Monday, January 31, 2011

Sprint Cup Races Still Missing Online Component

As we move into the new racing season, the Turner Sports folks have already announced that the Camping World Truck Series will be the first to have a full time online application. Called TruckBuddy, every race will have extra race cameras, in-truck views, scoring information and more available online at no charge. The truck series races are televised by SPEED.

This brother of the original RaceBuddy was introduced at Martinsville last year to positive reviews. All of these online applications are hosted at the website. Turner Sports runs and also holds all of the online content rights for the sport.

FOX begins 2011 Sprint Cup Series coverage with the Daytona 500. Unfortunately, no announcement was made concerning RaceBuddy for the FOX races this season. The difference between FOX and SPEED is easy to understand. FOX is an over-the-air broadcast network, while SPEED is distributed directly by satellite and cable TV.

Current SPEED honcho David Hill is the former president of FOX Sports and always said he would not allow online streaming in order to protect the exclusivity of the telecast for the FOX affiliates. The issue on the table is that online streaming of the race itself and use of the RaceBuddy application are two completely different animals.

Turner Sports designed "Buddy" to be offered as an addition to a NASCAR TV telecast. The actual feed of the TV program, including the announcer audio, is not included. Used on the Gatorade Duels, the trucks and TNT's Sprint Cup Series races this online concept has encouraged fans to get more involved in creating their own race experience.

It's certainly not clear why any FOX local station would have a problem with two individual cameras, an in-car feed and an aerial shot being streamed online. In fact, there are several very positive elements that RaceBuddy provides to actually support the TV telecast.

One of the biggest fan frustrations is the inability to see the race as it continues during frequent TV commercial breaks. Once again this season, NASCAR and the Sprint Cup Series TV networks have been unable to make the side-by-side commercial format work for the race telecasts. That means approximately one-third of each race will be lost for TV viewers.

RaceBuddy allows fans to continue to watch the telecast during commercials but also keep an eye on the live action. The battle-cam, pit road cam and aerial views allow fans to see what is going on and anticipate the return of the telecast after the commercial. When the live telecast resumes, the focus shifts back naturally to the TV and the full production of the race.

Also lost in the shuffle is the fact that RaceBuddy offers a location for fan chat and customized scoring information. Currently, fan chat is scattered across the Internet and social media sites. Scoring is provided by a silent ticker that traces across the top of the TV screen.

One of the thrusts of NASCAR's agenda this season is to reach out to the younger demographic that used to comprise a key element of the sport's fan base. Unfortunately, NASCAR telecasts ask young fans to sit for three hours watching on a machine with the only option being a volume control. In a world of interactive and online youth, the result has been predictable.

The bottom line is that RaceBuddy gives younger fans who are used to being interactive with their media that chance without compromising the integrity of the television presentation. These two elements can exist together in a cooperative environment that actually strengthens all of the parties involved.

TV gets something that can take away fan anger about commercials without costing the networks a dime. Turner gets to sell a RaceBuddy sponsorship and move forward with the long-neglected online development of the sport. NASCAR gets an online application that offers younger fans a new level of interactivity.

If FOX, Turner Sports and NASCAR cannot work out a deal it does not make a bit of difference what ole DW says, how fast the cars go or who wins. In 2011, a major professional sport like NASCAR is simply not going to thrive without a focused online application for every live event.

NASCAR should be scrambling to make sure that the Daytona 500 is seen on RaceBuddy around the online world in a manner that will make Internet users want to find and watch the full TV coverage. For a company deep into its own online ventures, the FOX attitude on this topic is hard to understand.

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 The Daly Planet.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Brian France's State Of The Sport Address

Updated: This post was originally the live blog from the "State of the Sport" adddress delivered by Brian France Wednesday night. In order to let readers who did not watch this presentation understand what happened, I am leaving this original post up so you can review the comments. Just click on the comments button below.

In essence, France presented a rambling non-scripted explanation of the new points system. He reviewed some other changes and then took questions from the media. Unfortunately, the feed failed in the middle of his remarks and on location there were also audio and video failures. It looked like only one camera was working in the venue.

SPEED TV actually left the live press conference as media members asked key questions so Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond could give opinions on Race Hub. Ironically, Waltrip was very interested in what was being asked by the reporters. He must have been watching online. Despite everything going on, Race Hub closed the show at 8PM.

ESPN gave France some live coverage on SportsCenter and then moved on after several minutes as France continued his obtuse style of speaking. Several drivers called in to offer initial reaction to the changes, including a very informative Jeff Burton.

Please feel free to add your comments on the day after the big press conference.

Here we go with the first live blog of the season. begins streaming from the NASCAR Hall of Fame at 6:30PM and will carry the entire live press conference. SPEED's "Race Hub" will join live at 7PM and carry Brian France's remarks.

After France is done, it will be Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond with host Steve Byrnes in the SPEED studios to discuss this topic. Waltrip and Byrnes, as well as the Race Hub program are very active on Twitter. Hopefully, fan comments will be included.

No one really knows what France has in mind tonight. Points were not a hot topic after last season, but that issue has risen to the top of the board as far as the media is concerned. NASCAR's top executives also said last week that France was still in the process of determining how the Sprint Cup Series would be structured this season.

