Tuesday, December 6, 2011

UPDATED: Dear NASCAR TV: You Left Us Too Soon


Updated Tuesday 5PM ET: Jenna Fryer just reporting Mike Ford removed as Denny Hamlin's crew chief. Would be a nice night for RaceHub!

Updated 3:30PM ET: SPEEDtv.com senior editor Tom Jensen will bolster the media presence on tonights 6PM SpeedCenter special show. Bob Dillner will also be on. ESPN's Marty Smith passed along that he has interviewed Kurt and that will be shown in the 6PM SportsCenter on ESPN. Should be an interesting night for NASCAR TV after all.

Updated 12:00PM ET: Jim Utter got David Ragan on the telephone. Here is the official update: "David Ragan will be meeting with Penske Racing officials about 22 car. He has NOT been offered the job. Feels good about it." Take that for what it is...

Updated 11:30AM ET: Reporter Jim Utter now saying David Ragan will be the driver of the #22 Penske Racing entry in the Sprint Cup Series for 2012. Utter broke the original story of Kurt Busch being released yesterday.

Updated 10AM ET: Several developments have happened this morning. Penske Racing has confirmed that Kurt Busch has left the company. Also, SPEED has announced a special 6PM ET version of SPEED Center for tonight. Adam Alexander will co-host with Steve Byrnes. Larry McReynolds will be in studio for analysis. Awaiting word on additional guests. Stay tuned...

Tony Stewart was walking around ESPN and looking for a place to go. Literally. It was great that he was in what is called the "ESPN car wash" for the day. The idea is to get an athlete on campus and get them on as many TV, radio and online outlets as possible.

The only problem with the Monday after the final Sprint Cup Series race is that the five year old daily NASCAR Now series had ended...on Sunday. Stewart had fun on SportsCenter and Mike and Mike, but the bottom line was that the only ESPN motorsports show had ended the day prior to his arrival.

How hard would it have been to get one final NASCAR Now Monday roundtable show together for a sport that had just finished a ten month season? Imagine the mileage ESPN would have gotten if Stewart was seated with Allen Bestwick, Ricky Craven and Kenny Schrader for a one-hour recap of his final race.

It seems to be an amazing contradiction that ESPN would fly the champion to Bristol for the simple sake of congratulating itself for carrying the Chase races. What other purpose was there? Stewart appeared on some stick-and-ball shows, raised a championship flag for the still cameras and then was gone.

SPEED thought it had a better idea. The Monday through Thursday RaceHub show would stay around right up to the Sprint Cup Series banquet. The network would then produce the banquet and say goodbye to NASCAR fans for the season.

Unfortunately, SPEED will be wiping egg off its face for the next five weeks or so until RaceHub returns in mid-January. The problem is simple to understand. The NASCAR news does not stop in the off-season and in many cases it just gets bigger.

Sunday evening saw Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer break the story that Kurt Busch had been fired from Penske Racing. ESPNEWS slipped in a mention between football and basketball highlights, literally. SPEED managed to get a crawl on the screen while a Dumbest Stuff on Wheels marathon rolled by in the background.

SPEED made an impressive commitment to NASCAR news programming with RaceHub. The network also has the new SpeedCenter show and the Sunday night Wind Tunnel program with the venerable Dave Despain. All of those programs came to a screeching halt when NASCAR ended on the network.

Couple the Busch firing with the departure of Steve Addington from the same team, the firing of former Tony Stewart crew chief Darian Grubb and the pending demise of the entire Red Bull organization. The stories unfolding in the Sprint Cup Series alone should merit continued television news coverage by these two NASCAR TV partners.

Ironically, the Nationwide Series is the only complete NASCAR national series carried by ESPN. The trucks are the only one carried by SPEED. Both of these series literally go into the dark during the off-season where NASCAR TV is concerned.

It might have been fine years ago to start NASCAR TV shows back up the week before Speedweeks in Daytona, but that is no longer the case. Social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook are instantly updating the fans on information and normally the follow-up would be on NASCAR Now and RaceHub.

There is a lot of big NASCAR news set to break before Christmas and the sad reality is that it will all be done online. My opinion is that rather than treat the off-season as a time of inaction, SPEED and ESPN should dedicate the resources needed to keep NASCAR's TV presence alive at a time when most of the change in the sport is unfolding.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

57 comments:

AncientRacer said...

