• UNCONVENTIONAL WISDOM:

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

DALY NEWS

John Daly, of The Daly Planet, was Wednesday night's Newsmaker of the Week on The Race Reporters. John was an exceptional interview and anyone who has ever commented on how TV covers motorsports should listen. John's site is DalyPlanet.blogspot.com .

Here's one of John's insightful quotes:

"The No. 1 topic on my web site, and the No. 1 topic in my E-mail, is the fact that, while there are 12 drivers in the Chase, all the other teams have disappeared. The fundamental issue that ESPN, and even NASCAR, is wrestling with is that fans don't change their allegiance. So, when you eliminate Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth and all the other high-profile non-Chasers from the television coverage, you encourage the fans to turn the channel and watch their local NFL game."

Use this link to listen to the show:
http://www.modavox.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=41366

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

October 21 -- Antron Brown. Panelists: Larry Henry, Bobby Bennett, Corinne Economaki.

October 28 -- A.J. Allmendinger. Panelists: Dave Kallmann, Lewis Franck.

[ more early next week . . . ]

Sunday, September 27, 2009

STAY TUNED

The only thing race fans enjoy talking about more than racing is how TV covers racing.

That's what we'll do Wednesday on The Race Reporters, 7 p.m. EDT, on PowerUpChannel.com. (Listen by clicking the show home page logo in the right-hand column.)

John Daly, whose The Daly Planet site (http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/) is the most influential voice analyzing motorsports on the tube, will be my Newsmaker guest. As Ed Hinton is to many NASCAR fans, or Robin Miller to open-wheel fans, or Gordon Kirby, Dave Argabright, Peter De Lorenzo or Jon Asher to others, that's what John's column is within the industry. I know it is to me.

The most important thing is John brings much credibility and experience to his postings. In brief, a quarter-century in TV production, including time at ESPN, Prime Network and Sunbelt Video. I don't always agree with his viewpoint, but I respect it a ton.

John and I will discuss the hot-button TV issues one-on-one. Honestly, I expect this to be a candid and important conversation.

Bob Margolis and Jonathan Ingram will do the journalists' roundtable. We'll wrap with NHRA Full Throttle Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer, who made the finals at Charlotte on the Geico Suzuki.

FAST LINES: I have been saying for some time that the most insidious trend in motorsports is driver business managers making media relations decisions, which they are not qualified to do. Here's proof -- Danica Patrick recently admitted her IMG agent advised her not to do interviews or news conferences until resolution of her 2010 contract situation. This trend is to be resisted, at EVERY turn, by PR pros and journalists . . . Reports are Patrick has a three-year contract extension with what is now Andretti Green Racing. I would not be making any big bets there will even be an IRL series in three years, at least as we now know it . . . ALMS is another series traveling a far-more fragile path than most realize. Only nine races on the 2010 schedule (St. Pete gone). Based on my experience, I consider 12 the absolute minimum for any sort of legitimate corporate marketing/publicity ROI. At Road Atlanta, ALMS President Scott Atherton said U.S. TV viewership has remained virtually flat. “In this era, flat is the new up,” he announced. Running Petit Le Mans the same weekend as the Tour Championship (and FedEx Cup finale) in the same market sure didn't help anyone, from a coverage standpoint . . . SPEED didn't label Saturday night's Las Vegas Truck race as being 350 kilometers. I'll say it again: The American public does not think event distances are in the metric system. A "350" is assumed by the public to mean MILES. Is it really too much to ask for everyone involved in such gimmicks to at least honestly label them as such? . . . Some very important people would be smart to note that ING, Renault's primary Formula One sponsor, removed its ID when the FIA sanctioned the team for ordering one of its drivers to crash in a race last year to help his teammate win . . . I don't play golf, but follow that industry, because there are many parallels to auto racing. Here's another reason why I consider the LPGA to be headed down the same road as CART -- An American player hasn't won on that tour since MAY, when Cristie Kerr got the trophy at the Michelob Ultra Open at Kingsmill, in Williamsburg, Va. (FYI -- Anheuser-Busch, under new ownership, just dropped its sponsorship of that successful tournament.) And a USAer hasn't been LPGA Player of the Year since 1994; that was Beth Daniel. (Of course, Annika Sorenstam was PofY eight times in that span.) IRL, please take note . . . The bottom sure has fallen out of hard-liquor sponsorships in NASCAR, after a lot of lobbying efforts to get Daytona Beach to OK the category. The Jack Daniels (Richard Childress Racing) and Jim Beam (Robby Gordon) money will dry-up at season's end. Replacements? Since the proposed Richard Petty Motorsports-Yates Racing combo would eliminate two entries, and Roush Fenway is required by rule to cut one, Cup car counts in 2010 again loom as an issue . . . Add this to last week's list of what egoist sports talk radio show hosts think listeners care about -- What expensive steakhouse they went to for dinner.

