Wednesday, June 30, 2010

"Inside NASCAR" Faces New Challenges

There are lots of things happening in NASCAR TV where studio shows are concerned. SPEED has just expanded Race Hub to an hour in length four nights a week. ESPN2 has a one hour NASCAR Now Sunday night review show that returns in July. That puts five hours of NASCAR Now on the air each week.

The Showtime gang producing Inside NASCAR has their own unique challenge. By the time Wednesday night rolls around, over eight hours of TV programming focused on reviewing the previous racing weekend has already aired on other networks.

This leaves an interesting set of TV circumstances. First, the race highlights have already been seen. Second, the relevant topics have been discussed. Finally, the NASCAR personalities involved have already been interviewed.

In responding to this situation, Showtime turned to social media. Inside NASCAR's Facebook page has over 115 thousand fans. The show's Twitter account carries a running stream of comments and pictures as the show is being put together leading up to the Wednesday taping.

NASCAR Now and Race Hub are still struggling to figure out social media and fan interaction. Neither show has more than 2200 Facebook fans. Tweets are random and rarely interactive.

Wednesday, Inside NASCAR is going to welcome Jimmie Johnson as the featured guest. Johnson will be answering fan questions solicited through social media by the producers on Monday and Tuesday. What a nice and simple way to get fans together with top drivers and personalities.

Kyle Petty will be the second guest. Petty is promoting TNT's 3D venture this weekend. Showtime has no obligation at all to promote another network, but this series has been very consistent in selecting guests and topics that focused on the sport in general.

Chris Myers hosts Inside NASCAR and luckily he left his Hollywood Hotel act back in California. When he is working in Charlotte, Myers is the kind of focused TV interviewer that fans know from shows on ESPN and the Tennis Channel.

Brad Daugherty, Michael Waltrip and Randy Pemberton have turned out to be an interesting mix of personalities as they make up the show's expert panel. While each of them is packing some NASCAR baggage, that does not seem to be an issue for Showtime.

This show is appealing visually, unlike the very formal NASCAR Now and the sometimes rather scattered Race Hub. Veteran director Mike Wells is consulting on this series and his impact has been felt. Wells was ESPN's original NASCAR race director and now handles the TNT races in the current TV package.

As with most television series, there is always a frustration or two. Showtime has no plans to offer the series a la carte to non-Showtime subscribers. As we documented in earlier columns the Showtime universe is small, much of the content is adult and subscription costs vary widely depending on the cable or satellite distributor.

After all that has been asked of Johnson over the last few days, it should be interesting so see what different issues the Showtime team will cover and what questions were submitted by the fans.

The original airing of this program is 10PM ET each Wednesday, but viewers should check the local listings as the shows repeat several times. Happy to have your comments on this program. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below.

This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Tough Sell For Daytona 3D Coverage

TNT announced last week that there would be a 3D experiment at the Coke Zero 400 in Daytona. As most sports fans have heard, 3DTV is coming and several media companies are actively involved in developing that technology.

The race telecast is Saturday night at 7:30PM ET. The 3D video was originally going to be made available only through DirecTV and the website. To view it, fans will need a 3D computer monitor or TV. Yes, you also have to wear the glasses. DirecTV has been at the forefront of distributing 3D sports coverage.

Since that time, three big cable system operators have joined the project. Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks will offer the 3D feed on selected cable systems. This really shows the interest of the big cable companies in this new technology.

“One of our goals here at NASCAR is to continuously explore ways to improve the viewing experience for our fans,” said Jay Abraham, COO of the NASCAR Media Group. “Offering the Coke Zero 400 in 3D on NASCAR.COM and select television distributors is a great example of that consistent exploration. Our fans have been asking us about 3D for several months so we’re excited to deliver that to them for the first time ever in what will likely change how NASCAR is consumed moving forward.”

“At Turner Sports we pride ourselves on innovation through testing, learning and exploring new products and technologies that can better serve our audiences on a multitude of platforms,” said Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports EVP and COO. “We see this as an opportunity to showcase our marquee primetime race in Daytona through our signature Wide Open format on TNT, as well as to learn more about 3D through this unique presentation online at NASCAR.COM and through DIRECTV.”

What Abraham and Daniels are talking about is the fact that 3D seems to be the next big thing. ESPN is actively involved in 3D for other sports, but has denied any 3D plans for NASCAR this season. More than likely, moving forward with complete 3D coverage for any race would have to be a financial issue shared by several parties.

Turner operates and has a working partnership with the NASCAR Media Group that includes video content. This is probably the only race of the season that would make sense for a 3D experiment.

The way this project was explained is that there will be two different 3D channels for the race. Turner explains the first as "strategically placed cameras around the track designed to maximize the effect of 3D." Perhaps, those would be the low-angle "speed shots" that fans are used to seeing.

The second 3D feed will be a designated camera on pit road. Shown above is the TNT jib camera that hangs out over pit road and has been part of RaceBuddy since the network first rolled out that online application. Perhaps, this will be the camera location where a 3D perspective would make the most sense.

As we all know, the curious part of this entire project is that 3D television sets are rare. Looking at prices continues to reinforce the belief that spending over two thousand dollars for a base model 3DTV is not really on the minds of many Americans right now.

As we move forward with more specific information on the Daytona 3D project, we will pass it along. On one hand, it certainly is an interesting step forward in new technology. On the other hand, it's a curious decision to allocate time and resources in this direction when NASCAR TV is struggling with ratings and credibility.

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 stopping by.

SPEED Jumps In Deep End Of The News Pool

The folks at SPEED have a very good relationship with the NASCAR Media Group (NMG). Both companies are located in Charlotte, NC. In fact, SPEED moved to that city with the goal of becoming a fulltime NASCAR TV network. It never happened.

Instead, NMG has spent years producing most of the NASCAR content seen on SPEED. The shows from the SPEED Stage, NASCAR Hot Wired and the Race in 60 series are from NMG. Since NASCAR controls its own footage, NMG has a virtual lock on producing the NASCAR TV content.

Monday, SPEED finally takes a step in the right direction. After years of side-stepping the issue, SPEED has decided to put the time and effort into creating an independent NASCAR news presence. At least, that is the theory.

NASCAR Race Hub will be a one hour program seen at 7PM ET Monday through Thursday for the rest of the racing season. The network has not released the plans for the series during the off-season.

The network tried Race Hub in a thirty minute version, but it just did not work. Instead of news the program was a mix of softball interviews, pro-NASCAR analysis and NMG provided highlights. After three hours of review programs had already aired on SPEED Sunday night, Race Hub wound-up missing the mark during the week.

Recently, FOX Sports chairman David Hill was given direct control of SPEED. Since that time, many things have changed. Hill is actually pro-NASCAR despite his antics with Digger, Pizzi and race start times.

What Hill also does is embrace outspoken on-air personalities. This has been the hardest thing for SPEED to provide in this era of tight NASCAR control on content. Unlike ESPN's NASCAR Now series that has several reporters dedicated to NASCAR, Race Hub has no reporters and a steady stream of different hosts.

Starting Monday, everything changes. SPEED needs to establish a news presence with a regular cast of on-air characters dedicated to providing the latest information gathered that day. This is SPEED jumping into the big boy end of the news pool.

Steve Byrnes and Krista Voda are the most experienced studio hosts currently on the SPEED staff. In just a couple of weeks, ESPN takes over both the Cup and Nationwide Series coverage. This should provide some free time for Byrnes who normally hosts SPEED's practice and qualifying coverage. Voda continues to host the truck series pre-race shows and co-host The Speed Report.

If SPEED can get these two veterans to establish a NASCAR news presence, the rest of the show will fall into place. It's great that NASCAR personalities come into the studio, but interviews need to touch on the issues in the news whether good or bad.

Sirius, PRN and ESPN all use members of the NASCAR media corps as guests. Race Hub has yet to learn that lesson. It's not more of Larry McReynolds, Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond that fans need to see. The news should come from those who report it regularly. The remaining handful of fulltime reporters working in NASCAR news are almost all based in Charlotte. It only makes sense to hear from them.

