Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Day Two: Danica Stumbles Into The NASCAR Media Spotlight


It started with a hastily called press conference that caught almost all of the NASCAR press corps flat-footed. Most of them had just returned to Charlotte from Las Vegas and the Sprint Cup Series banquet.

It was only then that they learned of a high-profile press conference being held in Phoenix, AZ near the Go Daddy corporate headquarters. In typical Go Daddy style, CEO Bob Parsons put out this message on Twitter:

"I've got a hot date with DanicaPatrick tomorrow. She asked me to check out her new GoDaddy.com car."

Well, while Parsons attended the press conference almost all of the NASCAR media did not. One veteran motorsports writer who actually lives in the Phoenix area is named Michael Knight. Click here to take a moment and read his feelings on just how well organized the Go Daddy press conference really was behind the scenes.

Knight had some choice words for the Go Daddy PR effort and its coordination:

Unknowing. Unresourceful. Uninterested. Unprofessional. Arrogant. Clueless. Lazy. Scared.

Knight suggested that perhaps few invites were offered because that would have required Patrick to answer actual questions from the racing media on relevant topics. SPEED advised that they were not in the loop on this media event and would provide no coverage. ESPN also had no reporter present.

Once things got underway, the actual press conference was streamed online at GoDaddy.com and had no live television of any kind. After the brief and very polite media presentation that featured Patrick, Parsons and Kelly Earnhardt there was a media conference call.

Patrick advised on the phone with reporters that she did not know the actual schedule of races she would run in ARCA and the Nationwide Series. She remembered being briefly in a stock car eight or nine years prior. She noted that she is a competitive person looking for a new challenge. Patrick successfully held off any release of information or a peek into her actual motivation or personality.

Meanwhile, Parsons said that the thought of Patrick working her way up the NASCAR ladder and eventually taking over the #5 Go Daddy Sprint Cup Series car currently being driven by Mark Martin made his eyes twinkle. Earnhardt added that Patrick's Nationwide series ride would come with points and allow her to be locked-in to make the field at the start of the season.

This was the opening act in the Patrick transition to stock cars. Last Sunday, Mike Davis from the JRM PR staff advised on Twitter that Danica and team had gone to Orlando and tested at the one mile Disney Speedway circuit.

As if on cue, a media release then arrived Monday from SPEED with the following information.

SPEED will interrupt regularly scheduled programming to bring viewers live coverage of the JR Motorsports press conference scheduled for Thursday, Dec. 17 at 11 a.m., from the JR Motorsports shop in Mooresville, NC.

Participants will include: Dale Earnhardt Jr. (owner), Danica Patrick (No. 7 GoDaddy.com driver), Kelley Earnhardt (co-owner & general manager), Tony Eury Jr. (co-owner, No. 7 GoDaddy.com crew chief), Kelly Bires (No. 88 Hellmann’s driver), Tony Eury Sr. (competition director). Bob Dillner will host the SPEED coverage.


This time, it is the NASCAR media directly that is being led by the nose down the Danica trail. It is assumed that Patrick is getting live national TV coverage to simply announce which select ARCA and Nationwide Series races she will run. The team management, the car color and the sponsor are already known.

The presence of Patrick has already twisted the NASCAR media dynamic with the words "Jimmie Johnson" seemingly not being heard at all on the Internet or TV anymore. Suddenly, a part-time Nationwide Series driver has live national TV coverage to announce her limited schedule.

Since ESPN carries all the Nationwide Series races, do not be surprised to see ESPNEWS add live or slightly delayed coverage to the existing SPEED package. Reporters on-site will be tweeting live and then filing online stories shortly after the event is over. No doubt Sirius Satellite Radio will also be represented.

This will be the first time Patrick will be face-to-face with the majority of the NASCAR press corps who have plenty of time on their hands and plenty of questions to ask. This time, Patrick will be treated as a rookie NASCAR driver with zero experience in stock cars and a whole lot to learn.

It should be interesting to see if Patrick rises to the occasion and embraces the NASCAR media and fan base or continues to be aloof and disconnected from the sport that she desires to be perhaps her next full time racing destination.

