Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Stick-And-Ball Implosion Continues

At the beginning of the year, it appeared that NASCAR would once again take it on the chin. Where TV ratings were concerned, it had been a four year steady decline.

In 2010 the NFL had wiped NASCAR off the map where September through November ratings were concerned. Since then LeBron James had made his "decision," took his talents to South Beach and drove NBA ratings through the roof. It was not looking good for the left turn gang.

But a funny thing is happening as June approaches. The landscape of the many sports we classify as "stick and ball" is changing. It is not a change for the better. The list of ongoing problems and developing situations is amazing. The latest crisis just hit Monday afternoon.

Here is a brief overview of some current issues:

NFL: No end in sight to an ugly lockout by the owners. At the present time, there will be no NFL games come September. The argument is over approximately nine billion dollars in revenue to be divided between the teams and the players. The owners say they are prepared to sacrifice the entire season if needed.

NBA: Commissioner David Stern has stated 22 of his teams are on track to lose an estimated total of $300 million this season. There is little doubt that the NBA and the players are also headed for an extended lockout after the season is over.

MLB: Teams in the two largest TV markets, New York City and Los Angeles are in crisis. The New York Mets are on track to lose over $50 million dollars this year and may face bankruptcy. Commissioner Bud Selig was forced to take over the day-to-day operations of the Los Angles Dodgers. Team owner Frank McCourt recently had to take a $30 million dollar loan from LA-based FOX (TV) just to meet payroll.

Golf: Tiger Woods is on crutches. His lower left leg is in an orthopedic boot and he is unable to hit a golf ball. He failed at the Masters, pulled out of the Players Championship and has just withdrawn from The Memorial. There is no firm date for his return.

NHL: An outstanding playoff game seven between Boston and Tampa Bay drew very high viewership in those two TV markets, but only slightly over two million total viewers nationwide. While Comcast/NBC has secured the NHL rights for the long term, several years on the VERSUS TV network has left the sport in a lurch.

The most recent bombshell may start a very fundamental change in the perception of major college athletic programs. Click here to read the Sports Illustrated feature article detailing the amazing happenings within the Ohio State University football program.

Highly-regarded head coach Jim Tressel, who is pictured above, resigned on Monday. Reports suggested his only other alternative was to be fired. Tressel was trapped within a corrupt and unworkable system that major college football coaches around the country deal with every season.

Tressel basically ran a business that made millions of dollars for the university and gave only scholarships to the players. Decades ago, this might have been a trade that made sense. In today's reality, nothing could be further from the truth.

"Big-time college athletics appear to be spiraling out of control," says Pete Thamel of the New York Times in a Monday story. "Tressel’s resignation is the headline in a year that has had major investigations of the national champions of football (Auburn) and of men’s basketball (Connecticut)."

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, NASCAR has had three very different stories unfolding over the past two weeks.

First, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was leading on the final turn of the final lap of the most recent Sprint Cup Series race in Charlotte. His running out of gas made local sports TV highlights nationwide and was the lead story on ESPN's SportsCenter.

Secondly, superstar bad boy Kyle Busch was clocked at 80mph over the speed limit in a hot car with his hot wife in his own neighborhood. He wound-up with just a ticket, but news of the incident went viral. In a flash, the story was global. Imagine that, a NASCAR driver speeding down a two-lane Carolina road.

Finally, former Formula-1 driver Kimi Raikkonen decided he would like to sample NASCAR. His huge international fan base watched Raikkonen hold his own in a Camping World Truck Series race in Charlotte and finish 15th on the lead lap. The next weekend, he returned for a rent-a-ride in the Nationwide Series. Suddenly, rumors are swirling that "The Iceman" is coming to NASCAR with Red Bull in tow for 2012.

What an incredible swing of momentum for NASCAR through an amazing set of circumstances. You just can't make this up. The NFL is on strike with the NBA set to join them. The world's top golfer is injured, hockey can't get TV viewers and the Dodgers and Mets are essentially bankrupt.

As if on cue, NASCAR's top series heads to a sellout crowd at Kansas Speedway next Sunday afternoon. Saturday's truck series race may not have Raikkonen, but it is also sold-out. It will be fascinating to see if the sport can continue to build momentum, increase attendance and continue to slowly push up TV ratings.

Sometimes, things just happen. If there was ever a weekend for NASCAR to put on a good show, this might be it. You just never know what the ultimate reward for that might be.

We invite your comment on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Monday, May 30, 2011

TV Police: NASCAR On FOX From Charlotte Motor Speedway

On Memorial Day weekend, who better to investigate the long and complicated saga that was the Coke 600 on FOX than a Marine. NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs does not mess around. The former Marine gunnery sergeant leads a cast of colorful characters who always seem to respond to even the most difficult challenge. Gibbs speaks few words and his "look" is enough to get any one's attention.

The NASCAR on FOX gang began with an interesting pre-race show. Rather than focus on the racing, the program ran through a wide variety of topics. Memorial Day and military themes were featured, including Jeff Hammond parachuting into the track.

Michael Waltrip appeared to announce that his book was being made into a movie and Darrell Waltrip got "Revved Up" about NASCAR and the US Armed Forces. Chris Myers played his normal role and everything was tongue-in-cheek funny. Unfortunately, what FOX did not do was preview the race.

That was left to Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds and eventually Waltrip from the TV booth. Despite McReynolds and his muted role this season, his explanations and race set-up were outstanding. It should be interesting to see what role he plays next season for FOX.

Pit reporters were Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren. Not much to do at times, but once again solid information relayed by personalities who know the sport. FOX has lots of talent waiting in the wings for new challenges while reporting on tires and fuel.

We are familiar with the FOX telecast production style. Hyper-tight shots, in-car cameras live on restarts and accidents. Single and double-car shots that show an individual battle without a race perspective. FOX loves it.

More aerial shots appeared, perhaps due to the solid amount of fans at the track. The low angle shots worked to reinforce speed and the split-screen effect is well-framed. The triple-split was rarely held for a full pitstop, but the info was solid in terms of positions leaving pit road.

FOX again had those strange in-race ads on an animated video board for a new movie. After watching the Indy500 with side-by-side commercials, it was tough to stomach that and the full-screen FOX breaks. Perhaps, that will change for 2012.

Late in the race, FOX snuck-in another side-by-side commercial. Instead of cutting the race, the video box only showed a tight shot of the leader. You could not even tell what turn he was in the camera was so tight. Even when innovating, it's always a struggle with this crew.

The racing picked up toward the end of the event despite the fact that several caution flags for debris resulted in no pictures of that debris making it to TV. In the end, the final 50 laps provided good racing and a solid storyline.

Waltrip in the booth is always interesting, but this season he had taken over the telecasts. On this Sunday, Joy stepped back into the lead role and actually directed traffic. He handled Waltrip effectively and called the action.

The problem was that Joy was consistently in front of the cameras where incidents were concerned. Joy would call out the corner, the issue and the cars before the cameras found the incident. By not following the best racing on the track and shooting hyper-tight, the NASCAR on FOX team has leaned on replays for incidents since Daytona.