Other than a phone call to Wind Tunnel, SPEED has failed to maintain any real on-air contact with NASCAR fans. Race Hub has a golden opportunity to use technology and social media to get the fans actively involved in this program on a daily basis.

As with all TV series, Race Hub will have to grow into this new one-hour format. Hopefully, the creative minds at SPEED will now finally have an opportunity to put their stamp on an original program series.

What would you like to see featured on Race Hub? Behind the scenes video? Jimmy Spencer's "crying towel?" Fan phone calls and tweets? Weekly updates from SPEED's pit reporters? A fan cam? There are lots of possibilities.

To add your comments on this topic, 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.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From New Hampshire On TNT

The TNT gang covered New Hampshire with one hour of pre-race and then live green to checkers TV.

Lindsay Czarniak anchored the pre-race with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds. The Pride of NASCAR featured Dale Inman. Czarniak took a ride with Jeff Burton, Wally's World talked flat track and Denny Hamlin was the on-set guest.

Adam Alexander called the race with Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the TV booth. Matt Yocum, Phil Parsons, Ralph Sheheen and Marty Snider reported from pit road.

The race featured the typical style of flat-track racing that features the inside cars bumping the outside cars under green. The tempers were rising, but the race was less than exciting in terms of content for the TV team.

The normal amount of start and park cars ended the day early, but TNT continued to avoid this issue in much the same manner as the SPEED truck series gang. Pit stop coverage was standard, but green flag stops still throw a wrench into this coverage.

There were no technical problems, the weather was clear and the race ended as scheduled. TNT again left the air prior to the scheduled broadcast time without following up some stories from the race. Those were reported on the post race show which uses the TNT staff.

This is your opportunity to offer post-race comments on the TV 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 stop by The Daly Planet.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From New Hampshire (12PM ET - TNT)

This is the final TNT tune-up before the network's big show at Daytona on Saturday night. The New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been known as a single-file flat track, but later today it might be called the payback track by the media.

Tempers are tight and a superspeedway looms next week, so paybacks are on the agenda and making headlines in the media. Lindsay Czarniak starts the TNT coverage at noon ET with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds on the panel. Petty injured his leg on a kayak trip this weekend. Look for the TNT crew to bring that up.

Dale Inman is the subject of the Pride of NASCAR feature. Denny Hamlin is the on-set driver interview. Wally's World will provide a course description. Lindsay Czarniak takes a ride with Jeff Burton.

Adam Alexander will call the race with Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. alongside. Matt Yocum, Phil Parsons, Ralph Sheheen and Marty Snider will report from pit road.

The challenge of the TNT team will either be to create excitement from what has been a traditionally boring race or try to keep track of the "have at it boys" paybacks that may start early in the event. Kind of interesting not knowing what might happen after the green flag waves.

Loudon works great on TV. The low angle shots show the speed while the in-car cameras are super for the tight racing. A straight pit road makes for a good triple-split on the caution flag pitstops that are normally a key to the race.

While Sonoma lent itself to the commentary from Dallenbach, it will be Petty who is in the lead this week on a flat one-mile track. It has been ten years since Kyle's son Adam Petty lost his life in a pre-race accident at this facility. Petty stated earlier that it was on his mind. It certainly should be.

This TNT crew has been smooth but affected by the tough hand-off from FOX. Low TV ratings have been dogging the series this season. Perhaps the threat of drivers mixing it up instead of driving for points will bring some fans back to the TV today.

This post will serve to host your comments about the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Sunday TV Notes

Things get underway early on Sunday as both SPEED and ESPN2 offer NASCAR programs at 8:30AM.

Mike Massaro hosts NASCAR Now on ESPN2 with reporters Angelique Chengelis and Marty Smith checking-in from New Hampshire. Meanwhile, Larry McReynolds hosts NASCAR Performance on SPEED with Chad Knaus, Bootie Barker and Doug Richert.

At 10AM, Jimmy Spencer returns to RaceDay for two hours of pre-race programming live from the SPEED Stage at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. John Roberts hosts with Kenny Wallace on the expert panel. Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler are the reporters. Darrell Waltrip returns to this program next week.

TNT opens with the Countdown to Green pre-race show at noon ET. Lindsay Czarniak hosts with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds. Czarniak takes some laps around NHMS with Jeff Burton while Denny Hamlin joins the gang in the infield for an interview. The Pride of NASCAR feature will focus on Dale Inman, the legendary crew chief for Richard Petty who won seven championships.

The popular RaceBuddy online application returns as does the Million Dollar Challenge. Both of these are accessed through the website and are free. No one has yet won the million dollars, which involves picking the top ten finishers in order. No info yet on which driver will carry the RaceBuddy in-car camera.

Adam Alexander has been coming into his own during this first swing at handling the play-by-play for the TNT races. This week, the challenge of the flat New Hampshire track is going to be huge. There is little passing, the pit stops tell the story and in the Sprint Cup Series tempers are hot after Sonoma.

Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. give Alexander lots of room to operate. Unlike the NASCAR on FOX gang, the two analysts stick to commentary and opinion. This has really helped Alexander to get comfortable quickly. Things seem to be falling into place quite well with Daytona right around the corner.

The TNT crew will again move to after the checkered flag for some extended post-race live programming. This can also be accessed by clicking on the RaceBuddy button on the homepage.

SPEED will offer The Speed Report at 7PM with Leigh Diffey and Rick Allen co-hosting. At 8PM it will be John Roberts with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace on Victory Lane. The night ends at 9PM with Wind Tunnel where Dave Despain's guests are Jamie Allison, the Director of Ford Motorsport and SPEED's own F-1 guru Steve Matchett.

We will live blog the Sprint Cup Series programs on TNT, please feel free to use this post for comments on any of the Sunday morning NASCAR TV programs. To add your 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.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From New Hampshire (2:30PM ET - ESPN)

ESPN is chocked full of programming right now and none of it includes NASCAR. This weekend, the only time ESPN will be involved with the Nationwide Series is for the actual race coverage. Practice sessions and qualifying were carried by SPEED.

Allen Bestwick kicks-off the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30PM. He will have Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty alongside in the Infield Pit Studio. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage.

This is another Danica moment for ESPN. On Friday and early Saturday, SPEED completely downplayed Patrick's presence and treated her fairly but without favor. It should be interesting to see how ESPN approaches this topic in the pre-race and event coverage.

Jarrett will be moving upstairs to the broadcast booth and joining Marty Reid and Andy Petree for the race. Dr. Jerry Punch, Vince Welch and Dave Burns will be on pit road. Rusty Wallace, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little have the weekend off.

This is a flat track that is a test of patience and tires. The TV producer may be praising the double-file restarts and pit strategy before the day is done. In-car cameras work well because there is so little passing under green.

TV coverage on the caution flag pitstops is going to be key, as this is perhaps where the majority of the passing for position will be taking place. This has certainly been a key television issue in the past.

Once again, the familiar scenario may unfold where several of the Sprint Cup Series drivers could dominate. NHMS normally rewards the teams that start from the front of the NNS races.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN coverage of the Nationwide Series race from New Hampshire. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Friday, June 25, 2010

TV Networks Dealing With Danica Again

It was an interesting time when Danica Patrick first began driving Nationwide Series cars for JR Motorsports. There was fan curiosity, media doubt and some incredible attention from the NASCAR TV partners.

Now, Patrick is back for another swing at racing the big cars. SPEED and ESPN both get to deal with this elephant in the room over the weekend. SPEED begins on Friday as Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond call Nationwide Series practice from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway at 10:30AM ET.

After a break for Sprint Cup Series practice at 11:30AM and then lunch, the Nationwide cars come back for final practice at 1:30PM ET. Once again, it will be Byrnes, Hammond and McReynolds.

The garage reporters for both Nationwide practice sessions on Friday will be Phil Parsons and Ralph Sheheen. These are the two guys who will be facing the task of dealing with the Danica marketing and PR machine at the track. Since SPEED is the live TV network, they get first crack at Patrick after she gets out of the car.

SPEED will also present a NASCAR Live show between sessions at 1PM ET. If you cannot watch the practice, this thirty minute program will be a good way to get updated on what is going on at NHMS. John Roberts is hosting with Randy Pemberton alongside. Hermie Sadler and Bob Dillner will handle the reporting.

