TV TIMES By Lou Modestino(for 2/19-2/21/10)

Last Saturday’s Nationwide race ended up a real bust for JR as he went upside down. Sunday, though, was a lot better as he chased Jamie McMurray to the stripe and ended up second. He also set the second fast time in qualifying. We think that if he had some more laps he might have taken the lead from Jamie. Could it be that JR is making a comeback? We’ll have to wait and see. In Saturday’s Nationwide race he went upside down while Tony Stewart ended up in victory lane. McMurray’s a comeback story in the Chip Ganasi/Filex Sabatus/Threasa Earnhardt entry. Danica’s performance in the ARCA 200 was stellar considering that she made a nice save on a potential race destroying effort and went onto finish sixth the week previous. And that set her up for a Nationwide effort just seven days later. However, she couldn’t dodge the second bullet when she got caught up in a 12 car wreck and was credited for 35th place in last Saturday’s race at The Big D. We can see that NASCAR is promoting Danica as it’s Poster Girl and maybe some of this will splash over to the IRL by early April when that series opens up with a street race in St. Pete, FL. How about former F1 driver Nelson Piquet getting a sixth place in the NASCAR Truck race!

The Speed Channel gave a lot of airtime to the new Delta Wing Concept IRL Indy Car which is one of three concept cars created by Chip Ganassi’s engineers. Two others were shown including the Dallara and the Swift. The IRL Indy Cars are slatted for a big change over in 2012 and will be the first major change in that series in 35 years. We think that the Delta Wing Concept may be too radical and could turn the fans off. Much like the COT did in NASCAR. However, NASCAR still has a large fan base even though the numbers have dropped significantly. We think that the IRL can’t risk alienating their fan base at this point in time. It’s been suggested that all three potential body builders should get into a room and hammer out some sort agreement where all three suppliers will get a piece of the action. We also agree with Speed Open Wheel commentator Robin Miller that the current spec car formula in the IRL needs revision. The sooner the better.

SPEED coverage of the ARCA Racing Series season opener from Daytona scored a Nielsen Household Rating of 2.30 (1,723,000 households), a 59% increase over last year’s 1.45 (1,062,000 households). Highlighted by the stock car debut of Danica Patrick, race coverage peaked at 2.66 (1,997,000 households), up a stunning 72 percent from last year’s peak of 1.55 (1,137,000 households). According to Nielsen Media Research, 2.4 million viewers tuned in to see the Saturday afternoon race, an 88 percent increase over last year’s audience of 1.3 million. The Nielsen ratings, which positioned SPEED as the No. 1 network in basic cable during the time slot, were the highest ever for an ARCA race and rank only behind SPEED’s exclusive coverage of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race as the highest ratings ever for the network. This came from

The NASCAR Nationwide Series races for 300 miles Saturday afternoon at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif., and ESPN2 will have a live, flag-to-flag telecast of the second event of the 2010 season. ESPN2 is the home of the series, with select races airing on ESPN and ABC.

NASCAR Countdown airs Saturday, Feb. 20, at 5 p.m. ET. The race telecast starts at 5:30 p.m. with the green flag at 5:46 p.m. Marty Reid will be the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN2’s race coverage, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch. Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.

Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN pit studio, with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Cup champion Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, a team owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

NASCAR on ESPN analysts Ray Evernham and Ricky Craven and NASCAR Now lead reporter Marty Smith will be panelists on NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program on Monday, Feb. 22, at 6 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick will host the edition of ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program.

Mike Massaro hosts half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now airing Tuesday through Thursday of this week at 5 p.m. and Friday at 6 p.m. Massaro also hosts the one-hour weekend edition that airs Sunday, Feb. 21, at 10 a.m. with a preview of that day’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. Nicole Briscoe and Angelique Chengelis will report from the speedway. .

NASCAR Now is hosted by Massaro, Bestwick and Manske and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include reporters Marty Smith, Shannon Spake and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie, and reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Marty Reid, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now.

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series races this weekend in the Lucas Slick Mist NHRA Nationals at Firebird International Raceway in Phoenix, and ESPN2 will air highlights of qualifying and eliminations. Qualifying action airs Sunday, Feb. 21, at 2 a.m. ET, and coverage of eliminations airs later that day at 7 p.m.

NHRA’s annual duel in the desert has been a Southwest fixture since 1985, when it joined the tour in a late fall slot. Since 1990, it has been the second stop on the tour’s westward march and a place for teams to redeem mistakes made at the opener. Charlie Allen, a former Funny Car racer, constructed a track that makes people forget it sits at 1,100 feet above sea level. The facility is also known for its annual preseason tests and Tony Schumacher’s historic 330-mph quarter-mile blast in 1999.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay on Sunday at 11 a.m. to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action.

Two of the great NASCAR racetracks of the past will be featured on ESPN Classic this week as highlights of races held at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway and North Wilkesboro (N.C.) Speedway air from the archives.

The famed Southern California road course held NASCAR races for nearly 30 years before being shuttered following the 1988 Budweiser 400. Highlights from that race, won by future ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace, air Monday, Feb. 22, at noon ET.

One of NASCAR’s original tracks, the 5/8-mile North Wilkesboro track produced classic short track racing until it was closed in the late 1990s. Fans can go back in time with highlights of the 1986 First Union 400 on Tuesday, Feb. 16, at 1 a.m.

ESPN Classic also airs an episode of its signature series SportsCentury featuring Richard Petty on Sunday, Feb. 21, at 8 a.m.

Their unparalleled NASCAR analysis and folksy, homespun presentation has been respected and enjoyed on FOX and SPEED for years. Now, Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds are becoming cyber-stars.

