Friday, July 31, 2009

NASCAR's B Sample Ready For Random Testing In Iowa

The Nationwide Series flies under the radar for a wide variety of reasons. This Saturday, all those reasons are suddenly gone. The trucks are in Nashville and the Sprint Cup Series is in Pocono. Instead of a small crowd at a second tier track, the beautiful Iowa Speedway beckons. Most importantly, the college football season is still weeks away.

This weekend, NASCAR's best TV will be the Saturday Nationwide Series qualifying coverage and live race on the ESPN family of networks. Finally, the B-team gets a moment to shine.

ESPN's crew of Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie produced a fantastic Nationwide Series telecast from O'Reilly Raceway Park last weekend. Along with Jack Arute, Rick DeBruhl and Mike Massaro, this entire TV B-team is back again and this time viewers are in for a little surprise.

Iowa Speedway has brought in extra seating for the NASCAR fans. Out in the middle of nowhere, there has been an awakening. Officials are bracing for 55 thousand fans to fill the stands on Saturday. These people are making a statement. At 4PM ET when the ESPN cameras show the first pictures of the sold-out racetrack, NASCAR's waterlogged Sprint Cup Series officials in Pocono are certainly going to take notice.

Click here and scroll down for Jayski's Nationwide Series entry list for Iowa. You may have to keep scrolling for a bit. There are 51 cars in total. Let me repeat that. There are 51 cars trying to make the Nationwide Series field in Iowa.

ESPN2 is handling the qualifying coverage at 1PM ET on Saturday. Unlike some of the ridiculous happenings of last week, there will be a lot on the line for many teams who must make the race on time or go home. Iowa to North Carolina is a very long drive. Qualifying should be something to see.

Current storylines from this series involve Brad Keselowski's continuing emergence, Steven Wallace perhaps finally coming of age and the fact that Des Moines, Iowa's Michael Annett, pictured above, is trying to make the race. Also, only three Cup drivers will be in the Iowa event. Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch will make the trip from Pocono.

Motorsports TV veteran Reid has accomplished the same two things Allen Bestwick did for ESPN when he took over the Infield Pit Studio hosting duties. Reid immediately changed the TV tone and brought instant credibility to the position. The effect has been tremendously positive.

Balancing two very different personalities like Wallace and LaJoie on the air is no easy task. Perhaps some folks remember Reid standing between Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever on the IRL telecasts for ESPN. Reid also helped a new motorsports TV announcer learn broadcasting skills on the IRL series a while back. I believe his name was also Wallace.

This speedway is built for good TV and good racing. The design has proven to be popular for both the fans and the teams. With a sold-out crowd, live national TV and a full field of Nationwide cars, the facility designer should be proud. I believe his name is also Wallace.

A high-profile race like this can change the careers of drivers who will be watched on TV by the NASCAR media and owners from Pocono. Not much else to do after the ARCA race in that neck of the woods. The results should be some additional news coverage online and perhaps some additional driver opportunities down the road.

This may well be the second weekend where the Nationwide race upstages the Sprint Cup Series event. TDP will live blog the race on Saturday afternoon.

We welcome 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.

NASCAR TV/Media Notes (Updated - Lowe's Gone From Charlotte)

Update: Sports Business Journal is reporting that Lowe's will not renew its current deal with SMI and the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Click here for the link.

A lot of random things have floated in over the past several days and hopefully we can put all of them together in this post before the weekend action starts.

Kyle Petty will be returning to the broadcast booth, but it will be during the ARCA/REMAX race from Pocono on Saturday. He will join Steve Byrnes in the booth for the 1PM ET race. Wendy Venturini will also be a pit road reporter.

A good friend to many drivers who enjoy riding motorcycles has passed away. If you have ever been in Daytona Beach, perhaps you have stopped by the huge Harley Davidson dealership that Bruce Rossmeyer put together. Tragically, he lost his life riding to the big Sturgis rally. Click here for the story from Cycle News.

Kenny Wallace used Twitter to relate a problem he had with his TV employer over the Victory Lane show last week. Here are the messages from Tuesday:

SPEED T.V E-Mailed Me..If I Ask Jimmie Johnson For Autograph on the Show Again..It Could Be Grounds to Fire Me..That is a T.V No-No..WOW!.

SPEED said that it was Unprofessional for me to Ask My Friend Jimmie Johnson for the Autograph.Happens Again I could be FIRED..WOW!..I'M SAD

SPEED Said that it is a Written Rule that Talent.. "That's Me" Can't Ask Guest For Autographs..It was Strange Because Jimmie is My Friend..

ESPN has been kind enough to arrange a re-airing of the NASCAR special Feel Your Heart Race which kicked-off the Sprint Cup Series coverage this season. This thirty minute show is fun to watch and will be replayed August 8 at 1PM ET on ESPN2. Nice to see a TV show treat NASCAR fans with respect.

Friday night over on SPEED at 7PM the Trackside gang will have Clint Bowyer and Marcos Ambrose as guests. Bowyer's reaction to the Jack Daniels situation and Ambrose talking about his Indy run should be interesting.

SPEED also passes along that Michael Waltrip will be on the telecast team for the Camping World Truck Series race from Nashville on Saturday night. Sprint Cup qualifying in Pocono is on Friday and the race is on Sunday, so Waltrip is heading to Nashville on Saturday.

In the meantime, Waltrip tried to Twitter during the taping of This Week in NASCAR on Monday, but found out that unless a TV show is live that really does not make a lot of sense. Later that evening, he Twittered to fans that he was at a Fish Taco place with a date and she left him to get a tattoo. After several even more interesting messages, Waltrip confessed there was no date and no tattoo. There was no information on the tacos.

TDP's favorite Michael Waltrip Tweet of the week: "I have thoughts."

Connie LeGrand, formerly of SPEED, says hello to everyone from her TV anchor position at WSPA News Channel 7 in Greenville, SC. Says she peeks at The SPEED Report and likes what she sees. We agree, the revamped show is great but seeing Connie and Bob Jenkins on the set was something else.

Iowa Speedway is set to roll out a welcome for the Nationwide Series that is beyond belief. Temporary grandstands have been brought in to accommodate an overflow crowd for the 4PM Saturday race on ESPN. The recent IRL race at the speedway brought a crowd of 40 thousand, but the NASCAR race is expected to top 50 thousand.

ESPN has split broadcasting crews again, so Rusty Wallace is going to work on the Nationwide race in Iowa and then fly to Pocono to join that team for the Sprint Cup event. TV veteran Rick DeBruhl is also going to work on the Iowa event as a pit road reporter. Click here for an update on DeBruhl who is a reporter for KPNX in Phoenix, AZ. Some veteran fans may remember DeBruhl from his earlier work on ESPN auto races years ago.

If you want to add a quality program to your recording list for the weekend, try the one hour Sunday night edition of NASCAR Now at 10PM ET. Nicole Manske hosts with Marty Smith reporting and the entire ESPN broadcast team contributing. These shows only run during the 17 race weekends of the ESPN Sprint Cup schedule and last year proved to be loaded with highlights and interviews.

Finally, if you are interested in seeing some NASCAR history, ESPN Classic is re-airing the final NASCAR race from the old Riverside International Raceway in Southern California. This was a road course with a very long history of hosting all kinds of cars and series. The 1988 event airs at 6PM Monday and is a rare glimpse into a slice of NASCAR now long gone.

As usual, we welcome your comments on the topics mentioned above. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

TDP will live blog all three races this weekend, please join us to talk NASCAR TV.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Where Should NASCAR TV Networks Draw The Line?

This topic has been discussed before on TDP. Smiling Bob first appeared with his goofy grin and his male enhancement pills several years ago on the NASCAR scene.

Unlike the professionally produced TV commercials for products like Viagra and Cialis, there was a very different theme with Smiling Bob. It was not a medical, but a sexual theme running through the ads. Grinning women whispered Bob's secret to each other at a Christmas party and then got to sit on Bob's lap. The message was made very clear.

Click here for a reality check of the ingredients in Enzyte. The 42-year old president of the company that created and sold Enzyte was ultimately convicted of fraud and sentenced to 25 years in Federal prison.

Since that time, male enhancement products have been divided into two categories. Medical products offered through prescriptions and non-FDA approved compounds that are offered directly to the consumer.

During the last five Nationwide Series races, driver Kevin Conway has been shaking up the sport. It was not his performance on the track, but rather his first-person TV commercials for ExtenZe that got a very strong reaction from some fans.

