Monday, May 18, 2009

Unique Trio Works For "NASCAR Now"


It was certainly a big Monday on ESPN where NASCAR was concerned. The All-Star race had resulted in some fireworks and race winner Tony Stewart was probably still smiling. Two drivers without a smile on their faces late Saturday night were Kyle Busch and Jeremy Mayfield.

Busch put on a show and then faded to seventh after some damage to his car in the final laps. Mayfield put on a show after coming down from an infield hospitality trailer and speaking out about his drug suspension. While Busch walked to his car and drove home after the event, Mayfield was asked to leave the area by NASCAR.

It was ESPN's Marty Smith who climbed up and spoke briefly to Mayfield before the rest of the NASCAR media showed-up. "It might be time to face the music," said Smith to Mayfield. "It might be time to go ahead and talk." In the blink of an eye, Mayfield came down and addressed the reporters.

NASCAR Now played the video of a candid Mayfield speaking clearly about the issue in a very defined timeline scenario. "Everybody that know me knows better," said Mayfield. Those would be words to remember for later in the show. Mayfield ended his comments by saying "that is the whole truth." He was very convincing.

NASCAR VP Robin Pemberton had clearly had enough of this issue as he was shown staring down a nameless reporter who asked about Mayfield. The female reporter asked what Pemberton's response was to Mayfield's statement that he was never "given proof" of what he was suspended for. "I'm not going to discuss Jeremy Mayfield tonight," answered Pemberton.

Smith tagged the piece by saying that licensed NASCAR participants in the testing program want to know what Mayfied ingested. Smith singled-out Jeff Burton's comments that disclosing the substance would lend credibility to NASCAR's new policy. In closing, Smith related his conversation with Dr. Black from the testing program.

Once again, this nationally recognized drug testing expert stated Mayfield was clearly told the substance that violated the policy. Black also stated specifically to Smith that any amount of Claritin-D could not have caused the positive reading.

Smith called the situation, "a he-said she-said for the ages."

Host Allen Bestwick now faced perhaps the toughest task of all. When Smith was done, Bestwick turned to his most experienced NASCAR expert on the panel to follow-up on this touchy issue. He came face-to-face with Ray Evernham.

This season, Evernham has worked on rebuilding his image and restoring his credibility. His comments on this program would go a long way toward continuing that process. He first acknowledged "the bloggers" and the fairness concerns expressed by some if Evernham talked about this situation. The history between Evernham and Mayfield is well known by most.

In choosing to address the issue, Evernham showed again why he is a natural on TV. "At some point in time you have to trust the sanctioning body," he said. His opinion was that NASCAR feels this is not an issue related to Mayfield's prescription or Claritin. Then, he did the right thing in a big way.

"In all the time that Jeremy Mayfield drove for me and the time that we spent together socially I never saw anything that would indicate to me that Mayfield would have this kind of problem," stated Evernham. That extra touch of providing a balanced viewpoint made the concerns about his statements fade away.

Rick Craven provides a strong grounding influence on this program. He reminded the panel and the viewers that the real reason for all of this is safety. Randy LaJoie is the plain-spoken racer that speaks his mind. His opinion was that Mayfield already had a black eye and his comments were only making things worse.

Before the Mayfield segment, the panel had reviewed the All-Star evening and the circumstances leading up to Stewart's win. Later in the show, Darian Grubb was the guest and all of the panel members got to ask questions. This change has been great as the perspectives of all the panelists can come through in the questions.

The program ended with a preview of the Coca-Cola 600 coming up next weekend. Evernham was again on top of the information by explaining how tire strategy will play a key role. Craven and Evernham are a good combination in previewing these events, drawing on personal experience to set the table for fans.

ESPN has certainly hit on a great trio to work with Bestwick. The intellectual Craven, the analytical Evernham and the outspoken LaJoie combine to offer a fast-paced and informative hour. As he has since the beginning of this season, Bestwick has let others take the spotlight. Just like a good referee, he keeps order and introduces the topics to be discussed.

