Monday, April 13, 2009

Four Men With Three Neckties Talk NASCAR TV

Racin' Today's Jim Pedley forgot his necktie and this time ESPN let it slide. Perhaps, it was because of the Sprint Cup Series off-week, but host Allen Bestwick took this new casual atmosphere and led his panel of three NASCAR reporters into an outstanding discussion of racing topics.

Bestwick got the Nationwide Series highlights out of the way right at the start of the show and then set the switch over to "talk." Jeff Gluck from NASCAR Scene, Marty Smith from ESPN and Pedley were up to the task and showed the potential this Monday show has when journalists are included.

Car counts, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the economy were just some of the topics covered early in the program. The panel worked together well and respected each other's comments as the discussion rolled on.

Marty Smith claimed that the current no testing policy is key to the success of veteran Jeff Gordon and his team. Gluck predicted Gordon's current success will not continue throughout the season. Pedley included the fact that Gordon and his team may finally have figured out the bumpstops on the COT and this year is the result.

One great topic brought-up by Bestwick was a discussion about the media guidelines on reporting rumors in NASCAR. Gluck and Smith talked openly about how the pressure of being first has to be mixed with the responsibility of being right. Pedley has just launched a new website and is finding out firsthand the "instant news" dynamic of the Internet.

Bestwick put this in the context of Internet reporters and bloggers talking about Martin Truex possibly replacing Joey Logano. The story turned out to be false, all parties denied it and Joe Gibbs made sure to say no one had asked him about it before reporting it. Bestwick's point had been made, Lee Spencer at had reported this as a rumor from the garage in Texas.

Bestwick led a "change or no change" segment where the topics ranged from qualifying rain-outs to purse structure. Smith promoted the idea that every current track on the Sprint Cup schedule should have one race and a select number should have two. His seasonal total was 29 races.

It was Pedley who offered that his future headline of this season would be a change of the final racing weekend from Homestead to Las Vegas. As fans know, the weather in South Florida is great in November, but Pedley pointed out that there is no buzz in the area and the season often ends with a thud. This is especially true for the TV coverage, which has been awful for the last two seasons at the end of the year.

Joey Logano stopped by via satellite while testing and recapped his Nationwide Series win. This week, the panelists were allowed to ask questions and it made a tremendous difference. Gluck put Logano on the spot about his Cup future and Logano's answer went right to testing. Pedley asked Logano to compare the Nationwide and Cup cars, while Smith asked Logano if the Nashville win helped him quiet the Internet gossip. Logano handled the interview like a pro.

The worst interview topic had to come around sooner or later and the answers were rather surprising. Smith said Kurt Busch, Pedley said Ryan Newman and Gluck said Kevin Harvick. All of the reporters had various reasons, but it was amazing that Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch escaped the official list.

NASCAR Now's Achilles Heel this season is the refusal to promote the Sprint Cup Series races. Once again, Bestwick read the ESPN Nationwide and NHRA Series promos before leading the panel into a preview of the missing Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix. This is just flat-out embarrassing for ESPN after making a commitment last season to put the sport before the TV network.

Other than this issue, the Monday hour showed the power of including the media in the television side of the sport. Never has a reporter-themed show resulted in so many good comments and so much quality conversation. It is a shame that the lackluster TV ratings were not discussed, but perhaps that is not a topic for this group.

Pedley offered a strong opinion in his closing comments that the spending level of the Sprint Cup Series was essentially causing the sport to implode. Gluck bemoaned the loss of the #8 team and Smith talked about Dale Junior's continuing struggles.

Once again, NASCAR Now "extended the brand" and had the panel appear on ESPNEWS for a brief segment. This continues to be awkward, especially on a day when veteran broadcaster Harry Kalas passed away.

Bestwick once again delivered for NASCAR fans a great show. Unfortunately, the program continues to be aired at 5PM and midnight ET. Now that NASCAR Now has proven its value to the fans, perhaps ESPN and NASCAR can sit down and make it available online for anytime viewing.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

I missed the first 20 minutes, so I had to set the DVR for midnight. AB led a great discussion, a reporters edition should be done more often.

