Thursday, April 30, 2009

Busy TV Friday In Richmond

This may well be an outstanding Friday to record the daytime shows on SPEED. NASCAR is coming to this race after the amazing finish at Talladega and the tragic death of a media legend.

It will be Mike Joy front-and-center as SPEED comes on at noon ET with early Sprint Cup practice. There is little doubt that the topics mentioned above will dominate the early portion of the telecast, as perhaps they should.

Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will be on-camera for the first time reacting to the passing of their friend David Poole. Also involved as reporters for this session will be veterans Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum. Their thoughts and the interviews they conduct will set the tone for the remainder of the day.

This is a marathon Friday for Joy. He will also handle the second Cup practice session at 2PM with his Fox crew and then join Hermie Sadler and Phil Parsons for Nationwide qualifying at 4PM. To conclude his day, the NASCAR on Fox gang returns and Joy hosts Sprint Cup qualifying at 5:30PM.

When ESPN2 steps into the picture at 7PM for the Nationwide Series race, it will be Rusty Wallace up in the booth calling the action as Dale Jarrett has the day off. Wallace will be joined by Andy Petree and play-by-play announcer Dr. Jerry Punch.

Pit road reporter Vince Welch is also off, so Dave Burns, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little will handle all the action from pit road.

Once the Nationwide Series race is over, Trackside appears on SPEED at 11PM. Brian Vickers, Sam Hornish and Kurt Busch are the scheduled guests. Steve Byrnes hosts this hour with Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and McReynolds as the panel.

This is a very long day and in the early portions of practice there should be several opportunities for various NASCAR personalities to address both the passing of Poole and the mood in the garage after the Talladega accident. On this Friday, there is certainly plenty to talk about in NASCAR.

The full Richmond weekend schedule with all the TV details is posted on the right side of the TDP main page.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Friday TV coverage from Richmond. There will be a new post up for comments on the Nationwide Series race.

To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. There is nothing to join and we do not want your email address. We just want to know what you think of the SPEED coverage on Friday. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Have You Seen Carl Edwards On TV?

The Carl Edwards national TV tour is ending with an appearance on Thursday's NASCAR Now at 5PM on ESPN2.

How, why and what exactly all of this is about has started a lot of discussions. Larry King Live, Ellen, The Morning Show and other national TV programs talked to Carl and again rolled the Talladega footage over-and-over.

As King said when introducing Edwards, "let's see it again for the 750th time!"

If you have seen Carl Edwards on these TV appearances, could you share your opinion of what you think all this is really about? Publicity for NASCAR at a time when TV ratings are down? A personal agenda for Carl? A good agent?

For decades NASCAR drivers have been involved in accidents at various tracks that resulted in spectacular TV footage. Is that a reason to hit the talk-show circuit?

Perhaps, NASCAR Now host Mike Massaro will ask Carl about this week and how he wound-up traveling the country simply because he crashed into Brad Keselowski. When Carl turned teammate Greg Biffle in an earlier race at Talladega and caused a tremendous accident that affected the seasons of many teams, there was nary a mention of it on any of the programs listed above.

It was also noted that Matt Kenseth, who took a big tumble on Saturday in the Nationwide Series race, was not seated alongside of Carl on any of these TV programs.

If you saw Edwards appear somewhere we missed, just tell us right in the comments section. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks to Getty Images for the Talladega pic, click on it to see it full-size.

TDP readers are great! Thanks once again for sharing your opinion on this topic.

NASCAR TV And "Square Booty" Not Mixing Well

When Burger King switched to the new creepy King as their spokesman, it certainly was a radical change for the fast-food giant. The new advertising spokesman was a real man with a huge headpiece that made him a cross between a junior college mascot and a bad Halloween costume.

Now, there is a new ad campaign involving Burger King that has upset some NASCAR fans. Most of them are female and they have been making their views known across the Internet and also in the TDP emailbox.

Click here for an article from AdWeek about the new TV advertisements. Somehow, Burger King has crossed SpongeBob SquarePants with Sir Mix-A-Lot and come up with one of the most tasteless commercials in recent history.

The ads are actually promoting the Burger King giveaway of a SpongeBob toy. That simple message, however, is wrapped in an endless procession of dancing young women bending over to show their square-butts. For those old enough to remember the original Sir Mix-A-Lot video from 17 years ago, the BK version is certainly...interesting.

The topper is the creepy Burger King himself who wanders around with a measuring stick and at one point measures two big square-butts. Remember, this is a giveaway of a free toy for children, not an adult product or service. This commercial is supposedly aimed at the kids who watch SpongeBob and their parents. Needless to say, the complaints have been piling up.

Here is the official Burger King response:

"This commercial is intended to show that even adults can have fun, laugh and be silly with entertainment genres -- such as rap and pop-culture icons -- that have become part of everyday life."

That explanation might fly if not for the ill-advised conclusion of the commercial. Sir Mix-A-Lot makes a cameo appearance and utters the now infamous line that pushed many parents over the edge and put Burger King on the hotseat.

"Booty is booty," says the now 45 year-old former producer and rapper. That sound you hear is the official BK explanation crashing to earth.

In the Sunday Talladega race, the commercial spot in question aired on Fox multiple times. While the ad does not violate any broadcast TV guidelines, it certainly sends multiple mixed messages depending on the age and sex of the TV viewer watching it.

NASCAR has long prided itself on having a significant amount of female fans and works very hard to keep them. Many purchasing decisions are generated by the female head of the household and product loyalty is a term that NASCAR promotes at every opportunity.

Perhaps, dancing women in spandex with phonebooks in their shorts are not exactly the way to motivate adult female NASCAR fans to go to Burger King.

The adult references in the ad are also heard by young NASCAR TV fans who only know SpongeBob as a funny cartoon character who makes them laugh.

Either way, NASCAR TV continues to offer the phonebook shaking booty queens on a regular basis in racing content and NASCAR-themed shows. It seems the only real way the effectiveness of the ad campaign is going to be measured is at the front counters and drive-thru's of Burger Kings nationwide.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion on this topic. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.

TV Eyes Turning To Las Vegas For New Look Banquet

Now that NASCAR has made it official, plans are being formulated for the first post-season banquet week in Las Vegas, NV. NASCAR Chairman Brian France recently issued a statement on the move.

"I can't say enough about the warm reception from Las Vegas," said France. "Las Vegas really made it a priority to get the awards ceremony moved there. We were able to come to an agreement on reasonable room blocks, banquet facilities, and approvals to hold fan activities on the famous Las Vegas Strip."

France's comments suggest that the new look post-season activities may have little resemblance to the dated and scripted banquet televised each season on the ESPN networks. France himself seemed to show little interest in this function on TV and made cameo appearances that were painfully awkward.

Now, NASCAR has a blank canvas and seven months to get it painted. While that may seem like a lot of time, it is painfully short where both event planning and TV production are concerned. This is especially the case because of two small words in France's statement. They are "fan activities."

The biggest shift in the post-season party could be the inclusion of NASCAR fans. This season a trip to Las Vegas is more affordable than ever before and the potential exists to create an entirely new vibe for the drivers, teams and sponsors once the season is over.

TV viewers have seen the kind of blanket coverage SPEED has offered for the All-Star Race and other special events. ESPN has originated many NASCAR specials on-location at places like the Richard Petty museum, DEI headquarters and Daytona International Speedway. The potential exists to change the post-season TV coverage that has been a disaster since the new TV contract began in 2007.

Dreamers may look to large events like the X Games or the ESPY Awards. Realists may strive to preserve the tuxedos and the ballroom setting. In actuality, the opportunity to create a TV-friendly post-Homestead destination loaded with a combination of fan activities and team relaxation is very possible.

As we approach the halfway point in the season, it should be interesting to see what details start to emerge about the ideas being discussed for this first-time project.

Since TDP has luckily been able to get a great collection of NASCAR fans as readers, what are your suggestions for some post-season fun in Las Vegas? Tell us what you would like to see on TV for the awards ceremony and also what activities would get you interested in traveling to Las Vegas on December 4th?

