Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday''s "NASCAR Now" Surprises Once Again

NASCAR fans watched Allen Bestwick work hard all day on Saturday as the NASCAR on ESPN team took to both ABC and ESPN Classic in order to finally get the Nationwide Series race completed. Bristol, TN had once again offered nothing but bad weather for this early season race in the mountains.

Alongside of Bestwick in the Infield Pit Center was Rusty Wallace. Now firmly in his element, Wallace spent hours talking about all kinds of topics with all kinds of guests. Both Wallace and Brad Daugherty were outstanding during this "rain fill."

As the Sunday morning NASCAR Now took to the air on ESPN2, viewers once again heard the familiar tones of Bestwick. Once the camera revealed the Bristol, CT studios of ESPN2, they also saw the smiling Rusty Wallace.

This season, ESPN has made a commitment to NASCAR that is astounding. Switching gears and changing direction, the network on this Sunday added a new twist. The A-team from the NASCAR crew was now going to be featured on the Sunday morning NASCAR Now.

Mike Massaro was up next from the track in Bristol. ESPN's most experienced NASCAR reporter set-up the day, the weather and the on-going Hendrick saga. Massaro was clear and concise in this NASCAR reporter role that he helped to define.

Viewers knew that ESPN's Dale Jarrett would be driving in his final race on Sunday. Bestwick led into an outstanding profile of DJ that was voiced by Jarrett's longtime friend Jerry Punch. This feature was important, because it was the transitional moment for both Jarrett and ESPN. While NASCAR loses an active driver, ESPN may have changed their NASCAR fortunes for the future with this one key addition to the TV team.

Lead Reporter Marty Smith has been smiling this season. After dealing with less-than-stellar hosts in the studio last year, Smith has been featured this season and has been surrounded by the best TV talent available in the business. As he continues to expand his opportunities, fans have seen Smith create full-length feature interviews and move from strictly a "reporter" into more of a multi-faceted TV personality role.

Smith interviewed Jarrett as the "tag" to the Punch feature. DJ was frank in explaining his struggles both professionally and personally as he worked to pursue a NASCAR career. Smith asked the right questions, and drew from Jarrett some "bigger picture" answers that gave viewers an insight behind the public persona of Jarrett.

Wallace added his thoughts on Jarrett and had a great perspective as someone who has been through the same process. His honest thoughts on Jarrett, and his personal memories of retirement worked well to end this theme in exactly the right way.

The Nationwide Series race wrap-up put things in the right perspective, and Bestwick and Wallace added the missing elements. Most important was that Kasey Kahne did not push Clint Bowyer for the win. The best part of the discussion was that both Bestwick and Wallace were there for the action, and speaking from first-hand knowledge.

A surprising feature on the COT voiced by Marty Reid was outstanding. The soundbites from the drivers and the viewpoints about this new car were very interesting. A year later, the COT struggles continue and Marty Smith caught-up with Kyle Busch for some additional comments about the level of competition that this car offers. It continues to be nice to see a grown-up and well-spoken Busch still being outspoken about NASCAR topics.

Bestwick is starting to get a little bit tired, and it showed toward the end of the program. Daly Planet readers often ask in their email about just how long Bestwick can keep this pace going. The season lasts until November, and the ESPN portion of the NASCAR TV package is the largest by far of the four NASCAR TV partners.

Marty Smith finished his time on-the-air with a couple of more interviews. Once again, the ambient noise problem reared its ugly head. The background noise sometimes overwhelms the primary audio, and this time even Bestwick was forced to apologize. Since this was a taped interview, it might have been a good move to just tape it over again. This problem has dogged NASCAR Now in 2008.

Chrissy Wallace is going to be story in a while. An "all access" interview with this young lady proved to be very interesting. It is clear that family plays a big role in the Wallace family, and the mix of racer vs. daughter was interesting. She has the Wallace toughness in a very different kind of personality package.

Having "uncle Rusty" follow-up on this story again confirmed the fact that Rusty Wallace has found himself in the right role at ESPN. Wallace even mentioned that his son Steven had been struggling simply because of crashing, and made sure that Chrissy should know that was the one thing to avoid at all costs. That sure sounded like the guy who was writing the checks.

Closing out the show was a prediction from Wallace that Carl Edwards was the favorite in Bristol. Bestwick predicted a lot of cautions, and said goodbye. The content of this show was again outstanding, and if ESPN can fix their studio and remote audio problems, NASCAR Now will become a franchise program for ESPN2.

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


Newracefan said...

This show had some great content, loved the DJ piece and Chrissy is growing on me. AB at least can laugh at himself when he got confused. Hope he has a nice place to stay in Bristol, CN so he can rest up til tomorrow. I'll cut them some slack with the ambient noise during the interview since it was happing during the interview. Although if someone watched/listened to it with a closer eye they might not have used it, isn't there a way to tweek out that backround noise). I have a bigger problem with video clips sound (car, engine, crash, whatever) being so loud that the discussion that is being said about them is lost and this happens alot. (Nascar Now, TWIN,etc) That is totally preventable and very annoying.

