Sunday, May 18, 2008

All-Star Monday Brings Benson Back To TV

The weekly Monday NASCAR TV programs from SPEED and ESPN2 have now had a good three months to mature. Both the Monday version of NASCAR Now and the new This Week In NASCAR have been fun to watch this season as they develop.

With the All-Star race to review and the Coke 600 to preview, ESPN has once again shuffled the NASCAR Now on-air deck and brought in a new combination of "talent." Joining Allen Bestwick this week will be fan favorite Johnny Benson, veteran reporter Mike Massaro and NASCAR Now's Lead Reporter Marty Smith.

This one hour of conversation at 5:30PM Eastern Time features Bestwick running the panel through the race highlights and then talking about the upcoming event. This season, Bestwick has added a new dimension to this TV series and changed the entire Monday NASCAR TV dynamic.

Still attired in suits and ties, the panel talks about the topics of the day and often Bestwick brings up controversial subjects. Since February, Bestwick has been staring across the studio at a wide variety of personalities. This constantly changing landscape has resulted in some very good and also some very politically correct programs.

What Bestwick really could use down the stretch is a panel that consists of "regulars." Now that the initial interest in the format of the program is over, viewers would be well-served to begin to develop a relationship with the type of regular panel Bestwick had on Inside Winston Cup Racing back on SpeedVision.

Mike Massaro is the best example of that so far, as he is a semi-regular and has been allowed to show parts of his personality and voice his own opinions like never before. In all his years of working for ESPN, Massaro has finally come into his own because of this Monday show. Bestwick deserves some credit for that.

Once the ESPN panel is done, Steve Byrnes plays host to Michael Waltrip and Greg Biffle for This Week in NASCAR on SPEED. Starting at 8PM, Byrnes this week has his work cut-out for him with two drivers as the full panel. When Waltrip and Chad Knaus are on this program, things are presented from both the driver and crew chief perspective.

With two drivers, the perspective is the same and the differences of opinion don't have a third voice to keep things non-personal. Biffle has been a big story recently, and hopefully Byrnes will be able to draw-out Biffle's feelings on some of the on-going topics that concern his future.

Waltrip has been hit-and-miss on this show, working well with Chad Knaus and beginning to establish a good on-air relationship with Byrnes. Waltrip always seems to have his own agenda, but has managed to keep his sense of humor despite the many changes in the format of this program. It should be interesting to see how things develop with Biffle.

There will be columns up for your comments shortly after both shows finish, and please feel free to add your opinion to this post about the line-ups for both of these Monday TV shows.

To add your comment, just 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.


Anonymous said...

JD: in last week's Monday roundtable preview, you wrote "This Monday is going to be a very interesting show. Bestwick is going to welcome former Darlington winner Ricky Craven, who has not been seen in a car or on TV by most fans in a long time. Joining Craven will be Ray Evernham and Mike Massaro. It is this ever-changing cast of characters that keeps bringing viewers back week-after-week."

Now, like several readers have suggested for several weeks, you are suggesting the roundtable move to regulars. I'm curious to know what changed your mind.

Also: This is the week when NASCAR Now should have Ray Evernham. The winning car's owner is an ESPN analyst? He should be on the show tomorrow. If not, I still don't understand what his purpose is. If you've got owners on the show, talk to them as owners.

Ray confirmed in an article earlier this week that he is now back at the tracks taking "pages and pages" of notes for the teams in his role as minority owner, so he knows what's going on in these races, though on TV he seems hesitant to contribute any opinion except the most technical information. His politically correct view of NASCAR issues, as you stated it, shouldn't be allowed since he has such a good bird's eye view of what's going on.

Anonymous said...

Funny, I thought about Evernham after the race and wondered if he would be on NASCAR NOW Monday. They showed him a couple of times on VL and he said some stuff in some of the stories on Jayski about the victory. One said he was in the media center with Kasey and his crew chief answering questions. So I figured he might be on NASCAR NOW too.

Anonymous said...

I really like the variety on NN. Whoever is choosing the guests is doing a GREAT JOB because the panel is always consisting of people that give interesting perspective. I say try watching TWIN objectively, no agenda's or bias, and if you can really say Michael Waltrip adds a lot and is good on this show I would be shocked. I know he has endeared himself to many with his goofy act, but I for one can do without that and see a show that is interesting and with NATURAL humor, not phony humor.

Anonymous said...

The airtimes for NASCAR Now are horrible for those of us on the West Coast ... 2:30pm this week ... Next week, who knows ... The show jumps around way too much to the point that I just give up & forget about it ...

Maybe they'll have Shannon Spake doing a story on Kasey Kahne so we can see her drooling over him like a teenybopper girl ... Waitaminute, KING5 has THAT footage from a few years ago ... Sorry, but my opinion of her will NEVER change after seeing THAT footage ...

Ray Evernham should be on NASCAR Now this week ... as the car owner ... But, also as the guy who knows the ins & outs of the Cup & Nationwide garages/cars ...

In regards to TWIN ... Listen very carefully to Biffle as you will learn a lot ... Sometimes Biffle seems to be talking in code, so one needs to learn to decode what he is saying ... Just like with Schrader ...

TWIN is still suffering from the lack of the third "expert" ... With Chad the CC and Mikey as owner/driver, we need a 3rd expert that's solely a driver without ulterior motives or secrets ...

Anonymous said...

Once again, ESPN demonstrates that they "get it" while Speed and the intransigence of their production heads continue to alienate fans.

Johnny B is great, in tune with the core fan, and will be a great addition to Bestwick

Go Johnny, GO!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:57AM,

I asked ESPN about the West Coast re-airs of NASCAR Now. They went back and checked the schedule and found that none of the times listed had changed.

