Monday, March 10, 2008

"NASCAR Now" Finds The Right Combination


The amazing changes at ESPN continue where NASCAR is concerned. One of the most dynamic has been the new Monday "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now.

This one hour show has moved from a single-anchor scripted program to a vibrant discussion of very diverse racing topics. Allen Bestwick has been the key to leading this charge, and continued on this Monday to direct the conversation between a brand new group of panelists.

ESPN2 viewers found themselves looking at the most balanced group of NASCAR veterans the network has assembled so far this season. Mike Massaro has worked for years to represent ESPN where NASCAR is concerned, and his insightful commentary from a media perspective is straightforward and informative.

Ray Evernham is working hard for ESPN this season to overcome some credibility issues that arose from his personal choices, and continues to use his diverse background as both a crew chief and owner to his advantage. ESPN is going to use Evernham in a variety of roles this season, and he seems to be a natural on-camera.

Finally, it may have caused fans to do a double-take, but there he was. Sitting alongside of Bestwick was Johnny Benson. In NASCAR TV land, there was no bigger story a couple of years back than Benson and Bestwick getting summarily fired from the Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing program they had both anchored for years on SPEED.

The irony of a well-spoken and experienced Benson perched on his chair in the NASCAR Now studio was not lost on veteran fans.

Bestwick led the panel into the story of the weekend, which was tires. Evernham was diplomatic, and simply wanted both Goodyear and NASCAR to solve the existing problem. Benson had driven on the tire at Atlanta, and focused on the fact that simply lasting for one fuel run should be the simple goal for Goodyear. Massaro repeated the sentiments of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in saying Goodyear simply went way too far after early issues during testing.

The NASCAR Media Group continues to provide outstanding features that serve to wrap-up the weekend with all the drama that group has managed to create in their past full-length programs. ESPN would be well-served to consider growing that relationship.

In recapping the weekend, Bestwick led the panel into the topic of Carl Edwards and his struggles for the past ten days. The specific topic of the oil-cooler lid was reviewed fairly, and included video of comments on both sides of the issue.

Bestwick was curious about why the comments were so caustic. The panel was divided on whether this issue was just about racing innovation or actually personal issues among senior team management. Using the picture of Edwards car and the actual oil cooler lid at the end of the race was a great touch. This even-handed approach of exposing both sides of the issue worked very well.

Craftsman Truck Series highlights were next, and once again NASCAR Now followed through with a taped interview of the winner, Kyle Busch. Nationwide Series highlights followed, detailing the hard hit Kyle Busch took including his memorable interview with ESPN's Shannon Spake.

Benson's low-key intelligence and his extensive experience in all three series brought something to the show that had been missing. Whether discussing testing, drivers or track issues, Benson could instantly offer the most up-to-date information for one simple reason. He was there and involved in it.

The key activity of this "Monday after" was a Goodyear tire test at Darlington. NASCAR Now had Lead Reporter Marty Smith on-scene to provide a timely report on the activity and the mood. This is exactly the type of commitment that fans had been searching for since last season.

Smith's report included soundbites from all three of the drivers involved in the test, who specifically addressed both the issues from Atlanta and for Darlington. Once again, however, the ridiculous problem of noise from the cars affected this report. Smith had problems hearing the panel, and several of his comments were drowned-out by cars on the track. This is the third time that ambient noise has played a role in affecting what should have been a very good report.

In previewing Bristol, the Kyle Busch name surfaced again. Bestwick used the panel to remind us of the strange race from last fall at Bristol. All three panelists weighed-in with comments about the "good racing vs. no action" at this small track topic.

As the program wound-down, once thing was very clear. ESPN had hit on a combination of personalities and experience that got a lot of good information across to fans. A reporter, a crew chief/owner and a veteran driver had each been able to talk about the same topics from their own unique perspectives.

Viewers were free to agree or disagree, but Bestwick worked hard to get all the viewpoints on the table, especially for the controversial issues. This format has been a positive change, and the fact that ESPN has worked hard to back-up this one program with other changes in the network's NASCAR coverage is a positive statement for the future of the sport.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions to add your opinion. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for stopping by.

46 comments:

Anonymous said...

-I posted this in the other thread exactly as you were posting this. Please feel free to remove the duplicate in the other thread.-

Allen said - at this point, he really doesn't care whether the 99 had the oil lid tank off or not, he's more interested in the tone and quotes coming from the other drivers like sadler and Lee White.

