Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Huge Wednesday Of NASCAR TV Stories For ESPN (Mayfield Wins In Court - Updated)

Update: New post is up with the official info about Weber being released from his TNT duties for this season.

Update 2: Jeremy Mayfield has won his temporary injunction against NASCAR and is free to race in Daytona. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 is at 5PM ET.

Normally, Wednesdays are a little bit of a slow news day in the NASCAR world. Trucks are on the road, suitcases are being packed and weather forecasts are being checked. Well, not this week. Wednesday is about to explode with news and ESPN will be the lone TV source for NASCAR fans.

Several big racing-related topics are going to be on the minds of many. Jeremy Mayfield will square-off with NASCAR over his drug suspension in US District Court. The latest bombshell was that NASCAR sent Mayfield's original urine sample to an independent lab and the testing results were the same. Meth and Mayfield may well be linked like Aaron Fike and heroin by Wednesday afternoon.

While not directly a NASCAR story, this item led the Tuesday edition of NASCAR Now and has huge implications on the American racing scene. The George family has removed IRL head Tony George from his position as President of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This cuts his ties with the Hulman-George company's finances and forces the IRL to suddenly balance its own checkbook.

Robin Miller from SPEED broke this story several weeks ago and then appeared on NASCAR Now wearing a vintage t-shirt that said "Got SPEED?" The details of his story have now been confirmed, but the fallout for open wheel teams and drivers is only just beginning. Miller suggested that Tony George had funneled hundreds of millions of dollars from the Hulman-George company into his IRL efforts.

Update: Tony George story is in regular rotation on ESPN's SportsCenter today.

Recently, Danica Patrick's name has been all over the NASCAR media. Jimmy Spencer said on SPEED's RaceDay that Patrick could never make it in the Sprint Cup Series. Legendary promoter Humpy Wheeler said on Wind Tunnel that she might bring fans back to the track in droves with her presence in NASCAR. Either way, the Tony George news will no doubt fuel the Danica flames.

Finally, TNT will eventually have to release a statement and clear the air where Bill Weber is concerned. Everyone has problems in life. If the incident involving Weber in Manchester, NH last week ends his TNT career, his life will go on. If he returns in Daytona after an apology to those involved, his life will still go on.

NASCAR Now has been good this season at dealing with touchy subjects like this in a straightforward manner. Quoting TNT's eventual statement on the matter will work just fine. If Mike Joy or Jerry Punch had suddenly gone missing from the air, fans would wonder why. Clearing this issue up once and for all will be a welcome relief.

ESPN has done a good job of using ESPNEWS for breaking stories like the Mayfield lawsuit. It should be interesting to see if the Tony George or Bill Weber stories migrate over to that network inside the auto racing update.

NASCAR Now on Wednesday will be at 5PM ET and hosted by Nicole Manske. She often seems to be at the helm when a lot of motorsports news is breaking and this show should be jam-packed. The program repeats at midnight ET/9PM Pacific.

TDP welcomes 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.

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Anonymous said...

I dont believe this change in responsibility removes Tony "from the Hulman-George" money.
What it does is remove the revenues of the racetrack from being an additional source of income to the IRL.
Next shoe to drop......Bruton Smith buys Indy Speedway

GinaV24 said...

Don't know that much about the impact of the tony george deal since I don't follow IRL racing. As far as Danica, well, I'd rather see someone like Chrissy Wallace come up to cup than another "media" darling for NASCAR to hype.
As far as Bill Weber, you're right life will go on but my personal preference would be NOT to see Weber in the booth any more EVER. Not because of whatever happened last weekend, but simply because his broadcast style is annoying to me and as good as TNT has been this year, if I don't like the booth talent, I tend to not watch.

Anonymous said...

Weber was a decent pit/pre-race guy. A little went a long way. Maybe it was the retro Hair Net look. I've always wondered why Bob Jenkins was left to shill for minor league racing. King Tony's demotion reflects the state of open wheel racing. He bet on the pass line and lost. Empire building is tough duty. Especially with another's money. Truth, the Indy 500 is a shell of its former self, a reflection of crate motors, ubiquitous chassis, and the plethora of foreign drivers at the top. Interesting, American drivers on ovals was the IRL's founding premise. And finally, I'd love to see Danica in NASCAR. A polarizing figure, the love her and hate her camps would be interesting to watch. I think she would do no better than a Marcos Ambrose in time. Today, even the 'stars' of NASCAR struggle with the COT. King Brian would do well to reflect on King Tony's demise. He may have sown the same crop?