To add your opinion on this topic, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Open Comments On The Passing Of David Poole

Here are some Twitter messages from various journalists and NASCAR personalities as the news of Poole's passing was made public:

that's racin': David Poole, Charlotte Observer racing columnist and expert, has passed at the age of 50. (This is the NASCAR website of the Charlotte Observer)

Jenna Fryer: David Poole will be terribly missed. His absence in the NASCAR media center will be tremendous. (Fryer is the AP and Yahoo! Sports NASCAR reporter)

Becca Gladden: David Poole, NASCAR Writer for Charlotte Observer for the last 13 years, passed away today. Thoughts go out to David's family. (Freelance writer)

Marty Smith: Very, very sad day. (ESPN NASCAR Lead Reporter)

Brian France: "The NASCAR community is stunned and saddened by the loss of David Poole." (NASCAR Chairman and CEO)

Click here for a direct link to that's racin' and a some great tributes to David.

Click here for a must read by Monte Dutton from the Gaston Gazzette.

We always had fun with David, who welcomed me to the NASCAR Internet world three years ago. His emails and comments were very helpful in designing the content and format of TDP. Our hearts go out to the entire Poole family.

Please feel free to leave your comments below. Just click the comments button.

Observation vs Experience On Monday's NASCAR TV

This was certainly an interesting Monday where NASCAR TV was concerned. Every Monday after a race, two of NASCAR's key TV partners each offer their own one hour review show.

ESPN was first with the roundtable version of NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Since this was the day after the Talladega race, the network brought out the big guns. Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree and Ray Evernham were on the panel with Allen Bestwick hosting. As Bestwick is known to say, this is a championship panel.

The topic of the day was the final lap accident in the Sprint Cup Series race. The panel was politically correct in the early answers about safety and concern for the injured fans. Then, things changed a bit.

Jarrett, Petree and Evernham work well together because they all have a broad range of experiences in the sport. All have been drivers, two have been crew chiefs and all have been owners. On this day, however, they were offering their opinions as observers.

Both Petree and Jarrett had flown to ESPN's studios in Connecticut after the Saturday Nationwide Series race. They joined Nicole Manske in a preview of the Talladega Cup race in the morning and then watched the race on TV.

"That was the most exciting race I have ever watched on television," said Petree. "I just love restrictor plate racing."

Jarrett said both Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards did exactly what they were supposed to do. Evernham quickly spoke up. "When you have both drivers that did exactly what they were supposed to do and you have a wreck that big, I think something needs to be done about the (yellow line) rule," said Evernham.

As one might expect, ESPN has a love of what is called B-roll. This is the footage shown while someone is speaking on-camera. Well, the main topic of the program was the Edwards crash. It was played approximately 35 times in the 48 minute show.

The upshot of the discussion was that the panel agreed that NASCAR would most probably change the size of the restrictor plate before the next Talladega race. Evernham was particularly outspoken with his comments and has been exactly the kind of expert ESPN hoped he would be now that his active NASCAR career is over.

Later that evening, the observations of the NASCAR Now crew gave way to the first-hand experience of the This Week In NASCAR gang. Just like ESPN did, SPEED called out the entire crew. Greg Biffle, Chad Knaus and Michael Waltrip were all on the panel and had all been involved in the Talladega race. It was the task of Steve Byrnes to control this group as the host.

Right from the start, all three panelists wanted to talk about the big accident and offer opinions on how and why things happened. As usual, it was a lot of Michael Waltrip and then some more Michael Waltrip. He has lots of ideas.

Chad Knaus was trying to be thoughtful and offered Talladega suggestions that ranged from no refueling under caution to adding a chicane on the backstretch. Waltrip countered with railroad ties as rear bumpers and no front bumpers. Greg Biffle tried to talk, but was constantly interrupted by Waltrip.

Byrnes and Waltrip are good friends and sometimes their conversations tend to dominate the show. This Monday was certainly a good example. Knaus and Biffle were non-factors, although they both contributed good preview information about Richmond and were allowed to answer email. Other than that, it was all Waltrip all the time.

Recently, Kenny Schrader has started to pop-up on SPEED in analyst roles on both the ARCA/REMAX telecasts and several episodes of Wind Tunnel. If there was ever a show that could have used Schrader, this was it. No matter how hard he tries and how much he smiles, Byrnes cannot put the clamps on Waltrip and that is a problem.

As usual, the features inside the program were outstanding and the panel always offers good information. What could have been changed was the dominance of Waltrip on an expanded panel where both Biffle and Knaus deserved more of an opportunity to speak.

TWIN is a formula show, however, and the one constant on the program for well over a decade has been Waltrip. Hosts and panelists have come and gone. Love him or hate him, Waltrip is the show and this week he certainly filled that role to the max.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your TV-related opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking time to visit The Daly Planet.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Talladega TV Coverage Destined For The Water Cooler

Just like the conversations and opinions concerning the various Sprint Cup Series teams and drivers, the discussion about NASCAR coverage on TV is diverse.

When Talladega rolls around, those discussions normally get a bit more intense, just like the racing. Click here for the TDP column and reader comments about the 2008 Fox coverage of the April Talladega event.

This season Fox and their sister cable network SPEED once again overlapped for thirty minutes from 1 to 1:30PM. SPEED was ending RaceDay while Fox was just taking the air from the Hollywood Hotel. This forced fans to choose between Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler talking to the drivers or Chris Myers, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond previewing the race. How and why this situation continues to happen is anyone's guess.

Fox has moved the booth announcers outdoors during the pre-race programming. This certainly hearkens back to the older style of NASCAR coverage and has presented some interesting backgrounds as well. One reason TV changed this practice was the TV booths themselves were able to be lit for live on-camera shots. This allowed the "upstairs" crew to turn around and get on-camera should a red flag or long caution occur.

By this time of the season it is clear that the Fox gang has some favorite drivers and this week Jeff Hammond took several airplane rides with one of them, Carl Edwards. This feature was just part of the Fox extended pre-race show.

After a morning hour of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and then two hours of RaceDay on SPEED, perhaps extending the Fox broadcast was not something that was going to really boost the ratings. It would be the racing that would take care of that issue.

Kudos to Fox in the Nationwide Series race review for editing-out the tasteless shot of a crying Katie Kenseth leaving pit road arm-in-arm with Krissie Newman after Matt's violent flip. The fact that ESPN actually replayed that footage on Sunday morning showed that network's learning curve is not over yet.

Again this season, both ESPN and Fox centered their promos and previews around "the big one." It was suggested that the tension would build until "the big one" late in the race would jumble the field and result in angry drivers. Well, the promise was never fulfilled. "The big one" came early.

Great pictures and sound were again wonderful in HD and the camera work was outstanding at a very difficult track to cover. Replays of the early crash were right on the money and told the story of how one error can lead to disaster.

The early accident took the momentum out of the broadcast and Mike Joy worked very hard to get it back. There were stories to be followed and the effort of Joy to tell them was a confirmation of his stature in this business. Joy directed a lot of traffic and kept things in order. His performance may be a lesson for others who will follow in his footsteps later this season.

Waltrip and McReynolds were effective and really made the situations that fans were seeing on the track make sense. Some high-profile teams just chose to run in the back, like Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch. Others, like Dale Earnhardt Jr., chose to push to the front at every opportunity.

One source of debate is the frequent use of the in-car cameras, especially "bumpercams" on the long backstretch at Talladega. The positive side is that the angle helps TV viewers to understand how close the racing really is in the era of the COT and bump-drafting.

The negative side is that the viewer's perspective is frequently interrupted or lost as the big hoods or tails of cars seemingly pop-up and then are gone. Cutting directly from one in-car to another is very tough, especially without the announcers helping identify the cars. It's not their fault, they are busy calling the racing action.

Once again at Talladega, it was tough to have four video boxes on caution flag pitstops. The pit strategies were so varied that one team would just be taking gas while another went for four tires and a full load of fuel. It rarely worked out that the race off pit road made sense by the time the Director cut to the wideshot.

The pit reporters once again made those stops work well for the viewers by adding facts about the team's day into the information being relayed during the stop. Fox handled interviews with the drivers out of the race and this crew showed why they are currently the best in NASCAR.

Digger made his presence known but was not a big interference. The cartoon at the beginning made no sense and the animated female cartoon character used over billboards was almost as annoying as the Fox NFL robot. What a strange distraction for the sponsor who is trying to feature a product.

