Sunday, June 1, 2008

Benson on ESPN2, Knaus on SPEED

The dynamics of the two Monday NASCAR TV shows have been fun to watch this season. Both NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and This Week In NASCAR on SPEED have been totally changed since 2007.

Now, as these two shows begin to mature, they have taken-on even more interesting aspects. One of those is favorite panelists. Monday, viewers will have an opportunity to see two good examples of that.

Allen Bestwick has a long history with Johnny Benson. It was many years on both SpeedVision and SPEED Channel that those two shared an hour on Mondays when Bestwick hosted Inside Winston/NEXTEL Cup Racing. Bestwick's relationship with Benson was different than the one he had with the either Michael Waltrip or Kenny Schrader.

Now, Benson's TV career has been born-again on Monday nights. He has been a semi-regular on NASCAR Now sitting in the "driver" seat. This week, he will be joined in the "media" seat by Mike Massaro and in the "commentator" seat by Brad Daugherty.

This is another solid mix of three panelists that should spark good discussion and allow Bestwick to cover a broad range of topics. There is no doubt that Bestwick has integrated many elements he used in his former show on SPEED into this ESPN2 offering. What has been interesting is just how successful this program has become.

Meanwhile, SPEED and The NASCAR Media Group have combined to try and re-build the Monday night TV franchise that is now called This Week In NASCAR. Steve Byrnes has been gamely pushing this program forward with the same type of determination and enthusiasm that he uses at the track. He has not wavered in his host duties, and is certainly rolling with the punches as major changes continue on this TV series.

The show has been reduced to two panelists and one host. This has often turned what could have been a discussion into a disagreement between two people. Unfortunately, there is no third voice to chime-in this season. That has led to some sticky situations because of the personal involvement of the panelists in the race highlights.

The new favorite panelist on TWIN has become Chad Knaus. This program has never had a crew chief as a panelist and Knaus is fascinating. He works well with Larry McReynolds on NASCAR Performance because that show only "talks tech."

Knaus is being stretched on TWIN because he is often asked not only to respond to issues about other teams, but also has to deal with the hi-jinks of fellow panelist Michael Waltrip. The results have often been rather hilarious.

Waltrip also returns this Monday, and there should be a whole lot to talk about with Pocono ahead of the gang and Dover behind. One glaring issue that sits with Knaus on every show is the struggles of his team this season. There are often signs of frustration when Knaus talks about the COT and the new challenges that he has yet to handle in 2008.

Byrnes continues to tolerate the backwards format of this show, which puts the preview of the next race before the review of the past race. In fact, many readers tell The Daly Planet that they simply record the program and then play it back in the order that makes sense to everyone but the SPEED executives.

Now, with a bunch of shows under their belts and their new shirts nicely tailored, Byrnes and company might be ready to finally hit on the combination that will make for a smooth and fun hour. With all the carnage and stories of Dover, it might be a good week to put things in a new order and see how it works.

Meanwhile, Bestwick and friends will no doubt continue the huge roll they are on since unveiling this new Monday version of NASCAR Now to rave reviews. Certainly, Bestwick will not forget to remind Daugherty of the "chocolate chip cookie incident" during the rain delay at Dover.

NASCAR Now is up first on ESPN2 at 6:30PM and then SPEED follows with TWIN at 8PM. All those times are Eastern. NASCAR Now is an hour later than normal because of the continuing coverage of the French Open tennis tournament. There will be columns up on each program on Monday, so please come back and leave your comments. Thanks.


SophiaZ123 said...

Thanks JD. I look forward to seeing Brad BACK on NN with JB and MM. I missed the rain delay yesterday (exquisite weather and we went for a car ride instead)

But I can't believe Brad did not share some home made cookies...i wanna know what that was about as well as I heard AB comment during the race last night. This can be a good panel or a great panel. I love it when it's great topics and laughs.

But sadly, JD, will anybody address the ongoing races of boring races with the COT on in between tracks? Hmmmm.

If TWIN changes their order ( would you like fries with that?) please post about it..otherwise, I will save myself aggravation.


Thanks for the heads up as always.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I am told that Dale Jarrett may be speaking about that issue on ESPN now that he is fully retired.

That should get NASCAR's attention.

Anonymous said...

Both shows should be covering actual news in addition to a race rewind tomorrow, since That's has an exclusive saying Jamie McMurray is out of Roush Racing at season end and has already contacted teams looking for a new ride.

Rockin Rich said...

Knowing NASCAR's priorities, I fully expect them to come down HARD on Brad for not sharing Delana's cookies!

Anonymous said...

Are you breaking news about newly tailored shirt for this coming Monday? Because last week, the ends of Waltrip's cuffs were well below his wrists. :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 9:59PM,

I am trying to get a hint across to the right people (you know who you are) and I am holding a good thought.

This show has made baby-steps in sorting itself out, and buttoning Mikey's collar and getting him a Tall shirt should be one of them....hopefully Monday!


Anonymous said...

@JD--I always enjoyed from the old IWC when Frankie, Fatback, Zippy, etc would be a guest. It was even better when something "good" happened and were able to get their 2 cents on the situation :). Frankie was very nice and would fill in at the last minute many a week. I loved the Sears Point one where Fatback was in the Hot Seat and he gave Herman a hard time about taking Bobby out!

@rockin rich--*giggle* That was funny, he was munching away seemingly guarding his plate! I'm sure Dee took care of the rest of the crew :).

Rockin Rich said...

I wasn't clear in what I was commenting on. I was referring to JD's response to Sohiaz123 concerning her comment on the boring races. He stated he anticipates NASCAR to take notice when Dale Jarrett comments, (again anticipated), on that. I chose to think that NASCAR will continue to ignore that, and continue to focus on the "important" things like Brad's actions on TV.

In truth, I hadn't noticed Brad doing that, but have picked up on the multiple comments I have seen about it.

Anonymous said...

Which of these shows will be honest enough to discuss how boring the races are with the COT the way it is now. 7 cars on the lead lap at the end of the race, or maybe 6, either way something is wrong here. For the first time this season I actually walked away from the TV, looking forward to Chad and Mikey, both are having tough seasons in their own way.

Anonymous said...

Brad and the cookies were ok but Brad and Carl was the best.
Tks.JD Ron Il.

Newracefan said...

Thank goodness we will have good panelists on both shows because after the wreck is dicussed there won't be much left. Who thought I would be so interested to talk about Pocono and I was at the Dover cup race. Nascar are you listening!

Dot said...

I like both Monday shows. I'm really surprised that they aren't on at the same time. TV suits like to do that.
I think Chad adds alot to TWIN. I'm glad his team is running like the mortals this season, makes him more relatable.
JD, I have a question. Do the ratings drop on Victory Lane when Kyle wins? I only watch when it's ABW. Anybody But Weed.

Ziggy said...

Note to self:
Set VCR to start @8:26 EDT,Comcast Channel 732. Also, has 'Vegas posted any odds on T.W.I.N. showing reviews before previews ??

Daly Planet Editor said...


Ratings are up slightly across the board, but not affected by who wins. I do wish we could talk SPEED into doing a Saturday night show like they did for the All-Star race, but we have tried before...


Last I tried, the answer was a nice big NO. But, at least we asked...


Kenn Fong said...


The repeats for Monday's editions of "NASCAR Now" and "This Week In NASCAR" are usually scheduled against each other at 9 PM Pacific, Midnight Eastern.

Alameda, California

Dot said...

Kenn Fong,
You are correct. I thought of that after I posted. Hopefully, one or the other was watched live.

JD, thanks for the answer. I love you and your column.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new column up about the Monday version of NASCAR Now.

Thanks Dot!