Thursday, July 3, 2008
Evernham Involved In His Own Silly Season
It was the Monday after Loudon and the week before Daytona. The heart of the Sprint Cup season was here and ESPN brought-out their big guns for the Monday edition of NASCAR Now.
This one hour show that host Allen Bestwick refers to as "the roundtable" has become a weekly jewel for the network. On this Monday, Bestwick was seated alongside new ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett, veteran reporter Mike Massaro and part-time ESPN commentator Ray Evernham. The "A team" was in town.
Jarrett was refreshed after his vacation and did not miss a beat in contributing his views to the program. There is no doubt that Jarrett is the star of the NASCAR show for the network and on this program he was surrounded by exactly the right group.
Bestwick has cemented himself as the ESPN ironman and this program bears his personal signature. Each week he deals with a new mix of personalities that have included ESPN on-air talent, retired NASCAR drivers and current NASCAR personalities. This has been a challenge to which Bestwick has risen quite well.
One strong aspect of this program has been the addition of both live guests and contributions from the ESPN NASCAR reporters. On this show, Shannon Spake updated the Montoya vs. Busch situation in just the type of quick and concise report that works well.
It was Loudon winner Kurt Busch who appeared as the first guest and Bestwick did an outstanding job of covering all the bases with this surprise winner. Busch has matured and Bestwick let him talk about his day and how Penske Racing is grinding their way through this tough season. It was a good follow-up to the big news of the weekend.
We have been critical of NASCAR Now for not allowing all three panelists to ask questions of the guests this season. ESPN has been very nice in responding and informing us that due to the scheduling of the panelists on other ESPN media outlets they are sometimes not available when some liveshots are taped. Happy to get that issue cleared-up for this season.
As this show progressed, it was clear that this classic mix of a driver, crew chief and reporter worked very well in making the conversation flow. One good segment was Bestwick leading a discussion about the silly season and how it works for drivers who are now suddenly unemployed.
Jarrett and Evernham were the right duo to address this topic and Massaro was perfect to update the media aspect of the topic. Bestwick introduced the issue of agents in the sport and how the mechanics of contracts worked. Evernham stated that his company was negotiating with several drivers, but he had never talked to any of them. Agents were now a way of business in the sport.
That leads to a good question for next season where Evernham is concerned. Introduced at Daytona in February as a surprise new member of the ESPN NASCAR team, there is no doubt that Evernham and ESPN have a good relationship. Working with Jarrett, Evernham is a natural on TV and has very good technical knowledge.
As a current NASCAR owner, rumors have been around for a while that Evernham will step away from the ownership role and consider a full-time role in the media. Fans saw Dale Jarrett work part-time for the network last season and then step into a full-time role for 2008. Perhaps, this is the same process Evernham is going through as ESPN works him in a variety of commentary and analyst roles in the network's NASCAR coverage.
A slick and professional program like this Monday edition of NASCAR Now goes a long way toward perhaps pointing Evernham in the TV direction. In a way, ESPN is a perfect choice for him because of the large amount of NASCAR content that need to be generated for the various ESPN media outlets.
The Monday program features a retrospective of the races at Daytona. This single topic really showed-off the strength of the panel ESPN had assembled for this program. Multiple Daytona winners Jarrett and Evernham spoke from positions of experience, and Massaro and Bestwick added the media and historical perspective.
The bottom line for this episode of NASCAR Now was that there was a whole lot of NASCAR history on the set, and all four of these personalities are set to play key roles in the network's coverage of the sport down the stretch.
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