Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Waiting For TNT To Advise Weber's Status For Daytona (Updated)

Update: New post is up addressing the TNT information that Weber has been released from his duties this season on TNT's NASCAR events.

Twitter and the Internet have been busy today talking about TNT's Bill Weber. Several reporters have suggested that Weber will not be in the booth for TNT's Wide Open coverage from Daytona this weekend. So far, TNT says that is speculation.

Official word from the TNT folks should come down soon as the time begins to shorten to get things in place with Weber or without him. As TV viewers know, TNT chose not to acknowledge Weber's absence on Sunday or even mention his name.

Things happen in life and certainly happen on the road in both the TV and NASCAR world. Weber has been involved in the sport for a very long time. Veteran fans may remember him as a reporter for Inside Winston Cup Racing on TNN back when Ned Jarrett hosted the show.

Once TNT gets things sorted out, TDP will be informed and will pass the information along to all of you about the upcoming coverage. TNT only has two races remaining, Daytona and then Chicago. Weber has been a part of that TV team since the new contract began in 2007. As they say in the business, stay tuned.

Update: 4PM ET and no info from TNT about Sunday's NASCAR announcers.

Final Tuesday Update: There will be no official information from TNT about this issue on Tuesday. Information is expected to be released later this week.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, we will update this topic continuously.

Mayfield And The Media About To Dance Again

The Tuesday story from AP reporter Jenna Fryer opened the door to the next chapter of the Jeremy Mayfield saga. It puts in serious doubt Mayfield's claims that a mix of prescription drugs and an over-the-counter sinus medicine caused his failed drug test.

Click here for the direct link to Fyer's story. Here are some excerpts:

NASCAR filed court documents Monday night that show an independent laboratory found an illegal substance in the urine sample that led to Jeremy Mayfield's suspension for a failed drug test.

The documents, part of NASCAR's response to Mayfield's lawsuit to have his indefinite suspension lifted, show that Medtox Laboratories in Minnesota tested both his "A" and backup "B" samples last week and "confirmed the presence" of a substance that is blacked out in the filing.

In Monday's filing, NASCAR claimed Mayfield provided a prescription for Adderall that he received from the "Vitality Anti-Aging Center & Medical Spa" in Hickory, and not his personal physician.

Mayfield had been using the media to carry his message of innocence to the public since the original suspension. "What if he is innocent?" said many journalists on the Internet, on TV and in print. Certainly, Mayfield's claims originally raised questions.

Currently, there is a gag order for both sides, who will meet in US District court on Wednesday. Mayfield is seeking an injunction that will allow him to return to racing during this process. That could be as early as this weekend in Daytona.

Tuesday and Wednesday should be interesting where this topic and the media are concerned. If you hear this disussion on the radio or see this topic appear on ESPN or another TV network, please tell us how it went and how both Mayfield and the sport were treated.

TDP is a TV and media blog. The Mayfield topic should slowly start to move from Fryer's AP report onto mainstream media like SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, and CNN. It may be a topic for Sirius Channel 128 as well as Internet podcasts like Rowdy and others.

We welcome your comments on the role of the media in the Mayfield issue. To add your opinion on this topic, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Saturday's Classy TV Presentation Of Two Struggling Series

It was a long TV day for many motorsports fans who watched a twin bill of NASCAR and then tuned-in to watch Danica and the IRL boys run in Richmond, VA.

Marty Reid joined the NASCAR on ESPN team as that group televised the Nationwide Series race from Loudon, NH on ABC. Things got off to a shaky start as one Nationwide driver asked an ABC pit reporter why the just-completed NASCAR Modified race was not televised on SPEED. At least it was a good question.

Things settled down a bit as Allen Bestwick handled the pre-race show. One big surprise was his cohort Rusty Wallace lowering the boom on Kyle Busch on national TV. Wallace explained that he did not like the way Busch had treated the media or the fans recently. Wallace said on TV what many fans had said online. Time for Busch to grow-up.

Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were both back from vacation and returned in fine form. Coupled with the veteran Reid, these three made a great combination on the air that may have raised some eyebrows back in Bristol, CT.

Reid led the two through the race by calling the action on the track and letting Jarrett and Petree stick to adding their expertise as the events unfolded. This new dynamic worked well because Reid also used the pit reporters relentlessly during the entire race. This may well have been the best event of the season for ESPN where information from the pit reporters was concerned.

Reid also established the tone by calling the start-and-park cars out every time one left the track. Although the producer chose not to follow-up with any interviews, Reid made it a point to explain to the TV viewers whenever a car went to the garage. This honest and upfront approach was very different from the head-in-the-sand world of other NASCAR broadcast teams.

The New Hampshire flat track once again featured passing on pit road during caution flag pit stops. ESPN has recently been struggling with this issue on TV and did again during this event. Basically, the network sets-up three cars in video boxes and provides a long view of pit road. Viewers watch the three cars get service and then are able to watch all of them race to the pit exit.

Now, ESPN cuts cameras inside the pit stops, completely losing any perspective that has been established for the fans and also missing the field as they leave the pits. For a TV network that prided itself on establishing this production piece, things have certainly changed.

Luckily, the on-air team continued to do a great job with the commentary while those pit issues were underway. The commercial timing was great and the pictures were once again super in HD. Speaking of HD, several emailers asked about a less-than-crisp audio mix during the NH portions of the race that cleared-up when ABC showed commercial breaks. My tech guru suggests some transmission issues may have compressed the audio.

The ESPN crew also has a very good two-box video effect used for many situations, including pit reports under green and also Tim Brewer's updates. Perhaps, prior to the upcoming Sprint Cup coverage, the team might consider keeping the racing in the big box and trying the reporters in the small one.

Even with the flat track and not a lot of passing, the commentary from all ten of the NASCAR on ESPN announcers made the race enjoyable. It was good to have Jarrett and Petree back in the booth and it was amazing how well they responded to Marty Reid. Ironically, a nice Kyle Busch interview was featured post-race. Maybe he did listen to uncle Rusty.

SPEED was up next with the trucks and Krista Voda was handling the pre-race show from a steamy Memphis. To her credit, Voda hung-in on pit road for the entire thirty minute show in blazing temperatures. Voda is a Pittsburgh resident, so that kind of heat is going to make for a good story in the off-season.

Everyone knows the trucks are struggling and SPEED updated the fact that a meeting next week may change the complexion of the series for 2010. The SPEED team has done an amazing job with this series over the years and hopefully it will be able to continue despite the tough economic times.

Rick Allen and Phil Parsons were without Michael Waltrip and some of the excitement viewers are used to hearing from the SPEED team was lacking. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander did great work on pit road, but the field was dominated by Ron Hornaday and was just a bit thin to create any good battles on the track.

Once again, the TV cameras could not hide the fact that the crowd was small. Seven trucks pulled off before lap 30. Only 21 of the 38 starters were within 50 laps of the leader when the 200 lap race was over. Something is going to have to change soon to help SPEED get through this season.

Ironically, the IRL race was next on the Versus TV Network and immediately one thing jumped out again. The side-by-side commercials that allow the racing to continue on the screen and offer the sponsors additional signage while the spots play is outstanding. Certainly, for both the Nationwide and Truck Series this has to be considered soon.

It was a good double feature of NASCAR on Saturday, but we would like to know your thoughts on this coverage. 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 for taking the time to stop by.

To view the picture of Kyle Busch catching the checkered flag in New Hampshire, just click on it. Thanks as always to Getty Images for the help with great photos.

TDP will be live blogging the Sprint Cup Series race on TNT Sunday afternoon. Please join us.

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series On TNT from Loudon, NH

The big news on Sunday morning was that TNT's Bill Weber had been sent home from New Hampshire. Ralph Sheheen is going to step into the play-by-play role for Weber during the live telecast. As you can see from the photo above, Sheheen is not stranger to NASCAR.

According to thatsracing.com, Weber was involved in a loud and public confrontation late Friday night at the TNT hotel. Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant reports Weber received a one race suspension for his actions. No further information has been or is expected to be released by the network.

The TNT booth announcers were not involved in the Friday telecasts, although the pit reporters participated in the coverage of practice and qualifying on SPEED. Weber was at the track on Friday and the incident in question was apparently much later on Friday night.

