Sunday, February 27, 2011

Nationwide Regulars: TV's Wooden Indians


It made absolutely no difference that Kyle Busch dominated the Nationwide Series race in Phoenix on Saturday. It made absolutely no difference that his only competition came from fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards. NASCAR had taken a bold step during the off-season and made this a non-issue.

The big boys could come over from the Cup side and race in as many events as they wished. There was no problem with them winning, but the days of scoring driver points and snatching the Nationwide Series championship using superior financial resources were gone.

Now, only the Nationwide Series "regulars" could run for the prize and publicity. This season, there would be a race within a race. While the Cup drivers might be leading, there would be a snarling pack of "regulars" battling for the driver points and the championship.

Just like in the Chase for the Cup, there would be two stories to cover from the drop of the green flag in every Nationwide Series race this season. That would bring added exposure for the "regulars" as well as new story lines for the media covering the sport.

Theory met reality in Daytona a week ago when ESPN put the TV focus squarely on the Sprint Cup veterans and Danica Patrick. It's an old song that ESPN knows how to hum all too well. When the race was over, ESPN interviewed some Cup drivers and Danica before rudely departing. What was on next? A Daytona 500 preview show, of course.

In Phoenix the TV pre-race show was shortened by live college basketball. The emphasis was once again on the Sprint Cup Series drivers in the race and Danica. A Trevor Bayne Daytona 500 review was the big feature. Even as Bayne stood in front of his sponsorless Nationwide Series car, the questions were about the Daytona 500.

Since 2007, ESPN has been slowly driving a stake into the heart of the Nationwide Series. Click here for a classic TDP article describing the ESPN/ABC pre-race show for the 2007 Busch Series race at Talladega. There was one little problem. The announcers never mentioned the Busch race.

ESPN is basically livid that it is playing second fiddle to FOX and TNT during this part of the Sprint Cup Series season. On weekends, that anger is exposed by the constant use of Sprint Cup Series drivers and Sprint Cup story lines on the Nationwide Series telecasts.

On weekdays, the network takes out its frustrations by refusing to include the Sprint Cup Series races on its NASCAR Now motorsports TV calendar for the week until ESPN starts producing them. This has been the case since the new TV contract began in 2007.

ESPN takes the first seven months of the racing season to express its righteous indignation and then dumps the Nationwide coverage like a hot potato when the Cup series comes calling. Suddenly sandwiched between Saturday college football games on a stick-and-ball TV network, the Nationwide Series limps to the finish with a resounding thud.

Over the last four years ESPN has offered Nationwide Series fans live races without a play-by-play announcer, races called by pit reporters debuting in the TV booth and on-air line-ups featuring a "wide variety" of personalities. The Nationwide Series is the TV testing grounds for ESPN.

In Phoenix, the new points saga continued to unfold with neither of the top two finishers in the Saturday race competing for the driver championship. Luckily, there was plenty of time on the TV clock and ESPN would be able to work through the top finishers in the post-race show.

Reed Sorenson led the "regulars" with a fifth place finish. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was seventh, Justin Allgaier was eighth and Brian Scott was ninth. Two of the best stories of the night included Kenny Wallace running tenth after a rough 2010 and former start-and-park king Joe Nemechek finishing fifteenth.

The network worked through the Sprint Cup Series drivers and Danica. Then, Reed Sorenson was interviewed. The tone was as if the interview was forced on ESPN because Sorenson was now the points leader. Then, things got even stranger.

With the "regulars" still standing on pit road, ESPN went back into the studio and began to wrap-up the coverage with about six minutes still left in the TV time. It quickly became apparent that a choice had been made when Allen Bestwick signed-off.

Instead of offering the "regulars" TV time for sponsors and fans, ESPN had decided to go five minutes early to the college basketball studios for highlights. In a flash Stenhouse, Allgaier, Scott and Wallace had become wooden Indians standing along pit road. Everyone knew they were there, but no one acknowledged their presence.