Here are some other TV notes for the weekend:

Jimmy Spencer is back in New Hampshire for SPEED. He will be on the Sunday 10AM RaceDay panel and will then appear on Victory Lane at 8PM ET with John Roberts and Kenny Wallace. Kyle Petty is off working for TNT.

Speaking of TNT, the network announced that Time Warner, Bright House and Comcast have signed on to carry TNT's 3D coverage of the Coke 400 from Daytona. As we know, in order to see the 3D effect you must watch on a 3DTV and also wear the famous glasses. More details on this next week.

SPEED announced that Thursday, July 1 will be the day the network announces the nominees for the 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame class. That will be done at 8PM ET during a special presentation of Race Hub. Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Mike Joy and Ken Squier will all be hosting from various locations for this TV special. You may remember that SPEED is the official TV network of the Hall of Fame.

We will use this post for your comments on the topics above as well as the live blog for Friday NASCAR TV. To add your comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Sprint Cup Owners Continue In TV Roles

It's been a topic here at TDP since 2007. Starting with the day that the first blog post was published, there have been strong feelings about current Sprint Cup Series owners who are actively involved in shaping the sport on TV.

This week, the lead news story was Marcos Ambrose. His self-induced problems at Sonoma kept him from winning the race. Ambrose was gracious enough to speak with several reporters after the event, including TNT's Marty Snider on the live telecast.

Wednesday, Abrose was a guest on Showtime's Inside NASCAR program. The series is hosted by Chris Myers and features veteran journalist Randy Pemberton on the panel. The other two members of the TV cast are very familiar to Ambrose. Brad Daugherty is his team owner and Michael Waltrip supplies his cars.

Earlier, Daugherty appeared on ESPN2's NASCAR Now. Host Mike Massaro made sure to preface his questions by asking Daugherty to either put on his owner or TV analyst hat. That made the interview passable, but it was awkward at best.

This is the first season in NASCAR for Showtime. They have the Inside NASCAR series being produced at the Hall of Fame studios owned by NASCAR in downtown Charlotte. There is little doubt that NASCAR also "helped" the network to select a nice group of on-air announcers that met NASCAR's desires.

Waltrip is remembered by many for being on the longest running NASCAR TV series in history. Under several titles, the Monday night hour on SPEED ended its life as This Week in NASCAR. It had two or three panelists and one host. They reviewed highlights, talked about topics and had some fun.

Inside NASCAR has a new set, a new host and a new TV network. Unfortunately, that has not calmed some folks in the fan base. The popular belief is that NASCAR just stirred the soup a little bit and served up TWIN to Showtime with some new faces.

The show has been entertaining, but Showtime is just not the right network for the series. A small TV universe for Showtime of only 17 million homes makes the percentage of those that tune-in for Inside NASCAR very small.

Daugherty and Waltrip have a track record on TV, but both have also decided to make a go of it as owners in the Sprint Cup Series. Having Jack Roush and Rick Hendrick on the Inside NASCAR panel every week would make folks uncomfortable. How is it then different with Waltrip and Daugherty?

The bottom line is that Waltrip and Daugherty risk affecting their ownership situations in the garage when they directly offer critical comments on other teams, drivers and crew chiefs. On the TV side, there is no doubt that during the course of a ten month season there are going to be moments were critical comments are called for due to the circumstances.

Ambrose is a nice guy, has a good perspective and will be fine. The real issue is that in these situations Daugherty and Waltrip are forced to toe the polite NASCAR party line instead of trying to draw more facts and emotion from an interview subject like Ambrose. There is simply too much on the line.

Inside NASCAR has found that Pemberton is a gem of information and strong viewpoints. The network has also found that Daugherty is not. Waltrip continues to try and cover all the bases as a strong advocate of NASCAR in almost every situation. It's an interesting mix.

If you had an opportunity to watch the program, how about telling us your feelings on this issue from that perspective. If not a Showtime subscriber, have your issues changed on the NASCAR owner on TV topic? Is it just a part of the sport? Can fans just tune-out the politically correct comments?

With the recent appearances of Rusty Wallace in the ESPN TV booth and Phil Parsons on pit road for TNT telecasts, even more NASCAR owners are actively shaping the way fans see the sport on TV. It begs the question if this is really fair?

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

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

ESPN's Randy LaJoie Suspended

ESPN studio analyst Randy LaJoie was suspended on Tuesday by both NASCAR and ESPN.

Here is the NASCAR statement:

Randy LaJoie, a crew member for the No. 18 team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

On June 11, LaJoie was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2010 NASCAR Rule Book.

ESPN did not issue a statement, but LaJoie was not present on the Monday NASCAR Now program on which he had been scheduled. The network confirmed on Tuesday that LaJoie had been suspended indefinitely.

LaJoie got out ahead of this issue in a series of media releases and interviews. He began by talking to Dave Moody on the Sirius Speedway radio program.

"I screwed up," LaJoie told Moody. "NASCAR tested me the day when I wanted to go spot for someone at Nashville. I already have two NASCAR licenses, but they said I needed a spotter's license, and that included taking a drug test. I took the test, and got a call a few days later, saying I had tested positive for marijuana."

LaJoie admitted to smoking marijuana in the infield campgrounds at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in the party atmosphere following the Coke 600 in May.

This was his statement on that topic:

“My use of marijuana was an isolated incident following the Coca-Cola 600,” he said. “I plan to follow the recommendations of the substance abuse counselor and suggestions of NASCAR and hope that someday I can prove to NASCAR and all the people with whom I associate that I have taken such steps to see that instances such as this do not reoccur.”

Finally, LaJoie said he would not challenge NASCAR on the issue:

"I take full responsibility for my actions and respect NASCAR's decision. I wish to apologize to my wife and family first, to NASCAR, to my fans and the various media companies for which I work."

While LaJoie was snared in a NASCAR trap meant for just this purpose, it is still not clear why a drug test done specifically for NASCAR has any bearing on his ESPN television presence.

ESPN is owned by ABC, which in turn is a Disney company. Needless to say, LaJoie failed a drug test for individuals who desire a NASCAR license in order to participate. LaJoie was working for Joe Gibbs Racing as a spotter on a one race contract. LaJoie did not fail any type of ESPN employee drug test.

LaJoie is an important connection to the Nationwide Series for ESPN. That family of TV networks carries all of the Nationwide Series race from start to finish in a TV package that still has years to go. LaJoie's personality, perspective and opinions have served the network well since he came on board.

Perhaps you could give us your opinion of this situation and whether you feel LaJoie should continue to be on ESPN as a NASCAR personality. 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 for stopping by.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

SPEED Expands "Race Hub" To One Hour

The saga of the only NASCAR news show produced by SPEED continues to unfold. The network announced Monday that beginning June 28 the Monday through Thursday Race Hub program will expand to one hour in length.

It was very clear before the season that SPEED had goofed with the original thirty minute format. ESPN's NASCAR Now uses an hour on Sundays to preview and an hour on Mondays to review the Sprint Cup Series races. While the Tuesday through Friday NASCAR Now shows are only thirty minutes, the emphasis of the Bristol, CT gang is very different.

SPEED made it clear from the start that the focus of Race Hub was to exploit the network's Charlotte, NC studio location that is just a short drive from almost all of the major NASCAR teams. SPEED has made good on this promise with a parade of NASCAR personalities from president Mike Helton to rookie drivers in the truck series.

Thirty minutes of TV is only about twenty-two minutes of actual content. Chop that up with four commercial breaks and what is left is five little pieces of program. Now that SPEED has committed to a hour, that brings a much more flexible platform for a new program format.

Just like ESPN's SportsCenter, SPEED can now set up regular features on the Monday through Thursday Race Hub shows. In addition to bringing some added sponsorship, there are all kinds of possible content ideas. Social media feedback, fan photos, video replies to Jimmy Spencer and a featured crew member of the week are just a couple suggestions. The possibilities are endless.

Hopefully, SPEED will also work on revamping the Race Hub studio. All this standing around in blue jeans is getting a bit old. Some new set pieces are needed in support of the much larger one hour effort. It should be interesting to see what emerges.

