Tuesday, October 13, 2009

TV Troubles With Chase Easy To Understand

NASCAR has always prided itself on the ability to change to meet any situation. Rules are constantly updated, procedures are constantly changed and conversations about what can be done to make the sport better go on endlessly.

In the meantime, the sport is feeling the ill effects that The Chase is having on TV for the third straight season. What started as new and fresh is simply now stale and boring. No matter who tries to spin the reality, the results are clear in the TV ratings and ESPN's coverage.

Last week, we published "The Island of Brian France" to bring the genesis of the Chase format into perspective. The initial efforts of this new format to get attention away from the NFL, Major League Baseball and college football were clear and made sense at the time.

As we wrote last week, there was one big problem that remained:

There is one fundamental truth that France and ESPN have overlooked. NASCAR fans do not change their allegiance simply because their driver did not make the Chase. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth fans do not put on Jeff Gordon t-shirts and pull for the #24.

The focused coverage and media hype on the Chase drivers forces fans of non-Chasers to abandon their NASCAR TV viewing and wait once again for the Daytona 500. The fundamental problem with the Chase is there are more drivers outside of it than in it.

This season, we have been trying to convince ESPN that by putting the race first and the Chase second they could attract the fans that left NASCAR after the "regular season." This has not gone over well with some in the NASCAR media.

Click here for the recent article by Jeff Gluck from the scenedaily.com website. Gluck contends that the Chase drivers deserve the lion's share of TV coverage. Here is a quote:

The bottom line is that if you want your favorite non-Chase drivers to get more coverage, he’s going to have to do something to deserve it. In the meantime, the focus is where it should be: on the drivers running up front and competing for a championship.

The problem with Gluck's argument is the same one that France and ESPN seemingly cannot understand. Regardless of a driver's position in or out of the Chase, the fans are still focused on the same team they have pulled for all season long.

Putting the national TV spotlight endlessly on the chosen 12 eliminates the remaining fan base from watching the races. The position of the cars on the track makes absolutely no difference to fans of drivers like Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton or Michael Waltrip. They want a race story told to them that is all-inclusive, not purposefully selective.

During the Kansas race, ESPN rarely even reset the field after the caution periods. Stories that involved non-Chasers were routinely allowed to fade. The forced emphasis on the chosen few never allowed updates on fan favorites who were having a non-Chase season.

Once again in Kansas, listening to the radio coverage painted a completely different race picture than TV viewers were experiencing. The inclusive nature of radio continues to shame the TV coverage where the lonely scrolling ticker is often the only source of information on favorite drivers.

Certainly, the Chase drivers deserve emphasis at this time of the year. However, choosing to eliminate the other teams, drivers and sponsors from national TV exposure is once again teaching NASCAR and ESPN a valuable and rather expensive lesson.

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


Jonathan B from Chicago said...

Hmmm i have an Ideal give us Marty Reid!!! He paints probably one of the best pictures you can paint while actually watching the race on tv. Did you watch the nationwide race from Kansas? Wow it sure was much more entertaining and much more watchable than the Sprint Cup race from Kansas! Thats what we need Watchability! just like bud light has drinkablitly. JP and the ESPN Production team have no sense of direction. You would think Espn would learn. What is it going to take before Nascar and ESPN wake up? by then it may be a bit to late????

Sally said...

Jeff Gluck is just one of the many media members who think they can tell fans what and who they should like or choose to watch. Apparently insulting the fans that are expected to pay the bills is considered just fine. While I have many drivers that I 'root for', none of them made the 'chase'. So, for the final 10 races, I have to listen to the radio or strain my eyes trying to read the ticker to see where they are running in the field, since TV doesn't want to keep me infomred. If they are only going to cover 12 drivers, why make the other teams spend the money to show up at the track? How many people do they think would tune in then? Yet, fans are expected, no forced, to have this poor excuse for race coverage. The problem becomes even more apparent when a driver not in the top 12 is warned to back off and not race 'too hard' around the 'chasers'. And they wonder why ratings are going down? DUH.

Sophia said...

Ok. I am wondering why I follow Jeff GlucK knowing this is his attitude. Either LOVE THE TOP 10 in the Chase or tough?

I like many in the chase and many NOT in the chase. I do not lose affection/loyalty for non chasers.

Best way for non chaser to get attention is to have SPECTACULAR wreck? Wow, Jeff, that's the redneck mentality I thought the sport was TRYING to avoid.

Eh, he doesn't agree with most here.

Oh well it's clearly an opinion piece and he's entitled to his but it's CLEARLY (chase) Horrible for the sport and sponsors. :(

Just watch how the ratings have been plummeting lately.

Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, JD!

If NASCAR's going to have 43 cars in a Chase race, then TV needs to understand that the fans of the #43 or #55 or #88 are watching primarily for their driver, still, and don't care much about Brian Vickers or Mark Martin's adventures on the track.

You can't make fans change allegiance this way. If TV keeps doing what it is doing, then fans of the rest of the field won't watch, pure and simple.

That's a lot of fans--especially with Junior out of the running--to alienate.

Anonymous said...