The TV coverage of the final lap and the aftermath of the accident will be something discussed around water coolers on Monday and perhaps through the week. The TDP live blog of the race contained all kinds of opinions about how Fox ended the day.

What we do know is that Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski did almost exactly what Regan Smith and Tony Stewart had done earlier at the track. In post-race comments, Smith stated he did not want to turn Stewart and possibly cause him injury. Keselowski had no such issue.

It has been a very long time since a Sprint Cup Series car was in the air with the potential of getting into the spectator fencing and possibly the crowd. Fox followed the cars involved in the accident and then watched the drivers emerge, including Edwards jogging across the finish line.

The camera angles were replayed only after the network knew that all drivers were fine. The in-car shots of Edwards airborne and of Newman getting a face-full of car were spectacular because the TV viewers knew those drivers were not injured.

What was less certain was the status of the fans in the stands. Nothing was offered by the TV team except a shot of multiple ambulances along the frontstretch. It was not until Chris Myers confirmed for viewers well into the post-race that multiple spectators were injured did the reality of the danger sink in.

This is the same TV team that handled the Michael McDowell qualifying accident in Texas with professionalism and expertise. Click here for the TDP article about that day in NASCAR TV history.

On Sunday at Talladega, perhaps the situation was a bit different. The shock of such a violent crash and the prospect of injured fans surprisingly did not cause the broadcast to change course. Interviews went on as scheduled. The advantage, of course, is that the TV production truck and the announcers can use off-line cameras to see exactly what was going on in the stands.

The fact that they chose not to share those images or information with the TV viewers meant one of two things. Either fans were injured and being attended to at that time or there was no problem except for the broken fencing.

Not offering that information is certainly the right of the TV network, but ending the race and leaving the air without a NASCAR or medical official at least giving a general update was perhaps not the best choice.

Here at TDP, our readers got the information on the injured fans from Sirius radio and Twitter posts from the track. Shortly after that time, the information appeared on both the ESPN and Jayski websites.

Certainly, there will be many different opinions of this situation and all of them will have valid points. Ultimately, it will be up to NASCAR to determine what can be done so this discussion will not have to take place again.

ESPN2 will offer a full hour of Talladega conversation on NASCAR Now at 5PM Monday. Allen Bestwick will be joined by Dale Jarrett, Andy Petree and Ray Evernham. Over on SPEED, Steve Byrnes will host Michael Waltrip and Chad Knaus on TWIN as they offer first-hand observations of the racing weekend.

Thanks to Getty Images for the photo, click on it to see it full-size.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to share your opinions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks once again for taking the time to drop by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Live Blogging The Sunday TV From Talladega

Thanks to and ESPN for the injured fan information update.

So, here we go! Marty Smith is on NASCAR Now to start the day from the track. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree flew to Connecticut to appear in the ESPN studios with host Nicole Manske. It's pretty clear that Smith enjoys Talladega.

RaceDay on SPEED is always a party from the big track. John Roberts hosts two hours of chaos that includes Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler reporting live from the garage area. This is key to today's show because there is a 30 minute overlap between RaceDay and the NASCAR on Fox telecast. Why this happens each season is unclear.

Chris Myers starts the day for Fox from the Hollywood Hotel. He is joined by Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip for the pre-race show. This extended show is supposed to have several features, including Hammond flying with Carl Edwards. No advance word on the Digger cartoon.

Veteran Mike Joy will call the action from the broadcast booth. He will be joined by Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. On pit road is the best crew on TV with Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Dick Berggren and Krista Voda following the teams and drivers.

The field is full, the weather is great and the crowd is huge. This is a great recipe for Fox to recover from a tough outing in Phoenix. Keep an eye on the caution flag pitstop coverage which has been a problem this season.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Sunday TV from Talladega, including the pre-race shows. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for spending your NASCAR Sunday with The Daly Planet.

Friday And Saturday TV Wrap

Kenny Schrader set the tone for a solid presentation of the ARCA/REMAX Series race from Talladega on Friday. It was nice to see Schrader back on SPEED and like many fans I certainly hope SPEED considers adding him to the Monday TWIN show.

The veteran perspective of someone who is not active in the Sprint Cup Series would be a very good fit to balance out the current cast of Michael Waltrip, Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle. Schrader has the knowledge without the on-going agenda of the other panelists to hype their own teams.

The ARCA race ended a long Friday of sometimes tedious and sometimes exciting coverage from Talladega on SPEED. The single car runs of qualifying vs. the door-banging laps of practice made for two very different styles of TV coverage.

The NASCAR on ESPN team returned for the Saturday afternoon Nationwide Series race on ABC and immediately set the agenda by again focusing on Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch as if the calendar said October and not April. This is the time of the season to talk to everyone and feature as many teams as possible on TV, not the time to pretend that a championship is at stake in the race.

The action on the track proved to be the saving grace for ABC. Michael Waltrip was spun by Joey Logano at high speed in what many know as a Talladega-style racing accident. ESPN pit reporter Jamie Little interviewed Waltrip outside the Infield Care Center. Normally, this would be a positive sign that the telecast was improving by following-up on drivers out of the race.

Instead, Little repeated to Waltrip a radio transmission overheard from Clint Bowyer. It was taken completely out of context, just like the incident last season created by ESPN. Bowyer remarked that it was Waltrip in an accident yet again. Little confronted Waltrip who had not yet even seen a replay of the incident.

"What's your defense?" Little said to a puzzled looking Waltrip. This bizarre sequence of events was a reminder that ESPN can and will create controversy when it fits the network's agenda. This is not the question you ask a man who has just crashed at almost 200 mph. Little was off-base and so was the producer who made her ask the question.

Even as the racing continued to be red hot, the ESPN coverage showed the remaining problems in the broadcast team. Remember, this is the group that will take over the Sprint Cup coverage in July and bring the series all the way to Homestead.

Amid the great triple-split video on the pit stops, the wonderful graphics and the fantastic HD pictures there was the continuing problem of Dr. Jerry Punch trying to deal with accidents and spontaneous incidents on the track.

Punch is a reporter and his nature is to observe and then discuss. Mat Kenseth received a shove from his Roush teammate David Ragan and started a lazy spin down the backstretch. Instead of blowing some tires and coming to a halt, Kenseth's car turned over and began to roll violently.

"Over on his roof," said Punch. That was all he said from the time the incident began until the time the car came to a halt. "A wild ride for the Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth," stated Punch once the car stopped. As a reporter, Punch's first thought is to identify everything.

Adding insult to injury, the ESPN Director unbelievably cut to a shot of a pregnant Katie Kenseth crying as she walked off pit road arm-in-arm with Ryan Newman's wife, Krissie. This was before viewers or the TV team knew that Matt was not injured. Why and how this happened is something the ESPN TV team needs to discuss. Whether or not ESPN offers an apology to Katie Kenseth, this was the ultimate in tasteless TV.

As the race came down to a green/white/checkered finish, the duo of Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree had once again saved the day for TV viewers. These two step right in and supply fans with the information that Punch just cannot seem to get out of his mouth in a timely fashion. There was no better example than the final lap of the race.

"Here they go three-wide," said Punch as the TV cameras showed only two lines of well-formed cars. As the pack approached the finish line, there was a mad scramble at the front.

"Junior up high, David Ragan is there," stated Punch. "And here comes...David Ragan."

That was the entire call of the ABC play-by-play announcer at the end of a live Talladega race as it was won by inches.

How much longer can this go on? Punch used to be one of the most respected reporters in the sport, but his return to NASCAR after a long hiatus has not been kind. Instead of handling interviews in the Infield Pit Center and leading discussions among his colleagues, he is expected to perform in a position he cannot handle.

NASCAR fans can hear the excited voices of Mike Joy, Rick Allen and Dave Moody almost every racing weekend. The memories of Bob Jenkins, Eli Gold and Allen Bestwick are still fresh in the minds of many. A good play-by-play announcer leaves a legacy of words that can still produce chills years later.

