Tuesday, August 2, 2011

NASCAR TV's New Lightning Rod


Darrell Waltrip is home on the couch sending out tweets. Sometimes, he makes videos on NASCAR topics in his home office. Where Waltrip is not these days is national television. Through the FOX races and then on SPEED's RaceDay show, Waltrip was NASCAR TV's lightning rod. Now, the torch has been passed.

Several years ago ESPN moved Rusty Wallace from the TV booth to the infield pit studio. Dale Jarrett had arrived and taken over the role of lead analyst. The move was a good one for Wallace.

In the controlled confines of the infield, Wallace could exhibit his passion for the sport and still get fired-up on topics while under the watchful eye of TV veteran and infield host Allen Bestwick. In this role, Wallace could offer instant reactions to topics within the races and still be part of the overall telecast.

The past several seasons have also seen Wallace continue to work in the TV booth as an analyst during the Nationwide Series portion of the ESPN season. These appearances occur on the weekends when Jarrett is on vacation or there is a standalone race away from the Sprint Cup Series venue.

Having an active Nationwide Series multi-car team owner in the TV booth as the lead analyst for a race in the same series has never been a good idea. ESPN has continually defended Wallace and recently extended his contract with the network until 2014.

Back in July of 2007 as Wallace announced his expansion to a two car Nationwide Series effort, he said that his contract with ESPN forbid him to be an owner in the Sprint Cup Series. Since his Nationwide (Busch) effort was already underway, it was permitted to continue.

It was in 2009 when ESPN vice president of motorsports Rich Feinberg spoke with reporter Jeff Gluck, who was then working at scenedaily.com, about the topic of Wallace on TV.

"We’re not trying to hide that Rusty is an owner," Feinberg said. "When you hear the guys talk with him about it costing him money, it’s quite the opposite. As long as we are up front with our viewers right from the beginning about their other interests and if in our opinion their commentary doesn’t have that bias, then we’re OK."

Feinberg told Gluck that Wallace's presence on the broadcasts benefits viewers to the point that it outweighs these issues which Feinberg referred to as "interests outside of their journalistic interests."

"Have there been times where there’s been an uncomfortable moment? If I’m being honest, I’d say yes," Feinberg said. "We talk about those and try to move on, but the key is not to hide it."

In closing with Gluck, Feinberg spoke about an issue that is now on the front burner. "The audience is the ultimate judge," Feinberg said. "The audience judges our work, our ethics and our credibility on a daily basis by whether they choose to watch us or not. That’s who we do this for."

Saturday night, Wallace found himself in the ESPN TV booth working the Nationwide Series race with Marty Reid and Ricky Craven. At Lucas Oil Raceway, the rumor was that payback was coming for Rusty's son Steven after some rough driving in the last race.

In the pre-race show, Rusty did his best to smooth things over sounding a lot more like a nervous owner than an analyst. Craven was not too sure that the hard feelings about the younger Wallace and his aggressive driving style had passed. It made for some interesting moments.

Wallace had already found himself on the hotseat this season several times after appearances in the TV booth. The most recent was Nashville, where his son was involved in on-track incidents with Jason Leffler, Joey Logano, Brian Scott and Elliott Sadler.

The night included a replay of Wallace hooking Leffler and spinning him out that was explained on the air by the senior Wallace as Leffler moving up on the track to cause the incident. Steven later admitted after the race he got frustrated and sent Leffler for a ride.

Saturday night, the younger Wallace failed to slow for an accident on the track and caused a red flag after demolishing his own car and hitting two others. The senior Wallace placed the blame on a tap from driver James Beuscher that ESPN conveniently showed several times in replay.

After the race the younger Wallace admitted to trying to slow down and locked up the brakes. He said it was just a racing deal. Once again, the comments from the driver just did not match what was offered on national TV by the analyst.

Monday on ESPN2's NASCAR Now, the elder Wallace was a panelist along with Jarrett on a show hosted by Bestwick. In a surreal moment, the video highlights of Saturday's Nationwide Series race were edited to make it appear as if the bump from Beuscher directly caused the Wallace accident.

ESPN even inserted a loud crunching sound over the video of the bump to make it seem as if Beuscher propelled Wallace directly into the other cars. To add insult to injury, Rusty was never asked about his son's accident that brought out a red flag or any other issues involving his driving.