So, Sheheen will jump into the play-by-play role that is familiar to him. Sheheen is a TV and NASCAR veteran who can usually be seen on SPEED handling the various motorcycle coverage. As veteran fans know, Sheheen has a long history in NASCAR and continues to live and work in the Charlotte area.

The TNT analysts Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds did not mention a word about their broadcast partner Weber during the pre-race shows. Wally Dallenbach also passed on the opportunity when he was shown in the TNT booth with Sheheen.

New Hampshire is a flat track that tests the patience of both the drivers and the TV crew. Little passing and slow spins in the corner are the TV profile of this track. Veteran fans may remember that soft walls were added after two high-profile fatalities years ago.

TNT's coverage of pit road is going to be key to the telecast. Passing will happen under caution as the cars race away from stops and the pass for the win may well happen because of the pit crews. TNT has been working hard on the pit stop coverage and this will be perhaps the biggest test.

Rain is in the forecast. Should the track get wet, TNT's options are limited. The infield stage is open and has proven to be useless in bad weather. It will be up to Sheheen, Petty and Dallenbach to fill the time.

There are plenty of storylines in this event. TNT has done a great job of treating the teams equally and leaving the Dale Junior and Kyle Busch hype for others. Petty continues to Twitter during the race and RaceBuddy again is going to add four additional race cameras and a dedicated pit reporter to the coverage.

TNT is gearing-up for the Wide Open coverage at Daytona next weekend. It should be interesting to see how Sheheen handles a full Sprint Cup Series live telecast.

This post will serve to host your comments on the TV coverage. To add your opinion on this race, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Bill Weber Removed From Sunday's TNT Broadcast

This post will remain up during the TNT pre-race shows to see how the network deals with this issue. TDP will then add a new post for the actual coverage of the race.

This statement was issued by TNT early Sunday morning:

"Bill Weber will not be part of TNT's NASCAR coverage of the Cup Series from New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend,” said a company statement released by senior vice president Sal Petruzzi. “As this is a private issue, it’s the policy of the company not to discuss personal matters involving our employees.”

Update: Veteran Reporter Dustin Long saying the issue is personal and Weber has not been fired. (11AM)

Update #2: From That's Racin': According to witnesses, Weber got into a loud, public confrontation over the weekend at his hotel in Manchester, N.H. He was at the track on Friday.

Update #3: Reporter Shawn Courchesne of the Hartford Courant is calling this a one race suspension by TNT because of the incident mentioned above.

Ralph Sheheen will step in for Weber on today's telecast. TDP will update this story if and when more information comes in.

We welcome your comments on this topic. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. TDP will live blog the TNT coverage beginning at 12:30PM ET.

Fox's David Hill Turns Efforts Toward The Internet

The creator of Digger has now turned his efforts toward the Internet. David Hill of Fox Sports has a problem. The Foxsports.com website has been struggling for years now. He has some ideas for solutions. Here is an update from MediaWeek:

Fox Sports chairman David Hill believes the Internet is following the same evolutionary pattern as television. “When TV was in its infancy, it was basically run by the engineers,” says Hill. “Technology innovations were driving it, until finally the programmers began to take over. And that’s when television took off.”

Hill believes that for the past 10 years or so online media—particularly sports sites—have been overly controlled by techies, or engineers, as he calls them. And because the programming executives have for the most part gone along with this, just about every sports Web site looks the same or offers the same basic content and design.

“All of these sites, including our own, are dominated by highlights of games from the night before and interviews of players talking about games that already happened,” Hill says. “Everything is past tense.” And most of the sports sites feature a preponderance of sportswriters, rather than television sports commentators, he adds.

While these sites do have some prognosticators who, via video, are discussing future games or longer-term trends, Hill believes there should be more cross-pollination of TV sports commentators on FoxSports.com. He also wants to inject a little more irreverence into the commentary to offer viewers a distinct destination.

“FoxSports.com is not broken,” Hill points out. “We are in a good place right now. But we need to bring more innovation to the site. Right now, most content on sports sites is past tense. We want to make it more forward thinking.”

Currently, while just about all of the Fox Sports NASCAR commentators do video reports on the site during the racing season, the only other Fox Sports TV reporters doing extensive online video are Ken Rosenthal, who is a field reporter for Fox baseball telecasts, and Jay Glazer, a former New York Post columnist and now senior National Football League writer for FoxSports.com.

Once his on-air talent is entrenched on the FoxSports site, Hill plans to slot promotional spots on each of the Fox Sports TV telecasts to alert viewers of the online programming and drive them to the site. Hill says he hopes to also beef up the fantasy sports area and “down the road” wants to offer more video coverage of sports at every level, including high school.

Hill says the entire redesign and inclusion of new video content could take up to a year to be fully implemented.

Click here to read the full story from MediaWeek.

Many of you have emailed and commented on the lack of quality NASCAR websites that bring you the up-to-date information without a TV network or corporate agenda. Fox Sports is a leader in sports website volume, so it should be interesting to watch what changes they make. The NASCAR.com changes recently made got both positive and negative comments, but drastically changed the ability of many fans to get the information they want in a timely fashion. We will provide updates on the NASCAR changes from Foxsports.com as time goes on.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting. Thanks for stopping by, TDP will be live blogging the Nationwide Series race later on Saturday.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Live Blogging The Camping World Trucks On SPEED From Memphis, TN

Slipping in between the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series from New Hampshire are the Camping World trucks. 5:30PM is the time for Krista Voda and the pre-race show on SPEED called The Setup.

Voda will use Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander as reporters during this half-hour show. It is no secret that the trucks are having a very rough season and this stand-alone race promises to feature some new faces and teams.

There has been talk of everything from a spec engine to a change in the venues that the series services. Veteran fans may remember that the trucks originally raced at many smaller tracks and the profile of the series was tough racing on bull-rings.

Now, the move to the bigger tracks and the expanded schedule may have proven to be to much for the current dollars in the sport. Returning to the roots of truck racing for 2010 might not be a bad idea. Some shows with the NASCAR regional racing series would bring a new racing dynamic to the sport.

Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are going to call the race for SPEED. Michael Waltrip was threatening to fly down to Memphis from his New Hampshire location, but at last report he still did not have a ride. Allen and Parsons are the official voices of this series and continue to get it right on a regular basis.

Look for the top teams to emerge, but also for the truck drivers to make the most of not having the Cup Series drivers in the field. Memphis is a good size for TV and the action is usually very good.

This post will serve to host your comments about the CWTS race on SPEED. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking some time out of your Saturday to stop by.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series On ABC From Loudon, NH

Allen Bestwick starts the racing day on ABC at 2:30PM ET with NASCAR Countdown. Loudon, NH is the venue for the Nationwide Series this weekend and the race is a flat-track sprint.

Bestwick is joined this week by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty from the Infield Pit Studio. Wallace is back to the infield-only this week because Dale Jarrett returns to the broadcast booth.

Jarrett is joined by Marty Reid and Andy Petree for this telecast. This will be a good indicator of just how this crew will handle the Sprint Cup Series when it comes to ESPN and ABC in July. Loudon is a key venue for The Chase.

Pictures and sound should be outstanding and indications are that there is going to be a very good crowd on-hand. TV viewers should look for the continuing issue of triple-split video on caution flag pit stops. This is going to be crucial as much of the passing is going to take place while cars leave pit road. ESPN has been having trouble keeping the triple-split in place for the entire stop until all the cars are racing to the pit exit line.

Reid should be in fine form with Jarrett back in the booth. Jarrett has been great this season and Reid has the veteran ability to provide the kind of excitement that some of the ESPN telecasts have been lacking. Jarrett returning might be exactly what the ESPN team needs right now to get the momentum going for July.

ESPN will not be able to focus on the normal script of Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards vs. the Nationwide regulars this Saturday. Lots of Sprint Cup Series drivers are crossing-over for this race and several flat-track specialists are also in the event.

It should be interesting to see what stories Bestwick introduces as possible race scenarios and then how Reid and company continue those storylines. Look for whether the ESPN crew interviews the drivers who have fallen out of the race. This has been a tough issue for the network this season.

Also important to watch are the stories that are unplanned. A driver coming up through the field, a favorite with a bad pit stop and a battle for position not in the top five are things that fans want to see that sometimes do not make it to the TV set.