Speaking of Allen, it was a short appearance by Allen and his telecast partner Phil Parsons as they had the Camping World Truck Series race interrupted and then delayed by rain. The action on the track was good and the coverage solid, but unfortunately the entire team will have to wait until Monday morning to finish the event.

The Friday and Saturday race coverage was interesting and showed the various approaches to producing NASCAR on TV. Did you watch the races? Please share with us your opinion of the coverage from the NASCAR TV partners.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking some time from your day to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series And Camping World Trucks

It's a back-to-back NASCAR TV doubleheader on Saturday. ABC covers the Nationwide Series race from Talladega and then SPEED hosts the Camping World Trucks at Kansas Speedway.

Allen Bestick will begin the TV activity at 2:30PM on your local ABC television station. Rusty Wallace is still on vacation, so Dale Jarrett will join Bestwick and Brad Daughery for the pre-race show.

Jarrett will then head upstairs (no easy task at Talladega) and join Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree to call the race. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

This TV production team is looking to recover from a rough outing in Phoenix last week. The entire telecast focused on Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch from start-to-finish. Green flag racing on the track was actually put aside while viewers watched Edwards' damaged car being inspected in the garage area.

Punch could hardly contain his enthusiasm when Busch got a lap back in the race. Needless to say, neither Busch or Edwards won the event. ESPN had egg on its face having wasted all this time profiling the two Cup drivers. All the stories of the other teams and drivers were pushed off the table.

Talladega should offer an opportunity to get back on the right track with long laps and pack racing. Hopefully, this event will allow the ESPN production team to highlight all the drivers and include as many sponsors as possible in this struggling series.

ABC is on the air until 6PM with the Nationwide coverage. SPEED comes on at 5:30PM with the CWTS pre-race show. So, once again NASCAR fans will be asked to choose between two NASCAR TV partners due to a scheduling conflict that should have been resolved long before this weekend.

Krista Voda is in Talladega for the NASCAR on Fox coverage, so Rick Allen will host the CWTS pre-race show from Kansas. Phil Parsons will join Allen while Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will handle the pit road coverage.

The trucks have a very diverse field that should result in some interesting racing. The TV crew has a very basic set-up and fans should see the old-style racing coverage that emphassizes the racing and keeps things basic.

This post will serve to host your comments about both the Nationwide Series on ABC and the CWTS on SPEED. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Friday, April 24, 2009

What If The Truck Race Rules The Weekend TV?

All the media hype is squarely on Talladega this weekend as the ARCA/REMAX, Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series race at the superspeedway. But, tucked away on the Saturday afternoon TV schedule is another event that might merit your attention.

The Camping World Truck Series is at Kansas Speedway for a race that will take to the air at 5:30 PM ET on SPEED. With the current economic woes, the CWTS is a rag-tag bunch of teams trying to scrape their way through the season. Some teams have fallen by the wayside, but others are continuing with the old racing spirit of operating on a shoestring.

SPEED has been the TV partner of the CWTS for a long time now and the telecasts of the series have developed almost a cult following. Many elements of the TV coverage are unique, from the simple and straightforward pre-race show to the consistent promise to treat every team equally when it comes to TV exposure.

The CWTS telecasts are stripped down and look a lot like the old-style NASCAR races that fans can stumble across on ESPN Classic or some of the regional sports networks. No gizmo's, no hype and no baloney. Just racing on TV.

Saturday in Kansas, the CWTS entry list is very interesting. The familiar faces like Johnny Benson, Todd Bodine and Ron Hornaday Jr. are there. But, from 57 year-old ARCA veteran Norm Benning to 23 year-old rookie female driver Gabi DiCarlo, the rest of the field is full of the very type of diversity that NASCAR has yet to accomplish elsewhere. Click here for a link to Jayski's Kansas race page.

By the time Sunday night at 10PM rolls around, there will have been over thirty hours of national TV programming originated from Talladega on four different television networks. Practice sessions, qualifying, news shows and preview programs will cover the weekend in-depth for the fans.

There will only be one telecast from Kansas of the truck race itself, no coverage of practice or qualifying. The race will come and go like a little blip on the NASCAR TV radar screen.

So, all of this begs the question. What if the TV coverage of the trucks in Kansas is better than either the Nationwide event on ABC or the Sprint Cup race on Fox?

Last week ESPN came to the table with a prepared script and followed Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch in the Nationwide race from start-to-finish. Click here for the TDP story about the coverage. The only problem was that once again racing reality interfered with the network's plans. Carl was eventually parked in the garage and Kyle got in all kinds of trouble. Neither TV hero won the race.

The NASCAR on Fox gang showed-up for the Sprint Cup telecast and were immediately buried in commercials and sponsorship elements from the pre-race show through the checkered flag. At times, it was almost comical in the amount of commercial elements the network tried in every way to force into the telecast. The result was a total on-air disaster and even lower TV ratings. Click here for the TDP column on that issue.

As SPEED returns to action with the trucks, it may well be a very interesting TV moment. The underfunded and bare-bones SPEED TV team will host their own pre-race show without a Hollywood Hotel or Infield Pit Center. Two announcers and two pit reporters will handle the commentary. No Tech Centers or cutaway cars will be in the coverage. There are no animated woodland creatures.

On this weekend with all three of NASCAR's national series in action, TDP readers have a great opportunity to compare the styles of ESPN, SPEED and Fox in producing NASCAR racing on TV.

There is also no doubt that somewhere at the headquarters of several NASCAR TV networks, interested executives will also be keeping an eye on exactly the same thing. What changes may result is anyone's guess.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below and follow the easy instructions. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read The Daly Planet.

SPEED Rules Talladega TV On Friday

As usual during this time of the season, SPEED rules at Talladega on Friday with coverage of three different series. The network's schedule begins at 11:30AM ET with Nationwide Series qualifying and runs all the way to Trackside at 7:30PM. The full Friday schedule is posted on the right side of the TDP main page.

Here are some things to look for on Friday. Hermie Sadler continues to have a strong presence working on the Nationwide Series coverage with Jeff Hammond. The Fox crew of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will handle all the on-track Sprint Cup Series action. SPEED's Camping World Truck Series announcers Rick Allen and Phil Parsons will call the ARCA/ReMax Series race.

Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Michael Waltrip will join the Trackside gang and that could result in some very interesting conversation. None of those three is shy about expressing opinions, including Gordon. Keep an eye on that show.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Friday TV coverage on SPEED from Talladega. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

NASCAR Reality TV Still In A Lurch

Anyone seen those missing NASCAR wives? Click here for the link to the TDP story back on January 6th talking about the new program series being produced for the TLC cable network. The working title for the series was NASCAR Wives.

Promoted as a behind-the-scenes look into the reality of being part of a racing family, the premise of the series sounded promising. Adding into this docusoap the names Kelley Earnhardt, Delana Harvick, Shana Mayfield, and Angie Skinner just made it that much more appealing. Where reality TV was concerned, this had all the makings of a winner.

The first episode of the program was delayed because producers wanted to wait until after the Daytona weekend to include that footage. TDP was told the rest of the program was done and after editing the Daytona content, the show would air in late March or early April.

Well, it is the last week of April and searching the TLC website for information about the show has been just what many fans have been doing. The results are less than promising. The only mention of NASCAR Wives is an old schedule page that shows the series beginning in late April. There is no video clip, no airdates and no updates on the episodes.

It seems that NASCAR Wives has joined NASCAR Confidential, Beyond the Wheel and 7 Days as more quality TV programming with no place to go. Veteran fans can click off many more shows from the good folks at The NASCAR Media Group that are no longer on the air. What a shame for the sport.

On a brighter note, former DEI executive Max Siegel has turned his attention to NASCAR's diversity program. Siegel is trying to grow diversity in the athletes who participate in the sport and he is going to use TV to help. This time, the network is BET and the title of the series is Changing Lanes.

Click here for a link to the NY Daily News story about the new TV series. Scheduled to air in 2010, BET has already ordered ten episodes of the show that will feature the efforts of two drivers to get a foothold in the sport.

The NY Daily News story also mistakenly states that TLC is already airing the NASCAR Wives series. As fans unfortunately know, there are no full length post-produced NASCAR program series on the air to enjoy. The best fans can hope for is an old race on ESPN Classic or one of the regional sports networks.

