Sunday, October 31, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Talladega (ESPN2/ESPN - 12:00PM)

Here we go with the official "big one" TV coverage. These were the buzzwords repeated endlessly by Dr. Jerry Punch when he was in the play-by-play role for three years at ESPN.

The pre-race show from Talladega will be on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick is hosting from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty. It should be interesting to see if they use this hour to acknowledge the controversial finish of the truck series race and discuss the danger the yellow line rule poses today with cars now running 200mph once again.

Marty Reid is going to call the race. This might be his biggest challenge yet as he makes his way through the ESPN Sprint Cup Series races for the first time. Reid is going to have to balance the action on the track with the pictures that ESPN chooses to show.

Time and time again since the Chase began, Reid has been caught working only off the monitors in the TV booth. Incidents and key passes on the track have often been acknowledged by Dale Jarrett and then caught after a delay by the ESPN TV truck.

Jarrett and Andy Petree are going to be front and center at a track where NASCAR looks very closely at what the TV personalities say on the air about the racing. Teams dropping to the back, accidents getting to pit road and last lap incidents have been hot buttons for the sanctioning body.

On pit road will be Punch, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns. This is the race where tempers overflow like no other. Short-track beating and banging pales in comparison to the high-speed danger of this superspeedway. It should be interesting to see the pit reporters interact with drivers out of the race and after the event is over. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage.

SPEED televised the truck series race on Saturday and it was a pleasure to watch. Overhead shots and wide angles let viewers see the racing through the pack as it played-out. Pit road reporters updated the key teams and the pit stops in detail.

This race has potential to boost NASCAR TV ratings for the rest of the season. A compelling and exciting telecast will go a long way toward erasing some of the blunders from ESPN this season, including the poor coverage at Martinsville.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN2/ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Talladega. 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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Live Blogging Camping World Trucks From Talladega (SPEED - 3PM ET)

This is going to be a tough day for the Camping World Truck Series TV team. On one hand, they get to have fun with Halloween costumes during a pre-recorded one hour Setup show. On the other hand, they must deal with the passing of NASCAR legend Jim Hunter who was a friend of that network and those in the TV compound.

Krista Voda anchors The Setup with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander as the pit reporters. Once the race starts, Voda will remain and cover pit road as a third reporter. Rick Allen will call the action with Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip.

Trucks are very different at Talladega from the Cup Series race. There are only a handful of trucks and drivers capable of running in the lead pack for the duration of the event. In the past, the trucks have run in small packs grouped according to speed.

The TV coverage on SPEED is focused on the lead pack at Talladega. Keep an eye on the scoring ticker to see just how many trucks exit the race early as it is Allen's practice to ignore passing this information along to viewers. As I was told, the focus of SPEED is the racing and the rest is not important.

Hopefully, Kyle Busch will not run away with this event and leave the pack battling for second place. The trucks are a much better show when there is a handful with the same speed at this track. Busch is always a threat to make it his own event.

SPEED's coverage is old school as we have said many times. The focus is on the racing, all the stories of pit road are updated and the announcing is exciting and high energy.

This post will serve to host your comments on the SPEED coverage of the Camping World Series trucks at Talladega. To add your TV-related comments, 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.

NASCAR Loses A Giant

Here is the official info from NASCAR on the passing of Jim Hunter:

NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter, whose career in motorsports spanned portions of six decades as both a journalist and public relations professional, died last night in Daytona Beach, Fla. following a 12-month battle with cancer. He was 71. "Jim Hunter was one of NASCAR's giants," said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France. "For more than 40 years Jim was part of NASCAR and its history. He loved the sport, but loved the people even more. It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family." Added NASCAR President Mike Helton: "Jim was a uniquely talented man that cannot be replaced. He was a great friend and mentor to so many in the sport. His influence will remain with and be carried on by so many of the people he touched. This is a sad day for Jim's family and his extended, NASCAR family." As a young man growing up in his native South Carolina, Hunter was a football and baseball player at the University of South Carolina. Those years preceded a future of being immersed in the sports world, primarily motorsports. Hunter learned motorsports from "both sides" by working as a newspaper reporter/editor and a public relations representative. As a member of the media, Hunter was sports editor of the Columbia Record newspaper; he had an award-winning stint at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution; he was a columnist for Stock Car Racing magazine; and he authored a number of books, including a widely-read biography on NASCAR great David Pearson, entitled "21 Forever". On the public relations side, Hunter broke into that business in the 1960s, with Dodge's motorsports operation. He handled public relations for a number of top IndyCar drivers before going on to become the public relations director at his beloved Darlington Raceway and Talladega Superspeedway. In 1983, Hunter was named to his first executive position in his first NASCAR stint, becoming NASCAR's vice president of administration. In 1993 he was named president of Darlington Raceway and corporate vice president of the International Speedway Corporation. He remained at Darlington until 2001 when he accepted an offer from then-NASCAR Chairman and CEO Bill France Jr. to return to Daytona Beach to lead an expanded public relations effort aimed at responding to the needs of burgeoning media coverage. Hunter won numerous awards during his career, including: the Hugh Deery Memorial Award in 1988; South Carolina Ambassador for Economic Development in 1994; South Carolina Tourism Ambassador of the Year in 1997; the National Motorsports Press Association's Joe Littlejohn Award in 2005; and the Buddy Shuman Award in 2006. Hunter is survived by his wife of 48 years, Ann Hunter; his children, Scott Hunter and Amy McKernan and his grandchildren Dakota Hunter, and Hunter and Luke McKernan. In lieu of flowers the family asked that donations be made to The NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County. Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Live Blogging Friday At Talladega On SPEED

This day is always one that real race fans cherish. Both the Camping World Trucks and the Sprint Cup Series cars are going to be on the track at full speed racing in packs and checking out their equipment. It makes for good TV.

The full TV schedule is listed on the left side of the page. It starts at 10AM ET and runs through the end of Trackside at 8PM. Along the way, ESPN2 sneaks-in an episode of NASCAR Now at 5PM.

Everything else is on SPEED and this is a day of coverage that really shows what a fulltime NASCAR TV network could do. Friday through Sunday there are so many stories, so many possible show topics and such a wonderful flavor at the racetracks that the current TV package just does not do it justice.

On a day like Friday, when SPEED is just fulltime NASCAR and viewers are just along for the ride really is the type of coverage that can help get the sport back on the right track. Putting this coverage online for free would expand the audience even further and let any laptop or iPad tag along.

Mike Joy is handling the Cup Series, Rick Allen is calling the trucks and Krista Voda is hosting Trackside. It should be a fun day of TV on SPEED

Please feel free to post your TV-related comments on any of the Talladega programming throughout the day. This is a family-friendly website, so please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Halloween On SPEED Is A Tradition

Some folks love it and some folks hate it. The only thing that really matters is that the SPEED on-air announcers are game and the results are often priceless.

It's time for yet another Halloween in costume for the Camping World Truck Series TV team. Thanks to SPEED for the two pictures above. You can click directly on them to see them full-size and right click to save them to your computer.

We have spent a lot of time recently documenting the struggles of ESPN as the network televises the Chase races. There has also been a lot of time and effort dedicated to complaining about what college football has done to the Nationwide Series down the stretch on ESPN2.

Today, we can take a minute to shine the spotlight on the SPEED gang and their consistent presence in the truck series. Ratings are small, but trending upward for the trucks once again this year. The spread of SPEED-HD has no doubt played a role as sports fans discover that the trucks look great on TV.

