Friday, October 31, 2008

Scary Truck Race From Texas On SPEED

It's primetime and it's Halloween, what is a TV network to do? If you are the Craftsman Trucks Series TV team from SPEED, the answer is absolutely have a blast.

The Texas Motor Speedway has been a great track for the trucks and Friday night on SPEED began with Krista Voda and The Set-Up pre-race show. Confirming that they are very good at keeping a secret, Voda was picture perfect in her costume as the Wicked Witch of the West.

This was the perfect tension reliever for NASCAR fans at this time of the season. Voda really puts things in perspective and she set a tone for the pre-race show that put fun before racing for just a little while.

Nothing, however, could prepare viewers for what was to follow. Topping all NASCAR TV moments for 2008 was the appearance of Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander, the SPEED pit reporters.

To say that Dunlap made a great Dorothy was a bit of a stretch. The ruby slippers were in place and the dress was great, but Dorothy's moustache was a bit of a gender-bender and Toto appeared to be...well...stuffed.

Adam Alexander is the newest member of the SPEED team and he may have cemented his place in TV history with his appearance as Glinda the Good Witch. It was not so much the beautiful dress or the outstanding hairstyle. No, it was Glinda smooching with Truck Series driver Todd Bodine that put this right over the top on the hilarious scale.

The one trademark of the Craftsman Truck Series drivers is that they have been good sports and always cooperative with SPEED. Dorothy and Glinda interviewing tough guys like Ron Hornaday Jr. and Max Papis made the entire segment one that might live for a very long time in the SPEED archives. You can bet it will be on NASCAR in a Hurry on Sunday morning at 9:30AM.

Now, it was time to get back to real racing talk and The Wicked Witch ended the fun and sent it up to Rick Allen in the broadcast booth to get things back on track. Along with Allen were TV and NASCAR veteran Phil Parsons and current Sprint Series Cup owner/driver Michael Waltrip. Did I say end the fun?

Playing it to the hilt, this trio instead continued the pre-race theme with Allen as the Tin Man, Parsons as the Scarecrow and Waltrip as the Cowardly Lion. As the emails and comments began flying around the Internet and the phone began to ring off the hook, it was clear NASCAR fans were enjoying every minute of the fun.

Kudos to SPEED for pulling this off with no advance warning and nothing leaking out to the media. It was a perfect time for a little fun and when it was done the racing coverage was again first rate. The truck package has been tested this season and has proven to be solid from top to bottom.

SPEED focused on the racing, kept the championship battle in perspective, and followed the stories as they unfolded. Allen calls a good race and with Parsons and Waltrip finally settling into a complementary relationship, the results have been super.

It is clear that both Dunlap and Alexander have a great working relationship with the teams and drivers in the series. Both during and after the race, these two reporters cover more than thirty teams and stories in a multi-hour live TV telecast. Perhaps, SPEED will pitch-in some additional funding and let Voda become the third pit reporter for next season now that Camping World is on-board.

A good post-race show wrapped-up the telecast and once again reminded viewers that NASCAR personalities like Ron Hornaday Jr. and Johnny Benson are a couple of the reasons fans have been boosting the ratings of this series in 2008.

There are only two more Truck Series races this season and with the SPEED Cantina opening up at Phoenix International Raceway next week, it might be a good idea to tune-in and see what the TV team has up their sleeve for the next broadcast. Now, excuse me while I try to chase Dorothy and Glinda out of my mind.

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In-Progress From Texas: Craftsman Trucks on SPEED

It's Friday night and time for the Trucks on SPEED. This should be quite a show under the lights on a track that is getting faster and faster as the sun goes down.

Krista Voda will kick things off at 8:30PM with The Set-Up. This pre-race show will review the tight season championship standings and also deliver all the Truck Series news.

Rick Allen will be along next to call the race. He will be joined by Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip in the announce booth. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will be on pit road.

SPEED has a very old school approach to this series that consists of minimal graphics and special effects. From Krista Voda standing alone at the head of the starting grid to the focus of the race telecast being on the teams and drivers, this TV product has been solid all season long.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Craftsman Truck Series race from the Texas Motor Speedway on SPEED. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Four Broadcast Teams Come Your Way On Friday

It has been quite a while since Bill Weber, John Kernan and Jerry Punch patrolled pit road. It seems even longer since Ned Jarrett, the late Benny Parsons and the original NASCAR on ESPN announcer Bob Jenkins brought stock car racing into living rooms across America.

This Friday, some twenty-five years after live coverage began, TV viewers not only get all three national touring series on the track in Texas but they also get to see four modern-day teams of NASCAR TV broadcasters in action.

SPEED is stepping-in to handle the Nationwide Series practice and qualifying. The familiar faces of Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will be providing that coverage. Bob Dillner and Wendy Venturini will be the reporters. Practice is at 10AM and qualifying is at 6:30PM on SPEED.

Next-up will be the ESPN team of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. These three have worked on NASCAR all season long like the SPEED team and on Friday they will be handling Sprint Cup Series practice and qualifying. Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake, Jamie Little and Dave Burns will cover the pit and garage areas. Practice starts at 1PM and qualifying will be at 4:30PM. Both telecasts will be on ESPN2.

The third TV team has worked all season to fill-in the TV gaps in the on-track action and has cemented a reputation for going and getting the interviews that fans want to see. NASCAR TV veteran Randy Pemberton and relative newcomer Hermie Sadler have teamed-up to provide host John Roberts a solid one-two punch in the garage area. Each of these three has a personality that works great in the TV format of NASCAR Live. Friday's show will be on the air at 8PM on SPEED.

The final TV team is one hard-working bunch. They may be a little under-manned, but the Craftsman Truck Series crew has been hitting it out of the ballpark all season long. Fan favorite Krista Voda should be right at home in the chaos of the starting grid at the Texas Motor Speedway when she hosts the pre-race show at 8:30PM.

Her "go to guys" are Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip. This is the type of racing that Allen loves to describe, a fast mile and a half track with the Truck Series doing what they do best. Parsons and Waltrip have learned to combine their voices on this type of high-intensity broadcast over the season.

This team is topped-off by Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander who patrol the pit road where over thirty teams are based. No matter how they do it, these two get the pit coverage done and are always on top of the stories of the race.

On this Friday from Texas, NASCAR fans can sit down at 10AM and stay there until 11:30PM with only a few breaks for snacks. The minimum manual labor required is the occassional changing of the channel. From practice and qualifying to the exciting Truck Series race, four TV teams will be working hard to bring the NASCAR action to the viewers. We want to know how you like the coverage.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about the programs from 10AM through 8:30PM on both ESPN2 and SPEED. There will be a new post up for live comments during the Truck Series race at 7:30PM. The entire weekend schedule is broken-down for fans on the right side of the TDP main page.

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Craftsman Truck Series Poised For Big TV Ratings

Talk about the little engine that could. A few weeks ago, Internet sites were talking about the potential demise of the Craftsman Truck Series after this season. Short fields, team sponsorship battles and the pending departure of Craftsman after more than a decade told a dismal tale.

Now, after another strong TV ratings weekend in Atlanta, the Truck Series has a new multi-year title sponsor and a new lease on life. Friday night, free from the competition with major college or pro football, the Series will be live on nationwide TV. It could be a huge ratings night for NASCAR.

This turn-a-round has been spectacular in a season known for flat TV ratings and more driver-swapping than good racing in the Sprint Cup Series. Once again this year, the Nationwide Series is featuring two Sprint Cup cross-over drivers battling for the title. Only the Trucks have really forged their own identity, despite the occasional Cup driver appearances.

In some way, the wild drives by Kyle Busch in the Truck Series this season have added to the fun. The series "regulars" don't treat Kyle with kid gloves and several times this season Busch has made his way to his transporter very promptly after a race. He was sometimes trailed by other drivers who wished to continue an on-track conversation.

The reality of this series is that it has a bunch of "old school" racers who fans simply appreciate. Ron Hornaday, Johnny Benson, Mike Skinner and Jack Sprague are just a few of the easily recognized names of drivers in the series. Others like Rick Crawford, Todd Bodine and David Starr are perhaps best-known for their truck careers. It is truly a series of diverse personalities.