Part of the fundamental appeal of the NFL was the quality programming from NFL Films. Whether it was a sincere look at a great game or a hilarious thirty minutes of funny plays, the quality of the editing and the feel of the overall program made an impression that brought new fans to the sport and satisfied the veteran fans as well. It is this element that is missing from the NASCAR TV experience.

It seems ironic that several of the top NFL Films production staff are now working for The NASCAR Media Group. These are talented folks who are just waiting to be allowed to create another solid program series. After looking at some of the offerings on ESPN2 and SPEED, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that there are timeslots available that could be served by this type of NASCAR programming.

Perhaps some new networks will step-up and take advantage of the fact that the NASCAR TV partners are passing on this product category. It might be a great opportunity for new TV networks to get some NASCAR product on their TV screens without the big rights fees paid for the actual races.

Either way, you know it's been a tough year for NASCAR reality programming when the NASCAR Wives can't push their way through The Heli-Loggers and the Cake Boss to get on TLC.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

NASCAR Lives On Twitter

There was a time when the only way to enjoy a NASCAR race was either to attend in person or listen to the MRN radio broadcast. Later that week, the glossy NASCAR magazines and National Speed Sport News would arrive in the mail to fill-in the details of the races and show pictures of the action. My, how times have changed.

The hottest destination right now for NASCAR information is the messaging system. I would highly suggest that fans who get their NASCAR information online jump right in the deep end of this pool. Don't be scared, it's simple and free to sign-up and use. If I can do it, anyone can.

Twitter allows folks to follow the updates (called Tweets) provided by anyone from fan bloggers to the NASCAR TV networks. Jeff Hammond even blogs during the NASCAR on Fox races from the Hollywood Hotel.

Each Tweet is 140 characters long, or about three sentences. Folks like Jayksi update breaking news while reporters like Marty Smith offer previews of new stories and information fans have not yet heard online.

Twitter was suggested to me by an executive of the International Speedway Corporation who thought that updating the topics of my columns each day would benefit my website. It certainly did. Thanks to Lenny Santiago, who is also on Twitter.

Simply by typing NASCAR into the "find people" heading, fans get a good overview of many top NASCAR Twitter contributors to follow. By typing "NASCAR Twitter List" into the Google search page, fans can find various sites that have already done the work of combing through Twitter to find those NASCAR connections.

The benefit of Twitter is that you can easily view it anywhere. Desktops, laptops, Blackberrys, iPhones and even your inexpensive Sprint cell phone can keep you updated with NASCAR or any other sport or entertainment category you wish.

One feature I have enjoyed is the ability to easily add or delete people who I am following from my list. There are no hassles, so when the list gets too big or some organization sends out just a little too much information, they can go away with the click of a single key.

The list of stories on Jayski has always been a great starting place for fans, but Jay and many other popular sites including The NASCAR Insiders, Rowdy, Catchfence and that's racin' provide wonderful updates throughout the day.

So, if you are game to take the plunge, let us know what you think about this unique form of information updating. If you are a veteran Tweeter, let us know how it has been working for you and what you might want new fans to know.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks once again for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

NASCAR TV Better With Danica?

Whenever the New York Times takes a moment to talk auto racing, it gets the attention of fans nationwide. Click here for the paper's most recent story.

In discussing how NASCAR can attract new TV viewers, the name of Danica Patrick usually surfaces sooner or later. The NYT story was written because Patrick is now in the final year of her IRL contract with Andretti Green Racing.

Fans of the NASCAR Now program on ESPN may remember Patrick making a brief appearance last season. She was asked about someday possibly moving over to NASCAR. Patrick turned the tables on the panel and asked them to name some reasons why she should leave a solid contract with a good team. They had none.

Now, some circumstances have changed and one of the biggest involves the TV coverage of the IRL. As TDP reported last year, ESPN basically washed its hands of the IRL in a bold power play. The media company only wanted the Indy 500 for ABC and a mere handful of races for ESPN. If the IRL said no to the new deal, they would lose the national broadcast TV for their biggest event of the season. Needless to say, they caved.

Enter the Comcast-owned Versus cable TV network. The former Outdoor Life Channel had some cash in the bank and was looking for a new sport to add to its line-up. The resulting deal with the IRL put lots of races on TV and added some quality support programming as well. For the IRL, it was a relief. For Patrick, it was a significant loss in the national exposure that helps her drive revenue away from the track.

When asked by the NYT recently about a potential move from the IRL, Patrick's tune had changed. "It’s interesting to me as well," she said. "Do I stay where I am? Do I try to change? It’s all about evaluating options, and I think that’s something any good businessperson does."

When Patrick looks at the Sprint Cup Series, she sees every race televised on Fox, TNT, ESPN or ABC. Every lap of practice and qualifying is shown on national TV and there are endless preview and review shows on both ESPN2 and SPEED. Where TV is concerned, NASCAR's exposure makes the IRL TV deal pale in comparison.

So, what would Danica bring to Sprint Cup land? Humpy Wheeler says her presence would have a huge impact on the sport. Marketing maven Max Muhleman describes her as a "ticket selling machine." It seems rather ironic that NASCAR is currently searching for new storylines and also needs to sell more tickets to the races.

We all remember the open-wheel set from the 2008 invasion. Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti is back in the IRL. Formula One veteran Jacque Villeneuve never really got his effort off the ground. Sam Hornish continues to soldier on and Scott Speed has already missed one race this season. He is 38th in points.

The big difference is that Patrick might not have to win, or even contend, to grab the NASCAR limelight and use it for her marketing and sponsor campaigns. The 5 foot 2 inch Patrick weighs in at 100 pounds and has not been shy in using her looks to her advantage. The fact that she was born in Wisconsin, raised in Illinois and has a feisty temper to boot might play well with the NASCAR crowd.

There is absolutely no doubt that the TV networks would take full advantage of as much of Patrick's time as she would give. Danica on NASCAR Now, Danica on RaceDay, Danica on Trackside. The list goes on and on. So does the media exposure.

So, take a deep breath because this topic is going to continue to be talked about until Patrick makes a decision. On one hand, maybe coming to NASCAR in 2010 for a high-profile team would be a marketing dream for all concerned. On the other hand, the lack of success of the recent open-wheel invaders should cause any driver to carefully consider how tough it is to make the transition to stock car racing.

What is your opinion? Would you be more inclined to watch Sprint Cup races live next season if Patrick was in the field? Do you think it would give both the sport and the TV coverage a spark if she took the gamble and made the move?

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion on this topic. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.

TV Ratings Continue To Deliver A Message

There is a wake-up call being delivered by NASCAR fans nationwide. The only question is, will it result in change?

Here are the latest NASCAR TV ratings from

NASCAR on Fox posted a record-low 3.3/6 Saturday night for racing from Phoenix. Saturday's 3.3/8 is an -18% drop compared to last year's 4.0/7. FOX's rating at the green flag was just a 3.1/6, down -18% compared to last year's 3.8/7 when a long-running Yankees-Red Sox game drove some viewers straight into the first lap of the race. For the season-to-date, NASCAR On FOX is averaging a 4.9/10 in the metered markets, down -14% compared to last year's 5.7/11.(4-20-2009)

There was a time when the NASCAR on Fox franchise was the face of the sport. That network basically revived NASCAR at a time when the sport was in need of a steady TV partner.

The original development of the Hollywood Hotel and the introduction of the admittedly "West Coast kind of guy" Chris Myers added a new wrinkle to the sport. Myers antics on the air were an interesting contrast to the homespun Darrell Waltrip and the rodeo riding Jeff Hammond.

Topping off the team was the professionalism of Mike Joy and the intensity of Larry McReynolds. With a long history in the sport, Joy has a racing resume that is hard to top. For many fans, Joy is the voice of NASCAR on TV.

Fox is loaded with all the technical toys, a top-notch TV crew and a veteran production team. So, what's the problem?

If Phoenix is any indication, the coverage has shifted from the original priority of showing the racing to the new priority of paying the bills. The Saturday night race telecast was drowned in an embarrassing level of sponsor plugs and commercial elements that were forced into the telecast.