Of all the NASCAR Now programs since 2007, this may have been one of the best.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. 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.

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think NASCAR Now continues to miss the point: It is not NASCAR being judge and jury, it is Aegis.

NASCAR hires the biggest, most respected, and most renowned lab in the country to do their tests. The lab not only comes back with a positive test for something sinister, but the CEO of the entire lab - a man whose credentials and expertise are universally respected and admired in the field of science - backs up the test and shoots down clearly the alibi used by Mayfield.

Yet, I don't hear the panel even say the word "Aegis", they just keep talking about "Nascar finding this" or "Nascar tested him for that." It is more than just bad semantics, it is flat-out inaccurate. I think the only reason that they are doing this is because it is really easy to knock NASCAR but not so easy to knock the science lab, because in that case the conspiracy theories and alternative-motive scenarios don't hold water.

Also, this is not a "he said-she said for the ages" because in a real "he said-she said" all you have are two people's accounts and nothing else, and so you are deadlocked. But in this case, we have a lot more than just two versions of the story. We have one scientifically proven test in which a substance was positively identified, a substance that cannot be triggered "accidentally" by Claritin or anything else (per Dr. Black). And we have an alibi that does not hold water or withstand the scrutiny of science. So this is not simple two stories at a deadlock, but one real story and one bogus alibi -- and no one so far has shown that it is anything other than that.

NASCAR Now dropped the ball, I think. They just re-hashed Marty SMith's column (right down to replaying the hand gestures he described in the piece). The new info that they did have -- a minutes-before-airtime interview with a renowned science expert... oh, that just gets tossed in as an aside. BABY, THAT'S THE NEWS: The story is the test is real and the alibi is bogus. When will they just report it?!

eaglesoars said...

I thought it was an excellent show and as I had suspected Ray Evernham has way to much class to have handled it any other way.

I love this trio with Allen and always look forward to when they are together.

My opinion is I watched and heard Jeremy run his mouth blaming others, they were out to get him at Penske. So much BS they let him go before the end of the season.
Then when again confronted for lack of performance at Evernhamn he blamed it on Ray because he was having an affair with Erin. Now it's NASCAR that's out to get him and "poor little ole me Jeremy" is being unjustly accused again.

IF Jeremy had a problem with how the testing policy worked, why didn't he look into it deeper, earlier when his crewman got busted? Seems to me that would have been an excellent time to ask questions. After all, he is/was the team owner so it should have been his responsibility.

eaglesoars said...

Anonymous said...

excellent post and very valid points.

I agree 100%

Jo from SC said...

I thought it was a very good program--certainly the best any network has had on the Mayfield situation. I am still waiting for a reporter to ask NASCAR directly about the "protecting a sponsor" allegation and to ask NASCAR about the Tim Richmond/Sudafed situation--another case where NASCAR did its best to convince the media and fans that a driver had taken a dangerous recreational drug.

The other issue I'd like to see addressed is the possibility that Mayfield is using the situation to peddle a reality TV show. That muddles the situation considerably.

As for Evernham--I think he did a pretty good job, but I was wishing for a Doug Richter or Chad Knaus, somebody who didn't have so much history with Jeremy. The Erin Crocker situation just loomed over him throughout the interview and I had trouble trusting his impartiality, even though I could see how he was trying to BE fair.

All in all, a good hour of TV for the Bristol boys.

Kassidy from Florida said...

In response to Anonymous, you want to take the word of the renowned Aegis, ok then explain to me if the test came back showing something so bad on Tuesday when Mayfield was notified, why was he allowed to qualify the car on Friday? You have the right to claim that Mayfield "alibi" as you call it is bogus, I have the same right to say that something does not add up on Nascar and Aegis's side as well. There have been too many swiches in thier stories, timelines have changed, quotes have been rewritten. Like every other controversy that hits this Company, they expect to lay down the law you abide by it and go away and if you don't they will make sure you do. Just to clarify something your renowned Dr. Black stated that Claritin could not cause a test to pop positive, bullfeathers, I have spoken with as you call them men of science and they claim it is the most common cause for a innacurate poistive test. Claritin D, Zyrtec ect, can and has caused positive tests in the past. A man's life has been turned upside down and feel that he has every right to defend himself.

eaglesoars said...