Maybe he was just trying to justify that they're talking about when it's old news, but it rubbed me the wrong way when he said, at this point he didn't care whether they broke the rules. Sounded strange.

Very good report by Marty Smith live from Darlington Goodyear tire test. Talked to Biffle, Newman, Gordon about the tires (Gordon much more conciliatory today than yesterday's quotes, saying the COT is hard to make tires for) and then talked to them about the new surface. No interviews with anyone from Goodyear.

Per suggested question here about about discussing top 35, they showed who's just in top 35 and who's out, but no discussion.

Overall, this show was pretty "meh", in my opinion. I feel the time could have been used more wisely. They only seem to discuss 3-4 topics per hour and really no depth and a lot of dancing around topics. Ray, who has of course been penalized by NASCAR numerous times, said only NaSCAR and Roush know what happened and the rest was speculation. Fine, but maybe you should advocate that the process should be more open so drivers (and fans) won't speculate.

Rusty was missed because I'm OK with his blunt style. I'll repeat: I wasn't comfortable with Allen, the host/reporter, saying he didn't really care about whether the 99 penalties were valid or not.

The panel does their best to come across as relaxed and friendly, and they do. So that's a plus. But pacing needs to be improved.

Anonymous said...

Ken-Michigan said...
ALL those Goodyear engineers and experts at Darlington for the tire test......

Did ESPN / Marty Smith invite Goodyear to be part of the segment, did Goodyear decline or did the producers feel it wasnt necessary ??

Over the years it seems that stories like these get swept under the carpet, never to be heard from again.


After watching the program today, that's the way I feel. Aren't the news media supposed to investigate these things or are they just supposed to accept them as "moot points"?

The viewers (at Mr. Daly's invitation) here posted so many good, intelligent questions today on the other column of what they would like to see discussed on NN and TWIN. People sincerely want to understand what has happened with the oil lid and the tires, and it seems some of the media is like, "whatever, moving on". Like we're just supposed to watch them drive and not worry about the cars - even when the drivers are so visibly angry or upset about something about the cars, tracks, tires, etc.

No we're not all tech heads, but basic explanations of issues involved in penalties or driver unhappiness with cars on these programs would help.

Maybe it's just that the media don't know. David Poole was honest enough to say he didn't understand why Jeff Gordon's accident was so bad until Greg Biffle drew him a diagram explaining why the wall at the LV track was so dangerous.

Heck, Jeff Gordon brought a bumpstop to Tradin' Paint last year and explained in a minute or so what Kenny and Jimmy could not in however long they talked yesterday. Visual explanations are always good. So get the people who can explain to do so.

SophiaZ123 said...

I thought the NOISE PROBLEM with Marty at the track was idiotic since they CONTINUE to have this problem. Sigh.

I enjoyed the show but wished some opinions had been stronger.

It reminded me how HUGE an error it was to FIRE AB and JB from INC. Then this years SPEED show totally blows but I am enjoying the NNow show.

I thought they could have expanded on some things more like the tire issue. But that's ongoing.

I did NOT know how to take AB's comment either about "he doesnt care if 99 MEANT to cheat or not"???? Say what?

It was great to FINALLY SEE with my own eyes the car photo passed around the garage...with Carl doing a back flip while INSIDE the back seat is the oil lid at a strong 45 degree angle or so, and the window adjusted (i guess to allow the fumes to escape?)

But that is what is is (Carl penalty) I am more concerned with the tire deal or the bump rubber issue. The Bump stop deal not addressed at all like it would've been on some Monday night shows of the past.

STill, to see live conversation wins hands down over taped, rehashed highlights ....or YAPPING about Bristol when as somebody else said, so MANY things from this last race are still unanswered.

Hope they get the NOISY REPORTS from the track fixed next week or ESPN should show subtitles under reporter du jour so we can here them.

:-)

I hope all who missed it can catch the repeat.

Dwight said...

I thought the show was very good. It was great to see Allen Bestwick and Johnny Benson together again. IWC/INC was never as good after they were canned. I am tired of hearing rehash after rehash about the dust-up over Edwards penalties, and I thought that the discussion they had was interesting because it did go below the surface a little. (I think anonymous above misinterpreted what Bestwick said. I understood him to mean that he wanted to get beyond who was right or wrong and get to the dynamics about why the exchanges were so pointed and nasty.)

ESPN is to be applauded for having improved so much since last year. Let's hope that SPEED can keep up with their Monday night content.

