Monday, November 30, 2009

Live Blogging Danica Patrick On Monday Morning TV

The master manipulator of the mainstream media is at it again. Bypassing the cable sports networks and even shows like Race Hub on SPEED, Danica Patrick is instead hitting the Big Apple and doing what even the 12 Chase drivers could not do. She is calling her own shots on the national TV morning shows.

Patrick begins her day on Good Morning America over at ABC in an appearance scheduled for 8:30AM ET. The studio anchors for this program are Diane Sawyer, Robin Roberts and Chris Cuomo. Roberts was a former ESPN anchor with plenty of SportsCenters under her belt, but there is no word on who will be speaking with Patrick. Cuomo and Sawyer have no specific sports backgrounds.

Fox and Friends is next at 9:45AM over on the Fox News Network. This is a quirky show that mixes news and conversation with a decidedly conservative perspective. The anchors are Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson and Brian Kilmeade.

Patrick's longtime sponsor Go Daddy is run by Bob Parsons, a huge Fox News fan. Parsons has been sponsoring Patrick since 2006 when she was introduced as a "Go Daddy girl." The Twitter account for Parsons says he is a lover of Chevrolet, the NRA and Smith & Wesson. He is a former Marine who was wounded in Vietnam and awarded a Purple Heart.

Speculation is that Patrick's appearance involves Go Daddy taking over for Motorola as her primary IRL sponsor. This would be based on reports that she has finalized a three-year deal with Andretti Racing for the IRL.

Several public relations messages state that Patrick is in NYC for a "show and tell." While this has the normal sexual innuendos associated with Parsons and Go Daddy, there is also a very real possibility that Patrick has her new IRL Go Daddy sponsored car with her.

What has many folks scratching their heads is how any of this gets someone on two national TV morning shows? Patrick is a mid-pack IRL driver with one win that came overseas in a fuel mileage race. In 2009, she finished 5th in the season standings 223 points behind the champion, Dario Franchitti.

What Patrick does have is a personal brand and significant fame away from the track that has come from various modeling and spokesperson appearances. From Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue to the ESPY Awards, Patrick is a woman who has cultivated a marketing powerhouse using her good looks and willingness to do almost anything on TV. Her Go Daddy commercials from 2009 were infamous.

NASCAR fans are looking on with curiosity after an story from Ryan McGee that suggested Patrick was joining JR Motorsports to drive selected races for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s team. Since that time, all parties concerned have denied anything has been finalized.

On the final NASCAR racing weekend of the year, Daytona International Speedway President Robin Braig said on SPEED's RaceDay that his ARCA race in February was going to have a new female face that people would recognize. Without saying it, Braig was telling fans Patrick was headed for Daytona in a stock car.

In order to find out what is going on, we will be live blogging Patrick's Monday morning TV appearances on GMA and Fox. Join us by clicking on the comments button below and adding your opinion on the news of the day where "the Danica brand" is concerned. Hope you can join us!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

"Good Morning America" Hosts Danica On Monday

Over the last season, Twitter has exploded as a way for many racing personalities to deliver messages directly to both their fan base and the media. Saturday afternoon, Danica Patrick did just that.

"I am heading off to New York for an announcement about next years plans! I will be on GMA Monday morning!" twittered Patrick.

This left the question of whether or not NASCAR would be included in her announcement still unanswered. Good Morning America is on ABC. That network carries a handful of IRL races, including the Indy 500. Sister network ESPN also carries the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule.

This is the series in which Patrick was reportedly seeking a part-time ride. Visits by Patrick to JR Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing were widely reported. Randy LaJoie offered on Twitter that his company, the Joie of Seating, had built and delivered a NASCAR racing seat for Patrick.

Minutes after Patrick offered her Twitter comments, a response came from Michael Waltrip. "And the 1st runner-up was?" asked Waltrip. This seems to suggest that Waltrip knows MWR is not going to host Patrick's NASCAR debut, but is curious about just who is.

USA Today's Nate Ryan followed with his Twitter comments. "My understanding: Only Indycar plans...NASCAR still not finalized/signed."

It was November 6th when ESPN the Magazine's Ryan McGee reported "Sources: Danica Near NASCAR Deal" on the website. Click on the headline to read the entire story. McGee suggested Patrick was on the verge of a two-year deal with JR Motorsports for select Nationwide Series races.

What made this story so interesting were the quotes from Dale Earnhardt Jr. directly. ""She's really serious about coming to NASCAR. A lot of people, I guess, thought that it was just a media hoax or her kind of blowing smoke," Earnhardt Jr. said. "She's really serious about it, and she's going to do it with somebody."

We look at things from a NASCAR TV and media perspective here at TDP. Patrick again is going to capture a significant audience on Monday. NASCAR fans are just looking for the first sign that she will be bringing her unique presence and personal brand to the sport.

Love her or hate her, Patrick knows how to work the media.

Comments on this post should be related to the TV issues in this story. 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.

Media Pictures 2009: Part 2

Here are some more interesting NASCAR media and TV pictures from this season. Click on the pics to see them full-size, right click to save them to your computer. More pics coming on Sunday. TDP columns resume on Monday.

The official Halloween photo from the SPEED truck series gang. Love the pumpkins.

Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer fooling around during a break from RaceDay on SPEED.

Mike Joy takes a moment to pose with some TDP readers before a race.

NASCAR TV compound in Richmond, VA. Five satellite uplink trucks.

ESPN's Ryan McGee interviews a famous NASCAR fan in Bristol, TN.

TNT's Marc Fein and Richard Petty during the pre-race show.

Michael Waltrip's view on TWIN in the SPEED studios.

ESPN's Vince Welch makes some notes in the TV compound before heading to pit road.

Victory Junction Gang campers in Washington DC before heading to the White House.

Wendy Venturini and a friend take the famous Rodeo Drive pic while on NASCAR's West Coast swing.

Friday, November 27, 2009

TDP Is On Holiday: Enjoy Some 2009 Pictures

Thanks to everyone who helped us this season. Original columns will resume on Monday. In the meantime, here are some memorable media pictures from the 2009 NASCAR season. Click on the pics to see them full-size, right click to save them to your computer.

Update: We will continue to post pictures over the weekend. Check back for updates and thanks to TDP readers and NASCAR fans for the postive response.'s Jeff Gluck says hello from a pre-race Tweet-up at TMS.

Michael Waltrip goofs-off while Phil Parsons and Rick Allen call an ARCA race.

TNT's pit road cam featured on RaceBuddy.

Rutledge Wood celebrates the 4th of July in his own special way.

Nicole Manske, Brad Daugherty and The President of the United States Barack Obama.

ESPN's Marty Reid, Andy Petree and Rusty Wallace in soggy Montreal.

Monica and Ann Marie off-duty.

Kurt Busch co-hosted an edition of NASCAR Now with ESPN's Mike Massaro.

Kyle Petty and Rutledge Wood on their summer TNT adventures.

Daytona International Speedway's Infield Media Center.

Steve Byrnes and Kyle Petty call an ARCA race in August.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Our Third Thanksgiving With You

This may have been one of the most interesting seasons in many years where NASCAR TV was concerned. The topics we discussed and the issues that arose are going to certainly be what we continue to talk about over the next three months.

Before we get to that, it's time for a Thanksgiving break. So, I just wanted to say thanks to the TV gang, the NASCAR team folks and the NASCAR media relations staff for all the help and assistance this season.

Most of all, I would like to thank TDP readers for taking time from their regular lives to contribute thoughts and opinions. NASCAR fans come from all walks of life and are all ages. They have widely different opinions on the issues, but all feel passion for the sport.

I hope you have a peaceful holiday and enjoy family and friends in whatever setting you choose. TDP will return after the holiday. Feel free to use the comments section to pass along holiday greetings to others. Thanks again.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series Race From Homestead On ABC (Updated)

Update: We are leaving this post up until Wednesday evening another day after the news came out concerning the TV ratings for the Homestead event. Here is a summary:

Overnight ratings from the Nielsen Media Research company were down 11.1 percent when compared to last year’s ratings for the Ford 400 on ABC, according to a Street and Smith’s SportsBusiness Daily report.

