Monday, March 16, 2009

Conspiracy Theories Live On SPEED


Well, The SPEED Report jumped right into the deep end of the pool on what is left of the rapidly fading Tiregate issue from Atlanta. Co-hosts Ralph Sheheen and Leigh Diffey had a very clear reason as to why there was no conclusive video footage available of the incident. It's all an Internet conspiracy theory.

NASCAR fans are used to the TV networks and the NASCAR Media Group surrounding the Sprint Cup Series races with enough cameras to film almost everything. Last week Yahoo! Sports even featured video of Carl Edwards running to the restroom before a race.

Diffey and Sheheen explained that this conspiracy theory states that SPEED, Fox and ESPN are withholding footage that can answer the one remaining question. What is still to be determined is whether Paul Menard's pit crew deliberately rolled that loose tire directly onto pit road and into the frontstretch grass under green flag pit stop conditions.

This issue only arose because ESPN pit road analyst DJ Copp suggested that was the case on a NASCAR Now appearance earlier in the week. Copp offered this information to Allen Bestwick, who then followed-up with panelists Ray Evernham, Ricky Craven and Mike Wallace.

In a very strange TV moment, SPEED played what it claimed was the only footage the network has of the incident. That was a bit ridiculous. The SPEED Report is produced by the network, but all the other NASCAR shows including the Monday night program are completely produced by The NASCAR Media Group with SPEED as the client who pays the bills.

What Sheheen and Diffey never addressed were the camera angles that could easily have solved this incident and put it to rest once and for all. Both the Marcos Ambrose team with DJ Copp as a tire changer and the Menard team have cameras hanging over pit road that record the pit stops. Where did that footage go?

Simply taking a moment to replay both these angles could have solved this problem and either verified Copp's comments or ended the discussion entirely. Unfortunately, Sheheen and Diffey ducked this issue faster than Digger heading back into the Fox merchandise trailer.

My feeling is that Fox, SPEED and even NASCAR are feeling like they got caught being lazy during what was a cycle of green flag pit stops by teams that were not in the top ten. Fox lives for the top ten and this season has focused on the front runners like never before.

Perhaps, this will be a lesson that action continues on and off the track even with the teams that are not among the chosen "TV friendly" drivers that fans see during every single race. With Bristol and Martinsville coming up, the conspiracy theory of this week might just be a very timely reminder.

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28 comments:

Dot said...

I missed the beginning of TSR. I'll catch the rerun.

If DJ C saw this happen to the tire, surely someone else did too. Nevermind that it's not on film. This just adds to the conspiracy. I think NASCAR likes this because it gives them press. It builds excitement going into Bristol.

Sophia said...

I missed TSR and am still not following what they did or did NOT show. But I am super tired at the moment.

So many I know, that have watched the sport for years thinks this blank weekend is ludicrous..just a few weeks away from Easter. NOBODY is running? Thus, I wouldn't put it past NASCAR to stay silent and let the flames get bigger to this story. :)

JD

WOW..on Twitter. Hope you have more folks helping to edit. :-0

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just have to wonder what happened to the pit cam footage. Not like ESPN to get something like this going without the video to back it up.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

I watched my recording of NASCAR NOW again this morning. The first mention of the incident was from an interview at the track with Ambrose's crew chief, who said Menard's crew rolled (maybe he said pushed) the tire back out of their pit - but I did not take it that he meant they did it maliciously, just not being helpful. I understand that there had been some friction between the pit crews before the tire got loose. Then DJ was interviewed and he said that more than 1 person told him that they had seen someone in the Menard crew grab the tire and push it out toward pit road.

If the alleged, offending person was at pit wall, it would seem to me that he might have been outside the area covered by the pitstop camera - i.e., out of the picture. I wonder whether said camera is on all the time once the race starts or has to be turned on or is motion activated.

The level of NASCAR news does seem to be down this week, so maybe a lot of the NASCAR media is taking the week off. Also, the ACC basketball tournament, being held in the cozy confines of the Georgia Dome, is still a big deal in NC and dominates sports reporting down here. If there is a story, it might get lost in the ACC coverage if reported this week.

There has been a lot of reporting about how race attendance and TV ratings are down - with the implication that NASCAR is being hurt more by the economy than anything else. However, for the first time since the mid-1960's there were tickets made available to the public to the ACC tournament which I have seen no mention of in any articles about the lower attendance and TV ratings for the Atlanta race.