Ryan from former Penske land said...

IMO the 5 phantom debris cautions were more controversial then Goodyear's crappy tires

Ken-Michigan said...

Not sure if I'm the only one, but Johnny Benson does absolutely nothing for me.
He added little, in my opinion, to the Inside Nextel Cup show in previous years and rarely put together a statment that went longer than 2 sentences. After todays show I see that things havent changed. Personally, I don't need to hear from a driver on network TV commenting on the very race he couldn't even qualify for. (keep in mind Skinner qualified in top 5 at vegas in that car).
He might be a riot around the campfire on a saturday night, but as a TV personality / analyst, he would be way down the list if i'm the producer.

I'll always give credit where credit is due, but in this case, I've got to give my opinion.

Richard in N.C. said...

After 3 of the 4 most popular Cup drivers (including 2 past, multiple champions and the most popular driver)have made strong, negative comments about the tires, I bet only a couple of Goodyear people are authorized to speak to the press - and maybe none of them were at Darlington.

I found it very significant that Dale, Jr. made blunt comments about the tires and that Tony made very strong, but unemotional, comments about the tire failings.

JD, how easy would it have been to deal with the engine noise in Marty Smith's report?

Brrrn Rubber said...

"Maybe it's just that the media don't know. David Poole was honest enough to say he didn't understand why Jeff Gordon's accident was so bad until Greg Biffle drew him a diagram explaining why the wall at the LV track was so dangerous."

Greg Biffle is underused as a source on television for all things technical in NASCAR. Supposedly he just shows up unannounced at the NASCAR R&D shop in NC to talk to them about issues that he has with the cars and safety. He seemed to have the best comments for Marty from the tire test today. Would like to hear more from him when this kind of news comes up. (but it may be that's why he's always out testing and not able to appear on TWIN or other shows, because his opinion is respected.)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6PM,

Let me put it this way, it would not have happened on my community CATV station while covering the Christmas parade. And those technicians are all...volunteers.

JD

Anonymous said...

NASCAR Now Mondays are okay, but I don't love it yet like you all do. I've watched or recorded every one of them, and I thought the first one was the best and it's gone downhill on the other three.

There's a lot of news from after each race that they're missing by spending so much time on limited roundtable discussion topics. Brian Vickers is in the top 12, out of nowhere. Jimmie Johnson is having all kinds of problems; they overcovered him before the season began, and now when he should really be discussed -how off that team is- they ignore it.

And based on last week, the rest of the NASCAR Nows airing tomorrow-Thursday won't follow up on those type of stories either. Other than some good Marty Smith hustle, it's been very superficial coverage to me, just like last year - it's just being presented by more likeable and knowledgeable people.

Have they had any type of non-race interview/off track story since Brad D. did his Petty interview at the shop? I haven't seen any type of pretaped story like that since then, which makes me think they're not using all of the 10-15 people I see listed on the NASCAR Now roster to their best advantage.

Surely with four hours of airtime, we could get to see something offbeat, or get to know some of the lesser known drivers better. Or owners: I've never seen an interview with George Gillett or the man who bought into MWR.

They really need to remember: NASCAR is about the drivers. We want to see interviews with the drivers/crews/affiliated people, not constant talking heads opining six days a week. Not a single member of that roundtable today drove in yesterday's race; that view was missed.

I don't care if they're via satellite or not; NN, interview some more drivers.

SophiaZ123 said...

they did not mention this on NN but we just found out you do not need a print out proof for Arby's. Just say "I want my Matt Kenseth free fries." I had never eaten these and they were good.


I am still THRILLED I got to see the 99 open lid PHOTO that had been going around the garage. If they showed it on Race Day I missed it as I only caught half that show.

The rest of the week is screwy hours for NN so you guys with DVR's tape accordingly and allow extra time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:26PM,

Very good comments and points for NASCAR Now to think about as they grow this show.

JD

Seiko said...

This was the first Monday show I have caught. I was seriously impressed with the show.
The photo of the 99 was what was needed, after hearing about it 3 or 4 times on Speed over the weekend it was nice to actually see it.

I still wont watch the show unless AB is hosting. I'm giving TWINS one more shot tonight, if it sucks, Ill just keep watching ESPN Mondays.

SophiaZ123 said...

Anon 6.26

I have to say there were more LAUGHS and diverse talk in the first show with Rusty and Brad D. I still enjoy the shows but was hoping they would add Rusty and, can't believe I am saying that or this, Brad back to the mix.

