Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Evernham And Wallace Team-Up In Mexico

After a good start on-the-air and an even better fan reaction to his work, ESPN viewers have been asking one question. Where in the world did Ray Evernham go?

Noticeably absent from some of the high-profile NASCAR Now and ESPNEWS programming, Evernham will be returning to the network in yet another role this weekend. He will be teaming-up with Rusty Wallace and Dr. Jerry Punch to form the announce team for the Nationwide Series race from Mexico City.

This is the first time for Evernham in the ESPN announce booth, and his crew chief experience should mesh well with the excitement and driver perspective that Wallace brings to the party. Since both men are also owners, addressing those issues might take a little bit of work to sort-out.

Added to this group will be the pit reporting of Dave Burns, Vince Welch and Mike Massaro. Jamie Little and Shannon Spake will not be making the trip to Mexico.

ESPN2 will have coverage of the final practice and qualifying, with ESPN handling the race itself. Practice comes along on Friday, April 18th at 4PM Eastern Time. With no other NASCAR action, qualifying will be on Saturday at 11:30AM and the race will be on Sunday at 1:30PM.

Seeing Evernham in the booth leads to speculation about Andy Petree's desire to continue behind the microphone. Both men provide the crew chief perspective, and Petree has spent the vast majority of his life actively involved in the business of racing. While this has been an outstanding season for him on-the-air, he may eventually choose to return to racing.

Viewers may remember that Evernham already has a very good relationship with ESPN, including his Race Wizard series that put him on the network regularly last season. While ESPN indicated originally that Evernham's participation in the NASCAR TV package would be outside the actual events, this coming weekend in Mexico City may go a long way to changing that for the future.

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Anonymous said...
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Kyle said...

Sad news.
I cant stand either Rusty or Ray.
How many times will Rusty say Aero Loose at a road race. Wont it be so cool to see the draft tracker there!!!

Wonder if they are doing the multi cast like last year with ESPN 2 on in Spanish and ESPN on in English. With alternating commercial breaks so you never missed any of the on track action.

I speak Spanish so Ill just watch the ESPN2 version. Or mute button if not.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to hear Ray in the announce booth. I would imagine he will add a lot.

Too bad Shannon Spake isn't there. She is really good in the pits.

Ken-Michigan said...

Yet another team of DIFFERENT announcers in the booth for ESPN.

What the heck are they doing ?

Punch is there - then he isnt - then its Marty "lockstep" Reid - Dale Jarrett was there - then he isnt - now Petree isnt on and Evernham IS - Rusty WAS in the pit studio - NOW he's in the booth ??

What rocket scientist thought up this announce booth schedule for 2008 ??

The announce team will NEVER get any kind of rhythm with each other as long as ESPN continues this terrible scheduling, and the telecast's will continue to suffer.

ESPN executives should be ashamed that they seem to treat the Nationwide Series as its some form of Star Search or American Idol allowing all these different faces and voices.

Once again, it's a simple case of ESPN being happy with mediocrity.

Anonymous said...

I'll skip the Mexico City race without a single regret. I would normally record this race out of habit anyway since I like road races, but since ESPN has completely ignored that many viewers aren't the least bit interested in hearing from Ray Evernham, I'll ignore their race broadcast like they ignored that feedback.

Ray is avoidable on pre-race shows and NASCAR Now. He's not avoidable on a race. If they continue to put him on Nationwide races, I'll show my displeasure the only way I know how. By not watching.

However, if they do broadcast it in Spanish on one of the ESPN channels, I will record that version instead. The announcers on there last year were extremely enjoyable and enthusiastic and even with my very basic Spanish, I could understand the meaning behind what they were saying even if I didn't catch every word.

FYI for anyone who does plan to watch with the mute button, MRN Radio is broadcasting this race.

Anonymous said...

"After a good start on-the-air and an even better fan reaction to his work"

JD, have you actually read the comments at TDP on Evernham since he signed up with ESPN or appeared on NASCAR NOW? Go back through those topics since that announcement that Evernham was hired. I'd bet at least half the comments are negative, if not more. You've even mentioned the negative reaction in your NN columns, that some fans have issues with him.

SophiaZ123 said...


Not a fan of road races but this this trio in the booth, I will also skip this race, most likely.

Wow. Step backwards for ESPN. I wonder if it's because it's Mexico, such a distance and water risks and all of that. Many folks are more sensitive to that kind of thing.

I dunno....If the weather is rainy may tune in...if nice and sunny will be outside.

Matt said...

Ken, the reason we are seeing different announcers lately is because there is no possible way for the same group of 7 announcers do ALL 35 Nationwide races and ALL 18 Cup races. They would be on the road more for than 40 weeks. That is too much to ask of anyone.

As for Ray, he was in the ABC booth back in 2000 and I thought he was pretty good. I also think that Ray's appearence has nothing to do with Andy (other than a well-deserved week off) and more to do with Ray. Maybe he's the one thinking of leaving his racing career to go to TV?

