Thursday, June 30, 2011
Both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series get on the big oval in Daytona Thursday with live TV coverage from SPEED and ESPN2. It should be interesting.
Before the action got underway, Brian France led a NASCAR delegation to Tallahassee, FL. The group included ESPN's Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip of SPEED and FOX Sports. They met Governor Rick Scott at his official residence to promote the upcoming Daytona race and confirm NASCAR's economic impact on the state. Those are the pictures above courtesy of Rick Dole and Getty Images.
There has been much discussion that this time around, teams have actually planned well in advance their two-car strategies for the very strange tandem racing we are seeing at Daytona. No more random partners and radio chatter. As they say in the movies, this time it's for real.
While there were some teams able to get together in the past race, this Thursday coverage of multiple practice sessions should show teams tipping their hand. These cars simply have to go out and practice racing at speed and switching position to keep the engines from overheating.
Topics under discussion will be the heat of the track, the wear of the tires and the issues associated now with this tag-team approach to racing. It has been reported that deals have been made among teammates and within organizations for many weeks now. This time, it's a scripted ballet.
The complete TV schedule for Thursday is posted on the left side of the page. There will be news items added throughout the day, so check back for updates. To add your TV/media-related comments at anytime, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
The fan frustration boiled over last weekend with the Sonoma coverage, but it had been building for some time. In a world that technology has altered dramatically, little has changed with NASCAR racetelecasts. Full-screen commercial breaks come early and often.
TV viewers see the racing in disjointed chunks. Announcers are forced to spend time in the racing segments trying to catch fans up on what happened during the two minute and thirty second long commercial breaks. In a word, it's awful.
At Infineon Raceway 143 minutes of race coverage mixed with 52 minutes of commercials to make up the slightly more than three hours of on-track coverage. The good news is that the final TV segment of racing was a long one. TNT also stayed for the first time this season and filled the scheduled NASCAR TV time with post-race interviews.
This week the network moves to Daytona for a Saturday night race in primetime. For the last five years, TNT has been using a new commercial approach to this event they have labeled as "Wide Open" coverage. It could not come a moment too soon.
The thrust of this style of coverage is to recruit a group of advertisers that appreciate innovative TV. That is no easy task. The line-up this year includes Coke Zero, Coors Light, Pfizer, Sprint, Toyota and Warner Brothers Films. In return for getting on board, the advertisers get extended exposure on the air while TNT gets to use a side-by-side commercial format.
Ultimately, TV networks that paid top dollar to NASCAR for these races have to figure out a way to pay the bills. Despite the tremendous changes in online and smart phone technology, TV has basically plodded along trying to use the old method of full-screen commercials, ratings and household exposure.
TNT's goal every year for this race is to not miss a lap of green flag racing. Sure, they have to sneak some full-screen local breaks in for the cable companies, but doing that under caution flag periods has proven to be a tremendous success. That way, only the side-by-side style commercials air during green flag racing.
The toughest task of this telecast falls to Adam Alexander. Instead of simply leading to commercial, TNT's play-by-play guy has an extensive menu of sales features to try and integrate into the live race telecast.
A tremendous benefit during the TNT races has been the online RaceBuddy application available for free at the NASCAR.com website. Once again this weekend, RaceBuddy will offer ten video sources including four in-car cameras. There is also an "iso-cam" on pit road and a battle-cam that follows the best racing on the track.
Between the Wide Open coverage and RaceBuddy, what TNT is ultimately doing is providing race fans a peek into the future. RaceBuddy is now available on iPhones, iPads and android phones with the Sprint Mobile app. The entire live race may have some added TV commercial content, but it will not block the racing action from start-to-finish. That's a pretty nice package.
Today's younger consumers just won't stand for full-screen TV commercials that block live professional sports action. They don't have it with the NFL, the NBA or the NHL. The devotion to brands, drivers and manufacturers that we veteran fans grew up with is an alien concept to young folks.
As NASCAR desperately tries to get a foot in the door with the 18-35 demographic, it will be technology and not racing that ultimately tips the scales. It should be interesting to see how this technology-driven group responds to the fifth season of "Wide Open" coverage from Daytona.
We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
It might just take a legendary detective with an unorthodox style to crack this case. The scenery was beautiful. The weather was great. The crowd was large. Unfortunately, the telecast was awful.
His rumpled coat, cigar and constant stories about his family members made Peter Falk as Columbo a cherished TV character. He always came back for one more question that seemed to turn the entire story upside down. Falk will be missed.
Despite having all the personnel and equipment available to get the job done, TNT got off track early and never recovered. There has never been a NASCAR race that got more instant negative feedback than this one.
The pre-race show hosted by Lindsay Czarniak was as crisp as usual. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds contributed good comments and TNT had another outstanding Pride of NASCAR feature on Rex White.
Once things got underway on track, the coverage started without showing the two folks giving the starting command on-camera. That was kind of important. TV and movie veteran John Ratzenberger was there as part of a huge promotion of the "Cars2" movie. He was with the national winner of a Toyota fan contest.
In fact, Ratzenberger and the movie director had been interviewed during RaceDay on SPEED. The "Cars2" exhibit was there and it was clear this was a big promotion. The mistake was never mentioned.
Once underway, it became very clear that the on-air dynamic this team had enjoyed on an oval track had not carried over to this road course. There is a lot of information that has to be passed along by Alexander on a race like this and he never accomplished the task.
Time and time again, Alexander referenced things that were never explained, never followed-up or never shown in replay. As the race went forward and incidents happened, TNT became buried in the this growing amount of unexplained incidents.
Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. offered comments on the race, but the two drivers are often echoing each other's perspectives. Larry McReynolds tried to contribute, but having him down in the infield makes for a disjointed presence. It is even more disjointed when he plays the Tim Brewer role of pointing at auto parts.
Just like last season, the race became an ugly series of paybacks between pitstops under green. In the New World Order of NASCAR, this behavior is encouraged and fighting is mentioned over and over again as something that built the sport. There were no penalties for anything done in the race.
The commercial load seemed particularly brutal. Timing of breaks on a road course under green is tough and often it seemed that the racing was a distraction between the commercials. TNT has always battled this perception.
Pictures were fine and RaceBuddy was a nice addition, but the announcing team never kept the fans updated on information despite lots of hard work from the pit reporters. Alexander never told the basic story of what was happening and often seemed to be just reacting to the TV screen.
This is the only road course TNT handles in the six race package and Sonoma has a long history of throwing this TV network for a loop. Back in the Bill Weber days, this race was simply an exercise in frustration that often resulted in Weber losing his cool on the air.
By the time there were ten laps to go, the paybacks were continuing and the chaos was in full swing. Fans either loved or hated the rough racing. Perhaps, the ratings will ultimately be the judge. Either way, the race ended under green with the fastest car winning.
The checkered flag flew at 6:15PM and TNT stayed for the full 15 minutes of scheduled NASCAR TV time. What a nice change. Post-race consisted of several key interviews and the winner. Good questions from the pit reporters chased down a lot of the issues left hanging during the race.
Despite the chaos of the race telecast, it was nice to see TNT change direction and offer a complete post-race show on television. It might have been the bright spot.
This post will serve to host your comments about the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Sonoma. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below.
Sunday, June 26, 2011
TNT heads into Sonoma with a track record of producing solid races and then leaving the air earlier than fans are used to seeing this season. This road course can bring all kinds of issues that are not seen with the ovals.