Anonymous said...

I never have liked Bill Webber and hopefully we don't have to see or hear him again. His smug attitude drips from his comments and he's not as knowledgable as claimed. The Booth was much better Sunday as TNT continues to provide the best in NASCAR coverage.
As for Tony George, other than Robin Miller, who cares?

Daly Planet Editor said...

The Tony George story made it to SportsCenter as a reader. No interviews or updates from a reporter.

Smiff_99 said...

Although he HAS improved over the years, TNT might as well send Weber back to the pits.

Ralph Sheheen- Always loved his work with TNN and TBS back in the day and his work on Speed, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear his familiar voice in the booth on Sunday. He Doesn't come off as a pompous ass, just a fan who got his big break in journalism.

To put Weber back in the booth this weekend (or ever again) would be a cruel injustice to the Nascar on TNT viewers.

TNT's broadcasts have been the best this year, period, but they could be even better with Sheheen in the booth full-time.

As far as Danica goes...she might fall flat on her face in Nascar, but if she at least TRIES it, it'll bring much needed attention back to the sport. And if she does decent? Even better.

Of course it would also be another nail in the IRL coffin.

Smiff_99 said...


Bob Jenkins: In my book, Jenkins was second only to Ken Squier.

Steve L. said...

All this proves the Speed is asleep at the wheel when it come to a daily racing show. Are you listening Dave?

This Weber thing is mind blowing. I can't stop thinking that if we tuned in to watch the Fox guys and Mike Joy or Darrell Waltrip was a no show, and no mention was made to their where-a-bouts or any explanation what so ever, the racing world would go nuts!

I think it is disrespectful, to the fans, that TNT has not said a word on this. Here it is Wednesday and they're still closed mouthed about this, gee thanks TNT.........

Anonymous said...

Bill Weber has the voice of a Nascar announcer,but he never demonstrated a real in-depth knowledge of the sport.If today is a big news day on NN, Nicole Manske is hardly the 'go to' person to handle it.

Anonymous said...

I've always hated Weber. He is so full of platitudes and over-dramatizes everything. I don't like his delivery either. Unfortunately, I'm not a fan of Shaheen either. He always sounds like he's shouting. But he doesn't pretend to know everything and asks a lot of questions. So, he'll do.

However, there's got to be much more to this story than anyone's said. If it was simply a loud argument at his hotel, then what's the big deal? Why would that necessitate being FIRED from his job? Something doesn't smell right.

Nathan Brice said...

Round one goes to Jeremy. We will see how long this lasts.

RonFWNC said...

Mayfield's court win is the classic example of a pyrrhic victory. Yes, he could drive at Daytona (if he passes a drug test), but he has no money, no crew and no sponsor. Plus, you can be certain that NASCAR will seek appeal today's decision, or take other steps to get Mayfield off the track. So Jeremy may have won this battle, but he's still losing the war.

Karen said...

Re: Mayfield. Oh, crap. Wonder how his fellow competitors will view this decision and him being at the track at Daytona. I say rain will wash out Q'ing so it will be a moot point. But there still is practice. Obviously, he will be as sober as a judge (no pun intended.)

Karen said...

RonFWNC said...

Mayfield's court win is the classic example of a pyrrhic victory.

Ron, first time I had to go look up a word.

RonFWNC said...


It's a good word to drop into a conversation, but I guess I could have just called it an empty victory.

In any case, I wouldn't look for Jeremy in Saturday's race.

RonFWNC said...

I just read David Newton's long but interesting recap on about today's court proceedings. It sounds like NASCAR simply got "out-lawyered," for one day at least. Mayfield's attorney, Diehl, raised enough questions and doubts that the judge probably was right today. But no one should think that this in any way exonerates Mayfield. It just protects his right to due process in the court.

The Loose Wheel said...

Jeremy winning his injunction sets a bad precendence in my eyes. This really worries me.

