Friday, March 13, 2009

Lack Of TV Follow-Up On Incident Starts To Glare

Like Apollo 13 on the far side of the moon, NASCAR TV is in a black-out this Friday, Saturday and most of Sunday.

NASCAR Now is on hiatus for college championship week on ESPN2 until Monday and stick-and-ball sports are dominating ESPNEWS. Because of the off-week, shows like NASCAR Live, Trackside and RaceDay are also gone from SPEED.

This TV gap comes at an interesting time for both of these networks for very different reasons. As we mentioned in (click here) this post, ESPN pit road analyst DJ Copp was clear in his Monday NASCAR Now comments that the Paul Menard Yates Racing team was the root of the problem that caused an errant tire to roll across pit road Sunday in Atlanta. That is one of the Menard team's pit stops from Atlanta above courtesy of Getty Images.

Copp is one of the two tire-changers on the Ambrose team involved in the incident and should certainly have first-hand knowledge. One conversation with his teammates after the botched pit stop should have told the tale immediately.

As several TDP readers who posted comments noted, NASCAR Now did not offer any response from Larry Carter, the Menard crew chief about the incident. Fans continue to pepper Internet sites like this one with the same question. If one of the Menard crew rolled the tire out into pit road on purpose, shouldn't he receive the same suspension as Ambrose crewman Jimmy Watts?

NASCAR has been mum on the topic since the original penalties were handed down. No additional video has yet surfaced to either uphold Copp's version of the events or confirm NASCAR's conclusion that this was an Ambrose team issue alone.

Perhaps, lost in the shuffle is the fact that on Sunday there were all kinds of TV folks at the track. Fox telecast the actual race, with a pit reporter assigned to the Ambrose team. ESPN had reporters on the ground for NASCAR Now and SPEED saturated the area with production folks reporting stories for the Sunday and Monday TV shows.

So, what happened to the follow-up on what some are calling the critical incident of the race? Fans may remember some brief comments from #47 crew chief Frank Kerr and even a smiling Marcos Ambrose after the race, but apparently that was not the whole story.

The Sunday night TV shows came and went without mentioning the issue of a Menard crew member being in the mix. True or not, the conviction with which Copp reported this to the Monday late night NASCAR Now viewers certainly seemed sincere. Copp has a long track record with the show of being accurate with his comments.

As other readers have pointed out, Copp is an ESPN employee on an ESPN program. He is making an allegation not previously reported on national TV about an incident in which only his team was ultimately penalized. Perhaps, taking the time to get a statement from the Yates Racing team would have been in the best interest of fairness to all parties.

ESPN's Marty Smith may actually have updated this issue Thursday morning on the late night edition of NASCAR Now. Unfortunately, like many fans I was forced to put the show on the DVR and then discovered that college sports had run long yet again. Smith's report was lost in space.

If Smith did update this information, perhaps some readers could take a moment and let us know the content of his report. The video of Smith's segment was unfortunately not made available on the ESPN website, despite the obvious fact that this late night program ran well past the scheduled off-time.

It will be The SPEED Report on Sunday at 7PM that gets the next whack at this topic. Unfortunately, the website is not updated with the host information for the show. Dave Despain will follow next at 9PM with Wind Tunnel and his guest is Steve Letarte, the embattled Jeff Gordon crew chief. It should be interesting to see if Dave responds to a viewer question or asks Letarte about this topic.

Finally, Nicole Manske will get into the act on Monday at 5PM on ESPN2 when she fills-in once again for Allen Bestwick on the roundtable version of NASCAR Now. Manske has three NASCAR media folks as guests, including ESPN's own Angelique Chengelis who does not mince words when reporting the NASCAR news.

All of this should make for a couple of interesting off-days to continue a little friendly debate and explore why this topic has not crossed-over from the TV to the Internet side of the NASCAR media. Perhaps, without the video proof, the topic will eventually just fade away.

As always, we welcome your comments. Just click on the comments button below and follow the easy instructions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when offering your comments please.

Thanks again for taking the time to read The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

If one of the Menard crew rolled the tire out into pit road on purpose, shouldn't he receive the same suspension as Jimmy Watts?

