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.
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