SPEED has become part of the story in just the way that NASCAR really enjoys. The TV coverage has quietly let the racing do the talking and kept a sense of humor and simplicity along the way. Krista Voda has been a key part of that for several years now.

As the host of the pre-race show, called The Set-Up, Voda and her Producer stripped everything away this season and simply put Voda standing at the head of pit lane. During her thirty minutes, officials and team members walk by doing their jobs and curious fans snap pictures. Voda is un-fazed by it all, treats everyone like family and handles the elements like a trooper.

Rick Allen was plucked from Nebraska of all places and brought-into the Craftsman Truck Series as a relative unknown. Since that time, he has worked very hard to master his role as the play-by-play announcer for SPEED. Allen has kept things in perspective and shares the same gift with Voda. They let others shine.

The beneficiary of Allen's style has been Phil Parsons. In much the same way that Larry McReynolds seems to be a part of every single Sprint Cup Series race, Parsons is the single best source of Truck Series information on TV today. Showing the same relaxed and well-mannered style as his late brother Benny, Phil has cemented himself a place in this series with his hard work over the years.

Adam Alexander and Ray Dunlap cover pit road and report for the series during practice, qualifying and the pre-race show. Alexander is a quick study and has stepped right into this series without missing a beat. Dunlap continues to be the character that everyone loves to discuss. Although he has toned-down his off-beat antics, Dunlap is still opinionated and colorful as his recent appearance on Tradin' Paint confirmed.

The powers that be at SPEED put Michael Waltrip into the broadcast booth of this series to add some excitement. At the time, Waltrip was so over-saturated on SPEED and on NASCAR TV in general the move did not go over well. Waltrip did not help himself by shilling for Toyota and generally talking over-top of everyone.

This season, Waltrip has improved tremendously and that might be to the credit of Steve Byrnes. On Monday nights, Byrnes hosts This Week in NASCAR where Waltrip is a regular panelist. As opposed to the mild-mannered Allen, Byrnes is not afraid to step right in and stop Waltrip in his tracks when he is off on a tangent. The result has been that Waltrip has learned to listen.

As a group, the SPEED team has shown time-and-time again that less is often more on TV. Without the flashy graphics or the fancy features, SPEED has let the racing on all kinds of tracks lead the way. My belief is that is why the series has experienced a resurgence this season. Fans get the race and not the hype.

This Friday, the Trucks get the big Texas Motor Speedway to themselves in primetime under the lights. Voda hosts the pre-race at 8:30PM and the race kicks-off shortly after 9PM. Adding some spice to the Texas mix will be the fact that sports car ace Max Papis, Red Bull's chosen son Scott Speed and the one and only Kyle Busch will all be racing along with the series regulars.

The Daly Planet will be live during and after the race for your comments. As the season comes toward the end, perhaps you can use this post to offer your views on the coverage of the Craftsman Trucks Series this season on SPEED and suggest any changes you might like for next year.

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Thursday TV/Media Notes:
Click on the title to read the full article.
More on Kyle Petty To Grand-Am (Florida Today)
SPEED Cantina set to open at PIR. (
Some new thoughts on NASCAR TV commercials. (

To add your comments on these topics, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. New stories will be added during the day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Wednesday TV/Media Notes:
Click on the title to read the full story.
ESPN's Skipper says new design in Jan. and 2 billion video views. (onlinevideowatch)
Kyle Petty looking at full-time Grand-Am sports car ride. (DIS)
Republicans watching Unique Whips and PINKS, who knew? (nielson blog)
Ms. Sprint, Monica Palumbo, maybe on TV somewhere next season. (
Dale Jarrett and B-17 bombers, that's a new one. (sun herald)
Longtime owner Larry McClure headed for CourtTV over ARCA problems. (

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday TV/Media Notes:
Updated: SPEED HD has just been added to many cable systems across the nation including Comcast, Time Warner and AT&T. Check to see if you have SPEED HD and please report in if you do. Good luck!

Click on the title to read the complete story.
Edwards And Pastrana In Race Of Champions In December (
Kodak Steps-Out Of NASCAR (
Folks Upset With FCC Sponsorship Of David Gilliland (
NASCAR Angels TV Show In Kansas City (
Best-Laid Plans Of The Chase (
Late Models On Dirt Coming To SPEED In December (
NASCAR's New Competition On TV - Bull Riding? (
Truck Series Ratings From Atlanta Up On SPEED (
Texas Entry List Car Count: 47- Cup, 51-Nationwide, 34-Trucks.

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Knaus Plays A NASCAR TV Doubleheader

Monday's NASCAR TV started at 5PM with the one hour "roundtable" version of ESPN2's NASCAR Now.

Allen Bestwick has been ESPN's ironman this season and he played host this week to Ray Evernham, Boris Said and Mike Massaro. While Carl Edwards winning in Atlanta was the first order of business, it was clear that the panel was itching to talk about the big decision made by Chad Knaus late in the race.

After the highlights were run, Bestwick welcomed Knaus to the program by satellite from Charlotte. His interview went well, and Knaus was able to review for Bestwick the decision-making process that helped him and Jimmie Johnson to wind-up with a second place finish in dramatic fashion.

As Knaus talked to Bestwick, there was something very familiar about his surroundings. While NASCAR Now has a bad habit of not identifying the location of the program's guests, this one was easy to figure out. The bright lighting and the red stripe on the wall behind Knaus told veteran NASCAR fans that someone was double-dipping on this Monday afternoon.

Knaus was comfortably sitting on SPEED's This Week In NASCAR set while doing a liveshot with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. That may be the ultimate in guest sharing. The only thing that could have made the Knaus appearance on ESPN2 more fun is if Michael Waltrip had made a surprise appearance.

Bestwick led a tight hour with good conversation, but this panel misses Ricky Craven and that is now very clear. Boris Said is a great guy, but he is not really active in the sport right now and is being asked to comment on issues with which he is not familiar.

The only blemish in this show was ESPN refusing to promote the fact that this week SPEED is stepping-in to covering the Nationwide Series practice and qualifying. Imagine, dumping the on-air promotion for your only exclusive NASCAR series because another network is helping with coverage. Talk about a bad decision at this time of the year.

Knaus then changed into his SPEED shirt and teamed with Michael Waltrip and host Steve Byrnes for This Week in NASCAR. The show is relaxed and this week Waltrip gave Knaus a lot of room to operate. Credit goes to Waltrip for taking a backseat this week and being an asset to the program with his experience.

Byrnes is still tasked with far too many sponsored features including the goofy Chase profile. This week the TWIN gang had a very informative discussion about the Atlanta race because two of the major stories were on the set.

Waltrip had taken the ESPN on ABC crew by surprise with his consistent charges up through the field on Sunday and it seemed that he may finally get a moment in the sunshine.

As fans have seen before with the high-riding veteran, a tangle with the wall ended his day. Byrnes and Knaus were supportive, but let Waltrip off the hook where his multiple late race incidents were concerned.

Tony Stewart's car chief was very briefly profiled in this program and then Stewart's miserable weekend in Atlanta was next. Once again, this strange feature forced both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series highlights to be extremely brief. TWIN should have recapped the new sponsorship of the Truck Series by Camping World, given the fact that all the races are on SPEED.

Humpy Wheeler was along to talk about the huge track called Texas World Speedway that exists in College Station, TX. I had the pleasure of working on both ARCA and SCCA events at that track. It was amazing to see a structure that big in the middle of nowhere. Wheeler's insight continues to suggest a TV series for him in the future.

Monday proved to be a good day for NASCAR TV and a very good day for Chad Knaus. His professional profile is at an all-time high and his first season on TWIN has allowed him to show a part of his personality that most fans had not seen before.

Both shows will be back next week. Bestwick will have Evernham, Said and Massaro returning at 5PM ET. Byrnes will have Chad Knaus back next week but Waltrip is taking the night off. SPEED promises Waltrip's replacement will be a special guest, so your guess is as good as mine. DW anyone?

