Wednesday, May 28, 2008

TNT Unveils "RaceBuddy" To Shake-Up Your Summer

We knocked on the TNT door and asked them to come out and play. The response was certainly not what we expected. This page over at has some of the most interesting TV and Internet information about the sport that you will ever read.

There will be a full column posted about TNT's RaceBuddy promotion as soon as we finish filling-in all the details. Chances are, if you went to the page link above, your interest is peaked as well.

TNT fully intends to shake-up your NASCAR summer in a very big way. Let's take a moment to get an overview of what is happening. is a website run by a company called Turner Interactive based in Atlanta, GA. That Turner company is a sister to Turner Network Television, or TNT.

As most fans know, has the Internet video rights to all of the NASCAR races and allows fans to watch for about $20 a month on something called Sprint RaceView. This Internet streaming is accompanied by all kinds of audio links and live info and camera choices. You can even pause and replay the races from your computer.

Fox and ESPN cannot dip into this technology or use this type of connection with to their advantage. But, TNT certainly can. The RaceBuddy promo that appeared this week opened-up some new doors for cable TV viewers by inviting them to use their broadband access computers as a "companion piece" to the TV set.

If you would like some background on how all of this ties together, this is a past column talking about "convergence" and how it is rapidly approaching for all of us.

Needless to say, the TNT promo information contains some items that viewers have been wanting to hear for some time now. One, that the live race will be streamed to your computer for free and you can control the camera angles. Two, that your questions can be sent directly to the announcers as the race is in-progress and they will answer you on-the-air. Three, that you can upload a video question in advance and see yourself being played-back on the TNT broadcast. Well, all of this kind of puts "Digger" in a new perspective.

TNT is rolling-out an integrated NASCAR concept that will fully incorporate your laptop or desktop PC actively into the broadcast. To fully participate, you will need to have something more that "just your TV" even if it is an HDTV. Talk about convergence.

We are working with TNT to offer a full column and several updates on RaceBuddy as we approach their first race weekend. On the TV side, the on-air crew remains the same and the format of ninety minute of pre-race does as well. Once again, TNT will be going up against RaceDay, but this time they will be using a couple of new tools.

If any additional information becomes available over the next couple of days, it will be updated here. Otherwise, look for a full TNT column on Monday as the lead-in to what may be a very interesting series of six summer races.

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Logano's ESPN Exposure Helps Nationwide Series

With the Sprint Cup and Craftsman Truck Series taking the headlines this season, the struggling Nationwide Series really needed a shot in-the-arm. Enter Joey Logano and the ESPN media machine.

As we documented in this column, Logano spent Wednesday at ESPN moving through the various media companies located at the Bristol, CT campus. It was very clear that the word was out to be prepared for his visit, and the resulting interviews showed the continuing change at ESPN where NASCAR is concerned.

Dana Jacobson and the First Take crew did a nice and conservative interview in the morning on ESPN2. Logano was treated very well, and for a group of on-air announcers who specialize in stick-and-ball sports, things began for the driver on a solid note.

It was ESPNEWS anchor David Lloyd who handled Logano during his appearance on The Hot List in the afternoon. As we have mentioned before, Lloyd and almost all of the other ESPNEWS anchors have been at the forefront of a very dramatic change this year.

Wherever it came from, NASCAR fans have been very appreciative this season as ESPNEWS has embraced NASCAR. The Logano interview continued this effort, with good questions being put to the young driver with respect and a sense of humor.

Aside from an chat session and an ESPNRadio appearance, Logano's finale for his long day was a featured studio appearance on NASCAR Now. It was Nicole Manske hosting the Wednesday show and handling the interview duties.

No one has been more surprising this season than Manske. Free from the old format of The SPEED Report, she has blossomed into an effective show host and reporter with the ease of a TV veteran.

Manske had a nice interview with Logano, and tried to search a little more for the true personality of the young man than the other ESPN hosts. Manske's trademark has been the ability to push interview subjects a little bit, but not too much. She did this well with Logano.

The surprise of the show was the follow-up interview with Joey Logano's father. Manske's questions helped viewers to understand how the elder Logano's son has stayed seemingly so well-balanced. It was nice to have another solid family added to the NASCAR ranks for all of the fans to see. Logano will not be hard to pull for, especially among younger fans.

Brad Daugherty was well-spoken in his comments about Logano, but until the racing resume starts to form in NASCAR's top three series, the talk will just be talk. Logano's father made the point that the media hype drew a lot of the attention to this mid-season start of a young Nationwide Series driver. It will be up to his son to carve out his own career.

Manske's pop quiz with Logano to end this show really reminded all of us that this is a young man with normal interests like girlfriends and video games. His infectious grin and good nature was the main impression from this segment that tried to focus on things other than racing.

All in all, this was a very good day for Logano, ESPN and the Nationwide Series. If he can pay it off with a win at Dover, there is no doubt we will be seeing Mr. Logano again quite soon on NASCAR Now.

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