It came down to fuel mileage once again and Waltrip admitted he did not know the fuel strategies of the teams on the track in contention with 20 laps to go. Ultimately, chaos ensued and it made for good TV. Video of the three RCR cars pushing each other was priceless. Junior ran out and Harvick stole the victory.

It was unfortunate that a profanity from Chad Knaus was aired live, but FOX is ultimately in control of what goes out over the TV. Using live team radios at a critical time can often result in just that type of moment.

It was a long day of motorsports capped by a long night of Sprint Cup Series racing. FOX has one race remaining with Kansas on the schedule next weekend.

This post will serve to host your comments on the FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related race summary, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet on this holiday weekend.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Charlotte (FOX - 5:30PM)

The final part of a motorsports tripleheader is on FOX. After F-1 on SPEED and IndyCar on ABC, it's time for NASCAR's longest race.

Chris Myers hosts with Jeff Hammond and Darrell Waltrip. Mike Joy calls the race with Larry McReynolds and Waltrip. Krista Voda, Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are on pit road.

This post will serve to host your comments on the race telecast. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for stopping by.

Currently my internet access is limited, so please be patient.

Special: Live Blogging Indy 500 (ABC - 11AM ET)

There is really only one IndyCar race that screams for national attention these days. Between the street circuits and the ovals, the Indy 500 seems to stand-alone as what open wheel racing used to be.

This year, Brent Musburger is hosting the ABC telecast once again. No one really knows why Brent is there or what he does. ESPN tried to put Brent in the very same role with several key NASCAR races and the results were not good.

In the end, Musburger snuck back into his stick and ball world for good. Only Indy remains as his racing moment in the sun. There are many other ESPN personalities that would be great in this role. The one that comes to mind right away is Dr. Jerry Punch. This is the type of role that fits him like a glove.

Instead, Punch will be on pit road with Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Rick DeBruhl. That group will be doing the heavy lifting for Marty Reid, Eddie Cheever and Scott Goodyear. Cheever is the character of this group, constantly disagreeing with everything Goodyear says and loving every minute of it.

Reid has been having a tough season on the NASCAR circuit. His lack of perspective has hampered him in his play-by-play role. I first met Marty back when he was deeply involved with off-road racing and bringing that sport to TV. Since then, he has worked both the NHRA and Indy Car series for ESPN.

Getting back to an IndyCar race might be just the right thing for Reid, but the executives at ESPN have to take a long and hard look at putting Reid back in the booth for the seventeen Sprint Cup Series races that network will carry beginning in July.

Former producer Neil Goldberg is gone from ESPN. It was Sr. VP Jed Drake that handled the pre-race publicity and answered the telecast questions. It should be interesting to see just how the race looks with Drake in charge.

The TV team has 64 total cameras for the telecast, including 12 cars that have multiple angle in-car cameras. The infamous bat-cam is also back. That is the little gizmo mounted on a wire that runs from the beginning of pit road down into Turn 1. It is used to zoom alongside of cars on restarts and offer pit road coverage.

NASCAR fans are used to safe races. Despite the improvements at Indy, this is going to be a telecast where the risk of injury to a driver or fans is a very real possibility. Several big accidents last year opened a lot of eyes, but the series is still not blinking.

IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard is still going to make the field utilize double-file restarts. The drivers are livid about this and it has become a huge issue. Once the race is in progress, there are "marbles" of rubber that build up outside the single groove in the corners. Literally, there is no way to run two-wide.

At the start and for tradition, the field will go wide on the green track. Unfortunately for those of us who can remember the incidents we used to see at the speedway on restarts, this year's race could bring back those old memories. The drivers requested single-file and Bernard said no.

Update: Robin Miller of SPEED announced at 10:30AM today that Randy Bernard has reached an agreement to restart the race differently today. It seems that the green will come out when the cars come off turn four and the field may well be single-file. Stay tuned on this topic.

The race has many great stories including several female drivers, some long-shots and lots of favorites. The media leader is Danica Patrick, who has been under the radar this week. After struggling early on, she finally qualified but never looked like a contender.

Typically, this race has early drama and danger and then settles down to a slow and single file pace while the remaining cars work on handling and fuel mileage. Then, business picks-up in the closing segments as teams maneuver to get themselves in contention.

Keep an eye on the crowd. No one is making predictions but between the price of gas, the rough economy and the outrageous hotel costs in the entire Indy area, it could be a real eye-opener.

This post will host your comments on the ABC coverage of the Indy 500. 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.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From Charlotte (ABC - 2PM ET)

All the ingredients are in place today for some fun racing and a solid telecast from the ESPN team. ABC will be the destination for the live coverage. The pre-race show will start at 2PM and the race will green flag at 2:48PM.

Allen Bestwick is again in the TV booth because Marty Reid is handling the Indy 500 racing coverage. Bestwick will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. In the Infield Pit Studio will be Nicole Briscoe, Ricky Craven and Rusty Wallace. Brad Daugherty is off this weekend.

ESPN has a split team of pit reporters. On the NASCAR race it will be Shannon Spake, Mike Massaro and Dave Burns. Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch are working the Indy 500. Yes, Tim Brewer is on-hand with the Tech Garage.

The weather is blazing hot and that should make for a slippery track and some interesting racing. As usual, the storyline is the Cup cross-over guys vs. the Nationwide Series regulars. These days, those regulars usually consist of Reed Sorenson, Justin Allgaier and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Instead of Danica, it will again be Kimi Raikkonen who adds the spice to the telecast. In his first NASCAR race in the truck series, he avoided trouble and finished 15th. This week, his rent-a-ride is ready to go and with one race at CMS under his belt, he should be fun to watch.

The ESPN telecasts usually start strong and then fade down the stretch. Telling the stories of the race clash with the agenda ESPN sets in the pre-race show. The result is confusion. Following the leaders just does not work for NASCAR fans in these interactive days. Running through the field on a regular basis is the key.

Pictures from CMS are outstanding, with several angles that are known all too well. Watching cars come at you down the backstretch, seeing the tri-oval from the low angle speed shot and the lovely aerial views of the massive facility make for great TV.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ABC coverage of the Nationwide Series race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 27, 2011

News Continues To Flow In Charlotte

With almost all the NASCAR media present, there continues to be a flow of news from the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR continues to tinker with the Nationwide Series by working with the title sponsor to upgrade the "Dash 4 Cash" program. This season, it remains a bonus program centered around four big races that can offer as much as one million dollars.

Here are some official details from NASCAR:

The program’s four-race format remains the same. The bonus-paying races start with the July 1 race at Daytona International Speedway, followed by Iowa Speedway on Aug. 6, Richmond International Raceway on Sept. 9 and culminate at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 14.

Two key revisions to the “Dash 4 Cash” program this year will benefit the drivers competing for the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series championship. First, only the top four drivers in the series points standings heading into Daytona’s summer race will be eligible for the $100,000 bonus.

That means ultra-competitive racing among the top-10 drivers in the standings at Road America on June 25 which will set the stage for those who will make up the eligibility list at Daytona.

The highest-finishing eligible driver at Daytona will receive the first “Dash 4 Cash” payout and automatically qualifies for the next event at Iowa. That same qualifying procedure will be in place for the remaining two events at Richmond and Charlotte.