Here is my idea that will fix the chase. Score the chase / non-chase drivers seperately. At the start of the race, and for every restart, the chase drivers (including those a lap or more down) will be placed in positions 1-12 on the track, non-chase drivers will fill the rest of the positions.

Under cautions, pit road is first opened for chase drivers only, then everyone else.

Make it a race within a race with two winners.

The Loose Wheel said...

My take on things is like this, if the rest of the Chase plays out like Kansas then YES the Chase drivers deserve to be talked about. They all but swept the top 10 and if that continues, talking about the race and the championship should then coincide. However, if Chase guys are struggling, go get the story about it, follow up every so often but otherwise leave them out to dry. Vickers in a word sucked at Kansas, but ESPN really never had a report on him till it was too late, had they got on it sooner then followed up when he had issues, it would have satisfied both the Vickers' fans and Chase coverage all in the same token. However, Kenseth has for two straight races now run VERY well (although Kansas was a bad finish) and ESPN has been pretty stingy with discussing him.

My little mind unfolds like this, cover the stories of the week in pre-race, preview the race in pre-race, cover what is unfolding DURING the race rather than force the race to fit what you THINK should be happening, then follow up on the championship.

I realize the dollars and coverage that is at stake with the Chase, thats fine, but the other 33 teams out there are not just playing for pennies themselves, there are several teams out there with 15+ million dollar a year sponsors that if their driver is running top 10-15 deserve to be mentioned. Casey Mears is fighting for his career and has had a string of good finishes here the last month or so, yet only blurbs about him every so often. Guys are factors early in the race then fall to the wayside with no real explanation asto why it happened, why ESPN?

Do the Chase guys deserve the lions share of the coverage? If they are in it to win it then sure. If your Kasey Kahne or Brian Vickers at this point, your no better than Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth or Clint Bowyer though in my eyes. Discuss them when they run well or have a major development, otherwise talk about the race at hand instead of what if-ing the championship ending now thing when the Chase is 7 races from conclusion let alone the race your in the middle of isn't even over!

Anonymous said...

I don't think ESPN will ever grasp that concept. Every race the planned script is set, interview pieces ready to insert in green flag racing & points as of now constantly updated. There is no focus on the race or recaps.

Anonymous said...

I also think the Chase is a failure. I am hard pressed to watch a race in Kansas and Fontana. Those are usually snoozefests anyway. Even NH is much better. TDP is right when he says that fans still root for their drivers - this is true with me as well. Mayeb a playoffs system is not the way to go - maybe just rejigger the points or go back to what it used to be. I used to be magnetically attracted to each race as its own unique event and watch it unfold. Now with everything geared towards the Chase drivers, all the money flows that way and you get less good stories and surprises - it's predetermined per the Chase's 12 drivers. NASCAR needs to figure a way to make the big teams uncomfortable and give more opportunity back to the driver and talent - not so much driven by the organizations and $$.

Mike said...

I tend to view pro-chase blog posts (like the one liked in this article) as "love it or leave it" arguments.

Judging from the TV ratings, the fans are "leaving it"

Haus14 said...

My driver is in the chase, but there have been times that he has struggled in a race this year. I know how much my interest in the race diminished when my guy struggled and hence, wasn't covered or even talked about. I can only imagine how much fans who have a guy who didn't make the chase, or consistently runs in the middle to the back of the pack must feel like. Any empty suit at Nascar or any media guy who doesn't recognize fan allegiance is naive and in the wrong profession.

Haus14 said...

I don't think the chase is a failure as this is one of the closest points races in this format. I think that the coverage of the chase is the problem. Nascar HAS to recognize this and remedy the situation.

Dot said...

Bravo, JD.

@ Sally, Brava to you too.

I think the Chase turned out to be a failure. I wonder if there will be any changes next season. Highly unlikely since NASCAR/BF is so arrogant. Remember, BF isn't worried about the lower ratings.

Anon 7:48 has a good idea. Another would be to eliminate the lowest finishers each week. Which has pretty much happened with drivers 9-12. However, they will still get more coverage than the others because they're Chasers.

@ David, I'm disappointed with your boy Kyle. I was so hoping he would win once the Chase started. That would've stirred things up. As much as I dislike him, I'd love for him to win the next 7 races. Or, any other non anointed driver.

I've said this before, once JJ takes over the points lead, we'll really see ratings drop.

darbar said...

Jeff Gluck is quite out of touch with the average Nascar fan. We cheer for the drivers we like and care about, and we're not going to change that regardless of whether or not that driver is in the Chase. I find his comment about drivers who deserve it to be nothing short of snarky. Might I remind Mr Gluck that not every team has the deep pockets as the Hendrick/JGR/Roush teams, and no matter how hard they try, they are not going to make this insipid chase without the hand of God in their pocket. Unless Nascar finds a way to level the playing field and finds a way to make the have nots more competitive with the haves, Nascar will continue to see losses in both attendance and viewership. Why should even the casual fan waste his/her time every weekend fully knowing that unless you drive for a superpower team, you have virtually no chance to win or make the Chase?

