Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Shannon Spake Jumps In The Deep End Of The Pool

It was supposed to be a slow week for NASCAR news. It is the All-Star weekend. One non-points race on SPEED, the pit crew championship and a week at home for the crews.

Instead, ESPN2's daily NASCAR Now program finds itself front-and-center in the continuing saga of the first driver to be suspended under the new NASCAR drug testing policy. Jeremy Mayfield's defiance vs. NASCAR's insistence continued on Tuesday.

Instead of regular weekday hosts Nicole Manske or Mike Massaro, it is ESPN pit reporter Shannon Spake who is handling the anchor duties all this week. This substitute role on a suddenly news-heavy week is certainly a challenge.

Tuesday, Spake reminded viewers of her experience in hosting and jumped right into the Mayfield sage at the start of the show. She first called upon ESPN.com reporter David Newton who addressed several issues concerning both Mayfield and the media.

Newton reinforced that Mayfield is continuing his insistence that Claritin-D 24 combined with a prescription medication caused the positive reading. He also reported that NASCAR's Dr. Black had restated his position that the testing did not reveal any combination of these ingredients and Mayfield violated the drug policy with a "drug of concern."

On another issue hotly debated in the media, Newton stated his case. "NASCAR does not give the drivers a list of banned substances," said Newton. "There has been a story out there that the crew members had a list, but that is not true either."

Newton was referring perhaps to the following Twitter message sent by AP reporter Jenna Fryer shortly after the Monday NASCAR Now program:

"Contrary to popular opinion, NASCAR indeed DOES have a list of banned substances it provided all teams in December."

So, Newton countered Fryer with a statement of his own that sounded very official. His point was that NASCAR refuses to be "put in a box" with an official drug list because they want every substance to be questioned. The reasoning behind this, as explained by Newton, was the very nature of the dangerous high-speed activity on the track.

Spake brought ESPN's NASCAR analyst Andy Petree into the conversation next. After saying he was originally shocked by the Mayfield news, Petree confirmed that he was one of the people advocating this tougher drug policy for the sport. Petree also repeated that NASCAR has already outlined a path for Mayfield's return to the sport and the decision is up to Mayfield.

Spake went on to host an interview with Ryan Newman, allowing the driver to recap the first half of the season and discuss his goals for the rest of the year. Bill Elliott was then interviewed by phone as he prepared for a speed record attempt in a Ford Mustang at Talladega.

The ESPN Stock Car Challenge winner of the first-half of the season was next on the phone. For those into fantasy racing, Spake also gave a good-natured ribbing to Petree who was topped by his booth-mate Dale Jarrett in ESPN's fantasy racing celebrity challenge.

All-in-all, Spake handled a program packed with hard news, NASCAR interviews and ESPN feature material quite well. She allowed those being interviewed to state their case and kept the pace of the program moving right along. Nice job in a tough circumstance.

Spake continues to host the 5PM shows through Thursday and then returns for the Saturday morning preview show at 10AM ET. She will be joined on the set by Randy LaJoie while Marty Smith and Nicole Manske will report from Lowe's Motor Speedway.

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Anonymous said...

I agree Shannon did a great job. I was so glad that when she asked Andy if he was surprised about Jeremy, Andy first wanted to express his solid support for NASCAR and the drug policy. He then answered more fully her question.

The reason I'm glad is because some of the blog sites on Jayski have been overwhelmingly anti-NASCAR on this suspension. The fact that Andy so boldly and emphatically stated his support to the drug policy, goes along with all the drivers so far that have supported NASCAR over Jeremy.

I think many of the drivers are well informed and VERY anti-dope. Of all the football, baseball, cycling, and Olympic athelets that hve been caught on doping test, NOT ONE HAS WON a reversal.

Testing is so good now, that fighting a drug test is like fighting fingerprints or DNA. Over the last few years, the labs like Aegis win 100% of the time.

majorshouse said...

I cannto bleive that Claritin-D was the culprit and Mayfield knew the consequences of the drug testing policy and am glad to see that Shannon Spake is doing such a great job. I love her perky personality when reporting during the races and am glad to see that drivers and former crew chiefs alike are backing the sanctioning body here with the drug testing policy.

Anonymous said...

I like Shannon and hope she continues to get chances to host NN. I also like the fact that she dressed VERY professionally.

Anonymous said...

I thought Shannon did a good job considering that they basically had no new news to report. Nothing really new on Mayfield, nothing really new on the track... so little news that they had to talk about Andy's fantasy league team - complete with graphics! (UGH)

She did well with the Newman interview -- but why can't ESPN figure out a way to do remote interviews where there isn't a three-second delay as if they are talkng to someone on the space shuttle?

Andrew S. said...

majorshouse.. we do not know it was Claritin-D. It is all speculation and I bet the folks who make that product and sponsor the #99 car are cringing everytime they see something like this on teh internets.