Lindsay Czarniak announced this past week that after the TNT races she is going to be joining ESPN full-time and moving to Connecticut. There is absolutely no indication that her role will have any contact with NASCAR programming at all. Czarniak is a veteran anchor, reporter and is closely associated with the NFL.
Czarniak will host the Countdown to Green pre-race show with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds from the TNT infield rig. In the past, this set has been located at the top of the drag strip. It should be interesting to see where TNT chose to locate the anchor position this season.
Adam Alexander will call the race with Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. from the TV booth. Matt Yocum, Chris Neville, Marty Snider and Ralph Sheheen are the pit reporters.
Last year Jeff Gordon ruffled some feathers as the race quickly took on a "bump and run" feel with no slack given to other competitors. Paybacks were promised at that time by numerous drivers. It will be interesting to see given the "boys have at it" atmosphere that continues in the sport what happens today on track.
Road course coverage is a mix of single corner cameras mixed with in-car cams and aerial shots. The issue in this type of coverage is not what angle to choose, but what group of cars to follow. This is normally the leaders, but can be a tight bunch that has been racing hard for position. Keep an eye on who TNT chooses to follow.
Pit road strategy is completely different on a road course and often tough to explain. Luckily, TNT has a solid team of reporters who will need to keep on top of this task as the race goes on. Often, it seems to make no sense when cars pit to fans at home.
McReynolds will have to be on his game as the new racing fuel blend with Ethanol has resulted in lower mileage. This changes the race from a two to three stop strategy as teams literally cannot make it on two stops anymore. We originally heard from the Corn Ethanol group that there was no loss of fuel mileage, only better performance.
The day is clear, weather is not a factor and the track president is reporting that ticket sales are up for this race. The green flag is scheduled for 3:18PM ET.
This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Infineon Raceway. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
We have three hours of NASCAR TV today before TNT's pre-race show. First up is NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Nicole Briscoe is hosting from the ESPN studios in Bristol, CT. In Sonoma at Infineon Raceway are reporters Marty Smith and Mike Massaro.
ESPN left Nationwide Series viewers in a lurch on Saturday after the race from Road America. Lots of issues were not sorted out and few drivers were interviewed before the network left for a playback of a rallycross show. It was a bad decision.
NASCAR Now needs to get right on top of those stories and clear-up the Nationwide Series issues. A late caution caused chaos as several cars passed the leader. It was never explained why there were no penalties, but Reed Sorenson was then called the winner of the race after the checkered flag. A single TV replay made all the difference.
Over on SPEED, there is two hours of NASCAR Raceday from Sonoma. Kyle Petty is working for TNT and Kenny Wallace raced in Wisconsin on Saturday. That means Darrell Waltrip and Hermie Sadler get a turn on the expert panel. John Roberts is hosting and Wendy Venturini is reporting. Also on today's show will be Rutledge Wood and Bob Dillner.
RaceDay changes with the personalities involved. Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace bring one dynamic to the program, while Waltrip and Sadler bring another. Over the years this show has also featured Jimmy Spencer and Michael Waltrip in the featured analyst role.
Make no mistake about it, Venturini is the rock of this show. Her ability to flow through the garage area and handle virtually any type of interview and issue has made all the difference in the credibility of the program. The panelists may offer opinions, but she goes and gets the stories.
Two hours is a long time to fill and the NASCAR Media Group pulls out all the stops in producing the show. Interviews, features and news are mixed with the opinions of the two panelists in a format run by Roberts.
This post will serve to host your comments on the two NASCAR pre-race shows of Sunday morning. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Saturday, June 25, 2011
The Nationwide Series is sharing the stage at Road America with the Grand-Am Rolex sports car series. That group raced earlier in the day and featured a big accident and an exciting finish. Road America works well for sports cars.
The Nationwide Series coverage will feature Allen Bestwick with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree in the TV booth. Down on pit road will be Vince Welch, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Shannon Spake. Since there is no Infield Pit Studio for this stand-alone race, it will probably be Dave Burns hosting the pre-race show from pit road.
The field is wide open as the Sprint Cup Series guys are in Sonoma, CA doing some road racing of their own. Road America is a fast and wide-open road course that features a big front straight and plenty of passing zones.
Road course coverage is a battle to show the leaders, but also keep the stories in the back of the field updated. This is a very different challenge than working on a big oval track. It should be interesting to see just how ESPN approaches this task.
This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN coverage of the Nationwide Series from Road America. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Friday, June 24, 2011
Friday features a clash of timeslots that will leave NASCAR fans talking. TV executives get put in tough spots sometimes and when push came to shove, this time NASCAR lost.
SPEED comes on the air at 2:30PM with a preview edition of NASCAR Live. John Roberts hosts with Randy Pemberton. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the reporters.
Sprint Cup Series practice is next on SPEED at 3PM. Adam Alexander hosts with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond in the TV booth. Matt Yocum and Ralph Sheheen are the reporters.
At 4:30PM, SPEED closes out the NASCAR coverage with a final edition of NASCAR Live. Roberts, Pemberton and Venturini return this time joined by reporter Bob Dillner.
What follows at 5PM has been the subject of much discussion. SPEED has opted to tape delay the Sprint Cup Series road course qualifying from Infineon Raceway in favor of six live hours of another Barrett-Jackson auto auction.
This one is from Orange County, California. You can click here to see the cars that will be crossing the auction block. Less than spectacular is a nice way to sum it up.
The Cup Series qualifying begins at 6:30PM ET and it will be tape-delayed by SPEED until 11PM ET. That pushes NASCAR out of East Coast primetime and ends a long streak of SPEED presenting the best NASCAR practice and qualifying coverage on TV.
It will be Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds calling the road course qualifying for SPEED. Handling the reporting duties will be Chris Neville and Marty Snider. There should be several interesting aspects to this delayed coverage.
Today, social media makes tape-delaying any kind of live sports programming meaningless. This will be the situation for SPEED. Across Facebook and Twitter, the qualifying results will be passed along by the teams, the sponsors and even NASCAR live as it happens.
None of the major NASCAR Internet websites will hold the information until the TV coverage hits the air. In today's world, the only thing that SPEED will have at 11PM on Saturday is upset fans. They have a reason to be, because there were options.
One would be to utilize the NASCAR.com website and stream live coverage of qualifying through the RaceBuddy application. Just like TNT will do for the race on Sunday, this simple Internet application is effective and can be seen on iPads, iPhones and on the Sprint Mobile app.
SPEED could certainly air the entire show at 11PM on delay as planned, but at least the live qualifying would have been made available online to fans as it happened. In the current scenario, trying to shut the TV door and pretend fans will tune-in late at night to see what they can easily find out happened hours earlier is ridiculous.
This TV scenario is made even more ironic because PRN radio will have live coverage of qualifying as well. With many of the PRN stations streaming online, it's not hard to find this coverage. Many veteran NASCAR fans already use the "I Heart Radio" app for cell phones to hear the local MRN and PRN affiliates.
Sure, it's just qualifying. Sure, there is a top 35 rule. Sure, there are all kinds of excuses and reasons to use for justifying the Barrett-Jackson coverage. It's the right of the network executives to make decisions they believe are in the best interest of SPEED.
Perhaps, FOX and SPEED executive David Hill picked a bad week to tell the national media that he wants six of the Sprint Cup Series races currently on FOX to move to SPEED eventually. His reasoning was simple. After all, SPEED is the home of NASCAR coverage. Right?