This should be an interesting night. We welcome your comments before, during and after France's remarks. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Just click the comments button below to post and use the refresh function to see new comments being posted. Thank you for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Crunch Time

It's a NASCAR dynamic that has never been seen before. A moment that is going to be captured by social media in real time. It's history unfolding right in front of the reporters assigned to tell the story. It's pivotal words being spoken about the future in a building that celebrates the past.

Wednesday night at 6:30PM in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, the sport's top executives will appear in front of the reporters assembled for the Charlotte media tour. Here is the line-up as forwarded by NASCAR.

Brian France, NASCAR Chairman and CEO, who will be the featured speaker at 7PM.

Mike Helton, NASCAR President, who will no doubt be the focus of questions about changes within the Sprint Cup Series.

Paul Brooks, NASCAR Senior Vice President/President NASCAR Media Group, who controls all the television, radio and online rights for the sport. TV ratings are his job.

Steve Phelps, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, who was featured on Undercover Boss. This gave viewers a small glimpse into the lifestyle of a top NASCAR executive.

Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR Managing Director of Public Affairs, who may field some interesting questions on the continuing diversity agenda.

Joie Chitwood III, Daytona International Speedway President, who is expected to focus on the upcoming Speedweeks and update the recent testing in terms of the new pavement at DIS.

Missing from this group are Robin Pemberton, the VP of Competition and Jay Abraham, the COO of the NASCAR Media Group. Also noticeably absent is the yet-to-be-named head of NASCAR's new Integrated Marketing Communications Department, the public spokesman for the sport.

Preliminary remarks are scheduled to get underway shortly after 6:30PM and the entire press conference will be streamed on the website. Click here for the direct link. Originally, was also participating but now only the official NASCAR site will handle the streaming.

At 7PM, Steve Byrnes will be hosting Race Hub on SPEED TV. That show will join the press conference live to get the France remarks and hopefully stay for the questions that will follow. Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond will be in the studio for reaction and analysis after France's remarks.

The reason for all this media focus is easy to understand. Even on Monday and Tuesday of this week, France was still meeting with Sprint Cup Series teams to talk about the season format, race points structure and several topics concerning the 2011 season. In other words, things appear to be last minute.

This past weekend, television viewers saw Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler leave a key game at a crucial time. On TV he appeared to be disinterested, arrogant and not in pain. The images presented angered millions of viewers around the world.

In fact, Cutler had been pulled from the game by the team doctor after a knee injury. In subsequent interviews, the coach and key players all called Cutler one of the toughest football players on the team. The back-up quarterback related that Cutler had been cooperative and helpful during the game. To many fans, it did not matter.

Just like that NFL telecast, NASCAR also ended the season with a perception and a reality. To the NASCAR executives, teams and television networks the season was a success. Three drivers were in contention for the season championship in the last race. In reality, it came down to the wire.

There is, however, a perception that lingers. It has to do with Darrell Waltrip talking over top of Mike Joy and dominating every on-air conversation. It has to do with the tired clown act of Chris Myers. It has to do with Phil Parsons conducting the worst pit road interviews ever seen on national television. It has to do with Marty Reid crumbling down the stretch. It has to do with horrible national anthems for a sport loaded with American pride.

It has to do with one-third of the racing being covered by commercials. It has to do with pictures framed so tightly viewers never see the actual race. It has to do with twelve on-air announcers all fighting to be heard while cars race under green. It has to do with men pointing to shock absorbers on-camera ten months into the racing season.

In short, this was one of the roughest NASCAR TV seasons of Sprint Cup Series coverage in recent memory. The ratings told the tale. So, what is going to change? FOX returns the same on-air line-up as does TNT. ESPN had Ray Evernham depart, but the rest of the group is back. ESPN announced Tuesday that Rusty Wallace had signed a four-year extension to continue as the Lead Studio Analyst.

The reality may be that the Chase worked well and the racing was outstanding. The perception is that the sport is drowning and TV is the anchor dragging it down. At the end of the year, the NFL pounded the Sprint Cup Series into the ground and enjoyed every minute of it.

It's up to one man to convince the fan base that the 2011 reality is going to be quite different. Wednesday night, France needs to offer changes that will excite the fans and create the kind of preseason buzz missing for years.

This one moment in time may be a determining factor for many fans as to whether they commit ten months of weekends to NASCAR or simply take a walk. We know the fans are out there because NASCAR enjoyed their presence for many years.

Low TV ratings aren't due to the economy, over-the-air television or Kyle Petty's ponytail. How many of us got into NASCAR through the old Nashville Network on this new thing called cable TV? NASCAR has been on cable since the 1980's.

It's the dynamic TV coverage of the sport combined with a set of rules that drives competition on the track in every race. That is the only recipe for recovery. France is first with his changes and then FOX, TNT and ESPN each must respond on the air with their new approach. The bottom line is that 2011 is crunch time and the season opens now.

