Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Race Reporters: Interview Comments

Tonight at 7PM Michael Knight will host his Internet radio program called The Race Reporters. Among the guests are former Yahoo! Sports NASCAR writer Bob Margolis and yours truly. I will be on live at 7:30PM ET. Click here for a direct link to the Internet radio location.

I have limited my interviews this season on radio and Internet podcasts. Last year things got so busy that it was tough for me to keep life balanced. This season has been working quite well in terms of time management. I enjoy the guys over at and watching them develop that website over the last three seasons has been fun.

Wednesday night is my first time on The Race Reporters. Knight is a veteran of Indy Car, NASCAR and many other racing series. He is a talented journalist with lots of experience in motorsports public relations and marketing.

Once the interview is over, I will continue to talk about those topics and take your questions and opinions in the comments section of this post. To join in, just click the comments button below. Thanks for listening to the interview and for stopping by to chat.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SPEED Jumps Into The NASCAR News Game

Update: SPEED now advised that this program will also contain non-NASCAR news and information.

Over the past several years, eyes have been watching SPEED TV as the network slowly drifted away from its extensive connections with NASCAR. Lifestyle shows began to dominate primetime and other than TWIN on Monday nights, the vast majority of the NASCAR programming came from the racetracks on the weekends.

In 2007, ESPN launched the daily NASCAR Now show. Originally a complete flop, it has been slowly turned into a solid program featuring capable hosts, good features and interviews with NASCAR newsmakers. There was just one problem. It is done from the studio in Connecticut.

ESPN made a decision back in 2006 not to invest in a small studio in the Concord or Mooresville, NC area due to financial reasons. The NASCAR TV contract signed by ESPN runs through 2015, so perhaps the network reasoned that it was easier to service this sport from Bristol, CT.

In the meantime, SPEED moved from the cramped studios in South Charlotte up to a new HD facility near the Lowe's Motor Speedway. This finally gave the company the ability to consider originating regular studio-based NASCAR programming. Now that concept has become a reality.

On October 12 at 7:30PM ET, SPEED will launch a new daily NASCAR news and interview program called NASCAR Race Hub. The show will air Monday through Thursday and is intended to go well beyond the NASCAR season that ends in November.

Here is some official information from SPEED:

As The Chase winds down and we look ahead to the 2010 NASCAR season, this unique program provides drivers, owners, sponsors, or crew members an opportunity for TV exposure. The atmosphere and format will be structured in such a manner that keeps it open to any idea. Virtually anything goes because NASCAR Race Hub will not be a straightforward news and information program.

Our goal is to have at least one in-studio interview per day. The set will resemble a renovated garage complete with televisions, a pinball machine, and even a pub-style bar with chairs. The result will be a very relaxed, casual setting right here in Charlotte. Content will consist of everything from top-10 lists to poll questions, fan emails, features and video of drivers at and away from the track.

Some might ask "why another NASCAR show?" The answer is because SPEED has continued to enjoy growth in its NASCAR ratings in 2009 – from our NASCAR Camping World Truck Series broadcasts to our weekend programming, such as NASCAR RaceDay and NCWTS Setup. As a result, we view NASCAR Race Hub as an extension of our weekend NASCAR coverage.

At this point we are still waiting on the announcement of the on-air talent, the reporters and the format. But the good news is that now NASCAR personalities will have the opportunity to take a short drive over to the SPEED studios and update the news and stories that fans want to know more about.

TDP has long described SPEED as a two-headed monster that enjoys racing of all kinds on Friday through Sunday but changes into a poor imitation of the Discovery channel during the week. SPEED currently airs reruns of Pimp My Ride from MTV and Jacked from A&E. The weekday shows feature towing and several off-shoots of the PINKS franchise.

Perhaps establishing a NASCAR toehold at 7:30PM during the week will lead the network to consider extending Wind Tunnel to a Monday version or contracting with the NASCAR Media Group to create some more quality programming. SPEED rejected the Quest for the Cup series that is now seen on Versus Tuesday nights.

The NASCAR Now franchise will continue on ESPN with no issues. The company has built a strong set of field reporters to cover the sport away from the track and offers a tremendous set of preview and review shows on every Sprint Cup race day.

There is plenty of room in the sport for two shows. These two companies already co-exist at the track all season long and there is no reason to believe that will change. The sport is better served with diversity in the TV news department and this may just be just the trick to help the sport at a time when more media exposure is critical.

TDP will continue to offer updates as more information becomes available. In the meantime, please feel free to add your comments about this topic below. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Monday Night Doubleheader Worth The Wait

Just as the top teams are hitting their stride during the Chase, ESPN's three year-old NASCAR Now program is also looking good down the stretch.

The Monday version used to be called the roundtable until ESPN changed the furniture on the set. Now, host Allen Bestwick looks even more comfortable with his new TV table as he hosts three panelists in a one hour conversation about all things NASCAR.

The three people that seem to really click on the panel are Ricky Craven, Ray Evernham and Randy LaJoie. They were present on Monday as Bestwick led them through a review of Dover, a preview of Kansas and a live guest interview.

In this Monday format, Bestwick shows a highlight and then allows all three panelists to comment. LaJoie is painfully honest and keeps the thoughtful Craven and Evernham on their toes with his humor and racing wit. This show was no exception. When things get complicated on the set, LaJoie has a way of putting racing into perspective.

Craven and Evernham may have traveled very different roads to arrive at ESPN, but they have formed a cohesive team in terms of offering commentary on racing issues. The key is not what they say, but what they don't say. Each works hard to offer comments within their own area of expertise and then quickly defers to the other for more details.

Topics in this program ranged from strategy on the track and tire choices to driver mindsets and team dynamics. Bestwick did a solid job of allowing each member of the panel to deliver complete thoughts and then follow up as needed. Opening up the overall discussion worked well and the racing information really flowed.

The Monday program has a guest and this week it was Chad Knaus. The inside joke was that Knaus had added a denim suit jacket to his t-shirt with a wink to the infamous ESPN dress code. Ray Evernham made sure to point that out. As we have repeated this season, the interview segments on this program are tremendous when all the panelists are allowed to ask questions.

Knaus himself was outstanding with his answers as he reviewed the decisions he made before and during the Dover race that resulted in a win. He was the perfect guest for this panel and the good humor in the conversation presented the interview in a very positive light for NASCAR. No problems, no controversy, just smart racing talk.

One poignant moment in this program came when the panel discussed the roll-over accident of Joey Logano. After diagnosing what happened and explaining the reasons why, Bestwick had both Craven and LaJoie look at footage of their own violent roll-overs and talk from a first-person perspective.

Craven's big accident long before the COT in Talladega was huge. His car soared above the track wall and into the catch fence before returning to the track in pieces. "When this is unfolding, you don't have any idea of when it's over," said Craven. His comment echoed that of Logano after the Dover accident.

LaJoie's amazing crash at Daytona featured his car actually going airborne, impacting the large concrete infield wall and then rebounding through the grass on the frontstretch. As usual, LaJoie put his explanation in the simplest terms. "First time at Daytona. They said just hold it wide open...OK!"

The panel offered a preview of Kansas and closed the show by differing on the race winner. Evernham and Craven stayed with the Hendrick cars while LaJoie said Juan Pablo Montoya was ready to break through. All in all, an enjoyable show from four NASCAR personalities clearly comfortable with each other on TV.

Later on Monday, SPEED offered the first grouping of Jimmy Spencer, Michael Waltrip and Knaus on This Week in NASCAR. From the start, Steve Byrnes set the tone by allowing everyone to speak but it was no easy task. By the second segment of the show Byrnes was definitely herding cats.

Knaus seemed to be the calm in the storm. Ironic that this crew chief who makes his living keeping everyone on the same page would be the only one to consistently offer detailed and accurate information for the entire hour.

Waltrip and Spencer have not yet established an on-air relationship. Spencer is the new element in the TWIN mix. Several times Spencer spoke directly to the TV viewers, asked his own questions of Knaus and made statements that included calling for Steve Addington to be fired as the #18 crew chief. That was only the beginning.

After showing the Nationwide race highlights that included the Denny Hamlin dust-up with Brad Keselowski, Spencer decided to add his opinion. "Keselowksi, I am going to tell you something bud, you are going to get your ass whipped one day by telling people you are sorry after the fact," he said.

This is not exactly the type of comment offered so far this season by either Waltrip, Knaus or fellow panelist Greg Biffle. Kudos to Steve Byrnes for calling Spencer out immediately on his own past incidents that involved spinning cars out from behind. "I won!" said a blushing Spencer. There was silence from Waltrip and Knaus.