Ken-Michigan said...

The audio issue with Marty Smith at Darlington and the audio issue with the Franchitti interview during NN at Bristol leads me to think its a microphone input / output problem.

See if this makes sense.

At Darlington for the Marty Smith stand-up, they had BOTH mics turned on, meaning the stick mic AND the camera mic. The camera mic is what gave us all that ambient noise of the cars going by, IT should have been turned off and ONLY the stick mic used.

At Bristol, it seems to me that the stick mic WAS NOT even plugged in or the output level was VERY VERY LOW. Therfore, that Franchitti interview only relied the CAM mic, hence, lots of garage noise and low levels to hear the words being spoken.

Falls into the hands of the photog or the audio tech, if there is/was one, to set everything up properly.

Anonymous said...

Hello JD.

Not into the tech stuff. But am enjoying the improved coverage.

what a difference a year makes.

Kingston, NY

Anonymous said...

Where is Nicole Manske? Is she off this week? (marty Reid said he was filling in for Nicole on Friday NN.) Unless this is a vacation week, she may need to pick up some more responsibility for Nascar Now and either do more hosting or more features. Allen can't do it all. I thought either she or Ryan Burr were supposed to do Sunday shows.

daly planet editor said...
"Chrissy Wallace is going to be story in a while. An "all access" interview with this young lady proved to be very interesting. It is clear that family plays a big role in the Wallace family, and the mix of racer vs. daughter was interesting. She has the Wallace toughness in a very different kind of personality package."

The whole Chrissy Wallace thing is starting to intrigue me. had a story about her on the 11th, and I assume Nascar Now picked it up from there, with Ryan interviewing her at testing midweek and then showing the story on her today.

What's interesting is they all said she's racing at Martinsville on the 29th, and Allen and Rusty talked about that this morning.

But the AP story yesterday says:
"Mike Wallace plans to spot for Chrissy should she be entered in the March 29 Truck Series race. Germain Racing doesn't have the deal completed and still needs a motor for her truck."

So why are they promoting her racing at Martinsville as a done deal? Only thing I can think of is Germain and the Wallaces are hoping these segments will create some interest (I don't think she has a sponsor either, thus no motor money) or they can show these NN segments to sponsors to show that she can get publicity.

Disappointing because the way the stories and discussion on NN (and have been worded, it's sounded like she is definitely racing on the 29th.

Newracefan said...

Ken makes sense to me, I was wondering why Marty didn't seem that loud compared to the pots and pans in the backround. JD are there 2 mics?

Tripp said...

As a shooter, I suspect the ESPN crews are using a unidirectional shotgun mic on camera and an more omnidirectional handheld for the reporters. Given the high level of ambient noise at the track when the cars are running on track, they probably only use audio from the handheld.

It's clear that during the interview with Dario the handheld wasn't working so all the audio came from the shotgun. The sound guy on the crew should have caught this.

These things happen and sometimes the crew doesn't know they have a problem until they review the recording later. By then it's often too late to go back and re-do the interview. If you do get a re-do, you won't get the same energy and quality of response that you did with the first take.

If you end up with dodgy audio, there's little that can be done to rescue it. You can try some equalization to crush the lower ranges and bring up the vocal frequencies, but that can often raise background noise too. It's hard to fix the audio in post.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Like I said earlier, you would think the audio guy with the headset on would ask them to do it over again with that bad mix.

The fact that NASCAR Now continues to use handheld mics when the cars are on the track right behind the talent is amazing.


Anonymous said...

"I thought either she or Ryan Burr were supposed to do Sunday shows."

They are: it's supposed to be one or the other. Never heard Allen mentioned as a Sunday host. Nicole hasn't been on any NN since last Sunday, so I'm going to assume she's taking the week off or is sick. If she isn't on the program this coming week, then I'll start to get a little suspicious.

Daly Planet Editor said...


I am told is it just vacation and nothing more. Since Fox does the Sunday race and ESPN does not have a Sunday night NASCAR Now show, AB just flew up to CT and did the morning show.

Both Nicole and Ryan will return to the rotation shortly. It was nice to see Marty, and it was fun to see him poke fun at everybody during this time there.

I am still getting email about the Boris Said comments, but you have to take opinion as opinion and just let it go.


Anonymous said...

It kills me to admit this - Rusty has been really good - JD is right he has found his spot.

NN was really good this morning, it had "flow" ( not sure if thats a real term or not) it was easy to watch & not want to flip the channel.
AB has got to get some rest! He is working himself to hard.

Great job! Solid A grade

Anonymous said...

Any idea yet if Nashville is a week off for Bestwick with some sort of ESPN skeleton crew . . . maybe another Marty appearance in the announce position?

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 2:11PM,

I will get that info on Monday and put it in my advance piece on the week to come.


Wisconsin Steve said...

No Christopher Harris Fantasy Picks and no Eliminator segment. As a result, this episode was a big improvement over the previous Sunday shows.