Click here for an article about how Conway's deal came about and what he thinks of the issues involved in his sponsorship. Ultimately, it came down to the money to race.

Click here for the Wikipedia page on ExtenZe. Originally promoted by porn star Ron Jeremy on late night TV, the product has now made its way into the homes of families watching NASCAR racing.

Searching the Internet for information about this product will yield another surprise. EztenZe has flooded the Internet with endless phony websites and links that work to block the real issues associated with this product offer. In an era of new media marketing, it seems that keeping truth away from potential consumers through technology is king where this product is concerned.

Click here for the ExtenZe page at, a popular consumer complaint website. The theme of the complaints is that the product is useless and the entire thing is a credit card scam.

Click here for a link to a Conway commercial that might put things in perspective. Far away from the professionally produced ads for the prescription products, several versions of these low-budget ExtenZe ads ran repeatedly in the Nationwide Series races for the last six weeks.

So, where do the NASCAR TV networks draw the line on adult content? Is plain talk about adult products suitable for a sport trying very hard to market itself to families? Just how frank and low-budget do ads have to be before networks say no? Did you watch the Conway commercial on the You Tube link?

Secondly, are TV endorsements of potentially fraudulent products OK because it drives revenue for teams to race? NASCAR has been involved with sponsors who turn out to be scam artists before, but not in the adult product world. Do you fault Conway for accepting ExtenZe as a sponsor and making the TV ads?

Note: TDP is working on a follow-up story about US Fidelis and the NASCAR sponsorships of that company. This column is about adult products and we would request that you hold the US Fidelis comments for the subsequent posting. We know there are many angry people out there and we will allow you to be heard shortly.

We would like your honest comments about the low-budget ads for direct to consumer offers of male enhancement products appearing in NASCAR TV programs and races. We would especially like to hear from NASCAR families who are viewing the races and dealing with these commercials.

To offer your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. As always, thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Monday's Spin Doctors Dominate NASCAR TV

There were only two experienced members of the NASCAR media on the Monday TV shows. Allen Bestwick was the host of NASCAR Now and Steve Byrnes was the host of This Week in NASCAR.

ESPN2's show featured Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. That makes two current Sprint Cup Series owners and one current Nationwide Series owner offering comments. Evernham retains his partial ownership role. SPEED's program had Greg Biffle and Michael Waltrip as panelists. One current Sprint Cup Series driver and one current owner/driver.

NASCAR Now put Daugherty in the seat normally occupied by an ESPN reporter on the panel. There is no doubting Daugherty's enthusiasm and dedication where the sport is concerned. The problem is that alongside of Wallace and Evernham he does not have a role.

Bestwick tried to advance Daugherty as "the voice of the fan" last season, but ESPN put a stop to that. When he is in the infield, Daugherty's on-air enthusiasm really works well. Unfortunately, surrounded on a review show by experts, he is left to simply restate the obvious. This program really missed a journalist on the panel.

It's no secret that Wallace and Evernham disagree on almost everything. Each of these men has a super-ego and it is a challenge for them to play well with others. Bestwick did a good job of getting them talking and offering opinions on what many felt was a disappointment of a race from Indy.

Evernham offered what may have been the best explanation of how NASCAR determines speeding penalties on pit road, but once again ESPN had no video to go with it. Just like the race broadcast on Sunday failed to explain the mechanism behind the penalty, NASCAR Now had no video on Monday. Machinery, print outs or even pictures of the embedded wires on the pit road segments would have helped.

"It's definitely a valid penalty," said Wallace. "It's all electronic, it's on a computer. NASCAR doesn't have anything to do with this decision." Wallace went on to say that simply by missing the original manual setting of the pit road speed limit prior to the race, Montoya may have well put himself in the situation of exceeding the 5 mph limit that NASCAR allows for an over-run.

Former crew chief Evernham was pointing the finger at Montoya and his crew chief. With a five second lead on the track, clearly the best car and the race winding down, Evernham questioned why anyone would take a risk of speeding on pit road.

Strangely, TWIN's Chad Knaus was a telephone guest on NASCAR Now. Knaus was interviewed by Bestwick and he first raised the point of limited passing. Unfortunately, that issue was lost among the continued political answers by Knaus about Hendrick Motorsports. Bestwick never asked Knaus if Johnson could have won without Montoya's mistake.

The subject of Kyle Busch got the panel fired-up briefly. Daugherty continues to be eternally optimistic and predicted a "mini-run" from Busch to get him in the Chase. Wallace was clear in his view that Busch was not going to make it. Evernham picked Busch to win the championship, so he was all in.

Give credit to Bestwick for bringing up the COT. Evernham still wants the crew chiefs to have some more adjustments available to them. Wallace wants mandatory weight distribution to stop the crews from building light and moving all the lead weights in the frame rail to the left side. Finally, some real racing talk on this episode.

The best races of the weekend were the trucks and the Nationwide Series. NASCAR Now offered quick highlights, but no driver soundbites. In closing, Wallace offered that the ORP race was "a defining moment" for his son in his racing career. The only time Steven was shown in the highlights was when he rear-ended the leader under caution.

After last week's reporter roundtable, this show was a snap back to the reality of deeply-connected NASCAR personalities walking gingerly through pre-selected topics in a well-scripted hour.

Michael Waltrip set his chaos meter on high and simply dominated This Week In NASCAR from the first moment the program hit the air. Greg Biffle should have just stayed home and called it in. Waltrip's extended rant on the Montoya speeding penalty at the top of the show just started the monologue that this program has become.

Steve Byrnes gets credit for consistently trying to bring Biffle into the conversation by aiming questions directly to him. During these fleeting moments, Waltrip just simmers and then eventually explodes.

Biffle tried to explain how drivers set the pit road speed limit from the pace car prior to the race. "Forget the pace car," said Waltrip. "That's almost irrelevant." Waltrip went on to again disregard Biffle's answer while making sure to plug the fact he would be on Twitter after the show to offer even more of his opinions.

In watching the show, it becomes clear when Waltrip is in this mood that Biffle will never have the last word on any topic. Waltrip will not allow it. Byrnes is a TV veteran and enjoys a good conversation, but Waltrip was the star of this show long before Byrnes came along as host. It's very clear who is driving this bus.

The shame of this is that Biffle is an experienced racer who has good opinions and observations. He has learned to stay calm when Waltrip is like this and just let him talk. Biffle managed to get one good opinion out about Goodyear's tire improvement and that was about it.

Walltrip completely ducked Byrnes asking about the overheating problem on the #55 car and moved into a team promo for MWR featuring David Reutimann. After offering lengthy explanations on topics concerning other teams and cars, Waltrip owed viewers the same on his day in Indy.

One strength of this program from the start has been the pre-produced features from the NASCAR Media Group. This week, in addition to the regular race reviews there were features on a young Bobby Labonte and a rare glimpse into the brief career of the late Tim Richmond. Both were outstanding and reminded us again that the lack of NASCAR Media Group programming like this on SPEED is glaring.

In a way, Waltrip is beginning to experience some of the problems of his older brother on TV. Michael offers some great opinions and has some great perspectives on the sport just like Darrell. Unfortunately, those comments now often come wrapped in endless self-promotion and petulant behavior that is tough to watch.

Both Monday shows walked the NASCAR line and avoided the reality that without the Montoya penalty, only one late race restart might have added a hint of excitement to a track that may well be losing its luster for some NASCAR fans.

Which show did you watch? We welcome your opinion at TDP. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by, have a great week.

Sprint Cup Series Continues To Baffle ESPN

The build-up to the Sprint Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was outstanding. It began with an exciting Camping World Truck Series race and peaked with a tremendous Nationwide Series event. Then, the green flag waved at IMS and everything changed.

Rick Allen and the SPEED team had delivered a fun truck series race from nearby O'Reilly Raceway Park for the fans. That was no easy task as the trucks had lots of new faces and almost a third of the field did not finish the race. With only two pit reporters and three announcers in the booth, Allen and his team drove home the excitement of this series by concentrating on the racing action and chasing the stories.

ESPN walked into ORP on Saturday night, where Marty Reid led his team on one of the best NASCAR telecasts in recent memory. Reid set the excited tone from the start and had Randy LaJoie alongside contributing great comments. Rusty Wallace stepped-up and did a credible job amid those two high energy guys. Down on pit road Mike Massaro, Shannon Spake and Jack Arute hustled to cover the stories.