As for Shannon, I believe she is much more suited for the host/reporter role rather than being on pit road. I think ESPN/ABC would improve their telecast a lot by just shuffling 3 people around. Shannon to the host role, Bestwick to the PxP chair and Dr Punch to pitroad.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the media hasn't explored the connection between the fact that Carl Edwards says in his commericials that HE takes Claritin and one of the ingredients in Claritin might get you banned from Nascar?

Could there be a possibility that Mayfield has brought up that fact with Nascar?

Anonymous said...

To the previous comment:
Carl Edwards takes Claritin.
I'm sure that Kasey Kahne drinks Budweiser, but I'm also sure he doesn't drink it out of the bottle when he's driving. A sponsor alone does not make the drug legal...

glenc1 said...

For those of you without allergies, let me clear this up...Claritin contains Loratadine--that is the antihistimine. Claritin D contains Loratadine PLUS Pseudoephedrine--that is the decongestant (most famous brand name was Sudafed) that meth-makers were using in their meth labs to make other drugs. Most manufacturers took it out of their OTC products because of that usage. There is nothing wrong with using it as a decongestant, so you can still get it from the pharmacy *without* a prescription. They just don't put it on the shelf anymore so people can't buy/steal it for other purposes (most states, maybe all now, limit what you can buy at one time.) Carl can take all the Claritin he wants--for that matter, you could probably take Claritin D if you cleared it with NASCAR first. There is some other substance involved.

Anonymous said...

glenc1 - Great post. Some people are really getting carried away with this Claritin business. Like you said Claritin D contains different ingredients than regular Claritin so comparing Carl and the Mayfield drama is a no go. Not to mention there is still no proof that it was Claritin D. I think some people should really do some research before jumping to conclusions.

glenc1 said...

Frankly, I'm glad Carl has a sponsor, but I never buy name brands when you can get generics so much cheaper. The pharm industry is one of the highest 'profit' industries out there, and we pay for it, particularly with high prescription prices. But I digress...I don't think Claritin should be hurt by this, but it is true that people read a headline and don't get the whole story.

BTW, I missed the show but it sounds like Shannon did a good job. Maybe they ought to keep her in the studio and away from pit road. Then again, after Jamie Little's fiasco with Jack Roush, maybe they should take turns...

Anonymous said...

Quite frankly, ESPN and TNT have put a huge distance between FOX and SPEED because they refuse to change or try to improve. Ken Schrader would be really good, get Ricky Craven from ESPN and drop some of the weak people on FOX and SPEED would help a lot . I think people are tiring of the all Waltrip network as they never improve their skills and the act is getting brutally old.There is plenty of really good talent available. Who is Mark Fein? Remember Jeff Gordon? actually he is someone who has become really good, much better than Chris Meyers could ever hope to be.Change at FOX/ SPEED has to happen , people are tired of the same thing over and over.

Vicky D said...

The stories weren't that interesting s we didn't watch the whole show. I prefer Nicole or AB roundtable.

Anonymous said...

Two thoughts on generic drugs, they are cheaper for a reason - perhaps made in China now. Plus, you cannot believe the cost to develop and bring drugs to market. Can you imagine the research required due to the sue happy society we all live in. I am not saying drug companies don't make money but I bet their return on investment is a lot lower than you think it is.

Anonymous said...

Not totally related, but is the Stewart-ESPN feud going on? Just asking since Newman has been interviewed twice this week by ESPN, but Tony was the only driver not in the top 5 not interviewed by ESPN after the race. ESPN didn't interview Tony and Ryan on pit road, but sought out Ryan by his hauler.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps it was the result of the old commercial Jeremy did when he drove for Ray...........you know the one where the girl said "Heyyyyy Jeremy", and he asked, is that 93 octane you're wearin? Could have been that.

Anonymous said...

2 word reminder on Nascar and drug tests: Tim Richmond...............

Anonymous said...

anon 8:17...'profit' means what they make *after* taking out what they spend on it. It's BS, and how they keep making millions off Americans (and in general, I try to avoid Chinese goods when I can.) The FDA must approve them as bioequivalents.

Unknown said...

Late to the race again. I was floating around on twitter and decided to see what Shannon Spake said thank you for. Then I read this:

John Daly wrote:

It was supposed to be a slow week for NASCAR news. It is the All-Star weekend. One non-points race on SPEED, the pit crew championship and a week at home for the crews.
Considering your post today (5/15)is about the truck series and how SPEED didn't promote it and still does not promote the series, I find this a little odd. Yes, the column was about Shannon Spake's job on ESPN's NN, but even you overlooked the truck race this week. For all the discussion about the lack of coverage for both the NW series and truck series, you ommitted that the trucks had a race this week and should be included on the NASCAR calendar.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Shannon promoted the truck race every day on the NASCAR Now calendar and even mentioned the network and time. It was great.

I have an article up on the CWTS possibly being the best race of the weekend. We are live blogging the race on Friday night.

What you are confusing was the Sprint Cup issues and the drug suspension of Jeremy Mayfield. The All-Star race and the suspension were far and away the big stories of the week.

SPEED did a great job of promoting the CWTS race this week in promos, not quite sure what else you would have liked to see from me.

Thanks for your comment,