Saturday, October 31, 2009

Live Blogging The Camping World Trucks From Talladega (3:30PM - SPEED)

Update: Since live programming ran long, we are leaving the comments section open for your reaction to the special Trackside program now on SPEED.

It is a rainy and dark day in Talladega. Saturday activity has been rained out early and fans are waiting to see if the Camping World Truck Series race will get in.

Krista Voda is ready to present The Setup at 3:30PM. SPEED will go on the air as scheduled and see what happens. This is the Halloween version of the show, so costumes will be the order of the day.

The telecast team includes Rick Allen on play-by-play with Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip as the analysts. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will handle pit road.

The good fun of the pre-race show will hopefully extend to the racing. The CWTS field is very divers. NASCAR veterans are mixed with some less experienced drivers and a smattering of start and park trucks.

SPEED is outstanding at presenting the truck races with a singular focus on the racing. In this series the battles are almost always at the front of the pack and the lead is something that changes hands a lot. No Chase, few egos and lots of real racers make this series a blast to watch.

Keep an eye out for the long camera shot on the backstretch. This really shows the positioning as the trucks get ready for the passing zone into Turn 3. Low-angle speed shots are effective at this speedway when the field is rolling as a pack.

SPEED uses far fewer in-car camera shots then ESPN and that really allows the viewer to keep a perspective on the field as the race is in progress. A wideshot at the finish is mandatory as the trucks always fight to the stripe.

This post will host your comments about the Camping World Truck Series race on SPEED from Talladega. To add your TV-related 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.

Live Blog: Larry McReynolds Speaks Out On Sirius (Updated)

Wednesday evening NASCAR on Fox analyst Larry McReynolds took to Sirius Satellite Radio to speak out in anger on a topic recently in the media.

McReynolds was apparently upset about the quotes used in some recent articles published by veteran NASCAR reporter Dustin Long. Click here for a direct link to this series of interviews featuring McReynolds, Kyle Petty and Jimmy Spencer.

Basically, Long gathered three NASCAR TV personalities together for a candid conversation about a wide variety of NASCAR topics. The articles featured many direct quotes and some comments that may be considered controversial in the very small world of NASCAR.

McReynolds was clearly upset and indicated that his belief was that the negative aspects of the sport were emphasized without the positive being presented as well. The thrust of his comments were that much more was said in the conversation but not contained in the final article.

Dustin Long is the current president of the National Motorsports Press Association. A short time ago, he took his place on the NASCAR Hall of Fame Nominating Committee. He is a well-respected journalist who works for the Landmark Newspapers chain. He has almost twenty years of sports journalism experience.

Larry McReynolds got his first crew chief job back in 1985. He is best known for his time with Yates and then Richard Childress Racing. In 2000, he joined the NASCAR on Fox team as an analyst. He now also works for SPEED in a wide variety of roles, including his own program called NASCAR Performance.

Update: Here is the NASCAR response in full:

There's been a lot of chatter about comments made by Jimmy Spencer, Larry McReynolds and Kyle Petty, all TV personalities, about the state of NASCAR. Their words were harsh to be sure. The most common question I've gotten is, "what is NASCAR going to do to them?" Simply, nothing. There is nothing we can or would do. We've long believed in having an independent media. One of the things that makes NASCAR, or any sport great, is debate. That's healthy for sports. However, I have had my share of strongly worded discussions with members of the media when their coverage was inaccurate or unfair. So, it's a reasonable question to ask, were their comments accurate? Were they fair?

Spencer contends that the economy has absolutely nothing to do with attendance. "People will come to events if it's worth coming to," he says. In a sense, that is true and quite frankly I'm damn proud of the crowds we've had this year. By any estimate the average attendance is over 100,000 fans at each race. NASCAR has 17 of the 20 largest sporting events of the year - that's good in any economy. But to think the economy hasn't had any affect is just wrong. Going into the season, more than a third of NFL teams were in danger of having local games blacked out this year because they could not sellout. Those worries were indeed justified, as several games have already been blacked out. In addition, MLB had the biggest drop in ticket sales in 50 years. So, has America turned against all major sports? Of course not.