Knaus offered a great preview of Kansas with good information from a veteran perspective. Spencer made sure to salute the full grandstands while Waltrip offered a good place for barbecue. The one-liners were flying.

"Chad looks like he is watching a tennis match," said Byrnes. Knaus was the meat in a Waltrip and Spencer sandwich. "There is a lot going on," smiled Knaus. "Spencer's not jaded," remarked Waltrip. "You guys are on drugs," Spencer shot back.

To wrap the show, Byrnes tosses out topics to the panel and for the first time Knaus raised the issue of mid-week racing to avoid college football and the NFL. It was supported by everyone on the show. His point was well-timed after two straight weeks of low TV ratings for Sunday races scheduled directly against the early NFL games.

This interesting show ended the way it started, in semi-chaos. But, that is exactly what has been missing from the previous dry-as-toast shows that lacked a spark. The best news for viewers is that the exact same panel will return next week after the Kansas race. Maybe this single move by SPEED of adding Spencer will pay dividends for a show rumored to be on the chopping block for next season.

Did you watch these programs? We would like your opinion. Just click on the comments button below to add your thoughts. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Dover on ABC

Dover was a key race in the Chase with high speeds and lots of action. The NASCAR on ESPN team covered this race which was telecast on ABC.

Allen Bestwick offered an hour of pre-race programming. He worked with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Studio. They were joined by Tim Brewer from the Tech Garage. The ESPN pit reporters also contributed. Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Vince Welch patrolled pit road.

Once the race began, Jerry Punch called the play-by-play on this fast and dangerous track. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree joined Punch in the booth to lend their color commentary to the race.

Dover is fast-paced and requires focus and attention from the TV announcers. Pit road is dangerous in many ways and has been the scene of many lead changes and incidents over the years.

This race featured one big crash that resulted in a red flag. It made the pit reporters offer interviews from the Infield Medical Center. The race was stopped for more than twenty minutes.

Commercials continue to be full-screen in this sport and over two minutes in length. Placement of those breaks on a fast track like Dover is tough.

The issue on the Chase telecasts is often informing fans of the teams outside of the top 12 and not in the Chase. Information scrolls on a ticker, but the field should be reset after every caution flag pit stop.

The telecast started on time and did not experience any weather delays. There were no problems with the video or audio portions of the race telecast.

This Your Turn post is to allow you to offer your honest opinion of this telecast before we offer one. Now that the race is over, just take a moment to tell us what you liked, did not like and would like to see improved.

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to give us your opinion.

Monday's Talk Better Than Sunday's Racing?

While the second race in the Chase did not live up to expectations, Monday's NASCAR TV talk shows boast a stellar line-up of personalities. It may well be that fans get more bang for their TV buck now that the race is over.

The "3 R's" are back for ESPN as Ricky Craven, Ray Evernham and Randy LaJoie join host Allen Bestwick on the 6PM version of NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Bestwick has put his stamp on this one hour show and these are clearly three of his favorite panelists.

While Evernham has struggled in the field, he excels in the studio and offers a veteran perspective that is unique. As a championship crew chief and a major Sprint Cup Series owner, Evernham can draw on a wide variety of experiences.

Craven is the most polished TV pro on the panel and continues to be the best studio analyst on the NASCAR scene. His observations are very personal and both his good and bad experiences in the sport often come into play in his comments.

LaJoie is the irreverent character that every panel needs to keep its feet firmly planted on the ground. He has become much better on TV this season and worked very well with Mike Massaro in the studio on the Sunday preview and review shows.

Bestwick has a lot of material to draw from, including the Logano wreck and the continuing Hendrick dominance. Ongoing sagas like Pat Tryson and Martin Truex Jr. could also be on the menu. The silly season is in full swing.

This program has established itself as the flagship for the ESPN NASCAR franchise. After dealing with a wide variety of panelists over the last year, Bestwick now has a core group that works well together and moves quickly through a lot of information and highlights. This week has the potential to be outstanding.

Over at SPEED, things took a strange turn with the recent addition of Jimmy Spencer to the TWIN panel for the remainder of the season. Originally inserted on a weekend where Michael Waltrip was absent, this Monday marks the first time that Spencer and Waltrip will be working with Chad Knaus as the third panelist.

Steve Byrnes hosts the program and knows all the panelists quite well. What he does not know is how they will interact for the first time during the program. This show is taped in the afternoon for an 8PM airing, so don't expect any big issues to arise.

What should be fun to watch is the controversial Spencer mixing with the ultimate NASCAR apologist in Waltrip. They will both be speaking with the crew chief who led his team to the race win in convincing style.

Knaus did not get Waltrip at first on this series, but settled into a very funny relationship with him on the air. Waltrip gets to retain all his wacky behaviors while Knaus now simply delivers his analytical crew chief answers totally unfazed.

The addition of Spencer is a positive for the show that was struggling with only two panelists. Two voices can only present a difference of opinion while three can form a group discussion on any issue. These three should be fun to watch for the first time.

TDP will offer a wrap-up column once both shows are done, but please feel free to offer your opinions before and during the shows on this post. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when you are clicking on the comment button below to add your opinion.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series in Dover, DE (ABC - 1PM ET)

Here we go with Round 2 of the big NASCAR vs. NFL match-up. This week, the NASCAR on ESPN gang is armed with a tough and high-banked one mile track that will generate much more excitement than Loudon, NH. Add-in the new restart rules and it should be a great opportunity to keep sports fans watching NASCAR.

Allen Bestwick will be first with NASCAR Countdown at 1PM. Joining Bestwick will be Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Studio. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage. Reporting this week will be Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Vince Welch and Dave Burns.

Shortly before the 2:15PM green flag, Jerry Punch will lead his team of Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree on the air to call the race. This trio is charged with relaying the excitement of the race to the TV viewers. That has proven to be a tough assignment for Punch who starts fresh and fades long before halfway.

Expect Bestwick to be on the air from the infield after caution periods and when field updates are needed. Keeping a perspective on all the cars in the race and not just the Chasers has been the Achilles Heel of the ESPN crew. Fans of the top drivers who did not make the Chase do not suddenly change their loyalty in September.

Dover is fast on TV. It is tough to sneak Tim Brewer on the air under green. It is almost impossible to play back recorded material under green. It is also a big risk to use the in-car cameras live. One moment at Dover can change the complexion of both the race and the Chase in a heartbeat.

Look for the cameras at the end of the straights to offer the best perspectives. The worst come from the "high" cameras above the start/finish line. The director will work hard to cut around the two bridges over the track all day long. Cutting cameras constantly for over three hours is really the toughest challenge on this track.

This post will serve to host your comments about the ABC coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Dover. 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.

Round 2: NASCAR vs. NFL

Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya put on a great show from Loudon last week but that was not enough to keep NASCAR fans watching on TV. The first week of the NASCAR vs. NFL match-up resulted in record low TV ratings for ABC and some serious head scratching.

There is no doubt that the NFL is on a roll. They are a sophisticated league with great media awareness and a dynamic television package. This Sunday, the same match-up happens as Allen Bestwick takes the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show and goes up against a huge slate of regional 1PM NFL games.

Bestwick has his usual partners alongside in Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Wallace is always opinionated while Daugherty has overstayed his welcome. He is now merely a cheerleader who is a little too excited and a little too loud. That is a shame because his presence originally made a strong statement back in 2007.

ABC's pre-race show repeats what fans have already seen on ESPN2's NASCAR Now and SPEED's RaceDay morning programs. After three hours of pre-race information, there is very little Bestwick can do to keep fans from watching the first hour of the NFL games.

Sometimes, the NASCAR on ESPN team actually replays the same features from the Sunday morning NASCAR Now program on the pre-race show. The live ESPN news reporters sometimes also offer the exact same information from that morning, often using the exact same words. The bottom line is that it is simply not working.

By the time 2PM rolls around and NASCAR gets the cars ready to start, many fans are engrossed in the NFL games and simply record the race for later viewing. Without the side-by-side commercials, that later viewing usually involves fast-forwarding through about one-third of the entire race. That is the percentage of commercials to content.

While the NFL is an organized TV assault that is simply designed to dominate, NASCAR TV is a quagmire of agendas, egos and issues. This Sunday there are eleven hours of national TV that will contain primarily NASCAR content. That is a powerful platform for one brand and for one single event.

