Sunday, February 28, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series In Las Vegas (2PM - FOX)

The good news is that the weather has cleared and it is going to be a beautiful day in the Las Vegas area. The bad news is that the rematch of USA vs. Canada in Olympic hockey is on NBC up against the NASCAR race.

The NASCAR on FOX team has been having a hit or miss season. They missed in Daytona but rebounded in California. This week, Darrell Waltrip has been on SPEED many times covering practice, qualifying and as a panelist on the Trackside show. His behavior had been nothing short of erratic.

On Trackside, Jeff Hammond actually changed chairs to sit next to Waltrip and could be seen trying to quiet him down while fellow panelists tried to ask questions of guest Danica Patrick. When Juan Montoya arrived as the next guest, Walrip again talked constantly.

Mike Joy is a well known commodity in the NASCAR world. He can deliver stirring play-by-play and knows how to tell the stories unfolding on the track. Joy's booth partner Larry McReynolds provides information on race strategy and crew chief issues. It is left up to Waltrip to deal with the driver topics and call the replays.

Waltrip will begin the day in the Hollywood Hotel with Hammond and host Chris Myers. This week, the Slice of Pizzi feature continues with driver interviews conducted in an embarrassing fashion for the sake of comedy. The pre-race show has been struggling and the race today really needs a strong lead-in.

The FOX Director is a veteran, but the struggle between showing the field and using in-car cameras has been rough. Normally, TV waits until the field gets strung-out to use the in-cars in order not to miss any incidents or key passes. FOX has been going early to the in-cars and has been forced to replay a lot of action for the TV viewers.

Joy has been handling a big commercial and promo load of show elements that he reads from the booth. That has taken away from his commentary duties. It should be interesting to see if the FOX movie promos and the in-race videos continue. While the Digger presence is less, the commercial elements inserted into the races have been distracting this season.

The pit road reporters Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are going to be key today. Action at Vegas happens quickly and often involves more than one car. Information needs to be passed along and interviews conducted with drivers out of the race. There may be more than a few.

In a Sunday morning update, The NASCAR Insiders passed along from the track that NASCAR was putting pressure on the "start and park" cars to stay on the track and even do pit stops. You may remember that Dave Blaney's S&P car was taken last week after the race with NASCAR claiming it was a "routine inspection." See if FOX addresses this topic during the pre-race or the live race telecast.

The pre-race show begins at 2PM and the green flag flies at 3:16PM. The telecast is scheduled to run until 6:30PM ET. This post will serve to host your comments during the NASCAR on FOX broadcast of the Sprint Cup Series event 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. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Ready To Get Pizzi With NASCAR On FOX?

It was mid-September when the FOX Sports website rolled out an online show called Cubed. Produced by FOX, the original episode featured profanity, nudity and stunned most media members. FOX had promoted it as the next big thing. It was tasteless, demeaning and hateful toward women.

Here is a report from about what happened next:’s Web series “Cubed” may have pushed the line too far with its debut episode. The Web site pulled the launch episode of “Cubed” and replaced it with a much more politically correct version. Female nudity was at first pixilated and then later removed entirely. Also, some of the raunchier segments were deleted, including a discussion among the show’s three main characters about whether they would rather watch the WNBA or gay porn.

Fox Sports said in a statement, “The entire concept was always described as experimental as it is quite simply, a world first. In an experiment, things happen which are not always predicted. As one moves down the experimental pathway, it is normal to make changes and adjustments, hence the changes in the Cubed version now available.”

The most disgusting of the three cast members on Cubed is named Chris Pizzi. If you think FOX Sports backed off this concept, just click right here and make sure the kids are out of the room. It's now part of the catchy Lunch with Benefits webcast series.

Thursdays, Lunch with Benefits offers Pizzi and porn star Nikki Benz in Cubed. Fridays, it offers Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds in 3Wide. Click here to take a peek.

Pizzi and the NASCAR on FOX gang then get together on Sundays during the Sprint Cup Series pre-race shows. A Slice of Pizzi is the hot new feature being pushed by Fox this season. Click here for an example with guest Jeff Gordon.

Pizzi is from Philly and his father is the CEO of the Tasty Baking Company. The elder Pizzi preaches ethics in business as the key to his success. "I don't want to be associated with anyone who doesn't have integrity," Pizzi told a local newspaper. "Because I really believe that the number-one thing we leave this earth with is our reputation."

Jeff Gordon fans were not too pleased that their driver, already suffering with a chronic bad back, was made to tote an obese FOX Production Assistant around the studio while his pants fell off. Apparently to Fox, that was NASCAR comedy.

Now in the tenth year of covering the sport, the Hollywood Hotel act has grown old. The Digger cartoon has been retired. Apparently, Mr. Pizzi is the new flavor of the month where adding a spark to the telecast is concerned.

So, get ready for more Pizzi videos. FOX is here with the next big thing...again.

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

Mondays On SPEED About To Change

We finally received what is supposed to be the final revision of SPEED's expanded Monday night NASCAR block of programming Here is the official info:

NASCAR Race Hub will air at 7:30PM ET.

Nightly NASCAR show, set in the center of the NASCAR racing community (Charlotte, NC), pools the talents of SPEED’s extensive stable of on-air personalities to deliver a 30-minute casual visit with the sport’s hottest stars and most influential players.

Fast Track to Fame will air at 8:00PM ET.

It’s the wildest collection of talent ever assembled at NASCAR tracks. Singers, dancers, comedians and a whole lot more perform in front of three judges. The judges will be Riki Rachtman, a former rocker and host of radio's NASCAR 24/7; Hollywood talent manager Kathy L. Carter; and a weekly guest judge culled from NASCAR's many personalities. The show will be hosted by Michael Waltrip and Fox/FSN on-air talent Charissa Thompson. Fans looking to be contestants on the show should sign up for an audition at

The Racing Chef with chef Nicky Morse will air at 9:00PM ET.

Host Nicky Morse is a colorful, entertaining and talented five star Chef who will take viewers beyond the basics of grilling and tailgating. Each week, Nicky will find a variety of people to share stories, food and cooking tips. The Racing Chef will visit local establishments, prepare signature dishes and share the general love of NASCAR racing and food with the drivers, teams and fans.

Sounds of NASCAR hosted by Steve Byrnes will air at 9:30PM ET.

This all access show will give viewers the opportunity to see and hear the stories behind the race. This show will capture conversations with drivers, crews and officials not only during the race, but also during practice or qualifying sessions. It will be insightful and entertaining as viewers experience the perspective of those who participate in NASCAR. Although the racing radio conversations will present the most dynamic moments, it is the routine conversations behind the scenes which will give the show a unique texture.

NASCAR in A Hurry Monday Edition will air at 10:00PM ET.

This show recaps the highlights of Race day from the early morning through the victory lane ceremonies. It’s all the best moments edited into a fast paced review of the day. If you missed the race day, NASCAR in a Hurry get’s you caught up in 30 minutes!

What’s the Deal will air at 10:30PM ET.

Jimmy Spencer answers the often asked question around NASCAR racing, “What’s the Deal”. In a fun and sometimes teasing way, there are always a variety of events or moments which prompt you to ask “What’s the Deal”. As the saying goes, “it’s just one of those racing deals”, so goes this show. For Jimmy Spencer, it is easy to have an opinion and this show will provide a platform for him to talk to viewers/fans about NASCAR racing and other topics. Jimmy is passionate about NASCAR racing and he came from the “school of hard knocks” as he worked his way through the sport as a driver. Jimmy represents the fans who want to see their drivers put it on the line every race. His style is simple: be yourself and speak your mind.

SPEED released this information late on Friday morning. This perhaps suggests conversations continued this week about how best to put this line-up together.

TDP will update this post if any other information is available. In the meantime, what are your thoughts after reading about these new TV series on SPEED? To add your opinion on this topic, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Live Blogging The Nationwide Series From Las Vegas (ESPN2 - 6PM New Start Time)

Allen Bestwick will host the pre-race show for the ESPN2 presentation of the Nationwide Series race from Las Vegas. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

This week, Dale Jarrett is at home due to a family illness. So, Wallace will move up to the broadcast booth and call the race as well. Marty Reid will handle the play-by-play and Andy Petree will round out the team.