The broadcast earned a 3.2 rating, which means roughly 1.4 million people watched the race. The Ford 400 drew a 3.6 rating last year.

The 3.2 rating is the lowest TV rating of the entire 2009 Chase for the Sprint Cup Series.

TV rating for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series have been on a steep decline since 2004. In fact, ratings for the Ford 400 have dropped 43% percent from the 2004 rating of 5.2 during that time period.

Nielson releases the final TV ratings for ABC on Thursday.

Allen Bestwick started the show with NASCAR Countdown. Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace joined him in the Infield Pit Studio.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were in the TV booth. The pit reporters were Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Garage.

The weather was good, the video and audio were solid. There were no technical problems in the telecast.

This is your final opportunity of the season to let your opinion be known about the NASCAR on ESPN team covering the Sprint Cup Series race from Homestead. Include the pre and post-race coverage in your comments.

To add your opinion of the TV coverage, click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. This is our most popular post on a regular basis. Your comments will be read by thousands of Internet users.

Thank you for taking the time this season to leave your comments on the NASCAR TV partners that covered the Sprint Cup Series races.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series From Homestead (2:30PM - ABC)

The season closes out with one big storyline and several smaller ones. Jimmie Johnson's only competition is his own teammate Mark Martin. The other story is the teams going for broke to win this last race.

One additional story is that Rick Hendrick has stayed behind in North Carolina to attend to a family member who is undergoing emergency surgery. No doubt the absence of Hendrick removes an element that the TV networks normally count on in a championship race.

Allen Bestwick brings ABC on the air for the final time this season. He is joined by Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Center. The ESPN pit reporters will be handling the interviews.

Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch have been working on the NASCAR trail all season long. They have struggled on the Sprint Cup Series races because of their limited exposure to the series. ESPN has not done many practice and qualifying sessions this season from their 17 Cup races.

This is a final moment in the sun for the team of Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. The Nationwide Series season was easy to watch, but when the team switched over to the Sprint Cup Series the wheels came off.

There is no need to recap the issues again, but things are just not working for the TV viewers with the current team in place. Expect changes in the off-season. It will be interesting to see what, if anything, changes for today's race.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Sprint Cup Series race from Homestead. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

Thanks for hanging with us this season and giving us your NASCAR TV opinions!

Live Blogging Pre-Race Shows From Homestead (ESPN2, SPEED, ESPN)

The final day of the 2009 NASCAR season brings the Sprint Cup Series race from Homestead. Before the green flag flies, three of NASCAR's TV partners will be offering hours of pre-race programming.

Allen Bestwick is going to have a very long day. He begins the morning by hosting NASCAR Now at 10AM from the Infield Pit Studio. This one hour show on ESPN2 will feature Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett. The on-site reporters are Marty Smith, Mike Massaro and Nicole Manske.

Bestwick has been the rock for ESPN where NASCAR is concerned. He has cemented his presence as the host of the race telecasts and the Monday hour of NASCAR Now from the ESPN's Connecticut studio. Expect this program to be fast-paced and themed around the Hendrick Motorsports.

NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED offers an expanded three-hour program from Homestead at 11:30AM. The network brings all it's NASCAR announcers together and offers three different sets around the track. John Roberts will host the show from the SPEED Stage with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace. Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will be in their traditional beach chairs beside the infield lake. Darrell Waltrip and Kyle Petty will be together in Victory Lane. Hermie Sadler, Wendy Venturini and Rutledge Wood are the reporters.

RaceDay struggles with some uneven segments in this longer format, but offers tons of features, interviews and conversation about the NASCAR topics of the day. Keep an eye on Waltrip and Petty. Putting those two outspoken individuals together should make for some interesting discussions. Both of them have strong opinions on various aspects of the sport and have not been shy in sharing them.

ESPN has added a special program at 1PM. Titled as a SportsCenter special, this allows the network to go live up against RaceDay. As viewers know, the networks have been cooperating this season and avoiding overlapping with live pre-race shows, but Homestead is different.

For this program, reporter Dave Burns has been assigned the task of shadowing the #48team from the time that the NASCAR garage opens. TV veteran Marty Smith has the task of following driver Jimmie Johnson from the moment he emerges from his motorhome in the infield. Bestwick will host the ESPN program that will feature his infield cast of Wallace, Evernham and Daugherty.

Ford has imported Mike Rowe from the Dirty Jobs series on Discovery to promote their products. Rowe will be featured on the special as he focuses on various dirty jobs in the Homestead garage area. His off-beat sense of humor may be just what this program needs to add a little spice to the morning.

These programs face a very fundamental issue. This season, the dominance of the #48 team has been well documented. For this final race, Johnson starts from the pole. Other than looking back on the season, the storyline is rather singular. Chad Knaus and Johnson are set to win another championship in the polite, low-key style that has come to define them.

This post will serve to host your comments on the pre-race programming before the 2:30PM start of the actual ABC coverage. 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.

TDP will offer a live race blog beginning at 2:30PM and another live blog for the four hours of post-race shows from 7 - 11PM. Thanks for stopping by this morning and sharing your opinions.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

NASCAR TV's Super Bowl

It begins at 10 o'clock in the morning and does not miss a beat until 11PM that night. Thirteen straight hours of NASCAR on four different television networks.

There will be thirty-four on-air television personalities involved in just this one day of coverage. They will offer preview shows, on location specials, studio programs, a live race and then four hours of review, commentary and discussion.

Locations involved will be the beach next to the infield lake, the SPEED Stage, the ESPN Infield Pit Studio, the ABC TV booth, the racetrack and Victory Lane. TV reporters will roam the garage, pit road and the Infield Media Center.

The Daytona 500 may welcome racing back after a winter break, but the Super Bowl of NASCAR TV is the final Sprint Cup Series race in Homestead, FL. Hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent over the previous ten months by the NASCAR TV partners in rights payments and production costs.

Now, the end product is about to be judged by the NASCAR fan base and bring to a conclusion one of the longest and most complicated TV seasons of covering professional sports in North America. Endless man hours, hundreds of thousands of airline miles and thousands of hours of live television have all played a role in shaping NASCAR's 2009 season.

NASCAR Now from ESPN2 will start and end the day. Many TV series, including that one, will end their 2009 run on Sunday. Others will provide one more show on Monday or run right up until the Sprint Cup Series banquet on December 4.

Most of the television people associated with the sport work on NASCAR only. The length of the season and the amount of travel involved make it almost impossible to work other days of the week or on other live sporting event series.

TDP will offer three live blogs throughout the day. The pre-race activity beginning at 10AM, the race coverage block beginning at 2:30PM and finally the post-race programming that runs from 7 to 11PM.

What are your thoughts on this long season of NASCAR TV as the final day approaches? What memories stand out as defining this year of coverage?

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 drop by The Daly Planet.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series Race From Homestead (ESPN2 - 4PM)

Here we go for the last time in 2009 on the Nationwide Series trail. ESPN has twelve on-air announcers coming at you for the live race from Homestead.

Allen Bestwick has done a stellar job of keeping order from the Infield Pit Studio this season. On this final race, he is joined by Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Daugherty seems to be the odd man out and the presence of Evernham certainly is interesting.

Tim Brewer is in the Tech Garage, although it is not very clear what he can say or show that has not been repeated many times this season. No doubt Brewer understands the topics he explains, but the forced nature of many of his explanations just rubs some folks the wrong way. Especially, under the green flag.

Pit road will be covered by the four ESPN reporters who have been on the NASCAR trail all season long. Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch will once again be reporting before, during and after the event. This group has responded well to the addition of Marty Reid on the Nationwide events and seems to finally be having some fun.

Reid will call the action with what appears to be a very tired Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Instead of continuing to use Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie in the booth for the Nationwide races, ESPN caved and made Jarrett and Petree do the exactly type of double-duty that Reid came in to help Punch avoid.