I would love Mr Gluck to explain to me how certain Chase drivers "deserve" their places in the Chase. Mr Vickers has done nothing all season, other than get lucky at other's misfortunes. Montoya has fully admitted that he finally learned the "trick" of Nascar and that means doing just enough to make the Chase. Why does that "deserve" my support? And finally, you have two other drivers outside the Chase that have won multiple races, while not making the Chase, and you have four drivers IN the Chase who've won nothing all season except for a points accumulating competition. Do they "deserve" my support?

Finally, just because 12 guys are in the Chase doesn't mean we have to cheer for them. I sure as hell am not going to put on a Johnson, Gordon, Montoya or Vickers shirt and ignore the drivers I've cheered for many years. No way that's going to happen in a year of Sundays.

The Loose Wheel said...
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darbar said...

I forgot to add in my previous post. The two really bad after effects of the Chase are: Teams not in the Chase are doing nothing but testing for next season and they're acting like nothing short of field fillers. And second, when a non-Chaser actually has the cojones to actually race hard and try to win, they're admonished by Nascar to back off. If that's not sounding more and more like the WWE, I don't know what does.

Richard in N.C. said...

It is not perfect, but I still think the Chase concept is good, but could use some tweaking. At the same time, the Chase does not mandate that EESPN ignor even more drivers than it does before the Chase. As I recall, in the interview with Frontstretch, the EESPN people admitted to only targetting about 20 drivers for coverage each race before the Chase. EESPN's focus is too narrow in the first 26 races and then narrows more during the Chase - to the detriment of fans, teams, the sport, and ultimately EESPN. I'll always wonder whether Jack D or Jim Beam might have stuck around as a sponsor if they had some reasonable expectation of at least some TV exposure.

Gluck's analysis is not that far off, but he changed the question slightly to reach it. The issue is not what drivers should get the bulk of the coverage, but whether the Chase drivers get far too much coverage.

I do have to point out that the Chase concept has been borrowed from NASCAR by the PGA and NHRA - so others think it has worth.

One thing I have not seen anyone address is whether TV ratings are declining more during the year now that the Chase is being used versus prior years before the Chase.

Dot said...

@ dar, ditto about Gluck. Also, I want to expand on your deep pockets comment. Chad said on TWIN that they spent $60K on some sort of equipment to check the car's specs. Gee, how many Odd Wad teams can spend that kind of money on anything?

No matter what NASCAR does, it's always going to come down to the haves and have nots.

BTW, when is/was Mikey on Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Tom said...

I'm intrigued about one big thing. Yes, the Chase has lost its luster with two tweaks already done (field expanded to 12, points reset based on wins instead of five-point increments).
Do you really, truly want to go back to the old ways, when champions had big leads and were clinching before they even made travel plans to the season finale?

I don't.

IMHO, go back to how it was when the Chase was first run...top 10, five-point increments in reset from first to 10th. That way worked, and I don't know why NASCAR bothered to mess with it.

We're not going back to the old way, that's for darn sure.

Here's a note of interest...when Johnson won his first title in 2006, he STILL would have been the champion under the old system.

Of course, Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards could have cried foul the last two years. They would have been champs without a Chase.

Bottom line in the grumpy ol' man file...ESPN doesn't do the racing proper justice. We all know that.

The Loose Wheel said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...


NASCAR and ESPN work hand-in-hand on the Chase.

I really think you need to take a big step back and look at the fundamental issue.

Few fans abandon their favorites and get absorbed in the Chase drivers. France proved that two years ago when he decided that the sport would cater to "the casual fan."

Guess what? He found out they did not exist. It would take nothing more than a shift in TV philosophy to keep viewers updated on all the drivers in the field as the race progresses.

The endless following of one or two battles by ESPN is ridiculous as it was in Kansas.

The bottom line is, this is bad TV matched with a playoff format that forces those eliminated from winning the big prize to still race.

One of my friends said it was like running an "A Main" feature with all the folks who ran in the heat races. It makes no sense.

If ESPN would simply cover the race and then cover the Chase it would be a very different product on TV and not alienate the fans who have fled again this season IMHO.


The Loose Wheel said...

I had no issue with guys clinching early Tom. Thats just me. Was I always happy about it? No, but if a team was able to put a strong enough season together to clinch early more power to them. I've always felt the Chase was a gimmick, a ratings and money grab plain and simple to appease the fans of non-dominant teams. Guys who were inconsistent over the course of a season (cough, Jr, Kahne, Busch) over teams that could put a complete season together like a Stewart, Gordon, Kenseth, Johnson.

I accept the system won't change back, but if it could I'd be good with that. One thing that needs to go back in the time machine without a single doubt is that stupid top 35 rule.

go fast on Friday or go home. Period.

The Chase got adjusted because people felt drivers weren't racing for wins, they were settling for 2nds and 3rds, so by rewarding wins, guys might go all out like Carl did last year at Kansas. The expanding, well IMO that was another money/ratings grab.

Helping the Chase in 1 respect would be to shuffle the schedule. I do feel more "Crown Jewel" type races should fall in the Chase, because having Daytona, The 600, Darlington, and Indy all in the first 26 really does give some teams excuses to ride and test for next year to do what JPM did and be good enough to make the Chase and then throw all the cards on the table once your there.

