Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Bestwick's "Lost Episode" Is Worth The Wait
The Martinsville review version of NASCAR Now had to settle for 1AM and 8AM Tuesday Eastern Time airings after losing the original 6PM Monday timeslot to live Major League Baseball.
For viewers who taped the show, or caught it as it aired, this program again delivered from top-to-bottom. Host Allen Bestwick welcomed Mike Wallace, Johnny Benson and reporter Mike Massaro as his "roundtable" panel.
The show immediately focused on Denny Hamlin, and recapped his day on the track. Bestwick led a discussion that broadened into recap of the entire race, and then reviewed the results.
The best way to cap a race review is talk to the winner, and the program welcomed Denny Hamlin by satellite from his home in North Carolina. Hamlin settled into a friendly and honest conversation with someone that he knew personally, and that is what has been making the difference this season. Bestwick is known to the NASCAR personalities and it shows in his conversations on-the-air.
After a sampling of soundbites from various Cup drivers, the panel did what they do best. That is offer their opinions and comments on the stories of the weekend. From Hendrick Motorsports to the single lane Martinsville track, it continues to be refreshing to hear NASCAR veterans talk racing.
A good example of the unexpected was the discussion of rookie Michael McDowell. After Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton "tag-teamed" McDowell in comments after the race, Bestwick led a discussion of the issues involved. Benson, Wallace and even Massaro offered specific opinions on this issue that were nicely diverse.
The understated Benson once again showed fans his experience when he spoke about the issues of bumping-and-banging at Martinsville. Without ever mentioning his own experience in the Craftsman Truck Series race, Benson spoke to the issue and kept his comments focused on the Cup Series. For veteran fans, this was a sutle reminder of what is missing on the current This Week In NASCAR offering on SPEED.
This Monday program continues to offer great music-video style edited features that present footage and behind-the-scenes audio that was not heard on the live telecast. Both the ESPN in-house staff and the NASCAR Media Group contribute content to this program and the results are outstanding.
Most viewers were waiting for Bestwick to lead the panel into the discussion of the Truck race at Martinsville. After the highlights, the focus was on Benson and his incident with Kyle Busch. The reality of racing and the issues associated with a driver's actions on the track were quickly put into perspective by Benson.
In his normally well-spoken manner, Benson explained that the incident was detrimental to both drivers and was not going to help Busch to win the race as the battle was for second place on the last lap. Benson also cleared up what TV viewers did not see, which was the fight on pit road after the event.
While the video rolled, Benson explained that an obscene gesture from Busch to Benson's pit crew set the incident in motion after the race. As the full-time Truck racer Benson added that Busch's actions cost him twenty-thousand dollars in prize money and several spots in the points, the reality of "Truck-whackers" like Busch was brought into focus.
In closing, the show paid a nice tribute to MRO's Max Helton who recently passed away, and wrapped-up the program by teasing Massaro about his "rain curse." This Monday NASCAR Now show has worked hard to cover all the bases of both a review and preview program, and the rotation of panelists has been one of the most interesting aspects so far this season.
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