Monday, October 22, 2007

Ryan Burr Steps-Up To The Big Time (Updated)

Standing alone in the ESPN2 High Definition studios, Ryan Burr had a big smile across his face. Finally, Burr was getting an opportunity to host the one hour version of ESPN's racing show NASCAR Now. He would make the most of this opportunity.

As The Daly Planet has mentioned before, Burr has solid credentials behind him in TV journalism, and is currently working as an anchor on the ESPN News Network. Many emails have come our way from former co-workers and associates of Burr that all say the same thing. Great guy and hard worker. Monday on NASCAR Now those traits certainly showed.

Burr works fast, and he launched into the Martinsville NEXTEL Cup highlights without gimmicks or hype. He followed the video with a replay of his interview with Jimmie Johnson from the track on Sunday night. Johnson enjoyed the interview, and Burr asked all the right questions. Then, he tackled the controversy.

NASCAR Now reporters Angelique Chengelis and Marty Smith stopped-by to deal with the frustrations expressed after the race by Carl Edwards. In the past, NASCAR Now would have been over-the-moon with Erik Kuselias and Tim Cowlishaw hyping this incident for the entire hour. Smith and Chengelis put this one incident in perspective and then moved on to other news. What an outstanding change of pace for this show. Kudos for Burr for mentioning SPEED in reference to the footage.

Moving on to the Johnson vs. Gordon relationship, Burr questioned the honesty of the seemingly mild-mannered rivalry. He pushed both of the reporters for answers, and got them in clear terms. This was exactly the way to use these "Insiders."

Veteran reporter Mike Massaro showed up next to present a feature on the Martinsville experience of Jeff Gordon. Massaro and Burr were standing in the Home Depot garage on the ESPN2 set. Interestingly, once again ESPN chose to use the outstanding radio call of MRN's Dave Moody in place of the ABC audio of Jerry Punch in the highlights.

With Burr and Massaro side-by-side, finally two TV professionals were interacting and talking on ESPN where NASCAR was concerned. What a breath of fresh air.

Amazingly, NASCAR Now freely used the call of the SPEED announcers when showing their outstanding video recap feature on the NASCAR weekend at Martinsville. This really added another element to the show, as many things happened and many incidents occurred in the Truck race on SPEED. It was great of ESPN to include the audio along with the video highlights.

Jamie Little's post-race interview with Carl Edwards went a long way to answer the question of what was on his mind when he manhandled the much smaller Matt Kenseth. This sound was part of a big Chase contenders recap that put a lot in perspective for fans who watched the race on ABC. That crew left a lot of information at the track, and once the telecast was over they really did not offer viewers any closure.

Shannon Spake returned for her usual Monday feature, but this time she was off the mark. Spake was once again covering a topic that is making NASCAR fans absolutely crazy. That is the two glamour boys of Hendrick Motorsports, and the eternal question of...when will they fight? Spake added nothing new, had no new footage, and ended with a rambling interview of Chad Knaus who affirmed no hard feelings.

The king of reality for NASCAR Now has been Stacy Compton. This time, he addressed one final time the Hendrick Motorsports reality of Jeff Gordon being Jimmie Johnson's mentor and friend. Stacy has been putting things back into perspective for the ESPN anchors and commentators on this program all season long.

The NASCAR Now reporters returned with multiple news updates. They covered Jeremy Mayfield, Bill Davis Racing, Jacque Villeneuve and the future of Haas CNC Motorsports. Smith and Chengelis work well together, and both are confident enough in their own abilities to share the spotlight with another reporter.

Burr continued the fast pace of this show with highlights of both the Truck Series and the Toyota All-Star Shootout. Both these events were on SPEED, and it was great to see ESPN stepping-up and showing NASCAR highlights without regard to which network televised the event.

After rejecting the regional NASCAR racing action earlier this season, Burr hosted driver Joey Logano and led him through a review of his season and the outlook for his future in the sport. "It was awesome" said Logano of winning the Toyota Shootout as he smiled broadly. Imagine, happy people on NASCAR Now.

Burr again asked the right questions, including the relationship seventeen year old Logano has with the older competitors. At the end of the interview, a smiling Logano said "thanks, man." This interview meant a lot to the NASCAR regional racers, and it ended the Grand National Series on a good note for ESPN.