Risky business.

Unfortunately tracks that are lackluster now have equity by default since they got Chase dates originally due to where they were scheduled before. If they adjust anything, adjusting the schedule could really help so long as it is an eased process rather than completely blowing up the schedule and starting over.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD, I don't think we disagree. I'm saying the problem is how EESPN covers the races and the Chase in particular more than the Chase. If EESPN focused on what is happening on the track, rather than pre-selected "storylines," and let the guys in the booth look out the window to call the races, then NASCAR coverage overall would be better.

I watch very, very little golf, but I suspect that Tiger gets a good deal of coverage on Sunday even if he tees off 8 strokes behind - but he would not using EESPN-Chase logic.

StrokerAce90 said...

This is a very logical and to the point article in my humble opinion. I like it and agree with it. You would think NASCAR would realize that for sponsors who want to support this sport & "stay with it" that it would not take the focus away from the majority of the competitors involved in the sport, who may be struggling to stay in the sport & also trying to acquire new & retain old sponsors. From a business standpoint, it would appear to me that Nascar is not respecting all the sponsors who in one way or another contribute to the sport. Thats just wrong in my book.

Dot said...

Weren't the Chase drivers expanded because Jr and/or Gordon didn't make it one year?

I agree that we don't need to go back to the old way, but a better new way could be done. What that would be, I have no idea. All I do know is, we need better race coverage all around.

BTW, I am not too happy with the talk of having two day race weekends. We get a good crowd at LVMS on Fridays for qualifying. I'd hate to see that end.

Richard in N.C. said...

I do believe 1 problem with the Chase is that it is too long, and should be no more than 6 or 8 races.

For once I have to agree with Bruton - in most cases race weekend should start on Thursday, with testing allowed on Thursday.

Karen said...
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Karen said...
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Tom said...
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Dot said...
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Anonymous said...

Too much whining and crying from fans off sub-par drivers. Listen, up, fans of Michael Waltrip and Scott Speed: Just because you like your guy and he didn't make The Chase doesn't mean NASCAR is broken. It's like a bunch of LA Clippers fans complaining that the playoffs are lousy because their team didn't make the tournament.

Guess what: TOO BAD! Tell you driver to get his program in order and make the Chase. And if that's not good enough for you, then GO TO A RACE, THERE ARE PLENTY OF TICKETS AVAILABLE.

I'm sorry, but we are seeing some of the tightest closest and hottest competition up front in years, and it is exciting... but Jamie MacMurray fans don't get to see enough of their guy turning laps in the back of the field, so they have to complain that the Chase is the ruining their sport. What a joke!

You want ratings to not drop in the 2nd half of the season: Try replacing Jerry Punch with someone who knows how to do his job. Replace the directors and producers with people who know how to do their job. The reason ratings are falling off is because ESPN IS DRIVING PEOPLE AWAY, NOT BECAUSE OF THE CHASE! If you had ESPN broadcasting the way they do now, and the old Winston Cup season rules, you would see the ratings fall off a cliff!!! The problem with people not wanting to turn on their TV isn't the Chase, it's Dr. Jerry Punch and the gang of misfits who are turning NASCAR into a golf broadcast!

Anonymous said...

The two really bad after effects of the Chase are: Teams not in the Chase are doing nothing but testing for next season and they're acting like nothing short of field fillers.


Do you really think the teams wouldn't be testing for next year in a non-Chase format??! Tony Stewart had a 250-point lead on 2nd place when the Chase began. His lead on 13th place was like 500 points, more than two full races. You can bet your life that 13th place and back would be testing for 2010 is there was no Chase. It would be NO DIFFERENT for them.

Sally said...

Another problem I have with the 'chase' format is how much focus it takes away from the first 2/3 of the season. I don't remember having most of the focus all year on who would win the championship. It used to be that each race was important just because it was a race. Now, the be-all and and-all of the entire season is the championship. Without the chase, how many drivers, say Kyle Busch, would be running hard to get back into the top 10 to make it to the banquet? Now, that isn't even a possibility, as this format locks drivers OUT even more than it locks drivers in. I guess who wins the championship just isn't as important to me as each race by itself. I wonder how long, in this economy, sponsors will start pulling money from teams that don't make the chase, because they know they won't get mentioned at all?

Anonymous said...

With miniscule journalistic acumen like this article, its no wonder Mr Gluck is writing on a .com publication.

Hey, Mr Yuck, I mean, Gluck. How about this?
When the NFL season reaches the mid point, and there are teams in their divisions that are, say,1 and 7-should the NFL say "no more tv for you guys. Instead its only for the teams still in playoff contention"?
Even the Detroit Lions have fans in a winless season you dolt, and if they are COMPETING they desrve coverage.
You may write about NASCAR, but you're no JOURNALIST

Anonymous said...

I wish NA$CAR would put a higher premium on winning. Award significant points during the season for winning. Perhaps this would require more drivers to drive to win rather than points racing.

Then take the top 12 drivers PLUS winners for the chase...more incentive to win. More incentive to RACE, rather than cruise "in the points". Drivers complain that the CAR isn't good and that the TRACK isn't good. I raced real stock cars on dirt in the 50s, those cars and tracks were really crap...that's why we called it "driving" and "racing", not entertainment.