Krista Voda has recently changed roles and now hosts the Trackside show in addition to The Setup pre-race show for the trucks. From the beginning, it was clear that Voda had the ability to cut through the clutter and hype where NASCAR racing is concerned.

Producer Keith D'Alessandro and director Roger Vincent have taken a very different approach to racing. That begins with the pre-race show. No fancy sets, no heavy graphics and no panel discussions. Voda is alone on the starting grid like a local station news reporter. Here we are, this is what's happening and we are live.

On these Halloween weekends Voda does the entire show front and center in her costume without missing a beat. Over the years, Voda has anchored The Setup in the freezing cold, the scorching heat and the pouring rain. At tracks big and small, this simple and effective approach has won over TV viewers.

It's hard to erase the image of pit reporter Adam Alexander as Glinda, the Good Witch of the South. His interviews in costume with Ron Hornaday Jr. and Todd Bodine were priceless. Alexander's broadcast partner Ray Dunlap did himself proud as Dorothy. The video of him skipping down pit lane with Toto in a basket is destined to live on for a long time.

Alexander and Dunlap are effective because the truck series has fewer trucks competing for the win and two pit reporters can usually get the job done. As you may have guessed, it's the budget that does not allow a third person on pit road. Perhaps, next season SPEED may consider that option.

Unlike the various ESPN on-air talent who rotate through the Nationwide Series telecasts, SPEED uses the same three announcers for the entire season. While Michael Waltrip has missed a race or two, the trio of Waltrip with Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are pretty much inseparable.

These three have become fast friends in real life over the years and that away from the track relationship has helped on many broadcasts. While Allen provides the exciting call of the race, it's Parsons and Waltrip who continue to be a vital part of updating fans on the changing faces of the series.

The role of Parsons and Waltrip is to paint a picture of the field at the races and then follow-up on the wide variety of stories. Certainly, some dominant teams always run up front but the field is peppered with independents and young drivers who are sometimes racing on this level for the first time.

This weekend is a great example. ARCA's Craig Goess races for the first time in trucks. Also, names like Jeffrey Earnhardt, Max Papis and Larry Foyt return. Veterans Kenny Schrader and Mike Skinner are going to be competing alongside of Kyle Busch in his own team truck. It's a diverse field with good stories to tell.

SPEED has practice at 10AM and then qualifying at 4:30PM on Friday. Costumes are out for The Setup at 3PM on Saturday and the race begins shortly after 4PM. Since the Halloween costumes are always a theme for the entire TV team, would you like to offer a guess on this year's choice?

If you are a CWTS regular viewer, please feel free to leave us a comment on how you think TV coverage of the series is being done so far this season. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Midweek TV/Media Notes

Some interesting TV items away from the track to start this week's media notes:

NBC is in the development stage for a scripted drama centered around a NASCAR family. Here is a blurb from the media website:

NBC is developing The Crew, a testosterone-heavy underdog family drama set in the world of NASCAR from Heroes writer-producer Joe Pokaski and NBC Universal-based producer Scott Stuber. The ensemble revolves around the family of distinctly different "brothers" on a NASCAR racing team who, as individuals have their own lives and dreams, opportunities and problems but as a team share a singular goal - to be the best.

What sets The Crew apart is that it is expected to be done in cooperation with NASCAR. NBC is in negotiations with the racing league for the rights to use its name, logos, tracks, race footage, etc. Stuber already has a similar arrangement with NASCAR on the feature side at Universal Pictures where he is producing a NASCAR drama with Gary Ross attached to direct.

No information has been released about potential scheduling or actors involved in the series quite yet. Will pass it along as things develop.

Over in reality TV land, Krishtian Turner has announced that she will be filming Say Yes To The Dress for TLC as a part of her build-up to marrying driver James Buescher. Krishtian's father is the money behind Turner Motorsports, a new team stepping into both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series next year with a sizeable commitment. The program will air in the spring of 2011.

Over at, Josh Clinton offers that filming for ABC's The Bachelor has already begun in Costa Rica. Starting in January with episode one, there will be a very different NASCAR connection to this program.

Pictured above with Rick and Linda Hendrick is Emily Maynard. She met and was subsequently engaged to Ricky Hendrick at the time of the tragic plane crash. Maynard later revealed that she was pregnant at the time and now has a five year-old daughter named Josephine.

Maynard's name surfaced later in dating rumors with none other than Dale Earnhardt Jr. While that ended quickly, Maynard moved into the media world doing a podcast for SPEED and then working as a host on the syndicated 3 Wide Life motorsports series.

Now, Maynard is one of the ladies competing for the attention and affection of Brad Womack, who is making his second appearance on The Bachelor after choosing not to "take a bride" on his last go around. There is little doubt that Maynard will attract a lot of media attention as this program airs.

You may have heard by now that TV ratings for Sunday in Martinsville were down slightly. Basically, about five million viewers tuned in. "Undercover Boss" later that night had twice the audience.

Wednesday brings the media attending the announcement of a new primary sponsor for Jeff Gordon over at Hendrick Motorsports. It also reportedly brings the RPM crisis to a head. Unless some key creditors are paid, it looks like Talladega might be without four Sprint Cup Series teams.

"NASCAR Now" with Mike Massaro at 5PM on ESPN2 and "Race Hub" with Steve Byrnes at 7PM on SPEED will have updates on all the news of the day. In the meantime, please feel free to leave us a comment on any of the topics discussed above. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Undercover Boss: The Aftermath

We rarely deal with entertainment television here at TDP, but this time we are going to make an exception. Sunday night's episode of CBS's Undercover Boss had a NASCAR theme that got a lot of people talking.

Never having seen the show before, I assumed that the TV journey NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps took was a normal one. A designated executive from a large corporation takes a turn doing various jobs of lower-level employees. It seems like a simple concept.

Phelps mingled with a Sprint Cup Series pit crew, a sign painter and some folks running a concession stand. Along the way, despite the presence of camera crews, the idea was to make some conversation and absorb a little of the workplace reality.

In this episode, the issues were the sometimes unstable life of a pit crew member, the serious illness of a child and the financial struggles of good people. All the folks involved were outstanding examples of Americans working hard in a tough economy. It's a very workable TV formula.

Undercover Boss is always a ratings winner. Sunday over ten million viewers watched. That is more than double the audience for Sprint Cup Series Chase races so far this season.

As with all subjective topics, there are two sides. On the positive side, NASCAR got lots of great exposure from this program. Also, Phelps rose to the challenge and seemed to be a good conversationalist. He drew some interesting details from the participants.

On the other side of the coin, some folks emailed to say not one actual NASCAR employee was involved in the program. Top company executives Brian France and Mike Helton were not present at the end of the show, nor did they offer reactions to Phelps and his journey.

NASCAR has a wide variety of employees. There are administrative, operational and even media-related jobs that are done everyday. From the very visible inspectors in the garage to NASCAR-owned MRN radio broadcasts, NASCAR is nothing if not diverse.

Some critics felt NASCAR held itself at arms length again and never let Phelps crack the reality of being an actual employee. Instead, the stories selected well in advance each had a theme that ultimately painted the sport in a good light.

Never having seen the show, I understand both angles. It would have been fun to see Phelps taking race cars through track inspection, holding a wireless TV transmitter for a pit road reporter or even taking tickets at the Hall of Fame.

This type of entertainment TV show is scripted to send a message at the end. In this program, the message was certainly intended to be that NASCAR understands and cares for the issues in the lives of those involved in the sport in some fashion.