Recently, Mike Helton confirmed that NASCAR is looking at moving the start times back to 1PM for Sunday races in the Eastern Time Zone. As fans may recall, it was David Hill from Fox who made the loudest argument to push the times back as far as possible for TV purposes.

By now, it may have dawned on NASCAR that Hill's TV network is offering one of the 1PM NFL games that has pushed NASCAR to the back burner. Hill and his bunch are long gone from NASCAR and probably chuckled as they thumped ESPN's offering on ABC last Sunday.

Dover is a dynamic racetrack with great competition and non-stop excitement. Again this year the challenge of getting that feeling across to the TV viewers falls to Jerry Punch. This track requires a lot of work from the play-by-play announcer as the action is non-stop. Punch will have Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside.

The ESPN production team cannot go to the Tech Garage for Tim Brewer under green flag conditions. They cannot play back driver soundbites while racing is under way. They cannot take in-car cameras live under green. The potential to miss critical action during the Chase is too great.

This is going to change the way the race is produced. A focus on hardcore racing action throughout the field is the only way to keep the existing viewers interested and perhaps get some back who have been watching football. No bells, no whistles and no lapses in intensity from the announcers.

The NASCAR vs. NFL challenge is even harder under this 2PM scenario because the race continues even as the second round of NFL games gets underway at 4PM. Again, viewers have a choice and it is up to the ESPN producer to reset the scene at that time and provide a recap for TV viewers who may be just checking on the race.

Dover may offer a solid opportunity for NASCAR to make a dent in the NFL dominance and bring fans back simply because of the great racing. The challenge for the ESPN team is to stand back and let it happen. Not doing too much in TV is often a bigger challenge than not doing enough.

There are great stories unfolding, the track offers good racing and the teams are poised to tackle one of the biggest challenges of the Chase. Round 2 of NASCAR vs. the NFL should be a good one.

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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by, we will be live blogging the race at 1PM right here on TDP.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Live Blogging The Camping World Trucks in Las Vegas (9PM - SPEED)

The truck field is a little bit thin because the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series are racing in Dover. This should give an opportunity for drivers like Todd Bodine and Johnny Sauter to finally get some attention.

SPEED starts the night with The Set-Up at 9PM. Hosted by Krista Voda, this simple and effective show uses pit reporters Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander to provide a quick preview of the race.

This is the final race for Johnny Benson to work with the on-air team of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons. JB has been good and learned to work himself smoothly into the broadcast. His experience in this series has also added a great perspective to the telecasts. Benson has yet to announce his plans for 2010.

SPEED has a unique issue with this event. There may be may start and park trucks who do not even run up to the first fuel stop. If the racing at the front of the pack is not good, it may be tough to keep things exciting on this big track.

Over the years, no TV crew has proven to be more flexible and attentive to what is actually happening on the track than this one. If the hard racing begins to fade, look for the producer to switch gears and start to tell the stories of all the teams in the race on the track.

Dunlap and Alexander are also veterans who can interview anyone on pit road, even while the race is still in progress. Hopefully, there will be enough viable teams to keep the action going for the fans in the stands and the TV viewers.

SPEED's presentation is simple and straightforward. The focus is on the racing. There is no infield crew, no cutaway truck and no hype. What happens in the event is what viewers see on TV. This approach has paid dividends for the network with higher ratings and positive reviews.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Camping World Truck Series race from Las Vegas. 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 for taking the time to stop by.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series From Dover (3PM - ESPN2)

Due to the low number of visitors on this college football weekend, we are extending this post to cover Happy Hour on ESPN at 7PM and also your post-race N'wide Series comments. Just click the comments button below. Thanks.

NASCAR Countdown will lead the way at 3PM to set-up the Nationwide Series race from Dover, DE. We are once again in the scenario where college football will probably run past 3PM, so this program may begin on ESPN Classic.

Allen Bestwick, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty will be in the Infield Pit Studio for Countdown. Tim Brewer will be nearby in the Tech Center. ESPN has Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Vince Welch and Dave Burns reporting.

Once things get underway with the 3:30PM race coverage, it will be Marty Reid calling the play-by-play. He will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the broadcast booth. These three are still trying to figure out a good racing balance on the air.

Jarrett and Petree work with Jerry Punch on the Sprint Cup Series who provides absolutely no leadership or commentary. Here on the Nationwide trail, Petree and Jarrett have to figure out the energetic and honest Marty Reid who embraces the traditional role of a play by play announcer. So far, this combination is not working out.

Reid was far more effective with Randy LaJoie and Rusty Wallace. These three had fun despite their diverse personalities. Wallace worked an entire IRL season with Reid for ESPN and is clearly comfortable with him. LaJoie takes great pleasure in poking fun at Wallace about the struggles of his Nationwide Series team and adds just the right touch of personality that this series really needs.

Jarrett and Petree sound tired right now and who can blame them? It has been a long season and even with some early vacations, double-duty never works out well.

Dover has two bridges over the track that the TV director has to cut around. The coverage needs to keep ahead of the cars, showing more headlights than tail lights. The best camera shots are from Turn 1 and Turn 3 as the cars head down the front and backstretch. That is where the passing occurs.

In-cars are tough to use live, but great for replays. This is especially true after accidents, where in-cars can often tell the tale of who is to blame. Using the in-cars live forces the TV viewer to miss so much action it is almost unfair. Martin Truex Jr. is the in-race reporter for ESPN today.

In this race there is no Chase to deal with, but there is the temptation to focus all the coverage on the eight Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers. As the season begins to head to a close, it is going to be important for ESPN to feature the drivers who have competed in the Nationwide Series regularly, especially if they are having a good run.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Nationwide Series race coverage from Dover on ESPN2. 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 drop by.

Friday, September 25, 2009

ESPN Working The Dayshift On Saturday

The sports car race is called The Petit Le Mans. It will be shown on SPEED from 11AM to 9PM ET live on Saturday. Needless to say, that means there will be no NASCAR on SPEED from Dover during the dayshift.

Instead, ESPN will offer Nationwide Series qualifying, the Nationwide Series race and finally coverage of Happy Hour for the Sprint Cup Series.

Marty Reid is back on the Nationwide Series this week, but once again he has Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree with him. Those two are pulling double duty in Dover handling all the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series TV. Perhaps, not the best idea.

Reid starts the day on ESPN2 at 10:30AM with Nationwide Series qualifying. As veteran NASCAR fans know, qualifying has not been a strong point for ESPN. The production format eliminates much of the actual on-track action and over-uses graphics and interviews during what should be a singular focus on just one car at a time.

The ESPN pit reporters will join Petree and Jarrett for this program. The weak line-up of the Nationwide Series will be bolstered by the cross-over Sprint Cup drivers. There are eight of them this week. This group has been the consistent emphasis for ESPN with the Nationwide coverage where interviews are concerned. Brad Keselowski may be the lone exception to that rule.

There is a college football game that starts at 12PM on ESPN2 this Saturday. Despite the fact that these games run 3.5 hours, once again the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show is scheduled for only three hours after kickoff. Luckily, ESPN Classic has a wonderful marathon of the New American Sportsman in progress at that time. Fans may well see the Nationwide Series pre-race show on Classic.

NASCAR Countdown will be Allen Bestwick along with Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace live from the Infield Pit Studio. During the last race, these three offered more enthusiasm and entertainment than Reid, Jarrett and Petree combined.

It will be 3:30PM when the live race telecast gets underway, hopefully on ESPN2. Tim Brewer will also be along from the Tech Garage, although laps at Dover are so fast and exciting he should only be seen during caution periods or in the smaller of the two video boxes in the split-screen. It is September and fans have been watching since February. Pointing at car parts this late in the season often makes very little sense.

While the three announcers upstairs struggle to find a winning combination, the ESPN production team is going to be facing the same old Dover. Two bridges over the track need to be cut-out of the TV pictures, the accidents happen with lightning speed and in-car camera shots used live are risky.

At 6PM, there is another big college football game scheduled for ESPN2. Should this race have several long caution flags, a red flag period or some rain, it will be interesting to see whether football or NASCAR interrupts the world famous New American Sportsman marathon over on ESPN Classic once again.

The wrap-up of the day is Happy Hour for the Sprint Cup Series scheduled for 7PM over on ESPN. This NASCAR program has live college football on both sides. Needless to say, it should be interesting to see how the day has progressed by the time 7PM rolls around.

SPEED finally pokes into the NASCAR world with the Camping World Truck Series race coverage. The pre-race show begins at 9PM and TDP will live blog that telecast. The only airing of NASCAR Performance with Larry McReynolds, Chad Knaus and Bootie Barker will follow the race at 12:30AM.