This weekend the Nationwide Series heads to Iowa Speedway, a track that Wallace helped to design and in which he has an ownership stake. It's interesting that the ESPN announcer schedule released Monday shows Ricky Craven and Kenny Schrader working the race with Reid.

Wallace is scheduled for the infield studio in Pocono for the Sprint Cup Series weekend. In many ways, this may be perfect timing to get a little distance built up between Wallace, the Nationwide Series and the TV booth.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below.

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Again, you have laid it out so well JD. It amazes me that espn thinks we buy the bs they are spewing on this one. Rusty should have never been allowed to have such a major role in nationwide - that is just stupidity and a lack of integrity on management's part. Then to spin it like espn has, that just shows they know they screwed up and are trying to cover their behinds. But, we have to understand that integrity and espn are two separate ideas. See Maya Moore and espn for another failure of integrity. MC

OSBORNK said...

"Feinberg said. "The audience judges our work, our ethics and our credibility on a daily basis by whether they choose to watch us or not."

He clearly doesn't understand. Many of us watch in spite of and not because of their work, ethics or credibility. We suffer through the Wallaces and Waltrips of the world to see the races. They could save money and increase their audience by sending the clowns home.

James said...

There comes a time when the grand experiement finally explodes in your face. The time has come for Rusty, DW his brother Michael and Larry Mac to go away. They have become expendable.

GinaV24 said...

I'll be up front about this. I didn't like Rusty as a driver, I don't like Rusty as an analyst.

Having him in the booth while his son is out there driving makes me just as annoyed as when DW and Mikey are in the booth showing their bias.

Essentially his comments lack credibility and it is disingenuous of ESPN to slant things so that it appears to be someone else's fault other than the driver who was at fault because THEY choose to have him in the booth.

I do my best to ignore Rusty and Brad, for that matter, when they open their mouths. All that comes out is noise, no substance.

Ziggy said...

Seems that RW doesn't mind lookin like a fool and ESPN doesn't mind condoning this arrangement.

Maybe they think we're wearing blindfolds and stick fingers in our ears when these "racing deals" occur?

It's not good broadcasting.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Today's previous comments reflect my sentiments exactly ...the Waltrip/Wallace scenarios typify the failure of current NASCAR leadership to safeguard the integrity of the sport ...on-the-track, fluidity of situations dictate reactions and rulings, but seem credible ...However,off the track a disregard for fans' interest has become apparent and calls into question the veracity of presentations (i.e. - broadcasts) ...time to find the next generation of 'keepers of the flame'
Walter

Z-Dog said...

"right now Rusty Wallace should be removed from the booth...Right Now...I can not believe he continues to be allowed "right now" after bascially every sentence...then on Satuday night the lead guy started using it too...I thought Ricky Craven did a great job...but the "right now" brothers need to go

Bruce Ciskie said...

ESPN has done an awful job handling this, but they don't get all the blame.

I watch a lot of football. Lots. For a number of years, I watched Brian Griese play quarterback for Michigan, and Bob Griese -- his father -- worked more than a few of those games for ESPN/ABC.

I maintain to this day that in 90-95 percent of cases, the average viewer wouldn't have known that the two were related were it not disclosed. Bob Griese did a fantastic job IMO of simply doing his job and staying away from potential controversies.

Simply put, he was a pro about it.

Rusty Wallace is clearly incapable of that. He can't put his personal biases aside, and it stains everything he says about the race.

Putting him in the studio for Cup races doesn't help much, because he is generally terrible at his job. But at least it gets him away from a situation where he carries absolutely zero credibility with even a relative NASCAR novice like myself.

David Dubczak said...

Rusty is not a journalist, he is an analyst. His job is not to tell a story in an impartial manner; his job is to give the viewer insight as to what is happening based on his years of experience on the "inside" - insight that the viewer cannot necessarily get from simply watching what is happening. Owning a team gives him more of an insight as an analyst .

It's little different from when Ned Jarrett was the analyst in the series in which his son was winning championships, or when DW an analyst while his brother was racing. The "Dale and Dale Show" is now one of the greatest moments in racing!

52 yr. fan said...

ESPN and NA$CAR are making big bucks from 5 Hour with car and
race sponsorship. They could care
less about Rusty's inablility to
articulate an original thought.
He is just like DW, who had a Toyota truck named after him; Larry Mac, hawking Hedrick dealerships; Mikey pushing Aaron's,
etc. Osborne K stated it best: "We
watch in spite of, not because of."
And they still can't figure out why
TV is losing viewership.