This race is clearly a showcase and audition for Reid. Punch has been stumbling this season and after three years things are at an all time low for NASCAR on ESPN. After cutting the IRL TV contract to only a handful of events, Reid is now clearly available for an increased NASCAR role in 2010.

Homestead is one of those tracks that needs wideshots of pack racing. The drivers search high and low for grip and speed. Like Michigan, there is racing all over the track. The Nationwide race has all kinds of unfolding storylines.

ESPN will keep one eye on the leaders and one eye on Brad Keselowski. How this driver is treated by the Sprint Cup cross-over drivers in the race will probably be the big story.

This post wil host your comments on the Nationwide Series race coverage on ESPN2 from Homestead. 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 again for a great season of Nationwide Series race chats and thanks to Jeff Gluck from for the picture.

Marty Reid's NASCAR Moment

The coronation is scheduled for Sunday. The fireworks are scheduled for Saturday. Jerry Punch will describe the solemn ceremony. Marty Reid will handle the explosions.

Last year at this time, Reid was not even a blip on the NASCAR on ESPN radar screen. He had spent the last couple of seasons moving between the NHRA and IRL coverage for the network. Reid had even trained Rusty Wallace on the IRL for an entire season before Wallace was deemed ready to debut on the new NASCAR product.

Now, Reid is in an amazing situation. Brought in this year to call the last dozen or so Nationwide Series races, Reid finds himself in Homestead with a plateful of dynamite. In one hand he has a wick and in the other a lighter.

The stars have aligned to shift the focus of NASCAR fans squarely to what is often the forgotten race of the weekend. The Truck Series title was decided even before the Friday race. Over in Sprint Cup Series land, the have-nots will be tip-toeing around the #48 team on Sunday to avoid being on the evening news for all the wrong reasons.

It is the Nationwide Series that has all the potential for the kind of old school knockdown dragout season finale that fans want to see. Amazingly, the championship will be handed to Kyle Busch once the engines are fired. It is what may happen after that point that could put Marty Reid very much in the spotlight.

The sizzling feud between the hard-charging Brad Keselowski and several of his future contemporaries in the Sprint Cup Series next season may well come to a rather dramatic conclusion once the green flag falls on Saturday's race.

In a script right out of central casting, Keselowski finds himself surrounded by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann among others. The hard feelings extend to Nationwide Series regulars like Steven Wallace, Brendan Gaughan and Mike Bliss who are watching Keselowski saddle up in a Penske ride for 2010 and leave them far behind.

Just as there are two storylines in the Chase races, the Nationwide Series will share that split personality in Homestead. TV cameras will have one eye on the racing action toward the front of the pack and the other squarely on Keselowski at all times.

Reid will step up to call the action with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. In Phoenix, Reid set the excitement level high from the start and forced Jarrett and Petree to come along for the ride. Both analysts responded with perhaps their best live ESPN telecast of the 2009 season.

From emphatically announcing each start-and-park car as they pull off the track to joyfully teasing Rusty Wallace at every opportunity, it has been made very clear that Reid marches to the beat of his own drummer.

Pulling no punches and playing no favorites, Reid often has the politically correct Jarrett on his heels where commentary is concerned. It is the quick-witted Petree who has responded favorably to Reid's fun loving nature and jumped into the deep end of the pool.

Using a classic play-by-play call, Reid is looking for a supporting cast that can offer information and expert commentary. This has been a challenge for Tim Brewer in the Tech Garage and for the ESPN production team. Several times, Reid has simply said on the air that the cameras are not following the best racing on the track.

Surprisingly, it has been the four pit reporters who have stepped up their game and gotten involved in providing the kind of updated information that Reid demands when talking about a team or driver. The corps of pit reporters have turned in some of their best performances on Nationwide Series races since Reid came on board.

Unfortunately, one topic that has to be mentioned are the possible changes in the ESPN line-up once the season is done. Over the last two years, not being able to deliver the desired results during the final seventeen Cup races of the season has already resulted in changes. Jarrett was added in the booth, Wallace was moved to the infield and Bestwick was designated as the show host.

Now, the focus is on Punch. His low-key style and deliberate approach did not catch on with the TV viewers. While maintaining his place in the hearts of NASCAR fans as "the doctor," Punch has failed as the frontman for the team. There is little doubt his role will be changed for next season.

In the harsh world of sports TV, the door is now open for Reid. An exciting and memorable telecast on Saturday may go a long way toward helping the ESPN executives in their decision-making process for 2010.

With all the potential excitement on the track and a decades of motorsports television experience behind him, Reid has an opportunity to take a major step in his new NASCAR TV career once the green flag flies at 4:45PM Saturday on ESPN2.

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

Friday, November 20, 2009

Live Blogging The Camping World Truck Series From Homestead (SPEED - 7:30PM)

Can you believe it? Here we go with the final live CWTS blog of 2009!

Homestead is the place and Krista Voda is the face who will start the SPEED TV. She hosts The Setup with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will call the action.

The trucks are under the lights on a nice night in South Florida for racing. The pictures from the NMG compound have been great to this point and the sound has been superb on practice and qualifying shows.

SPEED keeps it simple and can be expected to shine the spotlight on as many CWTS teams as possible during this final race. It should be interesting to see how the action plays out on the track and translates to the TV.

This post will serve to host your comments on the CWTS race from Homestead. 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 again for stopping by!

Frank Caliendo To Host Sprint Cup Series Banquet

The official news of the celebrity host for the banquet was released on Friday along with the musical acts and the featured comedian. Here is the media release:

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony is coming to Las Vegas and Frank Caliendo is on the pole.

Caliendo, the renowned comedian/impressionist with considerable sports crossover star power, will serve as the host of the annual post-season show for NASCAR’s premier series, Dec. 4 at Wynn Las Vegas.

Serving as the event’s emcees will be two people highly recognizable to NASCAR fans – Mike Joy and Krista Voda from NASCAR on FOX and SPEED. (The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on SPEED on Dec. 4, at 9 p.m. ET.)

Two premier musical acts will supply additional star power for the ceremony’s Vegas debut: singer/songwriter David Gray, a Grammy-nominated artist with album sales exceeding 12 million; and Escala, a female electric string quartet who emerged during last year’s “Britain’s Got Talent” television show.

Also, comedian John Pinette will return for a third-straight year to NASCAR’s post-season national series awards ceremony lineup – and his second-straight appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony.

Caliendo, who currently performs his own one man show at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, is perhaps best known among sports fans for his weekly appearances over the last six years as guest prognosticator on FOX NFL SUNDAY, but he also has a strong NASCAR connection. He was featured in several videos shown at last year’s awards ceremony and also has appeared at post-season events for both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“I’m excited to be hosting this year’s awards ceremony and look forward to a great evening celebrating the 2009 NASCAR season,” Caliendo said. “I’m on the pole but don’t worry; even though we’re in Vegas, I’m not dancing.”

Caliendo’s repertoire of dead-on impressions includes NFL broadcaster John Madden; former NBA star Charles Barkley; former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and actors Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson.

An eight-year veteran of television sketch comedy as a cast member on “MADtv” and with his own series, “Frank TV,” Caliendo has been a fixture on television for the last decade. He has comedy specials that run regularly on TBS and Comedy Central and he is a regular on the late night talk show circuit. He also was a special correspondent for Superbowl XXXIX and co-starred in the film “The Comebacks.” In addition, he recently signed a 10-year deal to headline a nightly Las Vegas act.

With the heart of folk music at his core, Gray’s mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation has established him as one of the world’s leading music artists. With a career now spanning more than 15 years and nearly 12 million album sales, Gray’s commercial success is also backed up by a critical consensus and countless accolades. Gray recently released his highly anticipated seventh studio album, “Draw The Line.” USA Today called it Gray’s “most ambitious, affecting and densely musical work to date” while Entertainment Weekly said “Gray’s sincerity and robust voice have been missed, and his new music sounds well-produced and confident.”

What are your thoughts on the host and other acts announced by NASCAR for the banquet? To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks.

Truck Series TV Team Says Goodbye

There are many interesting features on the current NASCAR TV landscape, but none is perhaps as unique as the work of SPEED's Camping World Truck Series TV production team.

