Monday, April 2, 2007

NASCAR Now: A Great Show...Who Knew?

Erik Kuselias returned as the host of NASCAR Now, and did a valiant job of stepping aside and letting the pros talk about the Martinsville weekend. This time, ESPN stepped-up to the plate with fresh sound from Shannon Spake with Jeff Gordon's crew chief, Marty Smith live from Charlotte, and two experts in the studio. All of this was just in the first segment. Hey, NASCAR Now...where ya been? We've been waiting!

This type of start is exactly what ESPN needs to push their credibility up the least to the second rung. Boris Said and Tim Brewer bring to the set a nice mix of personalities, and its certainly nice to hear expert perspectives from people who have been there. It is still tough to deal with the harsh "sports radio" personality of Kuselias. He often "demands" one word answers or offers "true-or-false" questions that are crafted to incite fake controversy. When he takes the time to learn television, he will realize that pictures tell the story on this side of the fence, not volume or anger.

Strangely, Kuselias decided to engage NASCAR VP. Robin Pemberton in a solo conversation about the COT issues, when there on the set beside him sat the knowledge and skill to handle this interview in the form of Tim Brewer. Kuselias wasted this opportunity, and then turned back to Brewer and let him continue the COT discussion. Tim is great, and has the credibility to speak to the issues that Kuselias does not. When NASCAR Now can incorporate free conversation on the set in the same manner that it exists during the ESPN racing coverage, things will really flow. Right now, the show is simply trapped in a scripted cage.

With reporter Angelique Chengelis stopping by, this version of NASCAR Now featured five reporters and analysts operating in support of the host. This is exactly the kind of firepower that ESPN needs to bring to the plate each and every day until November. The sport of NASCAR racing is huge, and its about time that ESPN spread its wings, found its voice, and took control of the "NASCAR news" scene. With the effort today, the network has taken a step in the right direction.

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