Reid is a versatile announcer with extensive play by play experience. His role was to describe what was happening on the track, lead the analysts into commenting on the action and get the pit reporters to work hard.

Sunday morning, ESPN offered one hour of NASCAR Now and then ninety minutes of NASCAR Countdown before the Brickyard race began. These shows contained outstanding interviews, emotional features and a live introduction of the drivers that really set the tone for the race.

The telecast then shifted to the broadcast booth for the actual race. The speedway is notorious for being a single-file track for the larger NASCAR cars. This is no surprise to the fans. Apparently, it was to ESPN.

Once the cars strung-out and the strategies began, the announcing team settled into a very familiar rhythm. Jerry Punch was calling his third NASCAR race at the Brickyard for ESPN. His style has been the subject of columns on TDP for one reason.

Punch is miscast in the play by play role and once the coverage began, that was driven home to NASCAR fans watching on TV very directly. The pattern is for Punch to return from commercial, briefly offer a reset of the track, the lap and the leaders. Then, the interview begins.

Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree spent the better part of this telecast answering questions asked of them by Punch. There was absolutely no play by play call of this race at any time. Regardless of the level of excitement or passing on the track fans deserve a competent announcer who can keep them excited for the telecast and updated on the stories of the race. ESPN could not deliver this all afternoon.

Once again, Jarrett and Petree jumped into the play by play role when things got to the point of complete embarrassment. Awkward silence is something not normally heard during a live race at the speedway. Thankfully, both Jarrett and Petree have become very familiar with helping out during these telecasts.

Over-producing is a term that is used when too many cooks are in the TV kitchen. ESPN missed the race into the first turn after talking about the start for hours. The much hyped bat-cam was useless and rarely used. Instead, ESPN concentrated on playing back all types of content while avoiding the actual racing.

Viewers saw endless drivers in pre-recorded comments talking about all kinds of subjects while the actual live racing was presented over their shoulder in a video box. The drivers were front and center while the racing was in the background. This was the theme of the coverage. The racing was nothing more than background noise.

Time and time again, recorded radio conversations were played back after Punch introduced the driver and the topic. Pit reporters acted like fans were getting inside information when most of the comments were beyond obvious. This format needs to be abandoned and fast. Nothing breaks the momentum of green flag racing like stopping to play back a radio conversation from laps earlier.

Cars that fell out of the race were mentioned and several drivers were interviewed in the garage. Unfortunately, following up on these stories proved to be impossible for the TV team. Fans emailed and sent comments again complaining that they had to turn to the radio broadcast and online scoring websites for information.

Speaking of the radio, once again there was an incredible difference in the amount of information and excitement provided by the radio team vs. the TV announcers. Energy provided by the radio broadcasters really drove home the point of how badly ESPN needs a change in the booth.

Punch hosted a fantastic Ultimate NASCAR TV series. He handled the rain delay programming from the infield on Saturday without missing a beat. Eventually, he may be honored in the NASCAR Hall of Fame for his contributions to the sport in the 1980's. Unfortunately, no one has been able to muster up the common sense to sit down with Punch and end this fiasco.

There are sixteen races left in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. All of them are either on ESPN or ABC. Jerry Punch is assigned to them all.

We welcome 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 hanging in there with us on this tough day.

Randy LaJoie Sparks ESPN's Saturday Night

Randy LaJoie looks about as comfortable in a suit and tie as many NASCAR fans. His language is plain and sometimes a bit rough. He seems to be the kind of guy who would be a lot of fun at a party. He was exactly what ESPN needed on Saturday night.

ESPN split its announcing staff between the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and O'Reilly Raceway Park this weekend. Marty Reid and Rusty Wallace were paired with LaJoie as the team calling the network's Nationwide Series race at ORP.

TV viewers had been sitting through hours of Jerry Punch and company over at IMS as long rain delays kept the action to a minimum. Once things dried out, Punch hosted a Sprint Cup Series qualifying session that contained no real excitement and featured the usual cast of characters.

It was the moment that Reid led his TV team onto ESPN that everything changed. Pit reporter Mike Massaro took charge of the pre-race show and informally hosted it while walking up and down pit road. Massaro has been having a great season on ESPN and showed once again that he is the kind of versatile announcer this type of coverage needs.

Instead of all Carl and Kyle, ESPN worked to spread out the pre-race content and did a much better than normal job of treating everyone equally. The real stories of the race were presented in an upbeat and casual fashion.

Once the action moved to the booth, it became clear very quickly that Wallace was going to have to shift gears to keep up with Reid and LaJoie. This is Reid's first season calling this group of Nationwide races and he has been a breath of fresh air. Nothing is going to shake his enthusiasm and ORP under the lights was the perfect location for this type of announcing.

Momentum is something talked about for race teams, but it was very clear that the entire TV crew caught Reid's enthusiasm. They delivered one of ESPN's best NASCAR telecasts of the season. Suddenly, NASCAR on TV was fun again and that has not been the case for a long time.

One great TV element in use was the blimp. Used by the director for wideshots and restart coverage, this ultimate high camera really helped viewers get a perspective of this facility. The ESPN director also resisted the urge to overuse the in-car cameras and kept the coverage moving through the field.

It was easy to watch and listen to this race as even the pit reporters began to get caught up in Reid's enthusiasm. Even normally polite and low-key Shannon Spake got fired-up and put in a solid performance on pit road. It should be interesting to see how her Saturday night experience carries over to Sunday's Cup Series race.

Reid again called out the start and park cars the moment they pulled into the garage. This exposure is the only way to get a handle on this problem. The TV team was also aggressive in getting interviews with drivers out of the race after several accidents. That was appreciated.

LaJoie was simply a blast. When the pace car pulled out early and caused an accident on the track, he asked if maybe it was battery powered. Nothing like a little swing at the Sprint Cup hybrid version. LaJoie delivered many classic lines and great humor all night long. Simply put, ESPN needs him on the Nationwide broadcasts.

Wallace is more at home in the infield with Allen Bestwick, but he hung in there and enjoyed watching the success of his teams during the race. This type of telecast really does not need a third announcer in the booth. Reid and LaJoie together may be a pairing that can bring this series home over the next several months.

A great combination of elements came together for an enjoyable NASCAR telecast from ORP. Hopefully, someday soon network TV will figure out a way to guarantee viewers a full post-race show regardless of the time. Kudos to ESPN for staying focused and listening to the feedback of the fans. We can only hope the Sunday Sprint Cup telecast builds on this success.

TDP would like your comments on the Saturday night Nationwide Series telecast on ESPN. 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 the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series on ESPN From Indy

Note: Please give us your post-race comments on the new column at the top of the page.

Hang on NASCAR fans. 12 announcers and 76 cameras are coming at you live from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It's time for the Brickyard 400 on ESPN.

Last season this was one of the biggest auto racing disasters in recent memory. The Goodyear tire problems unfolded live on global TV. ESPN could do nothing but watch the chaos and try to report the obvious. Now, things have changed.

The foundation of this season's telecast is clearly the incredible recovery of Goodyear from the struggles of last season to being a success this year. No tire problems will return the focus to the racing and the telecast coverage.

The 12 ESPN voices are familiar to NASCAR fans. Allen Bestwick will remain in the infield pit studio during the race. He will be joined there by Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham. Bestwick should serve to host the race recaps, the video highlights and the coverage under any extended caution flag period.

Jerry Punch is handling the play by play for the race, with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Down on pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch. This is a veteran crew, but this is a very big stage today.

ESPN has a new camera that swoops down pit road at over 80 mph. This angle should be great on restarts and to cover the race off pit road. Look for the ESPN director to try and strike a balance between the in-car cameras and the tremendous amount of cameras positioned around the track.

This is the first Brickyard 400 with the new restart rules and the double-file strategy should make for a new wrinkle. Tire strategy will come into play and the pit reporters are going to be busy keeping fans up to date on what teams are thinking.

This post will serve to host your comments about the ESPN telecast of the Sprint Cup Series race from IMS. 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 time from your weekend to stop by.

Pre-Race TV Shows Are Very Different

This is the time of the season when the battle of the pre-race shows really begins. ESPN and SPEED will both be offering hours of pre-race TV programming for the remaining seventeen Sprint Cup Series weekends.