The American Media: September 25, 2009 -- John Gambadoro, Sports 620 KTAR (an ESPN affiliate), Phoenix. "To go to a NASCAR race, I'd rather shoot myself." As for the drivers, ". . . if you want to call them athletes." Why didn't Danica go to NASCAR? "Maybe it's (she's) too much of a gimmick for them." (Ever heard of the Chase, John?) The Indianapolis 500? "Shoot me now before I have to watch that stinkin' race."

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

October 21 -- Antron Brown. Panelists: Bobby Bennett, Corinne Economaki.

[ John Daly news nuggest Thursday . . . ]

Thursday, September 24, 2009

JEG on QUALIFYING

U.S. Nationals winner and four-time Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. was the Newsmaker guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters show on PowerUpChannel.com. NHRA announcer Alan Reinhart, Drag Racing Online.com editor Jeff Burk, and National Speed Sport News senior editor Mike Kerchner joined me for the journalists' roundtable -- and they engaged in a very informative conversation on various topics.

Coughlin finished NHRA's "regular season" atop the Pro Stock standings. But the points reset for the Countdown, and NHRA added bonus points for each qualifying session. I reviewed Jeg's stats vs. Mike Edwards' through last weekend's Charlotte race: Starting line wins 43-16 vs. 23-34; Holeshot record 5-1 vs. 1-6; Round wins-losses 47-12 vs. 42-15. But Edwards has 11 poles to none for Jeg, and their average qualifying position is 1.89 for Edwards to Jeg's 6.68. Edwards now leads by 56 points. I asked Jeg if he was worried about losing the title based on qualifying results instead of what happens in final eliminations.

"I'm not worried about that. I think the qualifying points are just part of the new rules and we have to adjust. We've got some work to do with our qualifying . . . The goal is to get the car in the top eight. We have the horsepower and the car to do it."

Listen to the show using this link:
http://www.modavox.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=41220


Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

September 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

October 21 -- Antron Brown. Panelists: Bobby Bennett, Corinne Economaki.

[ more early next week . . . ]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

LISTENING and LEARNING

SWEET TREAT: To celebrate last week's 40th anniversary of the first race at Talladega Superspeedway (quick -- who won?), track president Rick Humphrey surprised members of a tour group with cake in victory lane. Showing that the small PR gesture still has a useful role. 'Dega hosts the Amp Energy 500 Cup Chase race Nov. 1. (Answer: Richard Brickhouse.)

Since I began hosting The Race Reporters (Wednesdays, 7 p.m. EDT, PowerUpChannel.com) last June, I've found myself listening to national and local sports talk radio in a different way.

I pay more attention to the promos. Here's something I've noticed: People who used to be "reporters" now are called "personalities."

I hear that these shows are "personality-driven." I think they are more EGO-driven.

See how many of these items apply to those on your audio speaker:

1. The host mentions he has tickets to a sold-out concert.

2. The host mentions who (celebrity) he played golf with and/or the premier course he played.

3. The host mentions the party he is going to/went to and who he met.

4. The host talks-down to the audience. (In Phoenix, one guy said last week that he had received 140 E-mails about the Arizona Cardinals, and "only two of them were intelligent.") Or, rips fans for not "supporting" (read that: buy tickets) to an event, while talking about what he saw from the press box or premium seats.

5. The host has stupid nicknames for studio sidekicks, producers or engineers.

I, as a listener, don't give a damn about any of the above. I wonder why these hosts would think you would. Oh, I already answered that: EGO. (!)

Information for the August TRR (four shows) vs. July (five shows) is in: Our total numbers increased by just a fraction under 800 percent.

THANK YOU!