TDP will live blog the event on Thursday. In the meantime, where are you coming down on the Danica issue after these last two weeks of announcements? Are you tuning-in on Thursday to see her NASCAR and ARCA schedules revealed? Is there a curiosity factor growing or are you waiting until she turns a wheel at Daytona?

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

33 comments:

KoHoSo said...

I am by no means anti-Danica. I am also a big IndyCar fan in addition to following NASCAR.

That being said...no, I will not be watching the upcoming press conference. Even with Danica involved, these things are just too predictable to bother watching. If I'm wrong and somebody does something stupid, it will be all over YouTube in mere minutes and I can watch it at my leisure.

In addition, I will not be watching because this is yet another example of the "Gordonization" of American racing. That is not meant as an insult to Jeff Gordon or his fans. It's just a fact that, since his rise to fame, sponsors and owners are now looking for drivers that have Gordon's good looks and well-spoken manner before seeing if they can possibly rival his great talent.

I root for Danica but I am also not blind or deaf. She finished well in the 2008 points standings against a mediocre field (to be generous). However, she is still not winning because she fails to give good feedback to the crew chief and often does not listen to the advice given to her from the pits including that coming directly from Michael Andretti. She has been under the tutelage of Tony Kanaan, one of the best modern day IndyCar drivers, and she can still never seal the deal, often finishing behind cars that have less than half the funding that hers has.

What I greatly fear is that those she works for have failed to really read her the riot act over her mistakes for so long that her natural racing ability will never flower in the way it should have. Now we are going to combine her with -- and no matter how much I love him, too -- the ultimate poster boy for poor feedback, sloppy work habits, and the prime example of what happens when one puts commercial endorsements over working on the craft of racing?

I strongly hope that I am wrong, but I don't see this ending well. Thus, I don't want to even watch how it begins because I'm pretty sure I know how it ends...and it probably involves a reality show. :-(

PammH said...

Huge Jr fan, but I have NO interest in this press conference. Can't stand DP-won't root for her & think she is very bad for the sport. I know we disagree on this JD, but I don't see anything good coming from this.

Damon said...

KoHo,

She's not winning more Indycar races for the same reason nobody else on her team or anybody that finished behind her in the standings did in 2009 (with the exception of Justin Wilson who won at Watkins Glen), Penske and Ganassi were just that dominant.


And really, how much Indycar racing have you watched?


Danica left Rahal-Letterman with 4 top 5's in 30 races and never qualified better than 11 for any road/street course race. Well, in 2007, her first year driving for Michael Andretti she 4 top 5's and qualified on the front row twice in five road/street course races, including beating all her teammates at Mid-Ohio.

In 2008, she finally caught a break and won a race, which could've easily been Michigan in 2007, but had a flat right rear tire with 15 laps to go that forced her to pit and drop a lap.

Then in 2009, she topped her career bests for top 5's, the Indy 500 and the end of the year points standings, so you don't do that if you don't improve your craft, work hard or whatever other junk you tried to throw at her.

Ziggy said...

The more I hear/read about DP the less I'll be paying attention.

Way to much hype, besides I'm already cringing over the thought of ESPN's Nationwide telecasts next season.

Ziggy

Anonymous said...

My grip with the Web Streaming of the announcement was that it was to start at 2pm. Waited 18 minutes for it to start. And it was very poorly produced.

If you are going to hold a press conference at a given time, it should start at that time. Also it was clear there was zero planning. Organize it.

Sad for such a big company like GoDaddy to be so bush league.

GinaV24 said...

I won't be tuning in. I'll be working anyway, but even if I was at home I wouldn't because watching Danica, the Earnhardt's and GoDaddy's song and dance routine doesn't make me care at all.

I am not a fan of hers. I don't plan to be a fan. Just because I'm a female fan and she happens to be female will not make me become a fan. She and her "brand" just aren't my cup of tea. As far as I'm concerned, it ranks right up there with the Extenze commercials on the scale of things to avoid.

And an ARCA test and possibly an announcement of which races she's going to run merits a full scale televised press conference? -- a few soundbites maybe, but this is overkill

I do find it amusing that this has knocked the 48 team's accomplishment of "history" off of the internet sites.