Allen Bestwick is first with NASCAR Now at 10AM. Originating from the ESPN Infield Pit Studio, Bestwick has all the ESPN resources at his disposal. Joining Bestwick in the infield will be Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Mike Massaro, Nicole Manske and Marty Smith are the reporters.

RaceDay is up next and presents the exact opposite way of covering the sport on TV. Instead of three formally dressed men in a silent air conditioned studio, SPEED offers Kenny Wallace dancing on his desk in front of thousands of fans on an outdoor stage. Jimmy Spencer and John Roberts round-out the trio.

Instead of the tie and jacket on Smith and Massaro, RaceDay offers casually attired Hermie Sadler and Rutledge Wood. Sadler provides the interviews while Rutledge continues to be cast as the class clown. While Nicole Manske cruises the garage with her open-wheel background, SPEED's Wendy Venturini is on-hand with her well-known smile and lifelong experience in the stock car world.

RaceDay has two hours at Indy and plans to interview as many drivers, owners and news makers as possible. Just like ESPN, SPEED is going to feature Jeff Gordon as the Real Deal this week. This show should be the first good indication of the crowd at Indy and their mood after the Goodyear tire disaster of 2008.

ESPN has a double-whammy planned as the network has hand-crafted a ninety minute pre-race show that will overlap RaceDay by thirty minutes and start at 12:30PM. Plenty of pre-produced features have been done for this special show and they include an E:60-style announcer roundtable previewing the race. Some celebrities will be along as well and some of the surprises should be fun to watch.

This post will serve to host your comments about the pre-race programming from Indy. 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. TDP will be live blogging the Brickyard 400 beginning at 2PM. Green flag is 2:19PM.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

ESPN's NASCAR Curveball

The buzz has been around for several days now, but ESPN has finally just confirmed what Ray Evernham told SiriusXM radio. The NASCAR on ESPN team is shaking things up and the Michigan Nationwide Series race in three weeks is when it will happen.

Here are some excerpts from ESPN's official announcement:

ESPN’s live coverage of the Aug. 15 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Michigan International Speedway will have a new and different approach as the telecast will prominently feature five former NASCAR champions and will be done without a traditional “play by play” announcer.

“Our goal is to give viewers a different presentation, one filled with discussion, observations, and stories from some of the most respected champions NASCAR has crowned, and their unique unfiltered perspective on an event,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports.

“This is an opportunity for our viewers to have the experience of sitting around watching a race with these champions from their couch at home, and without the traditional approach to sportscasting.“

The official release goes on to document that in the announce booth will be Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Andy Petree and Evernham. Tim Brewer will stay down in the Tech Garage. Allen Bestwick will host, probably from his normal infield studio location.

ESPN's Feinberg took a bold step already this season by bringing veteran announcer Marty Reid over to NASCAR. Reid was available after ESPN chopped its IRL TV contract into pieces, leaving the vast majority of the races and other programming to the Comcast-owned Versus TV network.

Reid was tagged to come over and relieve Jerry Punch of having to call both the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series races as well as the Nationwide events. This was a smart move and shows that ESPN recognizes things are not going well on the NASCAR trail where TV coverage is concerned.

This MIS experiment has several layers to it and they are all interesting. Despite the enthusiastic statement, Feinberg knows that every single live sports TV telecast needs a leader. As fans of TDP know from the past three seasons, there are duties to perform in the booth and an order to be established for a good telecast. We often refer to this as directing traffic.

There is little doubt from my vantage point that this exercise is about one individual. No, it is not the miscast Jerry Punch who has struggled with even the most basic play-by-play fundamentals for the past three seasons. This experiment is about ESPN's current NASCAR Lead Analyst Dale Jarrett.

Many TDP columns have thanked Jarrett for stepping in and taking over when Punch is unable to translate the excitement on the track to the TV viewers. Jarrett also offers a lot of the ordinary play-by-play coverage simply because the only alternative with Punch in the TV booth is silence. NASCAR on ESPN viewers are used to that.

This Nationwide Series race is a great opportunity to put Jarrett in a play-by-play role without ever admitting it. The Saturday race also saves face for Punch, who on the surface is not involved in this little experiment at all. Reid was listed as doing the Nationwide races down the stretch this season.

Jarrett gets to partner with Petree who is already his normal co-analyst. Evernham comes to the booth still learning how to handle the national TV spotlight. This should be a good test of just how much he has learned in his time with ESPN. Wallace is best in controlled doses and having four announcers in the booth will require patience from all concerned.

It should be Jarrett who calls the action on the track, leads into the replays and works to keep a good balance between announcers. Even with a Nationwide Series race, the TV skills of a play-by-play announcer are needed to keep order.

With four voices in the booth, four more on pit road, one in the Tech Garage and one in the Infield Pit Studio a large part of this broadcast is going to be what we referenced earlier, directing traffic. Jarrett should fill that role.

As this experiment gets closer, there is no doubt we will begin to hear a little more about the specifics. It certainly is curious that only a couple of days before Punch begins his Sprint Cup Series stretch, ESPN makes public plans to televise a NASCAR event with basically everyone else on the TV team except him.

Even in the heat of a NASCAR summer, who says sports television isn't interesting?

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 stopping by The Daly Planet.

Mayfield Media Mayhem May Be Muted

It is just a one-page legal document from the US Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA. Where Jeremy Mayfield is concerned, it could be the final nail in his media coffin.

After a week that saw Mayfield appear on television, radio and the Internet there is a distinct possibility that the end is near. From talking endlessly to local TV station reporters in Charlotte to unleashing a personal and slanderous rant against Brian France on SiriusXM, this has been a masterful week of media manipulation by the Mayfield camp.

Now, not only has the court decided to again suspend Mayfield by lifting the temporary junction granted earlier, but late word is that Mayfield has also sold his team and racing equipment. Click here to read a brief summary of the court decision. Click here to read about Mayfield selling his team.

This turn of events leaves Mayfield with no shop, no team and no real way back into the sport. While rumors of Mayfield appearing at Indy continue to circulate, there is now no real reason why he would travel to the track. His words and thoughts have been heard, but the justice system seems to have tolerated just about enough.

There is very little chance that viewers will see Mayfield on this weekend's NASCAR TV programs. From RaceDay to NASCAR Now, the real stories of the season-to-date and the Indy racing tripleheader are going to dominate. What is there left for Mayfield to say?

Mayfield has been moved away from the track again and this time there is nowhere else to go. Until additional legal proceedings get underway many months from now, Mayfield should begin to slowly fade from the NASCAR news.

It should be very interesting to see if Mayfield goes on one final media tour to promote his cause. With the NASCAR media long gone to Indy, Mayfield may once again use the local Charlotte TV stations and SiriusXM to get himself media access. Keep your eyes peeled for Mayfield sightings specifically aimed at detracting from the Indy race on Sunday.

TDP is proud to have become a source for debate and information on this topic of Mayfield using the media. Click on the titles for some additional resources:

Why is NASCAR's drug policy in my mailbox?(6-1-09)
Mayfield and the media about to dance again.(6-30-09)
Mayfield mayhem stumps "NASCAR Now."(7-3-09)
Marty Smith explodes the Mayfield chaos.(7-10-09)
Drowning face down while waiting for the truth.(5-20-09)
Dude, where's my sample?(7-14-09)
Mayfield drowns face down. (7-17-09)

Let's use this post to offer final comments on this Mayfield issue and how the media has done a good and not so good job handling this topic for the first time. Should any Mayfield issues arise this weekend, we will update this post.

To add your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for keeping this discussion serious and focused. As always, we appreciate you taking the time to stop by.

Live Blogging Nationwide Series Race on ESPN

ESPN has split the announcing teams in Indy and tonight is the Nationwide Series race from O'Reilly Raceway Park.

NASCAR Countdown is up at 7:30PM ET. In the past this pre-race show has been hosted by one of the pit reporters. Last season it was Dave Burns. This year, Jack Arute is being joined by Shannon Spake and Mike Massaro on pit road.

It will be Marty Reid calling the race with Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie alongside. This trio has been on the air today from ORP several times and they have been having a lot of fun.

The truck series race on Friday night was outstanding, so perhaps this is a night when the Nationwide Series can match the excitement. There are only four Sprint Cup Series drivers in the field, so hopefully the Carl and Kyle show will have some real competition on this short-track bullring.

Pictures at night from ORP are great. The audio works well from the in-car cameras because the drivers are working the throttle and brake all night long. There are no tricky camera locations or fancy gadgets, just good old short-track racing at night.