It seems to me that the vast majority of the NASCAR media is fixated on reporting superficially and in a way to put NASCAR in the worst light. For instance, I saw several, short articles last week about FORBES reporting that Bruton Smith and Roger Penske fell below a billion dollars in net worth - but I saw no articles that went on to discuss that each of them controls one of the 8 or 10 largest car dealership networks in the USA, or how any possible problems with their car dealership networks might impact their racing endeavors.

Boy I sure do miss Bob Margolis' reporting on NASCAR more and more.

Richard in N.C. said...

Oh I forgot to include that the ACC Tournament has been held in the GA Dome at least once before.

Sophia said...

Thank you Richard in N.C. I understand much better why a camera might have missed something.

Yes, it's an off week of racing in more ways than one. I read Bruton's comments about lots of things including the one about track near Cuba or some such thing..never mind TONS of empty seats were seen at Atlanta. I muse say, my passion for NASCAR is dwindling as far as SEEKING out lots of sites to read about a lot of drivers.

Too many reasons to name why except PRIORITIES have changed since last summer for various reasons.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let me make the point again that I tried to make earlier this season.

Reporting like it was just another season is unfair to both the fans and the sport.

There are still no TV news crews who are covering the economic ramifications of this reality in the Mooresville, NC area who appear on either NASCAR Now or any shows on SPEED.

Fox and TNT do not and will not ever carry additional NASCAR programming outside of their current commitments.

ESPN has used Darren Rovell, who is a nice guy but covers the economics of all sports. I think fans deserve better reporting than we are getting this season.

The biggest problem we have as fans is that we only know what we are being told. What happened to the hundreds of crew guys that got let go? What happened to the shops that shut? What does the town look like and has it affected the government?

ESPN gives us talking heads with generic backgrounds and they often do not even identify where the live shot is originating.

SPEED gives us endless SPEED Stage hysteria and then a Monday night highlight show.

If there was ever a time in the history of this sport where NASCAR should be kicking itself because it does not have a designated TV network, this year is it.

Keeping the faith through this trying time is not going to be done effectively by reporting the same way as was done in the past.

Heck, we could not even shame ESPN into promoting the Sprint Cup Series races on Fox even though NASCAR Now was on the air as a Sprint Cup preview show.

SPEED is so worried about whooping it up and making outrageous statements that they never take even a minute to talk to the fans who have traveled to the races.

After the next three races, it is going to be interesting to see what this sport is like in all three series during the Easter break.

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I did not get a chance to post about before, but I found it significant that when he was on N-NOW Rovell twice amplified Massaro's comment to point out that the economic effects applied to all sports, not just NASCAR. The implications for sports of the current economy are so far reaching and unlike anything we have seen in decades that I am not sure many ( any?) of the NASCAR press have the background or initiative to understand or dig into them - and then on top of that add politicians who might be more interested in appearances than reality.

A recent Wall Street Journal article regarding the massive new stadiums set to open for the Cowboys, Yankees, and Mets stated that "Between corporate sponsorships, naming rights deals and luxury suites, two-thirds or more of teams' revenue comes from corporations rather than ordinary fans,..." Sounds sort of like NASCAR.

If you follow some of the comments from Congress and in the press to its logical conclusion, GM ( and Dodge?) might be forced to withdraw from direct support of NASCAR teams - but advertising by them on NASCAR races would be just fine. So it might be that GM could not directly support any race team, race, or NASCAR, but it could significantly increase its advertising on race broadcasts to maintain marketing of its products - and maybe increase its print advertising. At the same time, GM's being forced to end its direct NASCAR support could put it at a competitive disadvantage since there would be no similar pressure to force Toyota or Ford to end their support. It is a strange world.

Deborah said...

Frankie Kerr, the crew chief for the #47, was on Claire B. Lang's show on Sirius last week and she asked him about video. He said there was video of what happened and also noted that a Yates crew member was instrumental in that tire rolling away, however, he couldn't have been any clearer in saying that Watts actions were still 100% wrong and cause for punishment no matter how the tire ended up on the grass. The reason no one is following up on DJ's comments, going after the Yates crew member or looking to show the video is because even the team doesn't seem to think it would serve any purpose.

I don't understand why ESPN, a network dedicated to covering sports stories or SPEED, a channel that has motorsports programming and isn't solely a news channel would report on the state of affairs in Mooresville and especially with the local government. If you want coverage of those issues there is local TV, newspapers and websites.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Deb,

Obviously, any pit crew member who deliberately puts a driver or other pit crew members in danger is subject to penalty.