For comments before, during and after the ESPN dayshift NASCAR coverage on Saturday, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting your TV-related comments. Thanks for stopping by.

NASCAR Continues To Expand Online Offerings

The ever changing world of online media is especially challenging for NASCAR as a sport. Instead of an organized league like baseball or football, NASCAR is a large group of independent contractors who simply meet to race. The race teams, the sponsors and even many drivers all have their own online presence.

The folks at Turner Sports in Atlanta have revamped the website several times to try and figure out how to serve all these different interests. Now, they have expanded again to add a presence on for NASCAR fans. Here is the official info:

Turner Sports and MySpace announced today a partnership between the popular social networking platform and Turner Sports-managed NASCAR.COM, the online home of NASCAR.

A custom NASCAR-branded page will live on MySpace embodying MySpace’s multimedia platform by offering videos, news and photos provided by NASCAR.COM, along with socialization capabilities to give users an enriched experience.

Fans may further interact with NASCAR on the MySpace community via the driver gallery where they can find corresponding pages for the athletes. In addition, MySpace will provide promotion to NASCAR.COM’s portfolio of offerings including the Superstore, TNT RaceBuddy and TrackPass subscription products.

Fans can access the official NASCAR page on MySpace at:

The NASCAR page on Facebook originated by Turner has proven to be very popular with over 215 thousand fans. Click here to take a look at that page. It is easy to become a Facebook fan and receive lots of information from NASCAR directly.

The final piece of this online puzzle is the rapidly growing Twitter. NASCAR is already established with regular updates on all three national series, the regional touring series and many other sections of the sport including directly.

The goal of this expansion to MySpace is the same as our recent discussions about ESPN trying to organize its online information. The concept has two parts. The first is for a piece of information to be published and appear on, Facebook, MySpace and Twitter at the same time. That makes sense, so that everyone gets the same information.

The second part of the puzzle revolves around the fans. Click here for a video on how the Turner gang has reorganized the Community section of to enable users to establish their own personal presence on that site.

The idea is to cross the traditional technology boundaries and let conversations and updates occur between Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and other messaging services. A lot of this came about because of the tremendous popularity of RaceBuddy this summer.

The NASCAR fan response was overwhelming to a free application that provided a live pit reporter, user-selected cameras, team audio and many other features. This is clearly going to become a permanent addition to all Sprint Cup Series races once the TV network politics are settled. With the financial and TV ratings issues facing the sport right now, 2010 might just be the year to make sure this gets done.

So, kudos to the Turner folks for continuing to expand the online offerings. There are many among us who believe that the website could be better organized, but at least the Atlanta-based company is listening and making changes.

Perhaps, you could take a moment to offer a comment if you actively use NASCAR's Facebook, Twitter or website. You can also offer your opinion by clicking the comments button below on the new MySpace and expanded Community options we discussed.

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, September 23, 2009

SPEED Hopes To Build On Truck Series Momentum

Let's face it. The Camping World Truck Series jump in TV ratings last week was not just due to a single race in Loudon. The trucks were the second part of a slam-dunk doubleheader on SPEED that was started by the Whelen Modifieds.

Click here for the article over at that talks about the nice ratings jump for the trucks. The brief article does not mention the Mods or the fact that Mike Joy and Dick Berggren again did a super job of calling the action in a simple and effective TV telecast. Talk about a great lead-in.

Sure, the trucks put on a good show and the hype from the previous race about the Matt Crafton vs. Ron Hornaday dust-up was in the news. Krista Voda does not usually get involved in petty stories, but she did everything but set up a boxing ring for Crafton to take on all comers during the pre-race show.

SPEED is taking a very deep breath this week as only 31 trucks were originally entered for the 9PM ET Saturday race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Since that time, four more trucks have miraculously turned up and the entry list is now set at 35.

The race in Loudon came down to Kyle Busch being pursued by Kevin Harvick who could not get past his teammate Ron Hornaday. Harvick popped a cork after the event while the old veteran Hornaday watched Busch take the bow with the checkered flag.

With neither Busch or Havick in the Las Vegas race, SPEED is going to be faced with the reality of the truck series. There are perhaps fifteen trucks in the field that have run the entire season. Several are add-ons with familiar names like Max Papis, Brian Ickler and Aric Almirola.

On the flip side, many are clearly field fillers. Fans who watch on TV are not going to see the ten or more trucks that pull off the track and drive right into the garage before the first fuel stop. The actual race itself will look very different from the nice formation fans will see at the start.

While SPEED had all the ingredients in place at Loudon with a great lead-in race and a good field with some Cup drivers, Las Vegas is going to be a very different animal. The competition at the front of the field had better be good, because with a big track like Vegas the field is going to string out quickly.

Voda's Setup this week will no doubt be upbeat with the strong TV ratings and the good racing at Loudon. The pre-race producer has also done a good job of keeping fans up to date this season on the changing cast of characters in the series. Some like Todd Bodine have even come and gone and come back again.

It will be up to Rick Allen to mix the excitement of the trucks at speed with the reality of what is happening in front of the fans. Phil Parsons will also be along to keep a perspective on the handful of trucks truly capable of contending for the win.

On a good note, Johnny Benson will join Allen and Parsons for his final appearance of the season in the SPEED TV booth. Benson is still on injured reserve and considering his options for 2010. Michael Waltrip will be attending to Sprint Cup Series duties in Dover, DE.

There is a live sports car race leading into the CWTS this week. The start time is late for the East Coast and the green flag drops after 9:30PM. It should be interesting to see how many trucks are running at the finish and if the series can once again keep the attention focused on the battles at the front of the pack.

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

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

NASCAR's Football Nightmare Continues

The enemy has arrived and quickly made its presence known. That is the Charlotte, NC skyline peeking above the home opener for the Carolina Panthers. After a short run of slightly higher TV ratings, the bottom fell out for NASCAR on the first weekend of the head-to-head match-up with the NFL.

As we said last week, it was Allen Bestwick and his NASCAR Countdown pre-race show that first went up against the Sunday 1PM Eastern Time NFL game. Jerry Punch then led his crew into the fray when the race from Loudon, NH began shortly after 2PM. It seems that by then, the damage was already done.

Despite the double file restarts "shootout style" and the compelling stories of Mark Martin and Juan Montoya, the NASCAR TV ratings got thumped. Here is the official information:

ABC’s broadcast of Sunday’s Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway earned a 2.5 overnight rating from Nielsen Media Research, Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily reports.

The rating is 21.9 percent lower than the 3.2 ABC earned overnight for the race in 2008.

Overnights are the first set of ratings information that becomes available. There will be a more detailed breakdown of this mess available shortly. Needless to say, there are always lots of factors that affect the ratings associated with live sports.

Click here to read the original announcement from NASCAR about creating the Chase for the Championship. Notice that it does not mention the NFL. Despite that fact, make no mistake that the mortal enemy of NASCAR plays Sundays on a 100 yard field and takes three hours of TV time to finish just one game.

The Chase debuted well, but has struggled. Click here for a very good column from Ernie Saxton of about some of the reasons why things have gone astray.

Several weeks ago, Art Weinstein of offered a column about NASCAR and the NFL. Click here to read it. His point was that the NFL has some problems of its own. On the flipside, NASCAR's problems with the Chase have also been around for a while. Click here for Richard Chang in the New York Times back in 2007.

The bottom line is that the NFL is currently on the kind of roll NASCAR enjoyed a decade ago. The NFL as a whole has momentum and is well supported by event coverage on both broadcast and cable TV networks. A short while ago, the NFL Network also debuted and has been working very hard to develop an identity of its own.

As the Internet allows coverage of sports to expand, the NFL has done a wonderful job of coordinating an amazing amount of coverage for its product on and off the field. While the internal dynamics of the league are completely different from NASCAR, one thing has not changed. The NFL is still the thorn in NASCAR's side during the final three months of the racing season.

Perhaps, you might be able to take a moment and tell us about the decisions you made in terms of watching NASCAR or the NFL this past Sunday and why. Please also feel free to offer your opinions about how the Chase translates itself to TV with the NASCAR on ESPN team presenting all ten of the Chase races on ABC.

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

Monday, September 21, 2009

Spencer Exits Before Helton Interview On "TWIN"

Greg Biffle was the meat in a Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Spencer sandwich. The TWIN panel has expanded to three panelists with the recent addition of Spencer for the remainder of the season.