Spencer also takes a shot at the on track competition, "it's just not where it needs to be," he claims. Anyone can throw out an opinion like that but what does it mean? What's that based on? Take a look at Spencer's career, he won two races in 1994 (and earned more than million in his career). In that year, there were an average of 9.2 leaders per race and an average of 18.9 lead changes with an average margin of victory of 2.85 seconds. Oh yeah, 1994 was the last year when a race winner lapped the entire field. How does that compare to today? There are an average of 10 leaders per race and an average of 18.8 lead changes with an average margin of victory of an astounding 1.1 seconds. Here's what I have to say about the competition today: NASCAR is the best racing in the world, period.

While Spencer made most of the comments, Larry Mac and Kyle seemed to happily agree and piled on too. People like to **** about things and that's fine. Some just like to stir up controversy. But when you are a paid broadcaster shouldn't there be some kind of standard and responsibility for what you say? Could you imagine John Madden complaining about the NFL or Joe Buck telling fans that baseball wasn't worth going to?

Throwing out "controversial" statements isn't "telling it the way it is" or "righteous" if there are no facts and is driven by ego. It's meaningless. Every executive at NASCAR would be quick to say that there is room for improvement. We know that not all fans are satisfied and we've taken steps to improve NASCAR on and off the track. We also are careful to include the industry on all key decisions; that's why we held a Town Hall meeting with drivers and owners earlier this year (and will continue to hold more). We want to be the standard for all auto racing. We're proud of the drivers today and the racing. We want to make it even better and even more competitive.

The real question here is what are their employers going to do? David Hill, the chairman of Fox Sports and Hunter Nickell, the president of SPEED (all three are on SPEED's payroll and McReynolds is on Fox's), are the ones who should be concerned. Fair or not, broadcasters essentially telling the fans to stop watching the races is not a good thing.

It would seem that the last paragraph of this suggests that there should be some sort of suspension or termination over the opinions offered by Petty, Spencer and McReynolds. That certainly is something I have never heard NASCAR say before.

As the day unfolds, we are going to get your opinions on this topic and update any media links that might be published on this topic. To add your opinion on this issue, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for helping us with this topic today.

NASCAR vs. College Football On Saturday (Updated)

Update: Sprint Cup Series qualifying has been cancelled due to rain. Trucks still set for 3:30PM but weather continues to be a problem. Will update as needed.

With the Nationwide Series taking the weekend off, ESPN2 is adding yet another college football game to the line-up. In the world of NASCAR TV partners, Saturday is going to be a match-up of the ESPN networks vs. SPEED.

The Sprint Cup Series qualifying coverage goes head-to-head with college football on ESPN, ESPNU and ESPN2 at 12PM ET. Steve Byrnes gets the task of leading the NASCAR brigade with Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond alongside. Bob Dillner and Wendy Venturini are the reporters.

SPEED does the best coverage of qualifying hands down. Every car is seen, the emphasis is on the action on the track and interviews are not intrusive. Qualifying at Talladega does eventually tell a story, but in many ways it is meaningless to most teams. Flat on the floor, no drafting partner and only two cars going home.

It will be the Camping World Trucks that take to the Talladega track next. Krista Voda and her pre-race show, The Setup, will hit the air at 3:30PM. This is exactly the moment when the next set of college football games begin on the ESPN networks.

It will be teams like Boston College, Wake Forest and Michigan up against the dynamic duo of Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander. These veterans have covered the entire pit road with just two voices for a very long time. There is simplicity and focus in SPEED's truck series TV production so using only two pit reporters actually works quite well.

Calling perhaps one of the most exciting CWTS races of the season will be Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip. When Waltrip shows up with his analyst face on instead of his huckster personality, he is a valuable asset to the telecast.

There is a wide gap in experience between the top trucks in the field and those just hanging on or trying to simply start and park. It looks like there will be a smaller number of trucks pulling off early in the event. The CWTS needs a good showing at this track and with the Nationwide Series off, this Saturday afternoon may mean a whole lot to the fate of this series beyond 2010.

SPEED's stripped-down old school approach to the CWTS TV package is well known. No infield studio, cutaway car or kiddie cartoons. No Tech Garage and no animated colors from Draft Tracker. The focus is on the teams and drivers, not who is calling the race for the TV network.

TDP will live blog the truck race, so feel free to add your comments during qualifying to this post. We also hope to hear your opinions on the other topics and personalities mentioned above. To add your comment, just click on he comments button below.

This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet, see you tomorrow for the truck race live blog.