In front of the cameras, there have been some surprises. In terms of studio analysis, Ray Dunlap and Jeff Hammond have been super. Dunlap has mixed it up with the truck guys and does not pull punches when he is talking about issues. Hammond has been great in the spotlight and shown a very different side than the one fans see on the FOX telecasts.

Recently, SPEED has been trying Jimmy Spencer in his curmudgeon role on the program. Spencer needs a little more structure and guidance, but his personality is the kind that drives fan feedback and that is exactly what the series needs right now.

Finally, it's time for a host. A lot of the SPEED on-air talent have taken a turn hosting and it's not hard to see who fits in this format and who does not. Veteran fans know the studio show backgrounds of Steve Byrnes and Krista Voda. Other favorites include Wendy Venturini and Ralph Sheheen. Someone has to take the lead and hosting four hours of NASCAR TV every week in primetime is a pretty nice job.

It's great that SPEED has made this commitment. Now, it's time to see if they can step up and offer hard news and opinion instead of more NASCAR marketing and PR. That is always the temptation, especially in this highly-charged media "happy talk" world that exists.

There is absolutely no reason that the expanded Race Hub cannot quickly become the flagship NASCAR news program that SPEED has needed for years.

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 stopping by The Daly Planet.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Daytona's Coke Zero 400 Goes 3D At DirecTV and

We have been talking about the rapidly expanding appeal of 3D to the sports television marketplace. Until today, the NASCAR TV partners denied any plans to use 3D technology this season. Well, the folks at Turner have changed all that.

Here is a portion of the release from Turner, NASCAR and the NASCAR Media Group:

NASCAR Media Group and Turner Sports announced today that NASCAR’s first foray into 3D programming will take place on July 3, 2010 with a special presentation of the Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola (TNT, 7:30 p.m. ET).

The 3D production, NASCAR’s first ever, will be made available through TNT RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM (NASCAR.COM/RaceBuddy3D) as well as through DIRECTV, and will complement a special television presentation on TNT, highlighted by the network’s groundbreaking signature Wide Open format.

NASCAR.COM will feature 3D feeds for the Daytona race in addition to the mosaic of HD-quality complementary unique camera angles available on TNT RaceBuddy on NASCAR.COM (NASCAR.COM/RaceBuddy) throughout the six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races televised on TNT.

Turner, which manages NASCAR.COM, will also make the Sprint Cup Series race from Daytona International Speedway available in 3D through DIRECTV. In order to experience the event in 3D, viewers will need a 3D TV or PC display with matching 3D glasses. Fans can go to to get more information about the hardware and software used to view the 3D production online.

“One of our goals here at NASCAR is to continuously explore ways to improve the viewing experience for our fans,” said Jay Abraham, chief operating officer of NASCAR Media Group. “Offering the Coke Zero 400 in 3D on NASCAR.COM and select television distributors is a great example of that consistent exploration. Our fans have been asking us about 3D for several months so we’re excited to deliver that to them for the first time ever in what will likely change how NASCAR is consumed moving forward.”

The 3D production on NASCAR.COM and DIRECTV will feature two custom racing feeds produced specifically for 3D. The first will provide a unique look at the racing action from strategically placed cameras around the track designed to maximize the effect of 3D. The second stream will bring the mayhem of pit row into the third dimension creating a one-of-a-kind visual experience.

“At Turner Sports we pride ourselves on innovation through testing, learning and exploring new products and technologies that can better serve our audiences on a multitude of platforms,” said Lenny Daniels, Turner Sports EVP and COO. “We see this as an opportunity to showcase our marquee primetime race in Daytona through our signature Wide Open format on TNT, as well as to learn more about 3D through this unique presentation online at NASCAR.COM and through DIRECTV.”

Well, that is an interesting first step into the world of 3DTV for NASCAR. There will be much more information coming along and we will update this page when it does. In the meantime, get those 3D glasses for Daytona!

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.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Sonoma On TNT

We knew it was going to be interesting and it was. The TNT telecasts from Sonoma used to be boring disasters when anchored by Bill Weber. Sunday, it was Adam Alexander's turn at anchoring this road course race.

CNN Headline News anchor Robin Meade, pictured above with Kasey Kahne, sang the National Anthem. NFL great Roger Craig was the grand marshal.

Lindsay Czarniak anchored the Countdown to Green pre-race show. She was joined by Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds. Jimmie Johnson was the live infield guest. Parnelli Jones was profiled on Pride of NASCAR. Wally's World offered a course description.

Several DISH customers reported a lip sync problem during the pre-race. This means that the audio being heard by viewers did not match the video.

The weather was good, the pictures were outstanding and the telecast was accompanied by RaceBuddy. The online companion worked well, providing four camera angles and a pit reporter to computer users.

Alexander had his hands full with Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the TV booth. Both of them were more talkative than ever as the rough road course action unfolded. Dallenbach has a long road racing resume and this was perhaps his opportunity in this package of six races to take the lead analyst role.

Petty continued to answer Twitter messages online during the race. Several pit reporters also used social media to updates fans while the social media platform on RaceBuddy was jammed full of users.

The race featured rough driving, hot tempers and even a red flag period. It was perhaps not exactly the best showcase for the talent of the Cup drivers.

We welcome your comments on the TNT 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 stop by.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series In Sonoma, CA (2PM ET - SPEED)

It's road course time as the Sprint Cup Series travels to Sonoma, CA for an event at the Infineon Raceway.

Lindsay Czarniak hosts the pre-race Countdown to Green show with Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds on the TNT infield stage. Jimmie Johnson is the guest interview. Parnelli Jones is the subject of the Pride of NASCAR feature. Wally's World features a course description.

Adam Alexander returns to call this race, his first road course event in this role. Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach will be alongside. On pit road will be Matt Yocum, Marty Snider, Ralph Sheheen and Phil Parsons.

This event can be interesting or incredibly boring. Either way, the TV crew has to work hard to follow the racing action on the track and the strategy stories unfolding on pit road.

The elevation changes make the track tough for TV, but a good rhythm from the director can make the laps fun to watch. Aerial shots are great on this track and low-angle speed shots are actually great under green flag conditions.

There are often cars out on very different fuel strategies. This is also the track where pitting just before a caution comes out can change the entire race for one team. It's a road course.

This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from Infineon Raceway. 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 stopping by.

Sunday TV Notes

Here is a quick snapshot of the NASCAR TV topics for Sunday as the Sprint Cup Series races at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA:

Darrell Waltrip returns at 12PM ET on SPEED's RaceDay program. This week Hermie Sadler will be sitting on the SPEED Stage as series regular Kenny Wallace was racing in Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon. John Roberts will host the show with Wendy Venturini reporting.

TNT's pre-race show called Countdown to Green has really pushed RaceDay to drop the goofy antics and ratchet things up a notch. It seems ironic that RaceDay regular Kyle Petty is featured on the outstanding TNT program. Last week's show was perhaps the best Sprint Cup Series pre-race show in years.

This Sunday, TNT will offer Lindsay Czarniak, Petty and Larry McReynolds on the "infield rig" once again. The Pride of NASCAR feature is on Parnelli Jones, a racing legend. Petty's Ponytail Express will feature a visit to chef Guy Fieri's restaurant Johnny Garlic's in Santa Rosa, CA.

Several years ago, we called out TNT when they offered poorly shot and edited episodes of the Wally's World feature. Some genius decided to record all six at Pocono Raceway and then tell TV viewers it was other tracks.

These days, TNT and Wally's World has come a long way. Now, the features are shot in the off season using a green screen that superimposes Wally Dallenbach Jr. in all kinds of unique and often humorous settings. TNT advises that this week Dallenbach will be all over the Sonoma track offering his unique version of a course description.

Each week the TNT crew asks one Sprint Cup Series driver to join them during the pre-race and this week it will be Jimmie Johnson. Having an interesting season to date, Johnson may well be looking to get things back on track in his home state.

After the race, TNT will once again be crossing over to to webcast an extended post-race show. Last week, the network left TNT some 25 minutes before the scheduled end of the TV timeslot. Plenty of drivers were not interviewed and plenty of stories from the race were never told. It should be interesting to see how things go at Sonoma.