Host Steve Byrnes made short work of the race highlights because this week the show was adding yet another twist. NASCAR President Mike Helton was in the SPEED studio to answer some questions and address some topics as the sport headed down the stretch.

Spencer and Waltrip felt each other out as they both tried to have the last word during the highlights and on the issues. Greg Biffle had some moments and held his own, but it was very clear that the Alpha Dog competition was in full swing with his fellow panelists.

"We'll get to your drivers later," Spencer told Waltrip in the highlights segment before the David Reutimann vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. crash. That was certainly something that neither Chad Knaus or Biffle had ever said to Waltrip this season. There just might be a new sheriff in TV town.

Byrnes worked hard to figure out this new television dynamic. Spencer seems to always be on the verge of making strong statements and that is going to conflict with the pro-NASCAR tone often heard from team owner Waltrip.

Things were just about to get interesting when Byrnes suddenly thanked Spencer for stopping by. It seemed awkward as Waltrip joked about Spencer appearing when he was away. Spencer then wondered how Waltrip got himself in a Ferrari while on vacation.

It was apparent when the program returned from commercial just why Byrnes had thanked Spencer. He was no longer on the set. In Spencer's seat was Helton. Instead of involving one of the most colorful and sometimes controversial SPEED personalities in the interview, Helton was left with a multi-car team owner and an active driver who both race in the Sprint Cup Series.

Needless to say, this changed the dynamic of the program immediately. While Byrnes asked a question about the economy, it was Waltrip who turned into a gushing school kid with his endless compliments for the sanctioning body and Helton himself.

Helton remembered Kenny Schrader being on the program after Waltrip asked the classic question about just how much Helton makes. "Not as much as you do," responded Helton with a touch of irony. Waltrip was on a roll. Drug testing, electronic scoring and doublefile restarts were on his list of why NASCAR is great.

Helton's message was to give the Chase a chance. The sales pitch was that this new concept is just now getting mature. For the fans, for the media and for the competitors this is still something that NASCAR is developing and it may well be tweaked slightly as time goes on. It was a well-delivered message from NASCAR's best spokesman.

It was Byrnes and Biffle who got the most out of Helton. Biffle got Helton to admit NASCAR is actively looking at changing the starting times of Sprint Cup Series races for next season. While things were originally driven by the TV networks, it was the promoters and the fans trying to attend the races who suffered.

Helton declined to comment on the fuel injection issue with a moment of silence that turned to laughter. He did, however, remain on the show through the Dover preview and that paid dividends. With some time at the end of the program, Byrnes asked Helton about the testing ban. Helton confirmed it will stay in place.

Biffle raised the issue of doublefile restarts in the Camping World Truck Series. "We would like to get it into the truck series," replied Helton. His explanation was that next year is the possible start date after NASCAR decides what to do with the current pit stop rules for the trucks. Great question by Biffle and answer by Helton.

It's always good to see Helton in this environment. While Byrnes did manage to sneak-in one question from a fan about points, the missing element in this show was Spencer. Biffle and Waltrip simply cannot be expected to address the more difficult issues and they did not. It was safe, easy and friendly for Helton.

Next week another round of fun begins when Chad Knaus is added to a show that will feature Spencer and Waltrip for the full hour. After a Dover race that promises to be a key event in the Chase, those three should make for some interesting TV.

If you watched the Monday program, please leave us a comment. 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 for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From New Hampshire On ABC

It was a beautiful day in Loudon, New Hampshire. The NASCAR on ESPN team was presenting the first race in "The Chase for the Championship."

Allen Bestwick came on at 1PM to lead the NASCAR charge against the NFL for the first Sunday head-to-head match-up. He was joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Center. Tim Brewer came along from the Tech Garage.

Jerry Punch was the play-by-play announcer with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree as the analysts. On pit road were Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

This race was run on a flat track that featured single file racing and passing that was limited the entry to the corners. There were few accidents, mechanical failures or controversial moments.

The pictures and sound were outstanding, the graphics worked well. The production team was confronted by pit stops that were crucial to both the Chasers and the racers. This was a key issue on a limited passing track like this.

The pit reporters had to play a key role in this telecast. The infield added some commentary coming out of commercial break. Petree and Jarrett handled the issues associated with race strategy. Jerry Punch was in charge of supplying the excitement for the TV viewers during the racing action.

During the Chase, commercial breaks are tough to integrate. ABC was faced with several circumstances where coming back early from commercial was a decision that had to be made instantly. The Chase cars get a higher level of attention than the non-Chase teams on the telecast.

This post is an opportunity for you to post your thoughts immediately after watching the live race. Tell us what you liked and perhaps did not like. Your comment can be any length, we just ask that you keep in mind that this is a family-friendly site.

There will be a full column up on this event from my perspective later, but this is a good time to hear what you think right after the race. Thank you for taking a moment to give us your opinion.

Mike Helton To Guest On "TWIN" Monday Night

This season, Monday Nights on SPEED have featured an island of NASCAR amid the hours of lifestyle shows. Those programs involve everything from a family that tows trucks to a guy driving cars that absolutely none of us can ever afford.

This Week in NASCAR is the island and it has been suffering from the blahs. This year the program was reduced to two panelists, no guests and racing highlights that have already been seen many times. Host Steve Byrnes has done his best, but it seems that change is once again coming to this series as SPEED looks to freshen things up.

Last Monday, Jimmy Spencer suddenly appeared from left field under the guise of sitting in for Michael Waltrip who was on vacation. Instead, it was then announced that Spencer will now join the show as a third panelist for the remainder of the season. That puts Waltrip and Spencer with either Greg Biffle or Chad Knaus on the panel every week.

Adding yet another wrinkle, SPEED recently announced that NASCAR President Mike Helton will visit the program by joining the panel on Monday. All of this sets-up what should be a very interesting episode. 8PM will find Byrnes with Waltrip, Biffle, Spencer and Helton. This marks the first time for this combination of panelists in recent memory and the first time this season for a live guest in the studio.

SPEED and the NASCAR Media Group, who produces the program, have also tinkered with the format of the show. Remember, this is the program that clung to previewing the upcoming race and then reviewing the weekend highlights for months. After sorting that out, things began to flow.

This show has tons of potential as the alternative to the formal and scripted NASCAR Now program that ESPN offers on Monday afternoons. Embracing the informality and casual feel of SPEED's NASCAR coverage is the key. Adding Spencer to the show is a step toward putting someone on the panel who will challenge Waltrip's views on various topics.

Watching the interaction between those two will be fascinating. Perhaps, the presence of Helton and Biffle will serve to keep things calm. Either way, Byrnes will have a handful when things get underway.

Before SPEED gets on the air, ESPN2's show at 5PM will feature Ricky Craven, Boris Said and Ray Evernham talking with host Allen Bestwick. It's always interesting to watch the formality of ESPN in suits and ties as the lead-in to the polo shirts, jeans and sneakers of the SPEED gang.

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

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series Race From New Hampshire (1PM ET - ABC)

Juan Pablo Montoya is on the pole and that is a sign that things are going to be very different today in New Hampshire. There is a driver working for free, several teams in full meltdown mode and the oldest Chase competitor just extended his contract to drive in the series.

Into this fun walks the NASCAR on ESPN TV team for the third consecutive year. This group will have the ABC television network as a pathway to the fans for the rest of the season. All ten Chase races are on free over-the-air TV.

Allen Bestwick will open the show at 1PM with NASCAR Countdown. This is a one hour pre-race show from the Infield Pit Studio. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty will be alongside of Bestwick for both the pre-race and for comments during the live telecast. Tim Brewer will be on site with the Tech Garage.

Last season' pre-race shows during the Chase proved to be tilted toward the Chase drivers despite what else was happening in the sport. There are lots of stories across the board to choose from, but expect a full dose of Chase-mania from the ESPN gang today.

Wallace continues to be outspoken and that has been a positive point for these telecasts. Love him or hate him, Wallace draws the fans to hear what he will say next. Saturday, Jeff Gluck from offered a column critical of current NASCAR team owners like Wallace and Daugherty being on TV. It should be interesting to see if Rusty chooses to respond.

Bestwick will transition to Jerry Punch prior to the 2:16PM green flag. Punch will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree to call the race. It's no secret that things are not rosy in the TV booth and this is the type of track that requires a lot of work from the announcers.

Flat and sometimes boring, it is going to take effort to continue to comb through the field for racing. The pit reporters are also going to have to push to get the stories as passing on pit road under caution flag pit stops is going to set-up the new doublefile restarts.