Let me repeat what I said when the TRR was launched. What I am working hard to offer you is INTELLIGENT INFORMATION. I am most proud of the very high quality Newsmaker and media guests who have accepted my invitation to join the conversation. Yes, I have my brief commentary in the opening segment. Then, I try to get out of the way and let you hear from the likes of Richard Petty, John Force, Ashley Force Hood, Dario Franchitti, Tony Schumacher, Scott Pruett, Ray Evernham, Chris Economaki, Joey Logano and the other Newsmakers who have been on. As well as a selection of the country's top journalists. I see my role as steering the discussion, asking questions, and adding points-of-interest.

We'll go again Wednesday night, with four-time NHRA Pro Stock champion Jeg Coughlin Jr. Alan Reinhart (NHRA top-end announcer), Mike Kerchner (National Speed Sport News senior editor) and Jeff Burk (Drag Racing Online.com editor) will join me for the journalists' roundtable.

As I promise at the start of every show: If you listen, you'll learn. And, as I conclude each show: If you read and listen to good journalism, you'll be a better race fan.

Please keep listening. Or give us a try. Thanks again.


Sure, this is a great excuse to run a picture of Jennifer Aniston (new movie, Love Happens), but I AGREE with her 100 percent in this quote from Parade magazine:

“It’s embarrassing that people are focused so much and putting so much money into gossip magazines to escape. The paparazzi and the magazines deserve their share of the blame, but they’re just supplying a demand. It’s unfortunate that people don’t care that they’ve been lied to, they don’t care that they’re being sort of messed with and not given the full truth. They buy them anyway.”


FAST LINES: Every journalist and media organization in this country should be desperately worried about the results of last week's Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey. No less than 63 percent consider information they read, hear and watch frequently inaccurate. That's the highest level of skepticism since the survey began in 1985. I'm not saying the poll is perfect. I am saying to the business and editorial decision-makers: YES, the economic environment is terrible. But just why would you expect people to buy your products given this perception? Improved quality is a key to any financial rebound . . . NASCAR steered away from what it did in the past for national pre-Chase promotion from the New York City media day. Previously, individual tracks hosted a local gathering in a restaurant or other suitable location, and four drivers came on via satellite TV for interviews tailored to that market's event. This time, while there were satellite interviews to specific stations, it otherwise was done via the regular Internet/phone format. I'm sure cost-cutting was an issue. I have no doubt the talking point would go something like, "We took advantage of technology to make this more convenient for the media." OK, but, at the foundation of good PR is building one-on-one relationships. The previous format offered the chance for that in-person experience as well as localizing the story (read that: Ticket $elling). My politician friends call this an op to "press the flesh." This time around, it was used to press the "send" button for another E-mail -- just how many phone calls were made to media reminding/encouraging them to participate? . . . EVERY team owner, sponsorship manager and "PR" rep should be sat down in a room together and required to watch and listen to this -- and I'm referring to the announcer's commentary (note the down-arrow graphic): http://www.fox40.com/videobeta/watch/?watch=027b811e-6268-4c76-b8eb-a0bfc822efd2&src=front . . . I've been told by NASCAR it does not release black-box crash data, such as Gs at impact. Drivers I've asked have punted. (Since such info is readily available in other series, that only leads to suspicion.) Apparently, though, Ron Hornaday Jr. didn't get the memo. In the New Hampshire media center, he admitted his accident at Gateway registered 68 Gs . . . Legendary TV production executive Don Ohlmeyer's ESPN.com postings, in his role as ESPN's new ombudsman, are educational for those wanting to learn more about the "inside" of the biz . . . Excuse me while I roll my eyes: ESPN Radio's Dan Davis said, in a commentary last week, that the PGA Tour players policy board should adopt a rule that pros can wear only ONE sponsor ID per round. (!) Hey, Dan, if that happens, I hope ESPN will find the budget to let you cover the European and Asian tours, because that's where a lot of the top players will be teeing it up . . . The American Media, Sept. 17, 2009 -- Ted Kennedy Jr. (selling a book) to NBC News cable's Hater-In-Chief: "My father was a huge fan of this program." Cue the Hater-In-Chief (bowed head, misty eyes, lump-in-throat, deep breath): "I remain speechless at the thought."

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:

September 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

[ Jeg Coughlin Jr. news notes Thursday . . . ]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

ANY NEW AUTOMAKERS COMING to NASCAR?

Lee White, president of Toyota Racing Development, was Wednesday night's Newsmaker of the Week guest on The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. Fox and TNT NASCAR pit reporter Matt Yocum; and Autoextremist.com founder Peter De Lorenzo, joined me for the journalists' roundtable.

Lee was asked about Lexus' status in the Grand-Am sports car series (uncertain) and a variety of other topics.