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Kyle Petty Responds To Daly Planet Column

Politics during this time of the year are apparently not limited to the Presidential race. This weekend, Kyle Petty appeared on national TV with a black band across the car number on his baseball hat.

His appearance on Tradin' Paint came only hours after David Zucker, the new CEO of Petty Enterprises, was quoted as saying Kyle was not in the company's plans for 2009.

To cover the potential fall-out, Zucker suggested that Petty could be running a limited schedule if a sponsor is found. News reports have Kyle doing everything from running with another team to retiring.

On the TV show, it was Bob Pockrass who was the media guest. Neither show host John Roberts or Pockrass asked Petty about his hat or its meaning during the thirty minutes. It was later that Pockrass filed an article for about the topic. Click here to read the story.

Petty was very forceful on Tradin' Paint when the subject of the Boston Ventures purchase and other mergers arose. Click here to read The Daly Planet column on the subject. Basically, Petty said that nothing had come from all the over-hyped mergers in the NASCAR industry. It was clearly a hot button.

Chad McCumbee was in the #45 Petty Dodge in Atlanta. He finished 36th and was 6 laps down on the field. It was his first Atlanta Sprint Cup Series start.

Currently, Kyle is scheduled to be in a Petty car during the Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix, AZ. It may be his final time in a Petty Enterprises ride. Regardless of the reality, Petty credits his son Austin with the black band suggestion.

Austin wanted his father to "close the personal door" that was still open between the #45 ride and Kyle's late son Adam, who lost his life back in May of 2000.

After all the history involving the Petty family over the last several decades, I think a black band through a car number on national television winds-up closing a lot more than just that.

Perhaps, once the Phoenix race is over, we may hear some more from Petty on the reality of what has been happening behind the scenes. Thanks to Bob Pockrass for the article and to David Griffin of NASCAR Scene for the photo.

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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Even Atlanta Can't Provide TV Excitement

There is just no doubt that one of the problems the NASCAR TV networks are running into is the fact that there just does not seem to be a solid level of excitement in The Chase for the Championship.

Sunday in Atlanta, ESPN put an all-star line-up on-the-air. Ray Evernham was added to the duo of Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Studio. Allen Bestwick was hosting that venue. Three NASCAR owners with a veteran TV personality were ready to go.

In the broadcast booth was Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Two veterans that have a combination of being drivers, crew chiefs and owners. Alongside was Dr. Jerry Punch, who may well be one of the best-known NASCAR TV personalities in ESPN history.

Down on pit road was the most veteran NASCAR reporter in the ESPN stable, Mike Massaro. He was joined by the versatile Dave Burns, Jamie Little and the team's full-time rookie Shannon Spake.

That put eleven voices on this multi-hour live telecast. Add-in the veteran ESPN production team in the TV truck and the potential for a very good sporting event was certainly at hand.

Bestwick and company had fun and previewed the Sprint Cup Series race during the one hour preview show. It would have been nice if the team acknowledged the new multi-year Camping World sponsorship of the Truck Series.

Daugherty has been working his enthusiasm for all it's worth, but Wallace and Evernham were the two NASCAR veterans who could really preview the event from an experience standpoint. They kept the energy high and handed-off to Punch and company for the start of the race.

As we have seen over the past couple of events, the choice of ESPN was to focus on a story that had been decided in advance. That story was named Jimmie Johnson. While fans are well aware of The Chase, what they were actually watching on TV was the race. From the drop of the green flag, ESPN made it clear the race itself did not really matter.

This is the exact same problem that plagued these ESPN on ABC telecasts last season. Why should The Chase spoil the race? With all the cars on the track, shouldn't all of the teams be treated equally by the TV crew and the announcers?

ESPN lucked into Johnson having a good first part of the race, but absolutely got lost when Johnson was hit with a penalty and dropped a lap to the field. Why this obsession with Johnson is anyone's guess.

Once again, listening to the radio call of this race was a surreal experience. ESPN focused on single car story after single car story while the PRN radio broadcast was calling the racing in the middle of the pack.

Dale Jarrett is clearly frustrated with the ESPN production team, as he mentioned many times on the broadcast that there was good racing going-on back in the pack. There was no response from the production team as the focus on the leaders and Johnson continued unabated.

When the Infield Pit Studio crew was allowed to talk, they injected the kind of excitement into this race that was lacking with Punch. Ultimately, Jarrett stepped-in and handled much of the play-by-play role for the final one hundred laps. He and Petree handled the load, but they were slaved to the pictures that had been selected for them to describe.

The crew offered a couple of half-hearted recaps, but they never just took a deep breath and ran-down the field for the fans. It is almost as if they are scared something will happen to the leaders while they are updating the field. Even the video recaps were quick and very basic. This is a shame, because the pit reporters were on top of their assigned teams and performed very well.

ESPN again blasted oldies as the music leading into the commercial breaks. The transition from themed music and expensive videos to oldies from a "Best of the 70's" CD continues to be rough. In the business, this is called using "random cuts."

The directing was solid, with the early over-use of the in-car cameras fading away and the good pictures and sound lasting throughout the broadcast. No technical problems on a location shoot this big is kind of like never mentioning the referees after the game. Solid tech job all around.

The use of the double video boxes was outstanding, but the pit stops lacked the pop of earlier broadcasts. No timers or triple splits was the order of the day, whether under caution or green flag racing. The pit reporters, however, were excellent in calling the pit road action.

There was a restart with 23 laps left, which led to the big accident of the race one lap later. ESPN caught the accident as it happened and showed all the replays. During this incident, Jarrett again tried to assume both the role of calling the action and offering analysis. Jarrett truly is ESPN's star of the show.

With an extended clean-up, the Producer turned the upstairs talent around and put them on-camera. This should have been done more this season and resulted in a short but smart appearance by all three booth announcers.

The final 16 laps of stop-and-go racing left things a bit in a lurch. Spake and Burns came through with good pit reports while Punch had a tough time filling the air with commentary. With 11 laps to go Jimmie Johnson hit the pits and the TV team was lost.

The restart with 9 to go had no reset of the field because ESPN chose to replay the first Edwards win at Atlanta years ago. Other than the ticker at the top of the screen, TV viewers had no clue who was where or why. This is the big problem with ESPN, the lack of basic information for the fans. Even Johnson's position was not reset after his late pit stop.

Luckily, Jarrett and Petree had Johnson to feature in the closing laps and gave all the information they had on his situation. With Edwards checked-out, Punch had to call the action as Johnson cut through the field. What viewers heard was silence and car numbers. Jarrett called the race to the end.

Nice coverage of the finish line and a great late pass by Johnson helped to end the race on a high note. Somehow, that did not really make-up for the previous four hours of mediocrity. Another tough day at the office where NASCAR and ESPN are concerned.

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Made-For-TV Story Comes With The Camping World CEO

NASCAR may have just struck pay dirt in more ways than one with the announcement of the new Camping World sponsorship of the Truck Series. This multi-year deal puts a new brand out in the marketplace and brings with it a story that is almost made-for-TV.

The Camping World CEO is named Marcus Lemonis. Rather than being just another corporate figure, Lemonis is one of the most dynamic young executives in American business today. This is just a slice of a Lemonis profile from Chicago Magazine:

It wasn't just any family that adopted Marcus Lemonis from a Beirut orphanage when he was nine months old. His new father and grandfather ran the largest Chevy dealerships in Miami and Tampa. After graduating from Marquette University, in Milwaukee, Lemonis returned to Florida and started selling cars at his grandfather's dealership.

At 22, he made a change. "I decided that if I wanted to be successful, I had to get beat up, learn from others rather than from my family," Lemonis said. He took a job at AutoNation, the country's largest car dealer, and worked his way up to regional manager.

Then he took some advice from a family friend, Lee Iacocca (the former head of Chrysler Corporation), who told him the path to long-term success lay in finding an industry that was ripe for transformation. Lemonis sniffed opportunity in the fragmented recreational vehicle industry. At the time, most RV dealers were small independents who typically sold only one brand and offered poor customer service.