I also wonder why they didn't have David Newton on the show, he's covered this from the beginning and in my opinion tried to show all areas.
His latest article talks with another Dr from a lab that is not connected in anyway except doing testing and dealing with people that test positive,
http://sports.espn.go.com/rpm/nascar/cup/news/story?id=4176268&campaign=rss&source=RPMHeadlines

e said...

Kassidy from Florida said...

I think the answer is quite simple. Jeremy is allowed to appeal, once he does NASCAR has to treat him as if he had not proven positive until the second test comes back, so he would be allowed to practice. The original test was taken in Richmond, now he's in Darlington a week later. If he does not act impaired they should allow him to practice until the second test was returned.

You're right the stories and timelines have changed continually since this story first broke, but I have been saving them all and can go back and show all the changes have come from Jeremy, he's the one giving out all the info.

IF Jeremy is right, he should STFU and have his lawyer filing injunctions immediately. Here we are going on 3 weeks after he was first notified and he has done NOTHING except try to have the media and fans hold the trial for him, that's all he's ever done while he soiled all over others.

Now there's a 3rd lab basically calling him a liar, 2 of these labs are not even connected to NASCAR.

Jeremy should have kept his mouth shut from the beginning and just taken legal action IF he really believed he was innocent.

Richard in N.C. said...

Anonymous 7:05 & eaglesoars, super posts. Thank you.

It seems to me that Jeremy would have a better position if he had first pursued the issue under NASCAR's procedure before resorting to the media to argue his case and threatening legal action, especially since my understanding is that he had to acknowledge or agree to NASCAR'S drug testing procedure as a part of renewing his Cup license for 2009.

It seems to me that there is a similarity between how he has addressed the last 2 disagreements- back off or I'll talk about things you won't like, Erin Crocker and Claritin.

I suspect Jeremy's continued mentioning of Claritin is not likely to help him in obtaining sponsorship going forward.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a post just below this one for your comments on Mayfield and his situation. Just return to the main page and scroll down.

If you would focus comments in this post on the Monday edition of NASCAR Now it would be appreciated.

JD

Anonymous said...

I don't think Evernham was being "classy", I just think he was trapped and couldn't be negative, because of all of the Crocker affair business. Nascar Now should not have had him be part of the discussion. ESPN knows he comes will all kinds of baggage.

diane said...

JD,

This part of your article:
" He first acknowledged "the bloggers" and the fairness concerns expressed by some if Evernham talked about this situation."

Does "the bloggers" mean The Daly Planet? Who else focuses on TV coverage? I guess your site is high up on the radar!

Dot said...

Marty should've been on the panel with the Jeremy story. Oh wait, Marty lives in the Charlotte area and just had a baby. One more reason BSPN should have studio space in NC.

JD, can we comment on TWIN? There was no comment on the Jeremy story.

majorshouse said...

I really enjoyed NASCAR Now this evening and the trio fo Evernham, LaJoy and Craven is great. I think it is time to move on from Jeremy Mayfield and enjoyed the comments especially Randy LaJoy's when he basically said that Mayfield knew the rules and he broke them so it is time to get over it adn it is definitely a safety issue.
I would love to see more of this trio on Monday nights.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now:

Bestwick: Too wordy and always trying to be too clever in the way he asks questions.

Craven: Becoming a super-polished on-air personality, from his gestures to his crisp, concise comments.

LaJoie: Sometimes he makes some great comments, and sometimes I mean seriously he just mumbles and doesn't really say much of anything.