Sorry for the rant.


lchamp on twitter

rich said...

The big difference in Nascar and the stick and ball games in playoff mode it that in Nascar all the teams continue to play and in football, baseball or basketball if you don't make the playoffs your season is over.
I don't think BF or ESPN understand this basic fact. Attracting new viewers to ESPN coverage is a non-starter. They just can't follow the fractured coverage. There is no continuity outside of their scripted story of the week.
I can't wait for the Daytona 500 !!

glenc1 said...

Anon 3:16, I don't think you get JD's point, which I agree with. You, nor anyone else, can change the minds of those fans who continue to root for their favorite, Chase or not. They are going to stay that way, regardless of whether we think they're right or wrong, and there are a lot of them.

Personally, I don't expect the TV guys not to focus on Chase guys, and give us updates on their placements. But broadcasters have an obligation to at least *mention* it if a team falters on pit road or goes a lap down. If you're watching a football game and it's 47-0, if the team with no points has a guy get injured, they still have to talk about it. So if my 'driver' suddenly falls to 36th place, I at least want to know why. It doesn't have to be a five minute dissertation, just tell me the facts of the race. That's just basic journalism, and I think that's one of many reason why people get fed up with the Chase focus.

E-Ticket said...

The one thing that Jeff Gluck and other NASCAR writers do not get is that the chase is a playoff but it cannot be compared to other sports for one simple reason. When the playoffs start for those other sports only the teams in the playoff can compete everyone else goes home. ESPN is treating the race like this is true and not letting us know anyone else is there. The coolest thing about NASCAR is that all the teams show up every week with a chance to win. ESPN Seems to have missed this point. The gist of all the writers seems to be run up front and get coverage well ESPN doesn't follow anyone out side the top 14 or so anymore, this was happening before the chase and now it has put a huge magnifying glass on it.

Adam said...

The coverage and the chase are the main culprits in my opinion.

Too predictable, dry announcing, over promoting of network's shows, etc.

Anonymous said...

Also another thing is that in all other professional sports you do not play all your competion every week and this is what makes the Chase the dumbest thing in sports. The other thing is most of us don't care what guys like Jeff Gluck and most other Nascar writers have to say is because most of them just want to go to the race spend as little time at the track as possible and enjoy the night life and spend their expense accounts and they really don't care about the quality of the racing. Everyone you read says the same thing make the races shorter and cut the season and dump the small town tracks and go to the big cities.

Zieke said...

I don't know if NASCAR would have their current ratings or below without the Chase, but the announcing has alot to do with how it is perceived. One thing the ESPN guys do is continually update the points standings of the Chasers while the race is being run. Can anyone believe how stupid that is? Let's do all that after the race is over, and maybe pay attention to some of the non-chasers during a race. Might even help the precious ratings.

Anonymous said...

The Chase does not live up to the hype. It's supposed to be exciting and wonderful but instead it's boring and tedious.

If they really wanted an exciting format, they'd use the same system the Hooters Pro-Cup Series uses. At least their play-off system actually works. But by doing that, it means somebody in Daytona Beach would have to admit they were wrong and you know that's not going to happen.

This weekend will be 4 weeks in a row that the ratings will have been in the negative column. If that doesn't say something about the fallicy of this play-off system, then I don't know what does.

Steve said...

Honestly, does it have anything to do with the chase... or is it simply that its competing against NLF Football.

I have 3 TV's in my living room... one has the race on... but the main TV has my favorite NFL team.

Yes, I'm not proud to say it... but I choose watch the Detroit Lions over Nascar. Even though my driver is leading the chase.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Steve, we discussed that issue two weeks ago when NASCAR first went head-to-head with the 1PM NFL games. Feel free to scroll back through the columns to read that one. Great reader comments.


Donna DeBoer said...

I have fave drivers both in and out of the Chase, but I use the radio so I'm fine with coverage. I don't see why TV can't do the same as I agree, it's a Race first and a Chase second.
I think NASCAR is suffering from the same thing Jimmie Johnson says his competition does- worrying too much about everything else, when the focus should be on itself. Why is it so bad that there are more football fans than race fans? Why would football fans suddenly want to watch NASCAR... because there's a playoff?? Where's the large drop in ratings for the non-Chase format Nationwide Series? The Truck Series? I think France finally knows he screwed up, and doesn't know how to fix it without losing face or credibility... nevermind that those have already been shot.

GinaV24 said...

I had read Gluck's article this week too and it really ticked me off. I'm tired of the media and NASCAR telling me that I should like the crap they are giving me and be grateful for it. Really? No, I don't think so.

Your point in the first blog about the chase is absolutely on point -- I want to know what is going on with MY driver during the race. My favorite happens to be in the chase, but honestly, the TV coverage is just so lacking and has been all season except for when TNT had the broadcast. As a fan, I want someone to tell me about the race that is happening now, not "if the race ended now" at lap 10 -- well, that's stupid, the race isn't going to end now - it has another however many laps to go and it ain't over til it's over.