Garry said...

I spoke about it yesterday, and it bears repeating: TNT 's ratings are up over everyone elses' including FOX. That said, the public have spoken: GET RID OF DW. I was screaming at the t.v the other night when Rusty tried blaming Buesher instead of his own weapon out on the track.Is the talent pool that thin in NASCAR world, that we are relegated to a clown in the first half (which, by the way, I think paid the Pastor in Nashville)and an angry biased owner in the second half? Thank God for Kyle Petty. And Larry Mac by himself is a consumate professional. But every February, we all get taken to Kindergarten by FOX. I have my own slogan: Shut uppity, Shut uppity, shut uppity!

allisong said...

Glad you put this column up. When it was announced recently that Rusty had purchased an ownership stake in the Iowa Speedway, he did an interview with Dave Moody on SIRIUS. He did not hide the fact that his first objective is to get a Sprint Cup date for that track. It was discussed where that might come from, and while they did not outright name them, it was clear they were talking about Dover and/or Pocono.

For that reason, I feel that Rusty should be given the weekends off when they race at those tracks, because there is no way he can fairly "analyze" a race at a track that he wants to see lose a race. I don't care whether he's in the booth or the infield studio, all it would take would be for him to make one comment about the racing being "single file", or the race not having enough "action" for me to want to see him yanked.

Bud Select said...

Doesn't ESPN realize (or care) how uncomfortable it is for us to watch Rusty try to cover for his immature and minimally-talented son almost every week? I have some sympathy for Rusty; he's in an awkward situation (of his own making). To me, if ESPN feels the need to doctor the video of Steven's latest misadventure to take the heat off Rusty, there's obviously a problem that needs to be addressed. As long as Steven is out there banging around, Rusty should be limited to the pre-race studio.

Daly Planet Editor said...

If you submitted a comment and it was not posted, please rephrase it and try again.

matriarch said...

I repeat what I've said many times. No person in the booth should be a car owner or have any affiliation with a sponsor or car brand.

Anonymous said...

DW is biased toward 4 drivers who cause an incident every race. Wallace is biased toward 1 driver who causes 4 incidents every race. Which is worse?

matriarch said...

BTW, no driver current driver should be in the booth either.

allisong said...

One other thing, I didn't see the NASCAR Now segment you refer to, but I will throw out there that I have seen them add sound effects to race highlights before. They do seem to like the sound of metal crunching. Take that for what its worth.

And I seem to recall Steven said he actually tried to "gas it up" to avoid the wreck, which adds another level of idiocy to the situation.

KoHoSo said...

Another sports media blog that I very much like, Awful Announcing, posted an article about a similar situation involving another ESPN analyst with an involved son in the sport he covers, Craig James. In the quote below, just replace Craig's name with Rusty's and it's the same thing...and an issue ESPN needs to address if it has any desire to recover its journalistic credibility.

In a sense, Craig James is symbolic of something bigger than awful announcing. James represents the idea of using power and privilege to corrupt and mislead. Ironically, it stands for the most un-American and un-Texan values one can imagine. I would rather have Joe Buck and Tim McCarver talk about nothing for three hours than be lied to through the media. Give me boring announcers or botch after botch instead of somebody with no credibility.

Anonymous said...

I understand the credibility of many in the booths when they have strong biases. What about so many shifty sponsors that are all over cars & gross commercials. Latest fraud sponsor to hit Nascar, is Extense.Yet I've not seen a peep about that anywhere.Accused of fraud cause their pills don't work.
The credibility of NASCAR went out the window when these adds show up all over the sport, along w family calling the races from the booth. There is not stopping this train. It was Nascar/Fox's idea starting w DW when they got the contract, wasn't it?


Rusty's son Steve does make an art out of crashing/wrecking which must create awkward feelings for father watching son.I'm just surprised this hasn't become a bigger issue before now. Then again, it's all over SPEED & family members reporting on races.
On the other hand, I greatly enjoy Kyle Petty & many think he is biased. So what do I know.

GinaV24 said...

David, the difference between the way Ned Jarrett handled things in the booth versus the way Rusty does things are night and day. Even when he was asked to call those final laps of the Daytona 500 win, he apologized afterward because he felt that he had overstepped between being a father and a professional.

I doubt that Rusty or DW even knows there is a line.