Everham: Just too darn diplomatic and generic - and I'm not just talking about his comment on Mayfield, although it applies there, too. I mean - here is a world champion crew chief. Did we get ANY insight from him in his area of expertise about Lowe's and the cars and the setups and the difference between teams. Instead he just says stuff that anyone can say like "Wow, Tony sure got it right because he was fast there at the end" or "The track can really change from light to night, so the drivers and crew chiefs have to be ready." He is a pool of knowledge but either the format or his own comfortability on his own part keep him in the shallow end.

Final comment about NASCAR Now and this particular panel. They should let them interact a bit more instead of giving them all a single chance in order.

Anonymous said...

In response to Anonymous, you want to take the word of the renowned Aegis, ok then explain to me if the test came back showing something so bad on Tuesday when Mayfield was notified, why was he allowed to qualify the car on Friday?Hey, the administration of the test results - that is fully on NASCAR's shoulders and I guess they do have some questions there. But it doesn't change what I feel is the core issue --- that an independent lab found these results and that in scientific terms they are very solid results.

I've said it before and I will say it again: you don't just pee in a cup, pour it in a machine and then wait to see what the machine says. You filter imupurities and then you identify them on the microscopic level. It would be nice if Marty Smith would stop making duck signals with his hands and take a camera crew to a drug testing lab to learn something and educate the viewers about the process. Just like when he takes a camera crew to Hendrick or Gibbs, those guys love to open their doors and show off their million dollar equipment and talk about precision.

WHERE IS THE REPORTING MARTY!? "Oh, by the way, I guess I should throw in my exclusive with the Aegis CEO at the end of the report as an aside." I mean, really. Get out of the garage already.

Anonymous said...

pemberton sure was pissy. (in his defense, he's the dir of comp. he really shouldn't be asked those types of questions. that should be for poston, hunter, helton or france. the female voice sounded like nicole manske by the way.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up on "This Week In NASCAR" on SPEED.

Thanks,

JD

Tracy said...

While I respect Evernham for trying to present an unbiased stance on Mayfield, I don't feel he should have been put in that position. Get someone else on the panel to address the issue, if you need a third voice. Just not fair to Evernham or Mayfield. Sorry, it didn't work for me.

TexasRaceLady said...

I really enjoyed tonight's NN. I'll admit, I was curious as to how Ray was going to handle the situation. I like the fact that he admitted he and Jeremy had a history, but still managed to at least present an unbiased opinion(regardless of what he really thought).

Ricky Craven impresses the heck out of me. He is becoming more at ease, and more articulate with each program.

Good show.

elena, chicago said...

anon 7.05, You make some really good points.

I like Marty, but his reporting on this issue is abismal. He gives Jeremy a platform to say whatever,never challenges him, and then spends 30 seconds stating that Dr Black stands by his original statement.

I wonder why Marty keeps giving Jeremy a pass about Claritin, and his inuendo that it's being protected becasue it is a sponsor.

Marty, were are your journalism skils?? Bud and Miller Lite are sponsors. Is it okay for drivers to have a cold one just before a race, and give them a pass because after all they are sponsors? Why doesn't Marty at least say that Jeremy could not or would not offer proof that Claritin is being protected by NASCAR??

Marty, if you do ask pernitent questions and Jeremy refuses to answer them, you should list them, and YOU SHOULD REPORT THEM.

I'm tired of people using character as the main proof that Jeremy did not do anything wrong. Marty, you and Ray, (I know why Ray said what he did), don't know what Jeremy does ALL the time. People who take stuff HIDE it.

A famous rehab center in CA is named Betty Ford. She was a drunk. SHE HID IT FROM FRIENDS!! The press was shocked! Medical doctors all over the nation have been caught taking drugs, UNDETECTED!!

I've been on jusry duty 4 times. Each time, the defense parades a whole group of witnesses (Pastors, teachers, frineds, co-workers, etc) to say how it is not possible. That's not good enough. Please media, get real!!