Well, I'll tell you what JD. As long as I still have you and Jayski I'm good. I do not watch that much NASCAR stuff during the week or the off season on TV because I have to do it in rea l or near real time. Print is better as I can skim faster and only read what I want with, btw, no annoying commercials to endure or skip through. Like for insance my current most annoying one the guy on the mororcyscle who wants to leave this life exhausted that I pray each time I see him he is getting really, really tired....

Snowball Derby was good. Someone should televise it. Almost always a good race.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Interesting you note Tony 'wandering' the halls of ESPN ...seems reminiscent of David Hill's mis-guided and mis-directed tinkering with the good things in the world of NASCAR ...he screwed up a decent FOX production and noe he's turning the screws on quality production on SPEED ...at least Tony's presence was one of recognition, but without one more show about NASCAR with on-air talent knowledgeable of the sport ESPN clearly showed it's disdain ...not faces to fill a seat ...LOL - wonder if the KBM truck ride Hornaday turned down is still available ...thanks JD for keeping us 'clued-in' on NASCAR goings-on
Walter

OSBORNK said...

You would thing that NASCAR, Speed and ESPN would be working hard in the short "offseason" to build momentum for the new race season. They should not expect fans to go from nothing to full race mode without a warm-up. They need to be working hard with news and shows to keep the attention on racing. Many fans of the NFL and College Football who also follow racing have already seen their favorite teams drop out of contention for any title and need the distraction of racing to keep them entertained. Fans of racing who don't follow football also need something to keep them up to date on their favorite sport.

glenc1 said...

in all honesty, I'm pretty much with AR. I would not expect a daily NASCAR show as I can just read the news--as we're always pointing out here, with the Internet there really is no need. Haven't they pretty much analyzed the last race & asked every question that could be asked? As for other news, I don't think they have regular hockey shows in the summer. But they would cover breaking news on Sportcenter.

As for Speed, it is highly unusual for news quite this serious to break this late (the KuBu affair), and Speedcenter actually has a Facebook page with some comments. Sometimes all the coverage (of any sport...) is just overkill.

GinaV24 said...

Well, if not for you, I still wouldn't know about Kurt Busch's departure from Penske.

Do I think that speed should continue at least one half hr per day of NASCAR programming through the off season?

do I think that ESPN makes absolutely stupid decisions regarding they way they treat a sport they at least pretended that they wanted to cover?

The answer to both is yes.

However, like Ancient - this is always the FIRST place I check in the morning for news and then Jayski, although even Jayski IMO has gotten really slim on what I actually click on to read.

I still feel bad for Grubb, a lot more than I do about Tony wandering the halls. I hope that Darien returns to HMS - Gordon could use a good engineer for his team.

Anonymous said...

Hey it is even worse on NASCAR Sirius Radio this morning, discussions about Food, Ticket Prices, Hog Jowels, and any number of things. I heard Jim Utter on there with his story and that was the extent of it. Back to the lunacy..

Bill said...

I am a little confused. NASCAR Now is returning next year, correct? The lament is that they didn't do a wrap-up show after this season, right?

Regardless, I totally agree that a final roundtable should have been done, but ESPN, either put the show on during a working person's hours, or put it online!

With its push toward the Beavis & Butthead demographic, ESPN is becoming the MTV of Sports. Perhaps they should merge, and become MESPTVN.

Bill said...

...and my vote for the new driver of the 22: Sam Hornish!

Anonymous said...

Reuty for the 22 is my choice. Nobody does not like Reuty!

GinaV24 said...

maybe Addington wouldn't have left if he knew he might get a driver who wasn't abusive.

I'd vote for Reut in the 22 also.

Anon: 9:50 a.m. - your summary of the programming on sirius radio reaffirms my decision made last year NOT to renew my subscription. Simply not enough value for me since I used it primarily to follow NASCAR.

AncientRacer said...

MEMO

TO: KYLE BUSCH

FROM: ANCIENTRACER

SUBJ: BEHAVE

With the departure of your brother from Penske Racing now official, and given your own history, it is my hope, as one of your fans, you will respond in an appropriate fashion.