Justin said...

Dear Mr. Editor,

I write this comment to you directly aware that it will not get posted to this blog.

This article is nothing more than your continued personal campaign against Rusty Wallace at ESPN. Through your comments here on this site and on Twitter, your agenda has been abundantly clear.

I do not criticize you for this personal view however; it is perfectly acceptable to dislike any TV personality for any reason at all, legitimate or otherwise. I do criticize your constant attempts to coat your personal distaste for this analyst with some notion of journalism. In an article criticizing biases, journalist should be aware of their own.

Furthermore, your title reeks of the sensationalism you often deride in reality television shows.

I know it is a simple matter to not visit this site or not read tweets, however, just as ESPN is the only source for watching the race on Sunday, this site is the only forum for discussion of NASCAR television coverage.

I write this to you in hopes of clarity for all our personal agendas in this discussion.

Sincerely,

Justin (a Rusty Wallace fan)

KoHoSo said...

Anonymous 12:58...playing off of and adding to your great comment...

Everybody has bias as we all have our own experiences that shape how we look at things. To me it's a matter of being honest about it and making a true effort to be as balanced as possible. As an example, I think Kyle Petty comes close to that as he is so often willing to say he was wrong about a previous statement. Obviously, not only is Rusty unwilling to do that, but he has ESPN helping to cover up his bias with deceitful editing and the adding of sound effects to a replay of a key incident in which he has a financial and emotional stake.

Darcie said...

ESPN has a history of this stuff. Nepotism must be the word that represents the N in ESPN. Rusty Wallace has been nothing short of an apologist (and some might say a downright liar) for his son's lack of driving skill, and ESPN condones it. Craig James basically got Mike Leach, the football coach from Texas Tech, fired because James voiced his anger at the alleged mistreatment of his son at the hands of Leach. You have Darrell Waltrip being a cheerleader for his brother and his brother's race teams. And like the other poster said, you have Bob Griese and his son at Michigan.

ESPN's lack of integrity seems to be the gold standard for this network. While they don't seem to have a problem with blatant nepotism, they sure don't seem to mind macho man attitude nor sexism run rampant at the Bristol studios.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Justin,

Did you miss this part?

"In the controlled confines of the infield, Wallace could exhibit his passion for the sport and still get fired-up on topics while under the watchful eye of TV veteran and infield host Allen Bestwick. In this role, Wallace could offer instant reactions to topics within the races and still be part of the overall telecast."

ESPN made a very positive move that worked for both the network and Wallace by moving him into the infield.

The topic today is the continued used of Wallace as the lead analyst on Nationwide Series telecasts. It would perhaps be very different if he was not a team owner and his son was not driving, but that is the reality.

Rusty Wallace and I are the same age. I first saw him driving USAC stocks on dirt and then win the ASA championship long before his NASCAR days.

During my time at ESPN in the 1980's and then working on NASCAR shows after that, Wallace was always polite and cooperative.

Move him out of the booth and keep him away from Nationwide Series telecasts and things will change quickly.

Unfortunately, his own words and actions this season have caused the current TV mess. If you click around the Internet, you will see many other stories on this same topic. TDP is absolutely not the only website that talks NASCAR TV.

Thanks for your comment.

JD

Jim said...

@ Justin (a Rusty Wallace fan)

Really? REALLY?? How I wish I were the "question writer" doing prep for the next ESPN broadcast that Rusty Wallace works.

I'd be looking for the honest, accountable, unbiased answer to this (a typical pit reporter question at times), "Mr. Wallace...sir...how does it feel to have two cars demolished in the same wreck? Er...more than once...in a season...or since forming your racing operation?"

TDP: Keep up the good work. Conflict of Interest is conflict of interest. The late Howard Cosell called athlete-based expert colour commentary into question more than 30 years ago (I believe his book was called "I Never Played the Game"), eventually concluding that the "jock-ocracy" was ultimately taking over sports broadcasting, and pushing out of the broadcast booth, those who have not only talent, but journalistic training and scruples to report facts and avoid unfair comment. In race broadcasting, some are clearly better than others (don't get me started on good grammar!) but I don't disrespect their applying racing experiences to the broadcast...Craven is one of the best 'new' voices from that world. Even as a witness to nationwide races, some pictures (video) offer evidence that is too clear to overlook...unless you'd rather not look at it, and hope no one else notices.