We will have a live blog for your Wednesday comments on the press conference starting shortly after 6PM. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your opinion on the topics mentioned above. 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.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

TV Comments From FOX's David Hill Spark Reaction

It was just a little Monday night reception and hospitality event on the Charlotte Media Tour. The new president of FOX Sports, Eric Shanks, was meeting the NASCAR media. Along with Shanks was Patti Wheeler, who has taken over the programming and production departments at SPEED.

The elephant in the room was the colorful Aussie who is never at a loss for words where his opinions on NASCAR are concerned. FOX Chairman David Hill recently gave up the day-to-day management of FOX Sports to Shanks, but in return took over the SPEED network and immediately installed Wheeler to begin his revamp.

Veteran reporter Dustin Long was at the reception and offered this recap of Hill's comments on a variety of NASCAR topics. Here are the TV and media-related responses.

On the focus of the TV coverage this season:

"What this sport is all about is the driver. Everything else in NASCAR is an afterthought. People follow the sport because the drivers are heroes because that’s what the fans want to hear, superheroes that can do things that only very, very few people can or will. Anyone can be a crew chief. Anyone can be a tire changer. Anyone with the technical ability. Just think about what it takes to drive a car 200 miles an hour. ee sports: Mountain climbing, bullfighting and auto racing. All the rest of the games."

How FOX/SPEED will accomplish this new focus:

"Fox is going to concentrate on the driver, too. Right across the board. We’re putting the emphasis back where it belongs on the driver. We probably haven’t utilized Darrell (Waltrip’s) inner knowledge enough. Darrell is the only one on our (announcing) team, in reality who is a champion. He understands the motivation and what goes on. I don’t know. Is it instinct or is it skill? This is something that I’ve talked to the Alain Prosts about and the Jackie Stewarts. What is it? There’s something that drives them. What we’re going to be doing at Fox and what we’re going to be doing at SPEED is telling stories of drivers."

After confirming FOX would not offer an extended post-race show, Hill talked about his idea for a perfect Sprint Cup Series telecast format:

"Four hours (total). I think that probably 30-40 minutes to set it up, do the race and then tell the story of the race in 15 minutes. That was the beauty of SPEED to take the viewer across there to do that analysis."

Hill offered his idea on the perfect NASCAR tripleheader weekend for TV:

"For me, I would have continuity. I would have truck race on Friday night, I would have the Nationwide race Saturday night and I would have the Cup on at 1 o’clock Sunday. Bang, so everyone knows when it’s on. Everyone knows the football games. Football games are 1 o’clock Sunday. Football games 4 o’clock Sunday. There’s a game on Monday night and game on Sunday night. There are too many other things going on in people’s lives."

In wrapping up, Hill confirmed he would like FOX to remain in the sport but said NASCAR is not the same kind of value as it used to be. He also addressed the issue of online streaming of races. FOX delivers the Sprint Cup Series races over-the-air and Hill has steadfastly maintained that there will be no streaming of races to protect the FOX local stations.

Unfortunately, it seems that no media member asked Hill or Shanks about RaceBuddy. This online technology used for the TNT races is a companion to the race, offering individual cameras, social media conversation and a designated pit reporter for online viewers.

RaceBuddy does not replace the telecast, but expands the viewer's ability to get more information and have more options. The one clear purpose RaceBuddy would serve for FOX is to provide an opportunity to view racing action while the broadcast network is in commercial break.

There are no plans at this point to offer side-by-side commercial breaks on the Sprint Cup Series races. A spokesman for Turner recently confirmed there are no plans in place at the present time to offer RaceBuddy on the FOX or ESPN telecasts.

Turner, TNT and are scheduled to have a media tour function on Thursday, so perhaps some news will come from those parties in reference to some of these issues.

Hill is a character right out of central casting. A brash Aussie, his statements are often confusing given his track record. Here is a man who inserted Digger right over the top of live Sprint Cup Series telecasts, taking away from the focus on the drivers and the race.

Now, Hill is gruffly saying that the focus must be on the drivers and that TV will lead the comeback by example. Few can forget the endless hawking of Digger by Darrell Waltrip on FOX and SPEED telecasts. The same Waltrip who now supports Hill's driver focus once showed-up for a Trackside telecast with a life-size Digger character driving a golf cart. How many times did DW mention Digger merchandise was available on his website?

Hill also was adamant about later start times and eventually pushed through sweeping changes that altered the entire landscape of the sport nationwide. Now, he offers that his perfect start time scenario for Sprint Cup Series races is 1PM local and is suspicious of NASCAR's pending changes.

Sports TV is made up of colorful characters and Hill fits the bill. Love him or hate him, FOX has played a major role in the television development of NASCAR and SPEED is the only TV network located in Charlotte, NC. It should be interesting to see what this season brings from Hill and the gang.

This post is meant to allow 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 The Daly Planet.

Click here to read Dustin's story in full. Thanks to for the link.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Daytona Testing Saturday Live Blog Is Open

Here we go with the final day of testing for the Sprint Cup Series teams in Daytona. This is also the start of a major Internet project for SPEED. Testing will be streamed online in fully-produced form by the NASCAR on SPEED team.

Starting at 9AM on, it will be John Roberts and Jeff Hammond in the host position above Victory Lane. Steve Byrnes, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will be upstairs in the broadcast booth. Krista Voda and Bob Dillner will be reporting from the garage area.