Tight camera shots and in-car camera views don't work in Loudon. The track is two high speed drag races with passing going into the corners. Seeing the field come down the front and back straights is going to be key to covering who pulls out to pass. We saw it in the Mod and truck races time-and-time again.

There will be non-Chasers with nothing to lose who take risks all race long. The TV challenge is to blend the reality of what is happening in the race with the story of what is happening in the Chase. That balance will tell the tale for the viewers.

This post will serve to host your comments about the ABC coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

Thanks again for taking the time to stop by and talk NASCAR on TV.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Third Time At The Big Dance For ESPN

The memories of Brent Musburger, Suzy Kolber and Erik Kuselias have faded. Into the TV lives of NASCAR fans have come Dale Jarrett, Allen Bestwick and Nicole Manske. This season marks the third time that The Chase for the Championship is going to play-out on ABC and will be produced by the NASCAR on ESPN team.

Sunday at 10AM will start the day with Mike Massaro hosting the one hour preview edition of ESPN2's NASCAR Now. Massaro is in his first season as one of the hosts of this series. He will be joined by Boris Said in the studio while Marty Smith and Nicole Manske will both be reporting from New Hampshire.

Since ESPN made key changes to the studio talent, this series has become focused and informative. The Sunday morning preview show offers a significant amount of information without the hype of RaceDay or the scripted nature of the NASCAR Countdown show.

This year's Chase contains compelling stories and both Smith and Manske are solid at interviewing NASCAR personalities on location. Perhaps, viewers might be better served with Ricky Craven in the studio on the day of the first Chase race. The entire crew returns at 10PM to offer a one hour wrap-up show also on ESPN2.

When NASCAR goes head-to-head with the NFL at 1PM it will be Allen Bestwick leading the charge for ABC. He will be hosting the one hour version of NASCAR Countdown from the Infield Pit Studio. Bestwick will have his regular partners Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty along for both this show and for comments during the race.

Wallace is now at home in the infield for the Cup races and enjoys this role. He has the freedom to let his opinions fly without the hassle of calling an entire race from the booth. Teamed with NASCAR's unofficial cheerleader in Daugherty, Wallace enjoys stirring things up and does so on a regular basis.

While Bestwick and his team set the stage, it will once again fall to Jerry Punch to deliver a compelling live event to the ABC audience. Mike Joy called the Whelen Modified event on Saturday and then Rick Allen handled the truck series race. Punch calling the first Chase race should be the highlight of the weekend in New Hampshire.

As usual, the dependable Andy Petree and the versatile Dale Jarrett will be alongside of Punch for the race. This trio will take viewers through the final ten races and present the face of NASCAR to many new fans who may simply be tuning-in casually during NASCAR's playoffs.

It should be interesting to watch how the production team works to strike a balance between what is actually happening in the race and what is happening to the Chase drivers in the race. Those two situations are often very different.

The ESPN team has recently decided that in-car camera views and close-ups of the cars work better for High Definition TV viewers. The emphasis on these two production elements has resulted in several rather disjointed race telecasts. On the flat and crowded track in New Hampshire, neither of these elements works well.

The Whelen Modifieds started a full field of cars on Saturday. The director kept the cameras wide enough to see the racing in the field and used the low cameras to effectively convey the speed of the cars to the home viewer. The announcers followed the action on the track and kept the excitement level high. Fans who watched this race will be looking for the same on Sunday afternoon.

ESPN re-entered this sport in 2007 with a significant commitment of money, manpower and resources. This same TV team has been working all season long on the Nationwide telecasts to get ready for the big stage. Now, for the third year, it will be up to ESPN to bring the ten months of Sprint Cup Series racing to an end on a high note.

We welcome 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.

Live Blogging The Mods And Trucks In New Hampshire (SPEED - 1PM ET)

Here we go with the two most entertaining races of the weekend. As the seasons wind down, both the Whelen Mods and the Camping World Truck Series are ready to explode.

First on the track are the Whelen Mods at 1PM ET. Mike Joy and Dick Berggren will be in the TV booth to call the action. Bob Dillner will be reporting from pit road.

This big and fast flat track will either show the Mods at their best with bump drafting and passing into the corners or at their worst with lots of accidents between drivers arguing over space late in the season.

The high speeds have the potential to showcase this series to the national TV viewers at a time when the Mods are struggling for sponsorship dollars. On the flip side, this is a series of tough guys and rough driving. Let's hope the racers and not the brawlers decide to show up.

Mike Joy knows the field quite well and this native New Englander who now resides in North Carolina keeps himself quite current on this series. Joy and Berggren are the perfect pair to call this race.

Speaking of perfect, the hard working Krista Voda has once again this season presented the Camping World Truck Series pre-race show called The Setup without a glitch. Like Wendy Venturini, not too much intimidates Voda who has a long history in motorsports TV.

This week, the man who CWTS fans either love or hate is back...again. Michael Waltrip stormed the broadcast booth earlier this morning for the CWTS qualifying session on SPEED and talked more in the first fifteen minutes than Johnny Benson did last weekend during the entire race.

Waltrip certainly brings an enthusiasm to the coverage, but it is still tough at times to have two former drives in the TV booth. Waltrip and Phil Parsons often wind up comparing their driver-oriented views on issues rather than offering other perspectives.

Rick Allen will be calling the action with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander on pit road. Allen should get himself ready for this one, as the tight tempers from last week have already resulted in Kevin Harvick and Matt Crafton being spoken to by officials...and that was during practice!

This post will serve to host your comments about the Modified and Truck Series race on SPEED from New Hampshire. Just click on the comments button below to add your TV-related opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks and let's have some fun today!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Mods And Trucks Rock SPEED On Saturday

The Whelen Modifieds were a big hit earlier this season when Mike Joy and Dick Berggren called the inaugural race from Bristol, TN. Well, this time the nerf bar clanging will be done at New Hampshire Motor Speedway .

Joy and Berggren return at 1PM ET with coverage of the Mods on SPEED. This race may be the best of the weekend as this series is designed for the flat tracks with the big tires and low-slung chassis.

There are forty cars ready to go with familiar names like Donny Lia and Mike Stefanik. On the pole, however, is an 18 year old college freshman named Ryan Preece from one of my favorite towns, Berlin, CT. Click here for that story from Shawn Courchesne's great auto racing blog in the Hartford Courant.

Once the Mods are done, Krista Voda will be up at 2:30PM with The Setup. There are some hot tempers and hard feelings in the Camping World Truck Series these days. Several controversial moves from last week resulted in penalties and several wrecked trucks. Click here for an update on that topic.

Instead of Johnny Benson, Michael Waltrip will be teaming with Rick Allen and Phil Parsons to call the action at 3PM. The transition from Benson to Waltrip should be rather dramatic, especially with all the intensity of last week possibly coming to life once again in this event.

There are 36 trucks entered for the race, including some familiar faces. While the truck series regulars from last week's drama are back, this race will also feature Kevin Harvick, Max Papis and flat track ace Dennis Setzer. There will be some start-and-park trucks, but the names in the field should make for a solid event.

SPEED will start the day with CWTS qualifying at 10AM. The same broadcast team will be present, including the only two-reporter combination to work an entire pit road. That would be the versatile Adam Alexander and the always colorful Ray Dunlap. These two just flow through the sport with the same grace of Voda in the pre-race.

For those of you in search of a nightcap, ESPN2 will try to squeeze in a same day delay broadcast of Sprint Cup Series Happy Hour at 6:45PM between college football games. That would be Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the booth. Best of luck with this effort and yes, we will be watching.

TDP will live blog the Mod and CWTS race on Saturday, but in the meantime please feel free to leave us your TV-related opinion on these topics. 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.

Versus And NASCAR Announce New TV Series

Here we go with a brand new twist for NASCAR and its TV partners. Versus has now joined the group and here is the official info:

VERSUS today announced a multi-year deal with NASCAR to air a fast-paced, up-close HD look at the 12 drivers competing in NASCAR’s 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. The weekly, half-hour series titled Quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup will air on VERSUS on Tuesday nights at 11 p.m. ET, beginning September 22, and will air each week until the conclusion of the 2009 NASCAR playoff season.

Quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, an adrenaline-filled show that offers motorsports fans stunning race footage with an intimate behind-the-scenes perspective, is a milestone in HD sports programming and was honored with a Sports Emmy® Award for “Outstanding Live Event Turnaround” in 2008. VERSUS and NASCAR will also partner on additional programming opportunities which will be announced when details become available.