This post will serve to host your comments on this topic. 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 stopping by.

Let The Indy Rain Dance Begin (5:30PM N'wide Qual - ESPN2)

SPEED updates NASCAR Live will be at 7PM with a full wrap-up of the day in Indy.

Confirmed - ESPN is now going to split the coverage between the Nationwide Series qualifying and Sprint Cup qualifying.

1:30PM - NASCAR staying on ESPN2 and tennis moving to ESPN Classic.

1:15PM - Nationwide cars are now practicing until 2PM. NASCAR is saying possible Cup qualifying at 2PM. No idea where they are going to televise it yet. Stay tuned.

Noon ET - Jet dryers are out but the mist is still falling and there is a focus on getting Nationwide Series race started tonight.

11AM - Rain again and the track drying is halted. Now long delay into afternoon. No TV schedule updates yet. SPEED and ESPN are going to have a long day.

10:15AM - Lost both tracks to rain again, schedules out the window. Will advise when changes come from NASCAR at both IMS and ORP.

Rain is going to be a factor today in Indy and that is going to leave the TV networks scrambling. Both ESPN and SPEED were all set for a sophisticated dance of splitting time on the air from the same location. Rain will change all of that.

NASCAR fans are going to have to stay on their toes to keep up with the potential changes that weather may bring to the Saturday schedule starting with the 10AM ET live qualifying scheduled for the Sprint Cup Series.

The complete TV schedule as originally planned is listed on the right side of the TDP mainpage. We will use this post to keep up with the schedule changes and get your comments on the ESPN and SPEED coverage during the daytime.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Live Blogging The CWTS Race From ORP On SPEED

Here we go with one of the best tracks for the Camping World Truck Series. The O'Reilly Raceway Park is the small oval across town from the Indianapolis Speedway. This bull ring hosts all kind of events and the trucks are always a good show.

Krista Voda sets the table for the race with The Set-Up at 7:30PM ET. Voda has lots to talk about as the trucks continue to have an up and down season. Good racing at the front of the pack is mixed with tough economic times at the rear of the field.

Rick Allen will call the race with Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip alongside. This is a good combination that has been working hard for truck series fans for a long time now. SPEED has provided a great home for this series and tonight would be a very good time to put on a good show.

Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander will be covering pit road. SPEED needs a third pit reporter, especially with the potential changes coming to the series. Alexander and Dunlap have done a solid job, but another voice is needed for interviews and additional pit road coverage.

Pictures at night from ORP are great and really can convey the old-style racing that this track brings out in almost everyone who races there under the NASCAR banner. Fans should once again be looking for SPEED to follow the best racing on the track and not just focus on the leaders of the race.

Keep an eye on the live electronic ticker at the top of the screen. Hopefully, this high profile race will not have the same kind of "voluntary attrition" that the series experienced recently. When 13 of 34 trucks pull off the track without a mechanical failure, tire problem or engine failure, NASCAR needs to step-up and solve this issue.

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

Note: Jeremy Mayfield news and the upcoming ESPN news about Michigan will be discussed in a column posted after the CWTS event. Please keep your comments on this post focused on the SPEED coverage. Thanks.

Friday TV Coverage From Indy

The action heats up as the cars and trucks begin practice and qualifying in Indy. The Sprint Cup Series is at the speedway, while the Nationwide and Camping World Trucks are at O'Reilly Raceway Park across town.

Live TV starts at 2PM with the NASCAR on ESPN originating their first Sprint Cup Series coverage of the season. This one hour practice will be covered by Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Vince Welch, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little are working the garage area.

SPEED takes over at 3PM with a thirty minute version of NASCAR Live. John Roberts hosts with Randy Pemberton and Hermie Sadler as his reporters. Steve Byrnes is up next at 3:30PM with the next Cup Series practice. Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds will join him with Wendy Venturini and Bob Dillner covering the garage area. Roberts will return with NASCAR Live to finish out the timeslot.

Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are up next at SPEED moves to ORP for Camping World Truck Series qualifying. The small track means starting up front is key, so this session should have lots of teams going all out for the front row. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are the reporters.

At 6:30PM, NASCAR fans have a choice of two programs. SPEED offers Trackside while ESPN2 has NASCAR Now from Indy. Steve Byrnes has Larry McReynolds, Jeff Hammond and Elliot Sadler on Trackside. Guests are Joey Logano and Michael Waltrip. Allen Bestwick continues to anchor NASCAR Now with Marty Smith and Nicole Manske on-site at IMS.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Friday TV coverage from Indianapolis. TDP will be live blogging the Camping World Truck Series TV coverage on SPEED that begins at 7:30PM from ORP. To add your opinion just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Did ESPN Make Your Heart Race?

There is little doubt that when ESPN commissioned documentary filmmaker Doug Pray to create a thirty-minute preview show for the network's Sprint Cup Series coverage it had any idea just how bad NASCAR fans needed a program like this.

Feel Your Heart Race was a simple little show that effectively mixed the words of fans with those of select drivers and other NASCAR personalities. Jeff Burton was featured as the driver whose comments were spread across the entire short film.

Brilliant in its simplicity, this presentation aired immediately after the first NASCAR Now special from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Allen Bestwick led Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree through a top-notch hour of NASCAR programming. Contributions also came from Nicole Manske, Marty Smith, DJ Copp and Mike Massaro in a bowling shirt.

The NASCAR Now producer struck a nice balance between offering fans information about the upcoming race and celebrating the speedway itself as a truly unique slice of American history. From taking on the Goodyear tire issue through reliving the resurrection of the speedway after World War II, this program raised the bar for NASCAR television.

The fact that Dale Jarrett was back on the air for ESPN was a godsend. His role in this coverage from studio shows to live races cannot be overstated. He has quickly become the franchise. His boundless enthusiasm for Indy, his history in winning at the speedway and his ability to relate to TV viewers is the cornerstone of ESPN's NASCAR coverage this weekend.

Pray and his film crews did what no other NASCAR TV partner has done this season. They discovered that NASCAR fans have voices, personalities and can complete sentences. Pray wandered into the infield at Daytona and brought out the type of real racing history that has zoomed past Fox, TNT and SPEED for years now.

The faces of these fans did not paint a profile of idiotic drunk rednecks, but of passionate sports fans from across the nation and beyond. These people looked like you and me for one simple reason. They are us. The readers that come to this site, the fans that tune-in every racing weekend and the families who still make vacation plans around NASCAR races.

This season, NASCAR fans have almost seen it all. NASCAR on Fox decided the lasting memory for fans would be of an animated creature whose job was to sell t-shirts. Darrell Waltrip got caught up in the Digger hysteria and never recovered. TNT lost their play-by-play announcer halfway through the summer six pack.

Jeremy Mayfield continues to detract from the racing and on Thursday afternoon DeWalt Tools thanked NASCAR and Roush Racing for over a decade of exposure for the company and walked away. The potential for other major companies to depart at the end of the season looms on a racing horizon that has not yet lightened.

Yet, there on ESPN2 were the smiling faces of Americans happily taking the time to speak to a camera while putting up tents, watching Daytona practice and walking through the infield. All shapes, sizes and ages of folks happy to be at a race and supporting their driver.

Pray and his crew didn't do anything but let people talk. Random comments, funny moments and serious topics mixed together to produce the drama that is NASCAR racing. Fans who have been to a race know that meeting other fans is simply a blast. Casual conversations turn into friendships, photos and phone numbers.

Friday, the action begins for all three of NASCAR's top series, but the focus is clearly on the Sprint Cup teams at IMS. For both NASCAR and ESPN, this is the moment to begin to get things going in a positive direction for the rest of the season.

In terms of getting that flow going, both NASCAR Now and Feel Your Heart Race delivered just what was needed. The complete TV schedule for the Indy racing weekend is listed on the right side of The Daly Planet main page. We will be live blogging the TV coverage of all three races. Join us if you can.

In the meantime, what was your reaction to the two Thursday programs? 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.

Joe Gibbs Comments on ESPN About Jeremy Mayfield

Joe Gibbs has been around NASCAR for a long time now. His transition from the NFL to NASCAR was driven by family issues and he has grown JGR into a family business.

Wednesday afternoon, Gibbs appeared on both NASCAR Now with Mike Massaro and Outside The Lines with host Reece Davis. On OTL, Gibbs followed a news report from Marty Smith that brought viewers up to date on the Jeremy Mayfield situation as the sport heads toward Indianapolis.