Over the past three years, TDP has referred to them as "the little engine that could" and as producing the best NASCAR series to watch on TV. We have argued with Rick Allen over start-and-park trucks, howled with laughter at the Halloween costumes and watched Michael Waltrip tweet with the fans during the race.

Producer Keith D'Alessandro has put together quite a little group. To say the productions are old school is putting it mildly. His focus on the teams, personalities and actual racing is evident from the start of practice through the final lap of the race.

Over the years, Krista Voda has hosted truck series pre-race shows from pickup truck beds, desert mountains and the infield among the fans. TV viewers have seen her in the freezing weather of a February night in Daytona and standing in the pouring rain at Martinsville.

Voda is the perfect opening act for the truck series. She is knowledgeable, professional and personable. The most interesting part is that she is alone. Voda's strength is that what you see is what you get. Her fearless approach to TV comes across as someone who truly enjoys what she is doing and is simply there to get fans caught up on the news before the race.

Her cast of characters features pit reporters Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander. This duo has an amazing amount of information about the teams, drivers and personalities in the truck series. Their reporting style during a race is much more of an ongoing conversation with the crew chiefs along pit road. The bottom line is, even with just two voices, it works.

Even after several seasons as a regular in the TV booth, Waltrip is still the new kid on the block. This year has seen Waltrip settle down and put the emphasis of his excitable commentary on the drivers. Although an occasional moment of "sponsor-itis" still breaks out, Waltrip's perspective and personality have been good for both the series and the broadcast.

The team of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons is always discussed together. They have worked on this series for many years. The combination of Allen's personal passion for the competitors and Parsons knowledge of the happenings behind the scenes is a huge part of SPEED's success.

The contrast between the high tech and theme-driven coverage of the Sprint Cup Series by ESPN and the low tech race-driven coverage of the trucks from SPEED is amazing.

This season, even with the loss of several key teams and dwindling numbers of trucks actually racing, SPEED managed to grow the series TV. Through the Fox and TNT portions of the Sprint Cup Series season, the trucks fit right in.

It was only when ESPN took over the Cup coverage that the contrast in production styles of race coverage lept off the TV screen. The old school truck series approach just let things happen and then followed the action. ESPN's tech-driven coverage played back team radio conversations, replayed pit stops for analysis and reflected a race theme that had been selected in advance of the green flag.

D'Alessandro and his team stuck to their guns this year despite some challenges and in the end it paid off again. Going into the final race Friday night in Homestead they have been the most consistent and enjoyable TV team of the season.

The only thing lacking has been some additional programming support from SPEED. That issue might have been solved this week when the network confirmed that the Monday through Thursday program series NASCAR Race Hub would be returning for 2010 starting January 11.

This should finally give the truck series a true TV home for mid-week news and interviews away from the track. Ironically, SPEED seems to be gravitating toward one main host for the program. Her last name is Voda.

Have you watched the Camping World Truck Series this season on SPEED? This is a great opportunity to give them some feedback about what you liked and what you think could or should change for next season.

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

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Too Much Sunday TV At Homestead

Once late July rolls around, the remaining NASCAR TV partners are just ESPN and SPEED. They co-exist in an environment that often has them sharing TV crew members, facilities and even the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series activities.

On any given weekend, fans are just as likely to see SPEED cover practice and qualifying for the top two series as they are ESPN. Ultimately, NASCAR TV becomes a blur of first names. Larry, Dale, Jeff, and Andy are upstairs while Jamie, Wendy, Hermie and Dave are downstairs.

What fans want is coverage of the activity at the track shown to them in a clear and concise manner. The current NASCAR TV contract has fans spinning the dial like never before, but SPEED and ESPN have worked with NASCAR to avoid overlaps unless they occur when a race runs long.

One of the most interesting changes has been the move of SPEED's big RaceDay program one hour earlier. This avoided conflict with Fox, TNT and now ESPN's own pre-race show called NASCAR Countdown. Two year ago, fans had to choose between Wendy Venturini and Jamie Little as they both interviewed the same drivers on the same live shows within minutes of each other.

RaceDay and NASCAR Countdown went head-to-head in a contest that neither could win. This year, NASCAR Now's morning edition was at 10AM, which left plenty of time for two hours of RaceDay and then the ESPN/ABC pre-race show for yet another hour.

Sunday at Homestead, things are going to get interesting. First, SPEED expanded RaceDay to three hours. They have done this in the past and the results were mixed. This is the Homestead-palooza show that has ten on-air announcers and uses several different sets. Perhaps fans remember "the beach" and several lifeless comedy skits from past years.

In addition to the morning hour of NASCAR Now, ESPN has added a ninety minute special under the SportsCenter banner before the ABC pre-race show. The special will feature Mike Rowe from "Dirty Jobs" offering some glimpses of the dirtiest jobs in NASCAR. Pit reporter Dave Burns is assigned to the #48 team and veteran Marty Smith has the task of following Jimmie Johnson all day long.

Let's try to sum all this pre-pre-race TV programming up. NASCAR Now at 10AM, RaceDay at 11:30, SportsCenter special at 1PM and then another hour of the official pre-race show at 2:30PM. That's over six hours of live TV to basically talk about Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson and the weather.

The really unfortunate part is that RaceDay and the SportsCenter special overlap, so NASCAR fans have ninety minutes of choosing who to watch as the primary source of information before the race. It was assumed this problem was exactly what NASCAR wanted to avoid when they moved RaceDay to an earlier time.

While the complete NASCAR TV schedule is posted on the right-hand side of TDP's main page, NASCAR fans are going to have to make sure to plan in advance their Sunday TV viewing as the offerings from SPEED and ESPN are a bit different from the usual line-up.

The question for fans is, do you care? Opinions in the past have ranged from strong support for one specific program or network right down to the fact that pre-race shows are background noise for Sunday housecleaning duties. Are you going to take hours before the race and watch, or just join when you hear the engines fire for the race?

To add your comment on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments in this forum may be moderated. Thanks for taking the time to stop by TDP.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Race Hub" On SPEED Returns For 2010

It dropped out of the clear blue sky during the week of the NASCAR Hall of Fame selections. It came together at the last minute and looked exactly that way when it began. Now it is making some real news of its own.

SPEED confirmed to The Daly Planet Wednesday that NASCAR Race Hub would return for 2010 beginning on Monday, January 11. The final show for this season will be Thursday, December 3.

After being roundly criticized for a lack of weekday NASCAR programming, SPEED is changing its tune. This thirty minute show fills the void Monday through Thursday with a mix of news, highlights and interviews.

Let's face it. There is simply a lot about this TV series that does not make sense. Why start a new show with only weeks left in the NASCAR season? Why put tired announcers on a new assignment after nine months of hard work and travel?

If SPEED wanted to float a trial balloon, they certainly did. Beginning with bad make-up, rough lighting and awkward moments, Race Hub has settled into what fans have wanted for a long time and ESPN never delivered with NASCAR Now.

The new TV studios for SPEED are right down the street from Lowe's Motor Speedway and just a quick drive from most NASCAR shops, team suppliers and racing-related businesses. ESPN declined to establish a TV studio in the area back in 2007, opting instead to keep NASCAR Now in CT.

It only took a week or so until major NASCAR drivers and personalities started figuring out that a ten minute drive could land them on live national television. Suddenly, sponsors were being announced, issues were being discussed and "want ads" were being posted by those actually looking for a job.

Along the way, SPEED took a bare studio and started to assemble the kind of scenery usually associated with a TGI Friday's or a favorite sports bar. There is certainly still some work to do, but the purposeful statement of casual conversation and attire is clearly aimed at the suits and ties of the NASCAR Now gang.

While various on-air talent have been tried on the program, Krista Voda stands head-and-shoulders above everyone else. While she has been fun to watch on the Camping World Truck Series pre-race shows, there is little doubt that a studio environment allows her once again to show the skills that brought her to our attention in the first place.