“Just as we’re about to conclude our first year of IndyCar Series coverage, we look forward to the opportunity to extend our racing season through this new partnership with NASCAR,” said Marc Fein, Executive Vice President of Programming, Production and Business Operations for VERSUS. “VERSUS has become a top television destination for motorsports fans with our in-depth and all-encompassing coverage of the IndyCar Series and we are very excited to launch into a multi-year venture with NASCAR to showcase all the action and excitement surrounding their championship run.”

“We are delighted to partner with VERSUS on our Emmy-award winning Quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series,” said Jay Abraham, Chief Operating Officer of NASCAR Media Group. “With VERSUS being the fastest growing sports cable network in the country, this is one more way in which NASCAR can reach additional fans with the excitement of our playoffs, the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”

This is an interesting announcement to make on the verge of the first Chase race in New Hampshire. The NASCAR Media Group is extending a new bridge and the results should be fun to watch. There was no reaction from SPEED or ESPN on this issue.

Some fans may remember this series from an earlier network partnership. NMG enjoys making high-end glossy programs that have the feel of an NFL Films production. While this content will still not be available online, any additional exposure for NASCAR on TV is a positive for the sport.

We will continue to follow this story, but in the meantime perhaps you can give us your reaction 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.

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

One Eye On Qualifying And The Other On Danica

It should be a very interesting motorsports Friday on TV for several reasons. One involves a track fans either love or hate. The second involves a driver that fans either love or hate. New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Danica Patrick take center stage.

While SPEED will start the day off at 12PM ET with Sprint Cup Series practice, the big moments will happen when ESPN2 hosts qualifying at 3PM. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will be calling the action for this very important session.

Passing has been tough with the new Sprint Cup cars at NHMS. Two key ingredients that have played important roles in the outcome of the race are qualifying and pit stops. Now that the Chase is underway, there will be the drivers with everything to gain and those with nothing to lose both seeking to start at the front of the grid.

After qualifying, Mike Massaro comes along with a thirty minute edition of NASCAR Now scheduled for 5PM. SPEED is next as Mike Skinner and Denny Hamlin guest on Trackside at 7PM. That show has Steve Byrnes hosting with Jeff Hammond, Elliott Sadler and Larry McReynolds on the panel. This weekend, McReynolds will stick around and substitute for Kenny Wallace on Sunday's Victory Lane. Wallace returns to the program next week.

The other big Friday attraction is the IRL race from Motegi, Japan on the Versus TV Network live at 10:30PM ET. Stories are now beginning to creep into the mainstream NASCAR media that fans may well see Patrick in NASCAR next season. Could that start in Daytona next February with Patrick running both the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series races?

With the IRL not opening their 2010 season until March 14 in Brazil, there is an opportunity for her to attempt three Nationwide and two Camping World Truck Series races before that weekend. Click here for a recent article quoting Tony Stewart as confirming that Patrick is determined to make the transition to NASCAR.

Motegi was the scene of a hotly debated win for Patrick last season. It has been her only win on the IRL trail since she joined the sport in 2005. She has 79 IRL starts in her career and has finished 67 of those races. While not at the top of the heap, she continues to just hang-in there this season, currently 5th in points.

It will be the familiar voice of Bob Jenkins that welcomes curious NASCAR fans to Versus. Jenkins anchors the coverage with Jon Beekhuis and Robbie Buhl as the analysts. On pit road will be the veteran Jack Arute along with reporters Lindy Thackston and Robbie Floyd.

Ironically, the IRL coverage on Versus is produced by Lingner Group Productions based in Indianapolis, IN. The head of that company is Terry Lingner, the original producer of NASCAR on ESPN back in the 1980's. His director back then was Mike Wells, who many of you enjoyed as he directed the TNT NASCAR coverage this season. It's a small world in motorsports TV land.

Believe it or not, the IRL only has one other race remaining. The series comes to Homestead and races on October 10 with that telecast also on Versus. Should Danica give a good accounting of herself in these two final events, it may go a long way toward helping current NASCAR fans figure out if she is the real deal or just another open-wheeler with big dreams.

So, Friday will answer two questions. Number one, will a racer or a Chaser get the pole in New Hampshire? The second is can Patrick can turn up the wick and get back-to-back wins in Japan? That would launch her part-time NASCAR career in style. Both programs should be interesting to watch for very different reasons. Will you be watching one, none or both?

TDP welcomes your comments on these topics. 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.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New York City Media Mayhem

We have tried to put together a full list of all the media appearances by the 12 Chase drivers in New York City. Things start on Wednesday night with some TV.

First will be Ryan Newman, Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards on the Late Show with Jimmy Fallon. The Wednesday program airs at 12:35AM ET, but check the NBC local listings for the time in your area.

Here is the rest of the official info for Thursday:

Television Shows

FOX & Friends: Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin will be appearing outside with a show car at 7:35 am.

Good Morning America: Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards will be on this morning show also with a show car at 8:30 am.

LIVE with Regis & Kelly: It is Guinness Book of World Record Week and six drivers will start by talking to Regis and Kelly about the Chase, the season and the upcoming race at NH. They will then join over 250 fans outside on the street for the World’s Largest Custard Pie Fight. For every pie thrown a donation will be made to Meals on Wheels. Those are the pies shown above, show airs at 9AM ET but check local listings.

ESPN First Take: Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon will both be on ESPN’s morning show via satellite. Program begins at 10AM ET on ESPN2.

NASCAR Now: Jeff Burton will be the co-host with Mike Massaro in Bristol, CT. This program has now been confirmed to have expanded to 90 minutes and will begin at 5PM ET. Interviews will include Roush Fenway drivers from Fenway Park in Boston and other Chase drivers from media day in NYC. This show will also re-air at 10PM Pacific/1AM Eastern.

National Radio Programs

SiriusXM Studios: Four drivers will be making their way to the studios: Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch. Tradin' Paint will be broadcast from 12-3PM ET from the Hard Rock Cafe and will feature the remaining eight drivers.

The Bob and Tom Show: Greg Biffle will be a guest at 9 a.m.

Big D and Bubba: Several drivers will be calling in throughout the day - Mark Martin will be calling into the show at 9:45 a.m., Greg Biffle at 10:30, Carl Edwards at 11:15 and Denny Hamlin at 11:30 a.m.

Dan Patrick Radio Show: Tony Stewart will be calling into the show at 9:45 a.m.

FOX Sports Radio: Mark Martin will be a guest at 10 a.m., Carl Edwards will be on at 11, Kurt Busch will be on at 2:45 p.m. and Ryan Newman at 3:15.

New York City Local TV

CW Morning Show: Brian Vickers will be appearing on this local New York City morning show tomorrow morning at 7:15 am. The Sprint Cup Series trophy will also be on set.

Good Day NY: Ryan Newman (between 9:15 and 9:45) and Greg Biffle will be appearing at this local FOX morning show. They will be outside by the Sprint show car.

Various Local Radio Shows

ESPN 1080 Orlando: Mark Martin will be a guest at 10:15 a.m., Greg Biffle will be on at 12:45 p.m.

WKNR Cleveland: Greg Biffle will be a guest at 10:20 a.m.

KRLD Dallas: Juan Pablo Montoya will be a guest at 11:20 a.m.

CBS Radio Boston: Brian Vickers will be a guest at 11:30 a.m.

WSCR Chicago: Carl Edwards will be a guest at 4 p.m

Thanks again to the NASCAR PR staff for the info. This post will serve to host your comments as you watch and listen to all the TV and radio appearances of the 12 drivers on Wednesday and Thursday.

To add your opinion about these programs, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, we would ask that you keep that in mind while posting. Thanks for taking the time to help us out with your reporting skills!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Watching NASCAR's Chase Or The NFL's Regular Season?

Well, here we are. Thursday, the gang of 12 will be in New York City doing the media dance to drum-up headlines for the Chase. Sunday, they will be racing at 1PM ET on a flat track in New Hampshire on ABC.

Mike Massaro will host a one hour version of NASCAR Now at 5:30PM on Thursday. Massaro and his ESPN counterparts will do their best to push the Chase on the various ESPN shows and networks over the next several days. Smiling drivers in suits and ties will be a momentary blip on the national TV radar.

Then, Sunday comes. NASCAR fans have to once again make that annual decision. It is a decision that causes NASCAR pain every season. It is a decision that created the Chase for the Championship. It is the decision of whether or not to leave NASCAR and watch the NFL.

