Monday, June 1, 2009

Shifting TV Gears

The excited voice of Mike Joy was prominent in the Monday Sprint Cup Series highlights of both NASCAR Now and This Week in NASCAR. It may well be the last time viewers hear Joy until the end of the season TV review shows. NASCAR on Fox has left the building.

In its place, the gang from TNT will combine with SPEED to cover the next six Sprint Cup Series weekends. SPEED will handle the practice and qualifying while TNT will cover the races. One signal that the gears are shifting in TV land appeared Monday on Twitter.

Kyle Petty, the TNT color analyst, announced that he will be riding his motorcycle to all six of the TNT races. While this might not normally get a lot of attention, Petty added that his motorcycle also has a sidecar. In that sidecar, driving to all the TNT races, will be SPEED's Rutledge Wood.

Add a video camera, throw-in meeting NASCAR fans along the way and this little three-wheeled summer drive might make for some fun times and great publicity for TNT. Petty and Rutledge are all over Twitter and there is no doubt that service will play a key role in this project. There will be more information about this litte escapade coming during the week.

Last week we discussed TNT's RaceBuddy online application. Just announced is that PRN's Jim Noble will be the pit reporter working exclusively for the Internet audience. RaceBuddy is free to all broadband computer users. Click here for the story.

Monday saw Ricky Craven anchor the panel of NASCAR Now with Allen Bestwick as the host. Although Brad Daugherty and Tim Brewer were also on the show, it was once again Craven offering the timely and thoughtful comments. The race reviews were solid, but Craven also took a moment to back-up fellow broadcaster Mike Joy.

In the Nationwide and CWTS highlights, the video showed Kyle Busch making his now famous runs from the media after the races where he does not win. Just like Joy on the Fox telecast, Craven said it was time for the younger Busch to grow-up. Unlike Joy, Craven expounded on his statement and drove home the point.

Craven's concern was the fact that Busch left Joey Logano standing on pit road being interviewed on national TV while firmly believing he caused teammate Busch to lose the race. Dave Burns of ESPN put Logano on the spot and it was clear the young driver was deeply upset. In fact, one moment of Busch's time on TV would have explained that Busch had a tire going down and Logano had nothing to do with the real problem. Sometimes, it's not all about you.

Craven has emerged this season as a force in the studio for ESPN. His appearances on the Sunday preview and Monday review shows have changed the entire dynamic of those programs. In late July, ESPN will add a Sunday night one-hour version of NASCAR Now. Putting Craven in a position to appear on all three shows would be a strong move.

Later Monday evening, it was Chad Knaus on This Week In NASCAR joining Michael Waltrip and host Steve Byrnes. This was a unique show, as Knaus won at Dover and Waltrip's driver David Reutimann won the week before in Charlotte. The irony was that a rain-delayed Monday race had cancelled TWIN on the week MWR finally won.

This trio is the right one for this show and once again the combination of information and fun worked well. Knaus really settled-in to this series once he figured out that Waltrip was basically harmless. That is a concept that Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers and Dave Despain have never grasped. Byrnes and Knaus enjoy kidding Waltrip even as he continues his stream of consciousness rambling about everything and anything under the sun.

This show has allowed viewers a peek inside the mind of the top crew chief in the sport and it has been well worth it. Knaus gets it, whether he is talking technical about a track or describing why he made changes on his race car at the last event. Fellow panelist Biffle is a great guy, but having two drivers on the show normally results in two versions of the very same commentary.

On this Monday Waltrip begged for a plane ride to Texas, took a shot at Helio Castroneves by talking about his off-shore accounts and sang a song by the Eagles. All this while wearing running shoes and quarter socks. If SPEED can talk Knaus into appearing regularly, things will only get better for fans of TWIN.

One final media note. Clint Bowyer's former girlfriend and professional model Athena Barber will be joining the cast of 3 Wide Life next month as a correspondent and segment host. This show already includes former NASCAR bad boy Shane Hmiel and local Charlotte area entertainment reporter Brittney Cason. The 3 Wide Life website has the list of stations and regional sports networks where the series is carried.

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. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Dover Closes The Door On The Fox TV Season

What a wild run for the NASCAR on Fox team this season. Words like controversial and arrogant mixed with TV terms like professional and polished. There is no easy way to look at the final product delivered to TV viewers and simply say that was good or bad.

Every large TV team is a combination of personalities who all play a role in the final product. Viewers may only see the nine on-air announcers, but there is an entire cast of characters who all play key roles in the race coverage.

Let's face it, Fox was forced to play the Digger game by their boss David Hill and once again this season they complied. Many of these same production people will work on the remaining Sprint Cup Series races without Digger and that will probably be a big relief.

TV personalities want to be judged on the content they create, not the sales features and commercial breaks that are forced on them by today's economic reality. Dover did not have the same sales intensity as Phoenix, but many fans Sunday were also watching the IRL coverage on ABC with the side-by-side commercials throughout the entire telecast. NASCAR is desperately in need of this practice.

Dover proved to be a typical Fox broadcast and a good snapshot of where things sit with this coverage. The harmless banter of the pre-race accomplished nothing but perhaps gave casual fans some information about the sport. Myers was back into his comedy routine and Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond know their roles in this play quite well. Let's face it, the Hollywood Hotel act is getting old.