ESPN does not return with the Sunday night version of NASCAR Now until the network takes over the Sprint Cup Series coverage in late July. Instead, it will be the familiar three hour block of motorsports on SPEED beginning at 7PM ET.

The Speed Report is currently the best motorsports program on television. This Sunday, Leigh Diffey and Rick Allen are hosting. Diffey is coming off a fabulous performance calling the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Allen works well in this scripted studio format and has become a big asset to the network in this role.

Jeff Hammond makes an appearance on Victory Lane at 8PM. John Roberts hosts the show and Hermie Sadler will be the second panel member. Last week, Hammond was outstanding on this program while Kenny Wallace struggled. Hammond seems to thrive on being put in live situations and making conversation. With Kenny Wallace away, it should be interesting to watch this trio in action.

Finally, Don Hawk is a name that evokes strong reactions from many in the NASCAR community. The former president of DEI is now an executive with Bruton Smith's Speedway Motorsports Inc. Hawk is the featured interview at 9PM with host Dave Despain on Wind Tunnel.

It's been reported that SMI is about to make changes to the Sprint Cup Series scheduled dates at the SMI tracks. The issue is that no one seems to know what those changes are. Despain's conversation with Hawk on that issue and others should be one to watch.

TDP will live blog the Sonoma race at 2PM ET. You can follow us on Twitter or Facebook by clicking the links on the main page. We welcome your comments on the topics above. Just click the comments button to add your opinion.

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

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Live Blogging Nationwide Series At Road America (ESPN2 - 3PM ET)

Saturday is going to feature some interesting TV from of all places, Wisconsin. The Road America race course in Elkhart Lake is playing host to the Nationwide Series.

ESPN2 chose not to cover the practice or qualifying sessions. This means that fans are going to get their first and only peek at the NNS cars on this monstrous four-mile road course layout during the actual race.

Allen Bestwick is going back to his roots with ESPN on this telecast. In his early days, Bestwick handled hosting the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show and then called the races for the stand-alone Nationwide Series events. Saturday afternoon at 3PM, he will do that once again.

Dale Jarrett is off, so Rusty Wallace will be joining Bestwick for the telecasts. There is no Brad Daugherty this week, so Andy Petree will also wear two hats. Down on pit road will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro.

Massaro has spent most of this season doing his best Bestwick impression. Massaro is one of two fulltime hosts of NASCAR Now. In this role, he hosts from the studio and also travels to races as a reporter for the daily series. Fans have also seen Massaro breakout the old firesuit and fill the role of a pit reporter during select live races.

Bestwick seems to be very excited about this event. His enthusiasm makes it even tougher that ESPN and NASCAR could not get together to get at least the qualifying televised or streamed online. A lot of good and very unique NASCAR content was left on the table.

Road America came late to the schedule, replacing yet another racetrack having financial troubles. The layout features the kind of gravel traps primarily made for lighter and perhaps faster vehicles. There is little doubt that several of the NNS cars will bring out a full course caution after being "beached."

The race gives ESPN and the BSI group an opportunity to break-out the "foot-cams" on several of the drivers. Once again, this is the type of content that would work well in a RaceBuddy style online application for fans. It would allow the main feed to follow the racing while allowing fans to really see the skill it takes to handle these cars on a big road course.

Bestwick is a solid professional, while Wallace has been up and down this season. Personal feelings have always interfered with the way Wallace presents himself on the air. Anger is never more than a moment away and it's not hard for veteran fans to see through some of the smokescreens Wallace tries to set-up.

Since 2007 Petree has been ESPN's forgotten man. Flying under the radar, he has dealt with trouble in the TV booth that has meant a new play-by-play announcer and a new lead analyst. Through it all, Petree has delivered consistent and informed commentary that features a healthy perspective on the sport.

We will use this post to host your comments before, during and after the Nationwide Series race on Saturday afternoon from Road America on ESPN2. To add your comment, just click on the comment button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

TNT May Remember The Summer Of 2010

TNT came into the 2010 summer six pack of races loaded for bear. The Turner organization brought all it's TV toys. A feature-packed online video program, popular analyst Kyle Petty and a breath of fresh air on the production side greeted fans.

Lindsay Czarniak settled-in as the infield host and nice guy Adam Alexander made his NASCAR play-by-play debut live in front of a national television audience. Race two of the package came from the Michigan International Speedway.

The pre-race show was crisp and loaded with great features, interviews and comments. Alexander, Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the TV booth had fun, entertained and poured their energy into the telecast.

RaceBuddy worked great and even showed the infamous debris that brought out the final caution flag. The TNT producer stayed on top of the stories. The director chose the right pictures to show the audience. Everything just clicked.

Thursday brought the TV ratings information for the event. Here is an excerpt of the summary from Sports Media Watch:

Sunday's NASCAR race from Michigan drew the lowest ratings in at least 13 years.

The Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 from Michigan drew a 2.9 U.S. rating and 4.3 million viewers on TNT Sunday afternoon, down 12% in ratings and 15% in viewership from both last year (3.3, 5.1 mil) and 2008 (3.3, 5.1 mil), and down 9% and 17%, respectively, from 2007 (3.2, 5.2 mil).

This marks the lowest rated edition of the race since at least 1997 and the least viewed since at least 2001.

Additionally, this is the first regularly scheduled NASCAR race to dip below a 3.0 U.S. rating since last year's Tums Fast Relief 500 on ABC (2.9).

Of the 13 regularly scheduled NASCAR races this season, Sunday's race is the ninth to have a decline in ratings versus last year.

Despite the lower numbers, Sunday's race was still the top sporting event of the week on cable, in a week that featured six World Cup matches on ESPN*. Overall, the race was the week's tenth-most viewed cable program.

Some of those statements are tough to take after watching TNT put on a very good show using the right TV bells and whistles. There were no technical problems, there was no rain delay and the Sprint Cup Series drivers put on the best show possible.

This time of the year, there is Major League Baseball underway on all the regional sports networks. The World Cup began last week on various ESPN outlets. The NBA has been in an exciting playoff series for the league championship.

Still, the fundamental issues is that television did its part last Sunday. TNT offered a solid broadcast that worked the available on-track action and storylines from green to checkered.

What do you think is the real reason for the decline in TV ratings for the Sprint Cup Series this season? 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 for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

SPEED's "Race Hub" At A Crossroads

There have already been a lot of changes to the new Race Hub series that SPEED airs Monday through Thursday at 7:30PM. Essentially, this is SPEED's answer to the daily NASCAR Now show that ESPN began back in 2007. At that time, SPEED wanted nothing to do with a daily NASCAR news show.

Wednesday, Rick Allen hosted the program. The network continues to rotate personalities through this position rather than hire a fulltime host for the four day a week series that runs for ten months of the year.

While Allen is an outstanding voice for the Camping World Truck Series and works well in the scripted environment of The SPEED Report, he is an alien in the world of the Sprint Cup Series where he has virtually no experience or point of reference.

Allen's interviews with Marcos Ambrose and Tommy Baldwin hearkened back to the early days of NASCAR Now where ESPN on-air talent would read scripted questions to various NASCAR personalities in a show so dry and controlled it was impossible to watch.

The ultimate irony of Wednesday's show was Allen's questions to Tommy Baldwin about the practice of starting and parking in the Sprint Cup Series. Allen's CWTS boothmate and friend Phil Parsons is currently starting and parking multiple cars for profit in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. This reality was never referenced, despite Allen boasting that he was asking the tough questions.

This has been the saga of Race Hub, one week a news program and the next a bad version of PM Magazine. Pre-taped perfect features with perfect faces asking perfect questions. What's the point? Fans already have Internet access and Sirius 128 so the news topics of the day are already known.

While ESPN's Shannon Spake led NASCAR Now with the breaking story of Casey Mears being released by Red Bull, Allen led Race Hub with a polite interview of Marcos Ambrose. ESPN had Marty Smith live from Charlotte to update the latest news on the Mears story while Race Hub relied on guest Tommy Balwin to finally bring up the topic twenty minutes into the show.

