be Thursday Feb. 12 from 9:30-11:00am on ESPN2. Maybe ESPN learned you cant show a practice session in only one hour. Im glad to see these changes at ESPN. Im very excited to see NASCAR Now tomorrow evening!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Every season ESPN has made positive changes in their coverage.

Hopefully, that will continue for 2009.


Dot said...

I know Ed will speak his mind and let the chips fall where they may. Marty will be a little more subtle.

Once or twice a year Boris coaches drivers and he gets to be a panelist? They ought to rotate that position each week. I don't know with who, but someone closer to the action. They don't even have to be in the studio.

I've got the DVR all set up. Maybe we'll hear more truths by accident.

JD, when is the new format starting for TDP?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to this show - I hope AB & Co are allowed to deal with the issues in an honest & straight forward manner.
I will have to record it as I might not get home in time.

just my $.02 here - instead of Boris wouldn't Ray have been the better choice? He has been an owner of a multi car team & now that he is no longer an owner he could speak more freely to the economic factors involved. I got to believe he has more garage connections than Boris.

Anonymous said...

TDP says:

"The economic chaos has turned all three of NASCAR's national touring series into complete disasters."

I sure don't see it that way at all. These are challenging times, but a complete disaster? No way Jose. This economic situation has changed the entire universe. People have to adjust and make the nessesary changes to keep the sport going. It's a new day.

The real leaders in our nation are the ones who give us consumer confidence. Those who say things are tough, but we will work through it, and in the end our sport will be stonger for it.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree with anon at 12:30 a.m. - while the sport has significant issues and challenges to deal with this season and beyond, to say that Cup, Nationwide and Trucks are a "complete disaster" before a single race has even been run in any of those series seems extremist... though that seems to be the tone in general in this space these days. It's particularly hard to characterize the Cup series as a complete disaster when there are numerous new teams that will be at Speedweeks and possibly other races as well.

Maybe one reason why SPEED opted to present interviews with the drivers on Trackside and otherwise in the way that they did is because those drivers have been asked multiple times elsewhere about the economy and the effects on the sport. I want the issues facing the sport to be covered in the media, not swept under the rug, but I also don't want to hear doom and gloom/negativity on a constant basis either - I see nothing wrong with some interviews being more light-hearted than others. Sometimes I get the feeling that nothing less than constant panic stricken reports that predict that NASCAR is going to fold by the end of the season will satisfy some but that likely doesn't reflect reality.

Anonymous said...

Whenever you talk to champions, they say that much of having a can-do attitude is not just the circumstances you find yourself in, but rather the mental aspect of it. Can you imagine the NY Yankees going on and on about the economy while they are selling tickets? Can you imagine the Jets or the Cowboys also going on and on like Chicken Little.

If I believe that the sun will come up tomorrow, I tell that. Sure there are bad times ahead, but it is not the end of NASCAR.

They had a whole segment on CNN on the plight of zoos in America. They are worried. People are not renewing their memberships, the budgets are being slashed. But the directors are finding ways to give value to the zoo so that families still come. Even though the times are tough, they are not closing the zoos.

It has not been that long since EVERYONE thought the Miami Dolphins and Atlanta were in the toilet. What happended? The mindset of the organizations changed. Neither of these saw themselves as loosers. What happended? Both these teams ended the year as champions of their divisions.

You cannot attract fans and sponsors by saying "we're a complete disaster" but come to our races and sponsor our teams. If you don't believe in yourself, why should anyone believe in you?

I hope that neither Ed or Marty throw NASCAR under the bus.

Anonymous said...

I agree that Boris doesn't bring
much to the table. Why not some
of the retired drivers who don't
have to worry about being PC?

Anonymous said...

NASCAR just finished media week. If you read the news articles, you get reports of how excited teams are to start the season. Everyone from Mark Martin, to Tony Stewart to Robby Gordon. They all talk like this is going to be their best season. Even Tommy Baldwin has said that just about everyday when he gets to his garage there is someone there waitng for him, wanting to be part of his team.

Robby Gordon has also said that one thing that's been good is the COT. He was able to change his car from a Dodge to a Toyota in about 4 hours. Before the COT, he would have had to dump his Dodge. (He should know, he seems to change manufactorers a lot).

Also, teams now can adjust the same car to drive in all tracks, they don't have to build special cars for the different types of tracks. All that is good for the small owner,( as long as you don't crash a lot.)

I think this season has the chance of being an incredible one. To see all the grit that makes up NASCAR nation is a lesson that can be a model for other sports.

I want to hear more of how drivers/car owners/track owners/sponsors/NASCAR are coping and making do with all the challenges they are facing. I don't want to hear that the counrty is in the tank and how awful it is to go to work everyday.

