Thursday, May 7, 2009
Well now, things just got interesting in a hurry late on Wednesday when an email arrived from our friends at Fox Sports. The man who has been in the NASCAR news this season for topics ranging from late race start times to Digger T-shirts is going to be taking questions from fans.
Broadcast veteran David Hill is a jovial Aussie who enjoys a good conversation and an occasional cold beverage. He has a tremendous sports television resume and his fingerprints are all over the entire NASCAR on Fox concept from its inception.
Hill's official title currently is the Chairman and CEO of Fox Sports. He arrived at that company in 1994 and started the sports division from scratch, literally. NASCAR on Fox came about after a trip to the Lowe's Motor Speedway on race week and an introduction to Humpy Wheeler.
Click here for a 2008 interview with Hill in the Sports Business Daily. Back in January, reporter Dustin Long interviewed Hill and we put together a TDP column that can be reviewed by clicking here.
Mr. Hill is suddenly interested in chatting with NASCAR fans and taking your questions. This has been a rough season for Fox and Hill is perhaps the right guy to get some straight talk out into the NASCAR fan base.
There are two ways to participate. Click here for a Fox Sports link to a page where you can submit a question in advance. This is certainly the best way to go in terms of possibly getting a question answered for a couple of reasons. Number one, the time of day.
Hill will be on the chat page for one hour at foxsports.com starting at 3PM ET on Friday, May 8th. Basically, he may well be doing this on his lunch hour out in Los Angeles, CA at the Fox Sports headquarters. I hope it's catered.
On a serious note, this opportunity is a good one for folks who have some fundamental questions about the NASCAR on Fox struggles this season. The exact same faces are in place on TV, yet many of you have been asking why the broadcasts seem so different.
The press release from Fox Sports says "race fans have the rare opportunity to ask the man in charge their burning questions about TV network decisions and FOX Sports race production." So, why not make the most of it and follow-up?
TDP will review the chat including the questions and answers on Friday night in a new column. Credit goes to Fox for putting Hill out with the fans, something we wish happened at ESPN a lot more often.
Please feel free to leave your comments about Mr. Hill and the NASCAR on Fox 2009 season on this post as a warm-up to the chat session. To voice 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 stopping by TDP.
It has been awhile since viewers of NASCAR Now have seen veteran writer Ryan McGee. After leaving the NASCAR Media Group, McGee wrote several solid articles for ESPN.com and appeared on NASCAR Now several times. Then, he was gone.
McGee had branched out to other sports for ESPN and that left a void on the NASCAR side. While it is nice to see the faces of the NASCAR on ESPN announcing team, journalists like Ed Hinton and McGee are missed on ESPN's various TV networks.
Wednesday, the news of Mark Martin returning to drive fulltime in the Sprint Cup Series in 2010 brought McGee to NASCAR Now. He addressed the pros and cons of the Martin decision and then talked about Brad Keselowski. McGee's advice was for Keselowski to stay right where he is, even if that means no fulltime Sprint Cup Series ride until 2010.
Brad Daugherty was on next and voiced his perspective clearly, but having members of the ESPN broadcast team on the air is different from having journalists who are assigned to gather and report the news. Daugherty confirmed that McGee hit on the right points and agreed with his statements. Enough said.
What a pleasure it was to see Ned Jarrett as the next special guest. Host Nicole Manske followed the script and asked about Darlington, but passed on the opportunity to ask this NASCAR legend his feelings on the breaking Mark Martin news. Sometimes, NASCAR Now's tightly scripted format misses the obvious. Jarrett decided to retire at the young age of only 34. Martin is perhaps a tad over 50.
Changing gears to a conversation between Cale Yarborough and Joey Logano at the Darlington museum led to a hilarious moment. Logano innocently asked Yarborough if the cars he raced back in the old days really came from the showroom floor. I guess the term "stock car" is something Logano had never confirmed. Yarborough talked about the early cars, but this piece left a lot on the table in terms of what is in the museum and Yarborough's personal history at Darlingon.
It was up to McGee to get things back on track by relating the always funny story of Yarborough and Pearson taking a ceremonial last lap before the start finish line was moved to the other side of the track to allow for more grandstands to be built. The duo was in pace cars, the year was 1998 and the photographers were ready.
As some fans will understand, David Pearson is David Pearson. With some chosen fans in the back seat, Pearson floored the Camaro from the drop of the green and took his last lap at full speed to the delight of the crowd. Even casually, Pearson was not going to be remembered as finishing second to Yarborough. Good story.
McGee has been put in charge of the ESPN.com power ranking for NASCAR teams and has Tony Stewart at the top. In explaining his decision, McGee made sure to thank all the ESPN.com readers for the hate mail. Then, he defended his decision by saying the normally slow-starting Stewart is set to explode over the summer.
NASCAR Now is a program that needs the wit and wisdom of McGee and Hinton as well as the regular contributions from Lead Reporter Marty Smith. It certainly would be interesting to see McGee and Hinton put into some Monday roundtable shows. Ray Evernham, McGee and Ricky Craven would be a combination that might click.
Manske continues to work her way into the host role and this Saturday will be alongside of Craven on the 10AM hour-long preview version of NASCAR Now. This is the ESPN version of RaceDay on SPEED and features Mike Massaro and Smith as reporters in Darlington this week.
Hopefully, as the season progresses, NASCAR Now will sprinkle a little more Hinton, Smith and McGee on the daily shows. Last year, once the Fox portion of the coverage was over, Hinton and Darrell Waltrip had a great live conversation.
Now in its third season, expanding the role of journalists in this series will only bring more credibility as NASCAR Now continues to mature.
TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to offer your opinion on this topic. 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.