Monday, April 28, 2008

Champion Roundtable On "NASCAR Now" Delivers


As the new success of NASCAR Now's one hour Monday "roundtable" builds, ESPN2 continues to shuffle the panelists each week.

The original format included one former NASCAR driver, one former NASCAR crew chief and one NASCAR journalist. This line-up gave three good perspectives from which host Allen Bestwick could draw.

On this Monday after Talladega, the journalist slot was empty as the network went with an "all NASCAR champion" panel. Joining Bestwick was former driver Dale Jarrett who is now ESPN's lead NASCAR analyst. Jarrett makes any program on which he appears much better, and this edition of NASCAR Now was no exception.

The interesting part of the program was the decision to invite two men who were both former champion crew chiefs and NASCAR team owners. It was ESPN race analyst Andy Petree and brand new ESPN contributor Ray Evernham who made-up the rest of the panel.

This dynamic was interesting to see on-the-air. Bestwick was clearly a little more intense than usual, and the laughter was kept to a minimum because of the subject matter. Talladega had been a dangerous and controversial race weekend in many ways, and it was up to Bestwick to draw honest opinions from the panelists.

One key reason for Jarrett's success on television is his ability to listen. He reinforced that his future in TV will be a long one when he took the role of "senior member" on the panel and usually waited to be the last to comment on the subject at hand.

Bestwick's nervous laughter could not hide the fact that he was dealing with a loaded deck. Any panelist had the ability to answer any question and do it with authority. It was Bestwick's new challenge to divide the time available on each topic equally among the all-star panel.

Discussions about the Roush Fenway tire problems and the emergence of two-car drafting were excellent. Evernham tended to be the technical crew chief in these conversations, and represented himself as much more of a crew chief than an owner.

His owner views came out quickly, however, when the topic of the impound procedures at Talladega was put on the table. Jarrett and Evernham wanted the Talladega process changed, while Petree thought the impound rules were the way to go. One positive element to the entire show was the ability of any panel member to step aside when they were not the best choice to answer a question. It was clear this group had spent some time together earlier in the day and were up-to-speed on the agenda.

There was lots of political correctness in the air when the subject of Kevin Lepage's actions at Talladega was raised. Jarrett took the approach that all drivers make errors sooner or later. Evernham and Petree were polite but firm in their opinions that this entire incident could have been easily avoided. Topics like this really show the need for a journalist who can stir-the-pot a bit and present an "outsider" perspective.

On the Tony Stewart contract situation, Evernham was the authority. He reminded Bestwick that unlike the NFL or the NBA, there are no rules for contact with athletes on other teams. Petree and Jarrett backed-up the point that casual contact with an NASCAR athlete was still easy to get, and most athletes still do not have agents. Even after all these years, things still happen in the motorhome lot.

The look and feel of this show was classy. The production did not get in the way of the content, and the features used were outstanding. ESPN has assembled a Monday powerhouse and is continuing to pour resources and manpower into this direction.

It was nice of Bestwick to salute Ashley Force on her first NHRA Funny Car win, and close the program with a tease of the special one hour Tuesday show that will originate from DEI in Mooresville, NC. Having the three panelists add their personal memories of Dale Sr. was a fitting way to end a very enjoyable NASCAR TV program.

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Its always ridiculous to hear Evernham talk about contracts. He got upset that anyone would talk to Kahne early, yet he encouraged Sadler to bail on Yates while still under contract. And the biggest of all, he fired Mayfield and then didn't pay his contract because he was annoyed that Mayfield spilled the beans on his extra marital affair with Crocker.

Yet another example of the baggage that Evernham brings with him to this show.

Ritchie said...

Mr. Daly, I agree 100% with your comments about the show. Mr. Bestwick set a pace and tone that was perfect for today's topics.

Even though more could have been said about the Lepage incident, I think everyone feels that it does no good to drag Lepage's name through the mud. I would, however, have liked to see them talk about NASCAR's inability to show consistency with a the merge onto the track rule.

Anonymous said...

Pretty good show. Unlike others, I don't think this show has anything in common with the old Inside Winston/Nextel Cup except for Allen being the host. It is an informative and somewhat pleasant show but it is not a comforting or relaxing show for the viewer. This week or any week.

Andy Petree is the outstanding person on the roundtable to me. He's not hesistant to jump in anywhere, which I think is good.