It is not for nothing my password for this post is "fruck"

John in Chico said...

First off JD thanks for the blog, it’s giving us a reliable place to go to for information and a resource , an enhancement during race weekends.
So here we all are with news coming non-stop today and as you point out there is nowhere for the news to be announced.
Not having a yearend NASCAR NOW on Monday with the champ in the studio just reinforces the attitude of the stick and ball ESPN, a reluctant broadcaster of motor racing.
As for SPEED, well it’s been FOX’ed and they too are done with motor racing, gone is The Hub.
But wait, real news is upon us and SPEED is unwrapping the studio and taking off the covers off the cameras because Speed is going to have a “special” show today, at the regular time for The Hub, to review the Bush, Penske situation.
What will SPEED do tomorrow after rewrapping up the studio tonight, after all the reporting has been completed, no? Will there be no more news coming from the sport now that this has been covered? I don’t think so.
And of course the Snow Ball derby was run yesterday with Chase Elliot winning. No news there….. Now coverage, nothing…
Great blog JD, great season, can’t wait for the next one. Oh, wait it’s already here, the next season.

KoHoSo said...

Maybe -- maybe -- the big-wigs at NASCAR can be excused for not making sure there was regular, year-round programming when the last round of TV contracts were signed. After all, at that time, there was no Facebook, no Twitter, and no YouTube...and doesn't Kurt Busch now wish that YouTube had never been invented. >:-)

This next time around, there can be no excuse for ignorance of modern communications or merely handing things off to a disinterested or distracted partner. Yes, services like Twitter and others will almost always get the scoop on TV because of how they work. However, regardless of how many people are turning to "alternative" means through which to get their news, television is still the anchor and most important of all media forms. To have partners that are either a day late and a dollar short or completely uninterested in a story no matter on what day it happens is unacceptable and will only lead to a further erosion of interest in and respect of NASCAR.

Anonymous said...

I still miss Rpm tonite.

Jimm57 said...

My world would stop for RPM2nite with Kenny Mane.

PhoenixHotZonie said...

Oh brother, is Kurt Bush going NHRA Drag Racing Pro Stock. Conspiracy theorist what about it. Was the handwriting on the wall all the time? Did media miss this story with the KB Chase meltdown?

And now for the rest of the story...

Buschseries61 said...

I read the Busch news on my phone and my jaw dropped. Completely unexpected - what did Kurt say that caused this to happen? Who's now in? And where will Kurt go?

Shortly after, I realized I would have to wait for these answers online, as there would be nothing on this development on tv. For years, we have complained about the tv partners dropping NASCAR like a hot potato right after Homestead. After a development like this, ESPN and SPEED come off embarrassingly stupid and flat out incompetent at covering the sport.

ESPN presented the best championship battle in NASCAR history, then dumped the sport for the winter just hours later. Whatever ESPN will miss from November to February is just FOX's problem. Whatever happens to the Nationwide series is NASCAR's problem. And whatever happens to the fans left in the dark is their problem. As for SPEED, they deserve credit for hanging around until the banquet at least. But the next month of NASCAR news will have to be squeezed into an overload of horrible 'reality' programs.

Neither network gets it, and it is offseason #5 in this tv contract.

glenc1 said...

but didn't RPM shut down for the break too...or go to once a week?

Anonymous said...

I do not recall any former cup-level champion ever being fired.

Does anyone know whether this has happened before?

John in Chico said...

glenc1 said...
but didn't RPM shut down for the break too...or go to once a week?

Yes, RPM Tonight did the very same thing, the season was over and they closed up shop too.
ESPN.....

Anonymous said...

Sirius was great last week. Jim Noble took over for the sarcastic, short tempered with callers guy Rick Benjamin.

TEX said...

"Anonymos" said Sirius was great last week. Jim Noble took over for the sarcastic, short tempered with callers guy Rick Benjamin"


Thats because more than 1/2 of the callers are idiots.
I am a 5 year subscriber and listen everyday. I dont blame him for being what you said.

You sit in that CHAIR and take the calls they get from people who are like Why does Carl have that Duck on his car? Or why does Jimmie win 5 in a row.
And why can't it be like it used to be?