ESPN has the Danica elephant in the room to deal with today. This is her final race before leaving to the IRL tour for several months. Her qualifying effort was safe and conservative. So far, we have not seen the fire from Danica on the NASCAR side that we saw in her original ARCA race in Daytona.

There is also weather in the area. Rain would delay the race, but if it never gets underway a Monday event would be in order. Bestwick is the best on TV at a rain delay, so ESPN is in good hands.

ESPN continues to develop a new style now that Marty Reid is firmly in control when the racing is underway. Reid calls out the start and parks, tells it like it is and pushes the analysts for opinions. That is exactly what the network needed.

This post will serve to host your comments during the live race coverage. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks!

Danica's Last Stand

The media manipulation by Danica Patrick started with a hastily-called press conference in Phoenix, AZ. Most of the NASCAR press corps had just finished attending the Sprint Cup Series post-season banquet in Las Vegas, NV.

Having just returned home, many reporters were essentially caught flat-footed by Patrick. The announcement of her move to NASCAR was made in front of a small group and streamed live on the Go Daddy website. That is how most of the national media saw it.

Supposition began that Patrick was so naive at NASCAR, questions from veteran reporters would expose her inexperience. This format and location allowed things to be done in an environment controlled by the Go Daddy PR team. It worked.

Since the day she said yes to NASCAR, a lot has happened. Her presence forced both ESPN and SPEED to add early coverage of previously non-televised Nationwide Series practice sessions. The focus of the pre-race TV shows also switched to Patrick. But, the real action was taking place away from the racetrack.

After Daytona, Patrick snatched the television limelight from 500 winner Jamie McMurray. While McMurray was whizzing around on the NASCAR jet, Danica began appearing on TV shows now being introduced as "a NASCAR driver."

Ellen, Bonnie Hunt, CNN, CBS Evening News, Chelsea Lately, Jimmy Kimmel, On Air with Ryan Seacrest and Good Day LA were just some of her television appearances. The head-to-head duel was not even close. Patrick won the post-Daytona TV war hands-down.

The curiosity factor about Patrick was at an all time high before California. The anticipation that Patrick would continue her learning curve after a decent Daytona showing had the media abuzz. Instead, it was a difficult day capped by a Kyle Busch style walk-off at the end of the event.

Meanwhile, anticipation was still building for Patrick's third and final appearance of her spring tour. Around Las Vegas, the billboards told the story. The picture above shows what the speedway is selling. It's Danica vs. the boys.

Once Las Vegas is done, Patrick is gone from NASCAR until late June. By that time, there will have been plenty of water under the Nationwide Series bridge. Storylines will have formed, rivalries will be established and the championship contenders pegged. Patrick will not be among them, but don't feel sorry for her.

The real power of Patrick is her brand. Her marketing team is always a step ahead. Click here to see the new NASCAR vs. IRL t-shirts at the Danica racing store. Click here if you are searching for something for that special woman in your life. What's better at the beach this summer than Danica Patrick flip flops?

As we stated after the original NASCAR announcement, how Patrick performed on the track is not the key issue. Starting from scratch, with no previous stock car experience, expectations were going to be media-driven and they certainly were.

The national TV appearances that Patrick's PR team put together for her after Daytona were the key to this whole thing. Patrick made her way through each appearance focusing on one element. That was her personal brand. She was stylish, modern and feminine. No one cared where she finished. NASCAR is simply a convenient platform to reach a brand new audience of consumers.

Finally, the new Danica Patrick perfume from Boston-based company SA Fragrances will be on shelves shortly. Industry experts say it is expected to generate about 10 million dollars in sales this year alone. No idea if it comes with a free Go Daddy t-shirt.

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

Live Weather Blog For Saturday In Las Vegas

We are posting a new live blog for the NASCAR activities and TV coverage from Las Vegas on Saturday. Unfortunately, rain is in the area and threatens the on-track practice, qualifying and races.

We will also use this post to comment on the TV coverage by SPEED of Nationwide qualifying at 12PM and the following two sessions of Sprint Cup practice.

There will be a new live blog up for coverage of the Nationwide Series race on ESPN2. After Dale Jarrett experienced a family illness, Rusty Wallace will be joining Marty Reid and Andy Petree to call the race. Allen Bestwick begins the coverage with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at 4PM ET. He will be joined by Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Studio.

Please feel free to help us with weather updates and info from the track. We are also on Twitter at with live updates. To add your comments, just click the comments button below.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Phil Parsons Enjoys Some Home Cooking

During the pre-season, SPEED impressed with the line-up of guests and the quality of the interviews on the network's NASCAR Race Hub series. Produced Monday through Thursday, this thirty minute show filled the void of a weekday NASCAR news program on SPEED.

Thursday, NASCAR veteran Phil Parsons appeared as a guest. Parsons had been in the news this week after his Prism Motorsports #66 car driven by Dave Blaney had been impounded by NASCAR after a start and park appearance in California.

Click here to read an interesting article put together by Lee Spencer at the FOX Sports website. She talks about the fact that Parson's team pulled two cars into the garage and pocketed almost as much money as the seventh place race finisher.

There was also this subtle shot fired at Parsons in the Spencer story:

“It’s one thing to try to race each week,” said the manager of a team that generally finishes among the 40-somethings who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “But I think doing two (teams) to get a check isn’t going to sit very well with NASCAR.”

Across the Internet, reaction from bloggers and fans was not quite as subtle. Click here to read the Racing with Rich website story on this topic.

One fan left a comment addressing the true intentions of Parsons in Cup racing:

I have totally lost respect for Phil Parsons. Like to see him removed from the Truck Series broadcast team. He gamed the system with two chronic non-finishers in the Nationwide Series and now he’s gaming the Cup series. After five races of this crap, take away the license. Morgan Shepherd sets up his car to qualify and race. I hate to see him miss a race while the Parsons scam is profitable.

The timing could not have been better for Parsons to sit down and address these issues on SPEED's own NASCAR news program. Instead, on one of the show's most awkward sets, Parsons was standing with his shirt untucked and facing his interviewers. The look on Parson's face said it all. He was smiling.

The questions would come from Race Hub co-hosts Rick Allen and Adam Alexander. Allen and Parsons are part of the SPEED team in the Camping World Truck Series announce booth. They have been working together for years, are personal friends and even golfing partners.

Meanwhile, Alexander is a veteran pit road reporter for the same truck series on SPEED. He and Parsons have dressed-up in costume for Halloween, traveled the country together and sat side-by-side in countless TV production meetings.

What were the odds that Parsons was going to get any hard-hitting questions from these two? The answer is not very good. That answer would be correct.

"Your other job that you are involved with is as Cup owner," said Allen. "Last week they impounded one of your cars, what was the situation there?"

"Well, that was really blown out of proportion," answered Parsons. "We were the random draw that they do each and every race in the Sprint Cup Series. We had to scrap a little bit because that was the car we had intended on racing in Las Vegas."

"We actually had to prepare our back-up car," continued Parsons. "Our crew chief Bill Henderson stayed out there to do that. NASCAR is really going to accelerate their inspection process. Even as we speak, they are taking the engine out of that primary car because there are some pieces there that we need. We will be ready to go back on the racetrack Friday morning."

The next question was a logical one. Will Parsons be running the race or focusing on qualifying to start and park his two cars again? Apparently, it was too logical.

Alexander instead asked Parsons about the Las Vegas track. Parsons responded that NASCAR had one of the best races at California he had seen in a long time. He said Jimmy Johnson is peaking early and fans should expect great racing, just like California.

With that, Parsons was gone. Excused to make a flight headed West. His second Cup Series car was never mentioned. The words "start and park" were never said.

This is the first full year of Race Hub on SPEED. Instead of hiring a news-oriented personality to host the show, the network decided to rotate its existing on-air staff through this role. That decision has slowly taken the series downhill since the racing season actually started. The conflicts of interest are everywhere and it shows.

This program goes head-to-head with the NASCAR Now series on ESPN2. The ESPN offering comes on earlier in the evening and often covers the exact same ground. SPEED's idea to stand out was to bring guests in studio every day, to keep things relaxed and to make conversation about topics in the NASCAR news.

Thursday's show also featured a nice talk with Johnny Benson and Dennis Setzer about the Camping World Truck Series. Alexander also talked with SPEED's own fantasy racing expert about his picks for Las Vegas. Those were the easy parts.

