Thursday, May 28, 2009

Manske Handles The Ultimate TV Cross-Over

TV viewers were checking the remote to see if it was really NASCAR Now they were watching. Sitting there on-camera was SPEED TV's Robin Miller.

Since Miller always seems to add a little extra zing to everything he does in the media, he made sure to dress-up for this ESPN interview. Rounding-out the mussed hair and the five o'clock shadow was a frumpy black t-shirt that read "got speed?"

Nicole Manske was the host of NASCAR Now and the reason for Miller's appearance was a Wednesday morning story (click here) on the website.

Miller had broken the news that the Hulman family wanted Tony George out as the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This was big news across the motorsports world, as George had taken that facility down a path that included many millions of dollars invested in things like a road course in the infield and a new golf course.

The hidden issue, of course, was George using lots of family money to unify the two competing open-wheel series. Members of the board that pushed for his ouster apparently included George's own sisters. It was a family affair.

Manske and Miller know each other from her days in Indy as a local TV station reporter and from her time at SPEED. Miller was a former contributor to and had no problem talking about this issue in a very candid manner.

Before Manske welcomed Miller, she ran video from a local Indy TV station that showed a very nervous George insisting that everything was fine and he was still the CEO of the speedway. It was a telling interview where George tried to lay the blame for the current situation on the bad economy.

"This place (IMS) wakes-up every morning and eats money," said George. "Certainly, the Indy Racing League in the past has required a lot of capital to keep it going and a lot of money was spent trying to unify (the IRL and Champ Car)."

When Miller appeared, he estimated that George has spent over 400 million dollars in his efforts at both IMS and on the IRL. Responding to the fact that George and IMS had both approached the media with their own spin on this issue, Miller called it simply damage control.

The suggestion was that Miller was correct in his facts and that George would simply continue to move further and further away from any management role at the speedway. According to Miller, it was his story that had simply forced both George and IMS to make a public statement on the issue.

Either way you slice it, the bottom line was that real financial issues had finally collided with the manner in which George had run his designated slices of the family business empire. Miller had no animosity and did not embellish his statements, this was a good TV interview between two reporters about facts.

Manske made sure to review the IMS statement before pushing on to strictly NASCAR topics. The George issue is relevant to NASCAR fans for several reasons. The COT is still unable to run more than 15 laps at IMS without wearing out the racing tires from Goodyear. That puts this season's July event in peril.

Indy is the first NASCAR race of the 17 race ESPN/ABC TV package that is worth hundreds of millions of dollars to the sport in a contract that has many years to run.

The Brickyard 400 tire fiasco of 2008 came on the heels of the Formula-1 series having the same type of tire problems and staging the now-famous race where most of the teams pulled-off the grid before the start.

Last year, ESPN sliced the TV contract of George's newly unified open-wheel series to pieces and only agreed to carry a handful of races. Unless George agreed to the new contract, ESPN would walk away. George rolled-over and saved the Indy 500 on ABC while most of the races and all of the support programming moved to the Versus TV network for far less money. It has not been a kind world recently to Tony George.

Manske moved on to a telling interview with Scott Riggs. Admitting he did not want to start-and-park for Tommy Baldwin, Riggs was basically searching for a job. When Andy Petree appeared next, he reinforced for Manske that field fillers were just a sign of the economic times.

Petree also previewed Dover and then talked about the struggles of the Hendrick #88 team. His interesting comment was that Dale Earnhardt Jr. needed someone like Chad Knaus or Ray Evernham to step-in and run the show. Admitting that Knaus was unlikely to leave Jimmie Johnson, Petree left the Evernham name on the table.

The only sour note in the program was once again NASCAR Now choosing not to promote the start time or TV network of either the Camping World Truck Series or the Sprint Cup Series races from Dover. Instead, the NBA playoffs, NHRA Drag Racing and the IRL race at Milwaukee made the cut.

ESPN has told us repeatedly that the reason for this decision is simple. Fox refuses to promote the ESPN Nationwide Series races during the Fox Sprint Cup Series coverage. Perhaps, for the sake of the fans and the sport, this ego-driven nonsense will end after this weekend. It is the final race for Fox this season.

Manske returns again on Thursday with another edition of NASCAR Now at 6:30PM ET. The late start times this week are due to coverage of the French Open Tennis Championships. The complete TV schedule for this weekend is on the right side of the TDP mainpage as usual.

We welcome your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Anonymous said...

I thought the show was good. One question I would like to have seen the host put to Riggs: "If you aren't willing to be a team player and make the move (start-and-park) that the team decides it needs - how do you think you are going to find a job with another team looking for a team player?"

Everyone treats start-and-park as evil, and while we would all like it out of the sport - you have to understand why it happens and why it is sadly necessary for some teams (teams that can't even afford the tires for a full season's worth of racing, but who deserve to be on the track). I don't think the show put start-and-park into any kind of unbiased context. I wish that they had.

Also, I am really sick of seeing Indy news stories on NASCAR Now. You can argue that there is a NASCAR angle because of the Brickyard race, but I think that is honestly stretching it a bit. I would rather see an interview with just about anyone in NASCAR on the air instead of see coverage of this story.

majorshouse said...

I hate that I missed Robin Miller tonight. I like the fact that he has never been politically correct in anything he says or does and that even includes his attire. I love it when he and Dave Despain get into it on Wind Tunnel and would love to see more of this.

Haus14 said...