Thirty seconds of national TV time in a post-race show is a bonanza for "regulars." Thirty seconds of TV after a good finish with a sponsor mention is a dream. Instead, the NASCAR TV partner that carries every single race decided to pass those drivers by and run.

The unsponsored cars, the short field and the start and parkers who towed all the way to Arizona tell the tale of Nationwide Series reality. Without a viable TV partner actively interested in supporting the teams and sponsors, the outlook for the "regulars" is bleak.

ESPN has four more seasons of exclusive Nationwide Series coverage in the current NASCAR TV contract. It makes one wonder what the network's motives really are when events like this unfold. It certainly should make NASCAR wonder.

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

47 comments:

Spencer said...

oh jeez, we're only halfway through this contract?, Nationwide might not survive that long sadly

Justin said...

Hi JD,

I have to agree that the complete lack of coverage of Nationwide regulars was honestly deplorable! Not only for post-race, but throughout the entire race itself! With the rarity of actual passing on track, it would seem blatantly obvious that coverage could be focused on the drivers throughout the field.

However, I tend to disagree with the assessment that ESPN is resentful for having to cover the Nationwide series. I believe that they are simply under the mistaken impression that viewers are only watching the Nationwide races to see the Cup stars....and Danica. This guides their thinking toward all Cup-star coverage as much as possible, both pre-race and in-race.

I am quite baffled why the "Worldwide Leader in Sports" consistently falls short in delivering NASCAR coverage. My suggestions are a simple return to basics:

1. Quit focusing on "storylines" - let's concentrate on actually delivering all of the on- and off-track information first, then maybe we can consider larger "themes."

2. Pre-race and post-race coverage should largely consist of interviewing as many top performers of that particular weekend as can fit in the time alloted.

3. During the actual race, acknowledge the two leaders (the driver at the front of the pack and the driver leading the standings)

4. Let's go through the field - would it not be amazing if during a telecast at least every single driver recieved a mention? Most viewers are simply watching to see how their favorite driver is performing, so it might be a good idea to at least inform me as to why my favorite driver is stuck one lap down in twentieth.

ESPN needs to get back to basics first, and then maybe in a distant future it can add some bells and whistles to its coverage.

Thank you

Gymmie said...

It's truly a shame that they couldn't give 4 drivers 30-45 seconds of acknowledgment. They had time. It's like a few years back a Cup race finished early, they did the wrap up with those that were on the script to talk to and had like 7-8 minutes left in the TV window & left early for SportsCenter. So not surprised at all!

It's a shame that they treat N'wide like the red-headed step child. They only talk about the "regulars" if they get in an incident with a Cupper or otherwise are forced to. Then it's like (heavy sigh) so and so blah blah blah is this over so we can get to the REAL stars of the show blah blah blah.

Just hope they don't turn everyone whose left away. A lot of us actually like the N'wide drivers and would like to hear about/from them.

It's going to be a long season for a variety of reasons and an even longer 4 years.

Mule said...

If there was still a France alive, that has a set of stones, this wouldn't be happening. The dirty end of the stick from ESPN, along with Cup regulars stinking up the show.! The world wide leader in sports is making a statement that sports cannot survive without them and they're way of doing business. A bunch of cocky announcers making snide comments isn't my idea of a Sports broadcast mogul. Neither is using some of sports greatest MVP's and putting them behind a microphone and reading some dog & pony script trying to give it emotion, doesn't work either. If the NHRA & Nationwide wasn't on ESPN, I wouldn't be watching that channel at all.
The truck and Nationwide series are already swirling the drain.
I know it sounds like a broken record, but all arrows point to BZF. The man at the helm has no clue at all of the sport other than it makes him money.
Would I pay general admission to watch a truck race where a Cup regular is going to spank the field? Not likely nor would I tune in. Same is true of a Nationwide race, except now your in the 55-65 dollar range on the low end.
Until they clip BZF's wings and run him out of town on a rail like they did Tony George, Nascar fans are in for a long dry spell. I hope the truck and Nationwide series don't fold altogether.

Anonymous said...