Just listen to the calls they are getting today about Kurt.
Really...He's gonna drive for Red Bull? or He's gonna drive Forumla 1?

You got to be kidding me.

JD...we dont get to say this enough but you are the best.
Thanks for all you do in covering a sport that we all love!

glenc1 said...

anon 12:41...the only one that comes to mind...Bobby Labonte has been released a few times, I think, but has been for sponsor/merger/team deals, not personality....

Just thinking aloud....correct me if I'm wrong...Jarrett, Wallace, Elliott, T Labonte, Waltrip, Petty all left of their own accord, either retirement to to run with other teams or go part time. Gordon Johnson Kenseth still with their teams. Busch was released from Roush at his request (although Jack might've fired him after the Phoenix thing.) Stewart starts his own team, sadly, Dale, Alan & Davey all died. Allison injured & retired. Cale left to go part time (had to look that up.) I don't go back further than that. :)

Anonymous said...

RPM2nite isn't coming back, particularly on ESPN. But like others, I wish there was a show like it available somewhere. During the slow winter season, I think once a week for one half hour would be enough. And I would like to see it cover all motorsports, not just NASCAR.

I think most motorsports fans are interested in more than just one series. My two favorites are NASCAR and drag racing, but I have some interest in others as well. Motorcycles, Formula 1, Rally, Indycar, sports cars, etc. all have their fans. A weekly show devoted to the world of motorsports should have more than enough material, even if it is off-track news, to fill a half hour a week.

In the old days, SPEED would have been the natural place for such a show. I had some hope for the network when MS. Wheeler took over, but she simply appears to be executing David Hill's marching orders. It's sad, really. Motorsports fans are left without a home.

On the Kurt Busch news, I vote for Joe Gibbs to fire Logano and replace him with Kurt Busch. JGR has experience with difficult drivers, and all is forgiven there.

Vicky D said...

I'm just thinking here, what sort of ride will Kurt Busch find available at this late date of the year? Maybe he can run a few K&N Series races to keep his skills up!

John in Chico said...

Vicky D said...
I'm just thinking here, what sort of ride will Kurt Busch find available at this late date of the year? Maybe he can run a few K&N Series races to keep his skills up!

Think NHRA drag racing....

glenc1 said...

I would think he'd have to bring a sponsor no matter where he goes. Not impossible, he has notoriety, even if it's not always a good kind.

I would imagine some of our questions will be asked on the special Speedcenter tonight.

KoHoSo said...

Anonymous 1:45...Kurt and Kyle on the same team? Sure...let the hilarity ensue! :-D

As for RPM2night...while it's not exactly the same, for those that don't know, it lives on with the esteemed Mr. Kernan in Internet form here:

http://www.rpm2night.com/

RPM said...

1 Busch down, 1 to go...
I'm also hoping for Reuty in the Double Deuce. He deserves a decent ride and Penske deserves a decent driver. Win/win.

Matt McLaughlin said...

What's interesting to me is the story that cost Kurt his job would have been a non-story without social networking. ESPN never commmented on the tirade though Punch was obviously right there. And there was no way ESPN could have edited the quotes for language without losing context on what happened. But the video went viral on the internet and it cost Busch his job. Welcome to the Brave New World. You are always being watched.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

One word. Twitter. On my iPhone. Use for racing & politics. Thanks JD for getting me to give it a try. Still have never 'tweeted' although there have been times I have been tempted.

There should be at least one racing news show a week. Certainly Speed could find at least that much racing news to fill the time. At a time viewers are home might insure viewship.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I hope you get a t-shirt out of that KoHoSo!

John in Chico said...

Matt McLaughlin said...
What's interesting to me is the story that cost Kurt his job would have been a non-story without social networking. ESPN never commmented on the tirade though Punch was obviously right there. And there was no way ESPN could have edited the quotes for language without losing context on what happened. But the video went viral on the internet and it cost Busch his job. Welcome to the Brave New World. You are always being watched.

Yes, the reason and subject of one of last weeks colombs. This would be a very different sport if King Richard, Bobby, DW and the rest had this kind of media hanging over them. Yarborough at Talladega, hitting Big Bill France, how would that go over in today's world?

Vicky D said...