Were you one of the millions who watched this program? Help us out with your opinion about the various aspects of what was discussed above. Did NASCAR come away with a better image and positive spin or did the fact that Phelps interacted with no actual employees of his own company bother you as a viewer?

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.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Talking Sunday NASCAR TV

UPDATE: There will be no more "Your Turn" posts. Feel free to add your post-race comments right here.

The good news is that we can now use one post to host all the NASCAR TV comments on the day. The bad news is the reason why. Numbers are down all over the place for NASCAR, including online blogs like this one.

The day starts with Nicole Briscoe and NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 9AM. She has Marty Smith on-site in Martinsville, VA. It should be interesting to see how much focus of this hour goes to the unraveling of RPM and the recent rumors of impending demise.

As we reported, Smith minced no words Friday in reporting that no mechanics had left RPM, that Roush-Fenway had been paid in full by RPM and that Kasey Kahne did not leave RPM being owed any money. These facts were completely the opposite of reports on Thursday from Race Hub's Bob Dillner.

NASCAR RaceDay is up next at 10AM with two hours of news and interviews. Saturday morning, SPEED telecast one hour of Sprint Cup Series practice avoiding the Kahne and RPM story entirely. Only in the last few minutes was it even mentioned.

While Race Hub is produced in-house by SPEED, the other programs from the track are produced for SPEED by the NASCAR Media Group. How else can it be explained that Kahne driving onto the track in the Red Bull car was not the first image viewers saw on Saturday morning? Instead, the TV team did everything possible to dance around the huge elephant in the middle of the room.

John Roberts hosts RaceDay, but the meat of the program is provided by reporters Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler. Since Sadler is driving in the race, he will be of limited value as far as news gathering is concerned. It's up to Venturini to provide an updated overview of the entire RPM story.

Perhaps the person with the most interesting perspective is going to be RaceDay panelist Kyle Petty. Teamed with the hootin' and hollerin' cheerleader Kenny Wallace, Petty actually hosted the RPM merger press conference live on SPEED way back when.

Petty has never been one to mince words and his feelings about the truthfulness of RPM and the current situation could make for the most memorable TV viewing of the day.

Allen Bestwick is next as once again the NASCAR Countdown show has been moved over to ESPN2 at noon ET. Along with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, Bestwick has a lot of ground to cover with all the news and silly season changes unfolding this week.

Marty Reid leads Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree into yet another Chase telecast over on ESPN at 1PM. On this tiny track, ESPN cannot use side-by-side video boxes for live racing or endless in-car camera shots. Reid cannot simply work off the TV monitor and needs to stick his head out the window and call the actual race as it happens. This week it has to be different.

It's all about pit strategy on Sunday and Dr. Jerry Punch and the pit reporters are going to have to play a major role in the telecast. The intensity is high at this track and there are no doubt going to be some upset drivers before the day is done.

ESPN will offer an extended post-race before the three hour block of The Speed Report, Victory Lane and Wind Tunnel gets underway on SPEED at 7PM.

This post is going to host your comments on NASCAR's Sunday TV from start to finish. 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.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Combo Live Blog: Trucks On SPEED and NNS On ESPN2

This should be a very interesting afternoon on TV. SPEED starts the day with the Camping World Truck Series from Martinsville, VA. Then, ESPN2 is next with the Nationwide Series from Gateway in St. Louis, MO.

Krista Voda hosts The Set-up pre-race show at 12:30PM. Then Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip take over to call the 1PM race. Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander are on pit road. Trucks are a great show at Martinsville and with some Cup Series cross-overs, it should be a fun race on TV.

College football is again about to play a role in the Nationwide Series this weekend. The trucks are set to begin the telecast at 3PM following a college football game that began at noon. Typically, the games run 3.5 hours.

The excuse from ESPN during this time of the season is that only the meaningless pre-race show is usually lost, so the race should be just fine. That does not help the many teams struggling for sponsorship this year who really need a national TV exposure even before the event.

Vince Welch will call the race from Gateway with Ricky Craven and Rusty Wallace in the TV booth. Down on pit road are Jim Noble and Rick DeBruhl. Craven has worked well with Wallace in the past while Welch is still in the early stages of his attempts at play-by-play.

Earlier today, SPEED telecast the early Cup practice from Martinsville live. Not once in the first 55 minutes of the hour was the RPM and Kasey Kahne situation mentioned. Fans who did not see coverage during the week had no idea that Kahne had changed teams. I felt this was incredibly bad decision-making by SPEED and voiced my opinion. The situation was mentioned once right before the show was over.

It should be very interesting to see how ESPN and SPEED handle the RPM situation on the pre-race shows Sunday morning. NASCAR Now is at 9AM, RaceDay at 10 and NASCAR Countdown at noon.

This combo live blog today will host your comments on the truck race, the Nationwide Series event and the RPM coverage on TV. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This should be a very interesting afternoon. Thanks for joining us to talk about it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

ESPN Fires Back On NASCAR News

Thursday was a big day for SPEED's Race Hub news show. Host Steve Byrnes had Randy Pemberton in the studio to talk Kasey Kahne and RPM. Instead of reporter Danielle Trotta, it was network veteran Bob Dillner reporting from directly outside of Red Bull Racing with all the breaking details.

Earlier in the day, ESPN's Ryan McGee had updated those stories on NASCAR Now along with a "phoner" from Rusty Wallace. McGee played it safe and offered the information he knew along with some opinions on those same topics.

Race Hub came out swinging and it was Dillner who did most of it. He offered that "5 to 7 mechanics" at RPM had packed-up their tool boxes and left the shop. Dillner added that while the current round of paychecks from RPM would be OK, there was doubt about the very future of the organization.

Dillner also stated that Roush-Fenway had withheld cars and engines from RPM over lack of payment. He indicated that while cars were now being delivered, engines were still pending due to financial issues. Kahne's financial issues with RPM were also in question.

While Race Hub is a Monday through Thursday program, NASCAR Now on ESPN2 offers a Friday show. This week, Nicole Briscoe returned to host the show and quickly pointed the telecast to Lead Reporter Marty Smith. That is Smith and Kahne pictured above with country artist Eric Church.

Smith began his Friday appearance by offering a recap of the Kahne saga. Then he turned his comments to the information offered by Dillner on Thursday.

Smith called information about any lack of payments by RPM unfounded rumors. Smith confirmed that Jack Roush stated his organization had been paid in full by RPM for both cars and engines. Kasey Kane said on Friday he had been paid in full by RPM and that was not the issue.

Smith's strongest statement came on the topic of employees leaving RPM. Remember, the day prior Dillner was on-site in the Mooresville area standing in front of Red Bull Racing and said multiple mechanics had packed their toolboxes and left RPM.

Smith indicated he personally confirmed that not one employee had left RPM and any information otherwise was untrue. He seemed to be rather disgusted about this issue while at the same time leaving the door open on the the overall future financial health of RPM.

This is the first season since 2007 that ESPN has faced the challenge of another national cable network news program about NASCAR. While a shorter version of Race Hub existed last season, it was primarily a vehicle for promotion of races, teams and drivers.

This year, SPEED finally jumped into the game with a full time news reporter in Trotta and a full time host in Byrnes. The series has grown by leaps and bounds, but Thursday was the first real test of live breaking news from the field being piped into the studio for a timely discussion.

While Thursday made it look like Race Hub had the inside track on the situation, the veteran Smith answering back on Friday made it seem as if NASCAR Now was playing the role of big brother in saying not so fast. It certainly set the stage for more NASCAR TV news battles as silly season rolls on.