Another twist: Should any eligible driver win the three “Dash 4 Cash” payouts leading up to Charlotte and then win the Charlotte race, Nationwide Insurance will award an additional $600,000 in Victory Lane, bringing the total “Dash 4 Cash” bonus to $1 million.

We have been asking NASCAR to try and create some more excitement and opportunity in the Nationwide Series for several years. Now, the Cup drivers are out in terms of the driver championship and now they are also out in terms of the "Dash 4 Cash" program.

Hopefully, this will create some more TV interest for the series at a time when it gets wedged between ESPN college football games and pushed to the back burner on SPEED. The final four months of the Nationwide Series over the last five years have been a disaster.

The ultimate solution would be to switch the races over to SPEED once ESPN begins the college football season. ESPN2 is absolutely wall-to-wall college football on Saturdays and then all of a sudden, a second-tier NASCAR race pops-up out of the blue.

It's no secret that the pre-race show is scheduled in a fake timeslot that simply does not exist. Often, the entire pre-race or the vast majority is covered by a live football game. ESPN has offered all kinds of excuses over the years, but the bottom line is they have no room at the inn for this product come September.

We recently were informed that Darius Rucker will sing the National Anthem for the Coke 600 on Sunday. Now we know who will give the starting command on Memorial Day weekend. It sounds like the Charlotte Motor Speedway is once again on the money.

This from a speedway news release:

Master Sgt. William “Spanky” Gibson stands out. He’s the first service member to return to the front lines after losing a leg above the knee.

In May 2006, while serving with the Marines in Iraq, Gibson and fellow service members on patrol in Ramadi came under sniper attack. Gibson was struck in the left knee. Despite a devastating injury, he continued to return fire.

Back in the United States, Gibson never lost focus of his goal to return to battle. Fitted with a prosthetic leg, he learned to walk, run, ski and swim. After competing in the grueling Escape from Alcatraz Triathlon, his commanders offered him a return stint in Iraq – a deployment Gibson eagerly accepted.

Gibson, who now works at the Pentagon, will be joined at the track by his family, including his father, William Gibson, Sr., a Vietnam War veteran who will be celebrating his 71st birthday on race day.

Hopefully, SPEED will get the clue to interview Gibson on RaceDay and the NASCAR on FOX guys will do the same on the pre-race show. It's time to stop the endless sponsor-driven hype and get back to celebrating Americans, like the one pictured above, who have helped to support and define the sport over the years.

One final note: NASCAR Chairman Brian France and ESPN President George Bodenheimer are receiving 2011 Intrepid Salute awards in New York City Thursday night. This award recognizes support of the military, business achievements and important philanthropic activities. These two are the first sports industry figures to receive this award since its inception in 1992. The ceremony is at the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in Manhattan.

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.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Kyle Busch: On The Spot At The Speedway

It was a bit funny to pass along the information about Kyle Busch's Tuesday speeding ticket. It was a pretty simple story. A guy out with his wife in a loaner sports car punches it on a rural road and gets caught. Well, at least that was my opinion.

News organizations across the country and around the world thought otherwise. For them, this was a nice little news nugget that could be used to spice up a newscast filled with hurricanes, high gas prices and the local crime scene.

What was the strangest place that you saw, heard or read about "the ticket" this week? It seems the list is endless. Talk about going viral.

Wednesday night on SPEED's RaceHub, Steve Byrnes and Jeff Hammond were talking about one more hurdle that Busch must clear as he tries to clean-up this speeding mess.

"I know he said the right things," remarked Hammond. "But when you use this poor of a judgement out there on the street a lot of people are going to come after you. He is going to have to deal with it first and foremost when he gets to the track on Thursday. It's going to stick with him all weekend long."

What Hammond was pointing out is that Busch had it easy so far this week. In response to the ticket, he issued a well-crafted press release that covered all the bases and was dutifully read on the NASCAR TV shows and posted on the websites. He admitted his error and even thanked the local police department for their service.

Thursday, Busch will have the challenge of navigating the Charlotte Motor Speedway as the track opens for the weekend. The on-track activity will be the easy part. It's the garage, pit road and the media center that will be the challenge. The night actually ends with Sprint Cup Series qualifying live on SPEED.

It should be interesting to see how the SPEED reporters on the various practice and news shows handle this story on the air Thursday. Firmly in step with NASCAR, SPEED has been guilty time and time again of sweeping anything under the rug that NASCAR defines as dirt.

Before the RaceHub show came along, SPEED's TV journalism credibility rested with Dave Despain for one hour on Sunday nights. Now guys like Byrnes, Hammond and Elliott Sadler get put in the position of dealing with touchy subjects on a regular basis as part of the new series.

Mrs. Busch has made herself into a high-profile driver's wife with her social media skills and her relentless promotion of everything involving her new family unit. From bikini pictures on the hood of Kyle's Corvette to a TV series about their wedding, she is a person you either love for her passion or hate for her exploitation.

Thursday will also bring an opportunity for her to step-up and reinforce her husband's apology. Keep an eye on how SPEED treats her or if instead she keeps a low profile and waves-off the interview opportunities.

Finally, the current mainstream NASCAR press corps is a colorful lot. A diverse group of old-school newspaper folks is mixed with new media bloggers, well-known radio personalities and some TV reporters who work the news beat full-time.

Throughout the weekend, there is a ton of media content created and moved along to NASCAR fans. Online, radio and TV media members are all seeking to craft their own media messages about the activity while keeping a close eye on each other at the same time.

There is absolutely no doubt that Busch will hear questions from the print/online reporters that he has not heard all week so far. The answers are not going to be crafted by professional public relations professionals, but must come from the driver at the track in among his peers.

As we watch, listen and read about the Thursday activity from the speedway, keep this topic in mind and see how often it appears and what becomes of the story as the day progresses. Sometimes, things change before our eyes in the media world.

This post will host your comments about the Thursday coverage on SPEED from CMS and also about the Busch incident. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Wednesday TV/Media Links

Let's catch up on some of the NASCAR news and notes from the past few days:

ESPN just loves the fact that Kyle Busch got a speeding ticket on Tuesday. OK, so he got it for going 128mph in a 45mph zone, but it's just a ticket. OK, so he got it driving the little yellow number above, but it's just a ticket. OK, so he had an unidentified female with him at the time, but it's just a ticket.

Pardon The Interruption (PTI) led with that story and it showed up all over the ESPN network news shows. In a flash it was viral, even getting the sleazy star (click here) treatment from Harvey Levin and the TMZ Hollywood crowd.

In true JGR style, a quick apology came from Busch:

"Today I received a traffic citation in Iredell County. I was test driving a new sports car and I got carried away. I went beyond the speed I should have been going on a public road. I apologize to the public, my fans, sponsors, and race teams for my lack of judgment. I take responsibility for my actions and I can assure you that something like this will never happen again. I thank the Iredell County Sheriff's Department and all law enforcement for the hard work they do every day to protect the public and to enforce the laws in a fair and equitable manner."

It should be interesting to see how far this story spreads in the mainstream media. Both NASCAR Now and Race Hub have proven to be very fair when dealing with issues for drivers away from the racetrack.