Marty has allowed Jeremy to say he did not take anything illegal. Dr Black has not used the word illegal. He said a banned substance.

What if Jeremy took codine? It is not ILLEGAL, with a prescription. Of course it is banned, it is an opiate.

One last thing about Marty and others. They keep saying that drivers want and are wooried about the no list. But almost without exception, he fails to say that the garage is about 100% in support of NASCAR over Jeremy.

I think it was a very POOR showing for Marty.

Anonymous said...

elena from chicago that was excellent.

It seemed to me like - in typical garage reporter fashion - Marty was more interested in keeping open his relationship with the drivers. He went on and on to show how much of a buddy he is. Oh, he gave him the "can we talk" signal. He was up there with him just talking. Smith reports how the two agreed that NASCAR should come clean -- WHEN DOES A REPORTER SHARE HIS OWN PERSONAL OPINIONS WITH A SUBJECT??!?!?!?!. Then Marty, oh lucky Marty with the access, he is the one who gets to say "Hey buddy let's go face the press." I am playing a bit of armchair shrink here, but it seemed like Marty really just wanted to report how much access he has and how close he is to the situation than rather do his job.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:13PM,

I do think it is important to remember that the now much smaller traveling group of NASCAR media folks are going through this for the first time.

That is one reason we are trying to stay on top of the media developments and how the story is being reported.

In many ways, it's a mess. The simple who, what, when, where, how and why that is taught in every journalism class has been tossed out the window.

It has been replaced with who can be first to Twitter, how quickly can I post on the Internet and what do the other reporters have.

This is a network that hounds Brett Farve's every move and this week will track Michael Vick leaving prison with multiple reporters and live shows.

On one hand, ESPN is the best at reporting NASCAR news right now on TV. On the other hand, they are really the only ones doing it.

JD

elena, chicago said...

Kassidy from Florida

Re: allowing Jeremy to drive on Friday when NASCAR knew he had tested positive on Thrusday.

Good question. Of course we don't know what he tested positive for, so let me just give an example, knowing that it is not what he took.

Different substances have different half lives, where you can still detect their trace, even though they are no longer affecting the individual.

For example, you could smoke marijuana, the traces can be confirmened on a drug test up to 14 days later, even though the person would no longer be high.

Since Jeremy said it was not an illegal drug, then I could use the example of barbiturates, such as Phenobarbital or Amytal. Though not effecting the person, traces can be found up to 30 days later.

If he tested positive for an opiate, like codine, vicodin, or demerol, you could still find traces up to 5 days later.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Maybe NN should have Joe Menzer from NASCAR.com on the next show. He sure makes more sense than Marty.

elena, chicago said...

JD, I sure can see why ESPN is following every move of Brett and Vick. Both of them are pretty much houehold names.

Vick was the highest paid NFL player and and his crimes gripped the nation. Everytime ESPN had an article, there would be thousands and thousands of comments within just a few hours.

Brett is a future HOF player. He holds just about every quarterback record. Fans want to know.

I just don't see the same interest in Jeremy, even in the world of NASCAR. Folks seem to be getting weary of the whole mess. IMHO.

GinaV24 said...

I like Evernham, AB and Craven very much. I recorded this show just so I could see if they talked about Mayfield. Sorry, I still don't agree that all of this is on the up and up, but I also think that Jeremy's past actions are haunting him now. He's used the court of public opinion to try and manipulate things before and he's doing it again. Other than that I thought it was a solid show. I agree that it would be nice to hear Evernham actually talk like a crew chief instead of being so generic. And I have no good opinion of Robin Pemberton -- for a guy who is in the position he's in, he shouldn't be so unpleasant. I remember that he acted like that after the fans were rightfully upset about the hideous race at Indy last year because of the tire debacle -- poor baby -- the answer isn't to blame for your spectators for thinking they got a raw deal when it was the sanctioning body who screwed up.