Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Evernham and Rudd Make TV Moves

When SPEED released the TV line-ups for 2012 earlier this week, one name that was missing was Ray Evernham. On the racing weekends, Evernham had been driving over to SPEED's North Charlotte studios and working as a NASCAR analyst on the SpeedCenter shows.

This concept was created and Evernham was employed during the time Patti Wheeler was in charge of SPEED's programming and production departments. Wheeler left the network in December amid a senior management shake-up. Now, Evernham has followed her out the door.

SPEED confirmed that Evernham is out and that former Sprint Cup Series driver Ricky Rudd is in. This name came from out of the blue, as Rudd has never been active in NASCAR TV. He has no website, no Facebook page and no Twitter account. Perhaps, that is exactly the kind of "old school" mentality that some fans might embrace.

"Anytime you add someone with Ricky’s credentials, you give the viewers a voice and a perspective that has real impact," said SPEED President Scott Ackerson in a media release.

"I’m really looking forward to the next chapter," said Rudd, the 1977 Rookie of the Year. "It’s going to be a lot of fun working with the gang at SPEED." His first show in the studio with host Adam Alexander will be this Sunday.

Evernham continues to be just as interesting away from the track as he was in his crew chief and owner days. Click here for ESPN reporter David Newton's story on Evernham settling his lawsuit with former partner George Gillett.

In the last paragraph, Newton adds that Evernham has not ruled out a return to TV. We believe that is exactly the case. The buzz is that Evernham will be back on ESPN starting with the Daytona coverage.

"Evernham Issue Getting Tougher" was a TDP column from September of 2008. Evernham's star was rising at ESPN, but there was an issue that remained. It wasn't very hard to imagine what that topic might be.

This from the 2008 post:

Many things have changed since February and one of them is now very tough to take. When Evernham is on ESPN, the questions and issues that he deals with involve everything about NASCAR except one topic. That topic is Gillett-Evernham Motorsports (GEM).

Over the last couple of weeks there has been a nasty GEM lawsuit involving Robby Gordon, rumors of GEM buying another race team and also GEM moving to Toyota for 2009. This week, Patrick Carpentier has been told by GEM that he is out at the end of the season. Tuesday, Mike Delahanty, the Sr. Motorsports Manager at Dodge actually jumped-into a NASCAR media conference call to try and quell rumors of problems with Dodge and GEM.

While Evernham might talk about his cars and his teams during the race highlights, there is a code of silence at ESPN where Evernham is concerned that is simply not fair to NASCAR fans. Like all the other owners, Evernham should be fair game and he is not.

Now with the GEM issue behind him, Evernham's words during a recent interview with veteran NASCAR journalist Steve Waid seem to become even more clear. Click here for the full story. This is an excerpt.

"I still stay away from the motorsports side over at Hendrick Motorsports," Evernham said. "The less I know about what is going on in motorsports there, the easier it is to keep potential conflict out of it in regards to TV. I never want the teams to worry about what I might say on TV after I might have seen what they were working on. The best thing to do is keep that separate."

"Hopefully we’ll announce a new TV package in a little bit," Evernham added. "I’m going to do some TV stuff again."

Out of the pan and into the fire might be a better term. There is little doubt that Evernham's current employment at Hendrick Motorsports is going to be a hot topic in his return to TV. Even with his current involvement limited to the Hendrick Performance (non-racing) side of the business, its sure to raise some eyebrows.

Evernham has lots of irons in the fire including his ownership of East Lincoln Speedway, a car restoration business and a TV project focused on classic cars with his wife, Erin. That means his TV time will probably be limited on the NASCAR beat.

Amid the news about Evernham and Rudd, SPEED slipped in the fact that the network had hired former Miss Sprint Cup Monica Palumbo as a social media reporter. Rather than continue to rely on information from TV personalities sent whenever possible, Palumbo's challenge is to create an information stream on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube that continually offers current NASCAR information to fans.

There you have it. Rudd debuts on SPEED this weekend, Evernham's official announcement of rejoining ESPN is still pending and Palumbo better get a bigger battery for her Sprint phone. As always, we welcome 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.


RPM said...