Excellent recap. I have to give you and all the planeteers A+'s just for watching. I agree with Spencer, "Nationwide might not survive that long." BF has his money, that is the important thing. MC

OSBORNK said...

The combination of ESPN and NASCAR could well cause the Nationwide Series to die on the vine. The odds are pretty good that the next champion will be winless in the series due to the new points and many fields will be short because of the new cars mandated by NASCAR and the lack of sponsorship due to the lack of exposure by ESPN.

terri said...

What can you say? What can you do? Obviously, writing about it and hollering as loud as you can does nothing.

It's up to BZF to do something, and he is unwilling or unable to even acknowledge a problem.

FloridaMatt said...

Why think Nascar cares? They decided to allow cup drivers an unlimited opportunity to dominate Nationwide and suction up what few serious sponsorship dollars there are. Even an unbiased ESPN would have to see that as a signal that all that mattered were the big teams and big stars.

Regulars? Not in Nascar's eyes. To BF and company, Nationwide is nothing but cup drivers and field fillers.

I'm not defending ESPN here; they've earned all the disrespect they deserve and then some. But in this case, that disrespect is because they are doing just what Nascar is encouraging them to do.

Vicky D said...

I was so disappointed with the broadcast as I remember the Busch series back in the 90's with drivers who were happy to just race in that series! Now we have past champions sitting on their lazyboys at home watching the races on their big screen tv's. And all we are seeing and hearing on ESPN are the cup drivers or Danica. Yeah, this new points system has really helped NW full time drivers, hasn't it?

Sally said...

One would think, especially when a Cup regular is running away with a race, that it would be in the best interest of ESPN to find something more interesting on the track to cover. Like, the drivers and teams that are actually competing for the title? Well financed Cup teams and drivers stomping all over the regulars isn't it. With all the hand wringing about Nascar losing it's younger viewers, hasn't it occurred to anyone that putting the younger drivers in the spotlight is the smart thing to do? In past years, fans could watch a driver develope in the Busch series, become familiar with them as people, then follow them to the Cup series. Or follow them as they had a nice career staying in the lower series. It's no wonder Nationwide teams can't find sponsors, since they will barely get any TV time, whether it's during the race, or in interviews before or after.

Nascar dropped the ball here, too. It would have been much more useful to limit the number of races that Cup teams and drivers can enter, unless the car is driven by a 'new' driver, not the Cup guys.

I'm also offended with the 'win count' that the networks keep pushing, counting wins in ANY series to inflate the stats on some drivers. Yet another phoney statistic to make theings seem more impressive than they really are. If this series survives much longer it will be in spite of Nascar and ESPN, rather than because of them.

Ken-Michigan said...

I did not watch the Phoenix NNS on ESPN.

After watching the unprofessional coverage of the Daytona Nationwide race and lack of a post race, I am no longer interested in ESPN's coverage.

back to you Marty !

West Coast Diane said...

Said it a couple of years ago. Will say it again.

ESPN either wants out of current contract and/or already know they won't be bidding for new contract.

Bucky Butler said...

I saw this kind of indifference develop at ABC/ESPN with the Indy Car Series. Open wheel politics aside, the Indy Car Series as suffered tremendously with the lack of a viable "TV Partner" in ESPN. It doesn't matter if it's Indy Car or NASCAR Nationwide Series, the apparent attitude in Bristol, CT is they are contractually obligated to show it but that's about all you're gonna get. The Nationwide Series coverage would be like ESPN talking NFL on College Football Game Day. Do they see that analogy? No. They don't even see the race. Thanks for nothing ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Innit it...heck, I can't even be glib.

As is customary, was listening to Nemechek's scanner:

After a pit stop fueling mistake that set him pretty far back in the field he drove the wheels off his car, fought Danica for the lucky dog spot, passed her, held Wimmer at bay, same with Annett, and with about 40 laps left had to shut it down.

Why? Our overfunded, purse-stealing (IMO) Cup guys had lapped the field so much that it locked him at 15th, along with the rest of the people from (I think) 12 back.

