Sunday, November 07, 2010


With a wacko Talladega finish and a wild Texas race in its immediate rear-view mirror and a terrific Chase championship nearing the finish line, all logic would say NASCAR should be the driver's seat as far as the ESPN TV ratings are concerned, with only Phoenix and Homestead-Miami to go.

But my antenna is telling me something very different.

I will leave it to John Daly and others to do the break-down what has been and is going on with the ESPN production and announce crew. I'll just say this: The excitement -- and there has been a good bit of it -- isn't coming through the TV and to the audience. Say what you will about individual "talent" personalities, but I know that if Eli Gold had been calling the last two races, I would have FELT the excitement.

When you have a Talladega where the winner was in doubt, and a Texas where Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon wreck under yellow and -- in as blunt an interview as you'll ever hear -- Burton calls it "my fault" and Gordon says he "lost respect" for Burton and "wanted to do a whole lot more than that" in shoving the other Jeff, and me and you at home don't FEEL it, well, that's NOT NASCAR's fault.

Even in our society where the bar-of-standards has been lowered, certain things still should not be acceptable. NASCAR considered Kyle Busch's gesture Sunday to be in that category. In this day, even in the context of Texas and six-shooters, for Marty Reid to make an analogy about "bullets flying" simply cannot be tolerated. At least, it shouldn't be.

Daly, on his The Daly Planet TV commentary/analysis site, has wondered about ESPN management making booth changes before the end of the season. No sign of that happening: ESPN's philosophy, other than for legal or conduct code violations, seemingly is to wait until the off-season.

I duly note Hendrick Motorsports, be that at the direction of Rick Hendrick or Chad Knaus or whoever, decided it couldn't wait to bench Jimmie Johnson's under-performing pit crew mid-race at Texas, bringing in Jeff Gordon's to service the No. 48.

The Lords of Bristol should give that example a good, long, hard, ponder.

Me? I'd have Allen Bestwick and Ray Evernham in the booth this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. And tell Brad Daugherty the NBA season has started. And, I'd remind the hosts of the various ESPN cable and radio shows who seldom-if-ever talk about NASCAR, to get their brains in gear.

FAST LINES: I want to add a positive postscript to what I wrote last week about the NHRA Las Vegas Nationals. Late Sunday afternoon, Graham Light, NHRA's senior VP of racing operations, was in the media center and individually told several media people (me included) that he "apologized" to fans for the bad, bad show. Yes, Light used the "A" word -- and he was 100 percent right to do that. I said for years that the leaders of IndyCar, Champ Car and the Indianapolis 500 should have apologized to the fans -- and the industry -- for the wretched mess they made. When Tony George and Kevin Kalkhoven announced reunification at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the words "I apologize" should have come out of both of their mouths within the first 60 seconds. Only ego and arrogance (and maybe bad-or-no advise) stood in the way. Let others take proper notice of Light's correct example . . . As a baseball fan, let me say congratulations to all San Francisco Giants fans. Enjoy. As (easily) predicted, though, Giants-Texas Rangers was a no-buzz TV ratings downer . . . One more baseball item: I'm not a Commissioner Bud Selig basher, at least to the degree of others, but I say NO to his idea to expand the playoffs. NO! More is not better (take note, NASCAR, in considering adding drivers to the Chase) . . . As a native of California, given the Golden State's sad state, and last week's election results, I'm about to write it off . . . It's ALL PR? Apparently so, since the president faults not his policies, but the way they've been communicated for the election thumping . . . Who would ever have thought it? Howard Beale believed he was above the rules. Or, maybe he didn't read them, like congressmen who didn't read the health cost law. The Nutcase Network suspended him for violating NBC News regulations against contributing to political candidates. The real question for Comcast, when it takes over soon, is not what it will do with Versus. But, rather, what it will do with the MSNBC Mess, and if it will stop using a journalism organization for the purposes of gaining favor for government contracts and business in China for its parent company.

Here's a good read, even if I say so myself: Actually, that has nothing to do with me, but rather, 22-time NHRA National event winner and ace ESPN analyst Mike Dunn. It's 10 Q&As with Mike, my November "Drags, Dollars & Sense" column on Even if you're not usually intro drag racing, but would enjoy a TV type telling it straight, this is worth your time:

Here's a link (below) to my story in Sunday's Arizona Republic. It's about the Dodge comeback in NASCAR this season. Please check out the coverage Mark Armijo and I will have all this week. For those who have asked, yes, I'll be writing about Danica -- see my story this Thursday and you just might find out one or two things you didn't know. My traditional Newsmaker Q&A is scheduled to be with NASCAR President Mike Helton and it will run Sunday. If you're not in the state to buy the paper, read us on

[ please check back here next Sunday for something important . . . ]