Watchability is a good point too -- TV is meant to show me the action - not have the cameras bob around from place to place like lost chickens. Find the action and show it to me and have announcers in the booth who can make me CARE about what I'm seeing. The radio announcers are able to do that.

I left the TV off last weekend until the last 30 laps of the race and listened to it on the radio while I worked outside. Considering that the most boring race of the season is scheduled for this weekend, I'm not planning on making sure I'm back for the start. Who's brilliant idea was it to have the race start at 3:30? Let's see, Sunday afternoon, NFL games in the 4th quarter -hmmm - brilliant!

Sophia said...

reading there is a press conference today to announce "more consistent" start times. two things imo.

They better be EXACT times each week or still timeslot/channel roulette for those taping/DVRing

IF TPTB do not address the DRECK that is today's camera work, earlier start times won't do anything to help.
Tight shots showing off HD, in car shots, roof cam shots/bumper cam shots are USED TO EXCESS RUINING ALL THE RACES.

Sorry for the caps but until somebody buys Brian FRANCE a CLUE on camera work, changing start times will be in vain. Folks will just bail earlier in the day.

(but I SUPPORT same time each week for day races and it would help immensely with rain delays!)

Vince said...

As I understand BF's reason for the Chase was because of viewer drop off once the NFL season started. He was hoping to generate more fan interest if he instutited a "playoff" system of sorts to compete with the NFL. Well as you can see this year, his experiment isn't working. Viewers are still flocking to the NFL. Reasons for this? Some people are just NFL fans and always will be. I for example have been going to and watching races since the late 50's. But when the NFL season starts, I'll watch that first if there is a good game on. Or the Lions. Yes Steve, I'm a Lions fan too. And DVR the race and start watching that once the early NFL game is done. That way I can fast forward through all the commercials and other BS until the last 30 laps or so when the actual racing starts.

I disagree with those that say the drivers that are not in the Chase are just testing. If ESPN would show you the guys outside of the Chase a little more you'd see that they are racing their butts off to get a win. Sure there's going to be a few that lay down once the Chase starts, but the majority of those guys are racing hard every week.

I have an idea for a new Chase format. First pick some other tracks. I'm sorry but Cali, N.H. and Kansas shouldn't be Chase tracks. Put a road course in. Put Bristol in. And end the season some place other than Homestead. End it in Daytona where it started. Next I'd include only the "regular" season points leader and the drivers to win a race that year. You win a race or are leading the points and you're in the Chase. Plain and simple. Then you'd see some racing going on the first part of the year with a win meaning getting into the Chase.

Just my 9 cents worth (two cents adjusted for inflation).

Anonymous said...


The bad camera work is a direct result of product placement. The reason we get shots of in car and bumper cams showing no racing action is to get the sponsor logo on screen.

If Brain France ran the NFL Monday nights game would have shown Bret Favre and Bret Favre only. Why show the rest of the team when Favre was the star? The casual fan wants to see Bret Favre, not the nobodys on the line.

After seeing the ratings for Mondays game I wonder if Brain France has his writers busy on the script where the Chase comes down to the last race with Mark Martin going head to head with team Roush. It's now a proven ratings smash, so I'm sure B.Z.F. is all over this.

Daly Planet Editor said...

We will have an update later today on the information released in the NASCAR teleconference.

This column is about the TV troubles in the Chase and how simple they are to understand.

Thank you for focusing on this topic.


Kim said...

Thank goodness I have Raceview and the scanner on nascar.com! Kasey made the Chase this year, but for the years he did not, having the in-car audio and being able to see where he was on the track were invaluable. And this is my third year as a fan, so all I have ever known is "Jimmie Is God and Hendrick is the Holy Spirit".Nothing against Jimmie as a person, but it gets a little monotonous.

Anonymous said...

Allen Bestick replacing jerry punch as PxP announcer would solve 75% of espn/abc's in-race coverage problems.


Anonymous said...

Oh, did you hit this nail right on the head! The Chase is interesting BUT - I like and follow other drivers too. Sometimes, watching the ticker, I see where a driver I follow makes his way through the field with absolutely no TV coverage or commentary. Totally frustrates me. This is PART OF THE RACE, YOU ESPN DOLTS! If coverage of the Chase drivers is all that matters, just race the 12 and be done with it.

Anonymous said...

I'm totally uninterested in the chase. None of my favorite drivers are 'chasing' and if one of them dares to actually race with a chaser, he is chastised by nascar.

It is not about racing, it's about points. I'm an old guy and I guess it would be nice to see Martin win, but I really don't care.

It's a wonder nascar doesn't tell the non-chasers to stay home, they won't show up on TV anyway. Maybe the non-chasers can be told to do a clean spin and go so the TV cameras can actually show the advertising on them.

Hey, France, there's your gimmick for next year...Syncronized Spinning with lots of smoke! Real WWF type of entertainment.

Or...they could just let them actually race the cars.


sue said...

If your a fan of a non chase driver just hope that he leads some laps and maybe wins. That's what Smoke did when he didn't get into the chase and he got a lot of exposure.