I don't understand why they refuse to advertise the Cup race. They use highlights from FOX races on their show, so why not advertise the series they will be featuring in a few months?

cvt said...

I thought the show was going to run out-of-gas after 20 minutes, but Marty made it lively. AB should buy him dinner for keeping the show interesting.

As far as Homestead ending the season with a thud, that's the sound of many folks collapsing from exhaustion after a very long season.

Richard in N.C. said...

I believe it is fair to say that for 2007 forward the news coverage of NASCAR racing has in general been mediocre and superficial. NASCAR racing has grown into a billion dollar industry, but the majority of the so-called NASCAR media have been left behind. Almost any big story in NASCAR in the past 2+ years, especially involving economic issues, has been covered superficially and almost never followed up to a real conclusion. For instance, after the story broke about the conflict between Dale, Jr. and Teresa at DEI, it was May, 2007 before any mainstream media rep took the initiative to go to Statesville, NC (about 30 or 40 miles from Charlotte) to actually read the will of the late Dale E. to confirm the actual ownership of DEI, and there were other, common ways in which the ownership of DEI might have been "left" to Teresa. In NC a decedent's will is a public record. Also, I am still not convinced that the full story of the reasons for the 2008 Brickyard tire fiasco has been written.

As economic conditions have more and more impact on NASCAR racing, it seems that most of the media is either not interested or not prepared to address them. For instance, besides Bruton Smith, Rick Hendrick and Roger Penske lead 2 of the biggest auto dealer networks in the USA, but I have not seen any articles exploring how the current economy is affecting them and whether such might spill over to their racing activities.

Gawd do I miss Bob Margolis. While the website can be irritating, it is one of the very few places I know to find a subject explored in more than 700 or 800 words - and I believe David Carriavello (which I probably misspelled) has become one of the very top writers about NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

Re: your comments about Martin Truex Jr., Joey Logano and the Gibbs -- uh, I guess you didn't read Lee Spencer's story itself, where she mentioned the rumor and then asked J. D. Gibbs directly about it. And i guess you didn't read the rest of her story about how Gibbs said he was looking for a driver for a fourth team. In short, she had the story first and right....and no one else even had the story. I have watched her work for years, and she has much better credentials than any of the four on that a wide, wide margin. And, uh, perhaps it should be noted she works for Fox, and the show you're referring to was on rival ESPN. Maybe those guys were embarrassed they missed a developing story. But then maybe if they attended as many races each season as Ms. Spencer they might be more on target. Shoot the messenger? Maybe one of those guys should be following up on what she broke. Maybe ESPN should invite her on to defend herself. Or is that too much to expect from TV journalism?

Anonymous said...

I have been to Homestead the last two seasons and absolutely loved the track, the race, the location and the weather. But then again I don't need a lot of superfluous nonsense in order to enjoy any race I attend.

Anonymous said...

Even Gluck admitted at the end of last year's season that his predictions are worthless. Well, I think they are going to be worthless again this year. Last year he had Jeff Gordon winning the Cup championship and that could have made him bitter.

Gluck predictied this year that Tony would not make the chase. Tony is 5th right now. He thought Clint would bomb, and yet Clint is now 4th. He also said Kurt would not make it, and Kurt is now 3rd.

Not sure why, but he predicted that Jimmie Johnson, who is 2nd, would finish the year in 8th place!!!

Gluck had Carl winning the championship, and right now Carl is 8th, has only led 40 laps all season, and has an average finish of almost 14. Jeff Gordon, who has led almost 400 laps, has never even finished as low as 14. Jeff's average finish so far is 4.6

I'd say gluck should stop predicting.

Vicky D said...

I thought Pedley mumbled and we really had a hard time understanding him. I thought the best interviewee and worst interviewee questions were great. Very difficult show since no cup race this past weekend and Allen really had a hard job today but did a great job.

Lou said...