The Race Hub programs get lighter on news and heavier on NASCAR public relations daily. If that is what SPEED desires, than so be it. NASCAR fans will have the ultimate say on whether or not this series continues to have a value.

As usual, they will vote with their remote. Perhaps, NASCAR may already be familiar with that concept.

What are your comments on Race Hub? To add your opinion, just click on the comments section below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated for content prior to posting. Thank you!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tuesday TV/Media Notes

Here are some topics that are up for discussion this week. They will be updated on this post if more information becomes available.

Overnight TV ratings are in for the races from Auto Club Speedway:

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race on FOX earned an overnight rating of 5.0 rating 10 share opposite the Olympics. That’s down 6% compared to last year’s 5.3 rating 8 share in a later time period. Yesterday is the lowest overnight for FOX’s Fontana race since it moved to February. (from KGKI - The Racer's Network)

ESPN2 scored 1.5 overnight rating for NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Fontana, up from 1.4 last year. (From ESPN Media Relations)

SPEED finally updated information about the new TV series called "Fast Track to Fame."

Series will debut on March 1 at 9 p.m. ET and feature a 10-episode grassroots talent search taped at stops along the NASCAR tour. It is the first major development announced since Fox Sports chairman David Hill expanded his role to include direct oversight of SPEED.

The show will be hosted by Michael Waltrip, a NASCAR owner. “I love talent shows,” Waltrip says. “I went to Hunter [Nickell, SPEED's president]and told him he should air a NASCAR talent show. He thought it was a great idea, and next thing you know, we're doing it.”

Fox/FSN on-air talent Charissa Thompson will co-host the show with Waltrip. It will feature not just wannabe singers, but also acts such as comedians and dancers. The show will tape from late February until May. SPEED plans on airing each episode as many as six times after its Monday-night original. The judges will be Riki Rachtman, a former rock star and host of radio's NASCAR 24/7, Hollywood talent manager Kathy L. Carter and a weekly guest judge culled from NASCAR's many personalities.

Click here to view the Fast Track to Fame website for information about auditions and specifics about the series.

Monday saw the normal TV line-up of NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and Race Hub on SPEED. NASCAR Now got an extra 15 minutes as the delayed NHRA event from Phoenix was updated by Paul Page in an highlight/interview format. That took only 15 minutes, so NASCAR took the rest of that 30 minute block. ESPN did an admirable job of dealing with the untimely death of a spectator at the NHRA event over the weekend as well.

Will there be an episode #3? Jimmy Spencer's series on SPEED called "What's the Deal" had its second program on Monday night. Spencer has no problem poking fun at himself, but his co-host is Ray Dunlap and that is the problem. Dunlap is not a host, he is a reporter. The result was not good.

Spencer desperately needs someone with him who gets it. Dunlap does not and gradually gets more frustrated as the program progresses. The entire idea of the show is to let Spencer vent and then mix back in the responses from the TV audience.

The disjointed product on Monday saw Spencer call people names and say stupid things, but that is the point. Having Dunlap correct him, argue with him and make fun of him does not work. This show should be peppered with viewer emails, Tweets and Facebook messages as the theme.

Spencer was unceremoniously dumped from two high-profile shows on SPEED. It seems on this program, he is getting little direction and no production help. The show this week concluded with Spencer getting Nationwide Series driver Kenny Wallace on the phone to talk about why his car and many others were never mentioned by ESPN on Saturday.

Unfortunately, Dunlap was so flustered and Spencer so confused by this point they never got around to addressing the topic. They chose instead to talk about casinos, gambling and the fact that Spencer is not in Las Vegas this week. Judging from the quality and content of this program, it might not be a bad idea for Spencer to catch a flight in that direction. He is having absolutely no luck at SPEED.

We invite your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series Race on FOX from Fontana, CA

This big track has always had a tough time drawing a crowd in recent years. The NASCAR on FOX crew took the the air with a one hour pre-race show hosted by Chris Myers. This show contained new features and had Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip alongside of Myers in the Hollywood Hotel.

Race coverage was provided by Mike Joy, Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. Pit reporters were Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren.

The event has one yellow for rain, but featured long stretches of green flag racing. Camera angles were tight to avoid showing the rather empty grandstands on the frontstretch. The race coverage had no TV technical problems and delivered solid pictures and sound.

Issues left over from Daytona were what stories and features selected for the pre-race, the use of in-car cameras and the excitement of the announcers.

On this post, we ask you to leave us your opinion of the TV telecast right after the race. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by!

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series In Fontana (2PM ET - FOX)

The popular saying is that the season actually starts in Fontana. Daytona is a unique experience, but the Auto Club Speedway is the type of track that teams will be seeing a lot over the course of the year.

For the NASCAR on FOX team, the real TV season may also start in Fontana. Daytona brings with it a level of media hype and expectations that are rarely met. Throwing in a pothole and several hours of red flag conditions did not help matters.

Chris Myers starts the day from the Hollywood Hotel with Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond inside. No clue if the A-Team van made the drive from Daytona to Fontana. This pre-race hour is hit and miss. Myers is sometimes so over the top that it turns into amateur hour. This early in the season, perhaps things will be different.

Waltrip makes the transition to the broadcast booth late in the show to join Mike Joy and Larry McReynolds for the race. Joy is the consummate professional, but found it tough to get a word in last week. A very tired Waltrip simply rambled for hours.

Larry McReynolds continues to supply outstanding information and stats during the races. What he has ended is his independent thinking. Once a tireless advocate for change, McReynolds has decided to stick with facts rather than incur the wrath of NASCAR as he did last season. This has changed the dynamic in the TV booth.

While this trio has fun in the relaxed atmosphere of cable TV while on SPEED, they high-profile NASCAR on FOX telecasts are very different. Aimed at a different audience, they result in more theatrics from Waltrip and more gimmicks from the TV director.

Keep an eye today on the use of in-car cameras. Several times at Daytona, key moments in the race were hidden from the TV viewers because the FOX telecast was showing the in-car view from a roof or a bumper. On this big and wide track, it should be interesting to see if the director chooses to cover more of the action with wideshots.

In Daytona, FOX tried to use a TV effect with four video boxes on caution flag pitstops. The results were not good. It's hard to get all that arranged as cars slip onto pit road and then roll off with different pit strategies. Catching the race off pit road is going to be a priority for this telecast.

FOX has the best pit road reporting team, they just need the opportunity to offer more updated information. There is no RaceBuddy today and no live Tweets from pit road. It will be up to the pit road gang to tell the stories of the teams on this huge track.

Rain is in the area, but folks are optimistic that the race will be run today. This post will host your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race Fontana, CA. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.

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

Darrell Waltrip Off To A Rough Start

Over the past three seasons, this blog has been filled with conversations about the on-air personalities at ESPN, SPEED and TNT. In almost every case, the measuring stick used for comparison was the NASCAR on FOX team.

The reasons were easy to understand. This is the tenth season for Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds. These three personalities were at the heart of the sport when times were good. Now they are facing a very new NASCAR reality.

By last Sunday, Joy, Waltrip and McReynolds had already done a whole lot of TV long before the Daytona 500 rolled around. The Gatorade Duels on Thursday were surrounded by coverage of Daytona 500 practice and qualifying. One week earlier the Bud Shoot Out had come calling. Waltrip and McReynolds also had additional shows on SPEED in which they were featured.

Throw in some personal appearances for FOX and it made for a very long weekend. The last thing the trio needed was an off-balance event marred by a pavement problem and fouled by hours of red flag conditions. Unfortunately, that is exactly what they got. The results were not good.

In the last couple of years, Waltrip has changed. Perhaps getting a bit older or simply more wistful for the old days, he now wears his heart firmly on his sleeve. A wide array of emotions and viewpoints on all kinds of subjects tend to come and go. Waltrip used to be a colorful character. Now he is often very busy telling others how to do things his way.

The problem with that approach is that many NASCAR fans now watching the sport were not around for Waltrip's time behind the wheel. To them, Waltrip is a TV commentator with a good sense of humor and a folksy manner. Having him explain things during a TV replay makes sense. Having him tell Sprint Cup Series teams and drivers how to do things does not.

Over the years, Waltrip had never been shy about letting NASCAR know exactly what he thinks is wrong. Fans have seen Waltrip on TV shows from Wind Tunnel to NASCAR Now telling it like it is and debating racing topics with a host of personalities.