Four of the five most popular drivers are in the chase this year and even though Dale Jr isn't in the chase he's certainly getting plenty of tv exposure with his woes. Wouldn't it be wonderful if tv could focus on all 43 drivers?! But even if they did many of fans still wouldn't be satisfied.

There certainly needs to be some consistency in television viewing times. Qualifying on Friday, no wait maybe it Saturday this week. Sunday race or is it Saturday? Sunday 1 pm start or is it a 3 pm start. Confusing? Very. When I turn on the NFL on Sunday I know that there will be a game starting at noon then again at 3 pm here in Chicago which is what I may be watching since Fontana is usually a snooze fest.

Richard in N.C. said...

It seems to me that the real problem with EESPN's handling of the Chase goes right back to EESPN's basic problems - arrogance and welfare. The self-styled Worldwide Leader in Sports reinvented sports broadcasting, so it knows ALL and does not need to be concerned by what anyone else thinks - which is reinforced by the way the cable carry charge is handled so that millions of people pay for EESPN whether they want it or watch it or not. The problems with coverage of the Chase are just one result of bigger problems at the World Wide Leper.

Anonymous said...

Nascar should also realize that if this continues, sponsors will only sponsor a car for the first 26 races and then bolt should their driver not make the Chase. Its a dangerous precedent the network is setting by only focusing on the Top 12, especially when sponsors are so hard to come by right now.

Anonymous said...

I am a Tony Stewart fan and wasn't happy when he missed the Chase, but so it went and so it goes when other drivers miss the Chase. You can't win the title. However, I watch races for the "races" anyway and don't put that much emphasis on the Cup title. Though I did buy my Tony championship shirts in 2003 and 2006. ;) I will always watch a race at Chase time, even if Tony misses the Chase. To me, bottom line, is racing is about the RACE!!!!!!!! Jeff

Anonymous said...

If Brian France thinks the Chase is a playoff, he's sorely mistaken. In a real playoff, the loser goes home, and no more games. So, you want to make it interesting? Have the Chase include the 16 tops-in-points drivers and award no points for any of the last 10 races. The 2 guys who finish the lowest of the 16, are no longer in contention after week one. During week 2, again the two lowest finishers of the 14 remaining are out of the Chase. This continues until you are down to 10 remaining drivers. After that, starting with race 5 of the Chase, you eliminate 1 driver each week, so by the time you come to Homestead, there are four drivers who can win the Cup. At Homestead, the highest finisher in the champion. Now, that's a real playoff, and not some stupid fake playoff. And, it would reward consistency for the first few Chase races and make the remaining guys race hard to win, and not just race for points. While this might not be perfect, and they may want to somehow award some kind of points, at least this is a real playoff.

Anonymous said...

I would argue that the Chase has significantly damaged the sport. Nobody races to win anymore. It has turned Richmond into a snooze. The guys in contention ride around hoping to not get wrecked and nobody else wants to be that guy that wrecks them. The result? Less side-by-side racing and nobody trying to win.

How many times this year has Montoya said that he doesn't care about winning, that he's just racing for points - top 5's and 10's? To me, that's not racing. It's boring and completely uncompelling.

If NASCAR wants to fix the racing on the track, they need to go back to the old points system, but significantly weight the points for the winner. Give them a 30-point bonus for winning (or more). Doing this might actually lead to 43 guys trying to win every week, as it rewards winning and penalizes losing.

In the meantime, we're left to watch 36 3-hour merry-go-rounds with everyone trying to stay out of trouble and get their points. YAWN.

Ohio Eric said...

JD, you always hit the nail on the head with your stories about King Brian's Na$car!!!!!! If he thinks he is bringing more fans into the sport with the CHASE, he must be crazy. The ESPN gang don't do Nascar TV coverage any justice, but in their defence, it has to be hard to hype up a follow the leader race where passing is at a premium. I guess thats the reason they just hype up the 12 chasers and Jr. I would love to see some other drivers getting coverage, but I am sure ESPN is doing just what King Brian tells them to do. I will watch the snozzefest Pepsi 500 at the Halffull AutoClub Speedway On Monday afternoon. Thank God for my DVR. Did anyone know that a 3 1/2 hour race can actually be watched on DVR in about 1 1/2 hours. WOW

Dot said...

@ Anon 5PM, now that's a playoff scenario. I like it.

While driving home today I was thinking about how some/most sponsors never get any coverage. This is wrong. How long would it take for JP, et al to say Driver X in the XYZ car? Even the Odd Wads deserve some mention. Maybe this would bring some small time sponsorship to the sport. They all can't afford to sponsor Hendrick, Roush, Gibbs, etc.

Ken said...

The chase has changed the way driver's race. They stopped racing to win and only to gain the most points possible without risking an accident or DNF. If you think the ratings are low now, wait intil Mark Martin retires or stops running well. Many of us oldtime fans are hanging on only as long as he is there and rinning well. It broke our heart when Richard Petty and Darrel Waltrip became backmarkers. Harry Gant did it right.

darbar said...