From the Subway sandwiches in the pre-race show through the Monster Moment toward the end, the NASCAR on Fox announcers never had a fighting chance to make this race interesting for the TV viewers. The announcers had been firmly handcuffed by the most powerful group in sports TV, the Ad Sales Department.

Over the years, the cast of the NASCAR on Fox team have become characters unto themselves. None of them are bigger than Waltrip. "Ole DW" has expanded his personal franchise, but it has come at a cost.

Waltrip steps back and forth between Fox and SPEED during these racing weekends, sometimes offering great commentary on the sport. Sometimes, however, he appears as nothing more than a shill for causes like Digger merchandise or the Toyota brand. Working both sides of the street may have finally caught up with him.

While some may try to point to the COT as a big problem where TV is concerned, the issue is deeper. Listening to the races on the radio and following the action on Trackpass offers a very different perspective. While the Fox TV coverage is driven by who is leading the race and the location of the high profile drivers, what is actually happening on the track may be much different. Sometimes, very different.

There are only five races remaining in the Fox portion of the Sprint Cup Series TV package this season. After the news of the continued decline in ratings, it should be interesting to see if the Fox team shakes things up for the remaining events.

Looking for the best racing on the track vs. following the leaders is a fundamental issue that TV has wrestled with for a long time. While the new dynamic of the COT and the rather different style of racing has been mastered by the teams, it certainly has not translated into substantive changes in the way racing is shown on TV by Fox. There has been a lot of the same old thing and it is not working.

This weekend at Talladega, Friday brings an ARCA race on SPEED. Saturday brings a Nationwide Series race on ABC and then a Camping World Truck Series race on SPEED from Kansas. Many fans will have seen three events by Sunday afternoon.

Incredibly, once again this season SPEED and Fox will actually overlap live on the air for thirty minutes as both Fox-owned networks air pre-race shows. NASCAR fans will be forced to choose between two NASCAR TV networks both trying to interview the same drivers live from the same track. Perhaps, not the best way to start the NASCAR on Fox coverage.

Talladega does offer the opportunity to change the momentum of this TV season and get things back on track. Clusters of cars and long caution laps should make the commercial elements a lot less painful than the Phoenix debacle. Great HD pictures and fantastic audio should keep viewers interested.

The only thing missing from this scenario of success is the Fox commitment to stay with the stories of the race and keep viewers updated on the non-superteams. Interview all the drivers who fall out of the race. Show us the rookies, the independents and the teams working to stay in the top 35.

The build-up to the TV coverage of the Talladega Sprint Cup race is going to be huge once again this season. Looking at the TV ratings, however, one thing is very clear. Fans do not and will not take the time to watch the same old coverage. The challenge of pulling fans from the DVR's and TiVo's to get them to watch the race live can only be met by one group. The NASCAR on Fox team.

Live coverage begins Sunday at 1PM on Fox with the green flag waving at 2:19PM ET.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. 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. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

A Brand New Bubba Is Coming To Talladega

The twists and turns of the 2009 NASCAR season continue to amaze. The former DEI #8 car is parked and Sprint Cup TV ratings are down over 15 percent.

Now, SiriusXM radio's Bubba the Love Sponge Clem has been named the Grand Marshal for the Aaron's 312 Nationwide Series race live on ABC from Talladega. Well, that should shake things up.

Mr. Clem, pictured above at the Adult Video News Awards, is sometimes called the second Howard Stern. Clem's long career in radio has walked a fine line between the raunchy humor of a shock jock and someone whose personal struggles seemed to manifest themselves on the airwaves. Despite his bravado, he sometimes appears to be a sympathetic character.

Click here for a link to the Tucker Carlson interview with Mr. Clem where he speaks about satellite radio and his belief in the Sirius brand. Scroll about halfway down the page, the link is on the left. Clem is well-spoken and on target with many of his comments. Clem and Carlson have since become friends, with Carlson regularly appearing on Clem's radio shows.

Contrast that by clicking here for the link to Mr. Clem's commercial website, which has some adult content even on the main page. Clem promises that paid admission to the site will allow access to material that is "uncensored by the government." Most of that content involves nudity, profanity and violence.

“We are thrilled that Bubba will be giving the command to start the Aaron’s 312,” stated Ken Butler, Chief Operating Officer of Aaron Rents, Inc. “Bubba’s love of racing is very apparent and I believe his ‘Bubba Army’ fan base is a perfect fit for Aaron’s and NASCAR.”

Clem's Grand Marshal duties will include greeting each of the drivers as they are announced on the driver introduction stage, addressing the Talladega crowd and issuing the most famous words in racing: “Gentlemen, start your engines.”

“I couldn’t be more honored or excited,” said Clem. He currently owns the 8-car race team, CRI (Clem Racing, Inc.). It consists of two dirt late models driven by Clem and renowned late model driver Keith Nosbich. Bubba’s 6-year-old son, Tyler Clem and 9-year-old Michael Atwell drive quarter midgets. The team competes across the US and has major corporate sponsorships. Tyler and Michael are also two of the youngest drivers to enjoy development deals with Stewart/Haas Racing, Tony Stewart’s new NASCAR racing team.

Click here for the official website of the radio program and all things Bubba. Media personalities that are selected to participate as Grand Marshal are usually carefully selected for specific purposes. Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond have taken their turns in support of the NASCAR on Fox brand, while comedian Kevin James was recently waving the green flag in support of his "Mall Cop" movie.

On one hand, Clem often refers to himself as "the most offensive person in the history of radio." On the other hand, he is certainly a racing fan and has personally involved himself and his family in the sport. One thing is for sure, NASCAR may never be the same after this Bubba strolls into Talladega later this month.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Lots Of Commercial Junk In The NASCAR On Fox Trunk

It was apparent from the start of the NASCAR on Fox Phoenix broadcast that something was different. The shorter 312 lap race distance was going to result in some changes for the TV viewers.

Those changes wound-up causing this race to be overwhelmed by sponsored elements and extended commercial breaks. On this night, there was lots of sales junk in the NASCAR on Fox trunk.

Chris Myers led Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond through a 45 minute pre-race show that involved a lot of sponsorship involvement and very little NASCAR information. The stark contrast between the RaceDay show on SPEED and the Hollywood Hotel program was amazing.

Fox had a mission in this telecast and it involved getting as much commercial material and sponsor features in the race as possible. 312 laps apparently was not going to allow coverage of the actual racing, but it would allow the network to show Digger cartoons, three minute commercial breaks, endless sponsor billboards and in-program features that the announcers would read.

When it was time for Mike Joy and company to take a break from the questions and the Cheese-It whatever, it was Myers and Hammond's turn to offer more sponsor mentions during a Hollywood Hotel race break. The assault on the senses by this paid material was nothing short of brutal.

Some of the top NASCAR TV announcers work for Fox. On this Saturday night, they were barely able to get complete thoughts out of their mouths before the coverage went to commercial or Joy was forced to interrupt with a paid element.

Adding insult to injury, the Fox team added recorded "bumpers" leading into the commercials that extended the time away from the track. Kurt Busch trying to look tough is perhaps not the best use of twenty seconds while the track is under the green flag. Is there a single fan who does not know Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s face?

The meltdown of the Fox production team was evident on the continued attempts to force the infamous four video box coverage of caution flag pitstops into the tight and fast Phoenix pit road. By the third caution, the video boxes had the wrong cars, none of the timing clocks worked and the 50 plus cameras could not even find the race off pit road. The embarrassed announcers quickly went to yet another commercial.

Returning to the track after that extended break officially put the race into the chaos zone. The green flag came out as the network returned and fans watching on TV had absolutely no idea what had happened or who was where. It was eventually explained that Jimmie Johnson's team had trouble on pit road through a replay.

State Farm Safety reports took the place of race recaps from the pit reporters. Fox baseball promos and Digger popping-up took the place of finding and showing actual racing on the track. The best the TV production team could muster was following the leader and trying to offer some forced jokes between commercials.

By the time Dale Earnhardt Jr. led the field to the green flag at lap 172, it was all but hopeless for Fox. The veteran announcers like Joy and Waltrip just scrambled to try and explain who was where and how they got there to the TV viewers. To see these veterans put in this position was tough to watch.

