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 ESPN.com and Jayski.com 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 DVR...do it.
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