After a concise preview of the upcoming Atlanta race by Stacy Compton, Burr made several indirect references to his opportunity to host this show, and then told viewers he would be back on Tuesday. While this is a positive turn for the struggling NASCAR Now, there was one thing Burr could not avoid. One thing even he must bow-down and pay homage to as an ESPN employee.

He took a deep breath and said the one word that has struck fear in the hearts of ESPN's NASCAR viewers since February. It was time for...Aerosmith. Well, the transition to the fifty-nine year old in spandex was rough, but the other fifty-six minutes of NASCAR Now on this Monday was worth a little pain.

Update: Burr continued as the host of NASCAR Now on Tuesday, and worked his way through a show packed with information. Once again, he correctly identified SPEED TV as the source of the Edwards vs. Kenseth footage, and used his reporters to follow-up on this story. The show contained a long fantasy racing segment, but also contained news and a Memphis preview.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from viewers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for dropping by.


Anonymous said...

Ryan's introduction for the stupid Aerosmith video was classic!!!!

It was a shame Shannon Spank had such a terrible topic. I'm sure ESPN crammed that one down her throat since her Monday features are usually well done and interesting.

It will be interesting to see when/if Erik returns.

I usually blow through the Monday show in about twenty minutes but I watched all of it today.

Anonymous said...

The only problem that I had was ESPN shoving down our throats that the championship race is only between Gordon and Johnson. That's going to be their story all week and probably to the end of the year. While it is not likely that either of them will falter, stranger things have happened, and there are a few drivers waiting for that to happen.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with Anon 7:42.

As bad as the Junior pre-Chase hype was, that's all we're going to get with the Jeff/Jimmy stuff for the rest of the season.

On the post about how ABC/ESPN could improve their ratings, I jokingly wanted to say NASCAR should make sure the 24 and 48 didn't run up front since I can only imagine how many people stop watching once it's obvious one of them is going to win.

Obviously, NASCAR wants them to win (see Kansas), but I don't think they realize how mucn that turns people off.

Jake said...

Hey John,
The show tonight was a definate improvement. I had a problem with Mike Masaro saying that Earnhardt Jr. had problems because of his new spotter. Steve Hmiel may have left DEI this past week, but Hmiel switched over to Truex Jr's team when the chase began. Dale Earnhardt Jr has had TJ majors for a spotter for at least five races now. Do these reporter even research anything they report, or just expect everyone to believe it since its comming from the only nightly NASCAR news show.

PammH said...

Jake-ya beat me to it!! That was gonna be my gripe also...LOL! btw, guess I didn't get the "going to Aerosmith" looked like the standard throw it to the awful band as usual to me..didn't hype it enuf or what??

Allan said...

I think the show was good except for one thing:
They really need to cover Jeff & Jimmie's relationship more. It's clear that the two hate and are ready to kill each other. How could ESPN only devote 30 minutes to the topic?!?

Anonymous said...

Masaro...What a joke, just making things up to say! He must have been moved from Reporter to Reader.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the tape (or digital file) on that Aerosmith song worn out yet? It's only run 1,863 times.

Anonymous said...

Latest conspiracy theory: ESPN keeps throwing Burr into the anchor slot at random intervals hoping fans will watch every day to see if he's on instead on Erik.

Anonymous said...

I like Ryan Burr and the show was good last night. But I'm curious to know if he has ever been to a NASCAR race? Same with Erik K. I've never seen them on location for NN at a race - ever. Even the ones up in the northeast. Admittedly, I've missed some NN shows. So I'd like to know if they've made it to a race on their own time to check it out at least once. Seems odd if they haven't.

Anonymous said...

OMG anon 8:35 a.m.

That was too funny becuase that is exactly how I decide if I want to watch the show or not. I Tivo it, if Klueless is on it - I scan through very quickly. If Ryan is hosting, I generally watch it!

JD - is there any hope that Ryan will stay as the host or is EK just on vacation?

Desmond said...

In response to the next-to-last comment, I think that Erik Kuselias was at Indy for the Allstate 400 weekend.

The only other time the show was on location was way back at Daytona, and the host was Chris Fowler.

darbar said...