We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Thursday, June 23, 2011
Here are some items of interest as we head to a split weekend with the Sprint Cup Series in Sonoma, CA and the Nationwide gang in Elkhart Lake, WI.
Wednesday it was announced by NBC4 in Washington, DC that Lindsay Czarniak was going to be leaving that local station where she had worked since 2005. Her new destination is ESPN. Czarniak is currently working at her part-time summer job hosting the six TNT Sprint Cup Series races. She will wait until July for the ESPN move.
Czarniak started her TV career as a production assistant at CNN after graduating from James Madison University. She has already worked two Olympics for NBC Sports in Turino and Beijing. Czarniak is a versatile on-air personality in the Krista Voda mode. That is someone who is at home in the studio, working as a reporter or hosting in the field. No doubt she will be a good addition to ESPN's on-air team.
Sticking with the ladies, SPEED's Danielle Trotta has been working as a field reporter for the RaceHub series. This weekend, she gets an interesting opportunity to try something new. With Voda hosting Trackside and Adam Alexander working for TNT, Trotta will take a turn anchoring the SPEED Center shows.
She will be handling the cut-ins and the Sunday morning preview show, but the big challenge will come Sunday night at 7PM. That one-hour version of SPEED Center is the most diverse motorsports show on the network. It will pull Trotta far outside the comforts of NASCAR.
Speaking of outside the comfort zone, four NASCAR drivers will appear in Sunday night's 10PM ET version of The Glades on A&E. Carl Edwards, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers filmed the episode earlier this year at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"Shooting The Glades was a really cool experience," Logano said. "To see Homestead-Miami Speedway turned into a Hollywood movie set was certainly interesting. I can promise you this, I won’t be quitting my day job anytime soon. The show did an amazing job making the set and garage area look authentic. I know we had The Home Depot Toyota there, the extras were in our crew shirts and we even had our tool box in the garage stall. They did their best to make it look as real as possible and I think the NASCAR fans will appreciate that."
This weekend TNT will again have RaceBuddy at Sonoma. There will be a different look to it since Infineon Raceway is a road course. The free online service will continue to offer ten video streams, including four in-car cameras. TNT reports that RaceBuddy delivered over 700 thousand live video streams last weekend.
For you NASCAR history buffs, TNT's Pride of NASCAR feature shown in the pre-race will feature former driver Rex White. Now 81 years old, White competed for the original Chevrolet racing team and accumulated 28 wins and over 150 top ten finishes. He is in several halls of fame and was named one of NASCAR's top 50 drivers.
No Marty Reid this weekend for ESPN. Allen Bestwick gets the call to handle the Road America coverage with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree. Once again, no coverage of practice or qualifying is offered by the ESPN networks. The actual race telecast is Saturday at 5PM on ESPN.
Speaking of no live coverage, on Friday SPEED is time-shifting the Sprint Cup Series qualifying from Sonoma to 11PM ET. The network instead is carrying six live hours of the Barrett-Jackson auction from Orange County beginning at 5PM.
This also means that the popular Friday night Trackside program on SPEED is out of luck. Krista Voda will host the show airing on tape delay Saturday at 11AM ET.
Speaking of Saturday, SPEED will also time-shift the two Sprint Cup practices to air beginning at 2:30PM ET. The network will instead carry the Rolex Sports Car Series race from Road America live beginning at noon ET.
So, to sum it up there is no coverage of practice or qualifying for the Nationwide Series at Road America by ESPN. Also, three Sprint Cup Series on-track sessions, including qualifying, will be delayed by SPEED from Infineon Raceway for an auction and a sports car race.
We want your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
NASCAR cut the pie into three pieces where the Sprint Cup Series TV contract was concerned. Sandwiched between the high-profile FOX and ESPN portions of the schedule is the tiny little slice of the pie that was left for TNT.
Once coined as the summer six-pack, TNT has one big race at Daytona and five other races that are not exactly the pick of the litter. The response of the network has been to become the outlaws of NASCAR TV. The idea is to be different.
Wally Dallenbach Jr. has been gone from NASCAR for a long time. Kyle Petty works fulltime for SPEED and only takes his hat off for the TNT races. Adam Alexander used to be SPEED's pit reporter for the truck series. The TV booth for the TNT races is different.
TNT's infield rig is outdoors. The wind blows, the sun shines and with the push of a button it begins a nauseating spin that redefines motion sickness on a big HDTV screen. One of my personal highlights was pit reporter Marty Snider stealing the controls and continually rotating then host Bill Weber during a rain delay. Weber's screams of protest were to no avail. TNT's infield set-up is different.
The shining jewel of this package isn't on TV at all. RaceBuddy is the free online application that is run through the NASCAR.com website, which Turner Sports operates. This year, users have ten video sources including four in-car cameras, two different battle cams and views of both the backstretch and pit road. It works on iPhones, iPads and pops right up on the Sprint Mobile app as well. TNT's online approach is different.
In the first season of the new TV contract, we published a story in June of 2007. "TNT Dumps NASCAR For Van Helsing Movie" was the title. Click here to read the full post. Basically, after the race at MIS our friends at TNT left the air to actually start a scheduled movie 15 minutes early.
The theory from the entertainment-driven network was that the movie would get more viewers because the NASCAR race had just ended. There was a little problem with that theory. That problem would be called NASCAR fans.
On that occasion TNT interviewed the winner, both DEI drivers and then sprinted for the airplane while the movie started. Today, things are a bit different. After this year's MIS race TNT left the air eight minutes ahead of the scheduled off-time for the race coverage. But, this time they had a reason.
After also leaving early at Pocono, the TNT explanation was simple. After a basic post-race show on TV, a full post-race show would appear on RaceBuddy over at the NASCAR.com website. Sure enough, once the MIS coverage was off the air up popped Lindsay Czarniak and Larry McReynolds on the Internet.
This duo hosted another 15 minutes or so of coverage that included additional driver interviews, highlights and analysis from McReynolds. All the pit reporters were used and it basically had the exact same quality as the network TV coverage. The only problem was that it wasn't on TV.
In moving to a strictly Internet environment for post-race in order to switch TV quickly back to entertainment programming, TNT cuts-off all the NASCAR fans who are not online. If my feedback is any judge, that seems to be an awful lot of folks.
Whether the issue is the economy, technology or simply choice there were a lot of upset fans when TNT strolled off to Internet land. Fundamentally, it seems strange that after a pre-race show and then a live race telecast that TNT wants fans to watch for hours, there would be a problem with a full post-race show.
Back in 2007 at MIS, Michael Waltrip had finally finished in the top ten driving a MWR car. That was a big moment. Kyle Busch had finished sixth in the middle of career chaos. Casey Mears was fourth and Jamie McMurray was eighth as both fought to keep their rides. None of that made TNT.
This year, that type of content was also not on TV. Instead, the same promomotional reel for the new season of TNT shows that viewers saw after Pocono was on the air after MIS. Despite the fact that the post-race went on for those online, TV viewers got the short end of the stick.
While there were billions of dollars spent by the NASCAR TV partners on the current contract, perhaps this is not exactly what NASCAR intended back in 2007 when the TV pie was sliced.
We want your views on this subject. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
There they were, David Hill from FOX/SPEED and Mike Helton from NASCAR. While they were together on Helton's ranch shooting skeet, Hill apparently floated the idea of moving some Sprint Cup Series races from broadcast TV to cable.
Monday, details of that conversation appeared in The Sports Business Journal. Click here for the link to read the story. Excerpts from that story appear below.