Fox comes to the table with the best pit reporters and the best play-by-play announcer in NASCAR TV. Into this mix strolls Darrell Waltrip, now an emotional older man with so many different agendas, sponsors and feelings that he does not know where to start.

Dover was a great example of this as Waltrip had some harsh words for Dale Earnhardt Jr. that were very different from his feelings earlier this year. He also clearly missed Kyle Busch being up-front in this event. Waltrip's comments became oriented toward the race in general and not the specifics of drivers and cars. Larry McReynolds filled-in those gaps once again.

Mike Joy took the time to reprimand Kyle Busch for his temper tantrums when he did not win a race. Walking away from the media is not normal in this sport because despite winning or losing, national exposure on TV is what the teams and sponsors want. Joy waited until the final Fox race and let the younger Busch have it.

McReynolds, Matt Yocum, Steve Byrnes, Hammond and Krista Voda will continue on as they are in the group that will be working the NASCAR trail after this weekend. It is Myers, Waltrip, Joy and Dick Berggren who say goodbye.

We all know the Fox product and it has a very familiar feel to it. Unfortunately, parts are getting old and dated. Missing the problems with the Jimmie Johnson pit stop at the end of the race was a good example. This was perhaps the key moment of the event and there were some tired guys on the air that just missed it.

Fox chose once again in this race to dump the triple-split on the pit stops in favor of one video box showing pit road and another used to cut between the top cars. This is the reason they missed the Johnson issue. Had viewers been watching all three of the top cars, the Johnson problem would have stuck-out like a sore thumb.

TV ratings aside, there should be some thought to making changes to this team with an eye toward 2010 and Daytona. Ten years is a long time to offer the exact same line-up on TV for any sport and with any personalities.

Fans heard from Fox's Hill in an online chat earlier this season that he likes Digger, his current line-up and blames NASCAR for the TV ratings. So, despite the bumps in the road and the backlash against Digger it may be the exact same style of coverage next season.

What are you thoughts on both the Dover coverage and the 2009 NASCAR on Fox season? To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for watching the races with us and taking the time to let us know how you like them.

Why Is NASCAR's Drug Policy In My Mailbox?

On a weekend where Junior and the rainy weather took the early headlines, things began to get pointed in an entirely different direction when NASCAR's new drug policy actually showed-up in the TDP email.

Once any legal proceeding gets underway, things seem to have a habit of coming out in public at odd times. Click here for a link to a website where an easy opening PDF file of the actual NASCAR drug policy is located.

Basically, it gives everyone an understanding of the broad-reaching policies that NASCAR put in place for this first season of drug testing. Lots of them make sense and some of them are clearly off-base. That is important to Jeremy Mayfield.

All of this is TV-related because the NASCAR media is about to use Saturday and Sunday to continue to talk about the pending Mayfield lawsuit. Suddenly, the Friday admission (click here) that Mayfield tested positive for an amphetamine makes a lot of sense. He was taking one.

Adderall is for the adult form of Attention Deficit Disorder, called ADHD. Mayfield's attorney said Mayfield has a prescription for this drug and on the night in question also took Claritin. This is completely in line with Mayfield's statements.

Friday's NASCAR Now on ESPN reported the facts of Mayfield's brief Friday court hearing in North Carolina, but this issue is now beginning to creep into other areas. Words used like slander, libel and the inability of a professional athlete to make a living mean only one thing. Someone wants some money.

TV showed Brian France clearly saying at an earlier press conference that Mayfield had not tested positive for a performance-enhancing drug. The suggestion was being made by the Chairman and CEO of NASCAR that Mayfield had used recreational drugs. Dr. Black from Aegis Labs backed-up France by saying a prescription drug and an over-the-counter medication could not produce this result.

Those two statements, not Mayfield's future driving or ownership issues, may be what comes back to haunt NASCAR. At a time when silence should have been golden, it was the media that forced both France and Black to make potentially damaging public statements. NASCAR made a big mistake.

This weekend, SPEED will no doubt continue to put on its happy face and only address this issue perhaps on the Sunday RaceDay show. Kyle Petty is sitting in for Jimmy Spencer and Kyle is known to have some very strong opinions on topics just like this one. RaceDay airs live Sunday at 11:30AM.

ESPN, on the other hand, has been on this story from the beginning and doing a very good job. Mike Massaro hosts the Sunday morning NASCAR Now show at 10AM and he will have reporter Angelique Chengelis live from Dover. She is a hardcore news reporter who is great with facts and should have the latest on this issue that is swirling through the garage.

Brad Daugherty is also in studio for the program and that should help. He is headed for ESPN from Dover where he will be working with Allen Bestwick and Dale Jarrett on the Saturday Nationwide Series pre-race show called NASCAR Countdown.

Bestwick is a political animal with lots of experience with NASCAR's hot topics. It should be interesting to see if he brings the Mayfield issues up with Daugherty, who is the ESPN team's only member who has extensive experience with professional sports league drug testing from his NBA days. Countdown is at 2PM ET on Saturday.

It's not every day that the NASCAR drug policy shows up in the TDP email. Thanks to those who helped to keep us in the loop on this story. There will certainly be many different views from fans on this issue, but we will once again be primarily watching to see how it is handled in the NASCAR media.

Click here for an outstanding story on this issue from the website.

Please feel free to express your comment on this topic. Just click the comments button below to post. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when adding your opinion. Thanks again for stopping by.