Speaking of high-profile celebrities, the Charlotte Motor Speedway passed along the fact that Darius Rucker is going to be singing the National Anthem before the Coke 600 on Sunday. He is a University of South Carolina grad and a Charleston, SC native who is no stranger to pro sports and NASCAR. Great choice by the speedway.

Speaking of speedways, the ESPN gang had a conference call this week about the Indy 500. Sr. VP Jed Drake said the production will have 64 cameras, 12 in-car camera set-ups and the infamous "bat-cam" that is on a wire and runs the length of pit road overhead. There will be two super slo-mo cams aimed at the corners and the team will be pushing more team audio into the telecast. Finally, our favorite motorsports host Brent Musburger will again be joining the telecast team.

Speaking of hosts, Marty Reid will be working in Indy so once again Allen Bestwick gets the nod to call the Nationwide Series race on Saturday. He will have Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. Let's hope someone gets the bright idea to sneak Hall of Famer and ESPN veteran Ned Jarrett up to the broadcast booth during the telecast for a little air time.

On a sad note, Ray Evernham's father passed away on Sunday at the age of 80. Ray Sr. was a long-time racer and mechanic. The younger Evernham left his post at ESPN to work for Rick Hendrick this season and has kept a very low media profile. There was a rumor that SPEED was trying to get him into the fold but that apparently has not worked out. When Evernham was teamed with Ricky Craven, ESPN had a strong studio team that the network has never been able to match since Evernham's departure.

Folks have been asking about Michelle Bonner, the ESPN on-air talent who has been hosting NASCAR Now. Both Mike Massaro and Nicole Briscoe have been working out in the field on NASCAR telecasts. Briscoe again hosts the NNS pre-race show this weekend and Massaro is a pit reporter.

Bonner came to ESPN in 2005 after a two-year stint as a sports reporter and anchor for CNN. A Massachusetts native, Bonner is a Northeastern University grad and has been working on ESPNNEWS and SportsCenter during her time at ESPN. She has been filling-in for two years on NASCAR Now and is getting great reviews.

Ratings from the weekend were less than spectacular. Here is the official note from SPEED:

Coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race on Saturday scored an average household rating of 3.32 according to Nielsen Media Research, up 1% from last year’s 3.30. The race peaked at a 4.08 and averaged 3,993,000 viewers.

On Friday, coverage of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race scored a .98, up 42% from last year’s rain-delayed .69 and that is the highest rating from Charlotte since 2008. Race coverage peaked at 1.30 HH rating and averaged more than one million viewers.

What SPEED is a little miffed about and the trio in the booth chose not to pass along is that the more than thirty-minute delay between races was due to the failure of the giant video board set-up for the introductions. The JHE Production Group eventually fixed the problem, but there was little doubt that some portion of the audience moved on during the delay.

Finally, there was a little breaking news on SportsCenter today. Anchor Linda Cohn reported that ESPN's Terry Blount has confirmed that Danica Patrick is making the switch to NASCAR on a full-time basis in 2012. Blount's information said Patrick will run the Nationwide Series for the championship next year and mix in some selected Sprint Cup Series events. In 2013, she would go Cup racing full-time.

Click here to see the video of the Danica story from ESPN's YouTube page. Blount did not have any details about the teams involved but said Patrick would bring her Go Daddy sponsorship with her to NASCAR.

Happy to have your comments on these topics, 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, May 24, 2011

TV Viewing: Hall Of Fame Induction On SPEED

The NASCAR Hall of Fame is still pretty new in terms of pro sports facilities. The staff is very user-friendly for TV and radio. Tonight on SPEED the network will package the induction ceremony for airing.

The actual function inside the Hall is not a made-for-TV affair. The activity begins at 7PM and will be time-shifted by SPEED. That allows the network to make TV segments out of the speeches and tributes. Basically, SPEED will be taking something not designed to be on TV and crafting a program on the fly.

Bud Moore is a spicy character, Ned Jarrett is a gentlemen, Bobby Allison is a tragic figure, David Pearson defines old school and Lee Petty created a dynasty. It's a tremendously diverse group of individuals going into the Hall of Fame.

Mike Joy is the show host with Krisa Voda handling the reporting duties. The program will feature the inductees, their families and many NASCAR dignitaries.

This show is basically a stage production of the NASCAR Media Group with TV along for the ride. SPEED will air a special edition of Race Hub after the induction at 10:30PM.

This post will serve to host your comments on the Hall of Fame induction ceremony on SPEED. To add your TV-related comments, just click on the comments button below.

Split-Screen Commercials Come To The Chase

Update 5/24/11: This is a repost of a recent column by request. Comments still open.

Five years of asking why. Five years of missing one-third of the racing action. Five years of angry network executives, PR reps and NASCAR all blaming each other. Five long years of excuses.

The issue is how to solve the sagging ratings for the Sprint Cup Series telecasts. While each of the three TV networks involved produces the races differently, they all share one common problem. A heavy advertising load in a sport that cannot pause for commercials.

The solution seems simple. Use existing TV technology to show the commercial in one video box on the screen and keep the race in another. Fans stay because they can see the racing, but absorb the video and audio from the commercial.

The reality is anything but simple. Stepping into something new that directly affects a multi-million dollar TV revenue stream is like walking across an iced-over pond. It may prove harmless, but most folks would rather someone else go first.

Last week in Dover, FOX ran a single commercial break in the split-screen format. Nothing was mentioned about it in the telecast, it just came and went. Well, the fans noticed and so did the media.

FOX admitted it was an experiment. The following Monday, the NASCAR Fan Council survey came to members with a video of that experiment and lots of questions about what NASCAR fans thought about split-screen commercials. Something big was going on.

Tuesday morning, completely out of the blue, ESPN dropped a little bombshell. The network will use its own version of the split-screen, called ESPN Nonstop, for the second half of all ten Chase for the Championship races.

A picture of that format is above. Click here for a video of just how the transition to commercial happens. Notice that the "header" with all the graphics and the ticker stays consistent while the commercial and live racing action go side-by-side.

There is no word on whether FOX will use any split-screen breaks for that network's remaining two races. A TNT spokesman said that this year five of the six races in that network's package will have full-screen commercials. The July Daytona event will once again have "Wide Open" coverage that features split-screen commercials.

ESPN Nonstop was created in 2005 by the network to solve the very same problem in IndyCar races. Since 2007, when ESPN returned to NASCAR, the network has repeatedly said it would like to use this format but was contractually obligated by NASCAR to show full-screen commercials. Apparently, things have changed.

This finally opens the door to the type of substantive change that has been stalled for years and affecting the sport deeply. Technology is hurtling along at break-neck speed while NASCAR has continued to struggle with innovation inside the telecasts.

There is no going back in sports TV. Once something is tried and works, it becomes part of the landscape immediately. Moving to split-screen commercials for even a part of the Chase races means the pressure is now on for all three Sprint Cup Series TV partners to use this full time in 2012.

We invite 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.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bad Weather Again Rocks The Midwest

Note: Due to watching and discussing the Midwest tornado outbreak last night on social media channels, there is no new column Monday. We will be live blogging the NASCAR Hall of Fame Monday night on SPEED. Join us then.

