Sunday, June 29, 2008
Monday Night Match-Up: Waltrip/Biffle vs. Jarrett/Evernham
On the heels of the chaos that was the Sprint Cup race from Loudon, both SPEED and ESPN are poised to offer one hour Monday wrap-up shows.
This Week In NASCAR continues to find its way in this first season. Steve Byrnes hosts the program with a group of rotating panelists. This week SPEED hit on a good combination with Michael Waltrip and Greg Biffle.
Waltrip is coming off a surprisingly good finish at Loudon and Biffle has just re-signed with Roush Fenway Racing. These are two of the top stories of the weekend and they land right in the network's lap.
It should be refreshing to hear the perspectives of both drivers on the Sprint Cup race and then their comments on both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series events. Biffle raced in the Nationwide Series on Saturday and Waltrip is a commentator for SPEED on the Truck Series.
Debate continues to rage about why SPEED is sticking with the preview before review program format, and certainly this weekend is a good example of just how good things might work if that decision was reversed. Having Waltrip and Biffle get all the info and commentary about Loudon right out on the table would be a strong start to the show.
SPEED and the NASCAR Media Group that produces the program have been slowly clearing the clutter out to allow the panelists to talk and interact a lot more. As veteran fans know, this is the key to a personality-driven TV series like this one. This Week in NASCAR airs at 8PM Eastern Time Monday night.
Allen Bestwick continues his ironman performance for ESPN this season as he returns to host the "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now. This hour has proven to be a clear winner for ESPN with a continually changing cast of three panelists.
This week signals the return of Dale Jarrett to the show and he brings along his fellow ESPN Loudon commentator Ray Evernham. Semi-regular panelist Mike Massaro rounds-out the group and has brought a steady presence to the show when he is in attendance. Massaro often flies under-the-radar, but knows his NASCAR.
Jarrett is fresh after an extended vacation and is about to jump into the grind that will keep him hopping all the way to the Homestead race weekend in November. As he returns to NASCAR Now, he brings the kind of veteran presence that really lifts the show to a new level.
Just like his father, Jarrett gives-off a professional vibe that comes wrapped in a smiling personality. Keeping racing and life in perspective, Jarrett has proven to be exactly what ESPN needed to overcome the issues last year with Rusty Wallace.
Fans may also remember that this Monday show last season was a disaster. It is a bit ironic that for this Loudon review and Daytona preview edition ESPN may have assembled the strongest studio line-up since it began NASCAR coverage in 2007. NASCAR Now is on-the-air at 6PM Eastern Time on Monday.
The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers in advance of these shows. There will be a full column up on Monday shortly after these two programs air. To add your comments now, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page and thank for taking the time to stop by.