It has also been interesting to see SPEED move the various pit reporters and color analysts through the show allowing them to get their feet wet in this format. While all are clearly comfortable, it was surprisingly Jeff Hammond who was most effective in his appearances.

Stuck for years in the Hollywood Hotel for Fox, Hammond also works regularly at the tracks for SPEED. He is an analyst for practice and qualifying, then works as a panelist on shows like Trackside. Race Hub put the spotlight squarely on him and it worked like a charm.

Just as NASCAR Now rotates reporters, hosts and panelists, there is little doubt we will see the same from Race Hub for 2010. It should be interesting to see if Voda is named as the host and the rest of the cast rotates through the series.

The end result is that NASCAR fans will now have two very different programs to view on the four days between TV coverage from the Sprint Cup Series tracks. Increasing the amount of national TV exposure for NASCAR on these days can only help to focus on areas of the sport that clearly need media attention.

If you have watched Race Hub, share with us your opinion of the show and how you feel about SPEED deciding to bring it back for the entire 2010 season. To add your opinion on this topic, just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

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

Monday, November 16, 2009

TV's Rock And A Hard Place

Well, this is it. Probably the final time for the 2009 season that we will state the case of why ESPN, The Chase and NASCAR fans are just not getting along.

"TV Troubles With Chase Easy To Understand" was TDP's column back in mid-October on this issue. Click the title to read it and make sure to scan the fan comments. They tell the true tale of the struggles with this format and getting it to translate to the TV screen.

The Fox and TNT networks have a distinct advantage in the Sprint Cup Series coverage they produce. There is no Chase, so each network is free to simply tell the story of the race and follow the action on the track. They have a single storyline to follow.

As we have seen with ESPN over the past three seasons, the biggest struggle down the stretch is to try and satisfy three different agendas on TV during each of the final ten races.

First, NASCAR fans across the nation are sitting in front of the TV and waiting to see their favorite driver. It does not matter where he is running, how he is running or if he made the Chase. Fans of a certain driver want to see that driver on TV, period.

Secondly, the actual race is underway and the dynamic of the fastest car is being played out at the front of the pack. There is a story unfolding about who can win the race and who hopes to challenge before the day is over. That has to be followed.

Finally, NASCAR created a playoff points system that demands that 12 cars be treated differently by ESPN for one simple reason. Those cars are now the only 12 that can possibly win the season championship. NASCAR has added a third storyline that trumps the first two and skews the final ten races for many fans.

Since ESPN returned to the sport, this last issue has been both the biggest challenge and the network's biggest frustration. Fans wearing Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth or Michael Waltrip gear are almost certain not to see these drivers unless they challenge for the lead or crash. Non-Chase drivers disappear when the playoffs begin and stay out of sight.

That is not what Brian France had in mind when he created the Chase. He was simply trying to put an additional spark in a sport that lost some of the national spotlight when the NFL began play. Over the last three seasons, that has not happened.

ESPN has been between a rock and a hard place and the results have been rough. The network puts the Chasers first, the race leaders second and the fans third. Rather than setting the points before the event and offering normal race coverage, ESPN skews the entire race telecast toward offering live electronic updates of the Chase points at that moment.

The problem is that this is motorsports. Bill Elliott had a commanding lead one year in Homestead only to blow a tire on the final lap. This reality shows just how ridiculous the entire "championship points right now" scenario really is on TV. Other than the final race, it makes absolutely no sense in the live racing coverage.

The key agenda of any primary sponsor on a Sprint Cup Series team is to get TV time for the car and driver. During the Chase, cars in the lead group that are non-Chasers can expect lip service at best. The agenda is Chase first and race second. How many times during this Chase have drivers cracked the top ten in a race and never been mentioned?

The foundation of the sport is the fans in their t-shirts and hats who are rooting for one team and have been doing so since February. Many have been pulling for the same driver for years. The most frequently received email at TDP is from fans who watched an entire race and are upset their driver was never updated by ESPN. How does that happen, they ask.

TV coverage has added a silent ticker that scrolls the positions of the drivers. Sometimes, it adds other information in regard to time behind the leader or laps down to the field. That software does not tell the loyal fans of Kenseth, Logano or Waltrip what happened to their driver after the green flag fell.

ESPN has used this technology as a crutch to prop-up its refusal to reset the field after cautions or at regular intervals under green. The only thing updated is the Chasers.

So, the now familiar pre-Homestead discussion has come around once again. What can ESPN do to change this downward spiral of fans of non-Chase drivers walking away once NFL football begins? The answer goes right back to the fans.

The latest NASCAR Fan Council survey contained the following questions:

Have you ever watched a race on TV with the sound turned down and listened to the radio broadcast at the same time?

In a typical season, how many races do you watch on TV with the sound turned down while listening to the radio broadcast?

Why do you watch the race on TV with the sound turned down while listening to the radio broadcast?

Those questions relate to something NASCAR fans have known for years. It is a formula used by both of the radio networks that cover the sport. Once the race begins the priorities are to call the most exciting races on the track regardless of position, update every car on the track as often as possible and then let the Chase implications come into play as the drama of the post-race.

The only way to keep all the fans watching and listening on TV is to prioritize the excitement of racing for position. Then a fan's favorite driver may pop up at any time while trying hard to get a top ten or even a top twenty position.

With Chasers and race leaders now totally dominating the audio and video portions of the Sprint Cup Series TV coverage, fans leave simply because their driver does not fit into either category. The bottom line is that what kept fans coming back is now gone; that is the fact that every Sprint Cup Series driver will be treated equally on TV.

How many of the nine Chase races did you watch? Did you leave because of other sports, turn on the radio to hear driver updates or multi-task online? If your driver is a Chaser, what did you think of the focus on only those 12 cars?

This post is not about the Chase itself, the COT or any other internal NASCAR issue. Just like the Fan Council, we are trying to get a feel before this final race of what fans think at this moment about the TV coverage. ESPN has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on this product and the results have not been what the network expected.

To add your opinion on this topic specifically, just click on the comments button below. There is nothing to join and we do not need your email. We just want your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments in this forum may be moderated.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and share your NASCAR TV opinions with us.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Phoenix On ABC

We are finally at that point. This column signals the next-to-last time that you will be able to offer your honest opinions about the TV coverage of the Sprint Cup Series. This time, the race is from Phoenix and the TV network is ABC.

Allen Bestwick started the day with NASCAR Countdown. He was joined by Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Ray Evernham. The show recapped the Chase and profiled Mark Martin. It did not touch on the Keselowski vs. Hamlin issue from Saturday.

Evernham was a late add to the panel and was on both the Saturday Nationwide and the Sunday Sprint Cup Series races. No idea why the network put him on this show.

Jerry Punch called the race with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the broadcast booth. Down on pit road were Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns. Tim Brewer was in the Tech Garage.

PIR was a race that put Jimmie Johnson and his #48 team in the spotlight. ESPN responded by theming the race coverage around Johnson, who helped by leading a significant part of the race. Cautions were few and the driving was clean.

Pictures were good, audio was solid and once again there were no technical issues with the telecast. This has been a very good area of improvement for ESPN this season.

If you would take a moment to offer your opinions on this telecast, we would appreciate it. These comments are read by many people during the week. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by, I know it has been a long season.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Live Blogging The Sprint Cup Series From PIR (2:30PM - ABC)

The storyline is going to be the troubles of Jimmie Johnson at the last race. The focus is going to be on the Chase. The same questions will be posed to the same drivers. The challenge for the NASCAR on ESPN gang will be how to generate some interest on this next-to-last pre-race show.

Allen Bestwick has been the best thing that has happened to ESPN's NASCAR coverage in a very long time. Bestwick has taken the Infield Pit Studio and made it a credible and vital piece of the TV coverage for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series.

Sitting alongside of Bestwick this season, Rusty Wallace has been exactly what ESPN wanted him to be. Opinionated, animated and emotional describe what Wallace brings to every race. Paired with Bestwick, Wallace is having the best TV season of his life.