Jim2 (a lifelong racing AND broadcasting fan).

Anonymous said...

Justin, obviously since you are a Rusty fan you will see things differently than people who are non biased and who try to be fair.

In my mind, (and I could definitely be wrong) the whole situation is out of control with Wallace and the Waltrips. The reason being: They shape the fans of the future and their bias does create a situation where new fans and really young fans don't know what real racing is or who the real talented race car drivers are. They also bend the actual facts and blame some drivers when they truly are not at fault which really messes with the perception of what racing is all about. This is sad for the future of stock car racing. Example: Kyle Busch is a talented and good driver, but he is hated due to his personality and the way a lot of so called journalists portray him.

If people disagree with my opinions, so be it but that does not mean I do not respect their opinion. JD always presents a fair article and it is the first place I go when I click on Jayski.

Thank you.
GA Red

old97fan said...

My history with Rusty Wallace goes back to his days in Rolla MO AND his racing at the Fairgrounds in Springfield Mo. I've never seen him be rude to anyone (except another driver who ticked him off). The one thing you learn real quick about the Wallace's including their parents. It doesn't matter how obvious the mistake or wrongdoing a family member makes-they are never wrong. You will never get an admission of guilt by them or about their family-their unvarnished bias and "ours don't stink" goes beyond the pale. We saw this many times when Kenny did his show and Rusty is continueing the tradition-especially as it relates to his kid.

While I agree that Rusty is there to supply color and inside knowledge, that is useless if he can't disseminate facts in a truthful way. You will never, ever get an attempt by a Wallace to analyze truthfully any of their actions on track or an honest apology when confronted with contradictory facts. As such, aside from the way he rubs a lot of people wrong, his problem with the truth as it relates to family and what little friends he has should preclude him from ever being in the booth.

Bruce Ciskie said...

Darcie-

The Griese situation, as I pointed out, was totally different for a number of reasons. For starters, Bob handled it with professionalism and grace. He even criticized his son when he felt it was warranted, and he referred to him by last name only, just as he would any other player.

If Rusty Wallace were capable of this type of above-the-board professionalism, there's little doubt in my mind that I wouldn't have a problem with his presence on Nationwide broadcasts.

I understand those who say that no one should ever be in the position Bob Griese was in, and that Rusty Wallace is in now. I don't think it's that simple. Some people can handle it. But if you're going to be like ESPN and handle this stuff case-by-case, you have to understand when someone can't handle it.

Instead, he practically cheerleads for his son, makes excuses when his son screws up, and tries to pass the blame on others whenever possible.

That's the opposite of professionalism, and why Rusty Wallace has no business on the Nationwide broadcasts in any form.

(No one can deny the guy knows racing, and he has enough contacts in the sport to provide relevant commentary. That's not the problem. His inability or unwillingness to separate his head from his heart is.)

Anonymous said...

I think Osbornk stated it really well. The conflicts of interest are bad enough, but Rusty is a lousy broadcaster. He's been out of the seat so long, he can't lend credibility to what's happening with these new cars. His grammar is only a shade better then Larry Mac's. Many times, I thought he was just milking the announcing thing to finance the repair of his kid's car and to fly Stephen around. I wish Rusty and Kenny and the two Waltrips would just grab Tim Brewer and head off into the sunset!

Anonymous said...

I think Rusty is trying to be sincere. He may not get it right but he is not shooting a lot of bs like DW does. DW never drove this new car so we know darn well that the handling characteristics are something totally foreign to him, but to here him talk you would think he was out there every week.In my book that is total BS.I often remember an old saying that really applies to DW and that is "Bull S... Baffles Brains".He has his bosses at Fox buffaloed and they are not smart enough to smell the difference.

Darcie said...

Bruce I totally understand your comments regarding the professionalism of Bob Griese, but as a alum of two different Big 10 schools, neither being Michigan or Purdue, I have personally heard some very questionable broadcasting when Mr Griese was part of the NCAA broadcast team. It was obvious there was partiality towards the Michigan or Purdue (his alma mater) teams. I can't really fault that, as one's personal preferences towards one's school does tend to creep out. But, one must not forget that Mr Griese was suspended for what was termed a racist comment when his broadcast partner asked, after seeing an ABC plug for Nascar, where Montoya was in the standings. Mr Griese replied "out having a taco", a comment that got him suspended. Definitely not professional.