If you watched this play out on the air perhaps you could offer us an opinion on how you think each network did in covering this story. To add your comment, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by, we will live blog both Saturday races so please join us.

Kahne Story Continues To Unfold

Both SPEED and ESPN2 are on the air today with coverage today from Martinsville. The single thread that runs through the day will no doubt be the fallout from the release of Kasey Kahne by RPM and the apparent unraveling of that organization.

Both "NASCAR Now" and "Race Hub" addressed this issue on Thursday. Ryan McGee offered the details in an update from Charlotte, while Bob Dillner reported on-scene from Red Bull Racing in Mooresville, NC.

With the Chase again struggling for storylines and TV ratings, this new drama could be just what the sport needs as new pieces of the puzzle continue to be added. Kahne is scheduled to speak with media on Friday morning in Martinsvile. Sirius 128 will stream that live while SPEED and ESPN will both update that session in later live coverage.

This entire scenario puts brand new team combinations on the track with plenty of hard feelings and tough words destined to follow. It may be a very interesting Friday at Martinsville for what happens off the track.

As the day goes on, please leave us your comments on the media coverage of this situation. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bittersweet Richmond Story Told With Care

Update: Leaving this post as the top story so those looking for more info on Tim Richmond before the Tuesday night program can easily find it.

ESPN's 30 for 30 series on Tuesday nights has been a wonderful assortment of one-hour programs provided by a variety of sources. Show topics have been an eclectic group from Michael Jordan's baseball experience to the Baltimore Colts Marching Band losing their NFL team.

Into this highly acclaimed mix of documentaries steps producer Rory Karpf and the NASCAR Media Group. This time, there is no slickly packaged hype and not one mention of the Chase for the Championship. Instead, the sobering reality of the life and times of former driver Tim Richmond is placed front and center.

It's a bold topic to put in the mix of one of the highest-profile documentary series seen around the world. ESPN Films is the distributor. 30 for 30 was created in 2009 when ESPN signed Spike Lee and Barry Levinson among others to begin a sports-themed documentary project.

Some TV viewers may remember ESPN Original Entertainment and projects like Playmakers and The Junction Boys. There was also a Dale Earnhardt Sr. movie and shows like Stump the Schwab. That effort to create original programming and diversify the ESPN line-up ended in 2007 with a resounding thud.

This time around, ESPN Films is letting a wide variety of sports and non-sports production companies contribute. The results have been nothing short of spectacular.

Tim Richmond: To The Limit continues the 30 for 30 tradition of taking a single subject and examining it from all sides. Karpf and NMG never hide from the reality of Richmond's impact on the sport from both a positive and negative perspective.

As he has done before on other topics, Humpy Wheeler plays an integral role in setting the stage for how and why Richmond arrived behind the wheel of a stock car. Richmond's sister provides the family counterpoint to Wheeler's stories about the brash young man who looked just a bit different from the drivers of the time.

A reminder of Richmond's IndyCar past and footage of the accident that sent him to the safer confines of NASCAR serve to set an amazing table. Contributions from Deb Williams, Ed Hinton and Rick Hendrick help to put into perspective just how different Richmond was from the NASCAR stars like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Without a doubt, the key player in this project is Dr. Jerry Punch. Alone on a couch in casual clothes, Punch is free to speak about the swirl of controversy that surrounded Richmond for a variety of reasons. Only Punch could provide the ultimate credibility on both the NASCAR and healthcare issues.

AIDS was nothing more than a strange disease for gay men when Richmond was diagnosed. Fear, ignorance and homophobia fed the feelings that some in the NASCAR community had for Richmond once his health struggles were apparent.

A gripping soundbite from the late Bill France Jr. served to shine the light on the reasons for Richmond's final ban from competition. NMG's ability to use footage rarely seen or long since forgotten truly brings the reality of the this era to life.

Ultimately, it is Punch who ties the pieces together when he relates ESPN's on-air contribution to Richmond's final days. Punch is at his best when he is allowed to blend raw emotion with his personal love for the sport and its colorful characters.

It's been a while since NASCAR veered off the path of political correctness and opened the doors to the true reality of its history. The NASCAR Media Group is often tasked with churning-out the same old highlight shows. Well, not this time.

This project shows once again what can be done when creative people are turned loose on a sport rich with over half a century of history. It's well worth viewing a couple of times. Thanks to Andy Hall at ESPN for providing an advance copy.

Tim Richmond: To The Limit airs at 8PM ET on ESPN Tuesday night. It then re-airs on ESPN2 at 11PM and again on Wednesday at 7:30PM.

Always happy to have your comments. We will repost this after the original airing on Tuesday for additional opinions. In the meantime, please feel free to add your comment by clicking the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Charlotte On ABC

What an interesting night in Charlotte. While the drama of the Chase played out on the track, the ongoing drama of changes on the TV production team played out on the air.

Allen Bestwick had a full house again in the Infield Pit Studio of Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Their comments were interesting from the start and continue to show the information gap between Evernham and the other two analysts.

Bestwick also provided the recaps out of commercial break and several times interacted with the pit reporters to provide updated information before sending the telecast back to the broadcast booth.

Marty Reid called the race and again had a tough time with the size and scope of a Sprint Cup Series event on a big track. Several times Dale Jarrett called out that there was an accident while Reid struggled to provide the reasons for other cautions. This is Reid's first season in this role on ESPN.

Andy Petree frequently disagreed with Tim Brewer in the Tech Garage. Brewer was thrown on the air several times in scenarios that just made him look awful. A stuck throttle on Kyle Busch's car and a failing alternator for Jeff Gordon wound-up with Brewer providing instant updates that were immediately dismissed by Petree from the booth. As we spoke about in the live race post, waiting for the right information before using Brewer is a real issue in the Chase races.

The lights at CMS are great, but the beautiful aerial shots of the speedway were few and far between. ESPN shoots these races like a football game, following the leaders and then moving to another shot only if something happens on the track. It is a philosophy of motorsports coverage that has been used for four seasons.

One bright spot was the pitstop coverage, under both caution and green flag conditions. It was great to see double video boxes on green flag stops and the wideshot at the end of pit road to see cars race off after caution flag stops.

ESPN delivered another race with no technical problems and that should be remembered. The technical folks gave the production people the tools to tell the story in compelling manner once again.

NASCAR faced tough competition tonight from Major League Baseball and college football. It was truly crunch time for the NASCAR on ESPN team.

Thanks to NASCAR Now Lead Reporter Marty Smith for the Victory Lane picture above.

Take a moment to give us your wrap-up of the race coverage tonight on ABC. 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 taking the time to stop by.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Charlotte (7PM ET - ABC)

The NASCAR on ESPN team had a long day yesterday and tonight they end the on-track coverage from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The pre-race show begins at 7PM on ABC.

Allen Bestwick has Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the Infield Pit Studio. Yesterday, it was tough for these four to get airtime with the active racing on the track and all the unfolding stories.

Tim Brewer continues in the Tech Garage. Lately, Brewer has been quickly updating things that go wrong on the track. The problem is, he is often the one who is proven wrong when the driver or crew chief is interviewed. Brewer is in a tough spot, but perhaps suggesting what may be wrong as opposed to telling viewers might make more sense.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch are the pit road reporters. It is always interesting to see the personal on-air dynamics between these four and the drivers they are assigned to cover. Little and Welch are "in your face" style reporters while Punch and Burns are more low-key.