I asked Lee if he thought a European or Asian automaker might enter NASCAR in the near future. Here's his answer:

"That's a good question for them (NASCAR). Certainly, it would be very difficult, today, for us to propose entering anything. It would be challenging for me to go to our management and say, 'We want to take this on.' I guess I have to say we, at TRD, are probably very fortunate that we pulled it off five years ago, when we came into Trucks. We actually started that process 10 years ago, when it became apparent open-wheel racing in North America was going to have significant challenges. We at TRD basically encouraged the company to look at this (NASCAR) along with us as a survival mechanism, to keep the folks at TRD employed. Could it happen? Absolutely. The mechanism is there. The Car of Tomorrow is easily adapted to anyone. Before we came back in, Dodge came back in, and built a from-scratch NASCAR racing engine. That enabled us to do the same thing. Now, GM and Ford have done from-scratch racing engines for NASCAR. There's no question someone else could come in and do that if they desired."

Click this link to listen to the show:

http://va.radiopilot.net/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=41051

Upcoming guests:

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

September 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

October 14 -- Bryan Sperber (president, Phoenix International Raceway). Panelists: Terry Blount, Ron Lemasters Jr.

[ more next Tuesday. . . ]

Sunday, September 13, 2009

FORCE(D) ERRORS

CONGRATULATIONS: To Ashley Force Hood for winning the U.S. Nationals . . . but this image would have been SO much better without the cap pulled down on her head and the big sunglasses, which only served to hide her. The public needs to SEE Ashley (no, not like Danica) if she truly is to be drag racing's superstar for the next generation. The unzipped uniform and safety harness detracted, too, from what could have been a classic PR picture. Yes, there were other photo-ops, but this was the most important -- the moment of victory. Ten seconds of attention would have made all the difference. (Photo courtesy NHRA.)

For once, John Force shouldn't have plugged his sponsors.

I know. I know. He can't help himself.

But, this time, he should have.

For all the sound and fury that burst forth from the U.S. Nationals -- and I'm not going to replay all of that -- I honestly have only one criticism of John. And, it's probably not the one you think.

To me, it's not that he (almost certainly) let teammate and son-in-law Robert Hight win their semifinals match, and thus, advance into NHRA's Full Throttle Countdown to One championship. It's that John was TOO OBVIOUS about it.

Not just by being asleep-slow off the line (.209 light vs. his .086 season average), or going out of the groove, or smoking his tires.

Amidst a terrible season for Team Force in what John himself billed as his "no excuses" tour (no wins for John, Hight or Mike Neff), to me, the most surprising has been Hight's struggles. We are very accustomed to seeing Robert and tuner Jimmy Prock put up impressive ET and top speed numbers, and while I'm not into predictions, I likely would have made Hight my pre-season title favorite. Instead, he's had a couple of DNQs, and went into Indy needing to jump from 12th to 10th in points to make the Countdown.

John made no secret that he was willing to do whatever to get Robert's Auto Club Mustang into the Countdown, and that is where I think drag racing's greatest champion and biggest personality make a mistake. To me, the series of verbal errors launched with his post-Brainerd ESPN2 interview. That's when John announced he had just spoken with the Auto Club president, and would swap cars with Robert for the next two events.

And so it began: Over and over and over again, John said the same thing: That Castrol and Ford and the Auto Club and his other sponsors pay him to win and be in the Countdown. We heard that message some more at Reading, and certainly at Indy. No one could have missed it because John seemingly never did an interview without saying it, and because ESPN2 -- in the name of ratings -- heavily overweights its coverage in his favor.

John was clearly signaling his intentions. We all knew the story.

It would have been better, though, in this instance, if John had not attached the string of sponsor names to this talking point. I would rather he had just called it a "business decision" or "I'm going to do what's best for my team." By naming all the corporate names, he, in effect, put the burden -- and, maybe, the PR hit -- on them.

It was invisible to the media and public, but some of the best PR work I ever did was keeping a sponsor's name OUT of an interview or a story. Obviously, no one can control John Force. I'm not certain if he even can be counseled. But this was a time when John needed to carefully consider the possible consequences of what he said and did.

