Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Musburger Bumps Bestwick From "NASCAR Countdown"

ESPN has announced that Brent Musburger will be hosting the NASCAR Countdown Busch Series pre-race show from Loudon, NH. This marks Musburger's return to the Busch Series after an absence which saw him host the Indy 500 telecast, among other duties.

With only weeks to go before ESPN opens its coverage of the NEXTEL Cup Series races, including the "Chase for the Cup," viewers once again will have a new face hosting the pre-race show. Chris Fowler, Erik Kuselias, Allen Bestwick, Mike Massaro, and Suzy Kolber have all taken their turn at bat for the network.

The fact that Musburger is hosting this show gets the attention of NASCAR fans when the rest of the ESPN press release is read. While it says that Dale Jarrett will join Dr. Jerry Punch and Andy Petree in the booth, it also lets another bomb drop.

Allen Bestwick will be a reporter on pit road for this race...once again. After a week that saw Bestwick in Milwaukee for ESPN hosting not only NASCAR Countdown, but actually calling the play-by-play for the Busch Series race...the network sends him back to pit road to tell us "four tires and fuel."

To add insult to injury, alongside Bestwick on pit road in New Hampshire will be Mike Massaro, ESPN's most veteran NASCAR reporter who hosted a great edition of NASCAR Countdown several weeks ago at Kentucky Speedway. Many thought Massaro was auditioning for a position on NASCAR Now, ESPN2's studio show which has been struggling since Daytona in February.

The line-up on ESPN's website lists Allen Bestwick as a co-host for NASCAR Now, but he has never been "invited back" since his first two appearances. Massaro has never been allowed to host this program, and ESPN on Tuesday brought in general assignment reporter Matt Winer to host for the first time. All of which brings us back to NASCAR Countdown.

This is the only pre-race show for the Busch Series. ESPN has slapped this Series around without mercy this season when it comes to the pre-race opportunities for promotion of the drivers, the sponsors, and the series itself.

The Daly Planet has several articles about the times that the entire NASCAR Countdown show talked only about the NEXTEL Cup race the next day. It was clear everyone on the announcing team was auditioning for the ABC Sports opportunities to cover the Cup Series. Meanwhile, there sat the Busch Series field on the line with absolutely no one interested. And ESPN wonders why the ratings are down?

Now, NASCAR's "number two" series is eighteen races into their season and ESPN is changing hosts for NASCAR Countdown like musical chairs. The Daly Planet gave ESPN credit for putting Bestwick and Massaro in the anchor chair, but what results did that get NASCAR fans? The return of Brent Musburger? The promise of Suzy Kolber in the future?

This is NASCAR racing, and the competitors in the Busch Series have been hammering on each other since February. While ESPN's team in the announce booth has been full of positive surprises, the pre-race show has been a mess. These thirty minutes are crucial to the promotion of these teams and sponsors. This is their Hollywood Hotel.

The on-going battle between "NASCAR people" and "ESPN people" has been fascinating to watch this entire year on both NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now. It has been tough for ESPN to let "outsiders" host "their" shows, despite the fact that the "insiders" often have little or no knowledge of the sport at all. Its a culture clash of epidemic proportions, and its about to come to a head.

On May 20th of this year, The Daly Planet ran a column entitled "ESPN and NASCAR on a collision course." We talked about the fact that ESPN's race coverage has been solid from the word "go." Away from the track, however, things are much different.

At Daytona, fans were presented with Brent Musburger, Chris Fowler, and Brad Daugherty for the first NASCAR Countdown show. As we wrote at that time, "Fowler couldn't stop grinning, Daugherty couldn't stop talking, and Musburger wore a funny hat." The results were not pretty.

Now, after spinning the wheel of hosts once again, ESPN goes back to an "insider" like Musburger when fans have just had two strong performances from their favorite "outsiders." Either Allen Bestwick or Mike Massaro deserved the chance to host this show because of their hard work this season and knowledge of the sport. Apparently, Bestwick and Massaro lacked the mandatory funny hats. Who knew?