Makes those exciting end-of-race runs to the front a little pointless.

And for all his efforts, Joe ought to be able to just about pay for his tires, and ESPN goofed right at the end getting his pit equipment on camera - the only TV time offered to him.

Even more insultingly, the start and finish of the show seems to have dictated/included a pre-supplied, nonnegotiable list of "storylines."

Sure looked to me that at the very end it was a list the announcer guy was reading off, as if to say "Well, you got some kind of coverage, now go away."

If I could afford a DVR, I'd probably use it. ESPN deserves to get replaced, run out of business, and its employees flogged with freshly cooked pasta.

Newracefan said...

I just find it interesting that they ignore the racing to give us the chase drivers in the ESPN covered cup races but now do the polar opposite in nationwide. We want both, we've always wanted both. The fact that those NW drivers did well just makes it even more depressing.

The NW race in phoexnix was awful to watch on TV, I don't know if there really was no passing or that they just never showed us because the wrong people were doing it. Maybe the repave isn't such a bad idea after all

drpep said...

Justin Allgaier would have been interviewed had he still been driving for Penske (Rusty).
There are also several "regulars" who receive race coverage; Steve Wallace (Rusty), Michael Annett (Rusty), Kenney Wallace (Rusty) and sometimes even Mike Wallace (Rusty).

Chadderbox said...

50 Laps into the race the camera zooms in on Steven Wallace and Marty says "there's Steven Wallace". The camera closes in and follows Steven Wallace around the track. No comment whatsoever on where he is running. Nothing. Yes Marty, that is Steven Wallace and he is in a race today, wouldn't it make sense to tell us his position. This happened several times. Marty is brain dead!
Speaking of the overall production approach...Do we all agree this hideous presentation is done on purpose?
I am sorry to miss the Nationwide live blogging each week but I decided before the season started that I would be watching this series on DVR. The presentation is so frustrating-even on DVR! I had secretly hoped I would change my mind and watch live but I don't think it's going to happen.

Anonymous said...

Uhmmm. The new reality. First and foremost, ESPN's primary goal is to promote itself and its brand. Everything they air is a platform for achieving their primary goal. ESPN is not a sanctioning body and believes it is not charged with the fiduciary responsibility to promote another business entity's welfare at their expense. ESPN believes that if NASCAR is to be promoted on their networks, NASCAR must pay for any promotion over and above what is contractually required and ESPN will be mercenary in enforcing these requirements. ESPN doesn't operate under the belief that a rising tide lifts all boats and will perform only the actions that will lift ESPN's boat. NASCAR's boat is their responsibility.

The Chase occurs during NFL season and is not the bonanza that NASCAR promised and Disney expected. In ESPN's eyes, NASCAR is responsible for the discrepancy between what was promised and what has been delivered. Evidently there was no provision in their contract for discounted rates should the product underperform and ESPN regrets this omission. In the apparent absence of this provision, ESPN appears to be taking action to compromise the market value of NASCAR's top two series to induce a negotation. A wise CEO would recognize this scenario and approach ESPN to renegotiate the contract with more favorable terms to both parties that would eliminate ESPN's ability to act unilaterally at NASCAR's expense.

However, Brian France seems to have calculated exactly how much money he will have in his piggy bank at the maturity of his media contracts and has concluded that if NASCAR fails after that point in time, he'll have a large enough fortune to exist as a private financial adviser to himself. From this perspective, NASCAR becomes an annoyance to Brian France, a time sink. Rather than walk away and allow others to benefit from the money factory that NASCAR is, Brian would let it fail. For if Brian France no longer needs NASCAR, no one may have NASCAR. Autocratic. That describes both Brian France and ESPN management magnificently.

glenc1 said...

I agree with most of the comments. To be honest, I was half listening to the race, but I was surprised to see the actual finishing order--surprised because I didn't know who was running up there besides Carl & Kyle. Oh, and that Danica was running okay (which she was for her situation) but they had to harp on it over an over, rather than mentions of where Allgaier, Sorenson, etc were. As many have pointed out, since NASCAR has chosen to let them compete this way, it's up to ESPN to present it in a way to keep people's interest. And they have failed miserably. They do their commercials featuring the 'future stars'...and then they ignore them during the actual race. Makes no sense. I like Justin's suggestions, but after this much time, I'm not holding my breath.

