Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Junior And Hendrick Star On "NASCAR Now"

Sometimes this season, it has been a bit tough to fill the thirty minutes of Wednesday's NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Not this Wednesday.

The series scored a bulls-eye with the delivery of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick into the NASCAR Now line-up, and then directly into fan's homes nationwide. There was no other game in town.

Host Erik Kuselias was well-informed about the issues at hand, and the show used the talents of Terry Blount and Tim Cowlishaw in the manner that let them both shine. Everyone knew that for this Wednesday, there was really no other story to be told.

After a recap of the news conference, Terry Blount appeared to set-the-table for fans. Blount has become an outstanding TV presence this year, and continues to be a well-spoken and concise "Insider" on this series.

Blount is good when he mixes history and current events, as he was able to do with this big story. He put in perspective the business and family issues that moved Junior in this direction. He consistently keeps things in more of a factual than emotional perspective. In this way, he can deliver any type of story without getting caught-up in the drama.

Kuselias then welcomed Junior on-camera from Dallas. Despite the long day, Earnhardt was in good spirits and responded with an overall theme of optimism mixed with relief. He clearly looked like the world had been lifted off his shoulders.

The questions asked by Kuselias hit all the key points of both the car number and sponsor issues. Then, he added a couple of questions about next season and the expectations of perhaps the largest NASCAR fan base in the sport. In responding, Junior looked a lot older than his thirty-two years. It was clear that this ordeal had been taking a personal as well as professional toll on him.

Tim Cowlishaw was in attendance at the press conference, and spoke with Kuselias about the dynamics and atmosphere at the event. While it was clear that no one was going to be surprised by the facts, Cowlishaw made the point that it was the reality that got people's attention. These are Junior's cars for next season, the Red Army is done, and the Bud Man has walked away into the sunset.

Rick Hendrick is always a calming presence, and his interview with Kuselias helped to spell out the dynamics of both the sponsors and the number issue. Hendrick already had relationships with both Pepsi and The National Guard, so combining them on Junior's car was almost a natural. Hendrick was excellent in speaking about Junior's historical perspective on NASCAR, and what the 88 would mean to him personally for next season. Its clear to see why Hendrick is so successful in this sport.

When NASCAR Now has a story and uses the technology of ESPN and the existing resources in reporters and analysts available to the series, they are tough to beat. Both the Hendrick and Junior appearances were outstanding, and are sure to be on and for some time to come.

When given a story to report and then analyze, Tim Cowlishaw becomes a whole different person than the one we see on Around The Horn. He and Terry Blount worked well in tandem to set-up and then offer reaction to this historic day. If you have a chance to put Wednesday's re-air of NASCAR Now on your it.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you do not wish to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


SophiaZ123 said...

Well, I never watch this show anymore but since I watched the at times, boring press conference, on and off, I HAD to tune in to this show in the kitchen as I prepared dinner.

After all, I wanted to see how they would deal with the Jr deal. I must say it was a well done show! I was shocked. I might have missed it while frying salmon patties, but I do not think I heard one SNARKY comment from Eric. Could this be?

Did somebody put a correction collar on the boy today? I enjoyed seeing Jr interviewed and Rick, as it's nice to see Jr look HAPPY. I wish I could say I was happy about the car's paint schemes but I will adjust.

You gave them a great write up John, but it was fair. They did well tonight but not enough for me to tune in next time.

But I am glad I did tonight.

Richard in N.C. said...

JOHN, After Erik Klueless' earlier interview with Rick Hendrick where EK was very politely cut off at the knees, would it be safe to assume that EK did extra prep and was on his best behavior? One of the few benefits of going to the dentist today was sitting in the chair watching the first 2/3 of the Dale Jr. news conference live on Time Warner Cable's in-house NC news network.

Anonymous said...

Someone please tell Jimmy Johnson that Carol Channing wants her sunglasses back.

Anonymous said...

See, here's the problem...NASCAR Now has done such a miserable job of covering NASCR and such a good job of alienating viewers, when they finally do a good show, very few people are around to see it anymore.

Prospector said...

I agree with anon. @ 9:20. I don't watch NN any more so missed the only good one.

But, you know what? I will survive!

Anonymous said...

Guess what. Some people don't care who is jr's sponsor. Not at all.

Anonymous said...

Were you watching the same show I was? Klueless questions were scripted and Jr's responses seemed like he had the script in advance. Jr did look relieved and happy after all he's been through to finally have it over.
Hendrick is always calm and professional and he was nothing less on this show.

Lisa Hogan said...

Except for specific sporting events, I have not been a regular viewer of ESPN. At the start of this season, I was surprised and disappointed at the quality of their daily NASCAR news show, Nascar Now.

Not being familiar with their staff of readers, I couldn’t believe that ESPN would insult their new NASCAR viewers in such a manner. At the track and in the studio, ESPN presented viewers with an overload of on-air personalities with no knowledge of NASCAR.

Since day one, the main problem with Nascar Now has been whoever was assigned to write the scripts. The ESPN readers cannot do a credible job if they are working with a horrible script. The only host that has been able to present an acceptable show has been Bestwick. He has the knowledge and experience to work around the script.

Erik and Ryan are about the same to me. They both have the same body motions, head bobbing, and hand flapping that is so distracting. Although Erik has tried to tone down the yelling, they both talk at me instead of to me. I prefer a conversational tone rather than confrontational tone from a show host.

Although I usually don’t, I did watch the majority of the show last night. I think that there was improvement.

John, you did an excellent review.

I am treating this season as the rookie season for ESPN on all of the NASCAR coverage. I hope to see vast improvement next season. If not, that’s when I will be writing to all of the sponsors to voice my opinion.

Batchief said...

Sophia did you say salmon patties? I assume today will be salmon patty sandwiches with the leftovers. I will take a slice of cheese on mine please.
I am always so amazed at how the majority of these drivers do so well at publice speaking without any formal education in that field. It is not the easiest thing to do for the vast majority of people and for some is down right terrifying.

Busch Series Fan! said...

We also think Jr. is a very accomplished speaker. Yes it is very scary standing up in front of people and speaking but these drivers have been doing it for a long time I guess they are used to it or have taken the Dale Carnegie course! I know I couldn't do it without coming across as a complete idiot!

Anonymous said...

I am treating this season as the rookie season for ESPN on all of the NASCAR coverage. I hope to see vast improvement next season.

Don't count on it. ESPN's arrogance is notorious. Your only hope is that Junior has a season on the track that makes him deserve the attention he's gonna get.

Junior as part of the Hendrick Publicity Machine? Good luck to all of us.

Anonymous said...

Guess what. Some people don't care who is jr's sponsor. Not at all.

Some people don't care who Peyton Manning is or what sport he plays.

Others don't care anything about Barry Bonds and that record he set.

Then, again, millions do.