Smith basically said that the B sample from Mayfield's second test is going to be heading for an independent lab and that the results of that test will either confirm or change everything. Smith also confirmed that Mayfield's attorneys are going to argue that someone tampered with Mayfield's second A sample. That is a huge allegation.

The OTL producers made a point in the pre-produced portion of the introduction to include Mayfield's personal allegations against NASCAR Chairman Brian France. They showed footage of France and used Mayfield's radio soundbites about him. This was certainly a surprise, because the drug testing issue involved focuses on NASCAR's licensed participants who are team members, officials and drivers.

Gibbs was at ESPN to promote a new book he authored, but Davis put him on the spot and asked about these drug testing issues. "NASCAR was very careful about putting their program in," said Gibbs. They think they have a great one and I agree with them."

"So, if you violate those are going to have to pay the penalty," he continued. "I think in that case, Jeremy is going to have to pay that penalty."

Davis reminded Gibbs that currently Mayfield is disputing that he has done anything wrong. "I think that is going to have an impact on his future and the way that he is looked at. What we have in NASCAR is a sponsorship side to it. When a driver signs-on to race for a race team, he is saying that he is going to be a corporate representative. That's where the problem will be in the future for Jeremy."

Davis tried to pin Gibbs down on ever hiring Mayfield in the future. His answer was succinct. "I probably would not put myself in that situation," stated Gibbs.

In closing, Gibbs left no doubt where he stood on the drug testing issue. With prior professional drug testing experience from the NFL, Gibbs' comments perhaps carried a little more weight than some other NASCAR owners.

"I am definitely for the substance abuse testing that we have in NASCAR," said Gibbs. "I think we need it. I think it helps protect the sport. I am solidly behind it and NASCAR."

After all the weeks of Mayfield-mania, it was nice to hear some clear-cut comments from a voice of reason who has personal experience in this area. Kudos to both Reece Davis and Marty Smith for their contributions on this program.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. 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 stopping by.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

ESPN Hopes Third Time Is The Charm

The big shift is on at ESPN where NASCAR is concerned. The final seventeen races of the Sprint Cup Series are coming back to the ESPN family of networks. There is a lot of hope in Bristol that the third time is the charm.

In all big companies there are things that work well and things that do not work well. ESPN has been leading the way in the reporting of NASCAR news on TV through the daily NASCAR Now series. The once laughable program is now firmly entrenched as "must see TV" for hardcore fans.

On the flip side, ESPN has been struggling to figure out how to get through to NASCAR fans on the Nationwide Series telecasts. The network has been drawn to the Sprint Cup stars who cross-over to the Nationwide Series for the last two years. It seems that the stories of the other drivers simply do not matter.

Once ESPN begins actually covering the Sprint Cup Series, the Nationwide telecasts get batted around like ping pong balls by ESPN's significant college football commitments. This year, the company has added even more games to the schedule. It should make for another interesting year of the Saturday races trying to get on TV.

Last year, the ESPN Sprint Cup season began with the Indy tire debacle and continued through a lackluster Chase for the Championship. This year, Dale Earnhardt Jr. has already put himself out of contention and Kyle Busch seems to be trying hard to do the same. The Roush cars are in the cellar and Richard Childress suddenly seems to be having big trouble down the stretch.

Instead of cutting back, ESPN has decided to jump into the deep-end and surround Indy with all kinds of TV coverage. Give them credit, in these tough economic times the network could simply have slashed the budgets and presented a trimmed-down Indy event to start the season. Instead, Allen Bestwick will kick off four days of NASCAR TV on Thursday.

NASCAR Now is relocating to the Infield Pit Studio for the 5PM Thursday show, which will be expanded to one hour. Bestwick will host and will no doubt offer an extended preview of the Indy tripleheader weekend. Marty Smith and Nicole Manske will both be on-site to add to this program.

This show sets-up a unique NASCAR original documentary that ESPN has never done before. Feel Your Heart Race is the title of this one-time special by veteran documentary filmmaker Doug Pray. Click here for a link to the trailer on You Tube. The program airs at 6PM and might be worth recording for a second look.

The Thursday nightcap is on ESPN Classic at 6:30PM following the documentary. The 2007 Brickyard 400 is replayed in a two hour timeslot. This is the last of the four replays during the week on ESPN Classic. Everyone agrees there is no need to replay last year's event.

Friday and Saturday the Sprint Cup Series on-track action is split between ESPN and SPEED. The complete schedule is on the right side of The Daly Planet main page. One ESPN team is at the speedway, while the other is across town at O'Reilly Raceway Park (ORP) where the trucks race Friday night and the Nationwide Series on Saturday.

Marty Reid will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie for the Nationwide telecasts from ORP. These three have good chemistry and Reid and LaJoie love to tease Wallace about the tough luck of his Nationwide team. This weekend should be no exception.

As usual, the actual Sprint Cup Series telecast on ESPN Sunday will be surrounded by support programming before and after the race. Don't forget, this is the time of the year where ESPN offers a Sunday night one-hour review program that is fantastic. It runs through the end of the season.

TDP begged the network to expand it to the entire Sprint Cup Series schedule, but apparently the fact that Fox and TNT carry those telecasts played a little bit of a role. This show was a big hit last year and promises to compete with SPEED's Victory Lane once again.

There are 76 High Definition cameras ready for the Sprint Cup Series on Sunday. This year, the Bat-Cam will also debut. A hybrid of the Cable-Cam, this one will zoom down the frontstretch and over pit road at up to 80 mph. It should offer some great shots for the races off pit road and the double-file restarts.

Once again this season, ESPN is rolling out twelve voices to handle the live race. Bestwick will handle the Infield Pit Studio with Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham. Right next door will be Tim Brewer in his Tech Garage. On pit road will be Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

The key to this broadcast will be the three men upstairs in the announce booth. Jerry Punch will again handle the play-by-play duties. He will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Punch will be the traffic director for the eleven other voices on this telecast.

If we agree that tires will not be a problem, Punch may be looking at a very dynamic and exciting race. Double-file restarts at the speedway are going to make for a very different kind of racing than fans have seen in the past. It will also demand that the ESPN Director follow the double-wide action every single time.

This year, it may take multiple laps for the two-wide battles to sort themselves out, even with the bigger Sprint Cup cars. Avoiding the in-car cameras and letting the TV viewers watch the action from a fan's perspective is going to be a struggle.

ESPN has proven to love their TV toys and NASCAR coverage has often been an in-car camera festival. Losing the perspective of the track and the cars being shown by switching to an in-car camera is rough on viewers. TNT was outstanding this season in keeping the wideshots and cutting in-car when it made sense.

One thing to keep in mind is that ESPN also produced the Indy 500 this season and it was fantastic. The entire telecast was crisp and interesting from start to finish. The same management team that coordinated that telecast will be in charge for the NASCAR event.

The table is set and this is the third time for all the pieces to come together. With a good tire, good weather and NASCAR's double-file restart gift, ESPN may be getting off to the best start ever for their portion of the Sprint Cup Series season.

TDP welcomes your comments on what you would like to see from ESPN during this telecast. We open the floor to subjects from topics in the pre-race shows to on-track action and post-race coverage. As NASCAR fans who have been watching this series since February, this is a great time to suggest and then see if ESPN delivers.

To add your 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. TDP will offer live blogs for all the Indy weekend races. Please join us.

Local Charlotte Media At Forefront of Mayfield Story

The switch from the NASCAR media to the local Charlotte TV stations leading the way in the Mayfield saga was swift. Local TV reporters without some of the limitations of the ESPN and Internet media who deal with NASCAR on a daily basis have jumped into the deep end of the pool.

Click here to watch Mayfield jump from the sports report to the top news story in the Charlotte TV market. This WCCB-TV video also has the jaw-dropping assertion of the chief toxicologist in Broward Country, FL that is going to set the national media on fire.

Click here for the big Friday WCCB video that had everyone talking. Mayfield unloads for twenty minutes on various topics. His answers are amazingly concise and just add to the confusion over who is playing what games in this whole mess.

Charlotte area reporter Alan Cavanna has been very aggressive in his attempts to get front and center on this issue over at WSOC-TV. Clicking here will open a search page and entering "Mayfield" in the last seven days search will result in a handful of videos.