P.S. We had a lively talk about this in the first two segments of last week's The Race Reporters. Click this link to listen:
http://www.modavox.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=40919

Here's a link to my September "All Business" column on Drag Racing Online.com, on NHRA's incredible self-inflicted wound:
http://dragracingonline.com/columns/knight/xi_9-1.html


Kenny Wallace had the nerve to talk about his "reflections" of Sept. 11, 2001, in the Richmond Raceway media center last Friday. Well, here's MY reflection of Wallace and 9/11: Kenny going on ESPN2's old rpm2night show a couple of days after the national tragedy and saying that everyone needed to "chill out." Yes, that's what he said. If there were any standards within cable TV, Wallace would never again have been hired as a commentator -- or had a sponsor, not to mention an agency of the U.S. government -- after that grotesquely insensitive and inappropriate remark. I'm still waiting to hear his apology.


Steve Snoddy was not only a friend of mine, he was the rare person who gave back to motorsports. When I was CART's communications director, 1980-1983, Steve took on the task of running photographers' seminars at just about every race. He taught the veterans and newcomers safety and courtesy tips. I had the pleasure of calling Steve to the stage at the 1983 CART awards ceremony and presenting him with an appreciation award. A couple of years ago, Steve told me it was his dream to create a racing photographers Hall of Fame. He didn't get the chance. Steve, a member of the Jim Chapman Award selection committee, died last week. Thank you, Steve, and God Bless.

Upcoming guests:

September 16 -- Newsmaker: Lee White. Panelists: Matt Yocum, Peter De Lorenzo.

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

September 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram. Plus, NHRA Pro Stock Motorcycle rider Karen Stoffer.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

[ Lee White news nuggest Thursday. . . ]

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

PRUETT: GRAND-AM WITH NASCAR or I-500?

Scott Pruett, who I consider to be one of America's most under-appreciated racers despite all his wins and championships, was the Newsmaker of the Week guest on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com. He and Telmex Lexus-Riley co-driver Memo Rojas are five points out of the championship lead with two Grand-Am events to go. Next up is Utah's Miller Motorsports Park Sept. 19. John Oreovicz, of ESPN.com, and Jim Pedley, managing editor of RacinToday.com, joined me in questioning Pruett. Mark Armijo also was on the journalists' roundtable. I addressed the John Force-Tony Pedregon controversy head-on in my opening commentary and we had a lively discussion about it during the roundtable.

I asked Pruett about last week's historic Grand-Am test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I asked him if there would be a race at IMS, and, if so, when, and sprint or enduro? His answer surprised me and, I think, made some news:

"We can put on a show there like they've never seen before . . . I'm thinking something like six hours or 12 hours where we start in daytime and go into night . . . Everybody's really excited about the opportunity . . . The biggest question mark is when do we go? Do we try to do something with the Indy 500, say on a Friday, or Thursday? Do we try to do something with the Brickyard (400) on Friday or Saturday? Or do we do a stand-alone race? . . . I think that opportunity is out there. I'm hopeful for 2010."

Listen to the entire show using this link:

http://www.modavox.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=40919

Upcoming guests:

September 16 -- Newsmaker: Lee White. Panelists: Matt Yocum, Peter De Lorenzo.

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

Sept. 30 -- John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet.) Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram.

October 7 -- Gil de Ferran. Panelists: Mike Harris, Gordon Kirby.

[ more next Tuesday. . . ]

Monday, September 07, 2009

A FEW POST-HOLIDAY FAST LINES

Grand-Am's test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway: Legit tryout for a possible race or simply a PR return-of-favor for the 2007 IRL practice at Daytona. (See my Feb. 6, 2007 blog.) Could sports car run Indy? We'll ask one of the testers, Scott Pruett (left), on Wednesday night's The Race Reporters on PowerUpChannel.com . . . Three of the four most important stories of the weekend were business related: Kenny Bernstein found a sponsor, Don Prudhomme lost his and will be out of racing without a new one or an investor, and Danica Patrick apparently will start to cash-in on NASCAR, while still cashing-in on IRL, with a limited stock car development schedule . . . Fascinating to observe how different organizations spend their PR dollars. Bruton Smith's group spent wisely and flew a group of Charlotte-area media to Indy Saturday for a day of B-roll and interviews at the U.S. Nationals. Others choose to eliminate media guides . . . ESPN2's 600-frames-a-second camera is awesome for drag racing, especially matched with Mike Dunn's ace commentary. Overall, though, TV's U.S. Nationals hype was a bit too ripe, particularly Dave Rieff's shouting . . . I'm surprised Jerry Archambeault isn't all-over the ESPN2 announcers for talking about drivers being "amped-up" at Full Throttle series races.