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email editor@thedalyplanet.tv if you wish not to be published. All email is held in confidence. Thanks again for taking the time to stop by.


sal said...

w and the pre race shows have been unmitigated disasters this year. It amazes me that ESPN is willing to parade it's incompetence so publicly. Showing race fans that they hold Nascar in such contempt isn't going to help their ratngs at all. I anticipate their coverage of the season ending craoshoot will be exactly what they and Nascar deserve.

GinaV24 said...

I actually called and talked to someone at NASCAR's PR dept in Daytona Beach and told them how disappointed I have been in the TV coverage by both TNT & ESPN. TNT is just a joke and ESPN isn't impressing me either. Thank goodness for Speed's Raceday program.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning, JD

No need for this fading fan to watch

Don Howland said...

Musberger is an idiot!!!!!!! What were they thinking bringing this moron into Nascar???? I turn his stupid broadcasting off no matter what sport he is opening his pie hole on. He has to be the worst of the worst. One more reason to cut the grass

Steve Thornton said...

Don you are absolutely right. Videotape the race and fast forward through it until something interesting happens. Musberger needs to go back to basketball which he knows a little about. Erik Kuselias looks like a drag queen wearing pink lipstick whenever he is on. If ESPN wants to get announcers and analysts bring us Allen Bestwick, Jerry Punch, and Ned Jarret. These guys all know what they are talking about and can provide the fans with something interesting, not just sponsor pitches and general stupidity.

SonicAD said...

Just a quick correction, Bestwick hosted 2 episodes of NASCAR Now so far, he hosted again the Wednesday after he first hosted.

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for MRN and internet. Guess we go back to the old days, where you listen and visulize.

TNT is just a joke! I think Sunday's race at Infineon was the worst broadcasting of a sport I've ever witnessed. And to think, I actually wasted my time to watch the whole race and then not even know the finishing order.

Daly Planet Editor said...

sonicad, thanks for the correction.

Anonymous said...

The only good thing about TNT is it makes a great example of bad broadcasting.

The ratings are down for 2007 but ESPN found a good thing about it. They're getting younger viewers. That makes me wonder how they can see this as good. To me, it says that the old fans are using their remotes to watch something else. That matched with the empty grandstands at the track isn't a good thing. I don't care how much "spin" you put on it.

Jason said...

This is just the most recent battle in EPSNs war against quality broadcasting.

Vince said...

Hey John,

One quick question. Do you know if anyone from ESPN reads your blog on a daily basis. Just curious if they are even aware of what is said on here.


Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you Don. Whoever is in charge of race commentation has completely lost their minds. I guess when viewer loss hits bottom they won't know what hit them. Allen is the best! And TNT just doesn't know how to handle race coverage at all.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I receive email from staff members at ESPN and the other networks every day complaining about exactly the same issues that Daly Planet readers are bothered by. Unfortunately, because these are big corporations, change comes slowly and often only happens when there is no other option. I think we saw that with AB doing the pre-race show and calling the race last week in Milwaukee. TV industry folks read your comments every day, and they do make a difference. Keep at it.

Marylee said...

I've been a big Busch series fan in the past, but now can barely stand to watch it. The "commentary" is poor, and the camera work not much better. For the Milwaukee race, they didn't seem to know how to compensate for evening, so the track shots were much too dark, although "studio" shots were fine. Not only do they need people like Alan Bestwick in the booth, they need new technicians in the truck.

Anonymous said...

John, why is it ESPN, TNT, FOX, NBC, etc., etc. seem to think that every week is SuperRace week like the SuperBowl?. Do they think that we are a bunch of morons and need to see and/or hear all the events from the last race week and with all the hoopla? And now MUSBURGER? ...geezzz..why won't they just come on the air 10 mins. before the command to start the engines and have a post race show where we can at least see who finished other than 1st or 2nd?..Just a thought for the network people to read.

Anonymous said...

