Friday, February 22, 2008

"NASCAR Now" Plays The Rain Game


The weather threw a wrench into the plans of both SPEED and ESPN2 on Friday. With no cars on the track as of 6PM Eastern Time, both networks worked hard to deal with the reality of rain in Southern California.

Nicole Manske was on-site in California for NASCAR Now with Ryan Burr hosting back in the ESPN2 studios. After a brief wrap-up of the weather problems and some driver comments, Manske unveiled yet another wrinkle in this interesting TV season.

Allen Bestwick was suddenly on-hand in the ESPN Tech Center, and he had some friends along for the ride. Tim Brewer, Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty were all on the Tech Center set, and had a rather free-wheeling conversation about the topics associated with the rain out.

Bestwick promoted the ESPN coverage of the Nationwide Series, and then threw back to Burr who rolled the Busch Series California highlights from last season. This is exactly the type of flexible and responsive coverage from the track that NASCAR Now fans appreciate.

With the California situation documented, the show switched gears to focus on the penalty given to Robby Gordon and his team. Right or wrong, the sound from Gordon was great. Reporter Angelique Chengelis appeared from the track with the suggestion that the current NASCAR penalty might ultimately force Gordon out of the sport. Chengelis covers several sports, but her NASCAR information has always been solid.

In discussing the rain scenarios, Chengelis recapped the issues associated with the continuing weather and relayed the official NASCAR line that many of us know so well. Basically, they have lights at the speedway and intend to use them.

Chengelis continued with a Kurt Busch update and put a very good spin on the situation in the Penske camp with Sam Hornish and the points being transferred. Regardless of how much public relations effort has gone into the Kurt Busch "push" for the Daytona 500 win, it certainly has resulted in some quality TV time for Penske Racing.

Manske talked with Dario Franchitti and Kenny Wallace about their rides in the Nationwide Series. It was nice that NASCAR Now took the time to point specifically at this series, and is finally beginning to calm down their Cup hysteria of 2007. Setting the table for this race by simply telling viewers that Franchitti and Wallace will be racing is exactly the type of basic promotion the series really needs.

It was nice of Rusty Wallace to come on-camera alone and update the COT issues with the speedway. He also updated the rain situation, and continues to appear to have been "set free" to be himself once again with his new TV role. Rusty is fun and outspoken and does not take himself too seriously. He and Burr had a great exchange on a wide variety of topics and it really showed the Wallace value to ESPN.

This is the first time this season that the new and re-vamped NASCAR Now had to scramble with an on-going weather issue. Burr and Manske handled things quite well, and once again we saw seven different ESPN announcers and reporters on the air in this thirty minute show. That is impressive and requires a lot of resources.

Manske seems to be comfortable at the track, and Rusty Wallace seems to be emerging on this program as an outstanding analyst. It should be interesting to see ESPN, SPEED and Fox Sports deal with the on-going weather situation over the weekend. If they can handle it as well as the NASCAR Now gang, things should be just fine for the viewers.

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9 comments:

SophiaZ123 said...

Well this day has been a bummer....dark, gray, icing then sleeting, then rain and no NASCAR on tv.

On another quick side note, OPEN WHEEL is merging back together!! Woo hoo. Can't wait to see Robin Miller on WT Sunday night.

Heck, the way the weather is going in CA, the race could be ON against WT.

This really stinks for racing fans. Especially ones that got the tickets for the 'double header' on saturday.

Sorry I missed the interviews on SPEED and NNow.

Thanks for the update on the day's events, JD

Anonymous said...

SophiaZ123 said...
This really stinks for racing fans. Especially ones that got the tickets for the 'double header' on saturday.

February 22, 2008 7:56 PM

Well, Saturday is supposed to be fine. Today's storm will clear out tonight and the next one will come anytime on Sunday.

GS

elena said...

Even though they have been predicting rain for a couple of days, I was really hoping they were wrong. Most of the drivers interviewed on tv have said that this is really the beginning of the season—and here they sit around in the rain. Bummer.

Since NN had advance warning, they were able to plan the program and all worked well.

As he has done all week, Ryan Burr did a great job of hosting NN tonight. While alone at the ESPN studio, he had AB, Nicole, and Angelique reporting from California.

I liked seeing AB with the rest of the crew. Right on cue, AB turned to Tim to demonstrate the new restrictor plate for the Nationwide cars. Rusty and Brad had something to add to the information on the new plate.

I really liked what Kurt Busch said at his conference today. NN just showed a small clip. He was grateful that Ryan N had given him credit for helping him win the 500, but he felt that Ryan needs to stop thanking him in public. Kurt said he wanted Ryan to really enjoy his win as his own win. No need to mention his name again. Just take credit period. A different side of Kurt we don’t see often.

Nicole asked Dario and Kenny Wallace a couple of similar questions. The 2 drivers were not standing together when she asked them. (Good thing.)

I give Ryan kudos for a good week. Every show he has hosted has been good. I wonder if this is going to be the regular schedule: AB on Mondays and Ryan Tuesday thru Friday.

Anonymous said...

elena said...
I wonder if this is going to be the regular schedule: AB on Mondays and Ryan Tuesday thru Friday.

February 22, 2008 11:16 PM

If I remember correctly, I believe JD said a few weeks ago, that this would be the regular anchor lineup.

GS

Anonymous said...

JD,I just noticed that NASCAR Now is not scheduled to air on Sunday night at all.

Is this true? Why? It seems odd that Last week there was an hour of sunday night coverage on ESPN and this sunday there is no coverage at all.

Anonymous said...

Mon Feb 25
12:00 am NASCAR Now ESPN2

why so late I don't know, possibly because the NHRA race is on E2 from 7-10 Easternmrjgjf

Newracefan said...

Good show again, it appears NN has turned the corner and is not turning back. I'll keep it on my DVR list from now on.

Daly Planet Editor said...

The NN program on ESPN last Sunday night was a special for the Daytona 500.

JD

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now is normally on every Sunday morning at 10 ET (actually 9:58 according to the digital). I see it on the schedule for tomorrow. It's an hour.

Nicole Manske was the host last Sunday, so I'm thinking she may host every Sunday, with Allen on Mondays and Ryan the rest of the week. Or Ryan and Nicole may start alternating, since Ryan is supposed to also go to the track some weeks.