No. It wasn't his team's tire. It was someone else's and it ended up in his box. If he shoves it away and it rolls into the infield, that's not his problem--the rules don't say he has to take care of other teams' equipment.

I don't think you can prove specific intent here, JD, and I frankly think that, during an off week, you're reaching.

Anonymous said...

TDP wrote:
ESPN pit road analyst DJ Copp was clear in his Monday NASCAR Now comments that the Paul Menard Yates Racing team was the root of the problem that caused an errant tire to roll across pit road Sunday in Atlanta

Why should anyone believe Copp anymore than we would believe one of the Allison brothers or Dale Sr.? Copp DID NO SEE IT. If he saw a tape, he seems to hold the rest of the universe in suspense because no one in the press has seen it. Why didn't he bring it to ESPN? Why didn't AB, the master mc ask him?

Anonymous said...

anon 10.35 is so right. Each team is responsible for their own equipment. Short of someone from the 98 team going into the 47 pit, the 47 team is responsible.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:35PM,

I appreciate you taking the time to respond to this column. Your opinion on this topic is welcome.

I think that perhaps you created the specific words "shoves it away and it rolls into the infield" about the tire.

What Copp suggested on national TV was that it was rolled onto pit road on purpose during green flag stops because the Menard crew was upset that Ambrose had stopped short in his pit box.

I have no dog in this fight. We are offering opinion about why this topic did not surface on TV until Copp brought it up, nothing more.

I have no interest in proving anything, much less something you call specific intent.

PS - I don't make a dime off this site, I just have fun doing it in my spare time. So, I don't have to reach for anything my friend.

Anon 10:49PM,

Great comment and even better questions. Love to get an answer from the parties involved.


Anonymous said...

I have not seen any of this in the print/online media. Could it be that the press is not buying all that Copp is selling? After all, since when is a front tire changer the spoksman for a team? How about team owner Brad Daugherty? Maybe TDP can write an entire article on Brad and his silence (like the one on Ray Everham)? Just a thought.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:57PM,

You hit the nail right on the head. Copp is an ESPN analyst and has been for several years. He made these statements on national TV and no other viewpoints were represented.

The topics you are raising will be discussed as this unfolds. Did the team let him go on TV knowing he was going to say that? It will all probably come out in the wash.


Anonymous said...

Well, David Newton has an article on where Jimmy Watts spoke after he was given a 4 race suspension. He wanted to apologize to his team, competitors and NASCAR. He said he took FULL reponsibility for the incident. NO EXCUSES. Frank Kerr, crew cheif, was put on probation. Seems like the team is accepting the punishment and are not going to chanlenge NASCAR to pursue anyone on the 98 team.

The silence of the 47 team management can only lead us to beleive that they agree with NASCAR, and not Copp. No 47 suits are supporting Copp's accusations. He ought to read the writing on the wall, and shut up.

Anonymous said...

JD, It seems to me that Ray was questioned when it had to do with his team, Rusty is constantly questioned as is DW. Why would folks question Copp when he is comenting on HIS team? He's not commenting on something that happened to an HMS or RCR team. It's his team and he is taking sides! He offers no proof and now we know his owners are not fighting the ruling NASCAR came down with.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Let's not get confused on this one. The Ambrose team took the penalty and that is just fine. That may be a topic for another site.

What we are trying to look at and several folks have commented on is the issue of Copp coming on national TV and advancing an agenda like this.

He has been a quiet, dependable analyst for this show for a long time now. This is really the first time he has been in this situation.

So, should he have said it? Should he have brought a tape of the Ambrose team pit stop? Should they have made sure and talked to Larry Carter as well?

I think these are some pretty good issues as we go down the road a bit.


Dot said...

I don't think we'll get any more information this weekend, or on NN. Just more speculation and "What was he thinking?" comments. By the time we get to Bristol, it won't even be brought up. It'll be Busch vs Busch, and where the Gomers (go/go home) need to finish.

I don't think DJ C would jeopardize his job by accusing the 98 team of purposely rolling the tire onto pit road on national TV. We all know how BSPN likes to stir the pot. I don't watch BSPN (except for racing). I'm curious to know how many times they've ran the Bobby Knight sound bite of him saying s***.

Anonymous said...

Dot, I don't think ESPN is strirring up the pot. No one forced Copp to throw a member of the 98 under the bus.