It's a dang 'ol stick in the spokes.

Speed just hired the Boomhauer of NASCAR.

Sally said...

I always thought Evernham managed to be impartial on TV...something that can't be said of several present employees of most of the networks. While I know that many are overboard about Twitter, I find it difficult to understand how someone that was a company shill and Victory Lane moving decoration is supposed to add anything of value to 'the package'.

Buschseries61 said...

Very surprising news. I guess Ricky is a little bored with retirement. It will be great to watch him again, I just hope he has some chemistry with AA.

ESPN just puzzles me. They have what seems like two dozen people in their NASCAR tv staff to cover the same stories they used to cover years ago with 6 people. Now with Edwards AND Evernham as rumored hires, where are all these people going to fit?

Bruce Simmons said...

Rudd who??? That is definitely a name out of the blue. But it will be good to see Ricky back on the scene.

Evernham has always been an awesome asset no matter where he goes. I used to love hearing his take on issues when he called into SiriusXM's NASCAR radio channel. No matter what the venue, I would miss his valuable insight if he weren't somewhere on TV or radio, talking NASCAR.

CaseMoney said...

I think Evernham is hands down the best analyst in the NASCAR biz. I do hope he ends up back on TV somewhere.

Ricky Rudd was a great driver, always seemed like a class guy, and like you said, old school all the way. I like the hire.

Anonymous said...

I always respected Ray's insights regarding today's Nascar racing. I'm sure he'll find another TV opportunity if that's what he wants. I'll remain open minded abour Rudd and will give him a chance. The Sport and it's Technology have changed dramatically since he retired. The folks managing Speed continue to puzzle me. Their advertisements for The Dumbest Stuff On Wheels raises the questions of who their targeted audience is and what the demographics are of their audience. Top management comes and goes and the quality of the product continues to get worse.

sue said...

Interesting changes. I liked Ricky as a driver will be interesting to see him as an analyst. I hope it works out.

I've always enjoyed Ray. Hopefully we'll continue to see and hear him in some kind of Nascar news program.

glenc1 said...

I like Ricky, and he always seemed to speak thoughtfully (except when someone messed with the Rooster) but he's been out of the sport so long I can't see how he'd be that knowledgeable. Now, I'd be the first person to say that I think Hammond and McReynolds seem to do a pretty good job staying current in the garage, but I don't know how that would work with drivers. Sure doesn't with DW, although he seems to think so, since he can read all their minds ("rolls eyes"....).

I'd like to see what Monica can do. She seems to have a certain "TVQ" and speaks well. I'm not into social media, obviously, but she would seem to be a good choice for coming up with ideas on how to incorporate things. I just don't want to have to keep reading fan tweets from on my screen....if it's drivers or teams I might be more interested. It's the 'fan interaction' stuff I hate. Because so many fans are...well, just watch Despain and you know. I really, really don't care what Joe in Peoria thinks about Junior, but if he's telling me there's a line of 500 cars outside Kentucky Speedway or it's raining in turn 2, I might want to know. I guess if it's providing me with information I don't know, that's good. If it's just some yokel's opinion during race coverage, then no.

Garry said...

I like Rudd. He was my favorite driver for years, ever since he won at Martinsville, and Jerry Punch had to interview him on the ground with an oxygen mask. Can't get much more old school than that. And I don't care if he's Boomhauer. He's a hell of a lot better than most of them in terms of knowledge.... And Monica being chosen? OUTSTANDING! She is one of the few spokeswomen that UNDERSTAND the sport! Evernham... Hmmm, not sure, but I know that ESPN has a thing for well-groomed, non-Southerners.

OSBORNK said...

I have always liked Ricky as lot but I'm don't know that he will come across well on TV. He seems to have a demeanor and personality of a private person who would rather go about his work and do a good job out of the public view.

