Thursday, April 5, 2007

ESPN's "NASCAR Now" Finds A Host At Last

NASCAR Now welcomed back Ryan Burr as host tonight, and perhaps NASCAR fans took notice. Burr kicked the show off with Matt Kenseth, who is a notoriously difficult interview. In this segment, there were several things not previously seen on NASCAR Now. They included a driver smiling, good questions, interesting answers, and an informed host.

Tim Cowlishaw stopped-by and tried again to create some controversy about the Martinsville finish. The NASCAR Now producers might check the calendar and notice that today is Thursday. The race happened on Sunday. Things a little light in the News Department? Please send Cowlishaw back to Around The Horn, because NASCAR Now needs to add content, not opinion. Perhaps, ESPN will someday discover that NASCAR has several outstanding regional series around the nation...and then report on it.

Marty Smith and Ryan Burr make things fun. These two create the level of excitement and interest that NASCAR fans have been looking for since RPM2Nite signed-off years ago. Smith updated us on the face-lift for Darlington, possible franchising, and Junior's near miss at Martinsville. Then, DJ Copp stopped-by and again delivered his plain-spoken commentary on the pitroad side of the sport. He has been a surprise since his first appearance, and continues to lend a nice perspective. Two more series regulars who work great with Burr.

The show stayed in high gear, and jumped right into an interview with Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike. Originally, ESPN ignored the NCTS completely. Many felt it was due to the fact that the series airs on SPEED Channel. Burr asked excellent questions of Fike, and gave great exposure to this young driver and the NCTS series itself. Veteran move by NASCAR Now to include this type of information. Fike ended by smiling and saying "glad to be on." Four words we have never heard on NASCAR Now before from any driver.

Because this show was so good, we can forgive ESPN for actually asking Tim Cowlishaw to pick the winner of the Texas NEXTEL Cup race...two weekends from now. I guess when the Sales Department sells a feature, it has to run. Apparently, the Vault Cola check cleared.

This has been a tremendous two-day run for NASCAR Now and ESPN2. Ryan Burr has done in forty-eight hours what Erik Kuselias and Doug Banks have been unable to do in over two months...make NASCAR Now credible. Congratulations to ESPN for recognizing a problem, and making changes to solve it.