BUT it would be great to get some INSIDE SCOOP from drivers in the race. They could have two drivers side by side on remote (Just get RID of the loud Ambient noise, please ESPN)

I think if you added a couple of racers from the weekend race to the ESPN Round table, we may indeed have what many of us are missing later on Monday nights.

Great food for thought for TPTB at ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else happen to see Kornheiser and Wilbon tonight?

They attempted to discuss the Tony Stewart tire complaints, but got hung up on the fact they didn't know before this weekend that all Sprint Cup cars run the same Goodyear tires.

At first I laughed at that, but then I thought maybe NASCAR Now could spend a midweek episode that needs filler explaining what are "stock" items (fuel, etc) and what is not (oil I believe)

kenn said...

For those who missed NN live, ESPN2 will repeat it at 2:30 AM EDT Tuesday morning. If your cable company did not supply you with a DVR, you might check with them to see if you're entitled to one. They changed the way I watch TV. Even if I'm watching something not recorded, I can go back to see something a second time. This is great when you're watching a race.

Anonymous said...

In addition to doing a superb job today at Darlington, Marty Smith fixed his hair.

Looks great, Marty (really). Thanks.

SallyB said...

Unless TWIN (the poor substitute for IWC) comes up with something totally new than they've been doing, the Monday version of NN is hands down much better. I find the different viewpoints very interesting. They manage to avoif being just a rehash of the same old race coverage. AB is perfect, and Ray Evernham does a great job. ESPN has come a long way.

Newracefan said...

Good show, I think if they bring JB back he will start to feel more comfortable and talk more. They covered each topic as much as they could with the time constraint. Fewer topics we would have been screaming they are not covering the issues. The big complaint has already been covered- Marty's report and the ambient noise. I can only assume that he did not think there would be a car on the track at that time but someone should have checked first. I also wonder why Marty did not speak to a Goodyear rep (perhaps tomorrow)although he did answer my question about why Toyota wasn't there not that he really got a good answer out of anyone. Top 35 subject could have been covered a little more but that may be my bias (I am a MWR fan).

Ken-Michigan said...

Slowest pole speed since they re-configured Atlanta.
(12 MPH slower than 1997)

Phantom caution flags.

Goodyear Tires concerns from drivers.

No Side by Side racing at Atlanta.

Wouldn't we all like to hear NASCAR's comments on the Atlanta race ??

Hunter? Helton? Darby? Pemberton?

Any kind of "official" comment or response would be welcomed in the media.

Anonymous said...

Mulhern had comments from Jim Hunter:

Mike Helton, NASCAR’s president, deferred to spokesman Jim Hunter, who said that officials would be talking with Goodyear: “I’m sure we’ll have some conversations with Goodyear to see what can be done, and what they plan to do.

“Part of it is this new car; there is no doubt this new car is harder to drive. They’re up on the wheel. That was part of bringing out the new car.

“And emotions run high after a guy has run 500 miles.

“It will take a while to sort this out. This is the first race here (with the car of tomorrow). Back when they ran the tests here they never had really good days (because of weather). I’m sure Goodyear will do everything it can to sort it out.

“We’ll sort it out. We’ll get with the teams, and we’ll get with Goodyear, and we’ll sort it out.”

I'll just wait to see if/what happens to 'sort it out'.

Tom in Bristol

stricklinfan82 said...

Another good Monday night NASCAR Now. I was very happy to hear a balanced discussion on the two dominant issues of the week - the Carl Edwards oil lid cover and the Goodyear tires.

During the week I was very disappointed that every media outlet seemed to defend Roush Racing and constantly say "there was no way this was intentional". Rusty Wallace was all over ESPN saying there was no way a team would do this intentionally because of driver safety and DW and Larry Mac said all week at Roush wouldn't do that because "it wasn't enough of an advantage". In fact do I remember correctly that DW even said it's not an advantage so make it legal for everyone to leave the lid off? I also couldn't have stood Larry Mac saying one more time that if you rewound the last 5 laps and put that lid on Carl's oil tank he would have won Las Vegas anyway.

The endless sympathy and excuse-making for Roush made me sick all week and I was thrilled ESPN finally offered the other side of the story on Monday. Elliott Sadler's comments that the side window was cracked open to let Rusty's harmful fumes escape and the video evidence of such was a welcomed sight for this viewer.