Fox has held informal discussions with NASCAR about a new TV rights agreement that would allow the network to put some of its Sprint Cup races on Speed.
David Hill, Fox Sports chairman, said Fox would like to see some of the 13 regular-season races it televises on Speed. A Fox source said the company could ask for as many as six races for the network.
Hill said that Fox always intended to carry Sprint Cup races on Speed, which Fox launched in 2002 after acquiring the channel, then named Speedvision, from Comcast and Cox.
The move would allow Speed to use live NASCAR broadcasts to increase the license fee that cable and satellite operators pay each month, which is currently around 30 cents, according to sources.
Hill stressed that the joint venture talks were casual. He said that he and NASCAR President Mike Helton discuss a variety of opportunities when they get together to shoot skeet at Helton’s ranch in the Southeast.
There are several interesting issues with this story. First, Helton has absolutely nothing to do with NASCAR TV. In fact, he runs an entirely different division of the sport. Secondly, since neither of the SBJ reporters were present for the skeet shooting outing, we can assume FOX delivered this content to them directly.
SPEED is a cable TV network that has a dual revenue stream. That means it sells ads but also gets a monthly fee for carriage from cable and satellite providers. Moving a series of Sprint Cup races to SPEED would then allow the company to charge providers, and ultimately consumers, more for the product.
Hill was replaced as the head of FOX Sports last year by Eric Shanks. The new challenge given to Hill was to take control of SPEED and increase the value of the network. Hill immediately put his old friend Patti Wheeler in charge of the day-to-day production and programming. Wheeler is still in the process of shaking things up.
Currently, SPEED is distributed in 78 million homes in the US. This number is far short of the 100 million ESPN used as a key reason to move NASCAR from ABC over to cable. As many of you know, SPEED-HD continues to roll-out nationwide. Any way you look at it, SPEED's total numbers are far short of enabling a move of top-line product from broadcast.
David Hill talks a lot. As an Aussie, he loves to play with the media and in this case seems to have done a very good job. He used The Sports Business Journal to deliver a well-crafted message that served his purpose. He kicked open the door to splitting the NASCAR on FOX package in two pieces between broadcast and cable.
Don't expect this issue to be on the table for years to come. The current NASCAR TV contract locks-in the parties until 2014. Rumors of NASCAR taking a partnership role in SPEED have never panned out. Don't forget, SPEED's move to Charlotte was to become "The NASCAR Network." Instead, it has never established an identity.
Finally, it certainly is interesting that this story just happens to come out one day after the second TNT Sprint Cup Series telecast. You have to wonder about the fan reaction had this "information" been available during the NASCAR on FOX portion of the season. Hill continues to be a master of the media.
We welcome your thoughts on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.
Sunday, June 19, 2011
Nothing says Detroit horsepower like the 1975 Ford Gran Torino used in the Starsky & Hutch TV series. It was supposed to be a Chevy Camaro, but a last minute switch led to some quality exposure for the Ford brand.
David Starsky and Ken Hutchinson were two street-smart detectives who used "Zebra 3" on the radio. Huggy Bear and Capt. Dobey kept things interesting between car chases and a wide variety of stunts that mostly involved crashing non-Ford brand vehicles.
While there was not much crashing at MIS, the investigation into what went on is going to require high speeds. Once again, the only real battle on the track was for clean air and all the other passing was on pit road. Tensions were high on green flag stops.
TNT presented a clean and neat pre-race show. Solid interviews with Jeff Gordon and Carl Edwards mixed with a nice Pride of NASCAR feature on AJ Foyt. Lindsay Czarniak is not a NASCAR person, but uses her TV skills to direct traffic and keep things flowing. This show was well-paced and loaded with information.
Adam Alexander has more a a conversational tone in the TNT booth as opposed to the excited style of Rick Allen on the truck series. Alexander meshes will with Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach, but the continuing perspective of having two drivers in the booth leaves a bit lacking perhaps.
Larry McReynolds used to contribute a lot more during the race itself, but this season he just seems to be pointing at the cutaway car and speaking with Czarniak during recaps. His perspective on race strategy is missed.
TNT has done a fine job of showing large groups of cars during the racing action and going very wide on the restarts. The scoring ticker is easy to read and runs at a nice pace. Pictures were not as nice as Pocono, but perhaps the overcast weather played a role.
Alexander and company hit a flat spot about two-thirds of the way through the race. Without Larry McReynolds to pump-up the group, the energy level plummeted. This was also the stretch that featured two minute plus commercials almost every five minutes. If not for RaceBuddy, it was kind of a challenge to stay focused.
The TNT pit reporters did their best to add drama and excitement to the final series of green flag pit stops. It was lucky that the race itself was able to crank-up the strategy issues with a late caution. The TNT pit reporters have been solid.
TNT went to a late commercial under green with 14 laps to go. They hid the lap counter when they returned. Then, a caution came out. TV commercial break luck was not good at the end of the race.
Once again it was a wideshot for the finish, but TNT cut to it late. At least the network has erased the memory of FOX and the "drama" of just the winner. Fuel mileage races are certainly not exciting, but there is usually a little bump of excitement at the end. We can be sure that MIS is going to be on the schedule forever.
The final moment for TNT was the decision to leave the air seven minutes early to play the same preview reel viewers saw last week for TNT shows. Lots of key interviews were not done. While RaceBuddy presented a post-race show, that left TV-only viewers out in the cold.
This post will serve to host your TV race recap comments on the TNT presentation of the Sprint Cup Series race from MIS. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop.
TNT rolls into Michigan for what many expect to be a fuel mileage shootout among the Ford teams. Ford dominated the Nationwide Series race on Saturday and has quickly become the engine story of this season.
Lindsay Czarniak will be hosting the Countdown to Green pre-race show. She will be joined by Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds. This week's Pride of NASCAR will feature AJ Foyt. Driver Carl Edwards will join the TNT on the Infield Rig during the show.
Adam Alexander will call the race with Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. alongside. On pit road will be Chris Neville, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Marty Snider.
Once again this week Turner Sports will offer the expanded RaceBuddy application. Having this for MIS is the same kind of positive element that Pocono enjoyed last week. Despite perhaps the race appearing to be boring at times on TV, once fans were allowed to make their own online choices about what to watch things stayed interesting.
This year RaceBuddy has also put the actual TNT call of the race on both mosaic channels. This allows fans who do not have access to the TV to finally be able to see and hear the races. If TNT added a single channel of the actual TNT feed, then NASCAR would have finally become a portable online sports product.
The downside of TNT is that the network is dominated by entertainment programming. The pressure for live sports to get off the air and make way for promotion of new shows was evident last weekend. Despite an early finish, TNT did only a basic set of post-race interviews and then departed.
The TNT PR folks said that additional interviews would be done on RaceBuddy, but that simply did not happen. The only thing provided was the usual post-race press conference coverage from the Infield Media Center.
NASCAR is a sport most closely associated with golf. Once the action is done, there are plenty of stories to tell and every athlete involved in the competition that day has fans looking for information. Now well into the heart of the season, TNT would be better served to use the pit reporters and fill the allotted time.
As usual, there is a lot of media pressure on Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win today. While his team is running well, the buzz is that the Fords have an advantage at MIS. It should be interesting to see how TNT treats the most popular driver on today's telecast.
As of 10AM, it was raining on the IndyCars in Milwaukee and the NHRA folks in Bristol, TN. No such problems at MIS, where the weather is expected to be good and the race should run as scheduled. The Saturday crowd was light, so keep an eye on the grandstands today.