I think Copp has a crdibility issue if he says he saw a tape and now the tape is no longer available to be seen. The fact that no one in his team backs up his story. The fact that his owners have accepted full resposibility, makes you wonder why Copp went this far.

Karen said...

I did catch the whole NN Wednesday night. Flipped over at 1:05 and saw NN hadn't started.

My recollection of Marty Smith's report is that Brad D was not going to appeal the suspension of Watts and that after his suspension is over, he will come back to the employ of JTG/Daugherty Racing. Seems like someone told Watts to go after the tire so he did just that. No mention of the 98 team as I recall.

Lesley said...

When the Nascar police can see a single lug nut fall off in a 14 second pit stop,they will not miss someone rolling a tire out into the middle of the track on purpose!! Drop It gang!!! Instead,lets talk about Kurt Bush saying ..Hey!! Ive heard just about enough of my little brother to last me a life time!!Lets just see who's faster!!Its going to be a great season!!

Daly Planet Editor said...


That is why I mentioned that NASCAR has been mum on this issue.

Makes you wonder how something like that could be missed by four white-suited officials...if it happened.

Great comment.


Anonymous said...

Well, it's been 5 days and Copp has not provided the media with the tape that supports his accusations against the 98 team.

If respected reporters like Marty Smith and David Newton don't follow-up, it's becasue there is no smoking gun, just a disgruntled tire changer.

I bet Copp will drop this like a hot potato. He'll probably say something like " we have to move on". I'm not sure anything he says will save face.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the larger issue here the fact that a Cup crew member thought it was appropriate to run halfway across the grass apron to fetch the tire when the track was under green?
I happen to think that, regardless of who shoved the tire where, a crew member making such an aggregious error says, to me, that NASCAR competition needs to have a "stand down day" and review every safety rule for race operations with every team.

Bray Kroter

Anonymous said...

I know it's an off weekend and we're looking for news but come on. This story has run its course, there is no conspiracy and let's move on. To say the media is ignoring some hidden piece of this incident is simply trying to create a furor when there is none.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:07AM,

If you could provide some information to support your conclusions it would help us a bit.

Don't think anyone is suggestion a conspiracy. We are just talking about a difference of opinion that just happened to be aired on national TV because one party is an ESPN analyst.

As some have said, it may well be that Copp drops this faster than a hot potato.


Anonymous said...

If in fact this tire ended up in Menards pit box. The 47 would have incurred a penalty, regardless of what subsequently happened to it.
On a sort of related note. Several times I have seen tires that were rolling away, & would have left the pit box. Except that a NA$CAR official stopped it. No penalty was ever levied. I can understand stopping tires for safety reasons. I always thought a penalty was in order. Doesn't this make the official a de facto crew member?


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Lou said...


good point, I remember, but do not know which race broadcast it was. But the announce team in the booth did mention something to the effect that if it did not put the official in harms way and he/she did stop the tire it was allowed. Especially if it would injure the official. Not sure of the exact quote. Kind of a no harm no foul deal. Yep, another rule written in sand.

Lou said...
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Lou said...


the way it was presented that day was sort of a common sense sort of comment. And watching some of the replays while the announce booth were commenting on it, it did seem to be ok IMO.

amy said...

I have a theory! Paul Menard with all his money flowing in is way more important than some Aussie who has trouble getting sponsors. Therefore, Mr. Copp was told it was his fault.

Hey, it's as good as anyone's else's! lol

Deborah said...

I would agree that the actions of the Yates crew member were iffy but that's not going to save Watts from getting a penalty even if the Yates crew member was caught on multiple videos. Unless there's a NASCAR rule that forbids team members from touching other teams tires when they come into their pit boxes, then the bigger issue is with Watts because he actually did break a rule in the rule book.

Considering the team and Watts himself have said that they want to put the incident in the past and move on, and the team isn't going to appeal the penalty I doubt that Copp, the team or anyone else is going to go looking for video of the Yates crew member to provide it to the media.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to be able to trace the IP adress on some of those posts above.
If the 98 team didn't push the tire back onto the track, there must be video. Someone is sitting on it...or burning it.

Julia said...

