Sunday, March 08, 2015

DO FOX NEWS & SPORTS TALK? (And a Tie at the Top of This Week's Most Influential List)

Just wondering: Does anyone at Fox News speak to anyone at Fox Sports?


I can't help but wonder after watching FNC's NASCAR reports on the Daytona and Atlanta weekends.

Some talking head sitting in a studio in Los Angeles "reported" on Kurt Busch's suspension Daytona 500 weekend. And then when Kyle Busch was injured. Did the weekend producers even put 2+2 together that Fox Sports has the NASCAR rights? Why not put Matt Yocum on to provide some real on-site reporting? I guess the FNC correspondent in Antarctica wasn't available.

(This is a journalistically-unsound but regular FNC "gimmick" as I've seen some L.A.-based head "report" on stories in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., etc. It's credibility-bending.)

Then, when driver Travis Kvapil's car was stolen from a hotel parking lot before it ever got to Atlanta Motor Speedway, it was more appearance-of instead of real reporting. Weekend anchor Julie Banderas, who I think hasn't done any homework since the third grade, repeatedly botched Kvapil's name. I guess it would have been too much work to check how to say "Kvapil" during a commercial break.

FNC boss Roger Ailes -- a legitimate TV genius -- should be very, VERY embarrassed.

For over a half-century Chris Economaki criticized short-track promoters for not keeping the show moving along and thus keeping fans in the stands past midnight. Then, he pointed out, these same promoters would wonder why those with children didn't return or the race results weren't in the paper. I went to USA Raceway in Tucson Saturday night for the only World of Outlaws event in Arizona this season. (See my story on Donny Schatz in last Friday's Arizona Republic, link @SpinDoctor500 .)The opening ceremonies were at 7 p.m. and the checkered flag over winner Brian Brown (six different winners in six Outlaws' A-Mains to start this season) waved at about 9:45. Some of that was car count -- 26 -- but mostly it was clean racing (which, yes, can be exciting) -- no big flips or wrecks -- and a fairly efficient staging process. The show could even have been shorter if not for what seemed to me to be an overly-long track prep process before the features, which no doubt was go buy beer and hot dogs time, and a little extra entertainment then would have been good. We live in a short attention-span society -- baseball is enacting new rules to speed up games -- and so a briskly-paced Saturday night program is SMART and GOOD BUSINESS. I enjoyed it. 

POWER PLAYERS for the week of March 8: This week's 10 most influential people in the Business and Politics of Motorsports, as selected by long-time journalist/publicist and industry insider Michael Knight. 

  1. Brian France and Jim Campbell -- Delaware's justice department decides not to file criminal charges against Kurt Busch in the case of alleged domestic violence. And the decision of NASCAR's CEO regarding Busch's eligibility to compete is . . . ?  And ditto that of GM's motorsports VP who suspended Chevrolet's relationship with Busch a few weeks ago. NASCAR rules don't allow for unbranded cars. The exact percentage is not clear, but lots of women buy Chevys.

   3. Jeff Gordon -- Takes Las Vegas pole, talks about safety, and schedules a meeting this week with NASCAR officials. Gordon has the BIGGEST microphone right now because every media person wants to know what he says during this, his last full-time season.

  4. Kevin Harvick -- Sprint Cup champion goes 2-1-1-2-2-1 in his last six races and wins in Las Vegas. Next? Phoenix, where he has been dominant.

  5. Lewis Hamilton -- World champion -- and arguably F1's most popular driver -- opens the season in Australia. Will Grand Prix racing's worldwide TV numbers dip again this year? A lot probably depends on if Hamilton and Mercedes-Benz dominate while Ferrari runs as a backmarker. 

  6. Bryan Sperber  -- Phoenix International Raceway president's NASCAR weekend is two weeks later than in recent years. Will grandstands -- typically full for the November race -- be that way vs. baseball Cactus League competition? Will new tire wall inside Turn 4 be tested?

  7. Marcus Smith -- Speedway Motorsports CEO announces five-percent decline in admissions revenue in 2014. "Our core fans have been particularly hard hit and certain markets are recovering slower than expected, with underemployment remaining a substantial headwind," he says.

  8. Derrick Walker  -- IndyCar's competition boss to oversee open test with new aero kits at Barber Motorsports Park. Will he deem it a success or order changes? new class into his International Drag Racing Hall of Fame before the Gators.

  9. Jon Asher -- Drag racing's most insightful and influential writer makes his "Insider" season debut on at the Gators. If you want to know what's REALLY going on, read Asher.

10. Lou Ferrara -- Associated Press managing editor announces deal with technology company Automated Insights to use NCAA game data to have computers "write" some event reports. Plenty of stats come out of NASCAR's races, too, so . . . ?

I'll have stories in the Arizona Republic all week and through the NASCAR weekend at Phoenix International Raceway. Read me in the paper, on, and I'll also post links and updates from PIR on my Twitter: @SpinDoctor500 . Stories will include the "rebuilding" of Roush Fenway Racing, Trevor Bayne, explore how NASCAR's new car rules and electronic officiating could impact the PIR show, look at the marketing of Richard Petty Motorsports and -- of course -- talk to Danica. And more. Thank you.

[ more next week . . . ]