Embattled Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are playing on a very big stage tonight. First, this is a home game for the sport and second the telecast is on ABC up against a key MLB playoff game on FOX and college football on ESPN.

"Sell it" is a term heard in TV when producers try to encourage the on-air talent to get excited about the sport they are covering and relay that excitement to the viewers. In the middle of a ratings slump and up against stiff competition, tonight the entire NASCAR on ESPN gang is going to have to "sell it."

Saturday night, the ESPN director continually cut to tight shots and missed action or incidents on the track. He missed key moments on pit road and even used an in-car camera shot on the final lap. In terms of directing a live TV sports event after four years of covering the sport, it was dismal.

If ESPN decides to present this event with the same style of coverage that leaves viewers in the dark to the stories and racing on the track, it is going to be the end of the Chase for many. Wideshots under the lights on TV from CMS are some of the most spectacular in the business.

Everything is right there waiting for the TV team. Good stories, a great track and a nice night for action in primetime. What ESPN chooses to do with those pieces of the NASCAR puzzle will be something we will watch and discuss right here tonight.

This post will serve to host your comments about the Sprint Cup Series coverage from Charlotte Motor Speedway on ABC. 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.

Note: There is a Brian France press conference at 2:30PM ET on Saturday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. We will live blog it on Twitter and then provide a wrap-up of any and all media-related topics discussed right here and on our Facebook fan page.

Update #2: Looks like fuel injection and a new fuel blend is coming to NASCAR. Will update details after the press conference. More info is available on Jayski right now. Sunoco Green E15 is the new fuel, 15% domestic ethanol. Starts in Daytona in 2011.

Update #1: Wendy Venturini passes along that Randy Pemberton will be taking her place today on SPEED's RaceDay show. Venturini's husband experienced a death in the family and they are out of town today.

The live blog for NASCAR RaceDay on SPEED, NASCAR Countdown on ABC and the live race telecast will open at 4:30PM ET Saturday. Join us!

Friday, October 15, 2010

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From Charlotte (7:30PM - ESPN2)

All eyes are on the ESPN TV team this weekend in Charlotte. Two key production personalities are no longer working on the NASCAR telecasts. The Sr. Coordinating Producer has moved into the chair and will be line producing tonight's race.

After the problems with college football, the Nationwide Series finally gets some primetime TV on ESPN2 with no scheduling issues. The TV pictures in Charlotte under the lights are wonderful and the field is fast with lots of diverse personalities and agendas represented.

Allen Bestwick has a full house tonight with Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Evernham is always a welcome presence and certainly deserves a bigger role in ESPN's future coverage. Daugherty and Wallace have been working on their act for several seasons. TV viewers know the drill.

Marty Reid is on his first full NASCAR tour of duty for ESPN and he has been having a tough time since the Sprint Cup Series coverage began. ESPN has Reid double-up on both Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races. He also handles practice and qualifying. Even with some relief provided by Allen Bestwick, it's been a struggle.

All the regulars are on pit road. Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns are covering both races this weekend. ESPN puts the emphasis on the stars of the Cup Series that cross-over to race in on the Nationwide side. That often leaves some key stories of the race untold.

Tonight in Charlotte the racing is going to be fast and furious. The ESPN approach of zooming into one or two cars racing is simply not going to work. Reid is often caught watching the TV monitors, especially when something happens on the track out of camera range.

This is going to be a great opportunity to see if ESPN is going to change their style of coverage after the change in production personnel and the struggling ratings. CMS is a great track for TV to step back, show the racing and let the drivers worry about putting on a show.

Commercials are tough at Charlotte, especially under green flag racing. Pit stops are key, so it's going to be a challenge to get the commercial breaks in without missing some key racing moments.

This post will serve to host your TV-related comments on ESPN2's coverage of the Nationwide Series race from CMS. 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.

ESPN TV Team Front And Center On Friday

We haven't seen too many Fridays this season when ESPN2 was flying solo on the NASCAR TV coverage and SPEED was dark. Take a quick peek at the Friday schedule on the left side of this page and you will see that is exactly what is coming up from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

There are going to be two TV teams working. Marty Reid will be up in the TV booth with his partners Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Down in the Infield Studio will be Allen Bestwick, Ray Evernham, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

Since the ESPN2 coverage is so extensive, the two teams will take turns handling parts of the coverage. This has been done before, where the Infield guys basically look out the window and use the ESPN video for their real view of the track.

Once again this season, ESPN has not brought in another group of booth announcers to call the Nationwide Series races once the network's Sprint Cup Series coverage begins. Using Reid, Jarrett and Petree on both has not brought the desired results in ratings or continued focus on Nationwide Series topics.

Dr. Jerry Punch is fresh off his Hall of Fame voting and leads the pack of four pit reporters on the day. Jamie Little has come a long way from her "how do you feel about that" days and seems to finally fit-in with the NASCAR set. Sometimes it seems, however, that Vince Welch and Dave Burns are outsiders looking in.

Burns has a long history in the sport and has even called play-by-play for some Nationwide Series races this season. His pit road presence is better when he is being a nice guy and awkward when he is suddenly pushing for answers to issues ESPN has deemed important.

Vince Welch had a tough summer. After a July auto accident, Welch is back on pit road and working to get his NASCAR credibility. Some fans still remember his IndyCar background on TV that stretches back to 1999. Click here to see Juan Montoya respond to Welch's misguided attempt to create some issues from thin air last season.

As Friday progresses, it should be interesting to see the various on-air dynamics unfold between this rather diverse group or announcers. This is the time of the year when frustrations rise and ESPN quite clearly has not been experiencing the kind of results that the network expected when it signed the last NASCAR TV contract.

The night ends with coverage of the Nationwide Series race, which we will blog live right here at 7PM ET. Please join us then, but in the meantime leave us a comment on the ESPN TV team or the Friday coverage. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hall Of Fame TV Coverage Comments

Both SPEED and ESPN2 had coverage from the Hall of Fame. The inductees announcement caught many off-guard.

The NASCAR fan comments below started as a live blog but continued as more folks watched the recordings of the preview show on SPEED, the live announcement, NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and then Race Hub on SPEED.

I enjoyed the debate in the preview show, including Kyle Petty repeatedly making the point that this was not an induction for Cup Series drivers, but one that should include folks who had a broad history in the sport. It certainly did turn out that way.

Nominee Darrell Waltrip appeared on the preview show, as well as the program after the announcement and then Race Hub. Waltrip made a lot of comments that seemed to rub some folks wrong. I just took them as someone passionate about getting another honor in the sport.

Dr. Jerry Punch was on NASCAR Now and revealed a lot of detail about how and why the selections were made. Punch was outstanding, but ESPN really did not give him the time he deserved to address those issues. Perhaps, next season the network might not host the show from the Connecticut studios.

Great to see Randy Pemberton on TV again after major back surgery. Pemberton had some tough interviews to handle before and after the selections were announced. He has a very long history in the sport and was the right person to put in this position.

There were four hours of live TV involved in the Hall of Fame selections. We would like your comments on what you watched, how you liked it and what you think should be improved for the future.

To leave 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.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

SPEED Names Patti Wheeler EVP Of Programming And Production

The changes at SPEED since FOX executive David Hill took over direct responsibility for the network have been ongoing. Today, Hill took his biggest step in naming veteran TV executive Patti Wheeler as Executive Vice President of Programming and Production. In essence, that hands day-to-day responsibility for the network to Wheeler.