This post will serve to host your comment about the coverage of the Nationwide Series race from Loudon, NH on ABC. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

SPEED Steps-Up For Whelen Mods

SPEED and NASCAR made a very welcome announcement today. Now, if you do not have tickets for this event, it can be seen on TV. Great for all concerned. That is a picture of Kasey Kahne participating in the Mod test at Bristol that started the buzz about this inaugural event. Here is the info from NASCAR:

The UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol, a 150-lap combination race between the two NASCAR Modified divisions, will mark the first appearance for both the Whelen and Whelen Southern Modified Tours at the “World’s Fastest Half Mile” in Bristol, Tenn. The UNOH Perfect Storm at Bristol is set to go green at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 18 and SPEED will broadcast the event on a 45-minute tape-delay beginning at 7 p.m.

“With a heritage as NASCAR’s oldest division, the Modifieds have long had some of the most passionate fans in the sport, and we are excited to provide the loyal fan base with an opportunity to follow all of the action,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR managing director of racing operations. “We appreciate the support of Whelen Engineering, the University of Northwestern Ohio and SPEED in helping to bring the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tours to a national television audience.”

Also announced today, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s New Hampshire 100, which will be contested on Saturday, September 19 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, will be broadcast by SPEED on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 3 p.m.

Exposing this series and other regional touring races on SPEED would be a great idea. TDP welcomes your comments on this topic.

Carl Edwards' Excellent Drag Racing Promo

ESPN2's NASCAR Now is in its third season and going strong. Well, strong except for one completely embarrassing high-profile problem. Nothing drove this issue home like Carl Edwards' recent NASCAR Now appearance.

Edwards was Mike Massaro's in-studio guest on Thursday. Massaro conducted the normal driver interview segment, but then Edwards was allowed to flex a little TV muscle and participate during the entire show.

Marty Smith's door-to-door segment featured an Edwards opinion and then Ed Hinton came along to make small talk with the Cup driver. But, the most jaw-dropping part of the program took only fifteen seconds.

Late in the show, Edwards read the NASCAR Now promo page for the upcoming motorsports weekend on TV. In a very professional voice, Edwards read the promo for the Nationwide Series race on ABC and the Camping World Truck Series race on SPEED. Then, a magical TV moment happened.

Edwards read the final promo for the featured Sunday race. Amazingly, the veteran NASCAR driver was promoting the NHRA drag race on ESPN2 Sunday night.

That's right, NHRA drag racing was the featured Sunday TV race on NASCAR Now with Sprint Cup Series driver Edwards in the studio reading the copy.

Incredibly, NASCAR Now has avoided promoting every single Sprint Cup Series points race in 2009. TV viewers have seen IRL promos and NHRA promos, but none for NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series.

The reason given to TDP for this, believe it or not, is television.

ESPN demanded promotion of the ESPN Nationwide Series events in the live Fox and TNT Sprint Cup Series races. In return, ESPN would then promote the start time and TV network of those Sprint Cup Series races on NASCAR Now.

In other words, ESPN was using the only daily NASCAR TV show as leverage.

Fox is now gone and TNT is about to step away from the Sprint Cup Series for another season. Those two TV networks don't care about NASCAR Now or ESPN's promo demands. Neither of them even blinked.

Once again, the only folks being used as pawns in this game are TV viewers and NASCAR fans. In a couple of weeks, ESPN will inherit a sport struggling with lower TV ratings, declining attendance and a much lower national media profile.

All of this boils down to just one question. Will five months of a complete lack of on-air promotion by NASCAR Now help or hurt ESPN's own Sprint Cup Series TV ratings? We should know the answer shortly.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, 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.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SPEED's Steve Byrnes Earning His Money On Friday

Once veteran broadcaster Mike Joy ends his NASCAR season, Steve Byrnes steps into the play-by-play position for the SPEED coverage of Sprint Cup Series practice and qualifying sessions. It seems only fitting that Byrnes gets to stand in Joy's footprints once Digger and friends have left the scene.

Byrnes has been around in the sport a long time, as his Wiki page will attest. He and I have in common stints at the old Sunbelt Video in Charlotte, NC. That club also includes Bill Weber, Randy Pemberton, Ned Jarrett and countless NASCAR TV production folks.

Friday, Byrnes will be "the show" on SPEED as the network launches a full day of coverage from Loudon, NH. After John Roberts warms-up the crowd with NASCAR Live at 11:30AM, Byrnes starts his day at noon with Sprint Cup Series practice.

As usual, Byrnes will be joined by Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds. This trio has fun and keeps things in a healthy perspective during the SPEED coverage. Hammond is a very different person when free from the Hollywood Hotel and McReynolds continues to be the hardest working TV guy in NASCAR by far.

The same telecast teams stays in place as the Nationwide Series cars take to the track at 1:30PM for practice. A new slew of cars and drivers has not been a problem for the SPEED crew this season and the Nationwide Series gets the attention and respect it deserves from this TV team.

The big show is on the air at 3PM with Sprint Cup Series qualifying. Once again, Byrnes will be anchoring the coverage. SPEED has perfected the art of covering qualifying by giving each car TV time and covering each run equally. McReynolds is especially good at helping viewers to understand what each team is trying to accomplish and where they stand on qualifying efforts throughout the season.

Where the overall production really shines is during "knockout Cup qualifying." For lack of a better term, the go-or-go-home cars battle it out at the end of the session. Sometimes, these are legitimate teams trying to make the field and run the race. Sometimes, the bottom-feeders are battling strictly for start-and-park dollars.

Byrnes caps the night by anchoring Trackside on SPEED at 7PM. Once again, McReynolds and Hammond are along for the ride. Elliott Sadler is the fourth panelist and this week's guests are Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers. This show comes from the SPEED Stage at each Sprint Cup Series track and attracts a darn good crowd.

That puts Byrnes at right about the six or seven hour mark in on-air presence for Friday alone. After that long day, he gets to return on Saturday and start SPEED's coverage off once again with Sprint Cup Series practice at 9AM ET.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments on the Friday coverage on SPEED from Loudon, NH. To add your opinion, 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.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ponytail Express Derailed Again

Kyle Petty told Twitter users that some problems happened on his journey from North Carolina to Loudon, NH for TNT and SPEED. Here are some messages from Wednesday:

Today has been "one of those days. Started later than I wanted to this am. Saw a Couple that follow on Twitter. Stopped to talk...

As we were talking my bike ROLLED down a hill into a ditch on the side of I-81. I couldn't get out. called 911, 2 State Patrolman came...

The couple that I stopped for and the Patrolmen helped push it out. Back on the road. Stopped for fuel and as i was leaving...

The clutch started slipping. Going to Dealership in Harrisburg FIRST thing to see if they can fix it. Nursed it as far as i could tonight...

Here is the final update from 7:40AM on Thursday:

On my way to the Harley Dealership. Need to be there when they open so if there' a prob i can go to plan B, don't know what that is yet...

Good luck to Kyle and Rutledge on their journey to Loudon. We will keep TDP readers updated on his progress as details become available.

TDP welcomes comments from readers on this topic. Just click on the comments button below. This if a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Digger Comic Books On Sale Now

Digger has jumped off the TV screen and left the NASCAR merchandise trailers. He is now a comic book star. The good news is that his adventures are on sale right now.

This update on Digger from Westfield Comics:

Fox's beloved animated NASCAR mascot makes his four-color comic book debut right here! The race-loving gopher and his family and friends (and nemesis) are featured in two accessible, all-ages, stand alone stories per issue in this four-part miniseries that will be heavily supported by Fox.

Originally priced at $3.99, this four-part miniseries is now on sale for $3.19. Click here and be the first to write a review of this new series.

No word on if or when Cletus, the NFL on Fox robot will make his comic book debut.

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

College Fund For David Poole's Grandson

Those of you who read and heard the words of the late David Poole on NASCAR often got some additional family information. Poole was smitten with his young grandson Eli and often spoke about him both in print and on his Sirius Satellite Radio show.

Wednesday, this item was passed along on Jayski:

Since his passing eight weeks ago, the inspiration of David Poole's legacy has been quite prevalent. Countless memories have been shared and personal tributes written. In those tributes, it was clear the sport of auto racing held a significant place in David's heart.