As in the earlier races on Fox this season, there was no type of rundown given of cars not in the top ten. Nothing like the radio-style rundowns was ever offered and the ticker at the top of the Fox screen offered its normal amount of background information. None.

Ultimately, the race played-out with a popular winner. Who was behind him and how they got there was a mystery. The stories of this race were never told. The TV professionals were buried in commercials and "Monster Moments." But, there was also something else fans missed.

In both the pre-race and the race itself, Fox refused to promote the Nationwide Series race next week at Talladega. The Sprint Cup race was promoted, along with tickets for the race and the phone number to order them. The Nationwide race is on ABC and this seems to be an issue for the Fox executives.

The current feud between Fox and ESPN that has resulted in the lack of on-air race promotion for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races is disgusting. The decline in TV ratings across the board and the economic struggles of the sport apparently take second place to the Fox egos where actually promoting a race on another TV network is concerned.

No part of this coverage would keep a casual TV viewer interested who channel-surfed over to this event. NASCAR fans with better things to do also left. Many of them added a comment or emailed TDP to make their feelings known about the condition of this sport on TV after two bad race telecasts on the same weekend.

All we can do is ask for your opinion on this telecast and perhaps some suggestions.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below and offer your TV-related opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for hanging in there this weekend and stopping by The Daly Planet.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Incredible Recovery Of NASCAR's Robbie Weiss

Earlier this month there was a gathering in Miami, FL. A group of professionals was being honored by The Sports Business Journal as being in the "40 under 40" group of top sports executives in the nation. Click here to see the full list.

Pictured above on the left is Paul Brooks, a Sr. VP of NASCAR and the President of the NASCAR Media Group. Brooks was in Miami to introduce a fellow NASCAR employee who was being inducted into the "40 under 40" club for 2009.

His name is Robbie Weiss and he is the smiling man on the right side of the picture. Weiss is in charge of NASCAR's TV contracts both in the US and around the world. Weiss is NASCAR's "TV guy."

Veteran fans may remember the pale faces and shaken expressions of the NASCAR executives as they took the stage on January 22nd during the Charlotte Media Tour. Jim Hunter, Mike Helton and Brian France all appeared to have their minds on other things. As it turns out, the issue on their minds was Robbie Weiss.

Earlier that morning, Weiss had suffered a brain aneurysm while at home packing for a NASCAR trip. From out of the blue, a vibrant and powerful media executive had been turned into a 38 year-old man slowly dying alone on his bedroom floor.

Luckily, Weiss was having some work done on his home and was eventually discovered unconscious by his contractor. The good news was that he was still alive. The grim news was that full recovery from a brain aneurysm is rare. Click here to visit the Brain Aneurysm Foundation homepage.

After emergency brain surgery, Weiss wound-up in the Neurological Intensive Care Unit at Presbyterian Hospital in Charlotte. He remained unconscious and on a ventilator while his family assembled to deal with this new and unexpected challenge. If there was any question that Weiss was going to fight for his life, it was about to be answered.

Only four days after the aneurysm, Weiss opened his eyes and mumbled "hi." The ventilator was removed the same day. Weiss had movement on the right side, but the left side of his body was not responding.

Struggling to provide some good news, his family told him that he had been nominated for the "40 under 40" award. They had no idea if he understood.

Once the fast pace of modern life gives way to the slow and plodding recovery path from an aneurysm, small things take on new meaning. February 2nd brought the gift of eating solid food. Two days later the hospital's physical therapists got Weiss out of bed and stood him up. He also completed saying his ABC's correctly.

On February 13th, Weiss left the Presbyterian Hospital and was transferred to a local rehabilitation facility. He was not sent in an ambulance. He wanted to walk to the transport van and get in himself. Hospital staff may still be talking about his determination.

Only twelve days later, Weiss was cleared to go to Florida for therapy at a rehab center in Delray Beach. This would allow him to be near his family. Slowly but surely the mental, physical and emotional recovery continued. Although life will never be the same, Weiss continued to progress.

The next chapter of the saga was Weiss returning to Charlotte for a major check-up at Presbyterian Hospital. On March 30th, Weiss amazed doctors with his progress and was cleared to resume what most of us would call a normal life.

Five days later, Brooks introduced Weiss in Miami at the "40 under 40" dinner. Weiss made a simple and thoughtful speech about his life, his family and his friends. He thanked the contractor that found him unconscious, the doctors that operated on his brain to save his life and his colleagues at NASCAR for all their support.

It had been 71 days since the aneurysm. Weiss was the only honoree selected to give a speech. He received a standing ovation.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Phoenix Nationwide Series TV Coverage Tough To Watch

It was lap 119 of 200 scheduled for the Nationwide Series in Phoenix when ESPN's Dale Jarrett finally remarked that the race had the potential to let "some other guys" possibly win. That would be anyone in the field other than Kyle Busch or Carl Edwards.

ESPN's fascination with the Cup drivers who participate in the Nationwide Series races has never been more clearly on display than Friday night in Phoenix. Other than two brief recaps of drivers running in the top twenty, the TV coverage was squarely aimed at Edwards and Busch. The ESPN scripted style of race coverage had returned.

How and why this dynamic is unfolding this season is a mystery. In the field are great stories from veterans trying to work their way back to the Cup level to young drivers leaving everything on the track while trying to keep their NASCAR dreams alive. The decision not to tell these stories is ruining the series on TV.

Announcer Jerry Punch was giddy when Busch got a lap back to remain in contention. He was heartbroken when Edwards was forced to pull off the track with engine problems. The ESPN coverage continually showed Edwards in the garage with the hood up and the car silent.

Once again the dreaded "points now" graphic was used endlessly as if fans did not know the calendar said April. Jarrett summed up the issue at the end of the race after Punch again tried to build the fake drama as the series heads to Talladega. Jarrett remarked that Edwards can make up the points deficit in just one race.

Two cars pulled off the track before lap twenty and headed straight to the garage. Once again, ESPN did not follow-up the growing "start and park" controversy by determining what mechanical issues "forced" these cars out of the race.

Edwards and Busch are certainly the fastest drivers in many Nationwide races, but the story of the season revolves around the other teams in the field and the sponsors who continue to support the series. Has there ever been a year where this issue has been more crucial?

There was often good racing on the track, but the TV scenario was limited to Busch, Edwards or the current leader of the race. This really makes it tough to watch when a scripted TV theme dominates the telecast regardless of what is actually happening on the track.

By the end of the race it was clear that the ESPN script was not going to play-out and Punch would have to settle for trying to hype Greg Biffle and Jason Leffler battling it out during a green/white/checker finish. Biffle's win at least allowed ESPN to exit the air by interviewing a Sprint Cup Series owner.

Several times during the telecast the network flashed the TV motorsports calendar for racing fans. The glaring absence of the Saturday night Phoenix Sprint Cup Series race on Fox showed the animosity between the two TV networks and the willingness of ESPN to put NASCAR on the back burner anytime it pleases. It was almost painful to hear Allen Bestwick read the promos without the Cup race being mentioned.

As usual, the pictures and sound were outstanding and that is the shame of this telecast. Used correctly and without the bias toward Busch and Edwards, these TV tools could have brought the mix of drivers, good racing and constantly changing storylines right into homes of NASCAR fans across the country and around the world.

SPEED handled the live Nationwide Series practice and qualifying by introducing the teams and setting-up the stories of the day. Hermie Sadler and Jeff Hammond conveyed the issues confronting the teams in Phoenix and built-up the excitement of the race. Kudos to SPEED for treating all the Nationwide teams as equal.

ESPN had the goods for an outstanding telecast delivered to them on a silver platter. Instead, the network followed the script and wound-up with egg on its face once again. Talladega looms as a test of continuing this scripted approach or simply covering the events on the track as they unfold.

Did you watch the race? TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Click here for a link from our friends at Frontstretch. Brian Davis Keith has a good commentary on the TV coverage of the Nationwide Series.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live Blogging NASCAR on Fox In Phoenix - 8PM ET

Digger should be right at home in the Phoenix desert. At one end of the odd-shaped speedway is Rattlesnake Hill and at the other is one of the meanest sunsets on the Sprint Cup Series tour.