Go to news-leader.com for updates on the MO tornado damage and information. All the best to our readers who were involved in the bad weather Sunday night.

If you have any messages to post on this topic, please use this this link.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Live Blogging Nationwide Series In Iowa (ABC - 1:30PM ET)

The good news is that the Iowa race is a stand-alone weekend for the Nationwide Series racers. Away from the hustle and bustle of Charlotte, the series regulars are ready to race on broadcast TV to a much larger crowd than normal. The bad news is that All-Star race winner Carl Edwards boarded his plane and flew to Iowa for today's race.

Marty Reid is off this weekend as he preps for the Indy 500 telecast on ABC next week. Allen Bestwick is filling-in and will be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree. This trio often presents a much more cohesive on-air presence than with Reid in the mix. Bestwick's knowledge of the sport is the difference.

Nicole Briscoe is not happy about being away from her IndyCar husband Ryan, but she is in Iowa and will host the NASCAR Countdown show from the Infield Pit Studio. Rusty Wallace has other duties this weekend, as he is the designer and partial owner of the Iowa facility. Jarrett and Brad Daugherty will join Briscoe on the pre-race show.

One story of this race is the fact that Kenny Wallace is making his 500th NASCAR start. Wallace is one of the series regulars who is rarely heard from once the green flag drops. This series is the playground of the Sprint Cup Series drivers who bring superior funding, equipment and experience.

This should also be an opportunity for ESPN's production team to respond to Bestwick's presence and present the race with a broader perspective. There are some diverse stories to tell, even if Edwards and friends are running away with the race.

This post will serve to host your comments on the ABC production of the Nationwide Series race from Iowa Speedway. 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Your Comments On The All-Star Race From Charlotte

Update: There is no TV Police post as this was not a full-length race. We welcome your comments on the SPEED coverage of the evening of racing on this post. Thank you.

It's a big night for SPEED as the network produces the All-Star race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kyle Busch won the truck series race Friday night and is clearly the story of the evening.

Detractors say SPEED is not the network to expose new fans to the sport. Nothing could be further from the truth. Week in and week out SPEED is the NASCAR network, doing the heavy lifting that the other NASCAR TV partners cannot handle.

Mike Joy is going to call the race. Folks thought that perhaps Rick Allen was going to get a shot after all his hard work on the truck series package on SPEED. This is not a FOX production, but SPEED executives kept Mike Joy in the lead role.

The debate on who is joining Joy in the booth began to rage from the moment SPEED announced it was again going to use Darrell and Micheal Waltrip. Larry McReynolds is filling-in for Kenny Wallace and working on the RaceDay and Victory Lane programs. Wallace is racing in Iowa.

Having two drivers in the booth loses the crew chief perspective, but SPEED likes the feedback it got from the earlier appearance of the two Waltrips on a Nationwide Series telecast. So, it's going to be all Waltrip all night long.

SPEED has a tough task because the All-Star race is always a mess. Rules change, tempers flare and the racing is very different from a longer Sprint Cup Series race. The night consists of two races and it is often the case that the earlier qualifying race is more interesting than the feature.

Look for a hyped-up production with more bells and whistles than normal. In the past, things have been a little over the top but this has been a solid production year for SPEED as the network continues to mature on the air.

Steve Byrnes, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are the pit reporters. This trio can deal with anything and brings exactly the type of experience needed for this one-off race. Byrnes is another name that has been discussed in terms of an eventual successor in the FOX TV booth. Krista Voda hosts the pre-race show.

Don't forget that NASCAR.com has a free RaceBuddy for this event. More camera angles and in-car cameras should be a perfect addition for this race.

This post will serve to host your comments on the SPEED production of the All-Star race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. 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. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Live Blogging Camping World Trucks From Charlotte (SPEED - 7:30PM ET)

SPEED puts a very familiar product front-and-center to start the All-Star weekend. The Camping World Trucks may have some thin fields, but the TV coverage is solid and the focus is on the racing. This production is so different from both ESPN and FOX that is allows for comparison to both.

Just like the Nationwide Series, the trucks are the playground of the Sprint Cup Series drivers who cross-over and dominate. With some big name truck racers gone this season, it has been a task for SPEED to keep it interesting. The production team has responded by simply covering the racing and nothing more.

Krista Voda starts the coverage with The Setup. A very effective pre-race show that features Voda's corny Midwestern sense of humor and her straightforward delivery. Reporters Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler are important parts of the show. Despite the lack of bells and whistles, Voda consistently delivers.

Rick Allen is having a very good year in the truck series booth. He controlled Darrell Waltrip on the air in a recent visit and tonight has his regular team in Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip. This trio is at its best when Waltrip has his head in the game and is not being cute or pushing sponsors.

Charlotte Motor Speedway is very nice on TV under the lights. The trucks seem to enjoy this track and the story often becomes the tale of two groups. The cross-over drivers are out front racing for fun and the regulars are slugging it out mid-pack for the points championship.

SPEED's veteran truck series production team has what some of NASCAR's other TV partners lack. That is perspective. Rather than leap from car to car like FOX or try to create storylines like ESPN, the relaxed style of SPEED simply allows the viewers at home to be a part of the racing on the track.

Many members of the team including Allen, Waltrip, Sadler and Dunlap are active on Twitter. So are the race producer, director and several production team members. It's interesting to watch them all send out tweets and interact directly with fans during the live telecast.

This post will serve to host your comments on the SPEED coverage of the Camping World Truck Series race from the Charlotte Motor Speedway. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by!

A Moment In The Sun For The Pit Road Gang

Update: Well, it's all over but the shouting. Denny Hamlin's team wins again and had a great night. The TV pictures and production were super. SPEED's announcers added just the right touch.

The one issue that popped-up was the fact that SPEED carried the show on a one-hour delay. Lots of media, teams and even NASCAR and SPEED all communicated the compitition via social media in real time. That meant that NASCAR fans on Twitter, Facebook, NASCAR.com or other racing media knew the winners well in advance.

Just might be a good idea for SPEED to look at making this a live show in 2012 in order to get a broader audience of fans. We welcome your thoughts on this topic.

Surrounded by the All-Star race and the Hall of Fame induction sits the one opportunity of the year for Sprint Cup Series pit crew members to get their names and faces out on national TV.

Thursday night is the 2011 Sprint Pit Crew Challenge from the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, NC. The TV coverage begins at 8PM ET on SPEED.

"While it’s about the group of guys, it’s also about individuals and how they perform," said SPEED's Larry McReynolds when talking about the event. "But the end result is about how the team performs and that’s the same thing they face on race day."

"The NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge has become extremely popular with our fans and with our teams as it provides an opportunity for the real unsung heroes in our sport to be on center stage and showcase their talents and outstanding teamwork," said Robin Pemberton, VP of Competition at NASCAR. "It’s a great lead-in for the week of activities heading into the All-Star Race and it promises to deliver another exceptional experience for the fans and for the competitors."

Here is an overview of what you will be seeing on SPEED from the organizers:

All teams competing in this year’s All-Star Race are eligible to send their over-the-wall gangs to the Challenge. Also eligible is the winner of last year’s Challenge. If more teams are needed to fill out the field of 24 teams, the positions will go to the teams of car owners ranking highest in the 2011 owner standings that are not otherwise eligible.