When Waltrip spoke out strongly on a topic, it was considered news. This season, when he speaks out on a topic he is simply agreeing with NASCAR. That is a shame. Waltrip now spouts NASCAR happy talk like so many others. He is now in the club. Agree with the party line or you are branded as someone who hates the sport.

Two years ago, Waltrip met Digger. Despite the fact that racing fans could not stand the animated rodent, Waltrip loved him. During the NASCAR on Fox races, Waltrip could not get enough of telling fans just how great and funny Digger really was. It didn't take fans long to figure out why.

Digger merchandise was available through Waltrip's own website. The amount of time dedicated to Digger over the last few seasons by Waltrip was simply embarrassing. On a past episode of Trackside on SPEED, Waltrip was late for the program. When he did arrive, it was in a golf cart accompanied by a lifesize Digger character. Turns out, Waltrip had been on a TV shopping channel hawking Digger merchandise.

Despite the fact that FOX has now toned down the Digger presence, the damage to Waltrip has been done. As we said about Waltrip in (click here) our review of the Daytona 500 coverage, you cannot work both sides of the street.

That credibility crack has been enlarged by something that has influenced the sport in a very dynamic way over the last year or so. We call it social media but the reality is that Twitter has allowed unfiltered information to flow around the NASCAR world for the very first time. At Daytona, Twitter was not very kind to Waltrip.

Earlier in the week, two drivers had tweeted about Waltrip during the practice and qualifying sessions. It was not kind talk. As the red flag repairs on the Daytona track continued, Waltrip worked hard to praise the fans for not leaving the racetrack.

Simultaneously, various media outlets were tweeting pictures of fans leaving and even conducting interviews with fans who had decided to pack it in. They were reporting the reality. Waltrip was fashioning his own.

Thankfully, the final dash for the checkered flag was able to put a little zing back in what had been a very long day for those TV viewers who remained. Joy had summoned some energy for the finish but once again it was Waltrip who talked over top of his partner and left many fans with a bad taste in their mouths.

When David Reutimann bumped Dale Earnhardt Jr. toward the front in the endless game of bumper cars that is plate racing at Daytona, the world changed for Waltrip. As Earnhardt was pushed between two cars, Waltrip lost it. At a time when Joy should have been calling the race and indicating when Waltrip could step in, there was going to be no stopping the NASCAR on Fox analyst.

Luckily, Joy got just enough time to call out Jamie McMurray's name as he crossed the line. It was clear, however, that once again Waltrip had allowed an emotional outburst to get in the way of the telecast. Where Waltrip used to wait for his moment and make it count, he now simply cannot step back and let Joy have the spotlight.

If this is the scenario for the NASCAR on Fox package, then so be it. The network has every right to toe the NASCAR line, to allow Waltrip free reign and to simply say take it or leave it to the fans. Ultimately, the TV ratings and success of the sport will tell the tale as the 2010 NASCAR on FOX season rolls on.

We welcome your comment on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, hateful speech or profanity is not allowed. Please keep that in mind when posting.

There will be a live blog of the Sprint Cup Series race open at 1PM ET on Sunday. Join us here at TDP for comments on the TV coverage from Auto Club Speedway and thanks for dropping by.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Live Blogging Saturday In Fontana: Rain And Danica!

The NASCAR TV day begins with NASCAR Live on SPEED at 12PM. That network handles all the action until 5PM. Then, Allen Bestwick takes over and ESPN2 gets ready for another swing at Danica and the Nationwide Series.

Because of the impending weather and all the stories unfolding, we are going to open this live blog at 11AM and run it straight through the Nationwide Series race. We have weather updates, information directly from the track and several TDP readers who are attending the race.

Stay with us and give us your comments on this full day of NASCAR TV. 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, should be an interesting day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Nationwide Series TV Coverage Expands Again

ESPN did it for Daytona and SPEED is doing it for Fontana. In the blink of an eye, the Nationwide Series Friday practice sessions from Auto Club Speedway are now live on SPEED at 2 and 4:30PM ET. Imagine that.

It seems that the TV ratings increases from the ARCA and Nationwide Series races in Daytona did not go unnoticed by the powers at SPEED. It should be interesting to see how they present the practice coverage knowing all too well that there is an elephant in the room they must acknowledge.

Steve Byrnes hosts the 2PM practice coverage. He is paired with his regular partner Jeff Hammond but SPEED has a surprise in store for viewers. Kyle Petty will be the third man in the booth for the first session. Reporting from the garage will be Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler. No word on which reporter has Danica.

In the late Nationwide Series session, Sadler moves into the broadcast booth to join Hammond and Byrnes. The spinning wheel of reporters yields Dick Berggren and Krista Voda to cover the garage. Sadler, Hammond and Byrnes are the normal Nationwide Series team for SPEED.

The network will also slip in that other series, I think it's called the Sprint Cup. Those guys practice at 3PM and qualify at 6:30PM live. As usual, it's Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds to call both sessions. Dick Berggren and Matt Yocum handle practice while Krista Voda teams with Yocum for qualifying.

Mike Massaro and his NASCAR Now gang over at ESPN2 have a show at 6PM and SPEED's Trackside will round out the night at 8:30PM. Daytona 500 winner Jamie McMurray and driver Clint Bowyer are the guests.

ESPN was under the Danica microscope last weekend, now SPEED gets a turn for practice on Friday. The network will also handle qualifying on Saturday at 12:30PM before handing off to ESPN2 for the 5PM race telecast.

This post will serve to host your comments about this Friday on NASCAR TV. To add a comment about the coverage, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Daytona 500: The TV Aftermath

It's been a couple of days now since the Daytona 500 was telecast by the NASCAR on FOX team. Jamie McMurray has gone off on a whirlwind media tour and shown himself to be quite handy on TV. NASCAR and track officials have offered explanations on "bondo-gate" to anyone who will listen.

Click here to review the fan postings on TDP immediately after the race that focused on the telecast. Now, I'll add my opinion and let you comment.

The NASCAR on FOX team handled the Bud Shoot Out the weekend before the Daytona 500. Almost exactly the same group worked on the Thursday Gatorade Duels for SPEED as well. Both telecasts served to excite fans who were not only welcoming back racing, but were welcoming the NASCAR on FOX team into their homes for the tenth season.

What better possible way to preview the big race than by having both "heat races" come down to inches for the win. In both programs, the TV booth team of Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds reminded us just how good NASCAR on TV can truly be with their excitement level and flow of information to the viewers.

Chris Myers returned on Sunday to anchor the Daytona 500 telecast. Myers is a well respected TV professional who has hosted high profile series for networks like ESPN and the Tennis Channel. This season, NFL fans also saw him as a sideline reporter for games on FOX. Unfortunately, NASCAR calls for something a little different.

During his time in the Hollywood Hotel, Myers is an actor. After ten seasons of NASCAR, Myers must act as if he knows nothing about the sport. He must make corny jokes at the expense of others. Even as Myers hosts a sophisticated new TV series on Showtime called Inside NASCAR, on FOX he is nothing more than a court jester.

Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond know the routine. They roll their eyes at Myers during their time together. They say silly things and make funny faces. They joined Myers in acting their way through the pre-race.

It was only then that the real agenda of FOX this season was revealed. Waltrip and Hammond awkwardly made their way outside of the Hollywood Hotel. Waiting there was the new A-Team van. It was movie promo time. A theme that would dominate the coverage as it did last season.

Instantly, no one remembered what Waltrip or Hammond said about the race as they performed the goofy A-Team skit. Waltrip had turned from credible analyst to shameless shill. The bottom line is, you cannot work both sides of the street.

The in-race coverage suffered horribly from commercial placement. A full length movie trailer was played before a full length commercial and other trailers played over the racing action in a small video box on the screen. As fans noticed, commercials were placed in the racing despite the pothole delays.

Ultimately, inserting a commercial with twenty laps to go while racing under green was just heartless. Even in a race of normal length, that would have been tough to take under green. But after hours of delays and frustration, it was inexcusable.

Mike Joy has been the heart and soul of NASCAR on FOX since these telecasts began. Nothing could have prepared viewers for what happened on Sunday. In our live Twitter race chat, fans were asking if Joy was under the weather. It was that bad.