Andrew S. said...

It's a shame that DirecTV blacklisted my account so I cant watch ESPN or ESPN2 anymore since I cant afford to buy a new receiver etc right now.

As to the previous poster, I can think of one almost retired driver who hasn't been on TV near enough recently and has worked with Allen Bestwick before.... and if you need a hint think I-55 Raceway in Pevely, Missouri. Or Paducah Intl Raceway which he co-owns with some punk named Earnhardt ;)

As for Boris, he'll be driving the #08 Ford at Daytona as a teammate to James Harvey Hylton

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:07AM,

I think you are taking things to the extreme. Nothing in my column related to anything you are talking about.

In the two weeks of SPEED, there has not been one overview of the Nationwide Series, there has not been one panel discussion about the Camping World Truck Series and there has been nothing but one DW off-camera remark about reality.

That is what I am addressing. It has nothing to do with anyone throwing NASCAR under a bus.

Anon 10:16AM,

Why do you assume that realistic conversation by professionals will be depressing rather than inspiring?

Truth and reality are the keys to getting this sport through this tough time, not more smoke and mirrors about Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards.

SPEED decided to take a certain path and that is their right. What we are talking about is what path ESPN will take when they open the NASCAR TV season.


Anonymous said...

I think its a good choice to start with the seasoned reporters. IF they actually are willing to speak their minds.

Anonymous said...

Like others, I think that saying that the 3 series are a disaster is a bit extreme. Like throwing NASCAR under the bus. That may be your reality, but not everybody's, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

The idea is honesty in the form of a discussion on the reality of the sport. MaryPoppins is the other extreme from doom& gloom. Somewhere in the middle is reality.

Anonymous said...

diane is right. I think that having 2 seasoned, well respected reporters will be great for this first program. Whatever they say, I don't think they will be there to either destroy or pro-up NASCAR. I hope that folks will take what they say without having to throw dart just because they don't agree with your opinions.

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

ESPN should stick to the time honored NASCAR tradition of not speaking ill about NASCAR. It worked for over half a century. It will continue to work far into the future.

If ESPN chooses to break that tradition by airing unncessarly speculation on the health of any of the racing series, that should be met with severe consequences.

NASCAR fans don't want to hear any of it, and NASCAR itself has a reputation to defend. Any negativity will make the hunt for sponsorships that much more difficult.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:44PM,

Thank you for helping me to make the decision to end my blog before this season.

You are absolutely right. Ten months of pretending is the way to go.


Anonymous said...

I agree with anon 1:44.

We don't need a press that is more like the National Enquierer. No reporter or politician for that matter can tell what is going to happen. They don't know how each team will do. They don't gain credibility just by trashing the sport. There are a few business that are testing the waters in NASCAR, either by spending more or by joining the party. A good example is Ask.ocm and Farm Bureu Ins.

Just because someone wants to talk about the good parts of the sport does not mean they are "pretending."

Anonymous said...

Ed Hinton's new column is just what I think is great. Don't ignore the problems, but also look at the good that can come from it. And he sure mentions a lot of good that might just be in the horizon, including for the new 15 owners.

Anonymous said...

If Ed Hinton really things there will be 15 new owners, he must be smoking the same stuff as Michael Phelps.

Tracy D said...

Blog ending? What???? What did I miss???


Anonymous said...

anon 3:48 & 1:44,
It scares me that people like you are able to vote. Drink the kool-aid, think positive thoughts and everything will be o.k. I don't think your education included critical thinking skills. I don't mean "critical" in a negative way. I have a feeling you two might have a problem thinking for yourself.
Anyways, Ed Hinton is my favorite NASCAR writer. If ESPN let's him run with the show a little bit, it will definitely pay off as quality TV. I really don't see why they would put both Marty and Ed on this show if they didn't plan on having those two analyze NASCAR's economic situation. It should be an excellent show.
The dynamics between ESPN and NASCAR are a little different than Speeds relationship with NASCAR. I think NASCAR needs ESPN a little more than ESPN needs NASCAR. Therefore, ESPN will have much more creative freedom as far as the content is concerned. Speed relies heavily on a strong relationship with NASCAR and will be much more prone to tote the party line, which is exactly what happened. Either way, this season will definitely be interesting.

Anonymous said...

JD- Double Tracy. Huh ? What? 'Lizbeth I'm coming - I thinks it's the big one.

Anonymous said...

re anon 5:33

NN show was great as a whole. Not too impressed with Mike Helton.

Ed Hinton was good, just like his articles. He was VERY positive about NASCAR and this new season. Anyone who says he is drinking their Kool-Aid is not familiar with Ed and his integrity.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up about the Monday NASCAR Now program.