When Kevin Harvick was griping about Joey Logano's dad, Harvick said the Sprint Cup Series was not Little League baseball. He was implying that the younger Logano needed to grow up and play the game everyone else was playing. SPEED needs to get that message about Race Hub loud and clear. Either play at the top level or go home.

The world of NASCAR news has daily TV and radio shows, websites, blogs and an endless string of Twitter messages and press releases to get the latest information across to the fans, viewers and listeners.

Casey Mears made an appearance on Sirius 128 Wednesday. His story was updated live on NASCAR Now. Over at SPEED, the Mears story was mentioned at the tail of the pre-recorded Race Hub show only after a studio guest brought up the topic.

If SPEED wants to play in the big leagues, Race Hub shows need to be an hour in length, have an experienced host and be done live. This TV series has been on the air since February and has gone nowhere. If SPEED does not want to put the TV resources toward a major league effort for NASCAR news, the network should just take its Little League bat and go home.

We welcome your opinion on this topic. To add your comment, 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.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting Primed With Jimmy Spencer

The TV evolution of Jimmy Spencer continues on SPEED with his recurring role on the Race Hub series. This Monday through Thursday show is only thirty minutes long, so it moves at a pretty quick pace.

The fundamental idea of Race Hub is to make use of SPEED's location just down the street from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The studio is an easy drive for most of the NASCAR personalities. It has worked out well to regularly have drivers, owners, crew chiefs and NASCAR officials being interviewed in a casual setting.

In looking for other elements to add to the series, SPEED has tried and failed with quite a variety of ideas. Currently, Miss Sprint Cup is a regular guest along with Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds. More recently, Race Hub has given Jimmy Spencer a chance to carve out a new niche with his unique take on NASCAR topics.

The feature is called Getting Primed with Jimmy Spencer. This title is due primarily to the fact that SPEED has actually landed a commercial sponsor for Spencer's bit. KILZ is a company that sells, you guessed it, primer.

The TV network quietly moved Spencer off the high-profile RaceDay show this season and replaced him with Kyle Petty. Spencer gave up his post-race role on the Victory Lane show to Petty as well.

SPEED tried Spencer in a Monday night show that featured him sitting in the Spencer Auto Salvage Yard. The set was meant to resemble the Berwick, PA office of the actual Spencer family business. Of course, host Ray Dunlap never got around to mentioning that point. What's the Deal was a complete and total disaster. It was removed from the TV schedule. Shows on SPEED are never officially cancelled.

Spencer has a well-defined character. Since TV producers know what they are getting, the real issue is building something that works for the viewers. Race Hub came along at the perfect time and has given Spencer new life. Unfortunately, some of the same bugs that existed in his now defunct TV series are still present.

Instead of being welcomed to the Race Hub studio like all the other guests, Spencer continues to appear from the old What's the Deal set. He also still wears his salvage yard work shirt, which features a "Mr. E" name tag. Once again on Tuesday, Spencer's appearance and surroundings were never explained.

Getting Primed features Spencer interacting with the Race Hub host. You could not have picked a more opposite character than the neatly attired and politically correct Rick Allen. In the Tuesday bit, Allen tossed scripted questions to Spencer and then pretended to enjoy the answers. Pretended is the keyword there.

Here are some Spencer tidbits from Tuesday:

To Scott Speed's about his on and off-track comments on the MIS contact with Casey Mears: "You know why I think you are so upset about this? Because the first two times Casey got in that car he kicked your butt."

On Jeremy Clements driving the Boudreaux's Butt Paste Chevy: "He was hauling ass baby, in that old buttmobile. He got to the top ten during the (Nationwide Series) race. For a family-owned team, I love it!"

To Kyle Busch on truck series frustration comments at MIS: "I am one of your biggest fans, what you do on the racetrack is amazing stuff. But when you get out of your truck and take a little dig at this guy (Almirola) who is driving your old truck...I used to be a sore loser, Kyle. I got some lessons. You know what? Give me a call, buddy."

Spencer is working items into his commentary like the crying towel for whining drivers and the victory cigar for positive performances on the track. Instead of recording his bit alone and then providing a email or Twitter link for fan comments, Spencer painfully interacts with the show host and then just disappears.

While Race Hub has Miss Sprint read some selected driver tweets, it's very clear that SPEED just does not get social media. With almost all the network's personalities using Twitter and Facebook regularly, you can click here to view Race Hub's Facebook page which has no feedback for Spencer at all.

A series like Race Hub needs characters. In the current politically correct atmosphere of NASCAR, Spencer is clearly a personality that can drive fan feedback and get the ball rolling on a lot of topics. Bringing fans into the conversation can perhaps finally get Spencer primed for a TV comeback and SPEED in the social media mix. It just might be Spencer's last chance.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Tuesday TV/Media Notes (Updated)

Here are some topics and notes as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series teams get ready to head-off to road course races in Sonoma, CA and Elkhart Lake, WI.

NASCAR President Mike Helton will be on the Tuesday edition of SPEED's Race Hub at 7:30PM. There are lots of topics to discuss at this time of the season. Pocono winner Denny Hamlin will also be on the show.

Update: Helton will also appear on Showtime's Inside NASCAR series on Wednesday night at 10PM. This show will be simulcast online at without charge. Helton will be discussing the state of the sport at length with Michael Waltrip, Brad Daugherty and Randy Pemberton. Chris Myers hosts this series.

Neither practice or qualifying sessions are going to be televised for the Nationwide Series this weekend from Road America. This event comes right in the middle of a program time crunch for ESPN that includes World Cup Soccer. There will also be no Sunday morning NASCAR Now show on ESPN2 to preview the Sunday race for the same reason.

ESPN shuffles the line-up again for the Road America Nationwide Series race on Saturday. Allen Bestwick will host the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show and then call the action with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree in the booth. Dale Jarrett and Brad Daugherty are off this weekend. NASCAR Now host Mike Massaro will break out the firesuit and join Dr. Jerry Punch and Jamie Little to handle the pit reporting.

Darrell Waltrip returns for this second of four appearances on SPEED's Sunday RaceDay show. Hermie Sadler will be joining Waltrip on the SPEED Stage as Kenny Wallace is off racing at Road America. Wendy Venturini will be one reporter, we are waiting for SPEED to tell us who else will be joining the show.

Some fans have been asking about TNT's habit of slowly spinning the infield "rig" during the pre-race show. The network has done it every season, but apparently some fans now have new and large HD screens. The effect is much different. "HDesick" is a term one fan suggested. Those comments have been passed along.

SPEED advised on Monday that the network is on the verge of crossing the 76 million home barrier. The network also continues to roll-out SPEEDHD and will be opening the online SPEED2 broadband channel in two weeks. We will have more on SPEED2 next week in terms of programming schedules and availability. Right now, you must subscribe to SPEED TV or SPEEDHD in order to receive the SPEED2 online content.

The latest questions from the NASCAR Fan Council did not concern TV or radio, but the drivers. There were questions that basically boiled down to which drivers fans liked and which they disliked and why. In the past, this information has been used to affect many changes within the sport. It's kind of interesting that driver popularity is now the topic.

At this time, there are still no numbers available for how many homes bought the PPV live Prelude to a Dream charity race last week. The PPV money is the primary provider of the funding for the various charities benefiting from the event. We will keep up to date on this topic until we get the information.

Just like last weekend, Elliott Sadler will step aside and be replaced by Darrell Waltrip on the Friday night Trackside show. It will be Jeff Hammond who then partners with John Roberts on the Sunday night Victory Lane program. These moves are in response to Kyle Petty being gone for six races while working for TNT.

The Sounds of NASCAR series this season on SPEED has been popular. Starting next week the title of the show will change to NASCAR Hot Wired. That should be reflected in the cable TV listings.

We will update this page with any additional TV/media news that happens on Tuesday. As always, please feel free to offer your comments on any of the topics above. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Michael Waltrip Talks TV Timeouts

Michael Waltrip has one of the highest media profiles in NASCAR. He is a multi-car owner in the Sprint Cup Series. He is an analyst for SPEED on the Camping World Truck Series telecasts. He is a panel member of Inside NASCAR on Showtime.