Jojaye said...

After the hot mess espn put on at Daytona I no longer watch anything on espn - period. Not racing not NFL zip zilch. Done with it. And after reading the comments I'm glad I went out yesterday, and missed the travesty

bevo said...

Interesting take on the ESPN/Nationwide situation but I think it boils down to a very simple thing. ESPN just carries the races to fill time. After recent contracts for local sports cable rights between FOX and Comcast in baseball, basketball, hockey and college sports going for ridiculous amounts the rationale is that all of these channels need programming. It's basically the entertainment version of the old American-Soviet arms race spending more and more trying to bankrupt the other side. Doesn't matter whether a new weapon works or not - the object is to get the other spending even more money trying to top it.

The days of people in charge of a sports network actually enjoying or having an interest in sports are long gone. It's just another product to generate ad revenue.

KoHoSo said...

Due to needing to get things done around my new home, I watched the Phoenix NNS race off of my DVR late last night. As for the coverage in and of itself, I don't think I can disagree with any of the negative comments that have been said about it either under this blog entry or the one that was dedicated to the race itself. I am so disappointed and disheartened at what I saw -- plus enraged at the coverage being dumped five minutes early -- that I am not even going to beg Mr. Daly to stop doing live blogs for NNS races. My interest in this series has been plummeting for a few years now and I'm done with it until further changes are made, not the least of which is either a major overhaul in how ESPN handles the telecasts or the contract expires and is awarded to another company.

To Mr. Daly directly...I would like to know if you have an inside source through which you made your conclusion that ESPN is treating the NNS like a spoiled brat who keeps acting up all day after his mom refused to buy him some of the candy in the check-out line at the grocery store. I ask this because the possibility that Justin posted up in the second comment also seems very plausible to me.

Then again, does it really matter what the reason is? ESPN no longer has any respect for any type of motor racing or its fans. Bucky Butler pointed that out about IndyCar above and it has also been brought up by others concerning that series as well as for their NHRA coverage.

You know, I am also a big college basketball fan. I'm from Kentucky so I can't help it. ;-) However, when combined with all of the other insults dished out by ESPN that supposedly pass for racing coverage and journalism (as I still stew over what they did to Ron Hornaday)...well, to quote Popeye the Sailor, I've had all I can stands and I can't stands no more. Leaving five minutes early and ignoring the real NNS drivers just to show college basketball highlights that will be shown over and over and over again on ESPN, ESPN2, and ESPNNews for almost a whole day until new games tip off is stupid, ridiculous, insulting overkill. Personally, I can only stand being insulted so many times and remain in good humor and hope that the opposing party sees the light.

I hate to add another straw to JD's camel back if he is really thinking about no longer bothering to cover NNS races live. I'm sorry if that is the case. However, after all this time and then seeing how ESPN has started off the season at Daytona and then a more regular track like Phoenix, I've got better things to do and better entertainment options available than being left clueless about what is happening in an NNS race unless I want to accompany it with all of today's modern electronic extras. Those extras should be an enhancement, not a necessity.

I will miss and fondly remember the old days of the NNS/Busch Series but not what we get today. I thank Mr. Daly for putting up with this travesty with his online efforts for so long. Dealing with most Cup telecasts these days is bad enough so I just cannot take anymore of what is happening in our once glorious feeder series.

Daly Planet Editor said...

KoHoSo,

The last time ESPN produced NASCAR, the break-up at the end of the TV contract was so angry and bitter that ESPN made the decision not to cover the sport.

NASCAR and ESPN were on the outs until it became attractive to both of them to come back together.

ESPN wants to be served and cannot buckle down and put time and effort into getting the new Nationwide Series off the ground.

New cars, new rules and plenty of young drivers is not enough. ESPN wants star power and only the Cup guys and Danica have it.