Noon ET is the Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton press conference.

We will use this post to host your comments on this coverage. You can also join us on Twitter where we are @TheDalyPlanet or on our Facebook fan page. Just search for The Daly Planet. Thanks!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Streaming Experiment A Success

Day one of and other websites streaming practice from Daytona is done and reviews are positive. Basically, SPEED produced the kind of coverage we have come to expect from the TV side of the sport. It was professional, candid and focused.

Before we ask for your opinion, here are some personal observations. I wish there was a new music package for the network's coverage, this one is rather tired. SPEED's info bar at the top of the screen again worked just fine with cameras framed around the graphics package. It was nice to see Daytona once again, but scenic shots of the area might help with new fans who are watching the sport for the first time due to the online coverage.

SPEED is quietly leading the way in social media with several of the announcers taking questions directly from fans on Twitter and answering them on the webcast. In addition, some announcers interacted on Twitter directly with fans and media members.

The social media agenda built around the testing and the online coverage showed the power of the Internet where NASCAR is concerned. Several drivers were tweeting directly from their cars and team PR folks were updating constantly during the day. Finally, the good old media members were playing a key role in passing information along on Twitter all day long.

Email complaints included folks with iPads saying the streaming would not work. In addition, I was unable to open the actual streaming on my EVO phone on the website. I would be interested to know how you watched the coverage and what you thought of the entire presentation.

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

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Gentlemen Start Your Computers!

Thursday starts three big days of testing at the newly repaved Daytona International Speedway. Friday at noon ET brings the first major press conference of the year as Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton offer a "competition update" on off-season changes.

This year, TV will take a backseat to Internet technology as SPEED offers fully-produced coverage of all three days and the press conference using online video streaming. Both and the Daytona speedway website will carry the coverage. That means anyone worldwide can simply click on and see NASCAR without restriction.

While prior programming committments by SPEED may have pushed this move, it's a tribute to that network for taking this step despite the lack of advertising revenue or profitability. New SPEED VP Patti Wheeler is starting off on the right foot with NASCAR fans.

It will be John Roberts and Jeff Hammond hosting the coverage from the TV studio located above Victory Lane. The trio of Steve Byrnes, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds will call the on-track activity. Krista Voda and Bob Dillner will be reporting from the garage area.

Here is the three day schedule:

Thursday, Jan. 20
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 5 p.m. (
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (same-day delay) (SPEED TV)

Friday, Jan. 21
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
12 p.m. - Conclusion NASCAR news conference (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. (

Saturday, Jan. 22
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. – (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. – (

This project is actually very exciting from a new media perspective. There are no mandatory commercial breaks, sponsored segments or time constraints. This is wide-open online webcasting at the highest level. You bet that both the TV and NASCAR execs will be keeping an eye on this coverage and the reaction of the fans.

It has been five years since any significant movement has been made in streaming long-form program content from the tracks. Perhaps, some readers may remember the attempt at anchoring a post-race show from the Atlanta studios of Turner Broadcasting. Despite the best efforts of those involved, it was very clear that originating from the track was the only way to go.

Just as is up and running, SPEED also has an online web channel on the agenda for the future. With Turner holding all the online NASCAR rights to action at the racing weekends, this effort from Daytona may help all parties involved to reach some sort of compromise this season to enable more live online video content.

One final note on this topic is the ability of SPEED to interact during these three days directly with online viewers worldwide through Twitter, Facebook and website chat. Without the "TV wall" between the parties, the SPEED announcers should be able to speak with rather than at the viewers.

In one way, this project is a blank piece of paper that will be filled-in as the hours of testing and conversation go by. Roberts is great at directing traffic, while Byrnes, Waltrip, Dillner and Voda are all experienced social media veterans with active Twitter accounts.

It is not quite clear to me from the information released whether or not this coverage will be able to stream on smart phones, but many of us will certainly be trying it out. The shift of video coverage to handheld devices and laptops is a trend that is growing significantly. This is going to be a great first test of just how NASCAR and a willing TV partner can make it work. TDP will offer a live blog of the three days of testing coverage.

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

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TV's New Kid On The Block

The changes continue at SPEED with the network under new management and the push to refocus on racing picking up steam. It's hard to describe the frustration of the past several years as SPEED drifted away from real racing and into reality-style shows. The network called it "lifestyle programming."

SPEED viewers have watched men in Chicago tow trucks, seen Vida Guerra live the SoCal low life, enjoyed fake drag racing with Rich Christensen and even watched amateur talent contests in primetime. Who can forget the bagpiper in the cowboy hat who played "Low Rider?"

Over the past five seasons, we have concentrated on writing about the NASCAR TV slice of the pie. This column will talk about a bit more. There is only one weekly hour on SPEED that covers general motorsports. That show is The SPEED Report (TSR) and it is about to change drastically.

Co-anchored by two of SPEED's stable of in-house announcers, TSR has been hidden in the 7PM Sunday timeslot. This meant no updates on non-NASCAR news on Saturdays and only one shot at information and highlights on Sunday. 7PM Eastern is 4PM Pacific and that was sometimes rough for those dedicated West Coast fans of drag racing and supercross.