Lemonis poured most of his limited savings into a business plan, inspired by the AutoNation model, for a national chain of RV dealers that sold and serviced multiple brands. His new company, FreedomRoads, began buying up independents and, in less than three years, has become the country's largest RV dealer, selling 18 brands and racking up more than $1.5 billion in revenues.

In June of 2007, FreedomRoads merged with the existing Camping World company to form a "super-power" RV corporation. This past June, only one year after the formation of the new Camping World franchise, Lemonis was named the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the year for a Midwest-based business. Camping World now has over 100 retail locations and over 4,000 employees.

Mr. Lemonis is just 34 years old.

As the CEO, Lemonis has come a very long way from the Beirut orphanage. If there was ever a time when NASCAR needed a shot-in-the-arm and some fresh blood, this is it. To announce a sponsorship deal for the Truck Series in this economic climate goes a very long way toward putting aside a lot of negative rumors that have been circulating.

Friday morning, the Trucks take to the track in Atlanta for practice at 11:30AM on SPEED. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will be the TV team. John Roberts will be along with the news-oriented NASCAR Live at 1PM. Since the entire Truck Series is televised on SPEED and Fox Sports, you can bet that we will all become better acquainted with Lemonis over the next several days.

Krista Voda will host the pre-race show for the truck race Saturday afternoon at 1PM. It would certainly make sense to either have Lemonis on-hand for an interview or make sure that he is interviewed sometime before the show.

His life is just the type of story NASCAR fans love and the way this year is going a little love could go a very long way.

Click here for the Camping World sponsorship announcement at

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Sprint Cup Series From Atlanta on ABC (1PM ET)

This is a very big week for the entire NASCAR on ESPN TV team. Only Texas, Phoenix and Homestead remain when this Sunday's telecast is over. The weather is perfect, the track is fast and the stories are plentiful.

As usual, it falls to Allen Bestwick to set the table for the fans. Along with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, Bestwick is going to work his way through a wide variety of stories from The Chase to the continual speculation about team mergers.

It should be interesting to see if ESPN talks to Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of Camping World and the new seven-year sponsor of the Truck Series. As usual, the challenge for this telecast is to try and strike a balance between The Chasers and the racers.

Bestwick will hand-off to Dr. Jerry Punch at 2PM to get the fans ready for a 2:14PM green flag. Punch will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree to call the race from the broadcast booth. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Mike Massaro. Tim Brewer will be in the Infield Tech Center.

Punch faces a track that was brutal to tires in the previous race and caused all kinds of trouble for the drivers and teams. Goodyear and their performance will be a major issue once the green flag falls. Mike Massaro has the experience to handle the Goodyear issues and any interviews that may need to be done.

The Truck Series race on Saturday featured high and low groves and the type of run to the finish that this track has become famous for having. With the newly improved Goodyear tires and the COT offering another new combination, this may wind-up being a big story.

Punch will have to call the high-speed action after the restarts until the field gets strung-out and then work hard to keep the fans understanding where the drivers are and how they got there. Hopefully, full field recaps will be standard this week so the problems of the earlier Chase telecasts will fade away.

Tim Brewer may have his hands full this Sunday as this track has proven to break, bend or mutilate many car parts over the years. Brewer has been kind of isolated this season as he is only seen when something needs to be explained. He is really the odd-man out stuck in his own little world of auto supplies.

Fans should look for the triple split on the pit stops and the effective use of the double video boxes throughout the race. The ESPN Director has been very good at keeping the video of the race on the screen under green flag conditions even while doing replays and interviews.

The final lap at this track is always big and how the finish line is handled can add or subtract from the overall telecast. Watching the cars come off the last turn and run down to the line is key and has often resulted in big stories throughout the top ten and beyond.

Keep an eye on the cars that drop out of the race. ESPN has struggled to interview the non-Chasers and this has detracted from the telecasts. Accidents on this track are high-speed and the fans deserve to see and hear from the drivers involved.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Sprint Cup Series race from Atlanta on ABC Sports. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Pre-Race TV Shows On Sunday Morning

The build-up to the Sprint Cup Series race from Atlanta is underway. Here is your opportunity to comment on the pre-race shows leading-up to Allen Bestwick and NASCAR Countdown at 1PM on ABC.

Here is the line-up this morning:
Tradin' Paint on SPEED at 9:30AM.
NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 10:00AM.
NASCAR Performance on SPEED at 10:00AM.
NASCAR in a Hurry on SPEED at 10:30AM.
NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED at 11:00AM.

On the two-hour RaceDay show, Wendy Venturini's Real Deal feature will be on the psycology of sports. Guests on the program will include Kyle Busch, Greg Biffle and Alan Gustafson. Video features include Jimmie Johnson's 2004 emotional win in Atlanta and Carl Edwards visiting an Atlanta area children's hospital.

This post will serve to host your comments about the pre-race TV shows on both ESPN2 and SPEED. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Kyle Petty's Black Hat Makes A TV Statement

It is just a little thirty-minute TV program where two panelists talk about the NASCAR topics of the day. Tradin' Paint is a series on SPEED that takes place at the SPEED Stage on each Sprint Cup Series weekend.

The program host is SPEED veteran John Roberts. He leads a two-person panel through a series of topics with a live crowd listening-in as well. This panel consists of a NASCAR driver and a member of the NASCAR media.

While the media member is different almost every week, the driver selected for the program appears on every show. It was Michael Waltrip that got this series off the ground originally several seasons ago. Unfortunately, Waltrip and his new MWR team ran into some problems at Daytona and his credibility took a big hit.

SPEED and Waltrip came to an understanding that he would leave Tradin' Paint. His replacement was a popular one and a great choice for SPEED. Kyle Petty was a proven veteran with a long family history in the sport. He was also about to embark on a part-time TV career with the TNT Network covering the six races that network televises during the summer months.

In 2007, the first year of The Daly Planet, we documented Petty's season on Tradin' Paint. The word "meltdown" was used rather frequently. Petty found that several members of the NASCAR press corps did not agree with everything he said and sometimes disagreed completely. That did not go over well.

Credit goes to Petty for sticking-out the entire season and beginning to get his "TV legs" in this talk show format. Working with Bill Weber and the TNT crew helped tremendously in this pursuit. Weber is foremost a journalist and Petty clearly benefited from working with a veteran media member who also has extensive TV experience.

This year, Petty has been walking a very fine line on the program. His TV skills and ability to talk with anyone on any topic are now outstanding. Reporters like Bob Pockrass and Jenna Fryer who caused titanic Petty meltdowns in 2007 now get a head shake and a smile when they go-off on tangents.

Unfortunately, the dark underlining of this show has been the real meltdown at Petty Enterprises. Kyle has gone from the smiling host of the press conference introducing the Boston Ventures investment firm to now being pushed-out by the CEO of the new company.

The Daly Planet article about the press conference in June was called "SPEED Televises The NASCAR Culture Clash." Click on the title to read the full column. Basically, a non-racing group bought the majority of Petty Enterprises to use the Richard Petty name, logo and properties for their own purposes.

On one hand, Kyle is in the middle of a growing TV career and a new direction in life. On the other, so much of what is personal and almost sacred where his family business and racing is concerned is being forcefully taken away.

This weekend, Tradin' Paint welcomed reporter Bob Pockrass back to the program in Atlanta as the media guest. It was cold outside and Kyle Petty wore a Petty Enterprises jacket and a black baseball hat for his #45 car and its sponsors. Only this week, TV viewers saw that something was different.

In the same way that policemen and firemen put a black band around their badges when a co-worker is lost, Petty had a black band firmly placed right through the numbers on the front of his baseball hat. It was clear for all to see that the #45 car that Kyle had clung-to in memory of his late son Adam was no longer his.

The frustration emerged on a day when it was reported that Boston Ventures CEO David Zucker had said the company would field two cars for 2009, but that Kyle Petty was not going to be involved with either effort. "Part-time if a sponsor could be found" was the phrase used to describe Petty's future opportunities.

Petty's words on that topic came out during a Tradin' Paint discussion about mergers. "I have not seen an acquisition help any team in the sport yet," said Petty about the new wave of outside investors. "I have not seen Boston Ventures help Petty Enterprises be more competitive now than what they were at the beginning of the year."