There still continues to be many things that I cannot stand with Nascar Now. But the one glaring thing is their penchant for overkill. How many reporters, lackeys and race experts have to answer the same questions and do basically the same story? First it was "all Jr, all the time" and now it's "all Hendrick, all the time". Is it so difficult to fill air time with other stories? I guess it is because first you have Marty Smith ( BTW, Marty, you're too old for that psudo punk hair cut) talking about the Hendrick boys, then you have Angelique answering the same questions, and then it's Stacy Compton and on and on. Hey, we get it---it's a two man race for the Cup.

And speaking of overkill, while their story of the "race to the airport" was clever, why did it have to be shown so many times? Probably because it was the most creative segment ESPN has done all season?

Anonymous said...

Somebody else noticed Marty Smith's hair. I can't believe it.

Marty Smith is a very good reporter. That said, I kept staring at his hair last night. Maybe it was higher than normal? It looked really silly for some reason. Either way, I can't see him lasting on ESPN very long with that. Or at least appearing more frequently on other ESPN shows. He already has a strike against him with his accent and that's not an insult, I have a southern accent. But you don't see southern accents too much on ESPN, they have traditional broadcaster's voices, i.e. you can't tell where they're from.

Anonymous said...

I actually found that Burr was hosting the show by accident. I was flipping channels and saw him and stopped. It was a good show but I will repeat (like ESPN does) what everyone else is saying. To much on one subject. We all know that Jeff and Jimmy are leading the Chase so it doesn't take 30 minutes to update us on that. How about covering Mikey or Petty or anyone of the 31 other racers that maybe had a good finish. I can't take anymore Hendricks coverage. MAKE IT STOP!!!

Anonymous said...

Marty's toned down his hair, it isn't all that bad most of the time, it depends on the day. One day last week it was so spiked up looked like one of those guys in the Stray Cats.

He used to be on speed channel every once in a while and his hair was cut short and dyed platinum blonde just like Enimem (Dale Jr wore his hair the same way), be grateful that era is over.

Anonymous said...

ALL of espn programs regarding NASCAR are boring , boring , boring...Even the race.!! Having had the best With Bestwick in the booth, and Hosting INC for so long, and now having to listen to so many dull, unknowledgable spouters attempting to call a race, is just the DUMBEST thing they can much unused talent. NASCAR NOW is not anywhere near as good as it could be, tho Ryan tries. What did they do with Kluless?

Grani Girl

PammH said...

2 nights in a row!! wow, what did we do to deserve this?? Ryan is a breath of fresh air on NN. BTW, I thought INC was MUCH better this wk than recently. Don't know why, but when Kenny is there-it makes a HUGE dif imo, even if he wasn't in the car. He's just a funny dude!!

Anonymous said...


Just had to second your comment about INC!! LOVED the show and the comments at the END were priceless. About the next week show the boys will be there..Mikey said "you all don't know how committed we are to this show" with Kenny addin "YOU need to be commited".

And Despain LAUGHED a lot again and seemed genuinely ticked at times. But then, I have seen that A LOT.


GOTTA have KENNY and Mikey together or the show stinks. KENNY IS MUST HAVE in a CUP CAR or not.

**** if ESPN can give us STUPID and CLUELESS during the races, Many year veteran of many types of tracks can add GREAT INPUT AND FUNNNN to INC.

Just mo.

Oh, and it will take about 11 more great write ups on NN to get me to watch DAILY or even remember to check it. I do check it on Mondays but thats' all.


Newracefan said...

Ryan 2 nights in a row was fantasic unfortunately I didn't hear him say I'll be back on wednesday. The only issue I had with the show was the quotes they took from Carl's teleconference. The parts they choose didn't leave me with the feeling his was going try and work things out. I have since read some other articles that finish out his quotes and they put him in a much better light by taking responsibility and saying he was wrong. I'm not sure if this was ESPN's intent to keep the controversy going although David Newton did his best to dispell that. I also thought INC was great and what Greg Biffle said there was much different then his quote at the same teleconference. I was surprised that nothing was mentions about Mayfield/Green or Reichert out at Red Bull. How early do they film the show? I'll watch again tomorrow but if Eric is back off it goes.