John in Chico - good one! Maybe that's where we'll be seeing Kurt next year in NHRA. Can't wait to hear what Jimmy Spencer says about - Kurt Busch, Radio Sweetheart!

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

iPhone version not working...or maybe it's me. Cutting me off like there is a keystroke limitation.

Kurt Busch: Thank you Mr. Penske. I realize that the drivers get frustrated in their race cars. I don't expect them to be saints. Kurt totally lost me, (not that he was ever a fav of mine was hoping he had grown up a bit), when he called Mr. P "dude". Total disrespect.

Have to keep checking Directv as the 3PM/3:30PM PST time in guide has 'Pimp My Ride'. Or maybe that is about Kurt Busch....lol.

Ancient: When I see your name, I smile and look forward to what you have to say.

Gina: re Jayski. Exactly my thought! Since most of the writers I like are on Twitter, I link to their articles via that method. Most of the links on Jayski are just regurgatation (?) of the same info/interview.

glenc1 said...

John, I think those sorts of arguments (and I'm guilty of it myself) really don't work well. I have thought to myself 'what would so-and-so have done...' then I realize...we all evolve as the world changes. Had there been social media back then, they wouldn't have been doing those things in the first place in that same way. They would have known, as we do now, that the cameras are everywhere. They saw the advent of sports TV and wanted it, but they had to have known it would eventually change how people behave. They'd have adjusted to 'today's world' because it would have been their world, if that makes sense. I guess I'm just thinking we learn to use the tools we have access to and our ways of working change with the new tools--if Dale Inman had Chad Knauss' tools, that would have been his own reality.

Jonathan said...

WOW Good Kurt Busch deserves this! Will be watching Race Hub and SportsCenter

Anonymous said...

Jeremy Mayfield to the 22 car?

Sorry, couldn't resist.

KoHoSo said...

JD...the way I've been eating so far this holiday season, I don't know if John would have a t-shirt big enough to fit me anymore. :-D

Nah, I'm not looking for any freebies...just thought it was appropriate for the discussion.

Anonymous said...

A little late on this one, but they should put both Busch brothers in the Red Bull cars. That would be something to see! I'm surprised it was Kurt that got fired first.

To tie it into the media site, interesting the effect social media can have...

Anonymous said...

I don't plan to watch Speed Center. Kurt is nowhere near the top of my list of drivers, but I've watched Steve and Larry for a long time. I have a sense of who they like and those they dislike. No one's making excuses for Kurt (certainly not me), but I expect Steve and Larry to pile on. we'll see.

Sally said...

It's absolutely ridiculous that there isn't at least a 1/2 hour show every week to update racing news for ALL forms of racing. Things still happen during the 'off season' that will affect the racing to come. I know that ESPN has news about the stick and ball sports during their off seasons, but seems to think that race fans 'disappear', only to re-emerge just before Daytona.

I'm surprised that Roger Penske didn't announce that they would no longer '...be the official apologists for Kurt Busch anymore.' It was a good line when Jack Rousch used it, and seems to still apply.

Buschseries61 said...

SPEED did a good job. It would have been nice to have a longer interview with Kyle Petty. Steve Byrnes was not really needed as Adam Alexander ran most of the hosting duties himself.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Busch, funny you should say that. I thought Adam was not needed. I think we agree two was too many.

That either needed to be an hour, continued online like Wind Tunnel Extra or include fan tweets and questions.

Missed the boat for me.

Ken-Michigan said...

Think about it.....

For being "The Hub" of NASCAR, there sure were a lot of guest interviews by way of TELEPHONE !!

No LIVE shot of Dillner at Penske Racing ?? Skype ?? Sat Truck ??

And after RaceHub made joke after joke of "The Radio Sweetheart" all season....tonight its all serious ??

The situation DID NOT warrant a 30 minute special unless you have the people in question IN STUDIO or ON CAMERA.

AncientRacer said...

Sally

Yes. They "think" that and it is consistent. Just like they "think" race fans change their driver based on who is leading a race and so do not show many others and that race fans do not care about anyone except the Chasers during the Chase. At least they call that "thinking."

I also agree with Buschseries61 & JD. I made a special effort to watch and it was less satisfying than a single White Castle/Krystal without cheese.

AllisonJ said...