Next time someone gets busted they can take it to court and drag it out and convince the law to force NASCAR to put someone back in the car? I figure the speculation Jeremy was on Meth alone would be concerning enough that you wouldn't want him out there with 42 other drivers, especially on a track like Daytona.

The circus has begin.

darbar said...

Last week, Nascar filed documents with the courts containing comments from Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Robbie Gordon saying they do NOT want to be on a race track with any driver who's taking drugs that could cause harm to others. Reading that, I highly doubt Jeremy would be welcome anywhere in the garage area. I had to chuckle when I saw the comments that Jeremy made on Nascar Now that if he can't race, he isn't qualified to make a living any other way. That mentality in sports has always amazed me. Yeah, like an NFL player needs to make millions for the few years he plays because he needs to take care of his family. I always say about that, when a professional athlete retires, why can't he do any other job? So I would have to ask Jeremy, if you can't race, why can't you do anything else to make a living? Even the most uneducated person can be the fry cook at McDonalds.

As for Danica, she doesn't have a clue. She'll be in a 3600lb vehicle as opposed to her 1600lb Indy car, there will be 42 other drivers as opposed to the 22 in the IRL, there are 36 points races in Nascar in a season that runs 9 months. She's said repeatedly that she doesn't like the long Nascar schedule and the hot weather races that last 5 hours. Sorry, but unless there's some miracle, she won't make it.

Ryan said...

NASCAR Now delayed by 1/2 hour due to tennis.....will be on at 5:30 et

West Coast Diane said...

Wow. I am stunned. Any possibility other drivers won't race if Mayfield is allowed to race? Can't wait to hear from folks in the garage. Agree with another poster, can't imagine the reception Mayfield will get from other NASCAR teams/officials, etc.

Also wonder if he will win the civil case since it appears (if I understand this right) that he is suppose to be asked if he wants "B" sample tested and if he chooses that option, the sample needs to go to another lab. Plus sending samples after they've been opened to another lab is mind boggling. I was one that thought Jeremy is guilty, but these facts would seem to make it difficult for NASCAR to defend. If I were on a jury...I'm just saying.

Richard in N.C. said...

I cannot understand how the judge could find that the potential damage to Mayfield of not being able to race was greater than the potential damage to others if he races under the influence of a banned substance - but presumably he will be clean as a pin while this goes forward. I suspect NASCAR will now bring in the really big guns and appeal to the US 4th Circuit.

On the bright side, to the extent there are faults with the NASCAR drug testing program, the Mayfield case should result in a better NASCAR testing program.

Sure would like to have analysis by Bob Margolis.

Kenn Fong said...

Ron, Never water down your vocabulary. "A pyrrhic victory" is a much more vivid than "empty victory."

The real question regarding Mayfield is who will sell his ride to let Mayfield run, assuming Mayfield has the sponsorship.

J.D., any word on how long Weber's contract is with TNT? It's obvious this had to be a serious incident to bump him for the remaining half of the TNT season. Since there seem to be no outside accounts, I am guessing this had to be between Weber and TNT producers and executives.

West Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

Dot said...

The question asked of the drivers if they would race with an impaired driver makes no sense. Of course they wouldn't. To me, that's not grounds to prove your argument. I don't want to be on the road with impaired drivers either.

Just how impaired was he? How much showed up in his system? I'm not condoning what Jeremy did, I'm just wondering.

To expand on what darbar said about Jeremy only knows how to race to make a living. Any sports figure with this mentality is an idiot. What if you're injured? Then what? They should always have a Plan B to fall back on. If Jeremy didn't start his own team, what else would he be doing?

darbar said...

Dot, that's the mentality of most sports figures. You always hear them say that they need as much money as they can get NOW, because their careers are too short. Like I said, I would love to ask these guys who retire before age 30, what the heck are you going to do from age 31 until death? Same for Jeremy. Did he quit school at age 9? The argument that he's not qualified to do anything but race is totally insincere, and stupid.

darbar said...

I hope it's OK to post this link of an article in USA Today. The reason I think it belongs on TDP is because it speaks to a couple of items we've talked about on this blog, such as the stupidity of Digger and the Nascar Fan Council.

JD, if this isn't appropriate, feel free to delete this post.