This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from MIS. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. You can also follow us at twitter.com/thedalyplanet for live NASCAR chat during the race. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Saturday, June 18, 2011
Marty Reid is once again off in IndyCar land. So, it will be Allen Bestwick calling today's Nationwide Series race from MIS with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree alongside.
Nicole Briscoe steps into the Infield Pit Studio with Ricky Craven and Wallace. Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty are off this weekend. Down on pit road are Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake, Dr. Jerry Punch and Dave Burns. Tim Brewer will be in the Infield Tech Center.
This is one of those weekends when NASCAR gets a nice exposure for the Nationwide Series on ABC. While there are other sports in progress, there is no NBA, NFL and the NHL season is now over. Great opportunity for some quality exposure.
Nationwide Series regular Justin Allgaier is the in-race reporter and ESPN has a solid number of in-car cameras for this event. MIS is often a fuel mileage race and it takes some consistent work from the guys in the TV truck to keep it interesting for viewers.
This post will serve to host your comments about the ABC coverage of the Nationwide Series from MIS. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.
Friday, June 17, 2011
It's been a heck of a week for FOX and SPEED's Darrell Waltrip. At 11:30AM on Friday, SPEED announcer Rick Allen may well be the first to welcome now NASCAR Hall of Famer Waltrip back to the broadcast booth.
Waltrip begins his weekend of TV work with Nationwide Series practice at 11:30AM ET. Larry McReynolds will join Allen and Waltrip in the booth for that session.
SPEED actually kicks-off the day at 11AM with NASCAR Live. John Roberts and Jeff Hammond will set the scene at the track. Hermie Sadler and Randy Pemberton are the reporters. The full TV schedule for Friday is on the left side of this page.
Waltrip is now done with his FOX duties. The only reason he is still on TV is because he is filling in at SPEED for Kyle Petty during the six TNT races. This weekend finds Waltrip in the TV booth, on the Trackside panel and finally alongside of Kenny Wallace and Roberts on RaceDay.
Earlier this year we talked about the desire of senior FOX Sports executive David Hill to raise Waltrip's TV profile throughout the entire NASCAR season. In the past, Waltrip departed after the final FOX race. Elliott Sadler used to replace him on Trackside for the rest of the year. SPEED has no official update on what will happen with Trackside talent after the TNT races are over.
Waltrip has talked about wanting to be more involved in NASCAR TV coverage when the FOX races were done. He began appearing all over the SPEED coverage of the final weekend of racing in Homestead, FL. Things grew from there.
Now, he is with TV viewers all summer and by being around for Trackside and RaceDay he is also available to get into the TV booth for some practice and qualifying coverage. There seems to be a little trend developing here.
It should be interesting to see how Waltrip handles his new Hall of Fame status on the air. There is little doubt it will be a topic mentioned many times throughout the weekend. Life has truly changed for Waltrip and just like being a Daytona 500 winner or a Sprint Cup Series champ, things will never be the same again.
The twist in Friday NASCAR TV is the fact that SPEED is sneaking in live the ARCA race from MIS at 5PM ET. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons do a good job on this coverage.
This post will serve to host your comments about the Friday TV coverage from MIS by SPEED. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Voting Update 4PM: Well, "ole DW" is in! Here are the new 5 inductees: Darrell Waltrip, Cale Yarborough, crew chief Dale Inman, modified champ Richie Evans and Glen Wood. Leaving this post up as the lead to get more comments on the Hall of Fame selections.
Here is the original TDP post before the selection:
It was one of those TV moments that was impossible to forget. Last fall, SPEED allowed nominee Darrell Waltrip to participate in the live telecast of the NASCAR Hall of Fame selection announcement. It was a big mistake.
The selection committee considered Waltrip's career racing stats, his current FOX television work and his role as a high-profile spokesman for the sport. When the names of those selected were read, Waltrip was not on the list.
This from AP NASCAR writer Jenna Fryer : "It was foolish for Darrell Waltrip to participate in the live broadcast of last year's NASCAR Hall of Fame voting day, when he was publicly humiliated by being snubbed from the five-member second class. Waltrip was stoic on the air, but as the color drained from his face as the inductees were announced, his exclusion clearly wounded him."
This from SBNation's Jeff Gluck: "Instead of looking at accomplishments and records, the Hall of Fame voters looked at their own personal biases and feelings. The theory here is that Waltrip, nicknamed Jaws for infamously flapping his gums, rubbed many people the wrong way over the years."
Tomorrow the process repeats itself and Waltrip is again on the list of nominees. This time, however, he is not a member of the SPEED telecast. Mike Joy will anchor the coverage with Ken Squier, Kyle Petty and Rick Allen on the panel. Randy Pemberton will handle the interviews.
While there are a total of 55 people who cast Hall of Fame votes, the TV and radio personalities include Dr. Jerry Punch, Joy, Petty, Barney Hall, Doug Rice, Allen, Dave Moody and Squier. It is widely held that this group is one of the strongest in favor of Waltrip's selection.
The other groups voting include NASCAR officials, track operators, and manufacturer representatives. From within the teams there are retired car owners, crew chiefs and drivers. A few of those key names include Ricky Rudd, Bud Moore and Buddy Parrott.
SPEED will begin the day at 3PM with a live preview show that will recap and discuss the nominees. The topic of selection criteria came up on this program last year and the discussion was quite lively. It seems that even among media folks, there are widespread differences of opinion about how to fill the hall.
At 4PM the selection show will begin. It has been Brian France announcing those names since the Hall of Fame opened. France has been very busy reorganizing many of the key pieces of his family business even as he continues to go through a very nasty public divorce. Several new key executives are now in Charlotte and ready to go.
Perhaps, TV viewers will finally get to hear from the new NASCAR PR chief Brett Jewkes. Unlike the comforting presence of the late Jim Hunter, Jewkes has yet to appear on television and introduce himself to the fans. It would be interesting to hear his opinion on the Hall of Fame as an executive relatively new to the sport.
Make no mistake, there is a very real possibility that Waltrip may once again not make the list. First of all, voters are looking at many nominees from NASCAR history long before Waltrip came to the sport. They include Red Byron, Tim Flock and Raymond Parks.
Secondly, while the strength of Waltrip's vote may be with the media, there is no way to gauge the relationship Waltrip has with the other voters. They may not be inclined to consider someone relatively young (64), in good health and still actively working in the sport while much older nominees are on the list.
While everyone will be waiting for the selections, the real drama once again will be whether one of the most high-profile TV personalities in the sport finally gets a Hall of Fame jacket with his name on it.
We welcome your comments on this topic and will use this post to blog about the two Hall of Fame shows on SPEED Tuesday afternoon. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Sunday, June 12, 2011
It's going to take someone with a very good sense of humor to figure out the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Pocono. Detective Dwight Hendricks loves Memphis, his mother and singing the blues. He also uses his positive attitude to get through tough situations. Pocono was tough.
The TNT team broke-out all the bells and whistles for this race. RaceBuddy was online and for the first time available on iPad and iPhone. The TV commentary track was offered online along with four in-car cameras, two battle cams and a lot more. They would need it all.
The race unfolded after a foggy morning with the one hour Countdown to Green show. Lindsay Czarniak hosted Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds from the TNT infield rig in the windy and cool weather. The show featured opinions, interviews and a feature on the late crew chief Harry Hyde.
TNT's pit reporters started strong with Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and newcomer Chris Neville covering the stories and interviewing before the green flag. TNT uses the pit reporters a lot more than FOX.