Sunday night, Waltrip took the time through a series of Twitter messages to respond to fans upset with NASCAR's late race actions in Michigan. A late caution for debris that was never shown on the TNT coverage tightened the field after Denny Hamlin had worked hard to build up a lead.

In Victory Lane and on several TV shows, Hamlin had expressed an acceptance that NASCAR had thrown the caution simply to bunch up the field for a more exciting finish. Some fans reacted with anger as NASCAR has continually denied ever putting out a caution flag for anything other than valid reasons. Waltrip has his own ideas on just what defines "valid reasons."

Here are Waltrip's comments:

"I am a huge fan of a late caution. In basketball they just call it what it is. A TV time out. In football its the break in change of possessions. In baseball its either a walk to the mound or the end of an inning. Its sports. NASCAR needs to have those too."

"If you don't agree you probably don't feel sorry for that pitcher who got robbed of a perfect game because MLB is stuck living in the past."

"The last caution today was well thought out by NASCAR. Everyone had pitted and no one was adversely effected by the caution. The 100,000 plus fans that drove to MIS to be entertained I'm sure appreciated the late race reset."

"Crews had to make the right calls on pit road and drivers had to get up on the wheel to close the deal. What's wrong with that? Thank you for buying a ticket and gas and a hotel and etc.."

"I'd bet that if you were offended by my opinion in addition to not feeling sorry for that pitcher you probably haven't bought a ticket to a race lately. As the kids say these days....'Jus saying'. The world is a changing."

The world may be changing for Waltrip, but his statement reflects a radical departure from what NASCAR has been saying publicly for decades. Protecting the integrity of the racing has been one element that has kept NASCAR in the ranks of sports like the NFL and away from the perception that stock car racing is professional wrestling on wheels.

One significant influence on the caution flag decisions this season may be television. While there might be one hundred thousand fans in the stands, there are millions watching at home. NASCAR suffered last season from boring races where aero issues handed the car out front the win time and time again.

This season, we have NASCAR Race Control much more active with decisions in races that seem to be driven by television. Key drivers are often on the verge of being lapped when debris suddenly appears on the proverbial backstretch. Slow cars heading to pit lane bring out the caution flag when the field has become strung-out in the race.

It seems ironic that Waltrip used Twitter to send his caution flag manifesto. This form of instant communication allows media members, fans, teams and even NASCAR to maintain constant contact during the races.

These days when NASCAR throws a caution for debris, fans in the stands use Twitter to instantly verify if there is a problem or perhaps the "Waltrip rule" is now in effect. Twitter even lets them send pictures of the offending spring rubber, body panel or tire liner.

This is certainly going to be an interesting topic at the next Sprint Cup Series race. If NASCAR follows the Waltrip example and admits to throwing a caution flag at Michigan to spice-up the finish, it will open a Pandora's Box for the fans.

Now, late in every race the fans of the drivers not at the very front of the pack are going to be expecting a "show caution" to get that exciting double-file restart for TV and set-up the possible green/white/checkered scenario.

Where do you come down on this topic? Is this old school vs. new school fans as Waltrip suggests? Is this an integrity issue or should some fans just stop taking NASCAR so seriously? Should using caution flags to set-up an exciting finish for TV become a regular practice for the sport?

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 for taking the time to stop by and leave us your views on this topic.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Michigan on TNT

This was race number two for the NASCAR on TNT gang. Lindsay Czarniak opened the show from Michigan as she hosted the pre-race Countdown to Green show.

Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds joined Czarniak for the show. TNT profiled the late Dave Allison in the Pride of NASCAR series and Wally Dallenbach Jr. offered another installment of Wally's World.

Adam Alexander called his second Sprint Cup Series race in the play-by-play role. Petty and Dallenbach joined him in the booth. Matt Yocum, Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider and Phil Parsons covered pit road.

There were no technical difficulties with this telecast and weather did not play a factor. The race went quickly and finished earlier than scheduled. TNT provided a very complete post-race show. Update 4:05PM: Much to our surprise, TNT left the post-race show and asked viewers to go to to see the rest of the coverage. There was still 25 minutes left in the scheduled timeslot.

This is your opportunity to offer your own post-race TV wrap-up of the TNT telecast. This is the weekly post that is most read on this blog. Your comments count.

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 offer your comments.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series In Michigan (12PM ET - TNT)

The second race of the six-event summer TV package from TNT originates from the Michigan International Speedway.

Lindsay Czarniak will host the Countdown to Green pre-race show. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds will be alongside. There is a lot to talk about this week.

Adam Alexander will call the race with Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. in the TV booth. Phil Parsons, Ralph Sheheen, Matt Yocum and Marty Snider are the pit reporters.

TNT's debut was a baptism by fire with rain stopping the race on the pace laps in Pocono. Czarniak filled time with McReynolds from an indoor studio using interviews and pre-recorded features. The weather in Michigan could also include some rain.

Alexander's debut featured a lot of accurate information, but little excitement. His even-tempered personality that served him quite well as a pit reporter did not translate into calling the racing action in the classic style. Perhaps he was playing it safe and we might see some additional play-by-play from him today.

Michigan is a wide and often boring track. Several races have been run without any caution periods. This is not the type of track where NASCAR may be inclined to look for a "debris" caution to better the show. This is also not a payback track due to the high speeds and danger.

The challenge for TNT is to get on top of the fuel strategies early on and keep that as the story. Races here have featured the leaders running out of fuel on the final lap many times. With the current green/white/checkered rules in place, fuel may be more of an issue than ever before.

Pictures from MIS are great, but the director has a challenge in following the leader, the ongoing stories and the best racing action. Sometimes, when things settle down, in-car cameras used live have a place at this track.

TNT will again offer RaceBuddy, the live online video companion you can access through the website for free. TNT also has the million dollar challenge for this race. Simply pick the top ten finishing drivers in order and win a million dollars. is again the place to sign-up for that contest.

This post will serve to host your comments on the TNT coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from MIS. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Darrell Waltrip Debuts On "RaceDay"

Kyle Petty has been a welcome addition to the two-hour Sprint Cup Series pre-race show on SPEED called RaceDay. Taking over for Jimmy Spencer, Petty turned the show into an open and honest discussion of various NASCAR topics.

Now, Petty is off for six weeks working on the TNT telecasts. SPEED tapped Spencer to return for Pocono and New Hampshire, but it was the announcement that Darrell Waltrip would step-in for the other four shows that raised some eyebrows.

Traditionally, Waltrip has gone away from the sport after the FOX portion of the Sprint Cup Series was done. Elliott Sadler has taken over Waltrip's role on Trackside for the past couple of years. Jeff Hammond has taken Waltrip's place in the TV booth as SPEED covers Cup Series practice and qualifying.

Now, Waltrip is back. He is also back on Trackside and in the TV booth for those four weekends. While those are familiar roles, RaceDay is not. This program is a mix of outdoor weather, raucous crowds and controversial topics.

Part of Spencer's demise was his often cutting and sometimes outrageous comments on RaceDay. On topics from Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Joey Logano, Spencer never minced words. Unfortunately, he sometimes went to extremes in the words that he chose to use.

Waltrip is walking into two hours of unscripted opinion. He is joining a partner who has a tired act of lecturing the TV audience and playing to the crowd with over-the-top antics. Kenny Wallace is going through what Spencer went through last season.

Two rising stars in NASCAR TV are Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler. They have moved from two RaceDay reporters who roam the garage to two sharp TV anchors who have their own infield set. This duo provides the vast majority of the credible news content for the two hours.

The role of Waltrip and Wallace on RaceDay will be to provide opinion on the topics offered by host John Roberts. Over the years, Roberts has become a total professional at apologizing. Fortunately, that has changed since Petty has come on the program. This season, Roberts has been smiling a lot.

Waltrip has experienced a tough couple of months on FOX. He positions himself as a spokesman for the sport even while playing favorites. In one breath he declares the Daytona 500 as the best race of the season. That race is on FOX. Then, during the event he calls out for Dale Earnhardt Jr. to pass Jamie McMurray in the final laps. It was raw emotion, he explained.

