Monday, May 5, 2008

LaJoie And Massaro Have "Rountable" Fun


It was a three person panel on Monday Night for ESPN2's "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now. Host Allen Bestwick has seen a wide variety of personalities as panelists on this show so far this season.

Luckily, after a memorable weekend in Richmond, Bestwick had former NASCAR driver Randy LaJoie and veteran ESPN reporter Mike Massaro with him in the Connecticut studio.

On his previous appearance, LaJoie was somewhat nervous and soft-spoken. For those who know him, those two words are rarely associated with this gregarious and outgoing man. This time, the combination of two familiar faces in Bestwick and Massaro let LaJoie open-up and have fun.

While reviewing the Cup highlights, LaJoie made it clear he believed that Kyle Busch just "sailed it in there" when he hit Dale Earnhardt Jr. and ultimately it was a racing accident. He and Massaro made good points in reference to the post-race comments offered by both Busch and Earnhardt. LaJoie made sure everyone knew that in his opinion race car drivers "have small minds anyway."

It was Richmond winner Clint Bowyer appearing on the show from testing in Charlotte, and once again it was only Bestwick who asked the questions. Perhaps, NASCAR Now will eventually give each panelist the opportunity to ask at least one question. As usual, Bestwick did a solid interview with Bowyer and included a testing question about the Lowe's Motor Speedway.

It continues to be amazing that in almost every key video highlight this season it has been the exciting radio calls of MRN and PRN describing the action. On this Monday, MRN called the incident between Busch and Earnhardt Jr. during the outstanding edited feature recapping the Sprint Cup race from Richmond.

After this feature, the panel continued with an overview of the big multi-car accident in the race. LaJoie was clear in his evaluation that higher speeds at short tracks were going to continue to result in bigger accidents than fans are used to seeing.

In talking about the issues of Jeff Gordon, Massaro recapped the struggle from the back of the pack to a top ten finish as almost a victory for this team. Bestwick framed this effort as what can perhaps separate those teams who are champions from those still focused on individual wins. LaJoie added that Gordon was "a good shoe" as well.

It was a live report from the Lowe's Motor Speedway offered by Shannon Spake that gave viewers fresh "soundbites" from both Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. It was a very nice round-up of the events from Richmond that included mature drivers talking in conciliatory terms.

Spake talked about the added COT test at Lowe's and relayed that the same teams already dialed-in with the COT on the mile-and-a-half tracks were just getting better while the struggling teams were finally getting a handle on things. The entire panel reacted to the Hendrick Motorsports COT issues with LaJoie reminding everyone that Junior was the best Hendrick car right now, and that was a surprise.

The Nationwide recap was solid, and replayed Hamlin's comments describing this as his biggest win ever. The tire issue was key, and LaJoie did his best to explain why Harvick stayed out and ultimately lost the race. Pit strategy was almost a "no win" for Harvick and his team.

Bestwick took a moment to sum-up the brief scuffle between Kyle Busch and Steven Wallace after the race. These two might be the most opposite personalities in the Nationwide Series, and Wallace came away as a very distinct personality who may be coming into his own at last.

In previewing Darlington, LaJoie reminded fans that fast racing is not necessarily the best racing. Since Darlington was made for cars to go 150 mph and some teams in testing exceeded 200, it was going to be a very different race than ever before.

Last season, LaJoie was a substitute analyst for several ESPN races and was a big hit with the fans. His sense of humor and easy-going nature worked well with Allen Bestwick, as it did on Monday's NASCAR Now. ESPN has indicated that LaJoie will be seen on-the-air in several NASCAR roles this season, and his continuing presence is exactly what the network needs to continue to build their NASCAR credibility.

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13 comments:

Joe Bernard said...

I'm surprised nobody mentioned Randy LaJoie's involvement in seat safety. Patrick Carpentier credited his seat with preventing injury in his huge wreck. I don't see a conflict of interest for Nascar Now in mentioning it. Randy deserves all the credit he can get for doing so much for driver safety.

Joe Bernard said...

And that's what I get for posting before watching the final minute of the show. They mentioned Randy's involvement in safety at the end. It still would have been nice to credit him directly with seat design during the Carpentier segment.

Daly Planet Editor said...

joe,

Randy was a panelists on NASCAR Now right after the Michael McDowell accident, and he talked about his seat company and safety on that program.

He is certainly a character.

JD

Newracefan said...

Enjoyed the show and Randy was fun and seemed more comfortable this show. I would have been interested to hear DJ's thoughts maily because he has raced againt Kyle but Randy did good.

Ritchie said...

The Connecticut Racing Panel was very entertaining. I enjoyed Mr. Lajoie's commentary about the race. He still acts a little stiff and hesitant, but he makes up for it with good insight.

The opposite of Lajoie is Massaro. He and Bestwick seem to click while discussing the races. Massaro comes across as having a very deep insight into the race.

Overall, I enjoyed the show and look forward to next week's show.

Anonymous said...

I was glad Mike Massaro was back on the panel. I think he's one of the most valuable members and I find his information and opinions good to hear.

uncredentialed said...

Joe, Patrick Carpentier said he uses a carbon fiber seat. Randy doesn't make those.

jfs-va said...

I'm just not a fan of only two panelists on this show or TWIN. One of the early shows had Massaro, Brad, and Rusty. I still think that was the best one. None of those guys are "shy" or hesitant to speak.

Also, sometimes a question is asked and the panelist doesn't really answer it. A good example is when AB asked Randy what drivers are saying about the COT and what they like about it (something like that). He replied with a bunch of words but all he really said was that Carl liked it. I think AB was seeking a bit more than that. Randy also misunderstood a question early on. He thought AB asked him something about drivers accepting second place when he was actually asking something else and AB had to restate it.

Anonymous said...

What the frick happened to the midnight rerun of NASCAR Now?? My Tivo recorded it and when I played it a while ago, it was a *&^%$#@ basketball show. Why can't ESPN stick to their posted programming?

Mary
Richmond, VA

Anonymous said...

I missed the first 30 minutes of Nascar Now and ESPN did not air the program as scheduled. Why can't ESPN air what is on their schedule? This was a problem last season too.

What is going on with the link from Jayski? This is the second time lately that the link to this site have failed. I just thought that I would tell you so you would know. I receive the message that blogger not found on this link.

Anonymous said...

anon, the monday roundtable has been on at 5:30pm - 6:30pm et on espn2 all season.

Anonymous said...

Used to love to listen to Randy LaJoie on "The Driver's Seat" on Sirius. After Buddy Baker, he was my favorite one in the "driver's seat"! Too bad Sirius screwed that one up! If I know that he will be on ESPN on a regular basis, I will watch the show!

Anonymous said...

It's tough to make it home at 5:30 to watch the roundtable. I counted on ESPN to show it again at 12:00 as advertised by ESPN. I understand that there are occasions on a sports channel when that isn't possible. It seems that it happens frequently to ESPN Nascar shows.