All of this hype is NOT making me look forward to the 2010 Nationwide series -- its already overkill - how about if she races a bit in stock cars and then I could make up my own mind? I never do well with any of the drivers that NASCAR and the media want to tell me I should adore.

Anonymous said...

Sad face. My daughter loves DP and Jr. I tried to buy merchandise from NASCAR after the announcement, but it wouldn't be here in time for Christmas. They should've had this ready to go a month ago to sell holiday gift merchandise.
I'm not one of those all worked up into a snit about Danica in NASCAR, but I wish it was without Go Daddy.
That company is just so icky.

KoHoSo said...

Damon, I respectfully disagree. You are correct that Penske and Ganassi were dominant and I would add that Andretti-Green Racing was way off their game in 2009 (highly aggravated by Tony Kanaan's extremely bad luck). However...well, without turning this into something that Mr. Daly won't want here, I ask anybody curious about this to go to the IndyCar site, look at least year's individual race results, and see how many times that, even in an off year, she finished behind drivers and teams at both ovals and road courses that have far less funding than AGR (which is anybody except Penske, Ganassi, and Newman-Haas-Lanigan). Just as a highlight, in her last five races, her finishes were 19th, 16th, 12th, 6th, and 19th and she was running at the end of all of them.

My contention is that she has what I call Sarah Fisheritis. Danica runs great if the car is perfect but does poorly in giving the proper feedback to improve it when it is off or conditions change. Thus, she has no problem getting those occasional top five finishes even if her car is only so-so against even more so-so competition.

I would ask that you listen more closely to her radio channel and watch how her car performs after pit stops and you might find some agreement with me. If not, no biggie. Racing wouldn't be as much fun if we agreed on everything, would it? ;-)

Besides, I say again that I hope to be wrong on this. Nothing would make me happier than to see Danica holing a NASCAR trophy and how ticked that would make a certain segment of the racing community. Still, my confidence in her at this point is low.

hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

No thanks.

I like how they said they'd 'cut from regular programming', 'cause at 11AM, it's usually an infomercial! :)

Anonymous said...

Ziggy,

Me too. The ESPN hype machine is going to kill us come February. Let's just hope that we don't get Jerry Punch on top of that.

Ritchie said...

I am interested in the Great Danica experiment and I am curious about how she will handle the travelling NASCAR media, who get to know the nuances of the drivers very well. My prediction is that the Great Danica Experiment will not end well.

Maybe she is a natural at driving stock cars and we will all be shocked by her abilities, but I can't see how that could be.

I think the real story will be the radio transmissions between Danica and Tony Eury Jr.. I'm sure he will do all he can since he is working for Dale Jr., but I can't see him suffering many indignities before dropping the hammer on her.

West Coast Diane said...

Thank Damon! Took the words out of my typing hands. KoHoSo, you say she was under Tony Kanaan's tutelage. Well he did a great job. She finished ahead of him and about 60 to 70 points behind 4th place Helio, winner of 3 500's. She also had a much better attitude last year.

With that said....

Danica isn't my style, personality wise. However, I don't begrudge her the opportunity to do whatever she wants in racing.

If she brings new/old fans to NASCAR and some of them stick and around and become fans that is good.

Racing is a business, sponsors want to sell products. Unfortunately it isn't going to change.

The part of the Danica craze that bothers me, is the salaciousness of her sponsor's ads. I do not look forward to those and am thankful for the DVR's FF button which I will be using.

As far as the media frenzy, I am sure MOST athletes/celebrities don't like it, whether good press or bad.

Back to the question. I will DVR it and maybe watch, maybe not. If I watch it won't be for Danica, but just to see what JR has to say..LOL!

annmartina said...

The thought of Danica working her way up to drive Mark Martin's 5 car makes me . . . roll on the floor laughing.

Anonymous said...