The next time you see a pit crew member from another team deliberately roll a tire out onto pit lane on a high speed track under green flag conditions, let me know.

I guess you are not a big fan of ESPN. The economic struggles and the reality of sport are interwoven with their coverage on almost a daily basis.

Trapped behind the facade of endless stories about Junior, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson is the reality of the Truck Series, the Nationwide Series and the non-superteams of the Sprint Cup Series.

Todd Bodine is not going to Martinsville without a sponsor. That would mean one of the key Truck teams in the sport is done.

The Nationwide Series looks like a Sprint Cup practice and the non-sponsored Cup teams are good for the next three races and then mostly done at Easter.

The word is perspective. It is what every TV news report should include. Since Tradin' Paint was cancelled on SPEED the only person offering real perspective is Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel.

Enjoying the show on the track and not caring about anything else is like watching the tip of the iceberg float closer to the boat and doing nothing about it IMHO.

JD

Jack from PA said...

I don't get how NASCAR isn't even looking into this issue. Something is definitely being hidden from us fans and I think we all want to know what happened on that pit stop. One thing I think is that if Menard's crew pushed Ambrose's tire away from his pit, there would have been more reaction from the pit crew than just Jimmy Watts running after the tire. The crew chief would've went to the official or something. The footage is need, however.

GinaV24 said...

It does seem as though NASCAR news is under a blanket of fluff and no substance. ESPN has stirred the pot in the past, so I have some problem with their credibility, but we've all seen footage from a variety of sources WHEN NASCAR wants to make it available. So, why isn't there any footage of this incident? I agree that all of the focus on the top 10 drivers (and Jr of course, never forget about Jr) is what the networks are all about.

I've been very disappointed with the coverage by all the networks of the reality of the sport. I've read some of the "articles" by some of the "name" writers that I've read in the past and they are little more than a synopsis of information posted on the web, not even article length items. NASCAR was all fine and dandy with the status quo when they were raking in the dough, but tough times call for a tougher guy than I think Brian France is capable of being.

Ken in Va said...

Has anyone considered that this incident is intentionally being handled to divert attention from more serious problems?

The dropoff in ticket sales for the Bristol race would be getting more ink if it wasn't being used for this incident. I live 50 miles from Bristol and they are truly worried about the attendance for the upcoming race. The local TV, newspapers and even billboards are pushing tickets. Motels near the track still have rooms available. The Sunday (yesterday) campers are arriving at 10% of the rate of previous races.

I have no doubt that the track will announce a sellout if they don't sell another ticket. They refuse to say how many tickets are still available. They claim it is because corporate tickets are being returned so they can't get an accurate count.

bevo said...

JD,

I always thought that the camera filming each pit was the team's property used for analysis of each pit stop and training the crew members not a NASCAR Media Group thing. Am I mistaken?

Sophia said...

After reading more comments I agree that NASCAR is under a blanket and giving us PUFF pieces, and smiles and yucks.

Maybe that's another reason some of us are disenchanted with the sport. So many are STRUGGLING right now with the economy. The more NASCAR "Ignores this" in all their extraneous shows, the more insulting/maddening it is. It's a SHAME Bodine and others with no sponsors are not being talked about.

Had I not heard him say that post race a couple of weeks ago, all I would've heard is a blurb on Jayski and here.

The sport DESERVES more than this. The fans who love the sport deserve more than this kind of coverage.

I am tired of having to extrapolate what's going on behind the scenes while FOX CONCENTRATES on DIGGER.

I wish the France family would wake up and smell the ECONOMY. I know the reporters and hosts on the tv shows are grateful for their jobs and would like to keep them.

BUT, it would be nice to see them VOICE their concerns for others that have fallen by the wayside.

I hate the CHASE already with the focus,focus,focus,focus, focus on the top 10 cars.

fbu1 said...

JD
Your 8:45 reply to Deb addresses the heart of the matter. There are either very few racing journalists working at the networks, or their input has been shelved in favor of the smiley face talking heads.

Somewhere between corporate happy talk and the sensational "gotcha" stories, honest and factual reporting has been missing. Even some of the better print writers simply "wonder" about certain issues without a meaningful follow up story.

There are many germane issues within the extended NASCAR family that are simply being ignored by the racing media.

fbu1

Anonymous said...