Adam Alexander is in season two of his job as play-by-play announcer for the TNT races. Petty and Wally Dallenbach join Alexander for the telecasts. Pocono is a huge challenge for the PXP person due to the long green flag runs and the relative lack of passing.
Ultimately, the only way to make Pocono interesting is to continually update all the race strategies and go through the field. TNT does not use the "hyper-tight" coverage philosophy of FOX and the result was a very different looking telecast. Wideshots for perspective were mixed with close-ups that were selected for a reason.
The telecast viewed with RaceBuddy made for compelling video, especially with the fact that RaceBuddy continued without commercial breaks. Watching the telecast alone told the classic story of Pocono. Engine woes, big speeds and little passing.
TNT does "through the field" rundowns that give fans information on drivers and teams that have perhaps not been up front or in the TV coverage. It's a nice touch and a welcome addition after the reality of FOX and the lack of available information from those telecasts.
The upper-screen scoring ticker for TNT still has the team colors and numbers, but the names of the drivers can be clearly seen in black and white, literally. The ticker moves at a quick clip and additional graphics are often added to it, expanding the available information.
TNT runs a lot more split-screens, but seems unable to put McReynolds in that effect when he is updating on-camera during the race. It's more important than ever to keep green flag racing on the TV screen, so perhaps McReynolds might find himself sharing the screen for the remaining five races.
After leaving the race due to engine failure, Carl Edwards joined Czarniak and McReynolds in the tiny TNT studio used when rain is pending. Edwards even brought his failed engine part and had a brief conversation that detailed his issues. Then, Edwards stayed and continued to comment during the telecast.
As usual with Pocono, the racing action picked up late in the race. TNT continued to keep the focus on the racing action with Petty taking the lead on the race commentary. In this first race of the TNT package, McReynolds had a much smaller role and was not in the mix on strategy issues.
This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Pocono Raceway. To add your TV-related comments, 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.
It's a foggy morning at Pocono Raceway. The forecast is calling for rain this afternoon and everyone is hoping to get this race in as scheduled.
This is the 2011 debut of Lindsay Czarniak as the host of the six TNT summer race telecasts. She will handle the pre-race with Larry McReynolds and Kyle Petty to get things started. She then remains either on the outside TNT infield rig or moves to an indoor location with McReynolds in tow should the rain begin.
Adam Alexander is in his second season as the play-by-play announcer for this package. He was a surprising choice, but TNT liked his rookie effort and brought him back for this season. Alexander has spent the last four months as the solo anchor of Speed Center on SPEED.
The pairing of Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach is interesting in that the opinions and analysis related to the TV viewers are those of two former drivers. The classic approach of having a former crew chief paired in the booth was never embraced by TNT. The network is fine with having McReynolds positioned in the infield and ready to provide comments from that location.
What you get with Petty and Dallenbach is two drivers who never fit the NASCAR mold. Petty moved on after an up and down career that drew to a close after the tragic passing of his son in a race car. Dallenbach never caught on in NASCAR, despite bringing his colorful personality and strong family background in racing.
Phil Parsons is not returning to TNT as a pit reporter. It will be TV veteran Chris Neville replacing him. The other three members of the pit road gang are Matt Yocum, Marty Snider and Ralph Sheheen. It was Sheheen who filled in upstairs after Bill Weber was fired mid-season several years ago.
This TNT package will feature an expanded online RaceBuddy application available through the NASCAR.com website. This season there are two mosaic (four camera) views, four in-car cameras and two battle-cams. It's a great idea and one that has clearly struck a positive nerve with the fans.
The TNT races will not feature side-by-side commercial breaks. The Daytona event will be produced with the "Wide Open" coverage, but expect the normal commercial and promo load in the telecasts that we have come to expect from TNT since 2007.
After the FOX events, TNT is always a nice breath of fresh air. RaceBuddy lets fans see the racing during the commercials, Petty is a strong presence in the booth and Czarniak is a TV pro.
This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Pocono Raceway. 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.
Saturday, June 11, 2011
At 11:30AM on Saturday, the TNT trio of Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach will be on TV. The Sprint Cup Series cars will be qualifying at Pocono for the first TNT race of the season on Sunday. But, there is a catch.
TNT provides no support programming to NASCAR of any kind. The qualifying will be on SPEED. Lindsay Czarniak and Larry McReynolds will be standing around in the infield as they did on Friday. Apparently, the TNT infield rig is just for Sundays. Matt Yocum and Ralph Sheheen will also be walking around pit road as reporters for the session.
NASCAR qualifying will not be the first live racing of the day on SPEED. At 8:30AM the network begins an unprecedented effort to provide coverage of the entire 24 Hours of LeMans, including a pre and post-race show. The coverage will begin on SPEED and then move to SPEEDtv.com when Pocono qualifying begins.
The picture above is of the LeMans entry that will be piloted by Micheal Waltrip and two other drivers. The car starts 15th in the GTE Pro Class and will grid in the 44th overall position. The Ferrari 458 Italia is the only car in the field with three rookies as the driving team. As with everything else Waltrip does, this should be interesting to watch.
After the Le Mans and Pocono programs, SPEED continues with qualifying coverage of the Canadian F-1 Grand Prix at 2PM ET. Next, it's back to Le Mans with continuous coverage until 8PM. Then, it's time for the ARCA folks to race at Pocono, even though the race is same-day delayed. No lights at the big triangle.
There is an hour of AMA Motocross scheduled at 10PM and then the big block of live Le Mans programming returns as the night gives way to the day and one of the most spectacular finishes in motorsports.
This post will serve to host your comments on the big day of motorsports TV on Saturday. There are plenty of NASCAR connections running throughout these programs and the motorsports world is ultimately very small. To add your comments, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Nothing brings the disparity of what is vs. what could be more into focus than these next six Sprint Cup Series races. TNT and Turner Sports have been pushing the online video envelope over the past several years, but this summer is going to be off the chart.
Monday the details began coming out about the TNT races, but the real item that grabbed hardcore fans was the Internet expansion. FOX just completed its portion of the Sprint Cup Series season without any online video and it looks like the final seventeen races on ESPN will be the same way.
Meanwhile, this summer Turner will use the NASCAR.com website to launch a newly renovated RaceBuddy application. Once again provided free of charge, here are the details from the media release:
This season, fans can choose from a total of ten camera views, twice as many as last year,including two Mosaics. Eight individual camera angles include four In-Car Driver Cams, up from one cam last year, two Battle Cams highlighting head-to-head competition between drivers, a Backstretch Cam and a Pit Road Cam. The two Mosaic Views allow fans to view four streams at once. Returning features to the site include the DVR Function, an Enhanced LIVE Leaderboard and RaceView’s position tracker.
The availability of these additional video resources is coupled with a live online chat that can integrate users from all the major social media sites. It should be interesting to see the new layout of the page and just how many fans come to the site for RaceBuddy chat.
There are a couple of details to be discussed. There will be no live pit reporter assigned to RaceBuddy this season. That took away from the live TV broadcast. TNT will instead continue to be interactive during the races on Twitter, Facebook and the NASCAR.com website.
A couple of big additions will be having a second battle-cam. The biggest complaint we get at TDP from fans is that the Sprint Cup Series networks stay at the very front of the pack with coverage and do not look for the best racing on the track.
Battle-cam lets online viewers watch endlessly the best battles on the track regardless of position. Now, there will be two different cameras each chasing the best battles throughout the entire field. That is really going to make a big difference.