Seven-person over-the-wall crews from each of the teams will compete. Six of those seven remain the same from last year; front-tire changer, front-tire carrier, rear-tire changer, rear-tire carrier, gas can man and jack man. New this year will be a second gas can man who will take the place of the catch can man, a position which is no longer relevant in the series.

The new fueling cans and systems, however, will not be used.

The competition is different than a normal pit stop. The crews start at four separate stations. From those stations, the crewmen do their normal duties and then hit a split-timer button. They then have to run to one end of the arena and collectively push their 3,200-pound car across the arena floor to the finish line.

All team members will begin simultaneously at the sound of a starter’s pistol. They will hit a stop button positioned on pit wall as they leave their respective pit box, creating their individual split time.

A victory gives the winning team its choice of pit stalls in the All-Star Race or in the Sprint Showdown qualifying race that precedes it.

This event had a rough start on TV, but now SPEED and the organizers have worked together to create an annual event driven by team rivalries and some colorful personalities. It turns out that there is a lot more to most Sprint Cup Series crew members than meets the eye.

Bob Dillner will be handling the interviews from the floor while Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will call the action. SPEED's two former crew chiefs bring a solid perspective to this competition and the casual style of Byrnes really makes it work on TV.

Click here for a feature from WCNC's Greg Bailey about how this competition has changed over the years and the new breed of athletes involved.

NASCAR officials are the ones in place checking the stops and adding up the penalty points. The pressure is really on and this competition is slowly becoming a nice little TV franchise for SPEED.

We welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion before, during or after this program just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for stopping by The Daly Planet.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

TV Police: NASCAR On FOX From Dover, DE

His stare could strike fear into the hardest criminal. His hair defied gravity. Detective Steve McGarrett pushed his men to solve every crime and made it personal. Once the arrest was made, it became official with the phrase that became a part of our vocabulary. "Book'em Danno!" he would say.

It takes a veteran like McGarrett to solve the mystery of why fans at home cannot see their drivers. Why fans cannot get updates on all the drivers in the field over a period of three hours. Why tight shots and in-car cameras do not show the actual racing that takes place. That's right, McGarrett is taking on the NASCAR on FOX bunch.

There was no outdoor pre-race set for this race, so the Hollywood Hotel served as the launching pad for Darrell Waltrip. Chris Myers questioned Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick about events from last week but neither one broke. Jeff Hammond tried to add his opinion, but instead Waltrip got "Revved Up" about the lack of sportsmanship in NASCAR and drivers crossing the line and spinning others out.

Mike Joy joined Waltrip and Larry McReynolds for the race call. Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Dick Berggren and Krista Voda were on pit road. The weather only caused a slight rain delay under caution but never stopped the race.

FOX continued to beat the Harvick vs. Busch drum until the green flag. Of course, nothing happened between those two drivers in the event. Instead, the story was the build-up of rubber on the track and the total lack of actual side by side racing.

Late in the race, FOX ran a side-by-side national commercial break without saying a word in advance or after the fact. There had been no advance publicity about FOX trying that and it will be interesting to follow that up and figure out what went on in the TV truck.

The FOX style is well set. Tight shots, in-car cameras and covering the incidents of the race through replay. Jumping from car to car just drains the excitement out of any event. This was no different. The pit reporters faded down the stretch and no crew chiefs were interviewed after caution flag pit stops or for strategy discussions.

FOX takes a break and SPEED produces the All-Star race next. This post is intended for you to offer a TV race wrap-up of how you felt the coverage was from Dover. 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 stopping by.

Fan Council Asks About Split-Screen Commercials

The discussion continues after the little surprise added to the FOX production of the Sprint Cup Series race from Dover. Without warning or mention, the same type of split-screen or "side by side" commercial viewers see in the IndyCar telecasts appeared on FOX. That is a screen-capture above.

Later that night, a FOX spokesman told reporter Dustin Long of hamptonroads.com that this was a concept that came up in discussions last week. Veteran readers of TDP know that it is actually a topic that has been on the table for more than five years.

Regardless of the overall quality of the telecast, the biggest hurdle for NASCAR in this new TV contract has been commercials blocking the racing action. It's nothing new, but the situation is now compounded by two key elements.

First, the networks run lots of inventory to pay-off the rights fees they paid to NASCAR. This was the most lucrative TV contract in NASCAR history and what fans see as they sit through commercial after commercial is FOX simply paying the bills.

Secondly, the communication choices available to NASCAR fans now go far beyond the race. Immediately after the live event, there are countless review shows on SPEED and ESPN that replay and detail the happenings in the multi-hour race. It's a lot easier to watch a one-hour review show that has all the highlights and soundbites.

The elephant in the room is the Internet. A growing number of fans on Twitter and Facebook are interested in being actively involved with others during the telecasts and that has put the spotlight once again on the fact that about one-third of the laps are covered by commercials in the Sprint Cup Series.

When a commercial begins, NASCAR fans flee. This new generation of NASCAR fan does not want "play interrupted" for a commercial. It does not happen in professional football, baseball or hockey. Only NASCAR has live action or "play" interrupted by commercials every four or five minutes.

It's not quite clear where the push to try this new approach came from, but it's getting even more interesting. The Monday NASCAR Fan Council survey that went out to members of that panel contained specific questions about the single split-screen FOX commercial break.

In fact, the email even contained the video of the entire commercial. Fans were asked how they liked it, if they remembered the advertisers and what effect that commercial format had on fan's attitude toward those sponsors. Needless to say, the fans we chatted with were all for it continuing.

One key question was how did this split-screen commercial format make fans feel about the NASCAR on FOX telecast itself? That's a great issue. It has always been a strong feeling that this commercial format retains fans during the commercials and instills a strong feeling of fan loyalty for sponsors who participate.

The NASCAR on FOX gang has a little break while SPEED handles the All-Star race, but when the monstrously long Coke 600 rolls around, it will be interesting to see if more of the commercials are presented in this style.

It's very clear from the flat TV ratings that change is needed. If this move by FOX late in that network's season can help TNT and ESPN to embrace this format, then it's certainly worthwhile.

We want 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, May 16, 2011

Monday NASCAR TV/Media Notes

Happy Monday! Things are getting off to a quick start this week. Here are some TV and media notes on stories unfolding right now.

Dustin Long of hamptonroads.com has a great follow-up story on the surprise split-screen commercial that appeared late in the FOX Sprint Cup Series telecast. That is a TV screen-grab of it above. Turns out there was a lot going on behind the scenes to make that happen.

Click here for the full story, here is a short excerpt:

Fox showed a split the screen during the last commercial break before the checkered flag with the commercials in a larger box than the racing action. That break was the only time in the race the split-screen format was done.

"The idea re-surfaced earlier this week and after some discussions it was decided we would experiment with it if we could get enough advertisers to go along with it," a Fox Sports spokesman said Sunday night. "At this point, the fan feedback we’ve seen via social media has been very positive."

Turner is warming up for its summer season with some rather off-beat promotions this week in Charlotte. This one involves the Charlotte EpiCentre in the uptown area of the city.