The bottom line is that SPEED has needed an expanded studio presence on racing weekends for many years now and that is finally about to happen. On February 13 at 7PM ET, SPEED Center will debut and the multi-year run of TSR will be over.

With NASCAR Live as an established presence on the stock car side, it makes perfect sense to utilize the SPEED studios as a hub for other motorsports news, highlights and information. In the same way that other networks insert studio updates, SPEED can finally begin to awaken from its long slumber and become the network of record where motorsports is concerned.

The idea is that SPEED Center will be a flexible presence on Saturdays and Sundays, providing scheduled updates but also passing along breaking news, providing highlights of other motorsports and keeping viewers up to date on the stories formerly provided online on the website.

There will still be a full one-hour wrap-up show on Sunday nights, but getting the network to move in this direction is fantastic. SPEED provides coverage of everything from sports cars to motorcycles and Formula One. Establishing a SPEED Center franchise will finally bring the network the ability to interact with all kinds of motorsports fans and keep them informed.

There will be more details coming over the next couple of weeks, including pictures of the new set and potential new faces in the line-up. The bottom line is that SPEED will be providing a consistent studio presence for every racing weekend in 2011. That is a wonderful step in the right direction.

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 The Daly Planet.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Monday TV/Media Notes

It's a big week with lots of news and changes on NASCAR TV scene. Here are some topics of interest as teams get ready to head to Daytona for testing.

Click here for the link to the story on Ricky Craven in the Bangor Daily News. Craven has been slowly working his way up the ladder at ESPN and in 2011 he will be adding seven Nationwide Series races to his existing duties in the ESPN studios.

Craven has been the standout studio analyst for the network, patiently working in a wide variety of circumstances and with a wide variety of on-air talent. ESPN cements a valuable piece of the puzzle with this move. Craven gets a presence in the TV booth in addition to holding down the studio on weekends and appearing on the one-hour NASCAR Now show on Mondays.

ESPN spokesperson Andy Hall told me late last week that the network had no production announcements to make, so we are still awaiting official confirmation that Jamie Shiftan will be producing the network's race coverage. The only on-air personnel shift was Ray Evernham leaving ESPN after agreeing to work for Rick Hendrick.

Over at SPEED, things are popping. Two shows will not be returning for this season. NASCAR in a Hurry was a review show that appeared in an early morning timeslot with video updates of the weekend. Adam Alexander and Randy Pemberton were the hosts.

The second series cancelled was NASCAR Smarts. This show featured host John Roberts asking trivia questions to Kyle Petty, Rutledge Wood and a group of fans or special guests. It began as a part of the sponsorship package, but quickly got off-track and became half-hearted attempt at comedy late last season. Now, it's over.

Instead, SPEED will focus efforts on the NASCAR RaceDay pre-race show that absolutely needed a makeover. While the same on-air talent will be returning, look for substantive changes inside the program. The length will remain at two hours, although specials may extend the show.

Three veteran series will be returning. NASCAR Victory Lane, NASCAR Live and NASCAR Performance are popular shows that have clicked from the start. Originally produced in the field, NASCAR Performance was shifted to the studio in 2010.

This week, will be offering fully-produced long-form live video streaming of three days of Daytona testing. It will be a first for the network and should be interesting to watch online. Friday at noon ET, SPEED will also stream the widely anticipated "competition update" from Daytona. Mike Helton and Robin Pemberton will be explaining the new rules and changes for this season.

Monday should also bring official word from SPEED about a special series of TV programs related to the life and times of Dale Earnhardt Sr. on the tenth anniversary of his untimely passing. As usual, SPEED will be originating over one hundred hours of programming from Daytona. Check back for updates throughout the day.

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

Weekend Edition - Remain Calm: All Is Well

Since Kevin Bacon seems to have been in almost every movie ever made, it seems appropriate that he headline this post with one of his classic lines from Animal House. As Omega fraternity pledge Chip Diller, Bacon's plea for calm in the midst of chaos was met with a thorough trampling from the panicked crowd.

Monday afternoon, reporter Dave Rodman broke the story that drivers in the top three NASCAR series must declare in advance of the season in which one series they want to score championship points. Click here to read the article.

Rodman's information came from two drivers, Kenny Wallace and Brad Keselowski. NASCAR declined comment on Rodman's story. The next public appearance of NASCAR officials will be Friday, January 21 at a press conference in Daytona. So, it will be about ten days until Rodman's information will be officially verified.

In the meantime, there are a lot of drivers, sponsors and teams who are trying to digest this information and sort-out plans for the upcoming season with little time to do so. It's going to be interesting to see just how many of the Sprint Cup Series drivers continue to cross-over to the the Nationwide side without the ability to compete for the driver's championship.

The members-only media website NASCAR provides for updates and information contains nothing about the single series championship selection for drivers. There is also no information about rumored changes to the Chase format like additional points for wins or even how many Sprint Cup Series teams will be competing for the championship.

Rodman's article set off a chain of events that resulted in hundreds of stories on the single series topic being posted online in all kinds of media outlets. One thing is very clear, the fans are looking for information and there is precious little for reporters and bloggers to provide.