One person who is having a rough year is Brad Daugherty. Other than a goofy feature built around food, Daugherty is pinned in the infield with little to add. This week, Ray Evernham has been added to the panel and will be providing the crew chief perspective to the conversation that should have been there all season long.

Once Bestwick and company are done, they will be passing the ball to Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Saturday afternoon, Jarrett and Petree worked on an exciting Nationwide Series race with play-by-play announcer Marty Reid. The duo was enthusiastic and opinionated from start to finish.

Now, they face a long afternoon on a relatively short track that provides lots of racing action throughout the field. Keeping up with the action and providing the excitement on this type of track is not a strength of Punch. It will be interesting to see how much Jarrett and Petree cross over and provide help with the call of the race.

On pit road will be the regular ESPN team. Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch seem to be

Fans know ESPN has overhyped the Chase for the last three years. By focusing on only the Chase cars, the network has alienated the loyal fans of other teams and driven them away from the coverage. This week, stories like Casey Mears starting in the top ten, Michael Waltrip rolling off in eleventh and Max Papis with a great qualifying spot will never be covered.

As the race unfolds, the pressure comes as the stories of the race leader begin to clash with the stories of the Chase contenders. After the Johnson crash, TV abandoned the race and continually updated the Johnson crew's efforts to rejoin the race. While some media members liked it, none of the fan emails or website comments spoke of it favorably.

Pictures from PIR are great. The scenery and the track layout makes good coverage easy to do. This track has a bridge, a dogleg on the backstretch and a wonderful hill behind Turns 3 and 4. Aerial pictures and high cameras show a wonderful scene and a full house would really add to the visuals.

"Points right now" is a phrase that makes lots of fans crazy. Interrupting the racing action to update Chase points is a TV production decision every single time. Perhaps, out of commercial, under caution or even after pit stops makes a little more sense as a time to offer this information.

In many ways, this telecast will tell the tale of ESPN's entire NASCAR season. Next week in Homestead is very different. As the final race, the production and emphasis will be clearly on the Chase Championship. It will be PIR where the ESPN team should be able to show everything they have learned this season about presenting a race in a form that fans embrace.

This post will host your comments about the coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from PIR on ABC. 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.

Thanks to Max Papis for the great shot of PIR and Rattlesnake Mountain.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eyes Turn To The Original Mr. Excitement

Jimmy Spencer recently had some changes in his TV assignments for SPEED. Spencer was added to This Week in NASCAR on Monday nights during the Chase. At the same time, he was removed from Victory Lane. That is the program that interviews the winning driver, crew chief and owner right after the race.

Spencer was replaced by Larry McReynolds, who changed the tone of the show by coming in with prepared questions that related directly to the events of the race. McReynolds also uses his notes to voice the highlights and update what viewers saw as the event unfolded.

Spencer now travels to the Sprint Cup Series tracks only to continue his role on RaceDay. That two-hour show is the franchise for SPEED on Sundays since the network does not carry any of the Sprint Cup Series points races.

Originally, RaceDay was a unique program that allowed for candid interviews, good humor and opinions from both Spencer and his fellow panelist Kenny Wallace. Now, the dynamic of the program has changed. Spencer and Wallace now take the topics offered to them by host John Roberts and make speeches to the TV cameras.

Over the last several years, Spencer has defined himself as someone who shoots from the hip on TV. His emotional rants are sometimes right on the money and sometimes so far off-base it's frankly embarrassing. Roberts often finds himself trying to offer a sentence or two when Spencer is finished to get things back on an even keel.

The positive thing about Spencer is that no one else on TV with the exception of Kyle Petty offers these types of outspoken comments. That is not to say other analysts don't have strong feelings on NASCAR topics. They just choose not to share them on TV without planning their words well in advance.

Currently, Petty is seen briefly on RaceDay in a short pre-recorded segment. His only other TV appearance is on a trivia show called NASCAR Smarts. When Kyle Petty finished his summertime tour with TNT, NASCAR lost a valuable TV voice that has not been replaced by anyone in the ESPN corps of announcers.

Saturday, Brad Keselowski continued his aggressive driving in the Nationwide Series by again ruffling the feathers of Denny Hamlin. TV replays appeared to show the kind of racing that rarely takes place in NASCAR's top series these days. Keselowksi continues to be a hard-charger who is upsetting the very drivers he will be racing with next season in the Sprint Cup Series.

The TV networks and the NASCAR media made the most of Saturday's flare-up and reviewed Keselowski's recent run-ins with other drivers. ESPN went off the air after the race and does not have another NASCAR TV show until Sunday morning. The analyst on that program is Boris Said. He cannot speak to this type of issue like Spencer.

With only two RaceDay shows remaining, Spencer is going to be channeling his "Mr. Excitement" personality as he wades into the ongoing discussion about Keselowski. Hopefully, Spencer will have put some thought toward this issue before the RaceDay program begins at 12:30PM ET.

How Spencer reacts on this topic and what comments he makes may go a long way toward setting him up for another Monday night TV show. This time, both panelists Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle are occupied with Chase duties. Spencer will be facing off with Michael Waltrip alone on This Week in NASCAR.

While there is no doubt that host Steve Byrnes, Spencer and Waltrip have known each other for a very long time, that certainly does not change how outspoken Spencer has been on this program. It has been a rocky road with Spencer challenging Knaus and Waltrip on several emotional issues, only to be quietly moved along by Byrnes.

Ultimately, the question is which TV program fits what Spencer brings to the table and uses his personal NASCAR experience most effectively? That may be what SPEED and NASCAR Media Group executives will be discussing during the off-season.

Where do you come down on this issue? Does Spencer's outspoken style work on TV or is the era that Spencer represents long gone? Since we have watched RaceDay for nine months, what have been the parts that you have enjoyed and what might need to be addressed over the winter months?

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated in this forum. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series Race From PIR (ESPN2 - 4PM)

Phoenix plays host to the Nationwide Series this afternoon. Allen Bestwick will begin the day with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at 4PM ET. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage.

At 4:30PM the race coverage will begin anchored by Marty Reid. He will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the broadcast booth. On pit road will be Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

PIR is a unique track. There is a dogleg on the backstretch, a bridge over the tack and a big mountain called Rattlesnake Hill behind Turns 3 and 4. The low angle shots are tremendous here to show the speed of the cars and the drift through the corners.

This track is spectacular from the air and also on wideshots for natural scenery. The entrance to pit road is dangerous and the race off pit road is going to be critical after a caution flag.

In the past, accidents happened so quickly that it was tough for TV to be in the right place at the right time. What helped to keep the coverage in perspective for TV viewers was medium wideshots showing groups of cars racing. The track is too small and quick for many tight shots.

This is the next to last race for this TV combo. Keep a sharp eye on Marty Reid today as he may well be auditioning for a larger role in the NASCAR on ESPN coverage for next season.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Nationwide coverage from PIR. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by today.

Take A Good Look At Marty Reid

Saturday's Nationwide Series race gets underway at 4:30PM ET. Turn up the TV a bit to hear the play-by-play call offered by ESPN's Marty Reid. His voice may just be something you'll hear a lot more of in the future.

Reid has already worked on both the IRL and NHRA packages for ESPN. He also founded CORR, an organization that sanctioned off-road racing. Needless to say, Reid has been around all kinds of motorsports where TV coverage is concerned.

This season, Reid was eased into the NASCAR on ESPN line-up to take over the Nationwide Series races in late July. The weekend of the NASCAR race from the Brickyard marked the beginning of ESPN's Sprint Cup Series coverage.

Reid coming on board allowed Jerry Punch an opportunity to focus his efforts on the Sprint Cup Series races. Earlier in the year, ESPN produced two Nationwide telecasts without either Punch or Reid. It was an experiment to allow a group of four analysts to talk casually with the fans. On both occasions, it failed miserably.

This season, ESPN has discovered that Allen Bestwick is money in the bank when he hosts the pre-race show from the Infield Pit Center. Bestwick remains live during the race, handling everything from in-race recaps to rain delays and red flag periods. In addition, Bestwick has established himself as a strong presence hosting the Monday night one-hour edition of NASCAR Now.