Todd Crane said...

Lord, PLEASE don't let Andy leave ESPN, He's the only reason I tune in!!!!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:08PM,

The reason the word "work" is in that sentence is to reflect his on-air content.

The vast majority of the comments on TDP and other sites relate directly to his off-track choices.

I completely understand the continuing issue that many fans have with his personal choices in life, and he certainly will have to deal with that issue during his TV career.

One interesting thing to remember is that when ESPN first announced Evernham as a member of the on-air team, he was designated as a person who would appear on non-racing programs like NASCAR Now and also ESPNEWS and SportsCenter.

ESPN actually emailed me several times to make sure I did not associate him with the race broadcasts.

Now, we suddenly find him announcing a stand-alone Nationwide Series race out-of-the blue.

It should be interesting to see how he does, and perhaps more interesting to see if he does it again.


Anonymous said...

Daly Planet editor said...
"ESPN actually emailed me several times to make sure I did not associate him with the race broadcasts. "
Now that is very interesting, seeing that ESPN's original press release, which was on espn.com, NASCAR.com, and part of which was mentioned here (http://dalyplanet.blogspot.com/2008/02/espn-daytona-press-conference-reveals.html), DID have him calling the Mexico City race and the Loudon NH race. I wonder why that would say he wasn't calling races when ESPN announced when he was hired that he was doing exactly that.

February 13, 2008; (this is from espn.com, but the text is the same everywhere)
Evernham will make his debut this week during coverage leading up to the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He will be part of a rotating panel of ESPN analysts appearing in a weekly roundtable discussion on Mondays on NASCAR Now, and appear on NASCAR Countdown.

In addition, he will appear on regular airings of NASCAR Now, and work as a booth analyst for ESPN's coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series races from Mexico City and Loudon, N.H.

Anonymous said...

I remember those races Ray did for ABC a few years back and he was not bad. It seems that NASCAR fans are not as forgiving (and count me as one of them) as fans in other sports and I'm thinking of Marv Albert here. I can't deny that his personal life is an unpleasant distraction and changes the way I think about his professional work. This is a shame because he has a made for TV personality (however I don't think he's quite the genius he was made out to be at Hendrick). I'll still watch out of curiosity.

Anonymous said...

What an abomination and a slap in the face to fans. I will not watch a race that is called by Evernham.

When the original ESPN announcement was made I found it interesting that the two races listed were Loudon and Mexico. When Ms. Crocker was racing she called Loudon her "home" race because it was closest to her family, and we all know about Ray getting her a ride with a Baja team, so to me he wanted these races to take Ms Crocker these places. Ray should spend his own money on vacations and spare the race fans his visage.

Last year ESPN Deportes carried the race, but I don't think that is the case this year. Too Bad.

Dwight said...

I will not be worrying about Ray Evernham's personal or romantic life when I watch him on ESPN, because it is not of my or any other viewer's business. I will be paying attention to what he is saying about the race and racing. In that area he is very knowledgeable, and articulate. I am less eager to listen to Rusty, because so far, being in the booth has not been his strongest role.

For me, the Mexico race is one of the highlights of the season. It's a great track, and we get to see some different drivers. I'm disappointed Montoya is not racing. (Off the topic, ESPN sure is silly trying to highlight Pruett and Montoya as potentially still at odds, without mentioning they raced and won as teammates at Daytona this spring.)

As for the weather, it would be rain in Mexico which would heighten my hopes for the race, not rain at home which would determine whether I would watch.

Anonymous said...

speculation on this topic is nothing more then that..Petree is on a planned vacation...Ray was announced to be in Mexico from day one....Spake is on her honeymoon...Little is in Long Beach for Champ Car final and driving in celeb race....long season with planned vacations and rotations as ESPN will confirm if asked

Anonymous said...

Its foolish to say that no viewer has a right to decide to not watch a person on TV because they object to them as a person.

Another poster mentioned Marv Albert, well I no longer watch Woody Allen movies and haven't for years due to his choices in his life. I also don't watch anything with Evernham.

I think that organizations that sell advertising (like ESPN) would benefit from knowing that they lose viewers because they hire and promote certain people.

Anonymous said...

I'm almost embarrassed to say that I'm excited to watch the race from Mexico. We're from the Glen area, so we love road racing. Add in the variables of local favorites versus the Cup and Nationwide regulars mixed in, I can't wait to watch this race. And like a large percentage
of the audience, I really don't pay attention to who is calling the race.
This was a very exciting event last year to watch, and should be again this year.
And yeah, it's icky what Ray did.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Marv Albert/Evernham comparison, that's a good comparison IMO. One big difference -and the path that Evernham should follow - is Albert left the airwaves for a couple of years after his scandal, then came back when viewers were more receptive. Not only has Evernham never left the airwaves, he (unlike Albert) never acknowledged or apologized for personal scandal, which really sticks in my craw as he tries to be a public on-air personality. (When he did finally talk about Crocker after a year-long silence - as he tried to ship her off to another team - he blamed the media for many of his woes.)