But it was also clear his inner-joy came from his two-year-old grandson, Eli. We all find balance and escape in different ways. Poole found his in Eli. With the support of many industry people as well as Katy Poole, David's wife, a college fund has been established for Eli. The hope here is that Eli will be afforded the opportunity to embark on his own successful career, and - all the while - truly understand how much his PawPaw meant to the NASCAR community.

The college fund for Eli is established at the Bank of Stanly in Oakboro, N.C. Donations can be sent to the following address:
Eli Samuel Ross
Bank of Stanly
Attn: Misty Nordan
P.O. Box 539
Oakboro, NC 28129
Phone: 704.485.3435
(Please make checks payable to "Eli Ross Account" at Bank of Stanly.)

Thanks to Jay for passing this information along. With all of the stories unfolding in the sport this season, it is especially difficult not to read and hear David's unvarnished opinions on the NASCAR world.

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

No Sirius NASCAR Channel On iPhones

NASCAR fans with iPhones are discovering the problem that many of us with personal computers already know. NASCAR content from Sirius Channel 128 is not available online.

Sure, tons of other Sirius content is available to iPhone users, but the convoluted world of NASCAR media contracts has slammed the door on fans once again. Here is a statement from the Apple folks:

“Some select programming, including SIRIUS NASCAR Radio, will not be available on the iPhone and iPod touch. Listeners will continue to be able to access that programming through the platforms on which they are currently offered.”

TDP has already discussed the log jam that is in place between Sirius and the Turner Interactive Group that owns the NASCAR.com website. In simple terms, the current NASCAR deal with Turner allows Turner to control all online NASCAR content. That includes audio and video applications.

Among other things, this means that Sirius Channel 128's audio content cannot be streamed to desktops and laptops. Click here to view the online channel list. Sirius does not go out of their way to make this clear before sign-up.

In speaking with a customer service rep at Sirius, she told me that new users cancelling their online accounts because of the NASCAR restriction was commonplace. I asked her why this was happening and she told me to call NASCAR. She did not have a number and did not even know where that "company" was located.

Now, the spread of audio technology to wonderful gadgets like the iPhone has again revealed this problem in the NASCAR radio world. For many folks, the ability to carry a Sirius Satellite Radio receiver around is simply not available. Often, for a wide variety of reasons, it cannot be done in the workplace.

But, the one thing that most of us carry at all times is a cell phone. New models like the iPhone have a wide variety of wonderful applications available for all kinds of audio content.

ChannelWeb.com calls the new Sirius iPhone application a "choke job" because of the programming, including NASCAR, that is not included. Click here for the full story.

Ultimately, the folks who pay the price for all of this are the NASCAR fans. Sirius has come a long way in making their receivers smaller and much more portable, but there has to be a fix for this technology gap.

Wouldn't it be interesting to try and figure out just how many folks would listen to a NASCAR show or race on Sirius regularly if the signal was available online?

I wonder just how many NASCAR fans would use their laptops, desktops or iPhones to catch some NASCAR updates every single day? Count me among them.

This is a tough year for the sport. Opening a dialogue among the powers-that-be on this topic can hopefully result in some additional distribution of NASCAR's only 24 hour audio feed of news, interviews and racing.

Two years ago, this might have come down to a battle over money. Right now, it just might be the right thing to do.

Update: For those of you not familiar with Sirius it is a subscription service that provides multiple channels of news, music and entertainment. The signal is delivered directly by satellite to a receiver that can either be installed in a vehicle or carried by the user. The new Sirius iPhone application also requires users to pay a fee to access the available audio content. Should NASCAR be added to that package, fans would have to pay a monthly fee for the service.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, 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.

TV Shows Point To Goodyear For Great Sonoma Race

The Monday TV shows were full of smiling faces for the first time in a very long time. No one had to talk about another boring COT race. No one had to explain NASCAR's drug policy or the start-and-park problem. Sonoma had single-handedly turned the momentum of the sport around in one day.

Now, it was going to be up to ESPN and SPEED to recap the race and send the fans toward the next weekend with a good feeling. Allen Bestwick led Ricky Craven, Mike Wallace and Ray Evernham into this discussion on NASCAR Now.

Bestwick keeps a quick pace and this week the show had no guest. It was up to the four guys in the studio to work their way through all the topics. Evernham was excited for his former driver Kasey Kahne and it showed. Evernham also did a good job of explaining the very different road course strategy that Kahne's crew used to win in a stand-alone segment with Bestwick.

Craven continues to be the top studio analyst this season and once again he set the tone for the panel. Wallace provides the good humor and Evernham the strategy, but it is Craven who continues to offer the best perspective. One of his topics after Sonoma was winning.

"There obviously needs to be more emphasis put on winning," said Craven about The Chase for the Championship standings. He was reacting to JP Montoya and others admitting that they were points racing at Sonoma. Craven wanted to encourage more drivers to run like Kyle Busch and always go for the win.

"I would take the top twelve drivers who won a race and that would be my Chase," continued Craven. "You have to put the emphasis on winning. Fans loved the last ten laps of the All-Star race. Give them what they want."

Where the good Sonoma racing was concerned, Craven credited Goodyear for bringing a tire that stayed consistent and allowed for hard racing.

Steve Byrnes referenced some of Craven's ESPN comments on SPEED's This Week in NASCAR program later on Monday. Byrnes is a good historian and wanted fans to understand just how special and important having NASCAR's top series visit New England really was. It is their Daytona 500.

Byrnes was joined by Michael Waltrip who had done TV work for SPEED in Milwaukee and not traveled to Sonoma. Waltrip was still bothered by the Sunday comments of TNT's Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach that fuel mileage would come into play at the road course. Waltrip had finally watched a Sprint Cup Series race on TV and now he had some opinions to express.

Sunday on Twitter Waltrip had typed "TV people don't always get it. The only way fuel mileage becomes a factor is if the caution comes out during the round of last pit stops. If there isn't a caution during that time (about 5 laps) the fuel thing I've heard for the last 3 hrs. don't matter. Get it?"

"It's a race," Twittered Waltrip. "They (TV folks) make a very small part of what might happen the biggest story. Percentage wise, its not a story."

On Monday's TWIN he continued to vent. "I would rather have a fast car with bad fuel mileage than a slow car that can go a long ways," he said. "Going into the race that is all I heard about watching on TV, fuel mileage. Chances are, you are not going to get bitten."

Those were some rather interesting comments about the TNT crew from someone who works in the same capacity on the Camping World Truck Series for SPEED.

Chad Knaus was on the expert panel this week and he was the perfect person to fill in the gaps left by Waltrip's TV viewing. Knaus and his detail-oriented comments really helped many aspects of the actual racing to be explained. Knaus also backed-up Craven's comments that the Goodyear tire was a key factor in the good racing.

Knaus endured some good-natured ribbing about his driver Jimmie Johnson making contact with several cars during the race. That brought-up a good conversation about the crew chiefs having to keep their options open, even on a long road course.

Both TWIN and NASCAR Now took the time to show Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series highlights which is a great decision. This year, both of these series need as much TV help as possible to get through the season. Hopefully, this practice will continue.

Since Bestwick and Byrnes took over their respective TV shows, Mondays have become a fascinating exercise in watching basically the same highlights and information be offered to NASCAR fans in two very different ways.

Next Monday, the NASCAR Now roundtable will welcome former Cup driver and New England native Steve Park as a panelist. He will be joined by Brad Daugherty and Tim Brewer. Unfortunately, the original airing of the show will be at midnight due to tennis from Wimbledon. TWIN returns at 8PM with Greg Biffle joining Steve Byrnes and Michael Waltrip.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

TNT Conquers Sonoma At Last

All it took for TNT to finally walk away from Sonoma with a good telecast was a little help from NASCAR. The change in the restart rules had the field nervous from the start of the race and that got TNT the one thing they love...drama.

Marc Fein may be relatively new to NASCAR, but his performance as the pre-race host for TNT this season has been stellar. In the first of the two pre-race shows, Fein hosted a live discussion with Kyle Busch that may have been his best interview in a long while.

Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds are Fein's panelists and this trio has proven to be a hit. In addition to quality features like the Pride of NASCAR, TNT allows for real conversation about NASCAR topics and lets Petty and McReynolds shine.

One key for TNT has been their use of the pit reporters in the pre-race. Away from the live event, Lindsay Czarniak and Matt Yocum both offered quality features that let fans see them working without the headset and the firesuit. Despite her limited NASCAR schedule, Czarniak has hit the ground running this year and never looked back.

Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach have hit on a good combination for their thirty minute Countdown to Green program this season. Weber keeps the pace quick and Dallenbach offers his often unique views on various NASCAR topics. Dallenbach is another on-air personality who is only seen for six events, but seems to have really come alive due to the presence of Kyle Petty in the booth.

On this Sunday, the big topic was the new restart rules. It allowed TNT to start the event with more anticipation than usual and then let the drivers do the rest. Weber set a loose and relaxed tone early which has been an issue for him at this track in the past. He did a great job staying focused, even when the action required a lot of patience.

The road course layout challenged the TNT production team with a classic question. How to deal with local yellows while keeping viewers updated on the green flag racing on the track. The producer often decided to stay with the racing and replay the incident in question. Several times, a full course yellow flew and then the various replays followed.

Kudos to TNT for listening to the fans and showing the debris on the track when the caution did wave. Petty went out of his way to explain what happened without having to defend NASCAR. Things are very different on a road course and the explanations really helped.

Once the new restarts began during the race, it was clear that the entire complexion of the event would be changed. After years of teams trying to battle by lapped cars on this tough-to-pass track, a new style of racing emerged that was perfect for TV.

The use of in-car cameras right after the restarts was very different for this crew that normally favors wideshots. Although it did allow viewers to see the elevation changes, several moments of racing may have been better served by seeing the entire field.

Petty and Dallenbach continue to offer the kind of enthusiastic and yet irreverant approach to racing that really clicks with fans. At times, those two sounded like buddies at a sports bar yelling "whoa" when something happened on the track. A little less "whoa" and a little more of letting Weber call the action might have helped. Nothing wrong with enthusiasm, it just sometimes needs an explanation for TV viewers not at the track.

With the unique pits at this road course and the green flag pit stop strategies, the pit reporters were put in some brand new situations and made the best of it. This foursome has been quietly solid for TNT since the package began. Despite being from varied TV backgrounds, they have meshed to provide a solid foundation of news and interviews.

TNT finished the telecast with a nice wideshot and a drop-down graphic that allowed viewers to watch their driver race to the line and instantly see where he wound-up on the day. Unlike last week, the network provided a good amount of post-race interviews and paid-off the stories viewers had watched develop over the past several hours.

All of this is just what NASCAR needed. A good race with solid TV coverage on a nice day with a popular winner. Throw-in that it was run in California in front of a good crowd and that Richard Petty wound-up in Victory Lane and it all made for a very nice day of racing on TV.

One special TV mention goes to Hermie Sadler, who filled-in for Kenny Wallace on both NASCAR RaceDay and Victory Lane on SPEED. Sadler has come a long way and proved on these telecasts he is an informed analyst with good people skills. It should be interesting to see where he winds-up on TV next season.

For those fans who emailed, the Sunday morning version of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 was moved from 10 to 11AM so the network could show one hour of SportsCenter. Apparently, the information was made available on Saturday.If you were one of those people wondering why muddy golf highlights were on your DVR, that was the reason.

TDP welcomes your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, 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 and share your NASCAR TV opinions.

Live Blogging The TNT Coverage From Sonoma

Perhaps the biggest challenge on the TNT schedule is the road course in Sonoma, CA. This race has resulted in some memorable moments for the TV network. This Sunday, the challenge comes around again.

So far, TNT has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air between the rather tired formula of Fox and the formality of ESPN. Marc Fein is reporting that it is rather windy down on the outdoor TNT infield stage for the one hour pre-race show.

Fein will be joined at 3:30PM ET by Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds for NASCAR on TNT Live. This week, the Pride of NASCAR feature is on Dan Gurney. TNT has also put together a Father's Day feature on David Ragan and his dad. The on-set guest will be the one and only Kyle Busch.

At 4:30PM the TV coverage shifts upstairs to the TNT booth with Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach for the Countdown to Green show. Weber has been doing a good job of running Dallenbach through the stories of the race at a fast pace. This show also features the new Wally's World, where Dallenbach is superimposed over footage of the track to explain the layout to viewers.

Petty then joins that duo to call the race. Down on pit road will be Marty Snider, Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen and Lindsay Czarniak. This group will have their work cut out for them with the reverse side pit stops on this road course. As viewers may remember, the pit stop strategy is also very different from ovals.

TNT should have a very different race on its hands with the new restart rules. Turn 2 should be an action corner and the dynamic of the race as a whole may be changed radically. Look for Director Mike Wells to keep the cameras wide and hunt for the racing on this road course wherever it happens.

RaceBuddy will also play a good role with four additional camera angles available to broadband computer users free of charge. There will also be a designated pit reporter just for the online coverage and all the other RaceBuddy features.

Petty and Fein have also been using Twitter during the race to communicate directly with the fans. Fein spent Saturday asking users for questions for various drivers who are being considered as pre-race guests. Petty offers exclusive pictures, comments and answers questions during the race. TDP is TheDalyPlanet on Twitter.

This post will serve to host your comments about the TNT coverage from Sonoma. 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.

We appreciate you stopping by this weekend to share your opinions with us.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Truck And Nationwide Series TV Networks Awaiting Rule Changes

There was no better example of just how badly both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series need rules changes than Saturday's TV coverage.

SPEED was up first with what is left of the rag-tag truck series. On this Saturday, the flat track action on the historic Milwaukee Mile was going to be just what the teams needed to get some momentum back into the series. Then, reality hit.

The already thin field was scrambled by the pit stop rules that limit the stops to either tires or fuel. Combined with the restarts that keep the leaders single-file, the combination pushed truck-after-truck off the lead lap.

Rick Allen led Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip on a very good TV outing for SPEED. These three were focused on finding the racing in the field and getting it on-camera. This philosophy worked very well until the number of trucks on the lead lap began to dwindle to single digits.

Luckily, the story of Ron Hornaday Jr.'s birthday worked well for SPEED since he won the race. Without that, it would have been a rough afternoon. The shame of the thin field is that SPEED made great pictures, provided great sound and was solid from top-to-bottom.

Since TDP has pointed it out when Waltrip brings his over-the-top pitchman mentality to the series, we should point it out when he is on his game. Milwaukee showed Waltrip can be a partner in the booth and understand his role as the third man. On this telecast, he allowed Allen to call the action and Parsons to be the lead analyst. This trio clicked.

Unfortunately, the same could not be said for the trio ESPN put together to call the Nationwide Series event. The evening started well with Allen Bestwick running Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty through a variety of topics on the pre-race show. These three rarely leave anything on the table and Wallace clearly enjoys this role.

Wallace then moved up to the broadcast booth and was joined by Jerry Punch and Ray Evernham. While the NASCAR experience between these three is robust, the on-air dynamic was not. These three rarely work together and Punch's regular partners Andy Petree and Dale Jarrett were off.

Both Jarrett and Petree have gotten very good at generating the excitement in the broadcasts that Punch cannot muster. On this night, Punch was presented with great side-by-side racing, tense restarts and emerging stories throughout the field.

The only time Punch's voice rose above the monotone delivery of a news reporter was when he threw to commercial or read a promo. There was not a moment of excitement during the racing action. It was brutal.

Rusty Wallace tried to fill the air time, but by the end of the telecast he sounded like he had a very long night. Evernham is apparently used to being cued to talk and never was a factor in the telecast. Often, he simply agreed with Wallace.

The Producer tried to make use of Bestwick and the excitable Daugherty in the infield frequently, but when the telecast was returned to Punch the wind again came out of the sails. If there was ever a race where Bestwick and Punch could have traded places to see how it went, this was it. Unfortunately, it did not happen.

The shame of it all was that the racing was outstanding and the TV production by the NASCAR on ESPN team was solid from the start. The pit reporters hustled during the race, but a Kenny Wallace interview should have happened after he went to the garage with mechanical problems.

After the race, ESPN had almost forty minutes to fill and it was Punch and company who handled the post-race. Normally, this is a time for Bestwick and Daugherty to work with the pit reporters to chase down the stories. The infield gang only appeared for the last couple of minutes before sign-off.

Pit reporters Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Dave Burns unfortunately lapsed into the "how does that make you feel" and the "walk me through that" questions as time began to drag. But, it was nice to see some Nationwide faces on national TV after a race.