As for the tires I was thrilled to finally see someone other than an active driver criticize Goodyear. Ray Evernham's explanation that Goodyear simply should have made the tires hard enough to last one fuel run but instead went way overboard and made them last at least 2 fuel runs was excellent. I also very much enjoyed his thought that Goodyear should make an entirely new right side tire for this CoT.

At the same time ESPN was also fair and found a couple drivers that liked the tires - Carl Edwards and Paul Menard - so I give them credit for balanced coverage. Again this was a welcomed sight for this viewer that was sick of seeing Fox completely ignore the tire problem during their pre-race show (it would have made Fox look awfully smart if they would have given pre-race coverage to the tire issue based on how things turned out at the end of the day don't ya think?, major missed opportunity there) and hearing the announcers in the booth immediately brush off the issue and immediately defend Goodyear right after Tony's post-race Fox interview.

There was way too much politcal correctness by all the TV outlets all week long so I was glad to see a balanced report on these two major issues, with someone stepping out a limb and not being afraid to say "Roush knew what they were doing" or "Goodyear brought a bad tire to the track."

It's unfortunate that almost the entire show had to revolve around these two topics because there are always so many other topics that deserve air-time but I didn't mind ESPN giving the proper attention to these two major stories that definitely deserved more than a simple passing comment from each of the panel members.

Good job ESPN.

Anonymous said...

Anyone else happen to see Kornheiser and Wilbon tonight?

They attempted to discuss the Tony Stewart tire complaints, but got hung up on the fact they didn't know before this weekend that all Sprint Cup cars run the same Goodyear tires.
_________

I saw it online. They are so clueless, it really is funny. "In golf you use whatever golf ball you want, why do the cars have to use the same tires? That's weird!" It should make me mad, but I like K&W so I can't get mad.

Interesting that they assume they Tony will receive a fine for what he said.

Over on ESPN.com main page, here's a headline:

Gordon: Stewart Overreacted about Goodyear Tires

Poor Tony. He's like the boy who cried wolf. When he really has something he wants to say, people don't believe him.

Personally, if what Tony was saying didn't have some truth, I wonder why Mike Massaro said on NN that Earnhardt Jr, Mears, Truex Jr, Eury Jr came to the tire test on their own to watch.

stricklinfan82 said...

Anyone else happen to see Kornheiser and Wilbon tonight?

They attempted to discuss the Tony Stewart tire complaints, but got hung up on the fact they didn't know before this weekend that all Sprint Cup cars run the same Goodyear tires.
_________

I saw it online. They are so clueless, it really is funny. "In golf you use whatever golf ball you want, why do the cars have to use the same tires? That's weird!" It should make me mad, but I like K&W so I can't get mad.

Interesting that they assume they Tony will receive a fine for what he said.


I'm going to give the PTI guys a pass on this one. I honestly don't expect anyone that doesn't follow this sport regularly to know that Goodyear is the exclusive supplier of tires to NASCAR, and that all the teams lease the tires from Goodyear at the track, and don't bring their own tires from home like they do their cars, engines, etc. In fact as recently as 1994 there was another tire company in NASCAR called Hoosier, so it's not like it's unprecendented for there to be more than one tire supplier in NASCAR at the same time either.

Yes as a fellow NASCAR fan I can see where this can be amusing to us but sometimes we have to escape from the "bubble" we live in and not take all of NASCAR's intricacies for granted. I have a lot of friends that watch races semi-regularly and still get tripped up and ask questions like "how can a driver that crashes out on the last lap still finish 15th and ahead of a bunch of guys that actually finished the race?", "why does the leader of the race sometimes not restart at the front of the field?", or "what are owner points?"

Ken-Michigan said...

Thanks TOM in Bristol - appreciate you finding those comments.

Anonymous said...

About the Tony overreacting article, I read a similar article on Yahoo. It included quotes from the three drivers testing tires at Darlington today and tomorrow. They all said they agreed with Tony, but that he went overboard and made it personal with his comments. I hear Tony did a great job on ESPN News during the post-race press conference expressing what his issue with the tires were and why. But his comments after the race along the lines of going home and removing all the Goodyears off everything he owns and saying that the only decent thing Goodyear has built in 10 years is the trophy, and that they were shoved out of every other racing series because they can't make a decent product make it easy to write him off. I wish he would have said the things he said in the conference instead of personally attacking Goodyear. Yes, the tires were horrible and things need to be changed. I thought Jr. handled it well too - saying that he doesn't like to complain and bash Goodyear, but he needed to say something yesterday.