The show moves a bit depending on the live event earlier in the evening, but has not been cancelled or joined-in-progress as some readers have suggested.

I have asked those raising this issue to email me the specifics, but no one has. If this is an issue, lets solve it.


Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:15AM,

I am not suggesting that it be the same three people, but only that the hit-and-miss of having one "special" guest each week has pretty much run its course.

With the big stable of ESPN NASCAR personalities, it is going to be important to have every show be good once ESPN takes over the Cup races.

Maybe "regulars" was the wrong word, but by the time July rolls around, I think it should be folks who have already been on the show and done a good job who are asked back.


Anonymous said...

Waltrip and Knaus are a good pair--because they're so different. Michael says whatever coms into his head, and Chad thinks through each comment very carefuly before speaking.

I loved seeing them interact after Michael's crashfest with Casey Mears. While Mikey was telling the story, Chad interrupted him and said, "And then you pitched a fit on the track." Michael looked a little embarrassed and said, "Yeah, for a minute. I did."

They play well off each other.

Anonymous said...

"The show moves a bit depending on the live event earlier in the evening, but has not been cancelled or joined-in-progress as some readers have suggested."

There have definitely been times when NASCAR Now's West Coast airing has NOT been shown. I can't believe ESPN is claiming that it has always aired as scheduled and not been cancelled. They've even sometimes changed their online schedule from "NASCAR Now" to say "TBD", and then NASCAR Now doesn't air, even delayed for a live event. The announcers on the previous programs that have run very late have skipped over promoting "Coming Up Next: NASCAR Now" in favor of another program. "Coming Up: Boxing". And then NASCAR Now doesn't air as scheduled.

You can go back in your archives from the past 6-8 weeks in the daily reviews of NASCAR Now topics and find people asking why it's not on, and they also describe what is on. (Boxing at least twice, the Slam Dunk Contest tape-delayed from the Final Four location in San Antonio.) It usually happens on Wednesday nights and Thursday nights for some reason. It's not just one person saying it in the comments on The Daly Planet, and includes some "regulars with names and not anons" who are asking why NN didn't air late night. So for ESPN to say it has always aired at some point on some nights when it hasn't and more than one person has commented on it is absolutely erroneous.

Daly Planet Editor said...

anon 10:58AM,

Listen to me. What I am telling you is that ESPN went back and researched this issue for me. They said the show had not been dropped, but does air at different times depending on what live event is presented before it.

Since I live on the East Coast, I put the over night version of NASCAR Now on my DVR. When I wake-up it is always there.

Let's put our heads together and deal with this issue. If there is problem, please email me the specifics and stop your practice of clogging up the comments section with this off-topic issue.

My email is and you can send me a message anytime. OK?


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Here is the proof that this is my blog and when I ask you to email me, you have a choice.

If you continue to disregard my requests for a conversation to solve this topic, your comments will continue to be deleted.

I need to ask you some questions about dates and days that ESPN had also asked me. I have already provided them the comments that you posted.

Make a choice, either email ESPN or myself. You current behavior is not something that other readers should be forced to deal with.


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

What a shame you continue to use this juvenile mode of behavior. I had the ESPN rep ready to answer your questions. If you feel that this issue is on-going, you can always drop me an email.

I have been solving viewer problems on this site for the last sixteen months with the cooperation of the NASCAR TV partners. It is a shame that your issue will not be one of them.


Richard in N.C. said...

JD- Good post. I find both shows improved when a crew chief (or former crew chief) is on the show to address strategy issues - which I find a crew chief can do much better than a driver or reporter. I'm not sure that 5 would be too many people for N-Now, but I am absolutley convinced that 3 is too few for TWIN.

Anonymous said...

A few comments preceding tonights NN.JB is one of my all times (fav Truck Driver )but i think a Sprint cup driver would be more appropriate this week to review the all star & preview the 600 ..... Marty Smith is excellent , combo of knowledge , cred & relationship with drivers ..... Mike Massaro , acts like an insider , but ISN"T ,does a good job other than that, it will be a good show in any case .....KJAX

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 5:37PM,

ESPN wants dates and times. Either email them to me or drop it. How much longer does this have to go on?


Anonymous said...

I live in Nevada. NN on Mondays is the only one I watch/DVR @ 2:30pm. Looking into the future, it is scheduled to show again at 9:00pm.

I will not try to watch/find it during the rest of the week. Too many times it was listed, but not on. JD, I cannot provide you any days/times as I made this decision a couple of months ago.

Heck, one time an event ran over by a couple of minutes and NN was not shown. This mainly happened on the repeat versions of NN.

I just gave up.


Brrrn Rubber said...

I also don't remember all dates and times, but I can recall at least three instances lately when NASCAR Now didn't air at midnight or later when it was scheduled.

The only date I remember was the Monday roundtable two weeks ago. It was supposed to come on from midnight to 1 am Eastern and it didn't. The date was May 5.

I can also recall waiting for live sports running over to finish one evening so I could watch the half hour edition of NASCAR Now at 12 or 12:30 am, maybe a month or so ago. Instead ESPN2 moved to a college basketball program after the live sports was over. The basketball was clearly not live, because it was daytime when it came on and they showed the outside of the arena. But the onscreen guide said NASCAR Now was on. I waited until the top of the hour to see if NASCAR Now would come on and it didn't. Hope this information helps.

Daly Planet Editor said...


It certainly does, but in the future just drop me a line if this happens.

I had the ESPN PR guys check, and they could not find an airing that was missed except for that one game.

The key is that the re-air is not always at the same time like the original show. The ESPN NASCAR guys really wanted to know if there was some sort of problem.

If anyone in the Central or Pacific Time Zones sees a NASCAR Now show get cancelled, please email me with the details.