One big question for both of these TV networks is when will NASCAR change some rules? The trucks need the new restart rules and a second look at the tires or fuel pit stops. It just does not work at some tracks. The Nationwide Series race would have been much more exciting if the new restart rules were in place.

Several times on both broadcasts various announcers mentioned the lack of the new restart rules as a gentle prod to get changes. NASCAR needs only to look at the number of start and park cars and trucks to realize that those changes better come now. Smaller fields mean that the lapped cars and trucks really change the race dynamic on the restarts in the later laps. That was very clear to see for TV viewers.

Saturday was a big day of racing with good weather and another NASCAR TV doubleheader. These side-by-side comparisons between series and TV networks really give a good look at just how different the racing and the approaches to televising it can be.

TDP welcomes comments from readers. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion on these topics. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series from Milwaukee on ESPN2

The ESPN2 block of Nationwide Series coverage begins at 6:30PM with qualifying. Then, Allen Bestwick is next with NASCAR Countdown at 8PM. The racing action begins at 8:30PM.

Bestwick will be joined in the Infield Pit Center by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty for the pre-race show. Wallace will then move up to the broadcast booth and join Jerry Punch and Ray Evernham, who is in for Andy Petree.

With Vince Welch off to an IRL Sunday event, it will be the trio of Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Dave Burns handling the action on pit road.

The weather has finally cleared in the area and SPEED was able to telecast a live truck series race earlier on Saturday. The NASCAR on ESPN team should enjoy great pictures and sound just like SPEED.

The Milwaukee Mile is a rough place to race with typical flat-track action that normally results in a caution flag or two. Both Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards were trying their best to get from the practice session at Sonoma to the Milwaukee track to keep their Nationwide Championship hunt under way.

The rest of the field is weakened a bit, but does contain several drivers like Ron Hornaday Jr. and Dennis Setzer who raced in the truck series race. In fact, today is Hornaday's birthday and he won the CWTS event. Keep on eye on "Grandpa."

This post will host your comments about the qualifying, pre-race and race coverage of the Nationwide Series from Milwaukee on ESPN2. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Trouble Brewing For Rusty Wallace And US Fidelis Sponsor

The Internet is littered with websites, big and small, where Americans are expressing their outrage with a company called US Fidelis. Click here to go directly to the US Fidelis homepage. There you will see some familiar faces.

Rusty Wallace and his son Steven are featured prominently on the mainpage. The reason is simple. US Fidelis sponsors one of the Wallace team cars in the Nationwide Series.

As with most sponsorships, the agreement includes Rusty personally appearing in TV commercials for the company. Wallace promotes US Fidelis as a company that offers an extended warranty on vehicles once the original manufacturer warranty expires.

Unfortunately, that does not appear to be the whole truth. Simply because of the TV commercials, Wallace appears to be right in the middle of the situation.

Click here for a video expose on US Fidelis from the Today Show on NBC. Based in St. Louis, the company is portrayed as nothing more than a wholesale telemarketing scam with no interest whatsoever in following through on the warranties being sold.

In fact, the President of the company with whom Wallace made his sponsorship deal is a convicted felon on both a state and federal level. Now 19 years out of federal prison, Darain Atkinson is only in his mid-forties. Regardless of his past convictions on counterfeiting, burglary, theft and forgery charges, he is now a very wealthy man. US Fidelis is the reason why.

One project Atkinson is currently working on is an 18 million dollar mansion that will cover more than 20 thousand square feet on the banks of Lake St. Louis. It includes a bowling alley, beauty salon and an auto courtyard that features a seven car garage.

Click here for a jaw-dropping story from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that presents a sinister profile of the family at the helm of this allegedly corrupt company. It contains a reference to what many believe is the most controversial part of Atkinson's claims. The halo on the company logo shows what Atkinson confirms. In his mind, US Fidelis is a faith-based organization.

"There is an order in the Kingdom of Heaven," Atkinson told the Post-Dispatch. "God has blessed us. Why he has blessed us, I don't know."

Apparently, the criminal justice system cannot figure it out either. At last count, 40 Attorneys General were actively involved in pursuing criminal complaints against US Fidelis. Click here for the information on the class action civil lawsuit filed in April against the company.

All of this puts Wallace in a tough position. On one hand, US Fidelis is paying the bills or the company logo would have been removed from the hood long ago. On the other hand, Wallace himself is a brand and it is being tarnished every time a US Fidelis commercial airs.

ESPN is certainly an issue. Wallace has been trusted by ESPN as a multi-car team owner in the Nationwide Series to remain impartial on the air. Recently, Wallace has been handling the pre-race show and the race analysis as he will in Milwaukee on Saturday. Essentially, what Wallace says to the national TV audience needs to be regarded as honest and the truth.

Finally, these tough economic times have put the financial squeeze on NASCAR teams like never before. 5 Hour Energy Drink and US Fidelis are perhaps not exactly the gold-plated team sponsors that Wallace would like to have for the long run.

It should be interesting with the controversy and pending legal action against US Fidelis to see if Wallace tries to ride-out the season with this tainted brand or walks away to keep his personal and professional reputation intact.

Wallace joins Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty Saturday at 8PM on ESPN2 for the pre-race show. He then moves upstairs with Jerry Punch and Ray Evernham to call the race at 8:30PM. Green flag from Milwaukee is at 8:45PM. TDP will be live blogging this event.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click the comments button below. We do not want your email and there is nothing to join. We just want your views on Rusty Wallace and the US Fidelis situation.

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.

Additional story references: Click title to view.

CNBC: On The Money Blog from April 27, 2009
StlToday.com: Warranty Sales Skim Top Profit from May 23, 2009
StlToday.com: Florida Man Behind US Fidelis Robo-Calls Had Criminal History from June 15,2009
Consumeraffairs.com: Class Action Lawsit Filed Against US Fidelis from April 10, 2009

Live Blogging The CWTS Race From Milwaukee On SPEED

Rain delayed the Friday night Camping World Truck Series race until Saturday afternoon at 1:30PM. SPEED tells us that the Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour coverage will air after the trucks at 4PM ET.

Michael Waltrip is joining the broadcast team of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons for the call of the race. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will handle the pit road coverage.

The trucks need to put on a good show this week for TV viewers. The series has some Nationwide cross-overs this week, but no Kyle Busch in the line-up. This should open up some opportunities for new drivers to run for the win.

We will be keeping an eye on the start and park teams, who have been ignored by the SPEED broadcast crew up to this point. The issue is not a secret, but Milwaukee may see less of this practice with the Nationwide drivers in the field.

SPEED offers a straight forward approach to these telecasts that features the racing and nothing else. There is no infield pit center, no cutaway car and no Digger. Allen and Parsons know the series inside-out and Waltrip has proven to be a complement to them when he is on his game.

This one mile flat-track should return the trucks to the roots of the series where beating-and-banging gained the drivers their tough reputations. One good TV race with competitive teams battling for the front would be just what the doctor ordered.

This post will host your comments on the SPEED telecast of the CWTS race from Milwaukee. 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.

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

Friday, June 19, 2009

Another Day-Night TV Doubleheader For NASCAR

Summer weather has again changed the schedule to put two NASCAR races from the same track on the same day on national television. The rain-delayed Camping World Truck Series race will now run on Saturday at 1:30PM ET on SPEED.

The network's veteran on-air crew of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will be calling the daytime action live. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will be on pit road. The CWTS was supposed to be under the lights on Friday night before the weather closed in. That put SPEED in a very familiar situation with another NASCAR TV partner.

ESPN2 is scheduled to carry four hours of Nationwide Series action from the very same Milwaukee Mile on Saturday night. Qualifying coverage begins at 6:30PM with the pre-race show starting at 8PM and the race thirty minutes later.

Original schedules are out the window in the TV compound and once again cooperation is going to be key to get through a very long day on two different cable TV networks. Additional rain may twist things even further.

Dale Jarrett is off this weekend, so Rusty Wallace will be the one doing double-duty. He will join Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty for the pre-race show. Wallace will then step into the broadcast booth along with Jerry Punch and Ray Evernham to call the race.

TV viewers will once again get to see two different production teams offer two races from the very same track using very different styles. Over the years, the SPEED coverage of the trucks has become a familiar formula. Focused on racing, stripped of special effects and comfortable to watch.