I have always liked Ray and think he does an outstanding job. I would have been more comfortable with it if he had not become connected with a current race team. I don't think anyone that does analysis or works in front of a TV camera (other than guests) should have any connection with an active race team. I don't think they can be truly impartial regardless of how hard they try.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
I remember Rudd's wild wreck in #15 and shot of him behind the wheel the following week with his eyelids taped open ...oh, and the lesson he gave to a young Harvick with the rear-bumper rub off turn 4 to win at Richmond ...his background lends itself to insightful comments ...look forward to his contributions ...never a fan of Ray Evernham with #24, but now enjoy his analysis ...interesting perspective as racer, crew chief, car owner and track promoter ...not looking forward to 'veri-word:suffin' through another season of 'me-first' comments from any 'so-called' talent with a last name ending in W.

Roland said...

Exciting to see how Ricky Rudd does and where Ray ends up. Finally some TV moves that Im looking forward to seeing!

GinaV24 said...

Rudd? Really Rudd? Oh well, it's not like I'm watching a lot of NASCAR tv these days anyway.

Like Sally, I've always thought that Evernham did a good job of being impartial. Makes sense for him not to work on the HMS motorsports side of things if he's going to be in the booth.

Gee I wonder how many tweets Monica can read us? I won't be wasting my time.

Anonymous said...

David Newton's wife was/is employed by Evernham to do PR stuff. That's why Newton's pieces about Ray always read as fluff PR. I guess ESPN does't care.

Looking forward to Rudd, just wish Alexander was replaced by Diffy on Speed Center.

Bucky Butler said...

I agree with Buschseries61 - where are all these people going to fit? It's stock racing for heaven's sake. How many voices, faces, opinions and analysis does one need? The NASCAR universe doesn't change that much to warrant all this commentary. They only race once a week. I used to believe that the NFL was the most over analyzed sport in the country. Not anymore. I like Ray Evernham. I believe his voice is still relevant and important. I'd rather listen to crew chiefs than drivers anyway. As for Ricky Rudd. Damn good driver and a good guy but he's been gone from the scene for a while. He was never bashful that's for sure and it may be very intersting. That said, I get back to my original point. Too many cooks in the kitchen, spoil the soup. After awhile, with so many voices, is anyone really listening?

starrcade76 said...

I'm not sure we can trust Ricky Rudd if he doesn't have a website, Facebook, or Twitter account. For all we know, he could be the type of guy that would rather read a book then watch TV. Scary

Vicky D said...

I'll give Ricky Rudd and chance, but I can't see how he'll work on tv, but I've been wrong before. Getting closer and closer to the 500! Did folks watch Imus this morning and DW plugging his new book. He said he'll be on Fox & Fiends tomorrow doing the same thing. Word Verification: Excitcha!

sbaker17 said...

How about R. Wallace OUT
How about R. Evernham IN

Dennis said...

Ricky is as tough as they come. There may have been a couple that were as tough but none that were tougher.

It seemed he let his driving do the talking. Surprised at the news but wish him all the best. Much respect.

I like Ray as well but I'd rather have a Ray interview when he was a crew chief. As an owner or non-owner, I don't find him as interesting.

PammH said...

I just listened to Ricky Rudd on CB's show on XM. He still thinks the cars have wings...I think he will be more than useless as a commenter. He has not kept up w/the times. JMO,folks. On the plus side, he does not have to drink the kool-aid, because he has no vested interest at this time. We shall see..

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bucky, why do many folks to tell us absolutely nothing about what they have done new with the cars or drivers. They never tell us anything new anymore unless it is a NASCAR mandate that it happen. You could take a race from last season and hear the same cackling from all the old hens about whatever race it is, they never change.

Ricky Rudd will add so much insight into this madness really? They just dug up some old fan favorite to try to get people back to watching the same old junk. What insight his he going to add about this new EFI, or even the COT he never drove one. He should stay retired..

Anonymous said...

I was a fan of Ricky Rudd the driver, but what makes anyone think he will be a good broadcaster? As another commenter noted, Rudd seemed to be a private man of few words. He let his driving speak for itself.

If success as a driver accurately predicted success as a broadcaster, Rusty Wallace would be a TV star beloved by fans.

CaseMoney said...

Well, Rusty was NOT a man of few words as a driver. And he did not work out as a broadcaster. So you never know.

Maybe Rudd's demeanor will suit him well, there are a lot of blabbermouths in the NASCAR broadcasting world right now.