All three drivers said they agreed with Tony, but that some of his comments went too far. No one said they didn't believe him.

darbar said...

I thought Evernham sounded more like a politician than a Nascar insider. He didn't seem to be able to form his own opinions, as he just sat on the fence. Yes, Tony had a good point, but also yes, Goodyear did a good job. Come on Ray, tell us how you really feel and don't sit there kissing everyone for votes. I do not understand ESPN's love affair with Evernham.

Like Sophia, I thought the highlight of the show was the actual photo of Edwards' car and the lid off oil tank. I never knew that photo existed until I saw it on NN. But what I would love to see is someone expounding on how comments made by Sadler and others will be taken in the garage area. Will Sadler be shunned? Will there be any repercussions from any of the anti-Roush comments? I remember how Jeremy Mayfield had backs turned against him when he "outed" Evernham and his girlfriend Erin Crocker. I would love to hear if Sadler and others will feel any backlash.

While NN has improved over last year, and they are now good competition against TWIN (sorry, but I just cannot like this new version of INC), it still has room for improvement.

Anonymous said...

I doubt Sadler will be feeling any backlash since there was a long list of drivers that gave quotes saying they didn't think it was accidential. Sadlers's were pretty strong, but so were Jr.'s. Harvick spoke out. Heck, even Jeff Burton had something to say about the unlikelihood of a piece falling off. There were quite a few articles over the weekend about the subject with lots of quotes from numerous drivers and crew chiefs. I don't recall anyone outside of the Roush camp saying that they really bought the accidential claim.

I wasn't surprised to see the SPEED/FOX crew take the somewhat protective stance of the situation because Carl is a part of their team.

Daly Planet Editor said...

darbar,

I have a sneaky feeling that you will be seeing Ray Evernham a lot next season on ESPN...and he will not be a team owner.

(You heard it here first...shhh)

JD

Richard in N.C. said...

Having seen most of Tony's pit road and press conference comments about the tires, I was impressed that he was very calm and deliberate in both cases. Maybe he could have been more politically correct, but that is not his style and he does have experience in several of the other series he mentioned, and not only as a driver. I think it is also significant what Jeff Gordon said after the race- all of which I expect will carry weight with NASCAR and in the garage despite public comments. I think it would have been significant if some TV or print media rep had mentioned whether or not any teams still have deals with Goodyear and how teams are chosen for tire tests, which essentially amount to extra, free tests. Are there reasons for some in the garage to soft-pedal criticism of Goodyear? From what I have read, and what I see advertised, 3 of the 4 most popular drivers have now levelled significant criticism of Goodyear.

Anonymous said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
darbar,

I have a sneaky feeling that you will be seeing Ray Evernham a lot next season on ESPN...and he will not be a team owner.

(You heard it here first...shhh)

JD

March 10, 2008 11:35 PM


JD, that's good info.

While Evernham leaving may be good news for GEM, that doesn't sound like good news for me, the ESPN viewer.

Do they do focus groups? Do they realize how many people simply don't like Ray Evernham? And it's not the same kind of dislike of Rusty Wallace - where people thought Rusty didn't do a good job in the booth and grew to dislike him. The kind of dislike that can be turned around with the right role as Rusty has now.

The dislike of Evernham carries over from the way he mixed his business and personal life and took no responsbility for doing so. Viewers aren't going to forget that because he's charming on camera (and as noted, acts like a diplomat rather than give real commentary).

Please, ESPN, do a focus group, or simply Google and type "Ray Evernham","Erin Crocker", then scan 2-3 pages of results to find out what people really think of your next superstar analyst.

You may be asking for more trouble than it's worth. The NASCAR sports audience IS 43 percent female, you know.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful thing to see Johnny Benson! He's a low-key guy, but there's something indefinable about him that enriches a program -- a sort of quiet insight and common sense.

But what is the POINT to having Evernham there? He's years removed from being an active crew chief. He's a failure as an owner and no longer actively running his team. And he threw away his professional credibility by plying his mistress with trucks and ARCA cars while that team went to hell in a handbasket.

An active crew chief or a credible owner would be a much better choice.

Tom said...