"When you look at it and ask what do they get (in mergers), I don't have a clue what they get," continued Petty. "You are taking two organizations who are falling or stable and just putting them together. Sometimes, warm water and warm water (combined) just gets colder."

It was a shame that Roberts or Pockrass did not take a moment to ask Petty about the black band on his hat and the future of his beloved #45 car. As the season draws to a close, it is also a shame to see what has happened to the Petty family business. The one thing that is very clear for all to see is the tension on Kyle's face.

Sunday in Atlanta, rookie Chad McCumbee will once again be piloting the #45 Petty Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series race starting from the 41st position. While Kyle Petty may have been in Atlanta for Tradin' Paint, he is not working on the TV broadcast of the race and may once again not even be at the track on Sunday.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Nationwide Series in Memphis on ESPN Classic And SPEED

Here we go with the hot topic of the weekend. The Nationwide Series race from Memphis is going to be carried live on ESPN Classic beginning with the pre-race show at 3PM. This program is going to be hosted by the TV crew of Marty Reid, Randy LaJoie and Rusty Wallace.

Over on SPEED, once the Craftsman Truck Series race from Atlanta is over, the network will simply join the ESPN coverage and carry the Memphis Nationwide Series race to the conclusion. This is a great move to allow NASCAR fans who do not have ESPN Classic in their cable TV package to see the race.

There is a lot on the line for many of the teams in the Nationwide Series. Some of them have admitted that this may be their final race for the season because of the financial issues currently plaguing the nation. Bobby Hamilton Jr. is one of those drivers whose season and future may be hanging on his Memphis result.

This is a hybrid TV crew that consists of Shannon Spake, Rusty Wallace and Mike Massaro from the full-time team. Marty Reid, Randy LaJoie and pit reporter Vince Welch are freelancers brought in to help with this telecast. For Welch and Reid there are some issues on the table as ESPN has chosen not to air only a handful of IRL races next season. That leaves Reid and Welch with some dates to fill.

One of the big issues at the conclusion of last season was whether or not ESPN would create a different set of announcers for coverage of the Nationwide Series. Reid and LaJoie have been outstanding that putting a very different spin and using a unique approach to Nationwide telecasts.

As well all know, ESPN is going to be doing some major decision-making in this off-season and there is no doubt a lot of corporate eyes will be on Reid and LaJoie during this broadcast.

This race has a sprinkle of Cup drivers, some Nationwide regulars and a lot of youngsters with dreams of the big time. The racing dynamic of a mix like this should make for some interesting TV viewing. ESPN has been strong with its Nationwide Series telecasts and several of them this season have been simply outstanding.

Look for a lot less of the bells-and-whistles on this coverage. There is no Infield Pit Center and less stories to cover on pit road. The short-track style of racing has resulted in many caution flags in the past, but a lot of these drivers are looking to keep their equipment in working order with the current economic issues in the sport.

NASCAR has announced that the Nationwide Series will be racing these same cars in 2009, but is still looking to move to a new COT version for 2010. Hopefully, this move will encourage the current team owners to continue in the sport for at least one more season.

This post will serve to host your comments about the TV coverage of the race and the simulcast. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Craftsman Trucks On SPEED From Atlanta (1PM ET)

It is a very big week for the Truck Series. First of all, the teams are racing on the high-speed Atlanta track on national TV on Saturday afternoon. Secondly, the series has just picked-up a full multi-year sponsorship from the Camping World corporation.

The TV coverage will start with Krista Voda hosting The Set-Up. This thirty minute pre-race show will have a special guest this week. Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis will be with Voda to talk about why the Truck Series sponsorship made sense for his company.

Even better news for the sport in general is that Camping World will continue their sponsorship of the East and West regional NASCAR series that have been so very successful this year.

After the pre-race show, coverage will begin with Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip calling the action. This trio has found their stride and the reason things are clicking is the performance of Waltrip. Gone is the sponsor-shilling goofball and in his place has emerged a thoughtful and enthusiastic analyst. Waltrip has become an asset instead of a liability to the telecasts.

Look for Ryan Newman to be the possible spoiler in this event. Driving in a "one off" ride for Kevin Harvick Inc., Newman was fastest in practice and has absolutely nothing to lost in terms of points. He is only there for the win.

The championship battle between the popular Johnny Benson and the veteran Ron Hornaday Jr. is once again fantastic and should be the focal point of the coverage. These two have often been the class of the field and Atlanta is just the type of track to put all the teams to the test.

SPEED has perfected the "old school" approach to NASCAR coverage. They present a stripped-down TV package without overwhelming graphics and free of needless distractions. There is no infield pit center and only two pit reporters. The action on the track is the focal point of the coverage from the green flag.

With only a handful of races left in the season, this may be an opportunity for fans to see the SPEED TV crew at the top of their game. With good weather and a very green track, the racing action should be interesting.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Truck Series coverage on SPEED. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Sprint Cup Series Practice on SPEED (Noon ET)

It will be Steve Byrnes hosting the early Sprint Cup Series practice session from Atlanta. He will be joined by Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds. Handling the interviews from the garage area will be Wendy Venturini and Bob Dillner.

This live session will lead directly into the pre-race show for the Truck Series. Krista Voda will have the CEO of Camping World, Marcus Lemonis, as a guest.

For comments on the Sprint Cup Series practice, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks.

Nationwide Series Qualifying on ESPN Classic

Marty Reid will host the Nationwide Series qualifying from the Memphis Motorsports Park on Saturday morning. Rusty Wallace and fan favorite Randy LaJoie will be alongside of Reid for this session and the race later in the afternoon.

Handling the interviews and reporting on the news from the garage area will be Shannon Spake, Vince Welch and Mike Massaro. Spake, Massaro and Wallace will be flying back to Atlanta for the Cup coverage on ABC Sunday afternoon.

This is a stand-alone Nationwide Series race with fifty cars trying to make the field. Lots of colorful characters and some notable young drivers are going to be in the line-up.

Race coverage begins at 3PM with NASCAR Countdown and then the on-track action follows. For those without ESPN Classic, the race will be simulcast on SPEED once the live Craftsman Truck Series race is over.

This post will serve to host your comments about the NCTS qualifying on ESPN Classic. To add your comment, just click on the COMMENT button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to drop by.

Truck Practice In Atlanta On SPEED

The weather is clear and the track is fast in Atlanta. Truck practice is on SPEED with Rick Allen, Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are reporting.

The reason this is not qualifying is the fact that all practice was rained-out on Friday. The Trucks will start on points and this will be the only practice session before the race.

This post will host your comments about the Truck practice on SPEED. To add your comments, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by.

ESPN Refuses To Promote Memphis Simulcast

Update: ESPN has corrected the graphics during the qualifying session from Memphis to reflect the SPEED simulast. While this cannot fix the tremendous damage that was done during the week, it is a statement that ESPN is trying to get its NASCAR act together.

Friday's NASCAR Now program wrapped-up a long and wet day of NASCAR on ESPN2. Host Ryan Burr reviewed the soggy conditions in Atlanta. Then, he let ESPN veteran Marty Reid preview the Saturday Nationwide Series race in Memphis, TN. Burr ended his program by sending viewers back to Atlanta for scheduled Sprint Cup Series qualifying.

The Memphis race is very important to that area as well as to the teams and sponsors in the Nationwide Series. In this event, eight cars will be racing with paint schemes designed by the children from St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital as a part of the "design a dream" contest. What a great story for TV as the picture above so clearly shows.

That race is also going to give a lot of new young drivers and some good old Nationwide Series "regulars" a chance to shine on live national TV. Unfortunately, where the Memphis race is concerned, TV really is the issue.

ESPN will have two football games, one horse race and one Nationwide Series race at the same time on Saturday. That makes four live events. The ESPN family of TV networks available to distribute those four events consists of ESPN, ABC and ESPN2. That makes three TV networks. Fundamentally, that's a problem.

The original ESPN solution was to put the Nationwide Series race on the ESPN Classic Network. This channel is completely "empty." What that means is that there is no original programming on it at any time.