In Daytona, NASCAR President Mike Helton and Senior VP Robin Pemberton are going to offer what is being called a competition update. Whether or not these two will even address the Sprint Cup Series rules changes is still up for speculation. Therein lies the problem.

While NASCAR is famous for changing rules of a technical nature when things require, the current discussion is not about spoiler angles, tire pressure or track bars. What is on the table is yet another restructuring of the top series in the sport for one reason and that is TV ratings.

Here is a reader comment from Monday's story about Brian France excusing himself from the Daytona press conference:

Last season, the racing action was really top-notch. The Chase produced an exciting, dramatic finish. The rules package allowed for excitement. The drivers let their personalities shine. In many ways, it was one of the best years of racing ever.

And yet, the TV coverage has been nothing short of awful.

So, here's an idea: how about instead of pulling all the drivers into meetings and constantly tweaking the rules in ways that upset the fans and diminish the credibility of the sport... maybe Brian France and company should be having town hall meetings with the broadcast networks.

We don't need rules changes - we just need TV directors who know where to put a camera, and TV announcers who can keep viewers from napping!

That comment begs the question of just what exactly France is fixing with the pending Chase changes? Cleaning up the Nationwide Series and giving younger drivers a chance is one thing, but altering the Sprint Cup Series format that brought a down-to-the-wire championship is another.

When ESPN saddles up against an NFL game and televises a Chase race, it has not been the racing that is the issue. In column after column on this site and in comment after comment on the Internet the refrain is the same. ESPN simply does not have the production team to create compelling NASCAR TV.

In the time between the original ESPN contract and now, the entire ESPN family made a very purposeful shift to the stick-and-ball world. Huge new contracts for college and pro product were combined with the network selling the BASS franchise, dropping IndyCar and pushing the NHRA to the back burner.

If this is the direction that the network wants to proceed, that's absolutely fine. The problem comes in the fact that millions of fans are once again trying to make the decision of whether or not to spend several months with Darrell Waltrip, a summer with Kyle Petty and then a Chase run with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.

Changing the rules instead of the TV coverage is simply going to result in an additional loss of fan interest in my opinion. Fix what is blatantly wrong before tinkering with a concept that is not broken. The issues on the table are easy to understand.

Prop up the FOX and ESPN Sprint Cup Series coverage with RaceBuddy for every event. Interact with comments from Facebook and Twitter during all the telecasts to make the fans feel included. Offer practice and qualifying coverage online for fans away from a TV.

Insist the Sprint Cup Series TV networks use side-by-side commercial breaks so almost one-third of the racing is not covered by advertising. Move the Nationwide Series events to SPEED once college football begins as ESPN does not have a suitable telecast window for these races.

Chase changes like more teams, forced eliminations and different points are not going to solve the problems TV has brought. The vast majority of NASCAR fans consume the sport through television. When they can't see their favorite driver, don't get the basic scoring information and never get differing opinions from the talking points of the sanctioning body there is little left to consume.

Where are you right now in thinking about watching the sport this season? Are you waiting for the rules changes or dreading them? Do you remember ESPN from last season down the stretch or simply looking forward to a new year with DW and FOX?

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

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

No Brian France At Daytona Press Conference (2 Updates)

The original plan communicated to the media last season was to have NASCAR Chairman Brian France spearhead a press conference in Daytona on Friday, January 21 at noon ET. That Friday is right in the middle of the three day test for teams to experience the new DIS pavement.

France was expected to announce the anticipated changes to the Chase for the Championship format. Statements from France last year suggested that he was considering elements like expansion to fifteen teams, eliminations of one team after every Chase race and more points for winning in the regular season.

In addition to having most of the mainstream NASCAR media in Daytona for the test, SPEED has made arrangements to be on-site with the most extensive coverage of a test ever produced. The big news is that the vast majority of the coverage is going to be offered online globally through the website.

Monday afternoon, NASCAR announced that France would not be present at Daytona but would brief reporters on Wednesday, January 26 during the NASCAR media tour. France normally delivers a "State of the Sport" address at this time, so in essence France has been removed or removed himself from the Daytona media event.

NASCAR is now referring to the January 21 press conference as a competition update. It will be NASCAR president Mike Helton and Senior Vice President Robin Pemberton handling the duties for the sport. In one way, it makes sense to let the two primary players explain the rules changes and then deal with the questions. Certainly, other topics like ethanol, tires and the new DIS pavement will also be on the menu.

On the other hand, the Chase is a concept single-handedly advanced by France that has yielded mixed results. It has changed many aspects of the sport during what is now called the regular season and has dynamically changed the TV and media exposure for teams outside of the Chase while it is run.

France himself would be the one who authorized the new changes, as well as the possible exclusion of full time Sprint Cup Series drivers from the Nationwide Series driver's championship. It seems a little hollow that he is not the person to update the changes as the media reports and then carries those changes to the fan base.

Update #1: Monday night at 8:24PM ET a story appeared on the website from reporter Dave Rodman. Click here to read the entire article. Basically, Rodman announced a major rules change. Drivers must now declare in advance of the season what series in which they will run for the championship. There is only one allowed. The story says this change will be explained by Helton and Pemberton in Daytona at the press conference on January 21.