Cavanna first got Mayfield from his car to repeat that he has never used meth and subsequently wound-up in one of Mayfield's attorneys' homes being shown the negative lap report from Lab Corp. On camera, Cavanna gets the attorney to suggest that Aegis doctored the second Mayfield sample to save face on this issue.

Finally, WBTV's Sarah Batista gets Mayfield sitting on his front porch and talking casually about his reluctance to fall in line with NASCAR's original findings. Click here to see another local Charlotte area TV station deliver what ESPN could not.

Batista's interview contains Mayfield's version of what happened during the day of the second drug test, including calling NASCAR's version "a bunch of lies." It is a relaxed and calm Mayfield who does a very good job of getting his views across in this interview.

Kudos to all three Charlotte area TV stations for getting into this issue and using the resources at their disposal to put this issue out in the public eye. Without the hard work of these reporters, fans would not be able to see what Mayfield has to say and then make their own judgement.

Click here for the NY Times new take on Mayfield and the resulting effects on NASCAR.

TDP welcomes your comments and will continue to add additional video clip links to this post. To add your opinion on the media role in the Mayfield saga, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, July 20, 2009

NASCAR's Version Of "Meet The Press"

Over the past several seasons, ESPN has rounded-up three NASCAR reporters several times a year and put them on the Monday version of NASCAR Now.

On a Sprint Cup Series off-week, it makes sense to let some of the media talk about the season to date and review the news. Normally, this is an exercise in who is going to win, why are teams struggling and some snippy comments about NASCAR.

All of this changed when a combination of elements struck the sport like a meteor. The economy plummeted, the US car manufacturers tanked and an active driver tested positive for methamphetamine.

Into these topics and more stepped media members Ryan McGee, Jenna Fryer and Nate Ryan. The program was hosted by ESPN veteran Mike Massaro. Kudos to ESPN for bringing only one employee to the table, as McGee is a full-time senior writer for ESPN the Magazine.

Massaro set the tone early with a fast pace and straight talk. Fryer and Ryan admitted that their early predictions of a tough season for Tony Stewart and his new team were off-base. McGee pointed out that the people and technology surrounding Stewart had been key to the surprising season.

Jeremy Mayfield is a topic that has the NASCAR media just as confused as the fans. A great video review of this year's Mayfield saga set-up the following discussion. Ryan reinforced that the image of NASCAR has been deeply affected by this entire matter. Fryer focused on the main problem of deep confusion in the garage area by the teams themselves. "The confusion in the industry among the competitors is insane," said Fryer.

"It's kind of like politics," said McGee. "When politicians start slinging mud at each other, they say that no one comes away clean. Nobody is going to be a winner in this thing."

One final key point exposed by Fryer was that Mayfield was allowed to return to the track even after his positive drug test because of flaws in NASCAR's own system of testing. The judge's ruling did not determine anything about the test, it was the system that needs to be repaired.

Moving on to the identity issues of the Nationwide Series, the reporters agreed to disagree. McGee reminded everyone that the attraction of the "Nationwide regulars" back in the day was strong for the fans. While Fryer floated the notion of having only one support series, Ryan reminded everyone that TV ratings and full grandstands come with having Cup drivers in the field.

Massaro gets credit for bringing up the struggling Brickyard 400 race at Indy on ESPN. Reviewing the past using video made the comments of the reporters even more biting. "I don't know that NASCAR really needs to be there anymore," said Fryer.

Ryan pointed to the damage done last season by the struggles of Goodyear to field a tire that worked on the new Cup car at Indy. After more than a decade, it seems that this event has lost a lot of luster. The USA Today veteran indicated that reports from Indy suggest about half of a capacity crowd this weekend.

A general discussion of potential Chase teams led to Mark Martin and Kyle Busch being profiled. Busch was not the most popular with the panel and his maturity issues are well known. Martin continues to command the respect of the media and that is no easy task.

The media jury is still out on Kevin Harvick and his future with Richard Childress Racing. Suggestions from the panel included Harvick moving to Stewart-Haas with Shell or perhaps just leveraging himself for a new team in 2011. It is clear that Harvick needs money for his own KHI racing operation, so his decision may well be driven by that need.

The reporter roundtable shows offer the panelists an opportunity to make a closing statement. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse for those on the program in the past.

Ryan was upfront in reminding viewers that not one word had been said during the entire show about Dale Earnhardt Jr. to that point. Ryan reminded us that Tony Eury Jr. has blamed the media for Junior's problems. Now, without the same level of publicity and scrutiny, Ryan wondered how Junior will do for the rest of the season.

"It's been 72 days since Mayfield was suspended for failing a random drug test," said Fryer. "The fallout has overshadowed almost everything else. What was left of Mayfield's career is ruined and NASCAR's handling of the scandal will forever be questioned." Fryer made her point that there is still no end in sight to this mess.

McGee added a little tribute to legendary West Coast driver Hershel McGriff. He compared the 59 year-old Tom Watson being referred to as ancient during the British Open TV coverage when the 81 year-old McGriff had run a race just last weekend and finished in the top twenty.

This type of TV show is exactly the reason we continue to push for additional NASCAR TV programs that allow for conversation. Fans get to see and listen to those reporters who are normally hidden on the Internet and seen only in a snapshot above each column.

At a time when the NASCAR media has come under scrutiny for its slimming numbers and spotty coverage, the ability to see veteran reporters talking about this sport is refreshing. Putting a name with a face is always a positive when the media is involved.

Mike Massaro deserves credit for keeping things on track and adding in his own veteran views as well. This was a program that is likely to start some discussions and possibly return the focus of this NASCAR season to the action on the track.

TDP welcomes your comments about this TV program. 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.

SPEED Tolerates Fifteen Minutes Of Darrell Waltrip

All the pieces were in place for some TV fun and fireworks. SPEED's Wind Tunnel on a Sunday night when both the Sprint Cup Series and the IRL were parked was a golden opportunity for some good discussion of motorsports topics.

Host Dave Despain was joined by SPEED's Robin Miller, who among other things is a great catalyst for conversation with his good questions and strong opinions.

NASCAR on Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip was a guest who has been quite popular in his Wind Tunnel appearances. Since SPEED lacks any other type of TV program where this type of conversation about NASCAR is allowed, Waltrip was the perfect guest to match wits with Despain and Miller.

Prior to the show, SPEED ran one hour of TV programming that featured policemen who drive big trucks to catch car thieves. Jacked was a series that already ran once on another national cable TV network. After Wind Tunnel, SPEED aired an hour of PINKS All Out. Finding a drag racer who does not know exactly what his car runs is impossible. It is the mission of PINKS to hide this fact at all cost.

Apparently, no thought was given to expanding the one hour of Wind Tunnel on this night. While Despain continues to take calls online after 10PM, SPEED returns to the lifestyle programming for which it is now infamous.

This idea of expanding the show had merit the moment that Dave Despain told Darrell Waltrip his two segments were done and the program had to move along. "Is the show over?" asked Waltrip after his fifteen minutes. "You mean the show's over?"

Those words may have been repeated by NASCAR fans who had tuned-in for a NASCAR TV fix on this Sunday from someone who was trying very hard to deliver just that. In a flash, Waltrip was shuffled off the show. In many ways, it was a statement of the situation SPEED finds itself in every single day.

Looking fresh and sounding up-to-date on NASCAR topics, Waltrip was candid in his brief remarks on several subjects. Where Jeremy Mayfield is concerned, Waltrip repeated the words said several times on this blog. "You have to follow the money," remarked Waltrip. "His career is ruined, so what would you say he would probably want? He would probably want a settlement. Maybe they will pay him to go away."

After a question from Robin Miller, Waltrip repeated an answer he gave during the Fox portion of the season. Dale Earnhardt Jr. has too many distractions and needs to limit his outside activities. "I believe his confidence is not there...he needs to just focus on driving that race car and you might see a difference."

"The COT is an old guy car," said Waltrip. He was talking about the success of Mark Martin this season. "It drives like a car from back in the 80's. This thing (COT) takes experience, it takes patience, you have to wait on this car. The young guys just don't like to wait on it."

"Look at Joey Logano," continued Waltrip. "He can go over in the Nationwide Series and run away with it. He gets in the Cup car and he is lost."

Perhaps the most surprising comments of the evening came from Waltrip on the subject of Kyle Busch. This season, like the last one, Waltrip was the champion of this driver during the Fox portion of the Sprint Cup Series. Apparently, those feelings have now changed and Waltrip did not mince words.