Mr Daly Planet
I DVR too. What I have learned to do is, if I see something is on live before late night NA$CAR NOW, and I think it may run overtime, I manually EDIT the DVR recording of NA$CAR NOW to run about 15-20 minutes OT.
I was not home, so I was not able to edit it this last time, but adding time to the recording usually works very well.

Lou said...


I know you do not want us to FEED the trolls. I just can not help myself on this. Delete as it may.

annon,13Mar09, 1007hrs.
I do not have a cable box. But do have satelite dish with a remote. Yep, I am a director of my TV. I do not have a DVR but do have a VCR and I am a very good tape machine operator with it. So having said that, IMO I consider my self a tape machine operator. But then again if you use a roll of tape you are still a tape machine operator. No I do not watch alot of TV, so I will not start my own blog. LOL

I happen to enjoy The Daly Planet.

Isn't TV fun.

Anonymous said...

JD needs to go back to his previous "review" procedure. It might take posts longer to be shown, but obviously the immature need some guidance....

Lou said...

annon, 1151hrs.
I sent JD an email about the same thing. I agree with you

Anonymous said...

JD, good comment "if it happened."

tom in dayton said...

Mr. Daly:

Thank you again for providing one of the most civilized forumns on the internet.

As you wrote:"If one of the Menard crew rolled the tire out into pit road on purpose, shouldn't he receive the same suspension as Jimmy Watts?", let's go to the 2009 Sprint Cup rule book for clarification, in section 9, "Race Procedure".

Watts was cited under section 9-15-U, as noted in NASCAR's press release. Section 9-15-Q reads as follows:
"Crew members:
(1)Must remove tire(s)wheel(s)from the outside half of the pit box in a manner acceptable to NASCAR Officials before the car exits its assigned pit box.
(2)Must not allow a tire(s)wheel(s)to cross the center of pit road at any time.
(3)Must not intentionally cause a tire/wheel to go beyond the outside half of any pit box."

You will note that the term "crew members" is non-specific and applies to any crew members along pit road. Item three is most specific with the word "intentionally", as there could be a situation where one team, getting back at another team or driver for a past trangression, takes a tire belonging to yet a third team and rolls the tire onto pit road just as the target begins to pass the first team's pit box.Contrary to the opinion of Anon on 3/12 @10:35pm, the rule book is very specific and, I should note, section 9 was extensively revised after the 2008season.

On a personal and unrelated note, I want to thank all of my fellow posters who expressed their kind thoughts to me and my family for the loss of our niece in the Buffalo air crash in February. Each expression was sincerely appreciated.

Thanks again, all!

Anonymous said...

I think this story has probably run its course. Nothing will change the mind of the Copp-believers, so why try.

I do think that when 2 reporters who have touched on the story, Marty Smith and David Newton, and neither has pursued Copp's conclusion, that tells you a lot.

Both of these reporters are well-respected in their field, formally trained (both are college graduates), and follow a good reporter's habit of not making a conclusion without 2-3 different, credible sources.

Apparently, there are not 2-3 crdible sources in the 47 team that support Copp. As professionals, they would not ask the 98 team to prove a negative. Before you accuse someone, you make sure you have proof they did something. Copp has not been able to back his words. Sure, he saw a tape, so where is it? Show it to Marty and David.

Anonymous said...

tom in dayton said...

(2)Must not allow a tire(s)wheel(s)to cross the center of pit road at any time.

From that you concluded:

You will note that the term "crew members" is non-specific and applies to any crew members along pit road.

Well, you are so wrong. On camera it has shown that crew members from an adjacent pit have had the opportunity to stop a tire and refused, and only the driver of the tire is forced to pay a penalty lap.

Each team member has duties, and they are NEVER responsible for "helping" another crew. Officials are not going to judge who could or could not have prevented a tire from going astray. The penalty ALWAYS goes to the owner of the equipment.

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Richard in N.C. said...

Tom in Dayton, my sympathies on your loss.
Thanks for the rule book information.
As I read the rule and in my mind there is a big difference between a neighboring crew man failing to stop a wayward tire and actually sending another team's tire out on to pit road.

Anonymous said...

David Poole wrote on his blog that he contacted MWR to inquire if Jimmy Watts wanted an opportunity to discuss the tire incident.