I thought the program was very fast paced. Kind of where AB brought up a topic and the panel made a bullet comment about it. There was not a lot of discussion and AB moved on from there. Glad to see many topics brought to the top though. The program tonight could have lasted hours with so many topics brought up.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:28PM,

Just so we are on the same page, I read both Ms. Spencer's article as well as the one from Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant on that topic.

I thought it was interesting that AB brought this topic up on the Logano issue. Anyone who has read this blog knows my feeling about some of the reporting on NASCAR Now in the past.

Of all the topics in the show, I thought that was the most interesting to talk about.


free online classifieds said...
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Anonymous said...

This may help:

Judge for yourself about Mrs. Spencer.

Anonymous said...

As I recall Marty Smith had Joe Gibbs and Martin Truex on the NASCAR Now program to talk about the rumors. No one else interviewed either one of them. Based on that I'd say NASCAR Now does a good job reporting stuff.

That show Monday night was good. Some of the stuff those guys said was stupid, but at least they have the guts to challenge things. A lot of times it's just a big butt kissing contest.

red said...

jd, not nascar related but philly is mourning the silencing of the voice of the phillies, the wonderful harry kalas. many thanks to you for mentioning him in your NN blog as well as the link on your home page.

the rain and grey sky seems appropriate for us.

Anonymous said...

My opinion on Monday's show probably isn't a popular one, but I could care less what four "reporters" have to say about any topic. I have a lot of respect for AB,partly because he knows when to stop talking. I groaned when World Famous race car driver, Marty Smith, told the critics of the COT to ..'just drive it'. Easy for him to say. Maybe he could show us how to do it?? Nascar formally discouraged criticism of the COT, yet an endless stream of drivers have stood in front of the cameras and criticized the COT (Junior,Burton,Kyle,Kane, on and on). All of these reporters are certainly entitled to voice their opinions. The opinions that matter to me are those of the drivers,crew chiefs,car chiefs,engineers and the car owners.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

there has got to be some kind of arm wrestling going on behind the scenes between ESPN and FOX as it relates to NASCAR and cross promotion.

Knowing both sides as i do, i gotta believe FOX attitude (bad) is at the heart of this

Anonymous said...

I did not think this was a very good show. I don't get AB. At times he seems a little passive-agressive. He is the host/moderator and after he gets answers from his guests, he kinda under his breath undercuts their opinions. He is selective, he does not do it every time, and always with a smile. But he never lets the guest have the last word.

AB went through a laudry list of topics, and just got superficial quick answers but no real discussion. Some of them could really have been interesting.

An example is the 35 rule. One said eliminate it, one said keep it, one said extend it to 43. Marty made the best point in the 15 seconds he got, but there was no explanation of the pros and cons for each opinion. AB just moved on to the next item on his list.

There were lots of other examples, but just mention one to make my point. Most NASCAR fans probably don't care what these guys think, and the show did nothing to give them credibility.

majorshouse said...

I really enjoyed the show and hope that they will do more of this with four reporters and it got Rusty Wallace off as well. I hope that we will see more of this. It was fast paced and really informative.

Tracy D said...

I agree with Anon at 9:20 that more time should have been given to support each reporter's opinion and have a general discussion of the same. Also agree with whomever said Pedley was hard to hear/understand. Almost impossible, to be honest.

I like Gluck. He stirs the pot.

Anonymous said...

I guess it's o.k. to write rumors in NASCAR as that seems to keep everyone's interest up. However, I wonder if some of the items being reported as facts are really as written. An example of this is Lee Spencers comments in the above referenced article. "Truex's contract states that he must have two teammates or he can leave the team. Bass Pro Shops has a performance clause and with Truex 28th in owner points, the No. 1 team is in a precarious position. Finally, Chevrolet can alter its support to EGR if three teams are not under the roof." How does she know this? Has she seen the contracts or is she just reporting garage rumors as facts? At least Marty Smith reports his as sources saying rather than fact. "An Internet report Friday suggested that Earnhardt Ganassi Racing may soon stop fielding its No. 8 Chevrolets if a sponsor isn't secured, thereby activating a clause believed to be in Truex's contract that gives him the right to leave the organization. The report stated that, per Truex's driving agreement with EGR, he has the right to leave the company if it provides him with any fewer than two teammates.