"He's a man in the car," said Waltrip of Busch. "But he is a brat outside the car. Somebody has to to get their arms around this kid. Even when he drove the #5 car and he made the Chase he fell flat on his face. You've got to have composure, you've got to be able to control your emotions."

After briefly addressing the potential Indy 500 participation of some current NASCAR drivers, Waltrip was done for the night. Miller and Despain are certainly open-wheel oriented guys, but Waltrip cut through the IRL clutter and was the star of the show.

More and more each passing day, the only location for long-form conversation about NASCAR is Sirius Satellite Radio. TV has dropped the ball completely. The marching orders of SPEED on the weekend are clearly competition-oriented. ESPN's NASCAR Now allows Ricky Craven brief comments on selected topics, but there is no real conversation in that tightly controlled environment.

The basic problem is that Sirius serves around 18 million subscribers while SPEED is available in 78 million homes. So, fifteen minutes of Darrell Waltrip may be the only candid conversation about NASCAR topics on SPEED for a very long time. At least it was interesting.

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.

To see the picture of a slightly younger Darrell Waltrip full-size, just click on it.

ESPN Convenes NASCAR Media Drug Summit

It is an off-week for the Sprint Cup Series. There is no RaceDay show, no Victory Lane program and This Week in NASCAR has been replaced by a special on Roush Performance Engineering.

All of this leaves an opening for ESPN to once again host a reporters roundtable show on the Monday version of NASCAR Now. This program has worked well in the past by featuring print, Internet and radio journalists who are not normally seen on TV.

Now that the Jeremy Mayfield story has exploded once again across the national landscape, the timing for this Monday's NASCAR reporter roundtable could not be better. Just wait until you hear the starting line-up.

Stepping-in for Allen Bestwick as host will be Mike Massaro. Veteran fans will proudly step-up and relate stories of seeing Massaro literally chasing driver's personal vehicles down the NASCAR access roads after races for ESPN interviews.

When NASCAR and ESPN parted ways the last time, there were ruffled feathers and bruised egos all the way around. NASCAR used the very same rules that ESPN had mercilessly imposed on other broadcast entities to deny ESPN access to the tracks.

Caught in the middle was Massaro. He was truly the last man standing who was able to continue to provide interviews and updates from the races. Helipads, airport runways and even traffic lights served as his interview locations.

Monday, Massaro will lead perhaps the most powerful media ship in the NASCAR TV navy from the High Definition studios of ESPN2 in Bristol, CT. NASCAR is back on ESPN and Massaro has been justly rewarded.

Joining Massaro will be Ryan McGee, a senior writer from the staff. McGee spent a lot of time at the NASCAR Media Group in Charlotte, NC helping to create much of the TV content viewers enjoyed during SPEED's NASCAR heyday. He also helped out on a little project that won an Emmy Award. The movie was simply called "Dale."

McGee was the person who thought it might be a nice idea to find former NASCAR truck series driver Aaron Fike and get the truth about his drug use in relation to driving and racing under the influence of heroin.

The single story that resulted from McGee's efforts changed the sport forever. Suddenly, NASCAR VP Jim Hunter's words on drug testing for "reasonable suspicion" seemed empty. Click here for McGee's original story. The drivers suddenly wanted tougher standards, regular testing and a professional organization involved. They got all three.

Monday, McGee returns to NASCAR Now as a panelist with the sport in the middle of a mind-bending drug testing issue that seems to have no end. Who better to speak to the issue than the man who sparked the changes?

Nate Ryan is USA Today's NASCAR reporter. He is familiar to many fans as someone who is on various media outlets being interviewed frequently. If you don't know him, click here for a great story that may grab your attention about how reporters work their way up to a "national beat."

Ryan is also on Twitter, a service that has become tremendously popular with NASCAR fans. It allows him to communicate directly, in almost real time, with whoever would like to read his messages. It has proven to be a service that Ryan has mastered in terms of getting NASCAR information and links to fans. His direct approach and honest tone should be a welcome perspective to the NASCAR Now program.

The final member of this Monday line-up is a TDP favorite from the old Tradin' Paint show on SPEED. Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer had some knock-down drag-out brawls with Kyle Petty that were amazing. She proved that she will listen, but will not be moved off her views just because someone says she is wrong.

Click here for one of Fryer's recent stories where she reviewed the issues on the table with Mayfield and then wrote in plain language the results. Fryer is an old-school reporter and the AP in front of her name makes that very clear. Agree or disagree, Fryer's weekly column makes sure readers know how she feels about an issue.

This line-up is going to make for a Monday to remember at 5PM ET on ESPN2. The program will re-air at 9PM PT and segments will certainly be seen on the website. But, what role can TDP readers play in this program?

Since we are lucky enough to have your comments reviewed by many NASCAR media folks, how about addressing some issues right now in advance of the Monday TV show.

How do you think the NASCAR media has done on reporting this story to date? What have they not told you about where this issue is concerned? What has been done well?

If you were Mike Massaro, what one question would you ask of these panelists that could help shed some light on issues that are still confusing?

The previous TDP post on Mayfield (click here) drew over 200 tremendous comments and showed the intelligence of the NASCAR fan base. This is another good opportunity to put some topics and questions out that this group can address on Monday.

To add your opinion or comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-oriented website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks once again for taking time out of your day to keep this NASCAR conversation going.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Let Jeremy Mayfield Fill Your Slow Sunday

Click here to let embattled NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield make your head spin one more time. This prolonged legal battle has been an E-ticket ride for weeks now.

WCCB-TV, the local Fox affiliate in Charlotte, NC got Mayfield on his front lawn and he was ready to talk. This extended interview does nothing to advance NASCAR's firm convictions that Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamine twice when tested by the Aegis Laboratories.

Instead, Mayfield seems like a person who is in charge with his facts straight and his mind made up to fight the powers that be. In this case, that would clearly be NASCAR. It certainly is a compelling interview from the standpoint of listening to what he says with an unbiased ear.

By clicking on the option at the bottom of the video screen that allows the video size to double, the resulting images of Mayfield are rather striking. His mannerisms and speech seem to reflect a man who has thought deeply about these issues. Several NASCAR fans who added comments on that video believe something very different.

Is this a hardcore drug addict who is lost in his end-stage fantasy world and about to hit rock bottom? Or, is it someone who has found a cause and fully intends to fight this battle, produce a TV special about it and then write a book?

Time will tell, but one thing is for sure. Mayfield has made us forget about tire problems at Indy, Kyle Busch fading down the stretch and the fact the Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now an afterthought. What a wild time in the sport from almost every angle.

After you watch this interview, what is your opinion? Did the reporter lead him along or ask real questions? Is this a man fighting for his rights or a drug addict in deep denial? Instead of Mayfield being overdosed on meth, are you just totally overdosed on this entire issue? How can NASCAR end this quickly?

TDP welcomes your comments. To add your opinion on this issue, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Darrell Waltrip Will Surface On "Wind Tunnel"

This is going to be a week to remember in NASCAR TV history. The chaos of the Mayfield saga is going to be mixed with the pre-Chase races and the switch of Sprint Cup TV coverage to ESPN.

Sunday night SPEED has put together a dandy little line-up for Dave Despain on his Wind Tunnel show at 9PM ET. Co-hosting will be Robin Miller, fresh off breaking the story of Tony George getting the boot at IMS. Miller was the subject of a lot of derogatory comments across the Internet, but when his report turned out to be accurate the silence was deafening.

Miller also has very definite opinions about NASCAR and that fits in well with Waltrip. When seen and heard in the non-Fox season, Waltrip has been outstanding in his comments and opinions about the issues of the day. Unfortunately, neither Fox or SPEED offer even one NASCAR-oriented weekly TV program in which Waltrip can participate.

It will be up to Despain and his producer to select the topics that he can cover with Waltrip in the time allotted. Hopefully, that will include his take on the Mayfield saga, the S&P issue and whether Indy will be a success or debacle again.

It is a shame that Waltrip is lost to most NASCAR fans after the final race on Fox. Sirius radio and Internet posts just do not take the place of a quality NASCAR TV series that lets topical conversations happen without highlights or endless sales features.

Perhaps, you could suggest some topics that you would like to see Despain cover with Waltrip and then we can follow-up on what they actually ended-up talking about.

We welcome your comments. 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 stopping by, please return after the show and share your views as well.