Several years ago, ESPN Classic began re-airing only TV shows that ESPN already owned. Classic is like a huge video player with the SHUFFLE button permanently engaged.

Sometimes, ESPN Classic is used for live events when the ESPN networks are full. In most cases, these events are college sports-related. With a smaller number of households and limited availability, ESPN Classic cannot serve as a primary TV network for distributing a NASCAR race.

To solve the Memphis problem, ESPN and NASCAR enlisted the help of one of NASCAR's most important TV partners. SPEED stepped-up and agreed to carry ESPN's broadcast of the Memphis race. Here are some comments from last week when this arrangement was announced.

"ESPN is here to serve sports fans, and we appreciate the cooperation from NASCAR and SPEED to make this simulcast possible," said Julie Sobieski, ESPN Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions. "This effort ensures an opportunity for the greatest number of fans to be able to watch the Memphis race."

"This is a busy time of year for live sports and we really appreciate ESPN and SPEED working together to come up with a plan that takes care of our fans," said Robbie Weiss, NASCAR's Vice President of Broadcasting. "ESPN and SPEED will work aggressively to promote this simulcast."

Let's take a moment to rewind that last comment from Weiss. "ESPN and SPEED will work aggressively to promote this simulcast." Apparently, someone at ESPN did not get that memo.

From the moment this past Sunday when Allen Bestwick signed ABC off-the-air from Martinsville Speedway, there has been a deliberate and purposeful effort to do just the opposite of what Mr. Weiss stated. SPEED's simulcast of this event has never been mentioned on-the-air by ESPN.

First by the TV veteran Bestwick at Martinsville, then by NASCAR Now host Ryan Burr all week long it was just ESPN Classic for Memphis. Finally, ESPN's own IRL and NASCAR veteran Marty Reid joined-in the effort. He totally and absolutely avoided any mention of SPEED simulcasting the race while he was on the air Friday afternoon.

The program that Reid was hosting was live Nationwide Series practice...from Memphis.

Several times in the telecast, Reid ran-down the line-up of networks for Saturday's NASCAR action. SPEED was never on the graphics promoting the race. SPEED was not in the promo copy that he read. SPEED was never even mentioned by his partners in the booth Randy LaJoie and Rusty Wallace.

When this happens in network television across multiple networks and on many different programs, there is only one answer. ESPN's Vice President of Motorsports, Rich Feinberg, made the decision that despite the words from Ms. Sobieski and Mr. Weiss, the ESPN brand would come before the NASCAR fan once again.

TV viewers watching all of ESPN's "branded" NASCAR programming for the past week have never seen a promo for Memphis that included SPEED simulcasting the event. What that means is that NASCAR fans are being told by ESPN that they must use ESPN Classic to see the race on TV.

Pardon me, but isn't ESPN Classic how this entire problem got started in the first place?

Perhaps, Mr. Weiss was busy this entire week and no one from his staff took the time to point-out the fact that SPEED was missing from every ESPN mention and promo of the Memphis race. So much for promoting aggressively.

It is only through the good-faith efforts of SPEED that both NASCAR and ESPN will not suffer a huge public relations disaster. Imagine putting a stand-alone NASCAR race on an obtuse TV network after showing the entire Nationwide Series all season-long on ESPN2 and ABC.

There are only four Nationwide Series races left of the thirty-five on the 2008 schedule. ESPN has spent millions of production dollars to chase this series across the nation since February. It is the only NASCAR series seen exclusively on the ESPN family of TV networks. ESPN uses the high-profile team of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree to call almost all of the races.

It seemed ironic that closing-out the Friday NASCAR TV on ESPN2 was that same trio talking racing from the ESPN Infield Pit Center while the rain continued to fall in Atlanta. With qualifying cancelled, it gave Punch and company plenty of time to cover all kinds of topics. When it came time for the Memphis race, Punch again followed the company line and told fans it was only on ESPN Classic.

Just when ESPN had finally regained its footing with many NASCAR fans, the company deliberately pulls one of the cruelest stunts of the season. Using the "us vs. them" mentality that has invaded the new ESPN culture, SPEED's simulcast was pushed aside as perhaps something that Weiss and NASCAR forced upon ESPN.

Let's set the record straight. I was asked to be patient and wait for all three parties to resolve this issue before writing about the problem. I cooperated fully. Now, that issue has been resolved but ESPN will not mention on-the-air that NASCAR fans without ESPN Classic have another TV option.

So, here is my Memphis race promo:

"TV viewers with ESPN Classic can tune directly into the Memphis Nationwide Series coverage at 3PM for NASCAR Countdown and the race will follow. For those NASCAR fans without Classic, the race will be simulcast on SPEED."

You know, that just did not seem all that hard to say.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Friday, October 24, 2008

NASCAR Fans Speak Out On TV Coverage

The short track at Martinsville forced the ESPN on ABC coverage crew to use everything at their disposal to keep viewers informed about what was happening in this very long event.

Cameras were all over the place with everything from in-car cameras to aerial views contributing to a High Definition portrait of the track called the paperclip. Two drag races and two tight turns put brakes, tires and tempers to the test every time the Sprint Cup Series comes to town.

All of the stars of the NASCAR on ESPN crew were on-hand and well informed about the issues teams would be facing this weekend. A Friday rainout let Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree take some time to talk about how The Chase for the Championship would shake-out. Practice coverage on Saturday gave the crew an opportunity to get a final look at the teams before raceday.

Punch was wonderful when directing the coverage from the Infield Pit Studio on Friday and Saturday. Then, he once again assumed the role that has troubled these telecasts for months. He moved to the play-by-play position.

After pre-race host Allen Bestwick handed off to Punch, things took on a familiar feeling for TV viewers. The telecast slowly began to drift like a rudderless ship until the frustration level of the viewers surpassed that of the drivers on the track.

This season, Jarrett and Petree have tried everything possible to add their own voices to what should be the exciting play-by-play call of the races. Now, the pit reporters are also chiming-in to try and generate some interest during the long green flag runs. It is not enough.

Punch again added a lifeless commentary that featured no excitement and generated absolutely no interest. The dominance of Jimmie Johnson should have immediately pushed the ESPN crew to other stories and it did not. Lap-after-lap of Punch's commentary consisted entirely of car numbers, driver names and lap counts.

With one hundred laps gone, Punch was still trying to keep track of who was where. By the time the race hit the halfway mark, he was lost once again and just randomly talking about issues and asking questions. The pit reporters doggedly tried two updates during the event, but both were too short and covered too few cars.

Petree and Jarrett called every incident on the track, they added the excitement when contact was being made or when a critical pass was underway. It fell to Petree to put things in the broader perspective because Punch was completely useless.

As we have seen so many times with ESPN the pictures were great, the sound was fantastic and the entire race was technically sound. A nice wideshot of the finish line helped viewers to at least see the finish, which was not even called by Punch.

These items have been repeated by TDP several times this season. We would invite you to take a moment and leave your opinion of the ESPN on ABC coverage of The Chase up to this point. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by.

Did You Watch Jerry Punch Host The Atlanta Rain Out?

The ESPN2 coverage of Sprint Cup qualifying has been rained out. The network has put Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree on-the-air from the Infield Pit Studio.

The result is that TV viewers finally get to see Punch working in the role that suits him best. He hosted the rain delay programming and did a great job.

What you do think? Did you watch this show?

To add your comment, just click on the COMMENTS button below. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks.


Sprint Cup qualifying rained-out again. There is a new post up to talk about the Atlanta rain fill programming on ESPN2.

The weekend starts on Friday with Craftsman Truck Series practice at 11:30AM on SPEED. This begins a long live stretch on SPEED that will cover both Truck Series practice sessions. During the lunch break at 1PM, John Roberts will be along with a thirty minute version of NASCAR Live.

It will be Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip who will be joining host Rick Allen for the NCTS coverage. Atlanta is a great track for the trucks and the action during practice should be interesting. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will be handling the reporting duties from the garage.