For whatever reason, Joy had a very tough day. It certainly did not help that he was trapped handling various commercial elements and promos in the event. Periods of silence from Joy while cars raced under green was a very new phenomenon. Hearing him in a monotone talking about various teams and topics instead of calling the action was also very different. Over the last three seasons, fans had taken to calling that "the ESPN approach."

One memorable thing Fox and ESPN share is the incredibly poor timing on use of the in-car cameras. Time after time, key action on the track was missed because the TV team could not resist pushing the in-car button.

Nothing brought this more into focus than the final laps. From seemingly out of nowhere, Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared and tried to squeeze his car between two others on the backstretch at full speed. Incredibly, the Fox Director took Junior's in-car camera at that moment. It showed nothing but the single car ahead of Jamie McMurray.

The biggest pass of the race had been completely missed by FOX. It was made by the most popular driver in the sport. It was made after two long red flag periods. It was made during a green/white/checker finish. It was a ridiculous TV mistake. If Junior had won the race, Fox would have missed the pass that set it all up.

During both red flag periods, the best pit reporting team on TV got busy. They began to talk to the drivers and fill time while repairs were done on the track. Eventually, the booth talent and the Hollywood Hotel crew were also used. Unfortunately, that was not enough.

As the delay wore on, fans never saw a replay of the thrilling finish of the Gatorade Duels. There was no recap of the Bud Shoot Out from the previous week. NASCAR personalities like Junior Johnson or the Wood Brothers, celebrated before the race, were never brought into the Hollywood Hotel. The endless pit road interviews simply kept on going.

Finally, after some social media urging on Twitter, a NASCAR official addressed the issue on TV. Unfortunately, it was Brian France. Standing alongside the Fox team who were neatly dressed in shirts and ties, France offered a very basic overview of the situation. It was not his words, but his appearance that was the problem.

Just like his ill-timed comments over the last several seasons on topics from Mauricia Grant to drug testing policies, France appeared wrinkled, confused and uninformed. He may be just the opposite, but that is the point. To fans watching on television, France simply looked disheveled.

NASCAR has a new policy that has been repeated to media members and drivers alike. It attempts to tie anything that is not happy or perfect into some kind of vendetta against the sport. Happy talk now fills NASCAR radio, official websites and many TV programs. Negative talk is for those who hate NASCAR.

In the TV world, NASCAR enjoyed a solid Speedweeks. We previously mentioned the Bud Shoot Out and the Gatorade Duels. SPEED's veteran truck series team had a blast calling the tight finish of that race on Friday night. Even better was ESPN's debut with Marty Reid in the booth and Dr. Jerry Punch back on pit road in the Nationwide Series race. Click here to review that glowing article.

As we all know in real life, things aren't always rosy. The Daytona 500 telecast on FOX was not. Credit certainly goes to FOX for hanging in there during the delays. But, why was this telecast so different from the other races during the week? These were the exact same announcers, the exact same cars and even the exact same track.

Maybe this weekend in Fontana will find the FOX crew settled back into the familiar rhythm fans have enjoyed for a decade. Then again, FOX may believe that everything from Daytona was perfect. These days, everything is always perfect in NASCAR land.

There is no truck race this weekend and ESPN2 gets Danica on Saturday. Chris Myers appears at 2PM ET with the NASCAR on FOX pre-race show. Green flag is 3:10PM.

Feel free to add your comments on the topics mentioned above. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button. There is nothing to join and we do not want your email. We just want NASCAR fans to have a place to express their opinions on the NASCAR TV provided in 2010.

Our website is family-friendly, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated for content prior to posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet for the fourth season.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SPEED's Monday Menu Misses The Mark

It's been a tradition for many fans during the NASCAR season. Tune in on Monday nights to see what SPEED had to offer. At one point, the network had a three hour block of NASCAR programming. Then, it shrank to just one. But, it was the right one.

The show that began as Inside Winston Cup Racing finally wound-up as This Week in NASCAR. After more than a decade of carving out a niche on Mondays, SPEED ended the series after the 2009 season. There was no goodbye, no highlight show and no happy ending. As with many changes in the television world it was awkward and left some hard feelings.

This Monday, SPEED unveiled the programming that would fill the 8PM hour. Several years ago, the network found that the NASCAR Media Group could use the footage from Friday and Saturday at the track to create an inexpensive thirty minute highlight show. SPEED called this Sunday morning program NASCAR in a Hurry.

The first half-hour of the new Monday night block is simply an extended version of NASCAR in a Hurry that includes Sunday footage. This new show even has the exact same title. With a single host at the track, the program is a rehash of the activities before, during and after the Sprint Cup Series race.

A tired Bob Dillner was the host. He was standing with the night sky behind him in Daytona. He lent his voice to introductions and what are called "bridges" that allow a highlights show to get from one piece to the next. The editors drew from SPEED shows like Victory Lane and Wind Tunnel as well as race footage and interviews.

The unfortunate part of this concept is that SPEED recently created Race Hub, a series that airs at 7:30PM Monday through Thursday. On this Monday, Race Hub aired much of the exact same footage and interviews featured on NASCAR in a Hurry.

Jamie McMurray was on Race Hub doing an live interview from Daytona USA and then magically went back in time to appear in the track's Victory Lane on NASCAR in a Hurry. While it may fit the budget, unfortunately this program wound-up making little sense in this timeslot.

The second half-hour featured the debut of Jimmy Spencer's new TV series called "What's the Deal." It might as well be called "The Rise and Fall of Mr. Excitement." Ray Dunlap drew the assignment of feeding topics to Spencer as the program's host.

The set of the series is supposed to resemble the Spencer family auto salvage business in Berwick, PA. "Welcome to the offices of Spencer Salvage," said Ray Dunlap. Unfortunately, he did not offer any more information. While some fans may know Spencer's personal history, the first episode of this show needed a much better introduction.

"You can call me all kinds of names, but I'm the fan's voice," said Spencer. He was called a curmudgeon by Dunlap, who said others described Spencer as a windbag, sourpuss or blowhard. We have seen Dunlap as a pit reporter and recently as a co-host on Race Hub. Unfortunately, it was clear from the start of this new program that he was lost.

Spencer does not know how to work on TV in this format. He does not speak in what are called "soundbites." TV likes things in small packages. Opinions make sense when they are kept to one topic at a time. Spencer is unstructured and relied on pro's like John Roberts and Steve Byrnes to keep him in check on his former programs.

Amazingly, this program also contained much of the exact same footage seen on both Race Hub and NASCAR in a Hurry. TV folks call it "B-roll" when they roll video over top of someone speaking. In this show, that was done far too frequently. The entire point of the series is to let Spencer speak directly to the fans.

It was clear from the start that Spencer and Dunlap were not in sync. Once Dunlap asked a question, Spencer went off on a rant. Some of the stream of consciousness offerings from Spencer were hilarious and some addressed serious subjects. The problem was, they were all lumped in together and Dunlap could not sort them out.

This program followed the tried and true formula of The NASCAR Media Group. Instead of featuring the new content being provided by those on the set, the programs are a whirl of racing footage, recorded interviews and slick production. It was precisely this problem that doomed This Week in NASCAR.

If Spencer is there to talk, let him talk. Just give him an experienced host whom he respects. Someone who can offer direction without criticism. Dunlap began to argue points with Spencer and the show was doomed. Let the fans give Spencer feedback.

This show desperately needs a Twitter account, a Facebook fan page and a link for fans to submit videos. Only by allowing Spencer to connect directly with the fans does the series stand a chance. It's a great opportunity for NMG and SPEED to step out of this rut of rehashing race highlights and open up to social media, fan videos and Facebook interaction.

Until Spencer is surrounded with the right TV and media tools he can sit in his junkyard and yell for thirty minutes every Monday night. The problem is, no one can yell back at him.

TDP welcomes your comments on these topics. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Wednesday TV/Media Topics

Brian France has a new video posted over at Fox Sports. Looks like early indications are that NASCAR is going to try more than ever to control his media exposure and craft the message they want delivered to the public. Click here to see the video.

SPEED has confirmed that the last two programs in the new NASCAR Monday night TV block will be The Racing Chef with Nicky Morse and Fast Track to Fame. Morse will visit tracks and interview folks, including drivers, about what they eat on the road. Click here to read the audition criteria for Fast Track to Fame. Happy to have your comments on this topic.