3-WIDE is the latest show developed by FOX Sports Digital Entertainment exclusively for on MSN, one of the world’s leading sports web sites, and stars NASCAR on FOX/SPEED TV analysts Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds. 3-WIDE premiered last Friday, Feb. 12 at 1:00 PM ET and replaces the NFL-themed INSIDE CALL every Friday through May during on MSN’s groundbreaking Lunch – w/ Benefits programming lineup ( on MSN is the third most–visited sports Web site with approximately 14.5 million average monthly users.

Each week, Waltrip, Hammond and McReynolds are joined via Internet video conference without a moderator to discuss breaking news and give a sneak peek at what race fans can expect come Sunday. In addition, NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and crew chiefs appear weekly to join in the casual conversation. Hammond also hosts a feature that focuses on the sites, sounds and flavors that make each town on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit distinctive, as well as a “Best of In-Car Radio” segment.

FOX Sports Digital Entertainment is a unit commissioned in September 2009 to create Internet-only programming exclusively for on MSN. Since on MSN generates its greatest concentration of visitors, 78%, mid-day on weekdays, it launched five lunch-time shows, one webcast at 1:00 PM ET each weekday under the banner “Lunch – w/ Benefits.” The program lineup evolves to stay current with the sports calendar.

According to and StockCar, the Budweiser Shootout that Saturday night earned a 4.1 Nielsen overnight rating, the same overnight rating it posted a year ago, according to the SportsBusiness Daily. Both events were shown live on Fox. Daytona 500 qualifying, which last year was televised by Fox on the Sunday following the Budweiser Shootout but was pushed this year to Saturday afternoon because of the Super Bowl, drew a 1.6 overnight rating, down 24 percent from a year ago.

The 2010 NASCAR season officially began last week at Daytona International Speedway, and Tony Stewart, a two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion and driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy, is helping race fans win big with the new Office Depot “Smokin’ Hot” Instant Win Game.

Office Depot (NYSE: ODP) is the Official Office Products Partner of NASCAR and co-primary sponsor of Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Now through March 6, fans who make any purchase at an Office Depot store will receive a scratch-off card for a chance to win a variety of great prizes instantly. There will be more than 35,000 instant winners, and one grand prize winner will receive an unforgettable VIP race experience for two with Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice team during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, plus a trip for two to Stewart’s “Smoke Show” fantasy driving experience at Texas Motor Speedway later this year.

“It’s always smart to take care of business by shopping at Office Depot because of the great product deals and services they offer, and the Office Depot ‘Smokin’ Hot’ Instant Win Game gives fans a chance to win some awesome prizes at the same time,” said Stewart, who took on the dual role of driver and team owner at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009. “As a small business owner myself, I would encourage everyone to stop by their local Office Depot store today and take advantage of this great opportunity!”

In addition to the grand prize package, 140 scratch-off cards will reveal a $100 Office Depot gift card prize and 35,000 cards will award shoppers with an exclusive Tony Stewart poster to be redeemed at the Copy & Print Depot center in Office Depot stores.

“Office Depot is very excited to launch the ‘Smokin’ Hot’ Instant Win Game and reward many of the amazing fans who support Tony Stewart and Office Depot all year long,” said Jeff Herbert, Senior Vice President of Marketing for Office Depot. “We think this is a great way to start the new race season and help NASCAR fans everywhere take care of business.”

The Office Depot “Smokin’ Hot” Instant Win Game grand prize package includes:

· A VIP race weekend experience for two during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May

· Dinner with the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice crew members during the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series™ race weekend in May

· A trip for two to Tony Stewart’s two-day “Smoke Show” fantasy driving experience at Texas Motor Speedway later this year and dinner with Tony Stewart

· A $1,400 Office Depot gift card

Scratch-off cards will be given out with every Office Depot in-store purchase from February 7 through March 6, 2010. For additional details and Official Rules, visit

Fresh from the Daytona Int’l Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards moved farther south to Palm Beach Int’l Raceway in Jupiter, Florida Monday, where 18 drivers took part in an open test in preparation for the next event on tour – the Kingdom Tire 150 presented by ModSpace February 27.

Here’s some good news for motor racing interests considering that all we’ve heard for the past six months is gloom and doom. Sponsorship spend by North American companies in motorsport is predicted to rise 2.1 per cent in 2010 after last year’s decline for the first time in 25 years. According to advertising giant WPP’s research arm IEG, spending by companies based in North America is expected to rise to $3.37 billion from $3.3 billion in 2009. Spending on motorsports sponsorship fell 6 per cent in 2009 year-on-year due to companies such as Allstate Insurance, Jack Daniels and Jim Beam dropping out.

“The motorsports category has suffered more than many others recently, as its high cost of entry in many cases fell victim to increased scrutiny over corporate marketing expenditures and questions about return on investment,” said William Chipps, IEG Sponsorship Report’s senior editor. IEG also predicts a 3.4 per cent boost for overall sponsorship spend and a 2.8 per cent increase for all sports properties.

Yes-He Really Said That-Jimmie Johnson, on motivation. “I use fear to motivate myself. I’m entering this year saying we’re going to get beat in my mind.” This came from the Valvoline Track Talk Newsletter.

Now that the Daytona SpeedWeeks are behind us, the NASCAR season gets down to regular business without all of the hoopla. There will also be lots of NASCAR programming on Speed, TSN2 and HBO from Monday to Thursday and has all of the details. By Friday the NASCAR Cup and Nationwide Series will be in action at Fontana, CA. RaceFanTV also has all of the details. In the event that you miss it all check the Speed Report on the Speed Channel at 7 p.m. Sunday night for a weekend wrap-up. If that isn’t enough check out Dave Despain’s Wind Tunnel at 9 p.m. on that same cable channel.