Sunday, March 30, 2008
Monday Morning Quarterback
The two Monday NASCAR TV shows will be back in full force this week. NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and This Week In NASCAR on SPEED will both have the usual one hour shows.
First-up is NASCAR Now at 6PM Eastern Time. The network has a rotating panel of analysts and this week they have hit on a great combination. Whoever arranged late last week for the guests on this program should make sure to play the lottery this week.
Host Allen Bestwick will be joined by Johnny Benson, Mike Wallace and Mike Massaro.
Benson is fresh from being spun by Kyle Busch on the final lap of the Truck Series race, and then having some post-race festivities on pit road involving the crews. He is also the subject of much speculation about a future Cup Series ride.
Mike Wallace just spotted for his daughter Chrissy as she piloted her way to a top twenty finish in her very first Craftsman Truck Series race. Mike flew directly to ESPN after the race, and co-hosted the one hour Sunday morning edition of NASCAR Now with Ryan Burr. ESPNEWS viewers then saw him on-the-air with post-race analysis and commentary Sunday evening.
Mike Massaro is the journalist on the panel, and has been a great spark for discussions when he has been included in these "roundtable" programs. Massaro has a great perspective as the only ESPN employee who stayed on the "NASCAR beat" during the entire time the sport went away from the network.
This group should really set the table for Allen Bestwick to cover a lot of ground on Monday. Bestwick has come into his own since being upped to a high-profile position on the NASCAR on ESPN package. For those fans who used to enjoy Inside NEXTEL Cup on SPEED, the irony of Bestwick on ESPN2 hosting a one hour show with three panelists is not lost.
Speaking of SPEED, they are up next with the new This Week In NASCAR show hosted by Steve Byrnes. This week, Chad Knaus and Michael Waltrip will be the "expert panel" for the full hour. Max Siegel from DEI will be a featured interview.
This is a new program that is more driven by video highlights and features than by the conversation of the panelists. The new dynamic of spending an extensive amount of time previewing the next race at the top of the show has been a tough change to swallow.
Byrnes is a TV veteran, and he will work until both the program format and the personalities are right. This may take some time, as the current format is scattered and the series is currently searching for an identity. The off-beat antics of the INC show are gone, and with Kenny Schrader no longer a panelist, things are very different.
There will be columns up shortly after both of these programs are over on Monday that will serve to host your comments.