Although previously used in a play-by-play role by other TV networks, ESPN made a decision to keep Bestwick in his current position and bring Reid into the NASCAR world. Those decisions are not made lightly.

ESPN has a problem and they must fix it. In 2007, the network took a man who had spent many of the previous years on various college football sidelines as a reporter and put him in the high-profile position of a NASCAR play-by-play announcer.

The television package Punch took over was massive. The entire Nationwide Series season and seventeen Sprint Cup Series races. Many of those weekends included practice and qualifying sessions for one or both series. In addition, ESPN used his talents for programs from SportsCenter to NASCAR Now on a regular basis. It was clear to many at the end of 2007 that this was just too much for one person to handle.

Instead of bringing in additional help for that position, a change was made in the Lead Analyst role as Dale Jarrett joined the team. Rusty Wallace moved to the infield with Bestwick. As is usually the case, avoiding the obvious problem did not subsequently make it better.

Reid has brought a different level of excitement and enthusiasm to the Nationwide Series telecasts. He calls out the start-and-park cars, speaks freely with his analysts and enjoys the irreverent Randy LaJoie in the TV booth much more than the politically correct Dale Jarrett.

At times, Reid has expressed his displeasure with the ESPN Producer right on the air by talking about where the racing is and the camera is not. TV viewers have seen Mike Joy do the same on Fox. The fundamental belief is that the TV viewers deserve to see exactly what the fans at the track are watching. That is usually the best racing on the track, regardless of the position.

When Reid and Bestwick are teamed up on a Nationwide Series race ESPN serves up a very different final product. Despite the continual efforts by the Producer and Director to stick to a pre-scripted storyline, both announcers regularly change that focus by pointing out something going on in the race. The TV cameras must then follow.

The final weekend in Homestead is always overblown, overhyped and full of all kinds of distractions that affect the final TV product. The telecast focus swings from the leader of the race to the leader of the Chase and the only other thing viewers see a lot of is commercials. There are so many ESPN management cooks in the Homestead soup it winds up never tasting very good.

Instead, it will be this Nationwide Series race in Phoenix that may give NASCAR fans a sneak peek at what they may be hearing a lot more of in 2010 as Reid calls the event with Jarrett and Andy Petree. Bestwick will be in the infield with Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

While not all those personalities may be in exactly the same place for next season, it certainly is likely that with only a handful of IRL events on the 2010 ESPN calendar, Reid will be taking a much greater role in the live NASCAR telecasts.

TDP will be live blogging the Nationwide Series race, so please feel free to join us on Saturday afternoon as we watch this event together.

In the meantime, perhaps you could share with us your opinion of Reid this season on the Nationwide races since July. To add your TV-related thoughts, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated prior to posting.

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

Friday, November 13, 2009

Media Note: Race2Win Internet radio allowed us to talk NASCAR TV. Click here for a link to the show. No player or stream to download. Hope you like it.

Leaving this post open for comments. Currently moderating at this time, posted ASAP.

Live Blogging The Camping World Truck Series From PIR (7:30PM - SPEED)

Here we go with the next to last CWTS race of the season. Krista Voda will host the pre-race show with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander as the reporters. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will call the action during the race.

SPEED's presentation of this product is familiar and fan friendly. Last year, this was the most memorable pre-race show of the season with Krista on Rattlesnake Hill with the sunset behind her.

The action looks to be fantastic and the weather has been cooperating. This post will serve to host your comments about the CWTS race on SPEED.

To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Gentlemen, Start Your TV Remotes

After several weeks of SPEED handling the practice and qualifying TV duties, the familiar pattern of switching back and forth between SPEED and ESPN2 will begin again on Friday.

SPEED kicks off the day at 11AM ET with NASCAR Live. Following Nationwide Series practice at 11:30AM, the first click of the remote is to ESPN2 at 2PM for Sprint Cup Series practice. Click again to come back to SPEED at 3:30PM for Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series practice.

NASCAR Now on ESPN2 starts at 5PM, while CWTS practice is still underway. ESPN2 ends PIR coverage for Friday with Sprint Cup qualifying at 5:30PM. That leaves SPEED to host the only race of the day beginning with the CWTS pre-race show at 7:30PM. When the truck race is over, Trackside will then end the day for SPEED.

ESPN will use Jerry Punch on the Friday coverage with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Shannon Spake, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch are the pit reporters. Tim Brewer is in the Tech Garage.

Over on SPEED it will be John Roberts at the SPEED Stage with Hermie Sadler and Randy Pemberton as the roving reporters. For the on-track daytime activity it will be Steve Byrnes, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds up in the TV booth. Handling the interviews in the garage will be Wendy Venturini and Bob Dillner.

Krista Voda leads the CWTS team with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander as her pit reporters helping with The Setup pre-race show. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will be calling the race.

It should be interesting to see ESPN get back in the swing of televising practice and qualifying for the Cup Series. The two guests for Trackside on SPEED will be Ryan Newman and David Reutimann. The weather looks good for Friday as NASCAR starts the next to last racing weekend of the season for 2009.

Put a fresh battery in your remote or add some additional time to the DVR as NASCAR schedules are sometimes known to be a bit off at PIR. Normally, this is not a big problem for TV viewers, but with two networks piecing together coverage of one continuous day, fans trying to record coverage might find things a bit disjointed.

One final note, there has been no announcement about NASCAR adding a celebrity host to the Sprint Cup Series banquet. Currently, Krista Voda and Mike Joy are slated to handle the awards and introductions on the stage while Steve Byrnes and Jeff Hammond will handle the TV duties for SPEED.

We passed along on Thursday a Twitter note from Sirius Radio's Pete Pistone suggesting that comedian George Lopez was being mentioned as a possible celebrity host. Fans have been voicing various opinions about whether a person without a NASCAR background should be involved. TDP will keep everyone posted on Friday.

In the meantime, please feel free to add your comments about the daytime TV activities from PIR on both SPEED and ESPN2. We will live blog the CWTS event, so please feel free to join us later in the evening. The complete TV schedule for the weekend is on the right side of out main page.

We apologize for moderating comments, but from time to time things happen that force us to babysit. We like to say that it takes all kinds to make a world. As always, this is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for dropping by!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Updated Banquet And Championship Week TV News (Thurs. AM)

There are two updates at the bottom of this post. We will continue to update this story as it unfolds.

Here is the official presss release from SPEED about Champions Week:

“We welcome the opportunity to wrap up the NASCAR season on SPEED,” said network President Hunter Nickell. “The fans expect SPEED to be there for the entire season and with the addition of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, our 2009 effort will be the complete package -- from the Gatorade Duel in February to the crowning of the champion in Las Vegas in December.”

Steve Byrnes and Jeff Hammond will host SPEED’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony, with Mike Joy and Krista Voda introducing the drivers and other award winners during the ceremonies.

SPEED will open NASCAR Champion’s Week with special episodes of NASCAR Race Hub, celebrating each of NASCAR’s three national touring series on separate nights. On Friday, Dec. 4, SPEED will offer a day of NASCAR programming with a series of four special shows, entitled NASCAR Best of ’09, beginning at 5 p.m. ET.

“The NASCAR season is nearly forty weeks of immeasurable intensity for the race teams and everyone else involved in the sport,” said SPEED SVP of Programming Steve Craddock. “There are so many memorable moments … moments that raise goose bumps or simply leave you scratching your head. It is unlikely anyone saw or heard all of them, so SPEED is creating four unique shows highlighting some of these “best of” moments including passes, finishes, pit stops, crew chief calls, wrecks, radio communication, flyovers, sound bites and television outtakes.”