Here is some information from the official SPEED media release:

“Beginning Nov. 1, Patti will take the lead in two crucial areas at SPEED,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “Program development is key to any network’s continuing evolution, and with our substantial commitment to a live network presence at all NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events headlining a massive motor sports production schedule, bringing in someone with Patti’s credentials and experience strengthens the entire SPEED team.”

Wheeler, who has produced every major racing series for every broadcast and cable network that has ever done motor sports, started her career at age 22 as a producer/director of live NASCAR races. She later served as Director of Motorsports and Executive Producer for TNN. Prior to founding her own company, Wheeler Television, Inc., Wheeler was President of World Sports Enterprises, the leading motorsports television production company in the U.S.

A graduate of Belmont Abbey College, Wheeler lives in Charlotte with her husband, Leo Hindery, Jr., and their two teenagers. She has been named one of NASCAR’s Top 25 Most Powerful People by the Charlotte Observer and was included on the Charlotte Business Journal list of Top Forty Under Forty.

We often see management changes when a new executive is put in charge of a major property. Hill was frustrated over the years that SPEED was managed by executives at FOX's Cable Networks group. Now, Hill is fully in charge of the entire SPEED franchise and that should bring even more changes down the road.

Keep in mind that the original reason SPEED moved from Stamford, CT to Charlotte, NC was to become a fulltime NASCAR TV network. Those plans never worked and lots of things have changed since then. It should be interesting to see how this new addition to SPEED effects what NASCAR fans see at home.

I can take your comments and questions in the comments section below. Just click on the comments button, there is no sign-up or auth code. Just talking NASCAR TV.

Talking NASCAR TV On The Rowdy Podcast

Thanks to the boys at Rowdy for including me in their Tuesday podcast. Click here to open the homepage. Click on the "Play Today's Podcast" link on the right side of the page to open the podcast. It will load quickly and then play.

Let me know what you thought of the topics we discussed. Lots of good questions and issues in NASCAR TV land at this time of the season.

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

Tuesday TV/Media Notes

Here are some items that crossed the TDP desk early in the week:

Steve Byrnes mentioned on the Monday night Race Hub show that SPEED would be carrying the January testing from Daytona International Speedway. We will try to get more details and pass them along. Testing is Jan. 20 - 22.

The picture above is of the late Benny Parsons at Daytona in 1969 running an ARCA car. Wednesday is the voting and announcement of the next inductees into the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Parsons is one of those nominated. SPEED has a preview show at 3PM and the live announcement at 4PM ET. The good news for fans who are away from the TV is that will stream the announcement live starting at 4PM. Thanks to our friends at Turner Sports!

On a tough note, Neil Goldberg has been let go by ESPN. Goldberg was the Sr. Producer for NASCAR on ESPN and worked for NASCAR on FOX prior to that. He was arrested last week on a variety of charges after a Peeping Tom incident in his own neighborhood. Let's hope he gets some help and is able to confront the behavior that led to the incident.

Tuesday Mike Massaro hosts NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 5PM ET. He will have Tony Stewart and AJ Allmendinger as guests. Both are set to announce new sponsors for 2011. Steve Byrnes hosts Race Hub on SPEED at 7PM. Rick Allen will stop by to preview his votes for the Hall of Fame. Also, Kurt Busch and Allmendinger are on the program.

The overnight (early) TV ratings are in and the NASCAR struggles continue. There were a ton of TV choices on Sunday and the race telecast got the expected results. From Jim Utter of - Overnight ESPN TV ratings for Sunday's NASCAR Cup race at Auto Club Speedway are off 26 percent from year ago on ABC (2.3 to 3.1).

ESPN was kind enough to send along an advance copy of Tim Richmond: To The Limit that will air on Tuesday, October 19 at 8PM ET. This program will be on ESPN and is part of the 30 for 30 series that has been fantastic. The Richmond program is produced by Rory Karpf of the NASCAR Media Group. I'll be screening the show later this week and publish a review.

Finally, Shane Hmiel's family is updating his condition on a new Facebook page. Click here for the link that has the most up to date info and some great comments from fans. All our best to Shane and his family during this difficult time.

We will add any additional stories that pop-up on Tuesday right here. In the meantime, please feel free to comment on the topics mentioned above. 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.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Neil Goldberg No Longer Employed By ESPN

Here is an updated story on former NASCAR on ESPN Sr. Producer Neil Goldberg, arrested last week in Connecticut on a number of criminal charges stemming from a Peeping Tom incident.

By John Ourand, Staff Writer for Sports Business Daily:

ESPN has let go Neil Goldberg, the Senior Producer for NASCAR who was arrested last week in Connecticut on public indecency charges, sources say. Goldberg's boss, Sr. Coordinating Producer Jill Frederickson, handled production for ESPN's NASCAR races over the weekend and plans to work this weekend's races, as well.

Goldberg has not worked at ESPN since his arrest last week, which also included charges of simple trespass, disorderly conduct and breach of peace. ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys would only confirm that Goldberg no longer works for ESPN.

This should close a very difficult time for the NASCAR TV team. This group travels together from February through November producing all the Nationwide Series races and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series events.

Thanks to our friends at for the update.

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series From Fontana On ESPN

The wind was blowing, the sun was shining and the Sprint Cup Series was racing at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA on ESPN. As pictured above, Sharon Stone was out to wave the green flag and Kenny Loggins sang the anthem.

Allen Bestwick started the day from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. These three discussed extensively the Kyle Busch vs. David Reutimann scrap from the previous week. There was a feature on Jimmie Johnson at his annual fund raising efforts in the area.

ESPN repeated a feature on Greg Biffle that had been used earlier in the week and strangely avoided the Danica Patrick accident from the day before.

Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree were in the TV booth. This is Reid's first time in the NASCAR booth for the Chase and it's clearly been a learning experience. Jarrett and Petree have been adjusting to the style of Reid which is very different from the previous seasons of Jerry Punch.

Sometimes, it seems that Jarrett would like to be involved in the play-by-play call of the race, as he jumps in from time to time with bursts of excitement. Reid was caught several times working off the TV monitors in the booth when looking out the front window would have shown him the reason for the caution on the track.

Dr. Jerry Punch is an ER doctor, but it was Allen Bestwick who offered the medical update on injured USAC driver Shane Hmiel and Dave Burns who updated the fact that #31 crew chief Todd Berrier had been transported to the hospital before the race.

Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch were the remaining pit reporters. Burns got clobbered on pit road before the race while talking to Jeff Gordon by another camera crew. It was just one of those moments for Burns, who normally flies under the radar.

Race coverage consisted of ESPN alternating between using wideshots with in-car cameras early, then tight shots for entire segments and finally the insertion of the double video boxes toward the latter part of the race. The boxes were then dumped with about 40 laps to go and appeared again briefly with less than 20 laps in the race.

ESPN had no technical problems and made great pictures. The race featured some segments of good racing and some that were rather boring. There were no tire problems and only minor incidents that brought out the caution.

The TV coverage had good stories to follow as mechanical troubles affected several of the favorites and speeding penalties sent some cars to the tail of the longest line. The race ended inside of the scheduled timeslot and featured one final crucial pitstop.

This post is your opportunity to offer a race wrap-up of the ESPN 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 stopping by.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Fontana (ESPN - 2PM ET)

This week NASCAR is on the West Coast, so both the pre-race show and the live event coverage are on ESPN. It's 2PM ET for NASCAR Countdown and 3PM for the race.