At 3PM, SPEED will shift gears and televise Sprint Cup practice. It will be Steve Byrnes calling the action with Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds alongside. Down in the garage area will be Wendy Venturini and Bob Dillner.

This will be the only TV coverage before qualifying and with the battles underway for both The Chase and for some teams simply to remain in the Top 35 in point, there is going to be a lot on the line for qualifying. That will be on ESPN2 at 7PM.

This post will serve to host your comments about the daytime NASCAR TV coverage on SPEED. There will be a new post up for the Nationwide Series at 4:30PM and the later Cup qualifying.

To add your comments about the SPEED coverage, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

NASCAR On Four TV Networks Starting Friday

After almost nine months of chasing NASCAR around the TV dial, this weekend fans will truly enter the NASCAR Twilight Zone.

Coverage of all three NASCAR series will skip across four TV networks and include a live race simulcast. There will be well over 30 hours of NASCAR programming from Friday to Sunday.

This one is going to take a little advance planning. There are DVR's and TiVo's to coordinate, viewing schedules to adjust and TV networks to even find on the dial. We are here to help.

On the right side of The Daly Planet main page is the complete layout of the Friday through Sunday NASCAR TV schedule. The networks to know are ESPN2, SPEED, ESPN Classic and ABC.

All three of NASCAR's national touring series are in action. The Craftsman Trucks will be in Atlanta sharing the track with the Sprint Cup Series. Meanwhile, the Nationwide Series travels to Memphis Motorsports Park for a big Saturday afternoon race.

Friday is the first day of on-track activity and SPEED starts the day with long block of coverage from Atlanta. The Craftsman Trucks practice at 11:30AM and 1:30PM with John Roberts and NASCAR Live covering the lunch break at 1:00PM. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will be handling the Truck action.

At 3PM, stick with SPEED as that network switches gears and covers the Sprint Cup Series practice session. Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds will be along as the action will be fast and wild on this high-speed track with a whole lot on the line.

Marty Reid and his Memphis Nationwide Series crew will be next at 4:30PM. Fans have to spin the dial to ESPN Classic for this coverage. ESPN is just flat out of channel space and this is the unofficial NASCAR overflow network. That does not help fans who do not have it on the cable dial.

Back to SPEED at 6PM for Trackside. Thankfully, this program has stepped-up and invited Truck Series driver Johnny Benson on as a guest. Carl Edwards will also be on the program. Byrnes, Hammond and McReynolds are joined by Elliott Sadler as the panelists on this show.

The feature event of the evening will be live Sprint Cup Series qualifying on ESPN2 at 7PM Eastern Time. This will be the first time that the ESPN crew of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will be on-the-air. Jamie Little and Dave Burns will be handling the interviews.

Over the following two days, there will be more than 20 hours of NASCAR coverage on the four TV networks mentioned above. We will preview the coverage completely the day prior, so that fans can sort through this mess of a weekend on the cable TV dial.

The weather forecast for Atlanta on Friday calls for a high of 55 degrees with rain and thunderstorms. The chance of precipitation is listed as 80% by The Weather Channel. Over in Memphis, Friday looks much better with only a 20% chance of rain and a high near 70.

Stay with us over the weekend and we will walk you through the TV maze day-by-day. We welcome your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Memphis Almost Falls Off The NASCAR TV Radar

One quick zoom around the Internet will tell the tale. Over at, the TV listing for the Nationwide Series race this Saturday in Memphis says ESPN Classic. Sliding over to, the listings expand to ESPN Classic and ESPN360, the online streaming service.

ESPN bumped the Memphis event to the back burner after the Breeders Cup horse race joined the ESPN Saturday sports TV party. The Breeders Cup will be on ESPN while live college football will be on ESPN2, ESPNU and ABC. The Memphis race was left to the limited distribution of the ESPN Classic Network.

As veteran fans may remember, ESPN Classic is not a suitable network for NASCAR where distributing a live race is concerned. In a repeat of an earlier ESPN Classic situation, NASCAR turned to SPEED as a viable alternative. Already the home of the Craftsman Truck Series, SPEED agreed to simulcast the ESPN-produced race from start-to-finish.

Unfortunately, ESPN did not seem to get that message. Sunday on ABC, Allen Bestwick signed-off the NASCAR post-race show from Martinsville by promoting the Memphis Nationwide race as being only on ESPN Classic. NASCAR Now host Ryan Burr did exactly the same thing on Tuesday while viewers saw an on-screen graphic that also did not mention SPEED.

Last year, the opening prayer before the Memphis race was suddenly yanked off the air for a college football pre-game show. NASCAR fans spinning the dial among the ESPN family of networks found themselves surrounded by college football and horse racing. NASCAR had been taken off the air completely only minutes before the race was to start.

The TDP column that talked about that moment was called "ESPN Pushes NASCAR To The Back Burner." Click here to read that 2007 entry in its entirety. In the end, getting the Memphis Nationwide Series race on the air came down to a nice open-field tackle by a young man from the Iowa Hawkeye football team.

ESPN veteran Marty Reid and fan favorite Randy LaJoie provided the Memphis commentary last season and will do so again this weekend. Last year, Reid was unable to say even a word to the fans before ESPN pulled the plug. This year, the race broadcast will thankfully be seen from start-to-finish by most fans thanks to SPEED.

The other big benefit of moving this telecast away from the main ESPN networks is the post-race. In 2007, ESPN left immediately after the checkered flag without talking to the winner David Reutimann or explaining to TV viewers why some fans in the stands appeared to be crying. There was also a lot of emotion among the Reutimann pit crew.

Click here for the video that will explain the reason why fans and teams were so deeply affected by this victory. This follow-up report was put on-the-air by the NASCAR on ESPN crew several weeks later to apologize for the Memphis fiasco.

Again this year, the young patients at St. Jude's have designed the paint schemes on eight cars in the race. The Design A Dream program is being coordinated by Leverage Sports of Charlotte, NC. If that name sounds familiar, it should. That is the same company producing the Three Wide Life TV series. Click here for a link to that show.

ESPN has covered the Nationwide Series faithfully since February. SPEED has helped out as well, but the NASCAR on ESPN crew has put a lot of work into these telecasts. Often, the Saturday race is better produced and gets a much better reaction from the TV viewers than the Sunday Cup event.

This week Memphis is a stand-alone telecast with Rusty Wallace, Shannon Spake and Mike Massaro working hard and then boarding a plane back to Atlanta. Chances are it will be Rusty Wallace at the controls. Vince Welch will round-out the Memphis TV crew.

ESPN has a tremendous opportunity to make-up for last year with this telecast and with 50 cars trying to make the field it should be a fascinating mix of drivers and teams. Practice will be shown at 4:30PM on Friday and qualifying will be live on Saturday at 10:30AM. Unfortunately, both of those sessions will only be on ESPN Classic.

The Craftsman Truck Series race on SPEED at 1PM precedes the 3:30PM Memphis event, so NASCAR fans will get a nice double-dose of racing on Saturday.

Needless to say, the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show on ESPN Classic will not be carried by SPEED. If needed, SPEED will fill any time between events from the SPEED Stage in Atlanta and then join Reid for the call of the race.

Either way, the people in Memphis and the children from St. Jude's get a fair shake this year after a little cooperation between two key NASCAR TV partners.

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Tuesday TV/Media Links:
Click on the title to read the story.
Changes Continue At Speedway Motorsports (Sporting News) This is for those of you who emailed about Jessica Simpson's pre-race concert at LMS.
End Near For USAR Pro Cup? (The NASCAR Insiders) This is the Hooters Series and this story talks about the role TV has played in the demise.
Mistakes Mar ESPN's Martinsville Coverage (Frontstretch) Doug Turnbull's weekly TV review.
Bobby Hamilton Jr.'s Nationwide Team Done After Memphis (Dave Moody's Blog)
JJ Yeley Turns To EBay for Sponsorship (eBayyer blog)
TV Sponsorship Off To Bumpy Start (Broadcasting Cable)
50 Nationwide Cars Enter Memphis Race (Jayski entry list page)

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Monday TV Shows Avoid The Obvious

If you did not know it, The Chase is on. Since this format began, it seems that one of the biggest challenges of the final ten races sits squarely with the two TV networks who are covering the sport at this time of the season.