Still didn't get a decent explanation of what happened at last lap of the race, which is frustrating because now I have to DVR This Week in NASCAR to see if they can tell me. I find it puzzling that we didn't get any added insight considering the #9, one of Ray's cars, got torn up in that last lap and today I read Kasey's very...uh...colorful comments heard on the scanner right after that wreck happened. I know Ray has to have talked to someone on the #9 or Kasey to find out what they thought happened so he should have contributed it on the show.

I thought Ray Evernham was quieter than he should have been in some parts where I would have expected him to speak up and speak up in more detail (impound and especially Stewart/onwership). I don't think he took the lead in that conversation and he should have.

Ray seems much more comfortable talking about the mechanics of the cars (which he does very well) than the ownership topics. I find that a little confusing and am unsure if he can't speak to the ownership issues (reading the earlier Monday showdown topic and hearing previous interviews, somehow I doubt that's the case) - or he doesn't want to. I'm also unsure if Allen should let him get away with it, but they spend so little time on each topic at the end I guess it wasn't that noticeable.

The number of commercial breaks on this show is astounding and distracting, even on DVR. After the first 20 minutes go by with one break in there, it then becomes topic/break, topic/break, topic/break for the next 40 minutes. Very jarring rhythm and I pity anyone who watches it live. To be fair, this is also an issue with SPEED shows.

Newracefan said...

I would liked to have heard a little more from DJ but after reading JD's thought's it kind of put it more in perspective for me. I like hearing Ray's perspective as a crew chief I actually have more respect for him as that than a car owner. The fact that he and Erin are apparently still together helps me with he personal life issues. Please do not misunderstand I am not condoning the behavior in any respects.

SophiaZ123 said...

I missed the first 5 minutes so if I missed it, forgive me.

I was GREATLY disappointed there was no mention of Dario's wreck. It's very odd to be hit at full speed at a driver 8 seconds behind you. Spencer ranted about this and even Mike Joy said that was an unexcusable wreck (or some strong word)

I thought that wreck should've been addressed and if I missed it, I am sorry. I was on the phone but did not see the car on tv when I had it muted.

Other than that I liked the show but missed the laughs but know it was serious today.

somebody mentioned elsewhere here, that it would be kinda nice to see the same group on this show each week to develop a fun chemistry.

but I would not include Ray.

Still a far, far better show than anything on other stations tonight.

AB always delivers and I enjoyed all the different topics.

Newracefan said...

Sophia Dario's wreck was covered on the Sunday's show although I can not remember in how much detail

PammH said...

newracefan-well that's fine, but not all of us want to sit thru a TON of stick & ball crap to see 4 mins of Nascar, so I would guess most of us didn't see it. It should have been addressed tonite, imo.

SophiaZ123 said...

Pammh, I don't feel like the lone ranger now.

Thanks Nrfan,

but I also thought it should be addressed on the mon hour show. I also can't sit thru all that stick and ball crap for a few snippets on NASCAR on ESPN..then they cut away in mid sentence. RUDE.

It's RARE today, THANK GOODNESS with all safety advances, for somebody to break a leg in NASCAR. The lack of response on the approaching driver (Gunselman?) who T boned a car at full throttle, should've been brought up. Not PC I guess but I thought it should've been addressed.

Anonymous said...

"I was GREATLY disappointed there was no mention of Dario's wreck. It's very odd to be hit at full speed at a driver 8 seconds behind you. Spencer ranted about this and even Mike Joy said that was an unexcusable wreck (or some strong word)"

Sophiaz123: I also wrote something similar to your opinion in my initial message above but deleted it because I felt my comment was way too long. I really thought it was a glaring mistake that the panel didn't mention Dario's ankle, show the highlight, or question Gunselman's actions, it should have been discussed with the NW race and LePage. They only mentioned Dario later, in the context that David Stremme drove for him, when they mentioned the drivers outside the top 35. I didn't like it either and questioned why they would make that choice. If it had been a more prominent or longtime Sprint Cup regular in that wreck, I have to think it would have been handled differently tonight. - Anonymous 7:59

SophiaZ123 said...

Anon 7.59

A friend of mine emailed and wondered if it was because of the T boning being a new OW driver that was injured. At first I flinched at the question but you are correct.