I loved the shirt! Very fitting for Mr. Miller and his "style."

Anonymous said...

Very good show. I enjoyed all the segments, although I have to question why they're calling the show "NASCAR Now" but running a story about Tony George that is much more about open-wheel racing than it is about the one race NASCAR runs at his track.

Matt said...

Unfortunately for NASCAR fans, but fortunately for ESPN, NASCAR Now is the only daily TV show about ANY type of motorsport. Therefore, when major non-NASCAR news breaks, it's the only place on TV for fans to get info/analysis. I see nothing wrong with it at all, but it does show the stupidity of SPEED to not have some sort of live, daily motorsports show, even if it's at 4 or 5 and not in primetime.

Dot said...

Ironic that Tony G is also 3rd generation. Just sayin'.

The Tony G story is a good way for NN to show other forms of racing on an off day. I know this is big news however, they should find stories to report on Wed & Thur if nothing is going on in NASCAR. I don't mind coverage of other forms of racing.

Bad blood between Scott & Tommy?

Wow, they're talking about the S&Ps.
I'll still go with my theory that NASCAR doesn't mind. If the leaders fall out of the race, chances are they won't finish 40-43rd. They just have to make it through the first caution.

Why only $50K/50 points for Robby?

Anonymous said...

I've got to give Manske credit for her interview with Andy Petree. I really like Andy, but his initial answers to her questions were just talk. She kept challenging Andy to be specific and he couldn't do it. Andy fell into the trap you often see on TV where there's always a ten second solution to any major problem. So,Junior needs a new top-notch crew chief mid-season?? OK, who's available? The way the other HMS Teams are running,there's no way Rick is going to raid car chiefs and crew chiefs from his other teams even though it sounded like he was sniffing around the #5 team a while back before they caught fire. Who's available now that has Cot experience?Eury Jr and the car chief need to be replaced. DJ reported that Earnhart is running setups significantly different from those of his team mates. The car chief is central to that situation. Eury Jr did well with the Nationwide series, but has only two Cup wins (Richmond and the gas mileage fiasco at Michegan).The Cot has been a challenge to many Crew Chiefs with far better records in Cup. As long as the other Hendrick cars are running well, Rick is limited to the changes he can make mid-season. Almost all of Junior's Cup wins were with Eury Sr. Unfortunately,he has no Cot experience. Eury Jr didn't routinely drive by his pits or wreck the field at Daytona. There's plenty of blame to go around on the #88 team, but its silly to just give an interview stating that it's time for a crew chief change.

eaglesoars said...

I love Robin Miller even when I don't agree with him. I believe him here, we'll just have to wait and see.

I think Scott Riggs just ended any hope he ever had to have a career in NASCAR. If not only are you not willing to be a team player and do what it takes to build a start up team, but you go on National TV and belittle a guy that has everything he's worth on the line trying to make things work and was willing to give you a shot?

Andy P. very politically correct when asked if he'd hire Scott if he was looking for a driver said NO but based it on the fact that Scott even though he had been in good equipment never put up the numbers.
Hey Scott missed 33% of the shows he tried to qualify for this year, can't get a sponsor that way,

Anonymous said...

Wonder if the Hulman girls are thinking of hiring Humpy Wheeler to run IMS, and let Tony concentrate on the IRL.

Humpy was spotted at the Indy 500.

Anonymous said...

I believe that Tony's comment about the Speedway eating money was a swipe at the longstanding Hulman family resistance to anything running at IMS other than the 500. Remember what a hard sell it was for Tony to get the approval for NASCAR to run there, and how it was considered sacrilege by the Hulman purists.
On the other hand, at the job and money levels of Tony George and Brian France, daily life is a frustrating experience. If he could, Tony G would be a pro golfer on tour all year long. Brian France would be an NFL owner or president of ESPN. bernie Eccelstone would be the King of the World.........oh, wait, he IS the King of the World

50 yr. fan said...

I'm thinking Riggs went with the
start-up on a marginal percentage
of pay. He may have found out that
he was losing money by start and park.

cvt said...

NASCAR on tv needs a "Robin Miller" to get under the skin of the powers-to-be on a regular basis,if for no other reason than to challenge their thinking. The Manske interview was a delight: informative and to-the-point.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Nicole Manske did a great job of hosting in her 2nd year as host of NASCAR Now so far. Pretty soon she will be guest hosting ESPN First Take.

darbar said...

I found it really interesting that Petree, when pushed, said he probably wouldn't hire Riggs, and I didn't think he implied this comment was because of the economic times. Petree said Riggs had chances to prove himself, and didn't.

And, now we know that Evernham wasn't coaxed out of retirement. Tony Eury Jr has been fired from the crew chief duties and Evernham isn't the replacement. Who the heck in Lance McGrew?

Anonymous said...

Lance McGrew is the interim CC for Junior.

That means he won't likely get he job full-time.

He's a solid mid-level guy, though, who has won in NNS and Trucks, and has worked with Junior before.

Anonymous said...

Let's see what developes with Mayfield Motorsports. JJ Yeley says they won't drive next race, and Shana says they will.

I wonder where their camera crew is right now?

Gary said...


Put Nicole or Krista and Bestwick in the booth for one race, coupled with a go-homer that did not qualify for same... for "color" and to give the go-homer's sponsor some visibility or mention.

Hype Krista/Nicole's co-hosting on "The View" ahead of time to pull in that demographic.

red said...

all i can say is "another third generation disaster."