Update #2: Shortly after the rules story, NASCAR made the following announcement:

NASCAR executives, including chairman Brian France, will meet with team owners, drivers and key team officials the next several weeks to talk about significant issues facing the sport. The meetings will be done by team organization instead of during one big meeting with all Cup or Nationwide teams, NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed. In the past couple of years, NASCAR has increased its use of "town hall" style meetings to discuss potential changes to the sport. Last year, it opted for smaller team forums by meeting separately with each organization.

SPEED is currently not scheduled to be on with either TV or streaming coverage during that hour originally scheduled as a lunch break. We are waiting to hear what the plans will be to report on that event and will update this post.

Online coverage plans for the media tour have not yet been announced.

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 The Daly Planet.

Monday, January 10, 2011

TV/Media Notes

Let's try to get some things organized and answered as we head into the pre-season.

First, SPEED has committed to streaming all three days of the Daytona test online at the website live. There will be some TV as well, but the network is in the middle of a big Barrett-Jackson auction that was arranged well in advance of the Daytona pavement problems.

Here is the three day schedule:

Thursday, Jan. 20
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 5 p.m. (
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (same-day delay) (SPEED TV)

Friday, Jan. 21
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. (

Saturday, Jan. 22
9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. – (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. – (

The coverage is going to include on-track cameras live at a test for the first time in my memory. John Roberts and Jeff Hammond are going to host from the infield TV studio right above Victory Lane that SPEED has used in the past for testing review shows.

Steve Byrnes returns to a familiar role up in the TV booth with Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds alongside. It will be Krista Voda and Bob Dillner working the garage area as reporters. That is one stellar line-up for Internet streaming coverage.

What should be fun to watch is the format. There are normally no commercials in this type of coverage because it can be viewed worldwide. American TV commercials are normally targeted at a group, time period or demographic. What is on sale in the US may not be on sale in Canada or Australia. Therefore, most current TV commercials don't work online.

The on-air vibe may be quite different as well. Without trying to rush five minute segments between commercials, the webcast producer and director may find that they have many more tools at their disposal. In this format, there is no clock constantly ticking down to the next time the TV monster must be fed.

SPEED also returns Mr. Byrnes as the host of Race Hub on the Monday after testing. I am told the show will again be at 7PM for one hour on Monday through Thursday. No word on the time of the West Coast re-air as the SPEED website does not have full January schedules up quite yet.

SPEED is now setting its number of cable homes at 82 million for the start of 2011. That is a solid number and if the former niche network can get together the right group of compelling programming, it could be a big year for SPEED.

Over on ESPN2, it looks like NASCAR Now will return on Monday, February 7, 2011. The first week of shows are all thirty minutes, with the one-hour Monday roundtable returning on February 14. Allen Bestwick, Nicole Briscoe and Mike Massaro are back, but missing from the team will be Ray Evernham.

Click here or go to the previous story on this blog for the details. Evernham is moving off to work for Rick Hendrick developing a line of high-performance parts and vehicles. In addition, Evernham still has plenty on the table with ownership of a local dirt track in North Carolina and several other business interests.

There is no word yet from ESPN on whether they will replace Evernham or use existing analysts in his role on NASCAR Now and selected races.

As we mentioned before, no changes in the on-air line-ups for ESPN, FOX or SPEED. Charlotte Observer reporter Jim Utter passed along that Jim Shiftan is going to be producing for ESPN this season on the NASCAR beat. Good guy, liked by the crew and perhaps open to some new approaches to aspects of the coverage.

Brief Notes:

Don't forget Sunday at 6PM there is a new motorsports series on VERSUS called Dirt Knights. They also have a Facebook page, website and Twitter account if you want to check what they are about. The first show was solid, this is a grassroots racing effort to get a TV series on the air and we wish them the best of luck.

Information came in late Wednesday night from SPEED about the Chili Bowl. This unique indoor event takes place in late January in Tulsa, OK. It features USAC midget racers from all over the nation competing in endless heats leading up to a big final race. Something fun in the off-season with a strong tradition of racing. SPEED will carry an edited highlight program in February. Times and date has not yet been announced. Good news.

We will update any additional breaking TV or media news on this post all day Thursday. As always, we welcome your comments on any of these topics. Just click the comments button below to add your opinion to the conversation.

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

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy TV Trails To Ray Evernham

Tuesday afternoon Ray Evernham made official what many already knew. He was going to partner with Rick Hendrick on a project involving high-end autos.

Here is the official information from the media release:

Ray Evernham Enterprises (REE) has been retained to consult for the Hendrick Companies, a management company formed in 2005 to oversee strategic initiatives for chairman Rick Hendrick.

Founded in 2008 by successful auto racing crew chief, team owner and broadcaster Ray Evernham, REE will consult on special projects related to Hendrick’s core businesses. In that role, REE’s initial focus will be development of the Hendrick Performance retail brand of high-performance parts, vehicles, products and related services.