Chad Hurley, the high profile founder of YouTube and primary backer of the USF1 effort is today rumored to have withdrawn his support and the entire effort may be done. Click here for an updated article on this topic. SPEED's Peter Windsor is an owner of the team and the announcement of a Charlotte, NC based Formula 1 effort was highly publicized by the network. The website has nothing posted on this topic.

Finally, did you see Jamie McMurray on his whirlwind TV tour? Started out in Daytona on Monday morning and continued through Tuesday in NYC after stops that included Letterman, Regis and Kelly and SPEED's "Race Hub." Ironically, many Monday shows on ESPN from PTI to Around the Horn ripped NASCAR and Daytona for the pothole problem. Feel free to offer your opinion about their opinions.

More topics will be added to this post as the day rolls on. Click the comments button below to add your two cents!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Your Turn: Daytona 500 On FOX

This is the first post of the new season asking directly for opinions of the NASCAR On FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series. The Daytona 500 was the first race.

Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip were the trio calling the race. On pit road were Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Dick Berggren. Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond were stationed in the Hollywood Hotel.

This race started under cold conditions and ran with few problems until being stopped for a pothole on the track that developed in a turn. After a long delay, the racing started again at 5PM. The same problem reappeared and the race was stopped again. The final restart was at 6:35PM ET.

The problem with the track had nothing to do with the TV coverage. Issues like this arise from time to time. We are looking for your comments on the NASCAR on FOX team.

We offer this opportunity to post your thoughts immediately after the race and before we publish our column about the TV coverage. This is the most widely read post in our weekly line-up and has been credited with helping to get fan viewpoints across to the TV networks, NASCAR and the teams.

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. We greatly appreciate you taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

ESPN Changes Reap Big Rewards

It's been a tough three years for the NASCAR on ESPN team. After a long break from the sport and hard feelings on both sides, the gigantic media company returned to Daytona and NASCAR in 2007. It was a disaster.

Luckily, most of us have blocked memories of Brent Musburger, his pit road podium and his stick-and-ball mentality out of our minds. In one of our first blog posts three seasons ago, folks at Daytona reported that ESPN had roped-off an area to keep fans away from the announcers. That area was called The Fan Zone.

ESPN had decided it would dictate what NASCAR fans would watch. We had X Games interviews with cars whizzing by in the background during practice. We saw infield studio segments with announcers on camera while cars qualified. Fans got SportsCenter cut-ins and video race recaps while Sprint Cup cars raced under green.

The fan backlash against the ESPN production philosophy was a big part of what fueled the original growth of this blog. Fans who had never considered speaking up about the TV coverage of a sport found a place that served that purpose. As a former ESPN employee, the conspiracy theories began to fly that I had some sort of agenda.

The simple fact is this has been a three year learning curve for ESPN. It has directly affected the fans, the television ratings and the sport in general. This isn't baseball, it isn't football and it isn't basketball. NASCAR needed the kind of individual attention that ESPN was simply not willing to give.

The insanity of the 2009 Chase and ESPN's fascination with everything Jimmie Johnson was the last straw for many fans. Click here to read the final racing post for 2009 on the day after the Homestead event. Scroll down to the comments section. The anger of the fans at ESPN is amazing.

During the off-season, NASCAR spoke of making significant changes to the sport. ESPN joined that movement by making a big one. Removing Jerry Punch from the play-by-play role is something we had been suggesting for some time now. ESPN finally did it. Punch was moved to pit road and into the play-by-play role was placed TV veteran Marty Reid.

Saturday at Daytona ESPN walked into what could have been a disaster. Media darling Danica Patrick had entered the Nationwide Series race and twisted the normal dynamic of Cup veterans vs. Nationwide regulars. Now, there was an elephant in the room.

Allen Bestwick opened the one hour pre-race show by leading his team through twenty solid minutes of Danica. Then, it was over. Bestwick had acknowledged the big story, used his resources to report it and then moved on.

ESPN's pre-race show was crisp and featured Ray Evernham in the infield studio along with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. The interaction with Evernham brought out the best in Wallace. It was clear before the hour was done that those two will be key players when the network switches to Sprint Cup coverage in July.

What Bestwick delivered to Reid was multiple storylines and a challenge to keep them updated. In the past, Punch had failed miserably at keeping the excitement and momentum going that the pre-race team had worked hard to build. On this day, all that changed.

Reid's enthusiasm and ability to let everyone share the spotlight was exactly what ESPN needed. He instantly brought out the best in analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Then, he did the best thing possible. Punch was treated with respect in his new pit reporter role and it was as if he had never left.

Race coverage from ESPN in the past had consisted of poor choices by the producer and director in what to show the TV viewers. Too many in-car cameras, showing only the big names and even simply just following the leader had made the races a mess and sent fans scrambling for the Sirius radio coverage.

Saturday, ESPN made an effort to change all that. Long gone were gimmicks like Draft Track and endless appearances by Tim Brewer to point at shock absorbers. The infield studio crew did not appear on camera while the race was under green. It was clear from the start that ESPN was going to focus on the racing.

While Danica Patrick raced, she captured a slice of the coverage because of her rather unique status. Reid updated her progress, her pit stops and her radio conversations. When she exited the race, she was treated with respect and then she was gone. Her final interview answered the right questions.

Later in the race, NASCAR's most popular driver took a hard ride on his roof down the backstretch. Dale Earnhardt Jr. slid to a stop and after a moment, flipped down his window net. ESPN's correct choice of camera angles and Reid's choice of words made that moment work perfectly. It had been exciting and then everyone was OK.

Perhaps, the best part of the telecast for some was Punch. Speaking with drivers out of the race in front of the Infield Medical Center, he seemed to come alive. He asked the right questions with a passion and interest fans had never heard from him in three seasons of calling race action. Finally, the reporter had gone back to reporting.

After trying very hard to insert the new theme music from the teen rock group Comic Book Heroes, it seemed to dawn on the producer that perhaps fans would rather hear the sound of cars racing at speed as the telecast went to commercial break under green. These simple TV fundamentals changed the viewing experience for the better.

Reid never wavered down the stretch and brought the race home to an exciting finish with an energetic call. By this time, both Jarrett and Petree clearly understood their new roles on the telecast and let Reid set the pace. It worked.

This time, fans came to TDP after the race for one simple reason. They wanted to thank ESPN for finally listening. For finally understanding that the racing is the show and the network is simply there to put it on TV. There were good words for everyone involved, especially Punch. It had been a rough three seasons.

Did you watch the Nationwide Series race on Saturday? How about offering us a comment on the ESPN 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.

Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet. Follow us on Twitter or our Facebook fan page as well.

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series In Daytona (FOX - 12PM ET)

They are calling it FOX NASCAR Sunday. Basically, it's still Chris Myers, Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip from the Hollywood Hotel in Daytona.

FOX starts the Sprint Cup Series season on a cold and clear day in Florida. NASCAR has undergone several months of changes that have resulted in a solid increase in fan interest. Now, the action on the track has to live up to the hype.

The Hollywood Hotel is going to be the place for FOX to rise to the occasion. Myers has been both the best and worst of what NASCAR needs on TV. On this day, he cannot act as the "California outsider" who does not know a lugnut from a fuel cell. TV viewers need the informed and well-spoken Myers seen on other programs.

The NASCAR on FOX pit reporters are Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum, Krista Voda and Dick Berggren. This team has been together for a long time and each has worked very hard to be accepted in the sport. FOX continues to be the standard in this area.

Mike Joy has been calling the action in Daytona for a long time. His challenge this February is to help the sport get back on solid footing after a tough 2009. There is little doubt he is the right man for the job. Having already handled the Bud Shoot Out and the Gatorade Duels, the big race is in good hands.

Larry McReynolds has been keeping a low profile and limiting his comments so far this season. After a big bump in the road last year that caused hard feelings all around, McReynold is looking to have a smooth telecast. Still the most detail oriented analyst on NASCAR TV, he should be able to get himself back on track before the checkered flag.

Fan comments have been flying about Darrell Waltrip this season. He was called out by Jack Roush for negative comments about the sport. Then, Denny Hamlin said DW was always telling the drivers how to drive. The bottom line is that Waltrip has been the most high-profile analyst in the sport for a decade. Criticism comes with the territory.