There they are, side by side. The same drivers you have been seeing since February are matched-up against the local gridiron heroes. The thrill of racing inches apart goes head to head with the long bomb and the miracle comeback. Tom Brady vs. Jimmie Johnson. The million dollar smile and the model wife.

New Hampshire brings tight racing, little passing and angry drivers. This year, it also brings the new restart rules. FOX and CBS bring nine different regional games at 1PM that cover the nation. The NFL stories are fresh and the sport is on a roll.

NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series has used four TV networks to get this far. SPEED stepped in for the Daytona twins and the All-Star weekend. Fox started the regular season and then handed-off to TNT for a short summer run. Now, ESPN is again using their ABC network to bring this ten month season to a close.

At this time of the year, pre-race shows like SPEED's RaceDay and ABC's NASCAR Countdown go up against ESPN's NFL Countdown and Fox NFL Sunday, which bills itself as America's most watched pre-game show. Even on Monday nights, This Week in NASCAR on SPEED finds itself looking over at Monday Night Football on ESPN.

So, what is a sports fan going to do? How about taking a moment and telling us how you are going to handle Sunday at 1PM? NASCAR and the NFL meet again.

Are you taping one and watching the other live? Surfing back and forth for three hours? Picture-in-picture? Many NASCAR fans already multi-task with radio, online scoring and chat. Does the NFL change those plans?

Finally, has the Chase for the Championship helped you to stick with NASCAR? The stories are good, from Mark Martin through Juan Pablo Montoya.

Click here to read our column from last season on this subject. We got some fantastic comments.

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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mr. Excitement Takes Charge

This Week in NASCAR host Steve Byrnes told viewers the news right at the top of the show. Not only was Jimmy Spencer going to be a panelist this Monday in place of Michael Waltrip, but Spencer was going to join the program for the rest of the season.

While that is the information he included, it is what Byrnes did not say that has rumors flying. There have only been two panelists on TWIN this season. One school of thought is that Spencer was simply an addition for The Chase.

The other is that this is an audition for a permanent change. While Greg Biffle and Chad Knaus are going to continue in their NASCAR roles next season, there is a big change coming for Waltrip.

Earlier Monday it was confirmed that Pat Tryson was hired to be the new crew chief at MWR. He will be leading new driver Martin Truex Jr. in the #56 car as Waltrip steps back into the role of fulltime owner. While Waltrip may drive in the Daytona 500, it is very clear that this transition is complete.

This may not affect Waltrip's role working on the Camping World Truck Series as an analyst, but questions remain about Monday nights for next season. It's not really an issue about simply driving, as drivers retire each season. The real issue on the table is having a fulltime multi-car Sprint Cup Series team owner on TWIN.

It might shock fans if they tuned-in and saw Richard Childress or Jack Roush on the program talking about the ups-and-downs of the other teams. But, this is Michael Waltrip and he has been the franchise for this program since it began over a decade ago.

Waltrip brings his unique personality and sense of humor to the show. Names like Benson, Wallace, Schrader and Vickers have come and gone. Through it all, Waltrip has remained. This year Steve Byrnes replaced Dave Despain who replaced Allen Bestwick as host. All of them have had to figure out how to work with Waltrip.

Information from SPEED indicates that next Monday's show will consist of Biffle, Spencer and Waltrip with Byrnes hosting. The network also indicates that NASCAR President Mike Helton will be making an appearance. Veteran fans may remember that each year Helton used to drop by and spar with Waltrip and Kenny Schrader.

With the new changes on this program, it may well be Spencer who picks up the tradition of asking Helton how much he makes...just for information purposes.

On this Monday, Spencer was outspoken, Knaus was informative and Byrnes appeared nervous. The program format also changed, with the hot topics and several other elements dropped. It may be that viewers are seeing SPEED begin to tweak the show in order to make a decision about next season.

Next Monday, Biffle will look over to see Waltrip and Spencer alongside of him. It should be interesting to see if the show continues to allow the panelists to finish their thoughts or if Spencer and Waltrip struggle to strike a balance on the air.

Did you watch the show? We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion of TWIN on SPEED, 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.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Updated With NASCAR Response: Still Wondering About Champion's Week

Update: The NASCAR response on this topic is published at the bottom of this column and also in the comments section for your review. Thanks to Ramsey Poston for the timely information.

Since starting this media project almost three years ago, I have been called a lot of things. Recently, motorsports columnist Jeff Wolf of the Las Vegas Journal-Review added to that list. "Nitwit on the Internet" is actually kind of catchy.

The topic was the first Sprint Cup Series Champion's Week in Las Vegas, NV. To refresh your memory of what was supposed to happen, click here for a link to Mike Hembree's column from back in April. That is when the announcement of the move to Las Vegas was made. Here is an excerpt:

One of the biggest complaints about banquet week activities in New York has been that there have been severe limitations on fan access. In Las Vegas, one suspects the city fathers and mothers will delight in having loud, showy race cars parading down the Strip.

The move to Vegas opens up a world of possibilities for NASCAR sponsors and team sponsors. The city has convention-center type space spread across numerous hotels and its own huge facility. With almost unlimited space, there are boundless opportunities for displays, appearances and autograph sessions by drivers and fan activities. It could be a vastly expanded version of the old Winston Cup Preview, a popular fan event held for many years in January in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Click here for the August 17 TDP column that got Mr. Wolf in such a tizzy.

After failing to locate any information about Champion's Week, we asked how it had become invisible after the promises of fan interaction and potential for change. This is not about one night of awards and awkward speeches, it is about how NASCAR was going to embrace Las Vegas and open up to new concepts for an end of season function.

Luckily, Mr. Wolf decided that he would clear things up for the fans. Click here for his column about NASCAR in Las Vegas. Here are some excerpts:

Though many plans still are being finalized, some nitwits on the Internet have implied that it's going to be a blah event. Not true.

The big Dec. 4 banquet at Wynn Las Vegas won't be open to the public.

Cup drivers, sponsors and dignitaries will begin arriving in Las Vegas on Nov. 30 to play in a golf tournament to benefit the Kurt Busch Foundation. Not sure if the tournament will be open to spectators or if anyone can pay to play, but we're checking on that.

On that Wednesday, there will be some type of event in which fans can meet drivers.

Big events on Thursday will be closed to the public.

After the (Myers Brothers) luncheon, a traditional "victory lap" will happen on the Strip when the top 10 drivers parade in their racecars down the world-famous boulevard.

There will be many driver appearances and interactive displays along the Strip. It will be an entertaining week.

Did that information help you to make a decision about flying into Vegas in early December? Here is a realistic review of the current information available to fans about the schedules and activities.

No information on the website. No information on the Wynn Las Vegas website. No information on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway website. No information on the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority website. There isn't even any information on, the official search engine of NASCAR.

Las Vegas hotels are begging for business and room rates are at the lowest prices in years. The Las Vegas casinos are begging for customers and the specials available are tremendous. Airlines have slashed rates on flights to Las Vegas. Is this not the perfect situation for the city to welcome NASCAR fans for a long weekend of fun?

In the simple world of this "nitwit," all fans need is some communication from NASCAR in order to understand if they are invited.

Here is the media release from NASCAR on Monday afternoon addressing this topic.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 14, 2009) – For the first time in NASCAR history, fans will have the opportunity to join drivers, team owners and industry leaders to celebrate the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion. This year’s awards ceremony is scheduled to be held at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009.

Approximately 300 tickets will be made available to the top 12 teams and drivers, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series track operators and NASCAR partners to utilize for fan promotions. Fans will make up about 25% of the audience as they join drivers, team owners and industry officials for the awards ceremony. The available tickets will be used as part of sweepstakes, contests or promotions.

“Making tickets available provides the teams, tracks and partners a truly unique opportunity to reach out to the fans like never before,” said NASCAR CMO Steve Phelps. “We’re looking forward to seeing creative promotions for the limited number of tickets. We’ve worked very hard over the past four months to iron out details for the awards ceremony and the fan element was top priority.”

Last April, NASCAR made the decision to move the awards ceremony to Las Vegas after holding the prestigious event in New York City for the past 27 years. After considering several options for the 2009 awards ceremony, NASCAR formed a partnership with Las Vegas Events, with Las Vegas becoming the “Official Host City of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week.”

In coming weeks there will be additional announcements about the events planned for “Champion’s Week” in Las Vegas. Specifically, more details will be provided about the Top 12 Victory Lap Parade, entertainment and other fan event opportunities.

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.