If the bad hit on drivers door +broken ankle had been Jr.. Jimmie, J Gordon, or Stewart, it would've had it's own segment.

Thanks for validating my feelings on this glaring omission. The more I think about it the more shocked I am that AB didn't bring it up. Or was he told not to because rookie Franchitti isn't worthy of the attention??

Richard in N.C. said...

I have not had a chance to watch the show yet, but I can imagine that DJ and Andy were reluctant to come down too hard on LePage since he admitted after viewing the tape that he was clearly at fault and apologized.

Newracefan said...

I was talking about NN show Sunday morning, they had a 1 hour show at 10am. That's where they talked about Dario.

Anonymous said...

Good show once again but did anyone notice how they show the same piece of footage over and over again. This seems to be a habitual flaw at ESPN.

Anonymous said...
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SophiaZ123 said...

anon

Did not check the espn link (I get lost on that busy site) but I heard Joe Gibbs mention his grandson months ago...could've been on RACE DAY or someplace but it was a sweet story about his grandson being an inspiration.


NRFan

Thanks for the explanation on the Dario story and where you saw it.
HOpe the little guy has a full recovery.

SophiaZ123 said...

p.s. I meant the young Gibbs boy has a full recovery..but it got put in the wrong spot on last post...

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:05PM,

I don't know if this is your first time here, but your comment did not relate to the subject that we are discussing in the NASCAR Now column.

Secondly, please drop me a line before posting a link on my site. Use the email link on the main page.

Finally, ESPN is doing quite well without my help and both Jayski and ESPN.com provide NASCAR videos every day.

I understand your intentions, but please also understand I have worked very hard to avoid videos and links to videos on this site for a reason.

Once we open the door to that, it will never end. If you would like to point a reader to ESPN.com for a specific item, please do so in text form.

Thanks,

JD

Ken-Michigan said...

VERY GOOD Monday ESPN NASCAR NOW show.

The best panel that ESPN has assembled in the studio. Sure makes a difference when you get all that championship caliber professionalism.

I don't know it for a fact, but I really have a feeling that Bestwick has ALOT to say in the ESPN production meetings concerning the Monday show. We haven't heard about Bestwick's "producing" expertise, but just the way the show flows leads me to believe that he has a heavy hand in most, if not all of the Monday content. I'll almost guarentee that nobody has to "feed" questions to Allen ( unlike Burr & Manske).
AND THATS A GOOD THING !!! He's a real pro !! Way to go Allen !!

The "memory" segment about Earnhardt,Sr was a small but priceless segment, given the professional and personal relationships with all 4 of them on the show, their stories would be great to hear.

I still think that its just plain weird though to have guys in suits & ties sitting in a "garage" setting. I shake my head every week & wonder when or if it will change.

Matt said...

Just finished watching the show, and loved it again.

AB, Jarrett, and Andy are great together.. maybe some foreshadowing..? Haha I wish.

J said...
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Anonymous said...

Personally,I enjoyed the show. All four gave you honest,informed perspectives on recent Nascar developments. There was none of the blowhard,hee haw antics of some other Nascar tv shows.

Speedcouch said...

Anonymous said...
Good show once again but did anyone notice how they show the same piece of footage over and over again. This seems to be a habitual flaw at ESPN.

Amen, brother! This repetitiveness of video on ESPN really drives me crazy! I must've counted 3 times in one minute they showed the video of the Busch/McMurray near miss!

SophiaZ123 said...

Ken Mich said

"I still think that its just plain weird though to have guys in suits & ties sitting in a "garage" setting. I shake my head every week & wonder when or if it will change."

Yep. Putting grown men in high chairs adds to the oddness imo.

The only thing missing is bibs around their necks and some cereal for them to be eating!!

If they would put them in a more formal studio and FEET ON FLOOR chairs, it would help.

I just like the boys to look comfortable. When INC went to the tall stools it was painful viewing, too.

If ESPN could at least tweak the chairs and get rid of the garage setting...that would help. Or a screen behind them to buffer the garage setting while they wear suits that look more suitable to fine dining!

I love men in suits but the ambience does not make sense.

Still the BEST thing on Monday night. Heck, ALL week if you ask me.

Now if we can just get ESPN based in Charlotte, AB could have JB and Schrader on some night with Andy and that might be fun.

Sorry to digress, JD.