Change at the networks is like trying to stop a super tanker at sea. It takes a long time to get any results.

Space Blues said...

I think Bestwick is criminally underrated as a commentator for NASCAR races. The fact that Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach have the main jobs on TNT is case in point that these networks are complete idiots when it comes to this stuff. Nothing against Kyle Petty, but I hope he retires sooner than later and hits the TNT booth on a permanent basis. He saved those guys the last couple of races.

Anonymous said...

Musberger actually admitted on the air earlir this season that he didn't know much about stock car racing.

So, it stands to reason tha ESPN would replace Bestwick, who does know the subject, with Musberger. After all, their goal is to do as poor a job as possible, right? (That's all I can surmise after watching their efforts this year.)

Anonymous said...

Musburger couldn't call a two car funeral procession. The only good thing about him is that you can play drinking games to his use of cliche'. He has screwed up broadcasts of the Cotton Bowl, the Indy 500, and the NFL just to name a few. Bestwick does a good job. You have Rusty Wallace and soon Dale Jarrett available for these broadcasts. Bring back Ned Jarrett or Buddy Baker, who on their worst days are still better than Musburger on his best day.

Anonymous said...

ESPN SUCKS!!! I could do a better daily NASCAR show from by back yard, I live in Tennessee!!!

What are the idiots at ESPN thinking?

Anonymous said...

"talked to someone at NASCAR's PR dept in Daytona Beach"


Anonymous said...

what ever happened to former ESPN commentator Bob Jenkins. he was great!

Anonymous said...

Good to know that the folks at ESPN are reading The Daly Planet and comments.

Change comes "slowly" ? Come on, they need continuity and stability along with NASCAR talent. They are failing miserably and seem to know it.

Calls to NASCAR PR is a waste, keep letting ESPN know.

Joe from Philly said...

Yesterday I said TNT's post race movies are great for Speed TV's ratings. Now I must say that ESPN is fixin to be a boon to DirecTV's viewership.

Maybe these terrible broadcasts are all just a NASCAR ploy to make Pay Per View easier to sell! Break out those Black Helicopters!

Anonymous said...

to the guy who called NASCAR PR.

EXACTLY what was their response or was it a voice mail? I have come to realize that email is often deleted and never read.

As far as Mouseburger?&^%$#@!*&!

I can NOT think of a ladylike way to put my frustration into words.

JUST when we think ESPN MIGHT be getting a clue, they do something STUPIDER and STUPIDER.

Whoever said it will be like old times with MRN and having them paint the visuals for us, THAT MUST BE WHAT NASCAR WANTS.

I am not PAYING for the nascar.com crap just to have their site crash or freeze up during the race. BESIDES, with the plethora of COMMERCIALS we are held hostage to..the LEAST we can do is SEE the race and how about the FINISH and a post game wrap up.

Thank GOD for SPEEED.

And to quote this poster

" Space Blues said...

I think Bestwick is criminally underrated as a commentator for NASCAR races. The fact that Bill Weber and Wally Dallenbach have the main jobs on TNT is case in point that these networks are complete idiots when it comes to this stuff. Nothing against Kyle Petty, but I hope he retires sooner than later and hits the TNT booth on a permanent basis. He saved those guys the last couple of races.

June 27, 2007 12:54 PM "

For the love of God and COMMON SENSE (course we live in times of the death of common sense!) HOW DOES WEBER KEEP HIS TV JOB.

Please, I am begging somebody, how can somebody SO ANNOYING KEEP such a high profile job in NASCAR.


ANY PERSON IN POWER reading these gripes must be laughing their way to the bank as ALL they care about are the lucrative TV contracts.

They do NOT care about the basic.


Letting us HEAR THE CARS (and not that FULL THROTTLE VOMIT)

And dare I say it, A WIDE ANGLE LENS and the finish.

There, I feel better.

Thanks JD.



I wish I could slam the door on my way out of here but I know it would be lost on NASCAR.