I don't think many of us with DVR's or other recording devices are going to sit through another NNS race after what ESPN did at both Daytona and Phoenix.

It's a real shame. I used to love that series and it's rich history.

JD

AncientRacer said...

This is not so much a column as it is a manifesto. And a good one. Very good.

Hmmm. my code word is "suctut". Seems to fit. Jus' Sayin'

Anonymous said...

What are some changes NASCAR can make to fix the NNS? Here is how I see it:

-Separate the NNS (and NCWTS) from the NSCS. Let the two feeder divisions run stand-alone races, far away from where the Cup guys are racing.
-Run more short track events, places like South Boston, Evergreen, Irwindale, etc., tracks that aren't on and never will be on the Cup schedule.
-Make it so these stand-alone races are schedule such that Cup guys can't easily fly in and steal all of the money and television time. If you're racing at, say, Sonoma and practice ends at 3 P.M. Eastern, make the Nationwide race at Road America start at 3 P.M. Eastern.

The Cup teams that participate in the NNS could fix it too. Sure, there's a money grab going on and they see putting a Cup guy in as an easy way to lure sponsors and make a large profit. But they are doing the sport and themselves no favors. Eventually those Cup drivers will move on - either to another team or to retirement. Who will they hire to fill the vacant Cup seat when there's no one qualified to do it?

There has been a lot of short-sighted thinking when it comes to the NNS and the NCWTS by everyone involved: the sanctioning body, the teams, sponsors, the broadcasters, and the tracks.

If anyone could look at the crowd for yesterday's NNS race and say that was healthy I'd like to have some of what you're having. Same thing with the broadcast; if you think it was good...

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:59 said, "If anyone could look at the crowd for yesterday's NNS race and say that was healthy I'd like to have some of what you're having."

I'd like some of what Brian France is having, but I'll only need half that much.

racingfool said...

Yea, ESPN's Producer Neil came in like a lion and went out like a ___.
Ok you fill in the blank.
He brought the bad attitude back and threw his weight around the TV Compound like a Mid East Dictator.

The coverage last night was paltry at best.
The race was exactly what NASCAR has asked for.
Lame Duck racing. Kyle wins and the poor teams finish last.
No one has a chance now.
ESPN made it even more boring with nothing more than some watered down comments during the action. Notice no one talked about how the brilliant "no points" rule has played into the clusterbunk.
Thanks to the new rule, it tarnished the Victory in Daytona by a Cinderella boy and then Boy wonder Kyle runs away with this race and gets no points.
The really need to get together, merge the Networks into NASCAR Media Groups Control allow streaming and for once join modern society.

Chris said...

It doesn't seem to me that ESPN is putting all that much into their broadcasts. Look at what fox rolled out at Daytona; super slow mo, heat cameras, a new cleaner simpler and smaller ticker, the pre-race show in the infield. Oh and don't forget the ghost shot during qualifying. What new did ESPN bring us? Nothing. Marty Reid just isn't for NASCAR, Allen Bestwick needs to be there. Several times during the broadcast Saturday, ESPN showed us a camera shot long enough for the announcers to start talking about it, and then would quickly change cameras. ESPN spend some money on this and give the fans what we deserve for watching all of your commercials.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR needs to figure out what they want to do with the Nationwide series. The change to declare points in one series has failed to bring any additional attention to the Nationwide series.

Frankly, it should be sink or swim time. The Cup guys are allowed to race to increase attendance at the track, as well as to draw more viewers. So, no one in NASCAR can't complain when those Cup guys, who still are dominating up front, get all the attention. NASCAR created this problem.

The Nationwide series to stand on its own. No cup regulars should be allowed to enter, rookies only at the very most.

The Natiowide drivers would get the attention. Whether the Nationwide series is a viable national series would also be determined.

Anonymous said...

It'll be amusing if at the end of the season Trevor Bayne's sponsorless car is the champion. That white car will give ESPN and NASCAR a big black eye.

RWar24 said...