Their response was no. They and Watts wanted to move on. But in response to Poole's and other reporters request for information, Watts released a statement saying it was his fault and he was sorry.

Seems to me that Copp has stirred up trouble where there was none.

Goodyear released testing information. Besides Kasay and JJ, Marcus Ambrose of the 47 and Paul Menard of the 98 will be together for 2 days. I bet that Marcus has not appreciated Copp's causing trouble between him and Paul's crew. Marcus is such a nice, get along kind of guy.

I wonder what is next for Copp.

Newracefan said...

This entire thing has gotten blown way out of proportion. I guess I agree with what Ray said on NN, if the tire was ON THE WALL and the 98 team pushed it back over onto pit road that should be looked at. If the tire was just rolled into the 98's pit box and the 47 wasn't making an effort to get it out of their way fast enough they have the right to bat it out but most teams wouldn't throw you under the bus and dump it back out onto pit road but just bat it back into the appropriate teams pit box and out of their way, maybe that is what they did and it turned the wrong way.

I feel that DJ was just repeating what he was told as an explanation of how it all started to go so terribly wrong not an it wasn't our fault leave us along kind of statement. Yes it would have been fair to have some type of back up or rebuttal but this is what we have gotten and lets face it except for the poor guy who got suspended everyone else has mostly likely moved on. I was glad to hear he won't be fired by JTGD he's going to be a video clip for a long time as it is. Perhaps we all need to email Marty Smith at and/or Larry Mac and Hammond at Fox and see if they have anymore insight.

Anonymous said...

I am not taking a side in such a strange discussion, but I can add some information. I was at the Atlanta race and was listening to the 47 crew on my scanner when this incident occurred. I can say for certain that Jimmy Watts was not sent to get the tire by Frank Kerr. When this whole thing happened, Kerr was yelling on the radio, "Jimmy you can't go out there!".

A very short time later Ambrose asked what had happened and the first response from Kerr was something to the effect of, "We had a tire get away....the 98 knocked it out there." I personally didn't have a good view of the pit, but this is what I heard.

Anonymous said...

I think that it is an oversimplification to say that "eveyone" has moved on.

Copp clearly blamed the 98 teamon ESPN. There were lots of team members that were/are furious that they lost a lap, which made some be 2, 3 or 4 laps down and they never recovered.

The incident left only a few drivers on the lead lap. I can't remember now, but it was something like 6-8 drivers only. Everyone else ended up 1,2,3,or 4 laps down. News travels fast, and after the race, no one thought it was the 98 team.

Newracefan, it is a big deal.

Richard in N.C. said...

I need to see if I still have the show recorded, so I might be wrong, but I thought Copp said he saw the tire being rolled out into pit lane by the Menard crew. I understand there used to be a lot of games played on pit road, like leaving tires where they might interfere with another car getting out or seeing how close a car entering pit road could come to another car's pit crew.

Anyway, it is not news-less Wednesday before an upcoming race yet.

Anonymous said...

Richard, Copp could not have seen that. He was changing the front tires. He has to be squating down. How on earth could he change his 2 tires in 5-7 seconds and have time to look over the trunck of the car?
If he was watching the rear tire changer, he is not doing his job and should be fired. Pit quickness is important and pit crews have to stay on task.

PammH said...

DJ C did say he didn't see the supposed push of the tire in his interview.

Richard in N.C. said...

Anonymous, good point. Thank you. As I said, I have not had a chance to see if I still have Copp's comments recorded, so I very well could be wrong about his saying he saw the action.

At the same time I believe Watts is the gas man or the catch can man. If Watts had his head up to see the tire going across pit road, then the refuelling and, presumably, the tire change was completed so Copp could have been standing up and able to see the action, if any, by someone in the Menard crew.

Dot said...

@ Richard in NC, Watts is the gas/catchcan guy. You brought up a good point about the stop being over and that's why DJ C could see what happened.

Anonymous said...

Every team has an overhead camera on the pitbox it should show up on these recordings.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, Thanks for the picture. A super illustration of what I would call the Junior Johnson jack rule. When he was still going over the wall Junior had a decidely different way of getting the jack around the car, which as I recall resulted in the rule requiring the jack man to carry the jack from 1 side of the car to the other.