DW will be clearly in the spotlight once the action begins as the story of bump-drafting begins to unfold. NASCAR is turning the drivers loose and has changed many rules since last season. From contact in the corners to the green/white/checkered finish, things are going to be very different in this race.

FOX Sports executive David Hill admitted he was wrong about the later start times. The race today will be underway by 1:20PM ET. Hill admitted he would back off with the Digger character after negative reactions from fans. Finally, Hill said there would be no online streaming of this race because that protected the FOX local stations. That really does not help fans without TV access.

This is the fourth season of offering a live TV race blog. We are looking for your comments on the FOX coverage of this event. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. Thanks and let's go racing!

Live Blogging "NASCAR Now" And "RaceDay" (9AM on ESPN2 and SPEED)

Both NASCAR news shows are going to share an hour of head-to-head competition this morning as NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and RaceDay on SPEED both go live from Daytona at 9AM. That is the ESPN team in the TV truck preparing for today's show. Thanks to then for the picture.

The new start times for the Sprint Cup races and the expanded three hour version of RaceDay put together this situation. It should be interesting.

Allen Bestwick leads the ESPN effort while John Roberts hosts for SPEED. ESPN has Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace as analysts while SPEED put Kyle Petty and Kenny Wallace together on the panel.

Ryan McGee, Marty Smith and Nicole Manske are the reporters for ESPN while Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler fill that role for SPEED.

NASCAR Now is one hour long while RaceDay is three. ESPN uses suits and ties as a dress code while SPEED is casual in branded network attire. ESPN is warm in the infield studio while the SPEED Stage is outside and cold.

This should be a great study in the same content being offered to NASCAR fans in two very different TV styles. The formal and more structured manner of ESPN and the open and casual style of SPEED.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments about both these programs. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by, make sure and join us for the live blog of the race right here at 11:45AM.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Live Blogging The Truck Series In Daytona (SPEED - 6:30PM)

The familiar team returns for SPEED to cover the only national caliber NASCAR series carried by the network from start to finish. The formula is now familiar.

SPEED has perfected the "less is more" philosophy of producing NASCAR races. Two pit reporters, Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander, cover pit road. One host, Krista Voda, handles the entire thirty minute pre-race show.

Once the race starts, Rick Allen lends his brand of excitement by calling the play by play action. Allen may be a homer, but it is very clear he feels personally attached to the teams and drivers in the Camping World Truck Series. SPEED likes the emphasis on what is going on at the front of the pack and the volume level on high.

Speaking of volume, Michael Waltrip will be stepping back into the CWTS booth to offer color commentary again this season. Waltrip keeps himself updated on the series, but sometimes has an internal battle about how to fit into a three man TV booth.

Alongside of Waltrip is Phil Parsons, also a former driver. Rather than go with the typical driver and crew chief combination, SPEED has kept these two personalities together. Most of the time, the two split the commentary and replay explanations.

The trucks have been the biggest victims of the financial squeeze. Top drivers like Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford have been forced to the sidelines. Crawford has a ride for tonight, but his future on the track this season is unknown.

It will be very cold tonight in Daytona, but the weather is clear and the trucks always look good under the lights. The SPEED producer and director team up to keep the focus on the best racing on the track and leave the hype and special effects behind.

This post will host your comments about the TV coverage on SPEED of the Camping World Truck Series from Daytona. 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!

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Live Blogging The Nationwide Series in Daytona (ESPN2 - 12PM ET)

The first Nationwide Series race from Daytona is going to be run under very cool conditions. There are fourteen Sprint Cup regulars joining the Nationwide ranks on this Saturday and in the past they would steal all the TV exposure. ESPN had become famous for featuring the big names on the coverage. This race is going to be different.

Danica Patrick has been a media magnet from her arrival in Daytona last week to run in the ARCA event. Now, she is racing in the Nationwide Series. The TV ratings for the ARCA race went through the roof and ESPN is hoping for the same. That means a good dose of Danica throughout the coverage today.

Allen Bestwick has the task of setting the tone for the coverage as he hosts the one hour pre-race show from the Infield Pit Studio. Brad Daugherty, Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham will join him. Fans watching coverage during the week saw both Daugherty and Wallace in the garage talking with Patrick during practice.

During this show, Bestwick will be using the ESPN pit road reporters for interviews. It will be during that time that viewers will discover which reporter has been assigned to the Patrick team for the race. Hopefully, ESPN will make a wise move and welcome Jerry Punch back to pit road by giving him that task.

Once live race coverage gets underway, it will be Marty Reid beginning a very long year of calling both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns and Vince Welch will all have an opportunity to call a Nationwide race this season. There are several stand-alone race weekends and Reid will also be calling the IRL races for ESPN and ABC.

Joining Reid in the booth today will be Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. These two appeared several times this week and seemed to be having a lot of fun with Reid's excitement and energy level. The race today should be a good test of how Jarrett and Petree will work with Reid this season in a very different booth environment.

Jamie Little, Punch, Burns and Welch make up the pit road reporting crew. Shannon Spake is still on maternity leave. With Punch joining the pit road gang, ESPN has already announced that Spake will be hosting some NASCAR Now shows and reporting during the week for the network as well as returning to pit road later in the season.

While ESPN has made many changes in the on-air personalities, perhaps the biggest question remains the decisions being made inside the TV truck by the producer and director. Staying with a script written before the live race has been a sticking point for three seasons of coverage. If Danica is the theme, than ESPN may remind us of the insane coverage of Jimmie Johnson offered down the stretch last season.

On the good side, once again the pictures and sound have looked great all season. No tech problems are on the horizon and the weather picture is clear of rain. Daytona is an incredible venue for TV where equipment is concerned. The in-car cameras in HD are looking wonderful again and should add excitement as the Nationwide cars move around much more than the COT machines.

We invite you to join us and talk TV today. To add your opinion on the coverage of today's race, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for starting the fourth season of NASCAR TV coverage here on TDP with us.

ESPN Looking For The Danica Factor To Continue

They come because they saw it on the TV news. They come because it's something different. They come because they are snowed-in and bored. They come because they want to see what all the fuss is about. As SPEED found out last Saturday, put Danica Patrick in a stock car and TV viewers will follow.

Now, ESPN gets a turn at the publicity machine as Patrick joins the Nationwide Series race on Saturday afternoon. Allen Bestwick will have a full hour to lead Brad Daugherty, Ray Evernham and Rusty Wallace through a pre-race show that will no doubt have a whole lot to do with Danica.

Even as the network moves through the pre-race conversations with the fourteen Sprint Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series race, the question of how to deal with Patrick is going to be a constant. ESPN has made it a habit to emphasize speaking with the "big boys" who have come to play in the Saturday sandbox.

No one may be happier to have Danica dumped in his lap than Marty Reid. Now handling the play-by-play for ESPN's NASCAR events, Reid has the tremendous advantage of also calling the IRL races for the network. His voice is the commentary heard as Patrick won her only IRL event.

This knowledge gives Reid the opportunity to reference Patrick's IRL or stock car experiences from a very solid perspective. He may need both to either explain her struggles or perhaps relate her success on the Daytona track racing in a NASCAR series.

It would only be fitting if Dr. Jerry Punch was assigned the Patrick pit. For the first time in many years, Punch has been asked to return to the very role that brought him to the attention of NASCAR fans decades ago. Chronicling Patrick may pose just the kind of pit road challenge that Punch can conquer.

The entire ESPN team had Nationwide Series practice to get up to speed on working with each other, but the Saturday race is going to be a big event. After the bad taste left in the mouths of many by the network's Chase coverage last season, this is an opportunity to wipe the slate clean and start fresh.

Deep down, the entire ESPN team knows that this one event has the potential to be a TV ratings bonanza. If Patrick can keep herself out of harm's way and finish the race in a respectable position, ESPN and NASCAR may finally have found a way to make the Nationwide Series interesting to TV viewers once again.

TDP will offer a live blog of this race, but we would like to get your comments in advance on the build-up around Patrick. 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. Thanks and we will see you Saturday at 11:30AM for live NASCAR TV chat.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Truck Race Delayed Until Saturday at 6:30PM (SPEED)

The Camping World Truck Series race has been delayed by rain. SPEED will offer the Setup at 6:30PM and the race will start at 7PM ET on Saturday. Was not going to put up a live blog for the trucks, but am told fans around the country are not really up to date on the situation.