J.D. said..."If there was ever a time in the history of this sport where NASCAR should be kicking itself because it does not have a designated TV network, this year is it"

---
That's right JD, you are still looking for a job right?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:49PM,

Let me get this one straight. NASCAR should start a TV network so I can get a job? Wow, that is almost better than all three networks holding footage of Tiregate.

PS - Just how loud are those black helicopters?

JD

Aven said...

I think journalists in NASCAR are in the same position as the ones that cover the White House. They are reluctant to ask the hard questions for fear they will be "blackballed" and not have the opportunity to ask questions in the future. I don't think it has happened yet in either place but there is a knawing fear that it could happen. That makes journalists timid when it comes to questioning the owers that be.

Richard in N.C. said...

From the comments I have seen from newspaper reporters about Brian France and NASCAR management in general over the past few years I cannot imagine that any of said reporters are afraid of being blackballed since they have basically accused NASCAR of being disinterested and incompetent. For instance, most of the southern newspaper writers (and Lee Spencer) went out of their way to put the blame for the infamous ABC to ESPN Phoenix switch last fall all on NASCAR rather than ABC-ESPN.

I believe reporting on the impact of the current economy is more involved and requires much more effort than the mainstream media is used to.

GinaV24 said...

Hey, JD, if NASCAR does finally pull their head out of their posterior and starts their own network, YOU would be my first choice to run the production effort. After all, you know what the fans want to see -- you've been listening to us howl about it for several years now!

I vote for JD!

ducking down so the propeller wash doesn't knock me down! LOL

Anonymous said...

How do I find you on Twitter?

I searched "TDP" and "The Daily Planet" without finding you.

Thanks!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:43PM,

Just click on the Twitter logo on the top right hand corner of the TDP homepage. Then you can bookmark the TDP Twitter page.

Thanks for the interest.

JD

Anonymous said...

Hi JD, When I click on the TWITTER LOGO, My "Home Page" on Twitter comes up. ???

Thanks for any help!

Anonymous said...

I don't know why, after all these years, people "don't understand" why there isn't more or better "reporting" on NASCAR. For years it was simply that NASCAR wouldn't allow the voice of dissention. NOW, add the "fluff and bs" of a few dozen corporation's officers and the "true" stories never get told. The bottom line is that, especially in these tough economic times, any "reporter" who doesn't carry NASCAR's message of the day/weekend will not get credentialed for the next weekend. If you don't get credentialed, chances are you won't keep your job. So whose tough time would you rather talk about NASCAR's or your own. Until NASCAR goes public, you'll never hear the truth. These so called journalists, producers, announcers are nothing more than race fans. It's like politics....you can't/won't write an expose if you're exposing the actions or behaviour of the very people whose butt you've got your lips firmly planted on week in and week out.

Richard in N.C. said...

I do not believe there could be any more consistently anti-NASCAR reporting than what Mike Mulhern has been writing for years, what Lee Spencer has written since she's been at FOX Sports, or what Ed Hinton and David Poole often write. If NASCAR is trying to control what is written about it, they have done a poor job. For instance, almost all the NC based newspaper reporting of ABC's switch of the end of the Phoenix race to ESPN2 in 2008 put all the blame on NASCAR, not ABC-ESPN - whereas the NY and other northern media placed the blame exactly where it belonged, on ABC-ESPN. It seems to me that NASCAR is not to blame for the quality of the reporting in the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

For instance, almost all the NC based newspaper reporting of ABC's switch of the end of the Phoenix race to ESPN2 in 2008 put all the blame on NASCAR, not ABC-ESPN - whereas the NY and other northern media placed the blame exactly where it belonged, on ABC-ESPN.

That was NASCAR's fault.

It happened because, unlike all the other major sports leagues, NASCAR failed to include TV contract language that prevents it from happening.

ABC will do what it wants, unless it is prevented from doing so by the contract, which is precisely why the other sports include a prohibition against it in their deals.

The fact that NASCAR either didn't think of it or felt it was unnecessary when they wrote the contract makes the whole situation NASCAR's fault.

Richard in N.C. said...

Maybe NASCAR is dumb, too trusting, or got taken advantage of by ABC-EESPN - but it was ABC-EESPN that made the decision to flip the switch, move the race, and tell NASCAR fans that we are not as worthwhile as amateur videos. No one made ABC-EESPN move the race. If NASCAR is to be blamed it is for not suspecting that ABC-EESPN cannot be trusted.