Wednesday, April 4, 2007

ESPN's NASCAR Now: Welcome Aboard Ryan Burr

Just when we all got ready to whack ESPN for another difficult NASCAR Now show, things took a turn in the right direction. ESPN News anchor Ryan Burr was added as a new co-host, and debuted today with fantastic results. Now, this is ESPN making a move to get back their credibility...and it succeeded.

Burr brought out Shannon Spake who wrapped Richmond tesing up with good solid info and driver sound that backed-up her facts. Spake addressed the pressing issues with the COT, Richmond's night race, and what NASCAR is doing about the on-going new car issues. Today, with no car noise, she also could be heard. Unfortunately, Burr was then saddled with Brad Daugherty, who offered the same info provided by Spake. Daugherty tried to speak about NEXTEL Cup at Texas, but he has no experience with this series. He also tried to suggest that in a different car, Gordon would have spun Johnson at Martinsville. Even the entry level fan knows Gordon is a part-owner of the Lowe's Chevrolet. No sale.

Burr recapped the Martinsville finish once again...three days later, which is strange. Terry Blount and Marty Smith could hardly contain their smirks when answering these "Gordon vs. Johnson feud" questions. Marty is always a good interview, and more of both Marty and Terry would really make this show fun...a commodity in short supply. Hopefully, ESPN2 will drop the sound effects they have just added to NASCAR Now during live interviews. This is a studio show, not a football game, and sound effects just cover the information being reported.

The best part of this show was the fact that Burr handled interviews with Steven Wallace and Bobby Hamiltion Jr. quite well. This time, the scripted questions made sense, and Burr really brought out young Mr. Wallace, no easy task. This might have been one of the best TV interview segments NASCAR Now has enjoyed this entire season. With Wallace on video, and Hamilton on the phone, Burr kept everything in control and made both interviews very interesting.

In just one show, Ryan Burr has gone a long way toward erasing some of the mind-bending moments of NASCAR Now from earlier this season. ESPN may have just found their new host, and if this show is any indicator, co-hosts Erik Kuselias and Doug Banks have their work cut-out for them. This was a clean, interesting, fast-paced show led by a credible on-air talent with solid reporting and a great personality. Let's hope the ESPN brass keeps Burr right where he is and lets him spread his wings. NASCAR Now could use it.


David in NC said...

I agree for the most part with this post, last night's "NASCAR Now" did seem to flow a lot better than any to this point that I've seen.

I do take you to task on Brad though. He knows the sport well as a past NCTS and NBS truck/car owner, and is well versed in the sport's infrastructure as a former member of their Competition/Appeals committee. If he gave out the same info as Shannon, then it was just 2 people, hundreds of miles apart that didn't know the other was going to report the same data.

And he *was* correct, that in the "old" car, Gordon would've moved the 48. The "hits" he put on Johnson there at the end would've moved him by default with the older car's sloped nose - which would've lifted the 48's rear end and caused the car to slide farther up the track than it did...Gordon is good at it afterall, he's done it at least twice to Rusty at Bristol in the past few years.

This new host last night even seemed to "sign off" with his via-satellite interviewees instead of just cutting them off too. Definitely a step in the right direction IMO.

Wallbanger said...

David in NC makes a valid point that the same contact with the old style car would have at least moved JJ out of the groove. But I think the basic problem Jeff had was JJ picked up the throttle and got off both corners better. Jeff could get to Jimmie, but couldn't get too far under him before Johnson simply drove off.