Turner got great feedback from last season about carrying the in-car cameras with both video and audio from the team radios on RaceBuddy. To have the total increased to four in-car cams for every race is going to give fans a lot of choices.
The idea of RaceBuddy is to be an online addition to the TV race coverage. This is not the TV race streamed online, but a tool provided free of charge to enhance the telecast. It's a really interesting concept that has been met with very positive reaction by fans.
Like everything these days, technical issues chase RaceBuddy around. Prior to this weekend's race, we will offer an updated list of preferred browsers for this application and whether or not iPad users will be able to access the live video this summer.
This is not a smart phone app. Sprint has its own updated version of that for the sport as a part of the title sponsorship. Lots of video is made available, including shows from SPEED on the weekend and live scanner audio.
For those of you asking about the TNT on-air team, here is the information:
TNT returns its marquee announce crew with analysts Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach joining play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander in the booth. Veteran reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider and Matt Yocum will be joined by Chris Neville, a ten-year veteran motorsports reporter, on pit road. In addition, Lindsay Czarniak will once again host the network’s 60-minute pre-race show, with Petty and McReynolds joining her on the TNT rig along with special guests each week.
The challenge for fans this season is going to be getting all the available technology sorted out before the TNT races. Some folks suggest using two computers and one TV, while more sophisticated types reminded us that RaceBuddy can be plugged into most HD-TV's to really get the full experience.
It is going to be interesting to get your opinion after the Sunday Pocono race of just how much this online content will change the way you "watch" the race at your home. Please feel free to offer your comments on this post about TNT and RaceBuddy.
To add 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Friday, June 10, 2011
Here we go with a stand-alone truck race from the Texas Motor Speedway. This week, the trucks are racing with the IndyCar Series although Danica is not doing the doubleheader.
It's a smaller field of 35 trucks, so everyone who towed all the way to Dallas made the race. There are no big Sprint Cup Series names, so it could be a very different kind of TV event.
Rick Allen will call the race with Phil Parsons while Michael Waltrip is in Le Mans preparing for this big 24 hour race that can be seen on SPEED Saturday morning. Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler are patrolling pit road.
This is a production of SPEED's truck series team, so expect a solid telecast with good pictures and a focus on the racing. This TV team is still trying to figure out how to include social media in the telecast. Sadler and Dunlap updated on Twitter from the pits and Allen sends tweets in the commercials during the race. It's a start.
This post will serve to host your comments about the coverage of the race by SPEED. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
It's that time of the year again to dig out a little money for a good cause and get some racing in return. Wednesday night is the seventh year for the Prelude to the Dream charity race from Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Eldora is a little half-mile track that lets NASCAR fans take a look at some of their favorite drivers interacting in a very different way and driving Late Model Stock Cars on dirt. Pretty much, it's a blast.
Here is the complete list of drivers who will be participating: Justin Allgaier, Aric Almirola, Marcos Ambrose, Clint Bowyer, Kyle Busch, Ron Capps (NHRA), Ricky Carmichael, Austin Dillon, Carl Edwards, Bill Elliott, Ray Evernham, David Gilliland, Denny Hamlin, Ron Hornaday, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Tony Kanaan (IndyCar), Matt Kenseth, Bobby Labonte, Jason Leffler, Ryan Newman, Cruz Pedregon (NHRA), David Reutiman, Keny Schrader, Tony Stewart, Brian Vickers, Kenny Wallace and JJ Yeley.
There are four charities that benefit from the dollars raised by the PPV telecast:
Levine Children’s Hospital in Charlotte, N.C.
Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, GA.
St. Louis Children’s Hospital of St. Louis, MO.
Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, TX.
The format is pretty simple. The guys get hot laps, qualify and then run in heats that lead to a main. The track is tipped 24 degrees in the corner and 8 on the straights. The reason this is called the Prelude is because there is another feature race called The Dream that runs at Eldora later in the season.
Basically, first up is a preview show on your cable or satellite PPV channels that lets you locate the right channel and then use your remote or telephone to order. The DirecTV channel is 121 and DISH is 455. The preview should be running at 7:30PM ET. The charity event is $24.95 and gives you a show from 8PM through midnight Eastern or the conclusion of the feature race. It also re-airs for those authorized.
The TV folks donate their time for this one. It's ESPN's Marty Reid in the booth with Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds from FOX. Matt Yocum hosts the event while Dick Berggren and Junior's crew chief Steve Letarte are the pit reporters. Veteran Pam Miller who is currently the Pit Producer for NASCAR on FOX will produce the telecast.
This is a fast track. Stewart holds the qualifying record at 116.8mph. The speedway seats about 23 thousand and it is always packed for this night. It's just a nice glimpse into the reality of short-track racing. DW has driven the water truck before, Tony runs around checking the track as the owner and the fans do the wave.
Click here for the official Prelude to the Dream website. There is a little more info and some videos that offer a look at the participants.
Happy to have your comments on this topic as well as reaction to the telecast. 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 stopping by.
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Tuesdays are normally when NASCAR penalties are announced, but just like the incident itself, things were a bit different when it came to veteran owner Richard Childress. That is Childress above shown speaking to fellow owner Joe Gibbs.
After already exonerating Kyle Busch in the weekend tussle, the sanctioning body announced on Monday the penalties for Childress. It was a 150 thousand dollar fine and probation for the rest of this season. That drew a quick response from both the fans and the media.
Click here to read SBNation's Jeff Gluck and his column titled "NASCAR Flubs Penalty Call By Not Suspending Childress." Meanwhile, click here to read Jeff Hammond over at FOX Sports who posted "NASCAR Goes Too Far Against Childress."
On the social media side, things were plenty busy on Twitter.
"I wonder if Pop Pop will get a senior citizen discount on his fine?" tweeted Austin Dillon.
"According to Forbes, Richard Childress Racing has a value of $158 million and last year made a $5.9 million profit. A $150,000 fine for RCR isn't going to harm them too much. Just as Childress' punches didn't harm Kyle Busch. They could probably make that up with an RCR golden gloves diecast," tweeted SPEED.com Editor-in-chief Tom Jensen.
"Only issue like this from RC we have ever had. Long-standing member. Don't see it repeating. Kyle fans unhappy/RC fans unhappy. That's understood, it's our job to make decisions, not always popular but part of it. Thanks for the feedback," offered NASCAR VP of Operations Steve O'Donnell on Twitter.
On the TV side, NASCAR Now on ESPN2 was up first. Host Allen Bestwick seemed rather surprised by some of the strong opinions expressed by his panelists on the show.
"I think it (the penalty) might have been a little bit light," said panelist Ricky Craven. "What if Kyle Busch had been injured or somehow wasn't able to race the next day? That's why a precedent has to be set. Drivers accept the risk of what they do on the racetrack, but Richard was not on the racetrack."
"We heard Mike Helton talk about the severity of these things that go on," said Johnny Benson. "I really thought he was going to get some races (off). This is kind of different with an owner getting involved, he's lucky."
"After a man tears my race cars up so many times, I might just go kick his ass," said Tim Brewer. "I'm tired of hearing about the drivers. Richard Childress does not sell cars, he sells racing. He is a dedicated person to that and I don't blame him for what he did."
The second and final TV series of the day was RaceHub on SPEED hosted by Steve Byrnes. Larry McReynolds and Elliott Sadler are the usual Monday panelists.