ESPN is in the third season of Nationwide Series coverage. Marty Reid will step in and call the remainder of the races beginning in late July. This will give Jerry Punch a break as he was tasked with calling all the practice, qualifying and races for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series from July through November.

Breaking this up is a great idea and Reid has just the sense of good humor and racing smarts to make the final months of the Nationwide Series fun. As most fans know, once college football begins, the Nationwide gang often finds itself skipping around the ESPN family of TV networks like a fullback dodging tackles.

Punch will get to focus on the Sprint Cup races and try to get some positive momentum going for the sport at a very tough time. TNT is putting on a good show, but the ratings are still below last season. Hopefully, the Sonoma race will be changed drastically by the new restart rules and make for good TV at last.

Additional NASCAR TV programs on Saturday include NASCAR Live from Sonoma at 12PM ET with John Roberts and Hermie Sadler. That will be followed by the early final practice session for the Cup cars at 12:30PM. With the amended schedule, the Trucks should follow next weather permitting.

Special thanks to Dak Dillon for an exclusive picture of the rough weather in Milwaukee Friday night.

TDP will update any TV schedule changes early Saturday morning. We welcome your updates, information or comments about the topics on this post. Just click on the comments button below to add your information or opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for stopping by, see all of you Saturday for some good NASCAR racing on TV.

Trucks Rained-Out Friday In Milwaukee

Update: CWTS race is postponed by heavy rain. SPEED will have live coverage Saturday at 1:30PM ET. We will be here to live blog the telecast.

The beating and banging of the original truck series should return this Friday night as the now Camping World Trucks take to the flat one-mile oval known as the Milwaukee Mile.

This is a critical time for the series, but all the elements seem to be in place for a good show. There are 34 trucks entered, with a handful expected to end the day early.

There is some added sizzle in the field this week with the likes of flat track ace Dennis Setzer, veteran Mike Bliss and former Cup driver Aric Almirola. The CWTS regulars like Ron Hornaday Jr., Mike Skinner and Todd Bodine are also in Milwaukee.

Ricky Carmichael is behind the wheel for Kevin Harvick Inc. this weekend with his Monster Energy Drink sponsorship. Jack Roush just announced that Colin Braun will be fulltime in the Nationwide Series in 2010 and he is in the field as well.

Finally, one driver with a little something to prove is Johnny Sauter while rapidly improving Tayler Malsam will be driving a Toyota for Randy Moss Motorsports.

Krista Voda will start the TV night at 8:30PM with The Setup. Adam Alexander and Ray Dunlap will be her reporters. Once things get underway at 9PM, it will be Rick Allen and Phil Parsons calling the action. Update: Being told by SPEED Michael Waltrip will be in Milwaukee and join the telecast team.

Ironically, the 2008 winner of this event is Johnny Benson. Gone from the CWTS after sponsorship woes, Benson was recently injured driving his hand-built Supermodified car in the Midwest. The good news is that JB is already out of the hospital and on his way to a full recovery.

The CWTS race will cap a long day of coverage on SPEED from both Milwaukee and Sonoma, CA. The Sprint Cup Series will practice at 3PM and then qualify at 6:30PM ET. Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds will handle that coverage.

TDP will live-blog the CWTS race, but welcomes your comments on the Friday TV coverage on SPEED. To add your opinion, 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.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Anybody Watching "NASCAR Smarts" On SPEED?

Since we have a moment, let's talk about something that pops-up in the mailbox on a weekly basis. Usually, right after the show airs. NASCAR fans are often left asking...what the heck was that?

It's time to talk about NASCAR Smarts on SPEED. Host John Roberts calls it a show designed to "test your NASCAR knowledge." The thirty minute program is taped on the SPEED Stage at the Sprint Cup racing weekends. It has a live audience that seems to be mostly concerned with getting themselves and their homemade signs on-camera.

Kyle Petty was a big hit on SPEED when he took over the regular panelist role on the Tradin' Paint TV series from Michael Waltrip. Right from the start, Petty waged war on the NASCAR journalists and had some memorable verbal brawls with the likes of Jenna Fryer, Bob Pockrass and Mike Mulhern.

In 2009, SPEED cancelled Tradin' Paint and Petty changed from an opinionated and impassioned defender of the sport into a grinning game show contestant. Gone from the scene was his powerful personality and strong opinions. Instead, Petty and Rutledge Wood laugh and joke their way through this meaningless program.

Wood sits across the stage from Petty and each of them are paired with another contestant to form a team. The rules, which change frequently, have Roberts offering questions to both teams about NASCAR trivia. In the first few months, almost no one got any questions right and the format was quickly changed. Now there are true and false, multiple guess and even video questions to "help" the show along.

On this day from MIS, Roberts introduced yet another new wrinkle. Instead of fans, Petty and Wood would be joined by two "NASCAR type guys." Elton Sawyer is a well-known name in the sport and is currently the Competition Director at Red Bull Racing. Keith Barnwell is also a NASCAR veteran who is currently working as a spotter in the Cup Series. Both were labeled as "NASCAR Fanatics" on the program's graphics.

As usual, the questions being asked were inserted on the screen and the graphics contained a huge Ask.com logo. That is not by coincidence. The content of the Ask.com questions centered around MIS and the various events, owners and happenings at the speedway over the years.

All four panelists took their cues from the smiling Mr. Roberts and stared at the TV monitors on the stage to read the questions and see the video footage. In the final segment, Wood and Petty then get to wager any or all of their points on a supposed fan question voted on at SPEEDTV.com. Here is the actual question from the MIS show:

In your opinion, did NASCAR's new double-file restart "shootout style" rule at Pocono:

A - Racing more exciting.
B - Less exciting.
C - No change
D - Too early to tell.

Amazingly, Team Rutledge picked A. Amazingly, they were right. As Roberts tallied their points, Team Kyle changed their answer from D to A and were disqualified amid hilarious laughter from all concerned. End of show.

There is a distinct possibility that the laughter did not extend to the TV viewers. The fact that SPEED is trying to keep this program afloat all season long is bad enough. Add-in the fact that it replaced the only opinion-oriented show that featured NASCAR journalists and media types and that makes it a double-whammy.

So, let's talk about NASCAR Smarts on SPEED. Do you watch it or record it? Do you think it has a place on TV or is just an Ask.com infomercial? Does this show affect how you regard Petty or Wood? Do you miss Tradin' Paint or had that program run its course? Please feel free to add-in any other opinions on this topic.

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. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and leave your comments.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

TNT's Digger Slam Upsets Fox Sports Chief

Just when you thought it was over, Digger is in the national news again. Now that the endless animation, the pre-race cartoon and the endless shilling by Darrell Waltrip has faded from your psyche, Digger makes USA Today.

Michael Hiestand is the TV sports writer for the newspaper and he took the time to throw a little zinger in recently to stir things up. Here it is:

Race Buddy, the animated mascot of TNT's NASCAR coverage, last week appeared in an online video sealing a manhole cover on the trackside hole of Digger, the animated mascot of Fox's NASCAR coverage. On one level, that might just seem like some fluff to remind viewers NASCAR coverage has moved from Fox to TNT. But, as Fox Sports Chairman David Hill suggests, corporate calculations shouldn't ignore sensitivities: "Digger won't call or take my calls. He's upset that he's being attacked and mocked. He's terribly upset." Hill's staffers at Fox know not to disturb him when he's trying to contact Digger.

For those of you who have not seen it, click here for the SportsBusinessDaily story by Michael Smith that offers a link to the video. TNT was smart and only emailed this to fans, making it rather hard to find online.

The statement being made by Turner is very clear. The nonsense and hype of Fox is being replaced by the technology and race-focused coverage. Regardless of your opinion of TNT, they certainly took the time to make a statement on perhaps the most controversial part of the NASCAR on Fox coverage.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, 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.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Manske Struggles With The "NASCAR Now" Roundtable

Everyone deserves a vacation and that is just what ESPN's Allen Bestwick got this week. Instead of hosting the Monday version of NASCAR Now on ESPN2, he was home in Rhode Island spending some time with the family.

In his place, the network chose Nicole Manske. This was not her first time hosting the big one-hour Monday show, but it might be her last for a while. Manske came over from SPEED and has proven herself in several TV settings.

