Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Overlooked in the aftermath of Kyle Busch's hit-and-run with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at Richmond was Busch's slam at ESPN's Marty Reid during a media session at the following week's Lowe's Motor Speedway test.

The Richmond Nationwide Series race ended with Busch and Steve Wallace bumping on the last lap and they "chatted" in pit lane afterwards. Reid (subbing for Dr. Jerry Punch) had predicted they would get an invitation to visit the NASCAR hauler.

Asked if, in fact, any NASCAR official had spoken with him, Busch said (this from a Toyota-provided transcript, bold emphasis mine):

“Is NASCAR reaching out to me? No, OK -- NASCAR hasn’t reached out to me. The incident was just an incident on the racetrack. Who’s the guy that’s in the booth? Marty Reid -- he’s a moron. There was an incident earlier in the race where (he said), ‘They’re going to the NASCAR hauler when this one’s over’ and I don’t remember what it was. Then he said that Steven Wallace and I were going to the NASCAR hauler after this one was over and he said, ‘Rusty (Wallace), you’re going to have to get your wallet out on this one.’ I was like; ‘What?’ There’s nothing going on here. I remember him commentating Truck races back in 2001. It was just unfortunate that he said that, but to me NASCAR didn’t say anything. I believe ratings are up from what I hear so that’s good -- as long as I can drive ratings, whether it’s me or whether it’s the racing is good -- that’s cool.”

By the way, Reid is scheduled to call four more Nationwide events for ESPN2 this season.
Here's my suggestion for a new ESPN slogan: When it comes to Danica Patrick, seldom is heard a discouraging word.

Even though Patrick's pit-lane incident last Friday, where a Dale Coyne crew member was hospitalized, made headlines -- and the video was replayed over-and-over on SportsCenter -- it took 12 minutes into Saturday's opening ESPN2 qualifying coverage for any word about what happened. When ABC took over, we waited 15 minutes. After Danica's first qualifying run, Vince Welch failed to ask her about the accident and ditto for Jack Arute during a later ABC interview and ditto again for Welch in an end-of-day conversation -- absolutely inexcusable from a journalism standpoint. By the way, IF Patrick (or her reps) told announcers in advance she didn't want to be asked that question, there was an ABSOLUTE obligation to reveal that to the audience. At least twice, Arute said the injured crewman -- Charles Buckman -- said he had made a "stupid mistake" (Arute's words) by walking into the path of Patrick's car. Where was the attribution for that mea culpa? A quote provided by the League had Buckman saying, “I really don’t remember how it happened. All I remember is I was talking with someone on Marco Andretti’s team, and then everything is blank from that point." What is Arute's source for the "stupid mistake" comment??? None was offered.

Meanwhile, Brienne (the Bumbler) Pedigo -- who continues to have absolutely no business being employed as a professional broadcaster, at least at this level -- came right out of the gate Saturday by obviously losing her train-of-thought during a report about Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing.

Given the long-standing -- and well-known -- animosity between the Andrettis and Eddie Cheever, I would not be at all surprised if Andretti lawyers were TIVOing every word Cheever spoke to the ABC/ESPN audience.

As for Marty Reid, it would help his -- and the overall broadcast's credibility -- if he stopped trying to make himself a part of the competition process with constant use of the inclusive "we." With Marty, it's, "We only qualify 11 today" and "We will take the 33 fastest" and "We're practicing" and "We're racing" and "We award points" and "We put in positions 12 through 22 tomorrow." Announcers are NOT part of the competition. Announcers DO NOT race or award points or put anyone into the field. Announcers ARE supposed to be objective reporters of facts. Really, is that asking too much?

Finally, this MUST be said: In today's media age, and given the short attention span of the American public, Helio Castroneves' Dancing With the Stars win is so "old news" it might as well have happened 25 years ago. Marty -- give it a rest!********************************************************************
For those over in Indianapolis who think all the problems are solved because of reunification, I'll offer a reminder that, to many people, "NASCAR" is now generic for all of American auto racing. Need proof? OK, this on the Associated Press wire last Friday (bold emphasis mine):

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) - Formula One teams are hopeful that Danica Patrick's NASCAR victory could provide the sport with another chance to field a female driver."

Oh, and just WHERE were the EDITORS?
WHAT A CONTRAST!: Jay Howard, replaced by John Andretti on the Marty Roth team, was classy on his TV interview. Howard said he still considered himself "part of the team." Meanwhile, Graham Rahal threw Newman/Haas/Lanigan under the bus. "What a mistake!" blasted Rahal, at his many-time champion (and sponsorless) team -- who lost a valued member a week earlier -- for not having new tires ready for a potential last-minute Saturday qualifying run. I guess Graham, for whom I bought an ice cream cone on a hot day at the track in Toronto when he was a child, forgot the huge effort N/H/L put into repairing the car he crashed in Homestead so he could come back to win St. Pete. THUMBS DOWN!
Man, was THAT Fun: I just filled out the Motor Press Guild's survey of journalists about their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with automotive public relations.

Think you've seen/heard it all? Well, do you know about "Flogos?" If not, read this AP story. (God knows what the people in Charlotte and Texas might do with this):
I want to acknowledge the death of Davey Evans, of Newman/Haas Racing, who I worked with for many years. I won't recount all the details here, but Evans died in Indianapolis after an altercation with another man at a bar. According to Newman/Haas team members who were there, Evans was kicked in the head, collapsed, and authorities ruled that stress from the incident induced a stroke.

Davey's association with Haas' teams went back almost 40 years. What is bizarre, to me, about the manner of his death is it reflects the opposite of his life. Davey was always polite and quiet -- I only remember one time I ever saw him get angry.

It was a pleasure to know Davey. My thoughts to the team and, especially, Carl and Berni Haas.
Here's a link to my new "All Business" column in the May Drag Racing Magazine Online. By the way, it's on two pages, so be sure to click on the "next page" arrow at the bottom (or top) of the first page:

And here's a link to last Friday's Arizona Republic notebook, featuring Dario Franchitti:

I'm delighted to recommend Bob Markus' new weekly sports blog. Bob, the retired long-time Chicago Tribune sports journalist, is a friend of mine and I've always respected him for his sharp and smart writing. Bob's coverage of the Indy 500 and other races is missed by many. Check him out:


[ more next Tuesday . . . ]