"Joey Coulter, he has struggled a little bit this year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," said McReynolds. "He finishes fifth and there is not a mark on that truck and Kyle Busch door-slams it after the checkered flag and puts a lot of damage on it. I just think it pushed Richard Childress over the edge."
"I do know for a fact," continued McReynolds. "He (Childress) told Kyle Busch if you want to confront my driver on my race team that's fine but leave the race car out of it. I felt like 150 thousand dollars was a little strong."
"I think when he (Busch) pulled up and ran into the side of the 22 after the race, it just sent him (Childress) over the top," said Elliott Sadler. "Honestly, as a driver, if my owner is going to stick his neck out on the line for me like that it says a lot for Richard Childress as a person and an owner."
"Honestly, I would love to race for a team owner like that," continued Sadler. "It's like all for one and one for all when you are messing with RCR. It's always been like that."
You can use the links on the right side of this page to read more on this topic from NASCAR websites and blogs. It was interesting to see the various opinions being offered on this rather unique topic.
What we are looking for is your take on how the media handled the Childress suspension and how you got the news about this topic. It was a Monday theme on TV, radio and online. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
Monday, June 6, 2011
Joseph R. "Joe" Mannix worked the Los Angeles beat as a private detective in the 1970's. TV viewers loved the fact that he was just a regular guy. He was of Armenian heritage and fought in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. He was hard to impress, tough as nails and loved to mix it up with the bad guys.
This week, the big news was a dust-up in the garage area after the Saturday truck series race. On Sunday, the track was going to be slippery and the weather was going to be very hot. Tempers had the potential to boil.
Before the race, Chris Myers hosted a rather rowdy pre-race show featuring Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip. When Waltrip gets fired-up he stays fired-up. Myers directed some traffic and Hammond made some good points. But Waltrip was the show.
FOX also offered the feature on Jamie McMurray visiting Joplin, MO that had been seen on ESPN2's NASCAR Now and SPEED's Race Hub. Great heartfelt story.
Waltrip got "Revved Up" about those who have passion for the sport. Richard Childress was his example although he actually included Kyle Busch in the same rant. His point was that real feelings and emotions still had a place in a sport now dominated by polite drivers with marketing agendas.
Kyle Busch appeared with Matt Yocum and repeated the content from an earlier interview with Wendy Venturini on SPEED. Polite answers to all the questions about the incident, confirming he did not participate and was the victim. In both interviews, Busch made a point to remove his sunglasses so TV viewers could see he did not have a black eye as reported earlier.
The FOX coverage of a track like Kansas starts strong and then hits a groove that many know all too well. The cars are strung out, there is little real racing and rarely is a caution flag caused by an accident. In this event there were several cautions for debris like water bottles and trash on the track.
The race quickly settled down into what was destined to become a gas mileage race. Larry McReynolds was great in keeping viewers up to speed on strategies. Waltrip was not in that loop and just observed.
FOX followed the usual script of hyper-tight coverage with two or three cars on the screen. Replays were again used for every item being discussed, including passes under green that were missed due to poor coverage. FOX has lived on replays this season.
The pit reporters worked well but were not used down the stretch very well. Final fuel stops were called, but the best team of pit reporters on TV was not allowed to offer strategy updates or opinions. It was a tough way to close out the season.
FOX ran one split-screen late, sped up the ticker a bit and tried to use multiple video boxes at critical times to show multiple races. The weather stayed good, the suspense at the end was over fuel and the finish was a bit anti-climactic.
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Sunday, June 5, 2011
Everyone knows if you are about to get in a fight the first thing you save is your watch. Richard Childress reportedly took his off and headed for Kyle Busch in the Camping World Truck Series garage after Saturday's race.
Here is the rest of the story from SBNation's Jeff Gluck:
Upon approaching the driver, Childress – a 65-year-old grandfather – initiated the altercation without a discussion, placing Busch in a headlock and punching him two or three times. Busch then went to the ground in a defensive position to avoid further injury, but Childress attempted to punch Busch again after he rose.
Busch had a tough race, was upset about the changes he made to his own truck and was then raced hard for fifth position by Joey Coulter, who drives for Childress. Coulter basically put a mini-slide job on Busch on the last corner to take the fifth position. There was no contact involved.
On the cool down lap, Busch pulled alongside of Coulter and made contact. Busch apparently did not like Coulter's final lap pass. Both the original final lap pass and the later dust-up on the track were shown by SPEED, the network televising the event.
Most fans were long gone to either Nationwide Series qualifying coverage on ESPN2 or Grand Am sports cars racing on SPEED immediately after the truck race was over. Childress was not watching either, as he apparently had some unfinished business with Busch.
As word of the altercation got around, details from reporters were scarce. SPEED's Ray Dunlap was the first to use social media for an update.
This from Dunlap on Twitter:
Hot news from the track. Grandpa Childress put a whipping on Kyle Busch in the truck garage. Look for big sun glasses on kubu Sunday.
During the Nationwide Series pre-race show on ESPN, host Allen Bestwick made a small comment about the incident and directed fans to tune into NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 9AM on Sunday morning. In today's world of instant communication, that just did not wash.
Over on SPEED, the host of Speed Center Adam Alexander had truck series analyst Phil Parsons call into the show. All Parsons could do was relate what he had heard and recap the history between Childress and the Busch brothers. For the network that carried the race, it was not a good effort.
Once the Nationwide Series race was over, SportsCenter took to the air. It was very clear that someone in upper management had forced the stick-and-ball boys to put NASCAR highlights and stories first. They were not happy about it.
On-air talent John Anderson presented dreadful highlights of the race which included the same awkward mistakes Marty Reid made when calling the finish live. The end result was NASCAR being made to look like a bunch of redneck idiots who run out of gas.
Moments later, Anderson got NASCAR Now Lead Reporter Marty Smith on the phone for an update on the Childress incident. Anderson, who gleefully calls big hits in NFL games, fights in hockey games and loves a good base-brawl was appalled by the behavior of Childress.
Anderson simply could not understand why these NASCAR types could not just get along. Luckily, Smith is a veteran of such nonsense at ESPN and took his sweet time explaining exactly what fans wanted to hear but the SportsCenter anchors could not absorb.
The confirmation of just how much SportsCenter hates NASCAR was clear when the awful segment was over and some baseball highlights popped-up. "Now, we got some baseball!!," Anderson screamed. His long four minute NASCAR nightmare was finally over.
It will be Shannon Spake hosting the Sunday morning edition of NASCAR Now with Smith and Nicole Briscoe reporting from Kansas. This is the first NASCAR show on Sunday, so it should be interesting to watch exactly how the Childress news is presented.
NASCAR has been completely quiet on the issue, saying that the organization is gathering facts and investigating the incident. While Tuesdays are the normal NASCAR penalty day, that is more for infractions involving cars and equipment. If the sanctioning body acts overnight, it could make for a busy news morning.
NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED is up at 10:30AM. This will give Kyle Petty an opportunity to offer his views on the subject while Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler will do the reporting. Kenny Wallace is also on the program, but his wild rants recently have left his credibility in the dust.
By the time FOX comes on the air at 12:30PM, fans will have been exposed to three hours of pre-race programming. The words Kyle Busch and Richard Childress will have been said many times. It should be very interesting to see how FOX chooses to begin this final race telecast for the network in 2011.
This post will serve to host your comments on the Sunday pre-race shows on ESPN2 and SPEED. We will open the live race blog for comments on FOX. To add your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. We are not asking about the incident, but your reaction to media coverage of it.
Thanks as always for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.