To those who say the also ran teams need to get their house in order and win, you are so out of touch with reality. How, in God's name, can a small team compete with a super power team? How can a one car team get their house in order when they only have 1/4 of the budget of the Hendrick teams? How can a small team fairly compete when they have maybe 60 employees and the Hendrick team employs 500, and can afford specialists such as engineers, technicians and all that? It has nothing to do with getting their house in order and winning. It has everything to do with how much money you have to spend on making a team strong, and the small teams that many of us cheer for have very little of that money.

Reggie said...

JD, On more than one occasion in your article, you mentioned the 12 Chase contenders, "as the chosen few" I'm missing something here. I thought the contenders were the one's that finished in the top 12 in points. In other words, they raced themselves in. Correct me if I'm wrong!!

Anonymous said...

I'm a Matt Kenseth fan and just wanted to write in and apologize for him ruining your argument at Dover. Matt ran third and got plenty of TV coverage. It was fully satisfying watching him race his way to the front and attempt to redeem himself from a midseason slump.

Also, I enjoy watching David Reutimann and would like to apologize for his running 8th at Kansas. While he did not share the one thing in common that 11 of the top 12 finishers of the race did, I admit I did enjoy watching him race up front on television. For this I also felt satisfied.

But my selfishness is not acceptable. Here or anywhere. So I am sorry and hope you will also enjoy the pleasure of noticing there is a lot going on inside of a NASCAR race.

- RA Eckart -

Daly Planet Editor said...


If Matt was running in 20th he should have been regularly updated just as he would have been on the radio broadcast or any online scoring.

The TV coverage is only forced to acknowledge the non-Chasers is they happen to force their way into the script.

For every viewer who enjoyed a moment of seeing their driver, there were many more who only heard about them on the radio or through the scoring ticker.


darbar said...

RA, I think you're missing the point completely. Yes, when a non-Chaser such as Matt, who by the way is my favorite driver as I grew up near his hometown, fights his way into the top 10, of course he's going to get mentioned. Same for the 00 car. You seem to be implying that we're saying the non-Chasers have no right to be in the top 10, hence your apology for both the 17 and 00. That's not at all what everyone is saying. What we ARE saying is, regardless of what place the other 31 drivers are in during a race, be it second or forty-second, they deserve some camera time and mentions as every driver out there has fans and sponsors. But ESPN and Speed have a giant woody for only the top 12, and make it appear that no other drivers exist, and that's one of the reasons I've stopped watching RaceDay, Nascar Now and all the rest. Heck, I would love it if Matt could run in the top 10 for every remaining race because at least we'll see him and hear his name mentioned. But if Matty runs 30th, you can bet your behind his name won't be anywhere to be heard.

Anonymous said...

I have what is most likely a different opinion of most NASCAR fans. It's probably because I'm newer (last 3 years) to the sport, and am first and foremost a "stick and ball" guy as you call them John. For me, as a Matt Kenseth fan, I really lost a bunch of interest before the Chase. If I'm watching the race, I'm more interested in the Chase than what Matt's doing. In 2007 when Matt won at Homestead, it was laughable.

I honestly wouldn't mind seeing the non-chasers go home. Heck, expand the field to 16, and send everyone else to work on next year, just like baseball, football, and hockey teams do. At least the winners are all chasers at that point.

Here's an even more radical idea. 16 chasers. Eliminate the last place car each week. When the last race comes around, you have 7 cars. Winner takes all. I'm tired of the line, "Johnson only needs to finish 38th or better to win the title."

Anonymous said...

I saw one suggestion where someone suggested that if you win a race during the season you should automatically qualify for the Chase. This doesn't work for me because once you win, you're not encouraged to race to win anymore. Sure, one school of thought might say, "Hey once you win, you can race to win the rest of the year and not for points." But I think what would happen is about 10 races prior to the Chase, teams would coast just trying to "work on things." The Daytona winner would have no reason to race hard the rest of the year.

Anonymous said...

So if the non-chasers don't get covered, will advertisers ultimately be the answer? All it would take would be a half-dozen big advertisers to tell Nascar to give them coverage or face future sponsorship contracts that call for fewer dollars if a car fails to make the chase.

itsonlyrockandroll said...

Note to Gordo " Don't make
statements about other drivers while involved on the air with
WORST WICK and Brother Reed."
If anything can go wrong ....
It Will.

itsonlyrockandroll said...

Marty ... the best thing you can do in the booth.....is beeeeeee
quiet! Then you wont make mistakes
and then try correct them and then
try to make a joke and then just
keep talking.. No es verdad ??:?

Daly Planet Editor said...

its only rock,

Please refresh your browser to the main page and add your comments to our live Nationwide Series blog.



itsonlyrockandroll said...

Well I refreshed the Browser..see
if it helps. I was using AOL so
I understand the situation : ) Now
I will use IE.

itsonlyrockandroll said...

What? Who ? McCartney ? THIS IS
CALIFORNIA FOLKS ~! And that was theee best Nascar could do for the
Anthem ? I give up. No hope no
nothing. Thee worst decision ever
made by Nascar. Unreal I still dont
get it.
Oh wait .. they are saying that
Nascar thought it was ...
PAUL MC CARTNEY. Ok I will let it
slide this time.

itsonlyrockandroll said...
This comment has been removed by the author.