ESPN2's revamped NASCAR Now Monday program has been the hit of the year. Moving Allen Bestwick into the host position set a tone for the season that helped the other NASCAR Now programs throughout the week. Bestwick brings what the TV series did not have, credibility.

From February through the beginning of The Chase, ESPN2's Monday hours have been fascinating. Themed shows have included all three Wallace brothers, several NASCAR reporter programs and even one all-ESPN announcer show. Bestwick's challenge each week has been to use the personalities of his panelists to create good TV.

As The Chase began, things changed for this Monday program. Brad Daugherty was now a Sprint Cup owner. Boris Said was no longer actively involved in the sport. Ray Evernham was again involved in controversial news and still owned a multi-car team. Rusty Wallace was now an outspoken Nationwide Series owner.

Even Allen Bestwick seems to have suddenly become a staunch defender of NASCAR on this program, often taking on the role of self-appointed devil's advocate. This Monday's show was another good example of how things had changed. The two drivers on the program, Boris Said and Ricky Craven from Yahoo! Sports, disagreed frequently on a variety of issues. Said was not a happy camper.

One got the opinion that this show had been well-planned in advance. Panelist Ray Evernham never once had to speak about his team business or comment on his own situation for next season. The ESPN wall of silence was up again.

Even as the NASCAR media wrote story-after-story about Evernham stepping or being moved aside at GEM, the issue was never raised as ESPN continued the dogged single-minded pursuit of featuring The Chasers.

Just as Jimmie Johnson was the class of the field at Martinsville, Craven was the class of this program. Whoever gets Craven for 2009 on TV is going to get a goldmine. If ESPN, TNT or SPEED decide to make some changes next season, Craven's name has to be on the short list.

After an hour of the buttoned-down and well-planned High Definition perfection of NASCAR Now, fans spun the dial to SPEED for three guys in shirts and jeans. This Monday, it was Martinsville winner Chad Knaus and top twenty finisher Michael Waltrip joining host Steve Byrnes.

If NASCAR Now is the best show of the season, then This Week In NASCAR is the most improved. Byrnes and The NASCAR Media Group production team have been tinkering with this new show since February.

On this Monday, they changed it yet again. After hearing it from TDP readers after dumping the Craftsman Truck highlights, that show element returned. The highlights were short and there was no winner interview, but that is a start. This series is important to SPEED and getting the struggling series some additional TV time was a smart move.

Since The Chase began, TWIN has been under the gun to insert a huge two-segment long feature on one of the Chase drivers. Since all of them are well-known, the time spent playing-back this edited feature really changed the rest of the show. This week, things were a little different.

First, viewers saw footage of the post-race meeting at RCR after the Charlotte event. Then, out of next commercial Byrnes showed video of Burton's Martinsville weekend. The scanner chatter and the new video is always fun to see, but the RCR meeting added nothing and all participating seemed bothered that the cameras were present.

Waltrip was coming off perhaps his best performance in the broadcast booth this season after calling the Saturday Craftsman Truck race on SPEED. Working alongside of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons, Waltrip was funny and glib without crossing the line into his sponsor-driven hype. He stayed focused and sharp for the entire race.

This seemed to translate into the Monday show. Waltrip let Knaus speak without interrupting, but managed to contribute his normal mix of racing experience and zany humor. The duo has certainly clicked and viewers got a lot of information about both Martinsville and Atlanta in the program.

Just like NASCAR Now, TWIN faces the almost weekly decision of whether or not to ask Waltrip about his MWR situation. Headlines this week spoke about Marcos Ambrose running an MWR car in Atlanta, Waltrip continuing to rotate drivers in the #00 car and the rumor of wholesale team changes for 2009. Just like ESPN, those topics were never raised.

NASCAR fans got a whole lot of experienced folks talking to them on Monday's two TV shows. As usual, ESPN2 and SPEED had two very different approaches to the exact same content. Now, with only a handful of shows remaining, it should be interesting to see how these two series decide to wrap-up a very long season.

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Media Notes:
Ford pulls-out of Truck Series, but signs 5 year deal with Roush (
Profile of Jamie Little and Shannon Spake (
Mike Helton answers TV questions (
Darrell Waltrip says The Chase is boring (Orlando Sentinel)
Behind the scenes with ESPN at Martinsville (Roanoke Times)
David Poole talks to Brian France (Charlotte Observer)
SPEED gets into bistro biz at PIR (Carolina Biz Journal)

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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Sprint Cup Series on ABC From Martinsville

There is a new post up for comments on the Martinsville race, click on the TDP logo at the top of the page.

Any way you cut it, this is going to be a long day. Allen Bestwick is going to start the ABC coverage with a thirty minute version of NASCAR Countdown. Bestwick will have Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty alongside in the Infield Pit Center.

The shortened preview show should focus on the random nature of luck at Martinsville, where cautions can switch the entire back of the field to the front when pit stops are done. Several of The Chasers have good records at this track and it should be interesting to see if one superteam has figured things out this weekend.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will be upstairs in the announce booth after spending practice and qualifying in the Infield Pit Center. They will be joined by Mike Massaro, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Shannon Spake on pit road. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center.

This track is called the paperclip for a good reason. It consists of two short drag races and two hard left turns with yellow curbs on the inside. Patience and payback are usually the two themes of the event.

Controversial Scott Speed is in the field, as is Kenny Schrader in the Hall of Fame Toyota. Chad McCumbee is in the #45 and veteran Mike Bliss is in the #00. Ultimately, the lap-down cars begin to play a critical role as the race progresses.

Look for Bestwick to be on-the-air coming out of commercial breaks. He will be supplying updates on the race and also lead the field rundowns. With the short track, Tim Brewer should be appearing in a split-screen under green flag conditions so fans can continue to see the race. Martinsville is loud and small, so we should be hearing rather than seeing the pit reporters on a regular basis.

This track makes it tough to insert replays under green. One good aspect is that the track level cameras provide great speed shots, even at these lower speeds. It is tough to get the in-car cameras in use when the racing is tight, but fun to see them when things are spread out.

The way to tell when the production team gets tired is when they allow one high camera to follow the field around-and-around for several laps. Fans want cameras to be cut each lap high and low to get the sound and feel of this unique racetrack.

The challenge today for Punch is to continually update the field and leave the commentary to Jarrett and Petree. It is easy to get viewers lost as to what happened on the track, even with the scoring ticker crawling on the top of the screen. As we have said many times, the ticker on says where a car is, not how it got there.

Tempers get tight at this track. Last week the ESPN on ABC pit reporters were aggressive and got up on the pit stands to talk with the crew chiefs. It is going to be important for the pit reporters to keep up that intensity and get the real stories of who is where and why.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about the NASCAR Countdown show and the Sprint Cup Series race on ABC. To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.
For those of you who have been emailing me, click here for the link to the story on why the Rays vs. Red Sox game was off the air in the first inning on TBS.

Sunday Pre-Race TV Programming

Nicole Manske starts the NASCAR TV day when she hosts the 10AM ET one hour version of NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Ryan Burr and Marty Smith are on-site in Martinsville to report for the program.

Next up is NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED. John Roberts hosts this two hour live show with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace as his panelists. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the reporters. Venturini's Real Deal this week is a conversation with Rick Hendrick.

Live guests on the program include Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray. Features will include a look back at Burton's 1997 win at Martinsville and a profile of the pit crew coach at RCR who has made a big difference in the performance of all three RCR teams.

These two programs often cover the same content in very different ways. ESPN continues the very formal approach to TV while SPEED has casual attire and fun mixed together on a regular basis. Since it was the Trucks at Martinsville on Saturday, expect these shows to be all about The Chase all day long.

This post will serve to host your comments about NASCAR Now and Raceday. There will be a new post up at Noon for NASCAR Countdown and the Sprint Cup Series race.

Remember,'s RaceView is free today and you can access it at 1PM by following (click here) this link. This is the online live race video and you can choose from several audio sources including the team radios.

To add your comments on these topics, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.