A large front is moving through Florida today and it continues to dump rain on Daytona and the greater Central Florida area. Activity at DIS today, including the Nationwide Series qualifying, was rained out.

SPEED is live on the air and this post will let you voice your comments on the live and prerecorded programming that the network uses to fill the time.

Thanks for being patient! Looks like all the racing will be tomorrow and Sunday. Updates on the schedule will be posted right here. NASCAR still not releasing rain plans.

NASCAR TV Season Off To A Great Start

Well, what a start to the NASCAR TV season. Thursday featured a full day of coverage from both ESPN and SPEED. There were a wide variety of personalities working hard to cover the activity both on and off the track. We are going to feature some of those folks in this column and then ask for your opinion on their performance.

Pictured above are Statler and Waldorf. Those are the two muppets who sit up in the balcony and generally pass judgment on everyone below them. If you have been watching SPEED, you have seen Dave Despain and Ken Squier appearing on camera from their infield perch.

This is not to suggest for even a moment that Despain would have a somewhat cynical view of NASCAR or that Squier would sometimes hearken back to the good old days in his comments. Those two would never bicker between themselves and would probably stay focused on just one topic during their time on the screen.

Actually, during the downtime between sessions on the track or before practice begins, Despain and Squier have been hilarious to watch. No matter the weather, Despain looks grumpy and Squier does his best to poke fun at him constantly. The best part of Squier's routine is that he only uses Despain's last name in addressing him on the air. "Oh, Despain come on!" says Squier in mock disgust.

The new lightning rod for the SPEED team is Kyle Petty. Taking over on both RaceDay and Victory Lane this season, Petty has also been featured on the many NASCAR Live programs during Speedweeks. The results have been fantastic.

Petty will jump in and discuss any NASCAR topic at the drop of a hat. This former driver has seen the highs and lows of this sport in so many different ways. His work at TNT in the summer and his interest in social media have made him a fan favorite. This is about to be a very big year on TV for Kyle Petty.

It was the NASCAR on Fox team that called the Gatorade Duels Thursday for SPEED. Having Mike Joy back on the air was a big positive for the sport. Certainly, he has a definite ability to be politically correct at times, but the excitement he can generate doing play-by-play has been missed.

Joy is a master at directing traffic on the air and he shows how a smooth broadcast with many voices can be run efficiently. The chaos of the Duels, with the many scenarios underway in each race, was handled quite well from the announce booth. Joy is a trusted personality and having him set the tone for the season has been a big plus.

The line from ESPN's Marty Reid was very simple. As the play-by-play announcer, Reid did what is called a "throw" down to pit road for a Nationwide Series report. That was the easy part. The hard part came when Dr. Jerry Punch took a deep breath and started his new life as a NASCAR pit road reporter.

Following a cycle that saw him stay with the network when NASCAR left, Punch became a well respected college football sideline reporter. When NASCAR returned, Punch was inserted into the play-by-play role for ten months of non-stop coverage, including the Chase for the Championship. It never clicked.

This season, he is back home where he distinguished himself and helped to grow a grassroots sport into a national phenomenon. Veteran fans remember Punch jumping in to save the life of Rusty Wallace after a violent crash near pit road. Punch was there in the sweltering heat of a Darlington summer day and almost single handedly helped many Americans come to know a rough and tough driver named Earnhardt.

Nothing could help this TV season get back on the right track more than the revamped NASCAR on ESPN team clicking right out of the box. After three years of changes, frustration and embarrassment this may be the year that ESPN finally delivers.

Friday night, Michael Waltrip will be calling the truck series race as a color analyst. Waltrip appeared Wednesday on the debut of Inside NASCAR on Showtime, where he is a panelist. He also called truck series practice and qualifying sessions for SPEED this week.

Thursday, during the Gatorade Duels, Waltrip appeared in his firesuit in the Hollywood Hotel and joined Krista Voda and Jeff Hammond on camera. Waltrip cried when he made the Daytona 500 as a result of another driver's finishing position in the second race. Waltrip had crashed in the first.

After this Sunday, Waltrip will not be in a firesuit on TV. He will not be in the Hollywood Hotel. He will not be in the truck series booth. There are no races for several weeks. His TV exposure will be a mid-week late night talk show on a small premium cable network.

Love him or hate him, Waltrip has been a consistent TV presence for over a decade. It should be interesting to see how things sort out for both Waltrip and his fans as the reality of his new situation sinks in.

Please take a moment to offer your opinion on the topics above. As this is a family-friendly site, all we ask is that you refrain from foul language, hateful speech or political references. There is nothing to join and we do not need your email. We just want your opinion.

To add your post, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Live Blogging RaceDay and The Gatorade Duels (SPEED - 1PM)

After some practice coverage, SPEED offers NASCAR RaceDay and then the Gatorade Duels. RaceDay starts at 1PM and runs for one hour until the race coverage starts.

There is a new line-up for RaceDay this season with Kyle Petty stepping in for Jimmy Spencer. John Roberts hosts with Kenny Wallace on the panel. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the reporters.

Petty has already changed the program with his personality and outspoken presence. Unlike Spencer, Petty has learned to speak his mind without insulting the personalities involved in the sport. Kenny Wallace is still trying to adjust to Petty's presence on the program.

It will be Krista Voda stepping in and taking the place of Chris Myers in the Hollywood Hotel as SPEED hosts the Gatorade Duels at 2PM. Voda has been a steady presence at SPEED for years now and the host role has proven to be her strength.

Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will call the racing action. Joy had a great performance on the Shoot Out and should be pumped-up to relate the many storylines of the teams in the Duels. While there are plenty of teams that will not need to race hard, the stories of those who must race their way into the Daytona 500 should make for a solid telecast.

Fox boasts the best pit road crew in the business with Dick Berggren, Matty Yocum and Steve Byrnes. With Voda in the Hollywood Hotel, these three reporters will have to hustle to cover the stories of the two races.

Don't forget that offers RaceBuddy free of charge for both of the Duels. This online program offers multiple video and audio sources with social media programs like Twitter and Facebook right on the main page. Click here for the direct link to RaceBuddy on

This post will serve to host your comments on both RaceDay and the Gatorade Duels. To add your TV and media-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by!

RaceBuddy Returns For Gatorade Duels

One lasting memory from the six TNT summer races last season was the online application called RaceBuddy. Simply an Internet program available to all computer users, RaceBuddy lets fans sample more than just the single TV presentation of the races.

This application was created and is owned by the Turner Interactive Group from Atlanta, GA. Since Turner also owns the online rights to all NASCAR video and audio, RaceBuddy is something that must be provided by Turner. In other words, pay Turner to provide the service or no RaceBuddy.

Thursday, RaceBuddy returns for both Gatorade Duel races starting at 2PM ET. You can access this feature by clicking here. RaceBuddy is easy to use and once you get the hang of it, really makes watching a race a lot more fun.

The program has multiple cameras from which to choose, including some not seen regularly on the broadcast. "Battle cam" is a camera that simply moves to the best racing on the track regardless of position. "Pit road cam" is always available to show pit stops of cars that might not make the TV show.

In addition to multiple video choices, there are also several team scanner audio selections. This allows the team audio that once again might not be selected for TV to be enjoyed by viewers choosing to listen. This feature worked well during the past season for TNT.

Finally, RaceBuddy bundles social media programs like Twitter, Facebook and MySpace together to allow users to close those individual windows and simply use RaceBuddy as a complete social media platform. About the only thing it does not have is email!

RaceBuddy is ad supported, so there may be short 15 second commercials played once and a while during the event. But, the bottom line is that the entire feature is free and fun to use.

This week, both the NASCAR on Fox and the ESPN TV executives held conference calls. Both networks confirmed that RaceBuddy would not be a part of their network coverage in 2010. Although talks were described as ongoing a couple of weeks ago, it appears that an agreement to bring this application to all of the Sprint Cup Series races could not be reached.

In this age of evolving technology and social media growth, an application like RaceBuddy is a positive for all the parties concerned. TDP will live blog the Gatorade Duels and include your reactions to using this online application.

Until then, please leave us any thoughts or comments you have on RaceBuddy. 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. Thanks!