NASCAR Champions Week television schedule (subject to change):

Monday, Nov. 30 – NASCAR Race Hub celebrates the 2009 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion (7:30 p.m. ET)

Tuesday, Dec. 1 – NASCAR Race Hub celebrates the 2009 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion (7:30 p.m. ET)

Wednesday, Dec. 2 – NASCAR Race Hub celebrates the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion (7:30 p.m. ET)

Thursday, Dec. 3 – NASCAR Race Hub celebrates the 2009 NASCAR race season and includes coverage of the Top 12 Victory Lap Parade and other events from Las Vegas Champion’s Week leading up to the Awards Ceremony (7:30 p.m. ET)

Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Best of ’09 Volume I (5 p.m. ET)
Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Best of ’09 Volume II (5:30 p.m. ET)
Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Best of ’09 Volume III (6 p.m. ET)
Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Best of ’09 Volume IV (6:30 p.m. ET)
Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Nationwide Series & Camping World Truck Series Awards Ceremony from Miami (7 p.m. ET, taped)
Friday, Dec. 4 – NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony from the Wynn Las Vegas (9 p.m. ET, live)

Wednesday Night UPDATE: What SPEED did not disclose in the media release seen above is whether or not NASCAR itself is going to be bringing in "their own" host for the overall evening.

Remember, David Spade and Jay Mohr? This person would step aside for the specific awards and racing things, but be the Master of Ceremonies. The answer to this question was still pending at the time of this post. We will be updating this story and this info on Twitter to get it sorted out on Thursday.

We heard from a lot of fans that Krista Voda and Mike Joy mean NASCAR to them and no celebs need apply. It should be interesting to see what happens and who makes the call.

Thursday AM UPDATE: Here we go with some buzz from Pete Pistone on Twitter who says the word is that George Lopez is being mentioned as the celebrity host of the Sprint Cup Series banquet. Keep ya posted!

This is a brand new approach to what was once a Sprint Cup Series banquet buried on ESPN Classic and re-aired on delay on ESPN2. What are your thoughts on these changes?

Just click the comment button below to add your opinion, thanks!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Who Should Host The Sprint Cup Series Banquet?

TDP has been chasing NASCAR and begging for information about the big change from New York City to Las Vegas for Champions Week that ends with the Sprint Cup Series banquet. We have not had a lot of luck.

Tuesday, NASCAR issued a media release detailing that the television coverage of this season's banquet was leaving ESPN and moving to SPEED so the evening could be seen live by fans. This is happening only weeks before the event.

While we waited for SPEED to finalize some plans, fans started sending suggestions in about who they would like to see host the evening's telecast. Surprisingly, no one suggested that David Spade return. Instead, there were a wide variety of NASCAR media types, some current television personalities and even some retired TV folks whose names were offered.

Since this big jump from ESPN to SPEED, we can perhaps assume that ESPN's Jerry Punch will not be the Master of Ceremonies for the banquet. That gives us an opportunity to let you read the official information and then tell us what person or duo you would like to see that might spice up the festivities and make the evening more interesting for you as fans.

Here is the news release:

Las Vegas, Nev., is the host city for this year’s Champion’s Week festivities, which culminates on Friday, Dec. 4 with the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony at Wynn Las Vegas.

This year, SPEED will televise the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony live, from 9 p.m.-1 a.m., ET. It will re-air from 1-5 a.m. ET, on Saturday, Dec. 5, and from 1-5 p.m. ET, on Sunday, Dec. 6. The awards ceremony is the series champion’s formal celebration.

“With the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony moving from New York to Las Vegas this year, there continues to be a great deal of buzz about how things are going to be different,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “So, when the opportunity came for SPEED to be the television home for the event, it was an easy ‘yes’ from us.

“SPEED now opens the year with the Gatorade Duel at Daytona, carries it through the NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Race and NASCAR Hall of Fame ceremonies in the spring and wraps it up with the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony in Las Vegas without missing a single week of coverage.”

OK, now that everything is official, click on the comments button below to tell us who you would like to see hosting the banquet this season live from Las Vegas. As usual, this is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting and thanks again for giving us your opinion.

Monday TV Better Than Sunday?

NASCAR fans now have to program the DVR for Mondays. There are now three very interesting TV shows to watch. With only a couple of weeks remaining in the TV season, let's discuss them.

Last Sunday morning brought one hour of NASCAR Now, two hours of RaceDay and one more hour of the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. Four hours of TV that essentially covered the same stories, originated from the same track and previewed the same race.

By the time the race was run and the post-race shows were finished, thirteen hours of non-stop NASCAR TV had been on the air. No matter how interesting the stories, how good the reporters and how exciting the race that is just a lot of TV.

Mondays have become a popular destination for fans who may not have watched NASCAR on Sunday and instead rooted for their favorite NFL team. TV ratings drop sharply when the football season starts and this year has been no exception.

Veteran fans may remember when Allen Bestwick was unceremoniously dropped from his Monday night show on SPEED. Along with Johnny Benson, Bestwick was sent right out the door without a proper goodbye and without a shred of dignity. Perhaps, some TV viewers shared my opinion that Bestwick was the foundation of that show. His tough but fair hosting allowed Michael Waltrip, Kenny Schrader and Benson to do what they do best. That is talk about racing and goof around.

Now, years later, Bestwick has taken over ESPN2's failing Monday night version of NASCAR Now and built it into a powerhouse. After a year of mixing the panelists, Ricky Craven and Ray Evernham have become the new "expert panel." Adding Randy LaJoie or Boris Said makes for some laughs, but the information comes from the duo of Craven and Evernham.

This hour is tightly structured, but Bestwick seems to be slowly pulling that back to allow for more free discussion among panelists. ESPN's mindset these days is glossy perfection and NASCAR just does not fit that mold.

Evernham especially has proven to be a great source of knowledge on racing specifics, including the new cars and technology. Craven is honest and upfront about his own history in the sport. This team is absolutely what ESPN is looking for in polished and well spoken analysts who look comfortable in a suit and tie.

The new wildcard on the TV screen is SPEED's Race Hub. This Monday through Thursday thirty minute show appeared out of thin air the week of the NASCAR Hall of Fame induction announcement. To say it was thrown together is basically accurate.

Now, several weeks later, things have taken a turn. NASCAR owners, drivers and sponsors have discovered that a short drive to the SPEED studios can put them on national TV live at 7:30PM. Monday's show featured owner Todd Braun and his new Nationwide Series driver Brian Scott announcing their partnership in a conversation with co-hosts Krista Voda and Randy Pemberton.

What SPEED is doing is capitalizing on the one weakness of Monday's NASCAR Now. That show originates from Connecticut, while SPEED is right down the street from the Lowe's Motor Speedway and near almost all the NASCAR team shops.

Now that the secret is out, this week already features Ricky Carmichael, Martin and his brother Ryan Truex together and a slew of the NASCAR regional racing champions. There have already been a mix of Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series drivers on the previous shows.

Race Hub has a very good reason to gravitate toward these guests and interviews. They are followed by one hour of highlights and race discussion on This Week in NASCAR. That is a franchise for SPEED that the network is trying to restore to a dominant position on Monday night.

Steve Byrnes has settled in as host with his sidekick and show veteran Michael Waltrip. Around this duo swirls the alternating panelists Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle. Recently added for the Chase was SPEED veteran Jimmy Spencer.

The result has been a show that is as fun to watch for the interaction between panelists as the content. Waltrip has changed completely from his original TV persona and is now a staunch NASCAR supporter. This new owner/driver viewpoint drives Chad Knaus crazy, makes Greg Biffle squirm and often confuses Spencer.

Byrnes pushes the panel through the race highlights, introduces some features and then offers a preview of the next race. Along the way, topics pop-up that would never make it to the NASCAR Now screen. The lure of TWIN is the potential for spontaneous combustion at any moment.

The benefit of this diverse Monday for fans is that three very different shows produced by three very different groups look at the sport from different angles.

ESPN produces the buttoned-up NASCAR Now with slick video editing and expensive neckties. SPEED produces Race Hub with bar stools, blue jeans and on-the-fly interviews. The NASCAR Media Group produces TWIN with an agenda to review, preview and promote the sport.

Can you share with us what shows you watch and why? We have a very diverse group of readers at TDP. Our interest is how you select the Monday shows to view and what you like or dislike about them. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below.

Please remember, this is a family-friendly site so we appreciate your comments being offered without hateful speech or derogatory language. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.