Ratings for NHRA-on ESPN2 are down over 20 percent this season. Here's an example of a true show-killer from Monday's final eliminations at Indy: Funny Car teammates Bob Tasca III and Tim Wilkerson were the last pair in the first round. We saw the two on the line. Then, in order: A replay, commercials, a taped intro, a network promo, a taped roundtable feature, Jeg Coughlin Jr. interview, commercials, another shot of Tasca-Wilkerson on the line, Ashley Force Hood interview, engine change in the John Force pits, network promo, Spencer Massey interview, Massey first-round replay, Track-tionary feature, Matt Hagan interview, points review graphic, Dave Rieff voicer. Only then, almost 19 minutes later, did we see Tasca beat Wilkerson!

Oh, yes, I have some thoughts on the PR ramifications of the Force-Pedregon controversy at the U.S. Nationals. Come back here next week for those.

Racing expert Brad Daugherty told us Sunday night on ESPN that leader Juan Pablo Montoya was "checking out" from the field, only Kevin Harvick passed Montoya moments later . . . It would have been good for NASCAR, and its promoted story-line of a Labor Day weekend race back in the South, if Richard Petty had been prominently positioned for TV in victory lane with Atlanta winner Kasey Kahne . . . Dave Despain returned from his biking vacation to host Wind Tunnel with a long and insightful interview with John Force. It reminded me of the amazing and emotional 90 minutes I spent with John in his motorhome and pit area at Firebird Raceway, January 2008, his first time back on-track after his accident . . . I'm not into predictions, but I'll make a professional forecast. In the run-up to Diane Sawyer's debut as anchor of ABC News, network publicists will limit her interviews and stress Sawyer's hefty journalistic background and achievements. This, as opposed to CBS' overwhelming and failed hype for Katie Couric, which didn't shy away from Couric's celebrity and star power . . . Here's something I've noticed a lot more of this year: The only phone calls from some publicists come when they want to COMPLAIN about something. I'm pretty sick of it. One recently ringed me with a bit of unhappiness about something someone else said on TRR, but admitted he hadn't actually listened to the show . . . Stew Reamer, who died just over a week ago, was one of the first to awaken my interest in Business of Racing issues via his Racing Promotion Monthly newsletter. In recent years, Stew wrote a column for National Speed Sport News.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:

September 9 -- Newsmaker: Scott Pruett. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley, Mark Armijo.

September 16 -- Newsmaker: Lee White. Panelists: Matt Yocum, Peter De Lorenzo.

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

September 30 -- Newsmaker: John Daly (editor, The Daly Planet). Panelists: Lewis Franck, Jonathan Ingram.

[ Scott Pruett news nuggest Thursday. . . ]

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

LOGANO GRADES HIMSELF

Joey Logano was the Newsmaker guest on tonight's The Race Reporters show on PowerUpChannel.com. Mark Armijo (Arizona Republic) joined me in the questioning and John Sturbin (RacinToday.com) was part of the journalists' roundtable.

NASCAR's top rookie (19th in Sprint Cup points with one win) was asked if he's satisfied with the progress he's making, and what grade he'd give his performance (according to NASCAR stats, Joey's average starting and finishing position is the same -- 20.6):

"I didn't know that stat. I think that, compared to what we had at the beginning of the year, compared to now, is night-and-day better. We made one real big step from the beginning of the season until now, and we've got one more to go. As we got to tracks for the second time this season, everything seems to be getting a lot better . . . I never think about what I would grade myself. At the beginning of the season, it wouldn't be good at all. It definitely wasn't where we needed to be. Now, maybe a B. We're coming along. For me, I'm never going to be satisfied . . . Never being satisfied is something that got me to this point."

Click this link to hear the entire show, including Logano's comments on having Kyle Busch as a teammate, and the unprecedented expectations placed on him coming into NASCAR:
http://www.modavox.com/voiceamerica/vepisode.aspx?aid=40779

Upcoming show guests:

September 9 -- Newsmaker: Scott Pruett. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jeremy Shaw, Jim Pedley.

September 16 -- Newsmaker: Lee White. Panelists: Matt Yocum, Peter De Lorenzo.

September 23 -- Newsmaker: Jeg Coughlin Jr. Panelists: Alan Reinhart, Mike Kerchner, Jeff Burk.

[ more next Tuesday. . . ]