Allen Bestwick starts the day from the Infield Pit Studio with Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. Danica Patrick was the story in the Saturday Nationwide Series race, running strong until getting turned on the backstretch in her first NASCAR payback situation. It should be interesting to see if this makes the Sprint Cup Series pre-race show.

ESPN has been on the Kyle Busch vs. David Reutimann bandwagon all week long. At the Fontana track, Busch has been giving the media additional soundbites that should allow ESPN to make the issue a key pre-race topic.

Chasers vs. racers is again at the forefront as tempers are tight, sponsorship money is scarce and there are lots of teams that need a good performance and some TV time. They dynamic of racers not giving Chasers an inch on the track is relatively new and should wind-up being a story in the race coverage.

Marty Reid is calling the race with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the TV booth. This is the first event since Reid's interview on Yahoo! Sports. Reid said blogs like TDP are basically full of like-minded people who gang up on those who disagree.

He said blogs don't provide constructive criticism, ESPN shows the best battles for position on the track and that drivers are targeted for coverage because they are important, not because there is some sort of TV script. Click here for the interview.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch are going to cover pit road. Punch has raised the level of reporting from this crew and quickly made the performance of the pit reporters a non-issue. This change has been drastic from the antagonistic and often adversarial relationship ESPN had with the drivers for the past several seasons.

Tim Brewer is continuing to labor in the Tech Garage. There is almost nothing new Brewer can add after fans have watched coverage on FOX, TNT and ESPN since February. It should be interesting to see if ESPN makes the decision to return the Tech Garage for 2011.

The Auto Club Speedway is full of seams in the pavement that control the racing and affect the cars. Goodyear was dealing with a tearing problem in some tires that will hopefully be fixed prior to the event. Speeds at Fontana are far too great for tire problems to happen.

TV coverage from ESPN continues to be a wideshot with the camera then zooming into a small pack of two or three cars. On a track like Fontana, this causes continual frustration for the viewer. ESPN just cannot sit still and let the racing on the track speak for itself. Keep your eyes out for the number of times tight camera shots cause passing or incidents to be missed on TV.

This is a critical telecast today. NASCAR starts later than the early NFL game and is going to have to draw viewers away from those games already in progress. The race also runs into the second NFL game and will need to keep those fans glued to NASCAR until the checkers. It's going to be a big challenge with the nature of racing at Fontana.

As always, we invite your comment on the ESPN coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Auto Club 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From Fontana (ESPN2 - 4PM ET)

That's Auto Club Speedway president Gillian Zucker smiling because Danica is back. The California crowd might not know many of the Nationwide Series regulars, but they all know Danica.

It's Allen Bestwick who will lead ESPN2 on the air at 4PM ET with the NASCAR Countdown show. Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace will be alongside Bestwick in the Infield Pit Studio. Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Garage.

Calling the race will be Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. The pit road reporters are Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns.

Auto Club Speedway has been struggling for attendance in the Southern California market. While Danica's return might have given the speedway something to use in advertising, it's doubtful that Cali fans are going to turn out for this race in force.

On the TV side, there is no college football game before the race or the pre-race show this Saturday. The West Coast start time forced ESPN2 to move college product to other ESPN networks.

This post will serve to host your comments on the TV coverage by ESPN of the Nationwide Series race from Auto Club Speedway. 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.

ARCA Peeks At NASCAR's Past

The Rock holds special memories for fans who made the drive to Rockingham, NC for the NASCAR races over the years. Now privately run, the track hosts some smaller series and is a popular rental for NASCAR teams who want to test.

Today at 1:30PM ET SPEED is telecasting the final ARCA race of the season from the Rock. Rick Allen and Phil Parsons are going to call the race. Ray Dunlap and Jim Tretow are on pit road.

The ARCA Series limps into the Rock like so many other racing series around the nation. Title sponsorship is gone, teams are struggling to make ends meet and the "rent a ride" boom is in full swing.

Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess and Tom Hessert are the three ARCA regulars who are battling it out for the championship. Sheltra is a Florida native backed by his family-owned construction business. New Jersey's Goess is a Legends car veteran in his second ARCA season racing for Eddie Sharp.

Hessert is the most interesting story of the three. Click here for a recent story on the website about Hessert's family sponsorship and the vast difference in culture between his team and most of the ARCA regulars.

Rockingham offers a narrow backstretch where accidents happen quickly and a wide and well-banked frontstretch that has made for exciting side-by-side action for many years. SPEED's live ARCA coverage is rather fundamental and is basically a throwback to the days of limited equipment and "old school" racing coverage on TV.

With current racetrack owner Andy Hillenburg unable to afford installing a SAFER Barrier, it does not look like NASCAR's truck series or even the regional series will be returning to the Rock anytime soon. This maybe the only opportunity for some fans to get a glimpse into NASCAR's past.

We welcome your comments on the coverage of the ARCA race from Rockingham on SPEED. 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.

Friday, October 8, 2010

SPEED And ESPN2 Split Friday TV

John Roberts is back in the TV booth this weekend for SPEED but Darrell Waltrip is not. Waltrip is getting ready for next Wednesday, when the network will cover the selection of the new nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Roberts will be joined by Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds in the booth at the Auto Club Speedway. This crew starts with Nationwide Series practice at 2PM ET. They take a break for ESPN2 coverage, then resume with the second round of practice at 4:30PM.

Throughout the day Wendy Venturini, Bob Dillner, Randy Pemberton and Hermie Sadler will rotate on the different SPEED shows as reporters.

Marty Reid, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are doing double duty again this week, calling the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races. Friday they begin with Sprint Cup Series practice at 3PM ET. They return at 6:30PM with Sprint Cup Series qualifying.

ESPN has Dr. Jerry Punch, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Vince Welch as reporters this weekend. Tim Brewer is also in the Tech Garage. Allen Bestwick will be working from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty.

The day ends with Trackside on SPEED going up against NASCAR Now on ESPN2 at 8:30PM. Krista Voda hosts on SPEED with guests Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman. Nicole Briscoe is in the ESPN2 studios hosting with analyst Ricky Craven.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Friday TV coverage from these two networks as the day goes by. 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.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

ESPN Sr. NASCAR Producer Arrested (Updated 5PM ET)

It's been a very difficult day for ESPN. Network veteran Neil Goldberg, pictured above in the NASCAR TV production truck, has been arrested in Connecticut on four criminal charges. Goldberg is currently the Sr. Motorsports Producer for ESPN.

The nature of the charges makes it all the worse as ESPN has a long history of sexually-related incidents and arrests. The story is already making its way through the sports blogs and will no doubt be in the mainstream media soon.

Here is a concise summary from the website:

An ESPN producer turned himself into authorities on Tuesday after he was caught peering into a neighbor’s window and masturbating while she was getting dressed.

Neil Goldberg was charged with public indecency, simple trespass, disorderly conduct and breach of peace, according to police in Connecticut. Last month, a neighbor walking her dog spotted Goldberg standing on a stool and masturbating while peering in a window. Goldberg later admitted to police that he watched his neighbor get dressed in her bedroom.

The 52-year-old Goldberg is a senior producer for ESPN’s motorsports coverage. He posted $1,000 bail and is scheduled to appear in Superior Court later this month in Hartford, CT.

Update: At 5PM ET ESPN advised that they are still in the process of looking into the situation. Goldberg will not be traveling to California for the ESPN NASCAR coverage. Sr. Coordinating Producer Jill Fredrickson will be producing the Sprint Cup Series race from Auto Club Speedway on Sunday.