While this release did not specifically indicate that Evernham was done with TV, these tweets came shortly after the announcement from various members of the ESPN Motorsports team.

Andy Hall (PR Rep): Congratulations to Ray Evernham - we'll miss him at ESPN.

Jamie Little: Congrats to the great Ray Evernham. New opportunity! Your ESPN family will miss you!

Allen Bestwick: My friend has some great things ahead. Thanks for bringing it! We'll keep that song going for ya...

Marty Smith: Huge congratulations to Ray on the new gig at Hendrick Performance, but dang we'll miss him on the television. That dude is great on TV!

Ryan McGee: Congrats to Ray on new consultant gig w/Hendrick!. Will he still take me to the Knoxville Nationals this summer?

The choice that Evernham made has already brought plenty of comments and email related to Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his struggling fortunes in the Sprint Cup Series. While no public statement was made on that topic, the media release indicated that Evernham would be working in a non-racing role for a different division of the Hendrick organization.

Still, the words "initial focus" in the release leave the door open for Evernham to have flexibility in the overall organization. We all know that successful owners exhaust every resource when they are trying to get a major team back on track.

In the short term, it's the fans and TV viewers who are going to take a step back. Evernham settled into his role in the ESPN studios on Monday as a part of NASCAR Now quite well. He and Ricky Craven partnered up to present a formidable studio pairing that really clicked on the air.

Allen Bestwick hosted the programs and when a character like Randy LaJoie was along for the ride it made for a fast-paced and informative hour. Bestwick drew a lot of NASCAR knowledge from Evernham, who switched hats between analyst, owner and former crew chief in the blink of an eye.

ESPN also used Evernham in the field, but with less success. The infield duo of Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace often spoke over top of Evernham when he joined them on race telecasts. While Bestwick as host tried to keep order, the enthusiasm level of Daugherty and Wallace often eclipsed their level of knowledge. It was clear where Evernham should have been from the start and that was up in the TV booth.

Andy Petree has been ESPN's primary NASCAR analyst since the new TV contract in 2007. Petree's role was not going to change and ESPN needed only one former crew chief in the TV booth. Evernham was the odd man out. Although his relief appearances in that role worked out well, Evernham was not going to replace Petree in the ESPN package.

Since this situation has been playing out, there has been a senior management change at SPEED. Patti Wheeler, Humpy's daughter, is a veteran TV executive who lives in the same area as Evernham. She now runs SPEED's programming and production divisions. In the blink of an eye, she can offer him a role on Race Hub that involves only a short drive to the SPEED studios from his home or job.

Also right down the street is the Sirius NASCAR studios. Evernham has a regular weekly role on Sirius Speedway with Dave Moody, so it should be interesting to see if Sirius tries to get him more involved on the satellite radio side of the business.

On a personal note, Evernham has been supportive of this website and it has been very pleasant dealing with both Ray and his wife over the past several years. Even if he drops from sight for a while, keep an eye out for Evernham to resurface in either a media or racing role. You know what they say, it's in his blood.

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 The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

SPEED Announces Internet Streaming For Daytona Test (Updated)

The week started off with a bang in TV land! Our friends at SPEED are changing things up this season for the January Daytona testing.

Here is the schedule from SPEED. It includes a mix of Internet streaming and TV:

Thursday, Jan. 20

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 5 p.m. (
5 p.m. - 7 p.m. (same-day delay) (SPEED TV)

Friday, Jan. 21

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. (

Saturday, Jan. 22

9 a.m. - 12 p.m. (
1 p.m. - 2 p.m. – (SPEED TV)
2 p.m. - 5 p.m. – (

Here is the official info that came out Monday afternoon:

SPEED and are presenting 23 hours of live testing coverage from Daytona Jan. 20-22 as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series engines roar back to life in the month of January for the first time in three years.

“The most important thing we do at SPEED is cover the NASCAR season from the minute the cars first hit the track until the champion makes his acceptance speech at the banquet each year and everything in between,” said SPEED President Hunter Nickell. “We’re psyched that we get to start a little earlier now that Daytona testing is back, and based on what we heard from drivers at the Goodyear tire test in December, this is one test session you won’t want to miss.”

John Roberts and Jeff Hammond host SPEED’s on-air coverage from the studio above Victory Lane at Daytona. Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Darrell Waltrip will offer analysis throughout the practice sessions with reporting by Bob Dillner and Krista Voda. is presenting live streaming of all on-track activity with the exception of 3-5 p.m. ET Thursday, and will feature a rotation of on-air personalities.

Daytona testing coverage gives fans their first extended look at the new race surface at Daytona International Speedway -- a surface the racers expect will add to the level of excitement in February.

“It’s basically like going to a new track,” said four-time Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, following the recent tire test. “What our engineers can do now with the cars is a lot more aggressive and totally different from what we have had in the past ... Now, it is all about speed, and I think it will make for more exciting race, more aggressive racing. I think you will be able to see us race three-wide lap after lap after lap.”

It looks like SPEED is trying to balance a Barrett-Jackson auction and Daytona testing with just one TV channel. This streaming is a great experiment and it should be interesting to see how mainstream NASCAR fans react to this approach.

We welcome your opinion on this topic. 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 taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.