Simon Tunstall said...

ESPN needs to review some tape from SpeedTV's "Totally NASCAR", hosted by Steve Byrnes, to see how to do a daily NASCAR-themed news program. This was THE show to watch from 2001 until Byrnes left the show in 2003.
Why Allen Bestwick (the voice of NASCAR) and Mike Massaro are underutilized is beyond me.
ESPN did have a good show in rpm2night with John Kernan.
We can all see that Erik Kuselias doesn't really want to cover NASCAR, so let someone like Bestwick, who was unceremoniously dumped from SpeedTV's "This Week in NASCAR", host the show with true integrity and enthusiasm.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad to see I'm not the only one! I don't enjoy spending three hours watching a race (with subpar commentators) to not see the finishing order...how could they miss something so basic???? And I agree with most that Bestwick is the guy! Weber is so OVER dramatic and we aren't idiots!!!! Dump Weber & Musburger. I'm relatively new to Nascar (5 years or so) even to me, the coverage is lousy......

arbs_garage said...

Well I'm in the minority. I cannot stand Alan Bestwick, his whole schtick is like figernails on a chalkboard to me, And no I'm not a bandwagon fan of NASCAR, I've been watching NASCAR for 24 years now and I dont think there has been one person whom I've had this reaction to other than Bestwick. Now I don't disagree w/ your point about replacing almost all of ESPN's broadcast team ...but for NASCAR Now please give me Massaro or Marty Smith or even better bring back John Kernan.

Richard in NC said...

Having Bent Musberger involved with NASCAR broadcasts in any way proves again that ESPN takes real fans for granted and has NO respect at all for NASCAR and its fans. The only solution I see is to keep e-mailing John and contacting NASCAR- AND ESPN'S firing Erik K., Bent Musberger, and George Bodenheimer.

Anonymous said...

I was listening to your appearance on Sirius again and I have to say, Moody really needs to have you on for an hour show--preferably in studio. I'd love to hear more in-depth discussion, and even caller participation.

These ESPN and TNT issues are a BIG deal. The networks are simply not taking the sport seriously, and it's like a slap in the face for the fans. Kuselias, Musberger, Kolber...What the hell?? If I were a NASCAR official, I'd be pretty P.O.'d about what we're saying DAILY here on your site. When is NASCAR going to drop the hammer??

Anonymous said...

I have despised Musburger since I first saw him doing football when I was a child. I vote with my remote and anything Musburger is involved with I won't listen to. Tune in the radio broadcast, pull up the leaderboard on the laptop and mute the tv and let her rip. Call or email ABC Sports and firmly mock and belittle the specific executives who make these decisions (ask for them by name and request their email addresses first) to everyone who will listen. Just before they hang up on you, ask to be transferred to another extension and repeat the spiel ad infinitum.

Then call or email NASCAR and tell anyone who will listen that ESPN plans to derail NASCAR in retalition for shunning them several years ago. Offer to make an optometrist's appointment while you're communicating with NASCAR's people so we can understand why they can't see these events in th offing.

Anonymous said...


Have you ever tried to find out what it is about Allen Bestwick? In my opinion he is one of the best but he keeps being pulled from good spots and continuosly moved around. Has he really pissed someone at Speed or ESPN off in the past.

Anonymous said...

Best I can tell, ESPN is trying to attract new fans. They don't care if we don't like their show. Also, they are afraid to put someone that understands NASCAR in the booth - afraid they will talk over the heads of the new fans that they are trying to claim.

Anonymous said...

To reply to that last comment about new fans--the thing is, I am a new fan. I've only been following NASCAR for 2-3 seasons. But I can tell when an announcer knows about as much about the sport as I do. I tune in to hear the experts and expert opinion. Anyone can sit up there and read off headlines and stories from Yahoo or Jayski. If they think this is attractive to new fans, they should think again.

This is just so frustrating. NASCAR, where are you? New fan here. Are you sure these are the folks you want to represent your sport??