So while Mr Griese may have made admonishing comments about his son's play, unlike Rusty who looks at his son's racing prowess as that of Richard Petty, Mr Griese is not without his prejudices.

Sally said...

When Dale Jarret started racing while Nes was in the booth, I assumed he was a distant cousin of Ned's, not his son. This is because Ned never referred to him in any way vut impartially. He never gave any indication that it was his son out there, winning or crashing, until he was asked to 'call him home' in the 500. He is the perfect example that it is possible to have a vested interest in a driver or team, and not allow that to color your commentary. Unfortunately, these days that seem to not only be a lost art, but is actively discouraged by the TV networks.

GinaV24 said...

Jim, I was never a Cosell fan in particular, but I am going to have to try and find that book and read it since I agree with the concept for sure.

Old97fan - I think the mindset of the Wallace's and Waltrips is a lot like the Hatfield and McCoy's - they band together and facts don't matter - family does. That is fine in some things, but NOT fine when what I am looking for as a fan is unbiased broadcasting.

Providing "color" is one thing but if you are providing analysis, I expect it to be done with enough thought that I, as a fan, don't know more than the analyst does.

I am not an expert in broadcasting, but I've followed racing for long enough to know good from bad in the booth.

I've turned off a lot of NASCAR programming due to not being able to enjoy the personalities - I no longer watch race day - I'm not going to listen to Kenny "listen up race fans" tell me what I should think, I don't watch the pre-race on any of the networks, I watch trackside only when they have a guest on that I want to see and Fox broadcasts have the sound muted.

Having Rusty on the Nationwide races doesn't encourage me to tune in.

Dot said...

I couldn't wait to comment so I haven't read all the comments yet. Sorry if I'm redundant.

Rusty needs to go, NOW. His son is an embarrassment on the track. Rusty isn't even impartial. Reminds me of the parent who always says, "not my kid".

Blaming the 30 car for causing Stevie to plow into those cars stopped on the track is inexcusable. Is this the reason there was no direct replay of the two cars that wrecked before Stevie got into the mix? Are drivers trained to only slow down if the yellow is out? Can't they think for themselves? So they lose a spot on the track, better to be safe than sorry.

I did read Osbornk's comment and I totally agree with him/her.

Since NW races are only available on BSPN, how else can we see the race? I don't know if PRN/MRN play the races since I get neither station.

I think it's time for all owners in the booth/infield to go. Unless it's not their series.

As always JD, great column.

SnowdogBob said...

I think this would all be less of an issue if Rusty was a better announcer. With or without his son on the track he just doesn't have that special something that makes some a good broadcaster. DW has that something, and is a great personality to have around the sport, but his personal bias and boat anchor of a brother make them equally frustrating even if for very different reasons.

I would think right now Rusty needs the announcing gig to underwrite his two teams (that could save a lot of money on tires and repairs if they just start and parked). They certainly aren't contending for the championship and last time i looked Kenny Wallace is ahead of both in points (and public perception). No matter how smart a business guy rusty was during his driving years those teams have got to be bleeding cash and fast.

Rusty must be under incredible pressure with no good out:

- can't afford to run teams without the huge broadcaster paycheck

- can't get sponsorship without being in broadcast booth to guarantee coverage (and don't think sponsors don't take him being in the booth into heavy consideration)

- as a Dad can't go get a better driver for one car

- as a businessman can't go get a better driver for the other car because he'd give up the sponsor that doesn't care about performance

- as a dad likes having an underperforming second car so his son looks better

- and with his huge ego (like any former star athlete would have) he wouldn't want to admit the mistake

Expecting Rusty to step away from the announcing gig is like asking someone to volutarily give up their job because someone else needs the paycheck more. It's not gonna happen. He tries his best to be a good announcer and an impartial announcer, he's just not very good at either.

ESPN has to shoulder the blame, they EXTENDED his contract, now we have no way of knowing (or maybe we do) if Rusty took a paycut (or maybe already took one when he lost the "Face of ESPN NASCAR" job a few years back and he became more a fill-in here and there. But ESPN is the only one that's going to fix this (and I don't know that they care or recognize it as an issue)

If they don't think Carl being in the booth is an issue how could they have an issue with Rusty. Personally I've found Carl EXCELLENT in the booth given his situation and have found him as objective as possible and if that doesn't change I'd rather support that than continuing Rusty in his role.