It will be 8PM when Chris Myers leads the NASCAR on Fox team on the air with Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip alongside from the Hollywood Hotel. Look for more of the same in this show, including lots of team Hendrick and a smattering of Kyle Busch.

Mike Joy will call the action in the race that takes the green flag at 8:46PM. Put on a pot of coffee, it is going to be a long night. Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will be alongside Joy. Down on pit road will be Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren.

Phoenix makes great pictures and sound at night. The roar of the cars and the sparks should make some great TV once the sun sets. The track has a nasty D-shaped backstretch and lots of the passes and crashes take place in this area.

Click here for a link to the TDP column of this race last season. Remember the big Fox baseball vs. NASCAR disaster? Yep, this was the weekend that Waltrip did the pre-race show during MLB rain delay and then the game ran right up against the green flag. Talk about a no win situation.

This season there is ninety minutes scheduled between the end of the live baseball game and the start of the Phoenix race coverage. With the MLB game in progress and no sign of rain on the horizon, perhaps things will be a bit smoother this season.

Fans also may remember that this race ended last year with Fox showing the winner and no other car cross the finish line live. TV viewers got camera shots of the pit crew and the winning car slowing down as the rest of the field furiously battled to the finish line.

This season the NASCAR on Fox team has consistently used a wideshot to show all the lead lap cars crossing the finish line. This has been a wonderfully positive change and one that has allowed Joy, Waltrip and McReynolds to keep the excitement level high while the storylines throughout the field play-out.

The action is fast in the pits at Phoenix and the reporters are going to have to keep fans updated all night long. This was a big failure of the ESPN Nationwide Series coverage on Friday as the stories of the teams not in the top ten were never told. Well, unless those stories involved Carl Edwards or Kyle Busch.

The diverse Cup Series starting field includes spoilers with nothing to lose like Regan Smith and Scott Speed. There are also potential start and park teams like Joe Nemechek and Dave Blaney. It should be interesting to keep an eye on that issue. Scott Riggs also finally made a race and has something to prove about his effort this season.

Keep an eye on whether Fox uses the triple or quad video split on the caution flag pit stops. The network has flip-flopped on this issue in 2009 and the tight pit road in Phoenix might make the triple split much better for the fans.

Digger has been low key in the races recently but has returned in the pre-race show with his cartoon series. Phoenix has great track level camera shots, so this may cause the Digger animation to once again become a bigger part of the telecast.

This post will serve to host your comments about the NASCAR on Fox coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks once again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Have You Seen "3 Wide Life" Yet?

There are few independent TV series on-the-air today about NASCAR. Between getting access at the race tracks, buying footage from the sanctioning body and trying to schedule driver interviews, the challenge is daunting.

Once again this year, Leverage Sports of Charlotte, NC is producing one such TV series called 3 Wide Life. After a tough start last season, the show has taken on some new cast members and made a splash on the TV scene.

One reason for that splash is named Shane Hmiel. Rarely does NASCAR like to have someone who has struggled with off-track issues appear on TV and talk racing. Hmiel has proven to be fearless in his new sobriety and takes on all types of email questions from viewers. Off-camera, Hmiel is driving sprints and midgets with solid success, including a midget sponsored by the 3 Wide Life series.

The current episode of the series features an exclusive profile of Red Bull driver Scott Speed, who is pictured above. Questions include putting Speed on the spot about his last name. The series producers have been after Speed for an interview and promise that his segment on the program will not disappoint.

Tony Rizzuti hosts a tech segment in each show and this time is at the huge Windshear rolling wind tunnel. Seeing this amazing contraption never gets old and Rizzuti will update fans on what the facility has been doing with official NASCAR testing at the tracks still banned.

Charlotte local Brittney Cason hosts the program and her location this week is the historic Greenville Pickens Speedway. ARCA driver Steve Arpin is interviewed and the history of the Greenville Pickens track will also be explained to viewers.

The website is the best way to find the TV program in your area. The show appears almost everywhere on local TV stations, regional sports networks and other media outlets. Check it out if you have a chance and give us your feedback.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thank you for taking time out of your day to stop by The Daly Planet.

Fourteen Hours Of Friday NASCAR TV From Phoenix

The TV express is leaving the gate at 11AM sharp Eastern Time and not taking a break until 1AM the next morning. NASCAR fans have 14 hours of TV programming coming their way on Friday from Phoenix.

The SPEED team takes to the air first and stays live right up until the 9PM Nationwide Series race on ESPN2. Steve Byrnes and Mike Joy will take turns directing traffic all day long as the network covers practice and qualifying sessions for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series.

Joining Byrnes and Joy are the usual suspects, including Hermie Sadler who again will be handling the Nationwide Series on-track activity from the announce booth. Sadler will call the practice session with Byrnes and then have the opportunity to work alone with Joy on qualifying. Sadler has come a long way and with lots of hard work has turned himself into a very credible analyst.

By the time the Nationwide Series takes to the air at 9PM, ESPN's Jamie Little will be out on the West Coast. NASCAR fans may remember that last year Little held off Mike Skinner in a fender-bending final dash to the flag to capture the pro-celebrity race during the Long Beach Grand Prix weekend. This year she is back to defend her title. This time, however, she starts in the back of the field with the pro's.

Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and pit reporter Dave Burns also have the weekend off. It seems that some folks are enjoying spring break after all. Mike Massaro steps-in for Burns, while Dale Jarrett will do double duty on the pre-race show with Allen Bestwick and then up in the booth alongside Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree.

When all the racing on ESPN2 is done, fans get a nightcap with Trackside on SPEED at midnight ET. David Stremme and Martin Truex Jr. are the guests.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about the marathon of NASCAR TV on Friday from Phoenix. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

TV Would Thrive With Re-Vamped Banquet In Las Vegas

When the Las Vegas Review Journal broke the story, many of us were left looking for a second form of confirmation. LVRJ Reporter Jeff Wolf was clear in saying that the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has reached an agreement in principle.

Now, it is expected that NASCAR will shortly announce what we have been advocating for the past several years. The post-season Sprint Cup Banquet is leaving New York City and moving to Las Vegas. That is a shocker. Click on the picture of Jimmie Johnson's car in NYC for a reminder of the past.

While NASCAR executives are still playing coy, LVCVA President Rossi Ralenkotter has said publicly that after many years in Manhattan, the function is coming to Las Vegas. "Some deal points still need to be finalized," Ralenkotter said.

Even if those issues like the number of years and the advertising for Vegas itself at the function are still being hammered out, the deal itself is a good one. The LVCVA would pay NASCAR between $500,000 and $1 million for each year of the contract. NASCAR has the option of selecting the venue for the banquet, likely to be Dec. 4. Click here to read the entire story from the Review Journal.

TV has long been an issue where this function is concerned. After some early informality, the last years of the banquet being televised have been horrible. Despite some moments of humor, the vast majority of the TV coverage has consisted of uncomfortable drivers in unfamiliar circumstances carefully reading a teleprompter that contains a speech they did not write.

Now, the opportunity for a change of venue also signals a moment in time where wholesale changes to the format and purpose of this multi-day affair can be reviewed. This comes at perhaps one of the most critical junctures in the history of the sport.

Taking a very big step back and evaluating the issues associated with the post-season function should result in several topics being discussed. Altering the formality, evaluating the entertainment choices and using modern Internet and television technology to involve the fans all have to be at the top of the list.

Las Vegas opens up an entirely new set of possibilities that need to be coordinated by some new and fresh faces both inside and outside NASCAR itself. While Bruton Smith might try to wrangle some additional exposure for his Las Vegas track, the reality is that New York City had run its course and this is the right time for a change.

If NASCAR wrangles a three year deal with the Las Vegas authorities, it may well be because Charlotte, NC is still on the radar for the sanctioning body where all three post-season banquets are concerned. The multi-million dollar NASCAR Hall of Fame complex is deeply tied to the Charlotte Convention Center and designating that location as the final stop for all three national series may be the ultimate goal.

That gives Las Vegas three years to get things pointed in the right direction and make a case for keeping the function there permanently. Judging from the last several banquets the professional entertainers, event planners and television professionals from the Vegas strip should have very little problem making a significant improvement. First teleprompters.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion on this topic. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

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