Earlier this year, the network suspended analyst Randy LaJoie for failing a NASCAR drug test. LaJoie has been reinstated by NASCAR, but remains suspended from ESPN. Columnist Jay Mariotti was involved in a domestic incident in Los Angeles resulting in his arrest. Mariotti has not worked for ESPN since that time.

In the interest of fairness, I have known Goldberg since the 1980's when we worked on the ESPN NASCAR and Formula 1 telecasts. I have not been in contact with him for over a decade. He is one of the most veteran motorsports producers in the country.

Once ESPN releases a statement on this issue, comments will be opened.

Wednesday TV/Media Notes

Here we go with some mid-week NASCAR notes:

Aretha sang "R-E-S-P-E-C-T" and that was the NASCAR Fan Council email topic this week. Do your friends and family respect you when they find out you follow NASCAR? Are your personal values the same as the sport of NASCAR?

Other marketing research questions concerned the quality and length of the Kansas races as well as TV viewing habits. The Fan Council is a group of volunteers used to get timely data about various topics within the sport. Click here for the website.

It's true, the boys from South Park have a NASCAR-themed episode ready for airing Wednesday night at 10PM on Comedy Central. "Poor and stupid" is the title of the show, so it's probably a good idea for folks not familiar with the adult content and harsh comedy to take everything with a grain of salt. Click here for a brief preview.

The TV ratings for the Sprint Cup Series race from Kansas are out and the trend of smaller audiences continues. Here is the official scoop from

ESPN's live telecast of the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kansas Speedway on Sunday, Oct. 3, earned a final national household coverage rating of 2.3, averaging 3.7 million viewers, according to the Nielsen Company. Last year's race aired on ABC and earned a 3.2 rating.

To put these numbers in yet another perspective, last week's Jersey Shore on MTV attracted 6.7 million viewers on cable while Sunday Night Football boasted 15.9 million on broadcast TV.

Just a heads-up that next Wednesday is the Hall of Fame selection day. TV coverage is on SPEED at 3PM with an edited preview show and then the live announcement in the 4PM hour. One of the potential nominees is working for SPEED.

"I’m going to be crying either way," said Darrell Waltrip. "If I am lucky enough to get in this group, it will be very emotional and if I don’t I will be really disappointed and sad. I’m one of those guys who can’t cover up his emotions."

"I think my record as a driver is as good as anybody’s," Waltrip continued. "In the modern era, since 1972, I’ve won more races than anyone."

Ironically, Waltrip will be joined on SPEED for the telecast by Mike Joy, Ken Squier and Kyle Petty. All three of those NASCAR personalities are also voting members of the selection committee.

In reference to the audio problems on Sunday's Kansas pre-race show, ESPN is in deep denial. Nationwide on ESPN2 there was nothing but static for 33 minutes on both cable and satellite providers. Hundreds of fans confirmed the problem from coast to coast. The ESPN2HD feed was fine, suggesting the problem was in Bristol, CT.

Here is the official ESPN response to NASCAR fans who emailed about the situation:

Your feedback is appreciated and will be passed on to our technicians for review.

However, please note that the feed send out by ESPN is being monitored constantly for quality assurance and no such technical problems have been detected.

Please contact your local cable or satellite provider regarding the technical difficulties you're experiencing, to make sure the problem does not stem from their transmission or your outlet.

Part of the problem with denying the issue was the fact that ESPN2 never ran a crawl telling affected viewers to tune to ESPN2HD if possible. As a matter of fact, no crawl appeared at any time to help viewers understand the overall situation.

ESPN did remind us that a Twitter message was sent and Allen Bestwick apologized on the air once the problem was fixed. The network is still trying to determine exactly what happened.

On the TV scheduling front, BET moved Changing Lanes from 8 to 10PM ET Wednesdays without even a press release. The series will finish the season at that time. Not a classy move by the network for a new original series.

NASCAR - Next Generation is a quiet little show at 7:30PM ET Wednesday nights on VERSUS. Produced by the NASCAR Media Group, it's a nice look at the up and coming racers. Great show to record for later viewing.

If you are a fan of classic NASCAR tracks, the ARCA Series returns to Rockingham Speedway on Saturday for the season finale on SPEED at 1PM. Always good to see that track back in use with stock cars. Steve Park, Ty Dillon and Tim George will mix it up with ARCA regulars Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess and Tom Hessert.

The full TV schedule is on the left side of this page and is continually updated with announcers and show guests. Please click the comment button below to leave your opinion on any of the topics mentioned above. 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, October 4, 2010

Your Turn: Sprint Cup Series On ESPN From Kansas Speedway

Beautiful weather welcomed ESPN2 and ESPN to the Kansas Speedway. An audio problem on the ESPN2 feed affected many viewers for slightly longer than thirty minutes. Those affected heard only static. Over on ESPN2HD, there was no problem.

Allen Bestwick hosted from the Infield Pit Studio with Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Marty Reid called the race with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch were on pit road.

This race featured long green runs interrupted by David Reutimann and Kyle Busch exchanging contact with some hard feelings. Both drivers continued in the race, so TV was unable to interview either one at the time.

ESPN is featuring two video boxes on the screen this season and began that immediately from the start. On this race, the first commercial was on lap 9. Few caution periods meant a lot of commercial breaks in action.

The feature of this telecast was the Chase. Stories that did not include Chase drivers were slowly moved away and rarely were the non-Chase drivers featured on any type of field rundown. Instead, tires became the feature of the telecast.

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

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Kansas (ESPN/ESPN2 - 12PM ET)

Once again this week, the TV coverage will begin on ESPN2 with the pre-race show and shift to ESPN for the race itself. This is a function of the races being moved from ABC to ESPN and the network already having an NFL show in the 11AM - 1PM timeslot.

Allen Bestwick is hosting the telecast today from the Infield Pit Studio. Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace are alongside. Tim Brewer is in the Tech Garage. The focus should again be on the Chase with perhaps a news item or two breaking into the line-up.

Marty Reid is back in the broadcast booth with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. Reporting from pit road are Dr. Jerry Punch, Jamie Little, Dave Burns and Vince Welch.

ESPN is once again struggling with bad reviews and low ratings. Fans have chimed in with all kinds of suggestions about the reasons why NASCAR is having a tough time in the playoffs. Hopefully, good action on the track may help the cause today.

There are no weather issues and there should be a good crowd today. Kansas has a history of turning out a lot of race fans for NASCAR events. This speedway is a pet project of the ISC and having a successful event here is very important to the France family.

TV has fun at Kansas because there are many great views of the racing action. The aerial view shows the facility while the speed shots work to relay how fast the track actually is for these cars. ESPN struggled on Saturday with the NNS event, using tight shots that rarely showed more than three cars and missed most of the action.

ESPN has a formula for these events that fans and TV viewers know all too well. It puts a continual emphasis on the Chasers and lets the actual events of the race slowly slip away. It's a tough challenge to cover both inside one race.

This week is going to be pivotal in the Chase. Not for the racers, but for the TV network. ESPN needs to deliver an interesting and focused presentation that keeps the fans watching TV and lets the emphasis be on what is happening on the track, not what the network chooses to show.

Over the last several weeks, ESPN has gone to the first in-race commercial before lap ten. They have run the final commercial inside of twenty laps to go and once within ten. No one understands what is happening with this company that was once a critical partner with NASCAR in the growth of the sport.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ESPN presentation of the Sprint Cup Series race from Kansas Speedway. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.