In many ways I think Evernham's scandal was worse than Albert's since it involved his direct employee -who was publicized as NASCAR's great female hope - and obviously had an effect on his race team overall, which includes hundreds of employees.

So yes, it is my business as a viewer and NASCAR fan, and as poster @11:19 says, I have the choice not to watch. Which I'll exercise this Sunday!

Anonymous said...

Andy Petree said he got the racing bug out of his system when he tested a truck at Martinsville. Originally he was going to race at the track, but he said testing got the desire to race out of his system. So I doubt Andy's going anywhere.

Kevin in SoCal said...

I'll be watching because I like the road course races with stock cars. There is a little more passing going on than in F1 or IRL. Also its great to watch the guys used to going in ovals try to turn both directions. The highlight reel gets filled with races like this. I dont care who's in the booth.

Anonymous said...

The reason the word "work" is in that sentence is to reflect his on-air content.

The vast majority of the comments on TDP and other sites relate directly to his off-track choices.

But his off-track choices and Evernham's presence on TV appear to be related if you look at those comments. When you have comments like, - I put it on mute when Evernham was on NASCAR Now; I changed the channel; when he said this, I was reminded about something he did off track.

Or the even more ominous comments from folks who said their wives/girlfriends left the room rather than watch Evernham on NASCAR Now with them.

The fan reaction to Evernham's TV performance can't be that good if people are choosing not to watch him.

Anonymous said...

If JPM was racing, we would stomach Ray for a race because JPM on a road course is a don't miss event. Since JPM isn't entered in Mexico City this year, I don't care about the race enough to deal with Ray in the booth.

Slightly off topic, Dale Jr opened his new bar to reporters and others in a 'sneak preview' in Charlotte last night. NASCAR Now better have someone reporting about about it - with video - today or tomorrow, or I'm writing that show off completely. They never cover anything the drivers do outside the races and I'm tired of it. If they can have their website people do a huge story about it and it's on the site now, NASCAR Now can spring for some cameras to be there so we can see it on video too.

Wisconsin Steve said...

I have enjoyed Evernham's work this year. He was very good back in 2000 when he did a couple of races for ABC (the spring Atlanta race was one of them)and I hope he is added as a regular to the team next year.

I don't want to see Petree go anywhere, but I think ESPN would be much better off with Evernham in the tech center than Tim Brewer. Evernham is much better at explaining things in a clear way than Brewer is.

Ally said...

Anonymous 10:26: "I can't deny that his personal life is an unpleasant distraction and changes the way I think about his professional work."

That's the way I feel, though I believe Ray is really good on TV. I just don't like him anymore. I like to look at race photos at several places the week after a race. I saw a picture Monday from Saturday's Phoenix race with Ray on top of Kasey's pit box...with Erin, who had her arms looped around his arm and was wearing a headset just like Ray and just like she used to when she was an EMS driver. Do we have to have public displays of affection on top of the pit box - during a pit stop? Sorry, I think his personal/professional lives mix too much.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the diverse comments.

While we will be talking about Evernham's on-air work, it is clear that there is some sentiment remaining about his personal choices.

Just to be clear, the only thing that will be reflected in this site will be his on-air activity.

No one indicated Petree was leaving next week or next season. Evernham is the only other former crew chief on the TV staff.

Certainly, it would be naive to say that an outstanding performance on the Mexico race would not be noticed by TV executives in future assignments.

There were some big frustrations last year by the end of the NASCAR season on the ESPN announce team.

This year, things are altogether different. Putting DJ in the booth and Rusty Wallace in the Infield Studio and on programs like NASCAR Now were exactly the right moves.

In terms of chemistry in Mexico, it should be interesting to see Jerry Punch, Wallace and Evernham call the action on a road course.

Thanks again for the comments.


Anonymous said...

"Certainly, it would be naive to say that an outstanding performance on the Mexico race would not be noticed by TV executives in future assignments."

And hopefully those same TV executives also notice the remaining negative sentiment regarding his personal choices. In this day and age, *that* would be the naive behavior - for them not to take a segment of viewership with negative opinions of Evernham into consideration when thinking of future assignments. They're already going to lose some viewers this weekend, we'll see how many they can stand to lose.

They're going to have to ask themselves if Evernham is so valuable to the team that he's really worth the negativity. I don't think he is. It's one thing if viewers dislike an commentator's on-camera style, it's another when they simply dislike him. ESPN needs to look for another "diamond in the rough" with no real viewer negatives, like they found with Petree.

Anonymous said...

Rusty,Ray and Jerry these 3 deserve each other. Lets get a better announce team.

PammH said...

irderESPN has just have to take into consideration that altho Ray is informative on TV, his personal life choices have really turned off a great amount of female watchers! But I don't imagine a pee-pee driven station from the word go-to understand what we are upset about! I will watch, but not listen, ESPN.