Steve in Indiana said...

I heard you speaking on this topic on Moody's radio show today while driving home and about drove off the road. I seriously question if Brent could pick a young Busch Series driver like Brad Coleman or Steve Wallace out of a police lineup, and yet is is going to be the one "informing" us.

Pam J said...

I cannot believe ESPN still doesn't get it or doesn't care. Nascar Now needs more Alan Bestwick and more Marty Smith and other guys who KNOW Nascar. And they need to send the stick and ball sport dudes back to their respective sports. It's not like there aren't enough ESPN channels and shows covering the other sports to go around. Why can't we have Nascar people doing our Nascar shows and broadcasts.

If ESPN's goal is to further ruin the sport of Nascar they are succeeding.

Anonymous said...

This just proofs what a college prof once told me.
"You can be the best at one thing, with total knowledge of thet one thing. But to make a lot of money, it is best to a little about many things."
Does that describe Bret Mushmouth and most ESPN's crew?

dave said...

Brent Musburger?

Please stop the insanity. Have the ball sport guys COMPLETELY lost their minds? Do that have NO pride? Will someone - anyone - at ESPN ever step up and point out that the Emperor has no clothes?

Hello ??? Is ANYONE in a Senior Management position in Bristol watching? ( I hope not, because that would only indicate that they don't care ).

I'm begging you....make it stop!

Anonymous said...

Has any single TV viewer ever said, "Oh boy! Musberger is calling the race/game this weekend!" I bet not. How does the guy stay on the air when I have never seen or heard a single positive comment on his abilities. For the love of Red Farmer's ghost, please stop torturing the fans with these moronic broadcast picks.

Props to Kyle Petty, Wally Dallenbach, DJ, and Andy Petree. I think they each do a good job. Allen Bestwick is the cream of the crop. And I'd love to see Eli Gold back on the air.

Anonymous said...

i have a confession...2 years ago i was one of those guys who mocked NASCAR as just a bunch of guys going round and round in circles. i didn't understand the races, the strategy, the setups or anything else that makes NASCAR exciting.

boy, was i ever wrong. today i am an avid NASCAR fan. and from a still "rookie" fan...ESPN and TNT are doing nothing to attract new fans. they need people with the knowledge of bestwick, jarrett, wallace, petree, and petty to highlight what makes NASCAR interesting. i love to hear about how cars are "set-up" or how a driver approaches different types of tracks. i also love the features on the history of NASCAR. the features on BP, david pearson, and junior johnson have been fascinating to me.

SPEED does a terrific job of this. there's enough there to educate rookies and keep those who have followed for years entertained.

why NASCAR would allow networks to butcher the coverage with people who have a clear disdain for their sport and a complete ignorance of its history and competition is beyond me.

make the ESPN "outsiders" part of the ESPN "family". take any of the football, baseball, or basketball commentators on ESPN. they were once upon a time "outsiders" at ESPN, but because of their expertise as former players and coaches were brought into the ESPN family and now are regular panelists. DO THE SAME FOR NASCAR!! utilize people who have a history in the sport and people will respond. who better to set the story than people who have been there and done that.

keep up the work on the blog John. hopefully with time, things will change.

Caleb said...

ESPN is getting out of the business of simply doing excellent broadcasting of sporting contests. They would rather do feel good shows like Inside the Lines and to run Sportscenter features on touchy feely "off field" features. Then, of course, there is the ESPN practice "annointing" certain athletes as the greatest thing since sliced bread, like Mike Vick that has won nothing or Barry Bonds who has to wear body armour at the plate and order more steroids. And we certainly do not need all the argument/panel shows.

On the NASCAR team I would take Bestwick or Massaro on the daily shows. I love Jerry Punch. The expert analysts in the booth are fine. Get rid of Musburger, and Kusaris,(sp) find some women pit "reporters" who know something about NASCAR,preferably like Wendy Venterini.(sp) ESPN is more interested in being politically correct, touchy feely, not reporting sports.