Tuesday, February 12, 2008
"NASCAR Now" Stays On A Roll
One day after the first big Monday hour show, Ryan Burr took the studio helm of Tuesday's NASCAR Now and kept the momentum going. To make a statement about the new shared responsibilities of the co-hosts, Burr and Nicole Manske appeared on-camera right at the start of the show.
Burr updated the news with Lead Reporter Marty Smith, including the penalties for the Stewart vs. Busch incident. Smith and Burr work well, as they did last season. This time, the questions were on-target and the responses by Smith were clear and concise.
Then, for the first time, viewers were treated to Nicole Manske and Brad Daugherty in the big ESPN Infield Studio that the network built just for NASCAR. ESPN is working hard to involve Daugherty, and he seems to be working hard to diversify his TV activities for the network. Manske followed-up with Boris Said talking about Casey Mears and his slightly more high-profile teammates.
Twisting off the hardcore news, Burr returned ESPN to their corporate agenda with the beginning of a long year of NASCAR "fantasy racing" reports. There is no doubt that this activity is popular and important to ESPN. The question is, does it have a place in a thirty minute racing show that only has twenty-two minutes of content?
Manske worked with Brian Vickers on a studio interview that finally allowed her to talk freely and relax a bit. Vickers related well with her, and she was able to keep her feet and ask the right follow-up questions. This was the first time for viewers seeing Manske on the ESPN set at the NASCAR races, but it will not be the last.
As we mentioned in an earlier column, Brad Daugherty has been trying to spread his wings with ESPN. His feature report on Petty Racing and their move to Mooresville, NC was a great first step. Asking questions in his understated style, Daugherty got a lot of information out of Petty on his future plans. For those who understand Daugherty's start as a NASCAR fan, this opportunity had to be wonderful.
Tim Brewer made his first appearance on NASCAR Now for the season with a feature on the wind tunnel that was recently featured on the Media Tour. Brewer did a solid job in explaining the function of the tunnel, and how the information that teams need is gathered. It was again interesting to see how data-driven this technology really is.
Finally, the confirmation that the boundaries between the NASCAR on ESPN gang and the Fox Sports on-air team are finally down happened with the perfect person. Larry McReynolds works for Fox, SPEED and TNT. His agenda is clearly NASCAR.
Now, McReynolds sat on NASCAR Now talking about his Daytona 500 memories while wearing a NASCAR on Fox shirt. At the end of the interview, Ryan Burr on NASCAR Now promoted the Daytona 500 on Fox Sports. My, how times have changed for this program.
Burr mentioned Marty Smith's interview with all four of the Hendrick drivers, which will be featured on the Wednesday edition. That type of opportunity for Smith to act as more than just a talking head will be a good one.
This program series has changed almost everything but the studio set after last year's struggles. The on-air content today was solid, and the potential for the program to pick-up-speed as we head for the weekend is almost perfect timing.
Give credit to ESPN for making the changes that are continuing to result in improvements on the air where NASCAR is concerned. With NASCAR Now finally on the right track, it is almost time to find-out how the new broadcast crew will mesh.
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