Alone in the studio on a weekday, Manske has a strong ability to keep things focused and ask the tough questions of her guests via satellite or phone. On the Sunday morning hour-long preview show, Manske works with a single guest in the studio. They use reporters in the field and edited features to set-up that day's Sprint Cup Series race. Manske with Ricky Craven on Sundays is fun to watch.

Unfortunately, something happens when she is put in the situation of dealing with three panelists live in the studio. Her ability to rely on teleprompters and a controlled environment is gone. While she has the TV skills to succeed, she does not yet have the NASCAR background to make conversation or ask the important follow-up question.

A positive note was the program allowing Craven, Boris Said and Mike Wallace to all ask questions of liveshot guest Alan Gustafson. Moving Manske aside and letting the panel talk with the winning crew chief resulted in some good questions and a great interview.

All of the production pieces are in place for this TV series. Outstanding highlights, good soundbites from all the top drivers and a solid Monday interview with a weekend newsmaker. The only thing remaining is for someone to drive the bus.

"In terms of saving fuel, who was the most impressive driver yesterday?" asked Manske of her expert panel. The looks on their faces told the tale. Ricky Craven could not hide his grin as he spread his hands as if to say are you kidding me?

"Well, the most impressive was Mark Martin, right?" said Craven. Proving that he is one of the top TV pros he quickly changed the subject. Wallace gave Martin a quick compliment and Said admitted that he just hates all fuel mileage races.

Manske has come a long way this season and continues to be a solid field reporter and weekday studio host. Unfortunately, this one-hour show calls for someone with more actual NASCAR history and experience. It seems that she is almost there and gaining on it, but on this Monday it was still a struggle.

Finally, on-air decisions in a studio setting come down to the Producer and the Coordinating Producer. During this program, two video clips were shown of accidents.

The first involved NASCAR veteran Johnny Benson, who escaped serious injury while racing his Supermodified car at a regional track. Although there was a brief fire, it was known in advance that Benson was going to recover and his condition was updated. The same could not be said for the second clip.

In the final segment of the show, the video of the accident that claimed the life of driver Carlos Pardo in NASCAR's Mexican Series was shown right out of commercial. There was no warning, no disclaimer and the footage was graphic.

NASCAR Now then actually replayed his death in slow motion from a second angle. Pardo was clearly seen inside his car that was essentially impaled on the end of a Jersey barrier. The video then continued to show rescue workers extracting his body from the car while covered with a blue tarp.

How and why this was included in a classy show that has made a name for itself by presenting the best NASCAR news and information is unclear. TDP has been begging for years to have this program include regional series highlights and information. The door has always been firmly shut. But now, because of sensational video and a fatality the door was opened for all the wrong reasons.

TV networks have a policy in place where the video footage of violent death is concerned. Nothing could have been more graphic than seeing Pardo dead in his car after this horrible accident. Let's hope that NASCAR Now does not have to face this issue again in the future, but somewhere inside ESPN this issue has to be addressed. That was tasteless and embarrassing for NASCAR Now, the ESPN2 Network and ESPN Inc.

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 stopping by.

TNT's "Ponytail Express" Grinds To A Halt

Kyle Petty broke the news on Twitter. The "ponytail express" has been parked for this week. Petty and Rutledge Wood had been traveling between the NASCAR on TNT races in Petty's motorcycle. It is equipped with a sidecar which has been the location of Wood and his video camera.

Petty provided this information on Monday night:

Not riding to California. SORRY! FIRST WEEK OF CAMP! I wanted to spend time tomorrow and Wed with the kids. Haven't missed 1st week yet...

Rut and I are borrowing a bike out there and riding around Thur and Fri. NOT the same but still FUN. Please don't be mad at us...

Certainly, the activity of the Victory Junction Gang Camp comes first and always will. Unfortunately, that does not square with the information originally offered by TNT about this project. The idea was that the long trip between North Carolina and California this week was going to be the most interesting.

Plenty of fans have been following the exploits of this duo and were looking forward to maybe saying hello, getting a picture or just seeing them go through town. For many people across the country, this might be as close as they ever come to the NASCAR personalities they see on TV.

NASCAR.com has been posting a weekly video of the trips and both Petty and Wood have been sending Twitter messages and pictures constantly. On the last trip, the first NASCAR fans tracked them down using Twitter and got a picture. Wood said it made the day for both of them.

Petty started his big charity ride over a decade ago and has built it into a powerhouse of public relations and fund raising for the VJG Camp. That is why this idea was so appealing. Finally, a couple of NASCAR TV types putting their money where their mouth is and getting out into the real world.

Late Monday night, Wood confirmed that he and Petty will pick back up and ride from North Carolina to New Hampshire for the Loudon race. It was fun watching NASCAR fans talk to each other about this project, wonder what route the duo would take and then get excited from the pictures and messages sent along the way. Imagine, a good idea that was getting fans fired-up.

TNT may have a winner here. Perhaps, some careful expansion for 2010 might lead more fans to take a summer vacation, join these two maniacs and ride...all the way to the racetrack. Wonder what a "ponytail express" infield parking area would look like?

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

TNT's Michigan Coverage Also Ends On Fumes

What a tough chore for the NASCAR on TNT team. Despite the parity of the COT's and the new fancy restarts, MIS once again offered little in the way of racing excitement as the Sprint Cup Series took to the track.

TNT is loaded this season with all kinds of good pre-race interviews and features. After the rather unique pre-race approach of Fox, Marc Fein and his TNT show has proven to be right on-target for the last two races. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds look at ease and really provide a good one-two punch for the network.

After the troubles of last season, TNT worked very hard to revamp the Wally's World feature with mixed results. There is no doubt that this season's offering of Dallenbach superimposed over racing footage is unique, but the information being offered is sometimes lost in the special effects.

Bill Weber retired the sky blue jacket and led Dallenbach through the second pre-race show. These two work well together and their conversation around the TNT cocktail table covers a lot of topics that other networks would never touch.

One issue addressed by TNT honestly throughout the telecast was the start-and-park teams. After the dents in the credibility that other NASCAR TV networks took by not mentioning the many teams who retired early, TNT kept the viewers updated as the numbers grew.

No matter how hard the cameras searched, there was quickly little excitement to be found on the track. The COT's stretched out and the familiar pattern of passing on pit road began again. TNT kept the triple-splits on the caution flag pit stops and set a good example for other networks to follow.

Weber also worked very hard to provide updates on the field. Sometimes using his pit reporters and sometimes just going it alone, this is an element that really helped the TV viewers whose only perspective is the TV screen for the entire race.

RaceBuddy was again a hit, but with one glitch along the way. The NASCAR.com team did not do a very good job of matching the in-car camera video to the correct team audio. Other than that, the designated pit reporter and the battle-cam make this online-only function a total success that should be exported to other networks.

Kyle Petty continues to be the star of the show, speaking his mind and opening the kind of dialogue between announcers that is just not seen on the other networks covering the sport. Petty enjoys picking the brain of McReynolds, the infield genius working his calculator all race long.

In Pocono, TNT focused on winner Tony Stewart even as other cars spun-out and ran out of fuel racing to the finish. At MIS, this problem was corrected with a tremendous wideshot of the finish line and an electronic graphic displaying easy to read information. It was perfect. Unfortunately, it was after the race that problems began again.

Last week, TNT left NASCAR fifteen minutes before the scheduled "off-time" of the Pocono race. The race was over, but there was plenty to talk about. This week, the network left more than twenty minutes before the scheduled end of the MIS coverage. How and why this has become an issue is unknown. One thing is for certain, it left a bad taste in the mouth of many fans. TDP comments and email tell the tale.

The reason for this frustration is easy to understand. Before the MIS race, there were over five hours of pre-race TV coverage on three different networks. One of those networks was TNT. Fans were asked to watch ninety minutes of TNT programming before the green flag fell.

Why then would a network so dedicated to getting NASCAR information to the fans leave the air and then have the audacity to show TNT viewers twenty minutes of a show on police chases? The closer is that TNT only does six races a year, so why the rush? On the TV side, lots of stories were left untold.

TNT has four races remaining with perhaps the most challenging up next. The network has struggled at Sonoma, but this year's on-air line-up and production team seems ready to finally master the road course chaos. It should be interesting.

We welcome your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Michigan. To leave 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 for taking the time to stop by and have a great week.