If Nascar wants the Nationwide series to survive, they need to find a way to void both the NNS and Cup contracts of ESPN and find a network that truly wants it. ESPN's coverage of both series has been sub-par and that's putting it nicely. I don't know why ESPN acts like they are forced to cover the NNS series. Last I knew, nobody held a gun to their head and said you will civer this series.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:36 said: "The Nationwide series to stand on its own. No cup regulars should be allowed to enter, rookies only at the very most"

I think the threshold between the two series should be a specific number of Cup Series starts.

jtip said...

NASCAR and I have had a short love affair--only since 2005, when on vacation, I saw a show on the SPEED channel called "NASCAR 360." Not only did I fall quickly, but had that love kindled by the wonderful offerings of SPEED channel and NASCAR.com and their fantastic reporters and columnists. Sadly, that love has dwindled since NASCAR has begun its affair with the younger trade-in model known as ESPN.

Many of the best reporters (Bestwick, Chengalis, Hinton God-help-me) were stolen by this network and not used well. Some good reporters have become so puffed up with being on the "network" (Smith) that I can hardly stand to listen to them. The addition of Briscoe and Craven (seriously?) lends even less respect to the sport. Don't even get me started on the whole Rusty Wallace "situation."

I was never impressed with ESPN before--how do you call different people reading the exact same copy over and over again all day long reporters? Since its foray into NASCAR, though, I have come to despise the network for its clear disdain for the sport it "covers" and its juvenile mentality of "if we don't mention it, they won't watch."

When will NASCAR demand better? Clearly, the relationship did not end well the first time. Remember that definition of insanity--repeating the same behaviors and expecting different results? It seems that we are expecting different results and surprised when we are still treated badly by the One Who Was Only Interested In Us For Our Money.

It's up to NASCAR to demand better and not make the same mistake a third time around.

Charlie said...

I bet the Nationwide series schedule will be shortened and tracks closed before Espn's contract runs out.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the declaration of which series they are racing in for points. It seems to me that once the declaration is made, a driver should be allowed to step up to a higher division to race (for no points), but a driver may not drop down a division to race, at all.

FloridaMatt said...

Anon 1:05 said: I think the threshold between the two series should be a specific number of Cup Series starts.

My standard would be:
(a) if you were not in the cup top 35 last season, race Nationwide all you want.

(b) otherwise, you may only participate in a Nationwide race if your have run in fewer nationwide races than your current cup points position.

Unfortunately, BZF and Mike Helton are satisfied with the whole current situation.

However, I expect Bill France is turning right in his grave.

GinaV24 said...

Another great column, JD. I agree with it and with the comments that were added by the planeteers.

for myself, I was disgusted by that poor excuse for race coverage that ESPN offered on Saturday.

JD, I, too, will be sad if you stop live blogging of the series because posting with the gang here is one of the few bright spots in the dismal ESPN coverage, but I sure can understand why you don't want to continue with what has become a total debacle of coverage. To be honest, once the weather gets nice, unless the coverage has greatly improved, I probably won't waste my Saturday afternoons trying to watch the unwatchable.

Considering how well so many of the Nationwide regulars did at the race, it was stupid to not interview them. As you said, that 30 seconds of TV time could help a lot of those underfunded teams.

I don't tune into this series to watch the Cup drivers. I'm not a fan of ESPN - I've said before I don't watch their programming except for the races.

So much for the high level meetings between NASCAR and the TV partners -- obviously the TV entities consider NASCAR's management to be as stupid as it does the fans.

Lisa Hogan said...

As I posted earlier, I made the decision at the end of last season to watch all three series through the DVR. The networks weren't going to change, so I had to.

Even watching delayed through the DVR, the ESPN coverage was terrible. They come to the track with script in hand. They don't show the race because that would differ from their script.

Like others, I only watch ESPN when I must.

Rambo M. said...

To those bemoaning BZF's ineptitude meaning nothing will change: hmm, well let's see how long that indifference toward the job at hand will last if the majority of N'wide sponsors get the hint, and try to stage a walkout and/or intervention! I wouldn't rule it out at this point.