Another solid show. This program is clearly hands down superior to what SPEED is offering on Monday nights. Is it perfect? No. Can it use some fine tuning and tweaking? Yes. ESPN's blind-spot when it comes to on-track noise is particularly annoying. But I have noticed- this year in particular- that when issues arise and are talked about here, there tends to be some resolution or improvement almost immediately (just look how quickly NN brought us the other side of the Roush/Edwards story after we all talked about how one sided it originaly was). Lets just enjoy the fact that NN is now in good hands (on Mondays anyway) and continue to comment on what they get wrong- and what they get right. I am pleasantly surprised by much of what I have seen this year, which is huge because I literally stopped watching all ESPN racing coverage last year.

Tom
Inverness, FL

Speedcouch said...

Last night's show was really enjoyable! Not sure how many folks watched it since it was on at 4:00 because of basketball, but I'm fortunate to be home from work by then and had searched on Tivo last week and set it to switch to the channel at 4. I thought this was a great show! SO reminiscent of the old Inside Winston Cup! Especially since Allen had Johnny Benson on as part of the panel last night. Also, were regulars Ray Evernham and Mike Massaro.

Granted it wasn't the knee-slapping humor of the old IWCR, but Ray came up with two of the best lines of the night. One was about Stewart blasting Goodyear after the race. Ray said "he used a nuclear bomb to burn that bridge." :laugh: That was hilarious!

Then later when they were showing a clip of Elliott Sadler holding what looked like a press conference to comment on the 99 team's penalty. This is the first I'd seen of this clip and it had me asking Lou "what is he doing holding a press conference on another team's penalty anyway???" Right after that, Allen said something about all the caustic remarks from everyone on this issue (particularly the Toyota guy). Then he pointed out how some of Ray's people were involved in some of the remarks and Ray says "Yeah, I had old Ricky Bobby there talking." It took me a minute to remember that Elliott drove for him now. Pretty funny to hear him call his own driver that. :laugh:

Overall, an excellent "roundtable" with some good race highlights and discussion by guys knowledgeable about the sport.

Cheryl

Anonymous said...

I have a sneaky feeling that you will be seeing Ray Evernham a lot next season on ESPN...and he will not be a team owner.

Why? Why use a failed team owner who made things worse by getting involved with a female employee?

Are we supposed to learn what NOT to do? ("Don't do what Donnie Don't does")

Anonymous said...

Maybe he could have been more politically correct, but that is not his style

"Politcally correct" makes it sound bad. My momma used to call it being "polite."

But Tony isn't polite or respectful, ever.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "oil lid gate", Jeff Hammond on Fox said "Busted". Doesn't sound like covering for 99 team to me. Also, DW said, NASCAR knew there was a problem with the oil lid from a previous Nationwide race where 4 or 5 teams got caught. He said NASCAR should have mandated all bolts be secured (think I saw 3 or 4 holes) and the oil lid then taped down. NN is heads above TWIN. I also cannot believe I'm saying that either.

Anonymous said...

"You may be asking for more trouble than it's worth. The NASCAR sports audience IS 43 percent female, you know."

March 11, 2008 5:41 AM


I'm wondering if ESPN executives who are new to NASCAR completely 'get' that the NASCAR fanbase is heavily female, unlike the stick and ball sports they're used to broadcasting.

ESPN may want to be careful with Ray. I recall when Erin/Ray were in their season-long "we're not talking" mode after Mayfield confirmed their relationship. A number of fans emailed Betty Crocker/General Mills to say they would stop buying the specific General Mills products they usually bought because of the association with Ray/Erin. I've not heard much like that happening concerning a NASCAR sponsor before then or since then, which shows how strong a segment of the fanbase's feeling is towards those two.

To their credit, General Mills emailed those fans back (general attitide of response: they reviewed sponsorships often and would consider all comments as they reviewed Erin's sponsorship). There were some blogger stories about it and they published copies of sample emails/replies. At the end of the season, that sponsorship was not renewed. Ray and Erin last year said sponsorship was not renewed only because of performance and not their relationship, but some doubt that claim.

My point is, ESPN should know that they may receive emails of complaint about Ray if he takes a larger role - at races, for example - just like General Mills did. It'll be interesting to see if they are as responsive as that company was.

SophiaZ123 said...

speedcouch

I somehow MISSED Ray's comment about using a nuclear bomb to burn that bridge, about Tony. Thanks for repeating it here as I wondered what AB was commenting about.

*I aint getting a DVR. TW wants another $13.00 for one and usually VCR works fine...just too lazy to tape more shows than we do in this house*

I love this blog, if you miss something it's usually mentioned here.

