Saturday, June 14, 2008
Pre-Race TV Shows Face New Scrutiny
Sunday should bring an interesting mix of NASCAR TV programming to fans long before the first engines are fired. During the TNT stretch of the Sprint Cup season, there are actually four-and-a-half hours of live pre-race shows on three networks.
NASCAR Now on ESPN kicks-off the festivities from the ESPN studios in Connecticut at 10AM Eastern Time. Either Ryan Burr or Nicole Manske hosts this program, which uses reporters and the ESPN race announcers at the track to provide news and commentary.
ESPN has been very straightforward in speaking about the discrimination lawsuit currently in the NASCAR news. On both Friday's NASCAR Now and on the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show Saturday night the current facts about the topic were presented and various personalities offered concise comments. The information was also presented on SportsCenter and ESPNEWS.
This article by ESPN's David Newton really fans the flames and perhaps Kyle Petty might like to re-think some of his comments. It is especially ironic that Petty is quoted, after he recently finished the thirty minute Tradin' Paint program on SPEED without ever mentioning a word about the lawsuit issue. The topic was never raised. Newton should be on NASCAR Now Sunday.
Next-up for fans will be RaceDay on SPEED at 10:30AM. This network has avoided the lawsuit topic like the plague this weekend, but often Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace are rather outspoken on controversial topics. Normally, Wendy Venturini handles the news stories, but the lawsuit is strictly about the Nationwide Series which is carried on ESPN.
It should be interesting to see just how SPEED and the NASCAR Media Group which produces the program choose to address this issue. RaceDay is loaded with guests including Jeff Burton, Mark Martin, David Ragan, Kasey Khane and Brian Vickers.
Features in the show include a Harry Gant update, a Petty Enterprises follow-up and a look at fathers and sons involved in NASCAR. Venturini's Real Deal is an interview with Clint Bowyer and his father Chris. John Roberts will host the program as usual with contributions from Hermie Sadler and Rutledge Wood.
RaceDay was moved to not conflict with the next programming block. NASCAR on TNT Live! begins at 12:30PM and runs for one hour. This is the feature-oriented program hosted by TNT's Marc Fein. Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds will join Fein on the set and Carl Edwards will stop by for an interview.
The Pride of NASCAR feature will focus on Ernie Irvan, who almost lost his life in a non-racing crash at MIS. Reporter Ralph Shaheen will get a behind-the-scenes look at Jack Roush's personal garage and the vehicles inside. Wally Dallenbach and Petty will use two COT cars again to show viewers the dynamics of racing at MIS on Wally's World.
Second year TNT reporter Lindsay Czarniak will have a very interesting feature in this show. She is looking this season for off-beat stories that might not normally make it into a race broadcast. Sunday she will be talking with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Washington Redskins player Chris Cooley. These two professional athletes are friends away from the racetrack and the football field.
The final pre-race show is Countdown to Green at 1:30PM for thirty minutes. TNT's Bill Weber hosts this program along with Dallenbach while Petty makes his way up to the booth. Marty Snider and Matt Yocum will be reporting from pit road. The show focuses on the race stories, but this Sunday will also feature Joe Gibbs and focus on his grandson's battle with Leukemia.
Yes, TNT's own Bill Engvall will be on-hand as Grand Marshall and will no doubt make his way into one or both of these programs before giving the command to start engines. That should be a memorable way to finish off four-and-a-half hours of NASCAR TV before the first engine has even started.
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