Monday, April 7, 2008
"NASCAR Now" Misses A Monday Voice
Viewers who tuned-in to ESPN2 expecting to see Marty Smith on the Monday NASCAR Now panel were surprised to see only Mike Massaro and Randy LaJoie. Smith was home attending to an illness in the family.
That left Allen Bestwick to work extra hard to fill the hour with his two panelists. The results were not exactly what viewers had come to expect from this program.
Massaro has been a good role player on this show, and LaJoie is best when he gets to speak freely. In this case, without the glib Smith on the program, things were a little bit off-balance. It certainly showed the true need for a third panelist.
Bestwick is as organized as ever and all of the ESPN driver "soundbites" and race highlights were right on-the-money. In the middle of the show, Bestwick welcomed Jack Roush and did his best to get some information from this unique man.
What many viewers were expecting right off-the-bat was a detailed look at the Randy LaJoie seat that was in Michael McDowell's car. The rookie's crash at Texas was the talk of the weekend, and it would seem only natural to have one of LaJoie's seats on the set of the Home Depot garage. For some reason, it did not happen.
After all the resources that ESPN has put into this show and the focus on the safety elements of both the track and McDowell's car, it seemed very strange not to have the President of the company that made the seat showing off his product.
Instead, LaJoie was put on the spot about lots of specific NASCAR issues relating to the action on the track so far this season. That was not really fair to LaJoie, who has been focusing on his nationwide racing safety seminars and his seat business.
Massaro did his best to fill-in as many details as possible, but his perspective is as a reporter. This lack of current driver knowledge put a crimp in portions of the show, but Bestwick carried on at a steady pace throughout the hour.
Now that the "Big Monday" edition of NASCAR Now has been around for a while, the thrill and the "new-ness" of it has faded. This is the time of the year where the show is really going to define itself and take the direction it will follow for the rest of the year.
Bestwick did a lot of talking in this show because the panel was down one man. That put him in a new role, and changed the on-air dynamic. Massaro did a lot of "reporting" in his comments this week, including talking about who he "just spoke with" or "just called." Those buzzwords remind viewers of the 2007 NASCAR Now where it seemed every "Insider" just got off the phone with either Jack Roush or Rick Hendrick.
LaJoie was straightforward in his comments, but did not have another person to follow-up on his funny lines or innuendos. He really needed a playmate and was instead surrounded by two very serious reporters. Marty Smith would have been the perfect compliment and hopefully these two will get a chance to try it again in the near future.
Having this one hour show is a great resource. Having the top ESPN NASCAR personalities on the program weekly has been outstanding. On this Monday, Bestwick did his best to pull the show along and got all the factual information and highlights across to the fans.
The only thing missing was the normally good-spirited conversation and laughter that have become hallmarks of this series. Next week should once again be an interesting show as ESPN continues to mix-up the personalities.
Terry Labonte will join Brad Daugherty and Mike Massaro as panelists next week. This will give Bestwick yet another new dynamic as a current driver and past champion comes to the ESPN2 studios. Once again, Monday's NASCAR Now should be a good one to watch.
Our thoughts go out to Marty Smith's father for a speedy recovery. Marty has been a good friend of The Daly Planet since we began in 2007.
The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. To add your thoughts, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks again for stopping by.