Friday, February 26, 2010

Phil Parsons Enjoys Some Home Cooking

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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