Monday, March 12, 2007

NASCAR Now: A Solid Performance

Mondays on NASCAR Now are always the best shows. Not for style, or substance, but for the continuing struggle of this daily show to define itself. This Monday was no exception.

In the top of the show, the production team finally figured out that host Erik Kuselias needs as much help as possible from everyone ESPN can throw at him. We saw Stacy Compton, Tim Brewer, and Marty Smith deliver exactly the kind of smart and concise information that this show has needed since February.

Its unfortunate that Kuselias does not reference Mark Martin's son Matt when he speaks about Mark's commitment to a part-time schedule. Kuselias was straightened out by the analysts, who pointed out Mark's need to guide the blossoming career of his young son, and the fact that his son means more to him than possibly "making the chase." Perhaps, Kuselias will finally let this go.

At long last, ESPN is using post-race sound bites from a Cup event, even though it was on Fox Sports. The race wrap and Hendrick Racing feature was solid, and Stacy Compton and Tim Brewer were key in filling in the gaps that Kuselias can not. As a host, Kuselias is fine. When he recognizes his shortcomings and uses his experts, he is better. This may have been his best show of the year.

In terms of Stacy Compton reviewing the "happenings" of the race, Kuselias needs to allow Compton to do the entire feature alone. Kuselias keeps interrupting, and that is not his job as the host. As soon as he transitioned back to Marty Smith for news, he allowed Marty to speak uninterrupted.

The "Weekend Drive" feature made no sense, as it did not allow viewers to differentiate between the Busch and Cup races. It was similar to the highlights montage in SportsCenter that also makes no sense, but is sponsored. This time could have been used for other purposes, and ended the show on an awkward note. Save the music videos for the IndyCar Series, this is NASCAR.