Sure didn't do a lot of good to get the Kurt story on "special" programming ... I flipped through the DISH program guide when I got home from work, saw nothing racing listed, and figured that was it.

At least we have TDP on the web, and the 1st class podcast of Joe Castello and WFO Radio. But for the TV ... stunning in its silence.

AndyPandy said...

Did anyone else see Kyle Busch present an award at the American Country Awards tonight? The actual awards presented were Fender Telecaster guitars. I was a little worried seeing Kyle standing there with a guitar trophy in his hands (again), but he showed some restraint.

AndyPandy said...

Also, concerning the posts about Jayski not quite having the news like he used to - did you know that ESPN owns Jayski's site? It's right at the top of the front page in tiny letters under the title, and there's an ESPN links bar at the bottom of the page.

glenc1 said...

I don't know what people were expecting...they are throwing a show together in less than a day...if people aren't available to step in front of cameras with no notice should we be surprised? While I also found 2 hosts unnecessary, the information was about what I expected. They asked the logical questions, for the most part, and anon 5:39 was wrong...I thought Larry went out of his way to be fair minded, and the Ernie Irvan comparison actually made sense. The only thing not mentioned was...I assume whatever 'talks' went on involved how much it was going to take to make Kurt Busch go away quietly. What else was up for discussion? Anyways, I also saw Marty's interview with Kurt. He seems quite confident his status will get him into something...but he can only play that card so many times. But again, it was more or less what I expected.

I do think a weekly Speedcenter to cover all racing offseason (as it is for most series) and any other news would be valuable. Would enough people watch that instead of, say, 'Stuntbusters?' I don't know. I stopped expecting anything from ESPN long ago, but I'm not sure they spend a lot of time during anyone's off season on any sport except maybe NFL & MLB.

Vicky D said...

The show wasn't even on the DirecTV guide but we were able to watch it when I got home from work. I thought they showed (and played the audio) the true Kurt Busch and why he is out of that ride. David Ragan would be a good fit he's so well spoken and I can't ever imagine him sassing back to Roger.

sbyrnes said...

apparently two hosts is too much, a half hour isn't enough, and we all have egg on our faces.

Merry Christmas.
Steve Byrnes

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Ken-Michigan: Bob Dilner tweeted first he had to shave for the appearance (growing winter beard). Then after show tweeted they had technical problems which prevented the live shot. Shaved for nothing!

glenc1 said...

Frankly, I could give a rodent's behind about other people's Twitters and chat comments, and I'm sick to death of having to hear them on every newscast, weather cast, sports cast...I really don't CARE what everyone thinks when I'm watching tv, only the people who are in some position to know something, quite honestly, and generally, they are asked for their opinion by someone in the press. I'm old school.

I appreciated Speed's efforts to put something together when there had been nothing scheduled. I didn't expect earth shattering analysis....just a covering of the story. You can *over* analyze something that's not that complicated.

West Coast Kenny said...

J.D.,

Regarding the YouTube video: do you know if Broadcast Sports, NASCAR Media, or ESPN (who were manning the video equipment) was rolling tape as Kurt Busch went off on Dr. Jerry? That recording would be priceless, in the same vein as Casey Kasem's rant against his producer.

One other thing I'm wondering: there's a fellow in a Dodge Motorsports shirt wearing cans in the foreground. I guess he wasn't part of their PR staff because any flack worth his salt would have stepped in and stopped Busch from making an *** of himself.

Maybe the "grassy knoll" crowd will chime in saying that those around KB had taken enough abuse from him and were giving him some rope to hang himself. A shame it was Dr. Jerry on the receiving end.

WCK

David Evertsen said...

Wow Steve you and the Speed folks seem to have quite the thin skin this week. On here and twitter you seem to be attacking anyone and everyone. Why? JD absolutely loves your CWTS coverage and just wants some more coverage during the offseason just like the fans. The fans would love to see more racing stuff on speed instead of well Reality (or not) TV. Do you not understand 10% of your customers will tell you what is wrong because they believe in you , the other 90% will go away and never come back, don't attack the ones who care.

Merry Christmas,
David Evertsen

Vicky D said...

David, I didn't get the impression that Steve was upset with JD's comments. The show could have been better but being thrown together like it was, I thought was fairly good.