My message to Danica is..."Shut Up and Drive!" This woman has played Nascar like a fiddle to suit her carer interests ($$$$). Like many, I believe she is a mediocre talent who is worse than the many other open wheel drivers that have failed at Nascar. The shame is that she will suck the oxygen out of the room while numerous,outstanding young Nascar drivers can't get the sponsorship in this recession to remain competitive. She'll be in top notch equipment and I really do wish her well, but I don't want to hear her whining and excuse-making. I snickered when I heard she would make her debut at the California Nationwide race. The cars are so spread out there that she can toddle around with no one in sight of her and hope that attrition gives her a fish in the top 20.

Richard in N.C. said...

Maybe somewhat inartful, but DP has now managed to come up with a reason for 3 media events for her plans for 2010. More exposure for NASCAR, especially the N-wide series, can't hurt. I hope she can cut through the Tiger media fog and get some exposure, but I doubt she will. Might try to record, but won't be able to watch live.

Darcie said...

I've stopped taking a look at Jayski because a vast majority of articles listed on his page is nothing but Danica. So, it goes without saying that I will not waste my time looking at some silly press conference. The only thing I will be interested in watching is when she punts a Nationwide regular or if she tangles with Kyle Busch during any race. Plus, if I hear she's throwing one of her hissy fits, ala Milka or Dan Weldon, then I may be interested, but not before that.


BTW, why no media about Milka, who will also be testing an Arca car at Daytona this week? I bet not many of you here even knew she was going to be testing for Braun Racing.

majorshouse said...

I could care less about seeing this joke of a news conference. I do not begrudge a woman in motorsports, but she is a mid-pack driver going to drive for a has been or mid-pack driver who is more impressed with his personal appearances than driving a race car.

Chris from NY said...

This is just what NASCAR needed. Another effed-up image arriving on the scene.

Go away and never come back, Danica. Hit the road, and take all of your stupid "GoDaddy Girls" commercials with you.

Don't you EVER think about taking over Mark Martin's car. It'll never happen. Get yourself a return ticket back to full-time IndyCar, NOW!

Sophia said...

As long as sports only care about the STARS as opposed to the basics of what makes the sport good, ratings will continue to tumble.

I've not commented much lately and regarding DP...ugh..I was sick of her commercials, some sleazy (I've NOTHING against good sex appeal but don't like GoDaddy. the end)

I just have grown weary of griping but honestly, not sure how much NASCAR I will watch in 2010. If everybody has a Romance with DP/Bromance withJJ/Watching every nuance of Dale Jr, it will be a drag.

I might watch the prac & quals on SPEED but skip the tv & listen online.

BTW, JD, you heard any updates on TWIN?

I doubt I'll tune in to any press conference since this house has been counting the "Ya knows?" of Danica since she started racing..and now has thrown in "ums" for interest.

Get this woman a public speaking coach.

RPM said...

Danica in NASCAR is a good thing. She draws her own fanbase into the mix.

What I want to know about is the new weekly series Showtime is promoting, Inside NASCAR.

Who's hosting, what's the format, where is it based? C'mon JD, give us the lowdown!

red said...

i'll be at work so i won't be watching. that said:

i think this is a great move by jrm to re-gain a sponsor and will benefit the n'wide series for the 10 races she runs. and that's the name of the game, media-wise! as west coast diane notes: "racing is a business, sponsors want to sell products."

for myself: i'm more interested in how leilani munter does at the daytona arca test b/c there's a racer i want to see get a shot in nascar.

what i won't be great at tolerating is the "mania" that inevitably follows danica patrick. if the various media folk could focus on the racing part of all this, i'd be one happy camper! there will be a few who will do exactly that but i fear that many will resort to the same kind of silly "coverage" they threw at JJ this year and continue to do with dale. that level of overkill is what causes spill-over onto the racer him- (or her!) self and muddies the discussion.

folks get exasperated by the relentessness of it all and blame the racer and then the craziness starts.

so, good luck to everyone at jrm on thursday and going forward and i wish danica patrick nothing but the best as she tries her hand at n'wide.

Donna in FL said...

As I've stated before, my main interest in Danica is seeing how much bigger she can knock the holes in walls for more female drivers to get a chance to come in. Can't mention Johanna Long's name enough, she really deserves a shot at NASCAR.
I'll watch the JRM presser if I have time, if nothing else because I like Bob D, am interested in press Q's, and to study non-Danica facial expressions.