The following is from a Turner media release:

The campaign involves branding elements, including the full takeover of a four-story elevator shaft in the main courtyard, staircases, and a 26-foot TNT logo on the ground at the base of the elevator shaft. Enhanced audio technology called “directional audio” will complement the EpiCentre campaign with a concentrated beam of audio (imagine a flashlight, but with audio instead of light) directed to a specific location. When an individual walks through the audio beam, they will hear custom tune-in audio messaging – AC/DC’s “T.N.T.”, engines revving, cars speeding around the racetrack – only heard within the beam. When individuals exit the beam, they won’t hear it anymore.

Well, at lease we know that the TNT theme song will be returning.

On ESPN2 today for the one-hour NASCAR Now show is Allen Bestwick hosting with Tim Brewer, Johnny Benson and Ricky Craven as the "expert panel." Bestwick will also be calling the Nationwide Series race from Iowa next Sunday on ABC. Nicole Briscoe will be handling the Infield Pit Studio and the NASCAR Countdown show.

It might be a good idea to record NASCAR Now this week, the show is going to offer a look at some interesting NASCAR history.

This note from ESPN:

NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information show, will take viewers on a five-day tour featuring classic racetracks of the sport starting Tuesday, May 17, with a different track each day through Saturday, May 21.

ESPN the Magazine’s Ryan McGee will visit Bowman Gray Stadium, Hickory Motor Speedway, Rockingham Speedway, North Wilkesboro Speedway and Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Guests will include Richard Childress and Ned Jarrett.

Sounds like a great idea. It should be interesting to watch and get the reactions of both the fans and those directly involved in the sport today.

Update: 3.8 overnight rating for Sprint Cup Series race is just an indication of flat ratings for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races this season.

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

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Live Blogging Sprint Cup Series From Dover (FOX - 12:30PM ET)

It's overcast at Dover with a 50% chance of rain. After a hard crash shook-up teams and crews on Saturday, the Sprint Cup Series races on one of the fastest mile tracks on the circuit.

Clint Bowyer got turned on his side and almost rolled it into the inside wall on the final laps. A rear spring from his car struck one of his pit crew members. It gashed his leg, chipped a bone and put him in the hospital overnight. Dover is one of the most dangerous tracks on the circuit.

The NASCAR on FOX trio of Darrell Waltrip, Chris Myers and Jeff Hammond appeared live during SPEED's RaceDay show. They were inside the Hollywood Hotel, so it looks like there will be no outdoor pre-race set this week. Rain is the likely reason.

Two items. First, veteran NASCAR reporter Mike Mulhern passed along that he heard Waltrip was pushing FOX to bring Micheal Waltrip into the FOX booth and move Larry McReynolds out. Secondly, Jeff Hammond joined Twitter and it should be interesting to see how he interacts with fans during the live race.

The new SPEED and FOX executives have fully enabled Waltrip as the star of NASCAR TV. Love him or hate him, Waltrip has four more seasons at FOX and SPEED and the contract is signed. After his failure to describe Kyle Busch's actions last week vs. Kevin Harvick, it should be interesting to hear Waltrip's comments in the pre-race.

Mike Joy sat back last week and the long periods of silence were a commentary on just how awkward these FOX telecasts have become. Despite his best efforts to communicate what is going on in the race, Joy is constantly trampled in the booth by Waltrip. This happened again on the final lap last week.

It's been a long fall for Larry McReynolds. Removed from his Trackside program. NASCAR Performance became a show taped during the week. FOX ended his "Reach up and pull the belts tight" catchphrase. Now, the rumor that he may be out at FOX in the booth.

The corps of pit reporters are waiting in the wings to step-up and get more involved in the telecasts. Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Matt Yocum and Dick Berggren are experienced and incredibly underused. With all the potential for mayhem at Dover, this crew may finally get some quality air time.

Say it with me: Tight shots, single car views, in-car cameras, lack of field recaps and no aerial views. FOX made a decision of how to produce these races and they are sticking with it to the bitter end this season. So, here we go again.

This post will serve to host your comments on the NASCAR on FOX coverage of the Sprint Cup Series race from Dover. 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, May 14, 2011

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From Dover (ESPN 1:30PM ET)

It's been a rainy day in Dover. Nationwide Series qualifying was rained out. There is a break in the precipitation and the frontstretch is drying. That photo is courtesy of scenedaily.com reporter Bob Pockrass.

Rusty Wallace has the weekend off. Allen Bestwick is in the Infield Pit Studio with Brad Daugherty and Dale Jarrett. Marty Reid will call the race with Jarrett and Andy Petree. Vince Welch, Dave Burns and Jamie Little are the pit road reporters. Tim Brewer is on-site with the Tech Garage.

Green track and threatening weather means drivers will be racing carefully with the intention of getting to the halfway point that makes the race count. As that point approaches, teams will play their hands in terms of tires and fuel.

The truck race on Friday had few surprises. Top Sprint Cup cross-over drivers dominated and Kyle Busch ultimately won. Some of the series regulars made a strong showing simply by being careful and staying out of trouble.

Rusty Wallace is off because his sponsor is heavily involved in this race. He also has a third car entered today. ESPN documented the insider trading deals where three "start and park" teams were bought out of the event so the final Wallace car and two others with sponsors could start. Welcome to the new NASCAR.

Coverage should be interesting, especially if it is extended because of rain. ESPN has been making great progress with picture selection for these live events, but Marty Reid is just having a struggle in the TV booth. It should be interesting to see how today works out in the long run.

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

Raining In Dover Saturday - Track Activity Stopped

The rain promised by the weathermen arrived in Dover early Saturday morning. Currently, all track activity is stopped (10:40AM). The pictures above are being sent from the teams and the TV crews at the track in the rain.

Update: Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series qualifying cancelled, not looking good for the NNS race this afternoon.

The Nationwide Series qualifying has been rained out. Unfortunately, it does not look good right now for the Nationwide Series race scheduled for this afternoon.

We will be providing rain updates on this post throughout the day. Check back to see how things are going. You can also check The Daly Planet Facebook page or follow us at twitter.com/thedalyplanet on Twitter.

If you have a comment or a question, please feel free to click the comments button below and add it.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Truck Series From Dover (Same Day Delay - SPEED: 8PM)

Apologies for no new blog posts recently, Google hosts this site and had some troubles. All is supposed to be well and we carry on!

The truck race from Dover was run at 4:45PM this afternoon in Dover. SPEED and NASCAR always delay it until tonight. Those folks who want to know the results can certainly check any NASCAR website, Twitter or Facebook. There are no more surprises in our world of information and communication.

The sneak peek above is from our friend producer John Morris who wanted everyone who heard about a hard crash by Ricky Carmichael to know he was OK. That does not look like a fun ride.

Krista Voda starts with The Setup, a show that features pit reporters Ray Dunlap and Hermie Sadler. Rick Allen is in the booth to call the action with Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip.

Dover is a tough track for this series as lap trucks begin to be a problem very quickly. In the past, a handful of trucks were in a class of their own and made it a race within a race. Many of the competitors were at Dover for experience rather than to race for the win.