I fully expect to spend as much of the weekend as possible Pocono bashing, he's been doing it as long as he's seen it as a place to steal a date from. I presume he gets a finders free if/when it works. (Just Kidding...but not really since the value of his ownership stake is effectively that finders fee)

Dot said...

I'm now reading the comments. I'd like to reply to David Dubczak. I didn't watch nascar when Ned was in the booth however, I've seen the Dale & Dale Show clip. The next week Ned apologized to Dale E. See the difference? Ned worried about not being professional. Rusty has no clue. Having class makes the difference.

Nature Boy NC said...

This is an easy fix: Let Rusty only work in the infield studio during the Cup races. For Nationwide races, let Rusty be an owner/dad from either pit road or on top of the truck.

In defense of Rusty, it was Ricky Craven, not Rusty, who first suggested about that so-called bump from the #30.

Debby said...

JD, RaceHub is on and we can now find out what Jimmy Spencer thinks about it.

IMO, I think Rusty needs to either go away or just remove himself from the ownership of the team. He cannot be credible when trying to "spin/explain" what Steven has/has not done. He even went on a spin about his other driver's issue with the DUI; not necessary. He was not a favorite of mine when he was driving nor is he now. He has just increased his visibility to try to convince himself of how great he is. It's hard to enjoy the race when he is in the booth.

Anonymous said...

I could not believe that when Rusty blamed it on the other car that "pushed Steve" into that wreck...like Debbie just said, it makes it REAL hard to enjoy the race when he is in the booth...I just simply cringe every time he opens his mouth...but on a lighter note, I do look forward to checking out who Stevie boy wrecks next...it happens just about every week....

Anonymous said...

man...I probably need to digest this all more, great comments. But Bruce C really said most of what I'm thinking. I saw the Michigan game you speak of, and he was insightful without being biased. Like Ned Jarrett. For a long time, I felt like Rusty tried, even saying a few times, 'the 66 got into him' or comments like that. Let's face it--it's hard to hear stuff about your kids. And I think it's come to the point where Rusty just cannot be objective. I don't really blame him entirely, he was put in this position.

KoSoHo, I agree oon the James incident. Exaggerations were made (I believe). So we see that networks are put in this position of being less than honest.

Justin, I like Rusty as a person. I know he has done very kind and professional things; he's a good man. But it's hard to be put in the position he's in. I think they need to put him out of his misery, especially as he's now a track owner.

Anonymous said...

kaner said... even joe gibbs had sense enough to park his sons after they'd torn up enough of their equiptment(and everybody elses)to show they couldn't drive maybe rusty should wake up to the same conclusion.(ps i dont think od ing on the sponsers product helps

Andrew said...

I don't like having Rusty as an analyst on the Nationwide side one bit. I will give ESPN credit, however, in being up-front about his role as an owner and father before the race at IRP. That doesn't make his position alright, but at least it isn't swept under the rug. When Marty confronted that dynamic to Rusty, it made me feel a little better about Rusty.

Anonymous said...

The ESPN VP said: "The audience is the ultimate judge," Feinberg said. "The audience judges our work, our ethics and our credibility on a daily basis by whether they choose to watch us or not."

So Rusty Wallace's involvement with ESPN is so important that they're willing to sacrifice viewership? Ratings is the one and only yardstick they're going to use? Really? As a Disney stockholder I take issue with that irresponsibility.

Rusty is an owner. He doesn't stop being one when he walks in that booth. What happens when his driver does something stupid is the other analysts will edit themselves out of courtesy. That's not integrity or honesty. If Ricky Craven was being totally honest Rusty would bust him in the mouth. (On second thought, maybe that's what this ESPN VP wants to see...boys have at it in the booth.)

Anonymous said...

"The audience judges our work, our ethics and our credibility on a daily basis by whether they choose to watch us or not."

He forgot to add that regardless of how the audience judges their work they chose not to listen.

GinaV24 said...

"The audience judges our work, our ethics and our credibility on a daily basis by whether they choose to watch us or not."

He forgot to add that regardless of how the audience judges their work they chose not to listen.

Or at least they chosse to have selective hearing, otherwise neither Rusty nor DW would have gotten contract extensions.

Between Rusty and Brad in the Nationwide booth and the All Danica coverage we can probably expect next year, I won't plan to watch many Nationwide races in 2012.

Just one of them racin deals said...

I liked RW when he was a down
home racer and talked about < them
"" fast little hot rods""