I had heard the Elliott Sadler comment elsewhere and had "heard talk" of the 99 photo with the lid off but wondered, WHY is NOBODY SHOWING it on tv. That photo spoke volumes!!

:)

Oh, and yea, I think RE is going to have a rocky road with credibility. If this whole Erin deal was further behind him..maybe...it wasn't that it was personal business, it's how he REFUSED to deal with it and allegedly made threats to sue reporters who 'spoke of it'

Jeremy Mayfield did get treated horribly for the comments about his boss, but I heard that was because JM had some history of his 'own'. So, I don't know. there are some things I would rather not know, but once I do, how the folks under pressure handle things in public means a lot.

I would personally not like to see Ray on EVERY WEEK and enjoyed Rusty or Brad more.

Dick Morris had to wait a FEW years after HIS scandal to get a job on Fox news....I'm just saying.

Also, losing the BCrocker sponsorship was no coincidence imo.

:-)

IF AB hosting NN everyday, I would be sure to watch or tape EVERYDAY. It's improving but AB just adds that laid back but upbeat, unflappable touch.

Anonymous said...

The Monday edition keeps on getting better-Great ot see JB as a panelist (like the good ol' days...)Wonder if Schreder will appear on the show?

Anonymous said...

Sophia --- IMO you make a super good argument when you say if Ray's deal with Erin and the bad way he handled it was further behind him, there wouldn't be posts like this. IMO that's a big problem for him. He needs to go away for a couple of years, like he said he was going to do. Then come back to be a TV broadcaster, and everything will probably be fine. Before this year started, Ray said he's burnt out, he wants to get away from negative people, he wants to work on cars, he wants to spend time with his son, we won't see him at races, yada yada yada. It was contradictory things said (what a shocker!) but they all said he was going away from being in public.

But here he is! As if nothing was ever wrong at Evernham Motorsports or nothing with Erin Crocker ever happened. Somebody around here said before Ray is "failing up", right? I think that was what it's called. That's what it is and ESPN is helping him do it.

Not cool!

---Signed, Vanessa

Anonymous said...

Why doesn't ESPN get a current crew chief on the panel to replace Ray? I neither like or dislike him. Chad's on TWIN and it's great to get his point of view of the race.

SophiaZ123,
You have to spend the money to get a DVR. Give up going to the movies once a month or something. Once you DVR, you'll wonder how you lived without it.

SophiaZ123 said...

Anon 6.07

Thanks but I live thrifty how it is. Haven't been to a movie theatre in 15 years! What I do watch is from Library or TCM. Rarely go out to dinner. We HATED having to get digital and up two tiers to get SPEED. also for those with TW, I read in the paper they are doing an UPGRADE on DVR's which could erase peoples shows. Those with Time Warner may want to check your local TW affiliates and ask about this! Gonna cause some problems, I hear.

We really just need to tape more so I just don't ask so many questions. Like this one. HA.

I was multi tasking during ESPN Tuesday. What was the 'good answer' Kyle B gave about the tires to Ryan? :-) Had a brief phone call.

If NN were on the same time everyday would tape it. :-)
Would tape anyway for sure if AB was on daily.

Speedcouch said...

Sophia wrote:

If NN were on the same time everyday would tape it.


That's the beauty of a Tivo or dvr, it finds the show for you regardless of where the networks put it on the schedule.

Really, Sophia, you ought to investigate DirecTV, they don't nickel and dime you for digital or everything like cable does. And you can easily get a free dvr from them now.

As to the "haters" of Ray because of Erin, I'm a woman and I don't have a problem with it. People are human; cut them some slack.

becki4jb said...

I am such a HUGE Johnny Benson fan! And I am such a HUGE Allen Bestwick fan. How GREAT was it to see the two of them together again! WOW! What I would love to see, is for ESPN2 to rival SPEED on Mondays! Yesiree! I would LOVE to see Nascar Now WHOOP Inside Sprint/Nextel/Winston (WHATEVERS!!!) Cup-woop 'em woop 'em woop 'em! I want to see an entertaining, controversal round table every Monday with the same players. Johnny and Allen have to be involved for me to be involved! I will promise to watch and tell everryone I know to watch every Monday IF ESPN does this! Let's Kick Some SPEED Rumps!!! (hahahaha - too much?)

Anonymous said...

I thought it was refreshing to see JB and AB back in the saddle again. Hope they stay this time.