Sources with knowledge of Truex's contract with EGR dispute that report, saying the agreement was restructured following the Dale Earnhardt Inc./Chip Ganassi Racing merger and that specific clause may have been removed." See:

Herdman90 said...

Nice report. I like reporters, but it is more balanced if you have at least one "Dale Jarrett" or "Andy Petree" type mixed in there.

Anonymous said...

Loved the show. I liked the mix of reporters too -- a range of ages and viewpoints. Look, on any race day, there is no shortage of ex-drivers, ex-crew chiefs, ex - and current owners etc spouting their opinions. A reporters panel is a nice change, one that I hope they employ more often. The whole thing reminded me how much I miss Tradin' Paint.

I know ESPN comes in for a lot of criticism, but you have to give them credit for yesterday. They put together an interesting program. Speed and TWIN -- not so much.

Newracefan said...

I enjoyed the show and I may have to watch it again. I would love to see this type of show a few times per season but not every week. Marty makes the show for me, I just really like his style (how can you not like a guy who picks peeps as the Easter candy of choice).

Robert Upchurch said...

Could the lack of promos for Fox shows go back to the 2001 season when FOX and NASCAR effectively tanked ESPN's RPM2Nite show by refusing to release clips of FOX coverage or even to allow ESPN's cameras inside the gate? Just wondering.

I liked this show, but when they did the flashback to a portion of the previous week's show (with Benson and Evernham on the panel) I noticed how much better that group came across. I was impressed with Gluck but less so with Pedley. I like how Gluck picked Harvick to win this week right after he named him his most difficult interview. And Marty earns his spot by being a regular on the show (and a lively talker), but does he talk about anything but Junior?

Richard in N.C. said...

Sure would love to see Ryan McGee and Bob Margolis on such a show.

Daly Planet Editor said...


In 2007, the first season of the new TV contract, this same issue arose between ESPN and SPEED.

The parties got together and decided to put NASCAR first and have each network promote the weekend races regardless of what network was showing the event.

ESPN was outstanding in this effort and even used the network logos from SPEED, Fox and TNT.

This season, something has changed and it is for the worst.

Those most affected are the casual TV viewers who are not even being told where the Sprint Cup Series races air on the NASCAR Now programs previewing those events.

This is an incredible display of network ego and power at work. Imagine, dumping the promo for the
Truck and Sprint Cup Series and instead inserting NHRA races in a NASCAR show.

This truly is the worst decision the NASCAR on ESPN team has made this season.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if not listing the Cup races on Fox is more of a ESPN-NASCAR thing rather than an overall ESPN thing.

The only reason I mention it is because I watch Mike and Mike and Jim Rome. On both these shows, they regularly have Fox sport's guys and they identify them very complimentary as being part of Fox Sports. If it is in the off season, they always say "Good luck" on your show.

It seems on the other side, on NN or other NASCAR shows on ESPN, they hardly ever even mention or acknowledge that there is a Fox.

Anonymous said...


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:23M,

Fox is only around for the first sixteen races or so, they have no dog in this fight.

Since Fox and TNT only televise the races themselves, there is nothing for them to promote.

This is an ESPN issue. SPEED has always talked openly about ESPN and promoted the races as being on ESPN, ESPN2 or ABC.

My contacts tell me it's all about a new person in promotions at ESPN who is pulling the old and tired "us vs. them" scenario out again.

The only one who loses in this deal is the fans.


Richard in N.C. said...

I thought the show was pretty good, but I wish they had spent more time on fewer subjects. I think Mr. Pedley did not come across well and, after re-watching twice, I am still trying to figure out exactly what his point was at the end of the show.

Anonymous said...

re 9.20am on 4-14-09

Well, Marty Smith has a new column stating what he could have if given more than 5 seconds to answer.

In his column he is able to articulate why and how he has come to the opinion shared by Jeff Burton--the rule should be 43--forget just 35.

It is thoughtful and well written. I sure would have been a great conversation to see live.