SPEED's classic style of truck series production has been solid for years. Sticking to the story of the race, featuring the actual racing on camera and working to keep the excitement going has been something fans have come to know very well.

Just like last year, the truck field is thin. While there are some good stories, there are certainly a lot of folks who are just no there for the right reasons. Allen has been up front in his decision to avoid talking about just how many truck teams are starting and parking but the ticker on the screen ultimately tells the tale.

This race always looks a little weird on TV because it is daytime on the screen and nighttime for most of the East and Central US. That's only one of the issues associated with trying to keep things under wrap these days.

This post will serve to host your comments on the truck series coverage from SPEED. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a fan friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dover Truck Race Should Be Televised Live

The emails, tweets and Facebook questions always begin on Monday of this week. NASCAR fans checking the Dover schedule find that the Camping World Truck Series race scheduled for 7:30PM Friday night is not live. The actual TV term is same-day delay.

In real life, the driver introductions are at 4:20PM and the actual race gets underway at 4:45PM ET. If it seems strange to start a race at that time, there is an easy answer as to why. The Dover track has no lights.

In order to get a tripleheader weekend in the books, the trucks have to race in the daylight rather than double-up with the Nationwide Series on Saturday afternoon. It's been this way for several years now.

Twenty years ago, delaying live events had some power and made some sense. Access was limited and news reports were not seen until the next day. The original idea was that time-shifting events like the Dover race would put it in primetime and make for good TV viewing. This Friday, what is going to happen is chaos.

By the time the trucks roll on SPEED shortly after 8PM, every fan who cares can check the many NASCAR websites and read the results and the story of the race. In the instant world of Twitter, the entire race will be live-tweeted by not only the teams, but NASCAR itself. Results will be on the various Facebook team pages moments after the event is over.

This is the first season that the RaceBuddy online application has been offered for all the truck series races. Well, offered for all but one. Delaying the Dover race wipes-out this online component that features multiple video angles and live social media chat.

The biggest problem NASCAR and SPEED are going to have is the carry-over from last Saturday night's Darlington Sprint Cup Series race. Both Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are in the truck race this Friday. That is a photo sent by Harvick via Twitter of the final prep being done on his race truck. Note the primary sponsor.

With both drivers now on probation in the Sprint Cup Series, the door seems to be open for some potential carry-over in a series in which neither driver is running for the championship. While Dover is not known as a payback track becase of its high speeds and narrow groove, stranger things have happened.

The solution for all of this is simple. Air the truck race live and then re-air it at 8PM as scheduled. Folks who can see it live or via RaceBuddy will do so and those coming home from work after 6PM ET can catch the re-air. The same commercials go in both, so the advertising dollars are not the issue.

There absolutely was a place and time for this practice. Those days are long gone. For years now, NASCAR fans have been use to ten or more hours of live Friday coverage on SPEED and ESPN2 of practice and qualifying from tracks nationwide.

In this social media age of instant communication and news, the Busch vs. Harvick storyline is going to again raise the issue of why this event is not live on SPEED. The simple answer is, it should be.

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, May 10, 2011

TV Police: NASCAR On FOX From Darlington, SC (Day Three)

"Boys have at it" was the motto of Sgt. Rick Hunter and the rest of his LAPD Homicide detectives long before it became the NASCAR slogan. Along with sidekick Dee Dee McCall, Hunter patrolled the streets for NBC from 1984 to 1991.

It's going to take a veteran team to investigate the NASCAR on FOX production of the Sprint Cup Series race from Darlington, SC. You must be tough, because FOX has decided to go on the offensive and fight back.

Last week the headline was the JGR crew chief swap that never happened and this week it was the supposed fight in the NASCAR hauler between Ryan Newman and Juan Montoya. Darrell Waltrip interviewed Newman as a part of the pre-race show. Chris Myers hosted with Jeff Hammond as the second studio analyst.

Waltrip avoided the topic he made famous last week and instead played the supposed feud for all it was worth. Just like the crew chief swap, the feud story never materialized once the race was underway.

FOX also is suddenly in love with team scanners. This type of content has been featured on shows on ESPN and SPEED for years. FOX ran a scanner-based feature and discussed the language and tension that have suddenly found a place on these telecasts.

This race was part of a special "Animation Domination" promotion on the part of FOX. The opening animation and bumpers into commercial had the special network theme and the music, although horrible, was part of the campaign.

The original centerpiece of the week was supposed to be a combined show featuring characters from Family Guy, American Dad and The Cleveland Show. The theme that combined all three was that they got hit by a huge tornado. That special was wisely postponed due to the recent killer tornado outbreak, but the animation theme stayed with the other programs including NASCAR.

Hammond was back at the cutaway car and showed the foam in the sides of the cars that seems to come into play at Darlington. Once David Ragan hit Brian Vickers, Hammond was again outside and tried to explain with what he had available exactly what happened.

Mike Joy directed traffic with his usual skill, but silence and the lack of old style race calling was the order of the day. Like it or not, casual monotone conversation in the TV booth has become standard for FOX. While cranking it up is nice, an exciting race call from start to finish would certainly be a big change.

It's a sore subject to some, but Waltrip is having a tough time staying on point and remembering what he has said in the telecast. He now contradicts himself constantly on issues from troubles on the track to drivers having a good or bad day.

If this was an occasional error it would be one issue, but it is a consistent problem and often puts Waltrip in a bad light. He seems to not remember in the late stages of a telecast the very strong statements he made in the early laps.

Replays are mandatory to see the action on the track when the "hyper-tight" coverage style of FOX continues. From cutting to single cars and even in-cars during a live wreck to constantly showing two-car battles, the perspective for fans watching on TV is lost. Replays often show things that the FOX announcers never even referenced live.

While Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda and Matt Yocum delivered another strong performance, it was Dick Berggren who seemed to be out of step in the event. From awkward pre-race interviews to little real information in the telecast, the veteran had a tough night. His post-race interview with Kevin Harvick was atrocious.

Pictures and sound were the strong points as the technical side of the telecast delivered flawlessly again. Say what you will about some of the strange production decisions this season, but FOX has been outstanding from a technical perspective.

The restart with five laps to go allowed FOX to finally use an aerial shot to show fans the cars sorting out. When the big wreck occurred, FOX chose to zoom-in on Clint Bowyer and missed the key incident of the race between Harvick and Kyle Busch.

Waltrip was unable to assign blame for the accident, despite the fact that the hard feelings continued through the finish. The unlikely winner Regan Smith had been categorically ignored by FOX all night long. Luckily, Matt Yocum asked a fantastic opening question in Victory Lane and it made up for a lot.

The action after the finish forced FOX to try and follow two stories at the same time. While Smith was heading to Victory Lane, Harvick was exchanging thoughts on the race with Busch. It seems that was a bit much to cover and it made for a strange end to a very long telecast.

It is, however, a perfect example of the strange season for FOX. Cutting live to tight shots and in-car cameras as wrecks are in progress. The producer and director trying to catch some dramatic video instead of showing fans watching on TV what is actually happening on the track. It might be their choice, but we are the ones having to live with those consequences. This season on FOX, NASCAR fans miss a lot.

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