While the racing action can sometimes dull the pain of Waltrip's comments, there is no such distraction on the two hours of RaceDay. It is simply going to be all DW all the time. While Wallace will have his say, all eyes and ears will be on Waltrip.

Unlike Trackside, where there are guests on the set and four panelists, Waltrip is going to find himself constantly being asked for opinions on topics that he did not select. On RaceDay, things happen live and they happen fast.

Sunday, there will be no Mike Joy, Jeff Hammond or Larry McReynolds for Waltrip. There will only be an existing crew of on-air and production folks who have been working on this series for a long time. In many ways, Waltrip is a very big fish who has suddenly found himself in someone else's pond.

Sunday morning at 10AM ET on SPEED we will all find out just how well Waltrip gets along in his new assignment.

We will use this post to host your comments before, during and after the show on this topic. To add your opinion, just click 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.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From Kentucky (7:30PM ET - ESPN)

The Nationwide Series is in Kentucky for a stand-along race on ESPN. The weather has been rainy all day and NASCAR is hoping to get this one in tonight.

Allen Bestwick will host the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show. He will be joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. The program will be thirty minutes.

Wallace will then make his way up to the booth to join Marty Reid and Andy Petree to call the race. This team has already handled the qualifying that aired on ESPN earlier Saturday. On pit road are Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

Reid and Bestwick are a powerful combination for ESPN and the network must be happy with the results so far this season. One continuing struggle is Rusty Wallace up in the TV booth. Just like he did back in 2007, Wallace cannot divorce himself from his racing past and current ownership status.

ESPN has come a long way with the directing and producing of these telecasts. Tonight should be a good opportunity to showcase the Nationwide regulars and show the racing under the lights.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments on the Nationwide Series race from Kentucky Speedway on ESPN. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Live Blogging Camping World Trucks In Michigan (1:30PM - SPEED)

One of the best racing series on TV is NASCAR's Camping World Trucks. Quietly consistent for years, the production values and focused announcing has kept the fans coming back again and again.

Today at 1:30PM Krista Voda starts coverage with The Setup pre-race show. Voda will double-up as a pit reporter once the pre-race is over. Adam Alexander is off working on the TNT Sprint Cup telecasts, so Voda will join Ray Dunlap on pit road.

Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will call the action. These three have been very effective since Waltrip discontinued his endless sponsor mentions and attempts at humor. The trucks always have stories to tell and the challenge for the TV booth is simply to tell them.

Old school TV coverage consists of focusing on the racing, period. The last truck race turned out to be a barn burner and the big MIS oval could make for some super action. There are several Sprint Cup Series drivers, like Elliott Sadler, crossing over to the trucks who would really like to return to the winner's circle in any series.

This post will serve to host your comments on the SPEED coverage of the MIS truck 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday Doubleheader From ESPN And SPEED

A good Saturday of racing will feature a day-night doubleheader from ESPN and SPEED.

The TV day starts off with final Sprint Cup Series practice from Michigan International Speedway at 12:30PM ET on SPEED. Darrell Waltrip is back this weekend and he is up in the TV booth with Steve Byrnes and Larry McReynolds.

This is one of four summer weekends Waltrip will be working for SPEED. I am hearing his involvement may extend even further.

Krista Voda steps-in at 1:30PM to host The Setup pre-race show for the Camping World Truck Series. On this race, Voda will be switching to pit reporter role since Adam Alexander is a little busy hosting the TNT coverage on Sunday. Voda will be joined by Ray Dunlap on pit road. The regular SPEED TV trio of Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will call the 2PM race.

Next up is qualifying for the Nationwide Series racing at the Kentucky Speedway. This weekend, it will be Marty Reid in the TV booth with Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree alongside. Dale Jarrett has the weekend off. Qualifying airs at 4PM on ESPN.

The NASCAR Countdown pre-race show this weekend is going to be hosted by Allen Bestwick. Wallace and Brad Daugherty will be in the Infield Pit Studio. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage. The pre-race begins on ESPN at 7:30PM.

It will be thirty minutes later when Wallace and company start the race coverage. Joining the team this week from pit road will be Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch. Shannon Spake is reporting for NASCAR Now from MIS.

Other motorsports items to note on Saturday include the 8:30AM start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans on SPEED. At 4:30PM, SPEED also has F-1 qualifying from the familiar Montreal street circuit. Le Mans coverage then continues from 6PM to 2AM Sunday morning.

We will be live blogging the CWTS and NNS races, please join us for that. In the meantime, happy to have your comments on any of the above 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. Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Nationwide Series Finally Gets Some Online Support

The little engine that could is still out there and this week the Nationwide Series teams head to Kentucky Speedway for a stand-alone show. The race will be telecast Saturday on ESPN, but the TV news is actually about the drivers' meeting. is going to televise the drivers' meeting live online using the Internet rights held by the Turner Sports folks. This could be the start of something big.

Here is the official info:

NASCAR.COM and Nationwide Insurance announced today the first live webcast of a drivers’ meeting will be available for free at on Saturday, June 12 at 6:45 p.m. ET.

NASCAR fans will be able to see their favorite NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers and listen to the important pre-race information and rules review NASCAR delivers to all teams prior to the start of this year’s Meijer 300 presented by Ritz, from Kentucky Speedway.

“Nationwide Insurance is proud to partner with Turner Sports and NASCAR to be the first to offer race fans a behind-the-scenes look at the NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers’ meeting through a free webcast on the official website of the NASCAR Nationwide Series,” said John Aman of Nationwide Insurance.

To take part in this historic event, visit on Saturday, June 12th and register for the free webcast.

We have talked many times about the lack of online support for the Nationwide and Camping Truck Series. Perhaps, this is the start of putting live timing and scoring for all the on-track sessions online along with team radio scanners.

As we know from the last several years, the Nationwide Series gets completely plowed under by ESPN come September when college football begins play on Saturdays. Combined with the fact that ESPN also televises the Sprint Cup Series races starting in late July, the poor old Nationwide Series gets shuffled to the back burner.

Adding any online live video streaming would be a plus, but focusing on the drivers' meeting on this stand-alone race day is a good first move. Hopefully, we will see the website begin to grow and develop into a dedicated place for fans to get live pre and post-race video and online highlights.

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

Live Blogging Friday NASCAR TV

Before we update Friday NASCAR TV, here are some recent Twitter messages from Wendy Venturini of SPEED:

It's difficult to keep the good news in any longer. We want to be the first to share with all of you...Jarrad & I are expecting a baby! Add to that, it's a BOY!! Our lil guy is due to arrive December 27...just as planned for the off-season! I'll be off camera Homestead to Daytona, but not a single NASCAR Raceday will be missed! Be prepared to watch my baby bump grow! Thanks!

Congrats to Wendy and Jarrad!

This is another split weekend with the Nationwide Series racing in Kentucky while the Camping World Trucks and the Sprint Cup Series are at the Michigan International Speedway. The ARCA Series will also race at MIS.

SPEED begins coverage at 11AM ET with NASCAR Live. John Roberts has Randy Pemberton on the panel while Bob Dillner and Wendy Venturini will be reporting.

The TNT crew is up next on SPEED as they call the early Sprint Cup Series practice. Adam Alexander, Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach Jr. will be in the TV booth. Roberts comes back with another edition of NASCAR Live after the practice.

At 3:30PM, SPEED will be joining Cup qualifying in progress after the F-1 practice is over in Montreal. Carrying the live F-1 show is a part of the SPEED TV contract. SPEED will re-air the qualifying coverage in full at 10PM ET.

The ARCA race is up next at 5PM from MIS. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons call the action with Wendy Venturini and Jim Tretow on pit road. ESPN2 makes its only motorsports contribution of the day with a version of NASCAR Now at 6PM hosted by Nicole Briscoe.

Darrell Waltrip is back on SPEED this weekend and he joins the Trackside gang on Friday night at 8PM. Elliott Sadler sits this one out. With the 24 Hours of LeMans being carried on Saturday and Sunday, the NASCAR Performance program hosted by Larry McReynolds will air at 9PM Friday night on SPEED.

We would like your comments as you watch these programs on Friday. 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.