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Sunday, April 25, 2010

THE TALK of TALLADEGA

Talladega always means a lot of talk. And there certainly was plenty of media-related talk before Sunday's annual Sprint Cup crashfest.

Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart haven't seemed too happy with the NASCAR press corps this season. Even before the Daytona 500, Harvick was pegged as a Big Story, because his contract with Richard Childress Racing ends after the season. So, there's been plenty of writing and broadcasting about Harvick's future plans -- especially with loss of his sponsor and then win in Alabama. At 'Dega, he was asked about a shot he took at the media on Twitter:

"If you guys are going to -- most of you are this way -- you line it up with credible backing to your quotes, your sources and your people. If you’re going to quote a source, quote their name. Otherwise, if they’re too chicken to give you their name, don’t put their quote in the paper. It’s that simple. Anonymous sources are crap. If you want real sources go talk to real people.”

Later in his media avail, Harvick was asked where he got his journalism degree.

"I don’t have a journalism degree; I have a common-sense degree. I’m not going to go any further than that."

Yes, Kevin is Kevin, but I've been a bit surprised at his on-going approach, especially considering wife DeLana's PR background. As for unnamed sources, this is always going to be a point-of-contention between newsmakers and those who cover them. I would just point out Woodward and Bernstein and Watergate changed journalism -- for better or worse -- forever. There's no going back.

To be honest, what bothers me a ton more is how many people are so accepting of what is posted on Twitter -- no editor, no filter, no fact checker.

Meanwhile, a line of questioning at 'Dega was what drivers feel when they come to the fast and daunting superspeedway. It was phrased as what drivers think when they arrive at the track and go through the tunnel. I have the impression Stewart, after one year of cooling-his-jets to see what he had to do as a car owner to please sponsors, now feels less restricted. So, in his media gathering, Tony answered thusly:

“I drove across the cross-over on the backstretch, so I didn’t go through the tunnel. It’s just another tunnel. I don’t know how many racetracks you go to each year, but there’s a lot of tunnels and a lot of cross-overs. Most the time by the time we get here it’s dark, so all you want to do is get in there and go to sleep. The good thing is that we could take everybody in the media center and put them in cars here and everybody could drive well on this track."

Elsewhere, Dale Earnhardt Jr. found out about the downside of Twitter, when he was asked to respond to a posting from none other than Darrell Waltrip that Junior will drive a No. 3 Wrangler Chevrolet in the Daytona Nationwide race.

"DW sort of blew the lid off of it on Twitter nonetheless but . . . so that kind of ruined our announcement, but we will put together and we will have an announcement real soon, and explain what that whole program is all about and how it came about and what is going down with it. And it’s unfortunate that DW uncovered that and the way it went down because we didn’t want to have to announce it like this so we will do it when we had it originally planned and that is all I can tell you about it.”

FAST LINES: A giant thumbs-down to ESPN for allowing Nicole Briscoe to take the lead in covering the Shell Pennzoil-to-Penske Racing story on last Wednesday's NASCAR Now. Especially the swiss-cheese hole interview with team president Tim Cindric. The questions/follow-ups that SHOULD have been asked were obvious -- as is her massive conflict-of-interest -- Cindric is her husband's boss! BAD DEAL! . . . ESPN's presentation of the NFL Draft certainly was historic -- not only because it was the event's first time in Prime Time. It will forever be remembered for the complete marginalization of Tom Jackson, one of five talking heads on the overcrowded set. While Jon Gruden dominated the chat -- even answering questions directed to other panelists (and the ex-coach couldn't find one single draft choice he didn't like) -- and Steve Young was a close second, Jackson just sat there hour-after-hour and barely got in more than an occasional sentence. By Friday night's second and third rounds, Jackson had obviously given up, pretty much sitting silent. I wonder what Rush Limbaugh was thinking? . . . Good luck to very helpful Phoenix International Raceway PR assistant Griffin Hickman, now with ARCA.

Upcoming The Race Reporters guests:
(Show is live Wednesdays at 7 p.m. EDT, downloadable, and available on-demand at no cost. Click on TRR page logo in upper right-hand column.)

April 28 -- Newsmaker: Simona De Silvestro. Panelists: John Oreovicz, Jim Pedley. Plus, Lee Spencer.

May 5 -- Newsmakers: Kenny and Brandon Bernstein. Panelists: Dave Rieff, Susan Wade.

May 12 -- Newsmaker: Arie Luyendyk. Panelists: Mark Armijo, Dave (The King) Wilson.

[ Simona news nugget Thursday . . . ]