Lastly, I'd like to defend Bob Parsons. I've been buying software from him for well over 20 years. Always received personal service. Happy on my part for his success and advertising choices (ie auto racing) I don't believe his company now is run any less carefully than it ever was.

Anonymous said...

Silly me. I believed the Indy results that showed Patrick finishing 5th behind the 2 super teams. It also showed her as the highest placed driver on her team.

Boy was I stupid. As detailed above, she always placed lower than the smaller poorly funded teams.

Did she really finish last in points behind Kannan?

John McManus

West Coast Diane said...

@ red...as usual, well thought out post.

Didn't know Leilani was going to be at ARCA test. That's great, I've read some things about her and wish her well. Hope they give her some media time.

You also said:

"folks get exasperated by the relentessness of it all and blame the racer and then the craziness starts".

Yes, this is what drives me crazy as well. Again drives/celebrities, for the most part, do not seek out this attention. It is the media that makes/controls the frenzy.

It is hard to warm up to Danica and I was put off by her tantrums, (nor do I like the go-daddy ads). Howver, if you watched the IRL races last year, and I did, Danica has made great strides in the "temper tantrum, foot stomping" area. I really can't recall any such episode. In interviews she talked about how she was working on a more positive attitude and not letting things get to her.

@Sophia...I agree Danica's um's can be annoying (by anyone). However, many of the NASCAR drivers at all levels do not speak the "Queens" english. My fav, JR, is one of the worse, God love him. She has improved, so I will cut her some slack and hope she is working on eliminating them.

Can't wait to see the Robin Miller interview. That I will watch (well DVR). Just wish they would cover the test and all the drivers.

West Coast Diane said...

@Darcie...I knew about Milka because I read it on Jayski's :-)

Damon said...

Gotta love some ARCA folks complaining about Speed coming on a 1 pm est Friday and strictly focusing on Danica.

This is about as funny as AGR boycotting an autograph session back in 2005 because they thought the IRL was giving Danica special treatement with her own line, even though more people wanted her autograph than theirs.

She's five foot tall, but casts a Shaquille O'Neal-sized shadow everywhere she goes.

Richard in N.C. said...

I am a big fan of Robin Miller and I am willing to accept his analysis that DP has real talent until she proves him wrong on the track.

Like a lot of the world, the NASCAR world is full of monkey see, monkey do. If DP has some reasonable success, it could open the door to NASCAR for other, talented lady drivers and new sponsors. IF DP has some success, on track and/or in the media, there just might be some sponsors that be interested in getting into N-wide to test the waters IF they could sponsor a qualified lady driver.

GinaV24 said...

I'd be more interested in Milka and the other female - Leilani is it? testing for the ARCA series.

The comment abour the relentlessness is quite true. Is it more pervasive in NASCAR than other sports? Or do I just notice it more because I follow NASCAR more closely than other sports? The Danica-mania has sure cut into my need to read articles on Jayski since I am NOT clicking on anything (other than The Daly Planet) that references her name so you are quite right about the blowback effect.

Anonymous said...

she is needed badly as this "sport" requires anything and everything to make it watchable anymore.

hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

This is about as funny as AGR boycotting an autograph session back in 2005 because they thought the IRL was giving Danica special treatement with her own line, even though more people wanted her autograph than theirs

Not so much funny as it is annoying (and unfair to everyone else).

Like while watching a Cup race re-air (boredom can do that to ya), the scroller mentioned the Sat ARCA coverage 'featuring DP'. It's not just 'bout her, folks!

Anonymous said...

Danica doesn't need the press. The press needs Danica. Only one-half of that equation seems to understand that so far.

hotaru-raganbaby_6 said...

We don't need any MORE DP, anon 6:18. It's irritating and you just can't seem to get away from it.

Ick!

bryan said...

I won't watch because it's painful to hear her attempt to talk (if it's not scripted).

I do think she's good for NASCAR. We've been complaining about the sameness of all the drivers and the lack of coverage of some series and she's part of the cure.