Brian said...

I agree with everything that has been said here. We all need to make sure to watch the Richmond race on April 29th, give SPEED a HUGE ratings boost over ESPU and MAYBE (really big Maybe) NASCAR will get the message.

Also, SPEED, Don't mess it up PLEASE!

JD, do you know if this will be ESPU's people on SPEED or completely a SPEED originated race?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

One certainly has to hope in the next contract the Nationwide series moves to SPEED or VERSUS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks JD, now I have the song "Kawliga" stuck in my head. :-)

Mary from Richmond, VA

Daly Planet Editor said...

Mary,

I cannot believe you got that reference. That made my day!

JD

Anonymous said...

Can't wait to hear the FOX guys call that race in richmond that ESPN has decided isn't important enough because of the stick and ball sports!

Anonymous said...

If Saturday's Nationwide Series race was any indication of what may happen for the rest of 2011, it could be a frustrating year for those who follow NASCAR's second-tier circuit.

On the other hand, it's almost certainly too early to judge. Nor can we predict how this season will look by the time we get to Homestead.

Here's the issue: Five of the top six finishers on Saturday did not collect any points. Under NASCAR's new "pick a series" points system, the five Sprint Cup Series drivers in the race dominated but had a combined zero points.

As a result, here are the Nationwide Series point standings: 1. Reed Sorenson, 2. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., 3. Jason Leffler, 4. Danica Patrick and 5. Joe Nemechek.

Patrick is fourth in points after finishes of 14th and 17th this season. She moved up three spots after finishing three laps down in Saturday's race.

If that trend continues – drivers getting mediocre finishes but holding the top spots in the point standings – then the new system will have a credibility problem.

There are two directions this could go. And it's hard to predict which one it will be.

In one aspect, disqualifying the Cup drivers from collecting points isn't going to do anything to change the makeup of the races. Each week, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Co. will still dominate and win the majority of the events.

Only they won't be part of the points race. So the guy who finished eighth might be in a battle with the guy who finished 12th and the one who finished 14th.

It's meant to reward the Nationwide Series regulars – which is a great thought – but the risk is it come off instead as an artificial way to decide a champion. NASCAR badly wants to put a spotlight on the Nationwide drivers, but if every race is dominated by a Cup driver, it may not have the intended impact with fans.

Right now, NASCAR is straddling the fence on what to do with the Nationwide Series. Something certainly had to be done – though many fans have long supported the idea that Cup drivers should be banned outright.

NASCAR won't do that, though. The tracks and sponsors and TV partners don't want it. Having only Nationwide drivers in the series is not seen as a viable financial option.

So for now, we're stuck. NASCAR hopes the new system can be a way to discourage Cup drivers from running so often, but only time will tell.

In the meantime, as we wait to see how it'll all unfold, fans of the Nationwide Series are looking at some funky point standings two races into the season.

tiamatsrevenge said...

The coverage during the races isn't the only problem that Disney has ...

It's also their decisions to not air some of the practice and qualifying sessions ... This Saturday, Disney's not airing Nwide qualifying ... Disney's not airing it because of college bball on 1&2 ... SPEED can't air it as they're airing the GrandAm/Rolex race ... Other times, they don't air it because they won't dump their regularly scheduled morning lineup of craptacular programming ...

The scheduling issues when it comes to the Nwide series pose some serious questions about how some tracks have decided to switch Cup qualifying from Friday afternoon to Saturday morning ... Who's to say that whatever broadcast partner has the coverage will wind up NOT airing Cup qualifying when it's on Saturday morning ??? How much did this play into the lackluster crowd for the Truck race this past weekend at PIR since Cup qualifying was on Saturday morning???



How sad is it that we (I was watching the Nwide race with my dad) were yelling at the tv for Kyle and Carl to wreck or blow up ... for the entire final green flag run ?? We used to like both drivers, but can't stand either of them now ... At that point of the game, it seemed like nobody else was on the track (except some remote controlled decoys) ...