Monday, June 16, 2008

Update: Wallace Brothers Work Well For "NASCAR Now"

ESPN's idea of having a rotating "panel of experts" on Monday's one hour version of NASCAR Now has proven to be a stroke of genius. Regardless of who is involved, the format draws the viewer back the following week to compare personalities.

This Monday all three of the Wallace brothers were in the ESPN2 Connecticut studios. While introducing them, host Allen Bestwick pointed out that Kenny was from SPEED Channel. The fact that there is now a cordial relationship between these two networks where NASCAR is concerned is simply fantastic.

Nationwide Series driver Mike and ESPN Analyst Rusty rounded-out the panel. It was an interesting opportunity to see the family dynamic of the Wallaces on TV. Over the hour, the personalities and the relationships of the brothers were made clear to the viewers.

Bestwick kept the pace fast and never slowed down. He has known the Wallace brothers for a long time and handled them quite well. Bestwick knew just how much rope to give them in conversation and just when to move things along.

In typical brother style, sometimes thoughts were not completed simply because of the spontaneous conversation. Each brother has a very different perspective on the various NASCAR issues, but the depth of racing knowledge was certainly there for all to see.

Rusty walks a fine line between analyst and car owner. Lots of thoughts on-the-air seem to come back to an ownership perspective. For those of us who remember Rusty from his outspoken driving days, this change is interesting to watch.

The panel offered great comments and lots of fun through the highlights of all three of NASCAR's national touring series. By ending the discussion with the Nationwide Series, it gave the show an opportunity to segue into a live Joey Logano interview.

Bestwick kicked it off, but ESPN has listened to the fans and let the members of the panel each ask a question of the guest. This time, the results were great. It was Rusty who capped the interview by asking Logano about his future Sprint Cup plans.

Continuing the discussion after the interview was a smart idea. Rusty said that he felt Logano would have success even in a Cup race. He offered that Logano has tested 32 times for Gibbs Racing this season. While Mike agreed, it was Kenny who pointed-out the new breed of racing dad that single-mindedly points their child toward racing. Over time, it will be interesting to see how things play-out for Logano.

Using the child actor who portrays Loren Wallace on the Geico commercials to provide some NASCAR Now commentary was a nice touch. In response to being challenged by Lauren about the Wallace brothers racing prowess, it was Kenny who responded with strong words. "I have led two laps this year...under caution," he said.

Bestwick took a segment to talk about Russ Wallace and his racing career in the Midwest. This took the conversation in a different direction as suddenly agendas and sponsors and NASCAR issues were instantly gone. All of the men on the panel quickly became boys and the stories about the patriarch of the family were great.

Perhaps, the segment was highlighted by Rusty saying his mom used to get in fights in the grandstands while his dad was racing. Bestwick followed-up by asking Mike and Kenny how Rusty paved the way in NASCAR for the two brothers. This led into Bestwick reminding viewers that Steven and Chrissy are going to be the next generation of Wallace's coming onto the racing scene.

Another glossy feature that focused on the dramatic closing laps at Michigan put a nice touch on the show and led into the sometimes hilarious press conference soundbites from Junior in the Infield Media Center. There is no doubt that Junior is going to continue to be a media darling for the rest of this season.

In previewing Sonoma, it was Rusty taking the lead and reminding viewers that fuel mileage was once again going to be a key. Kenny pointed out that Sonoma has a limited run-off area and Mike made the point that the fastest car might not win the race.

Bestwick was given some extra time for the early edition of the show and asked the Wallace clan about the Mike Helton closed-door meeting where he talked about the COT. While Rusty towed the company line, Mike and Kenny pointed out that each driver has their own personality and it was going to be a personal choice on talking about this issue. Rusty added that changes do need to be made, but everyone really understood that the COT was a work-in-progress.

It was Kenny who made a nice point about the current power of the NASCAR drivers speaking out in the media. Referencing Tony Stewart's comments earlier about Goodyear, Kenny pointed-out that the media itself is now an active participant with the drivers many of whom have their own radio and TV shows. He made sure to mention that one of them...was him.

Closing out the show, Mike got to talk about his daughter Chrissy and Rusty made some funny comments about his struggles with his son Steven. Mike was torn between dedicating time to his daughter and continuing to build his own career. Rusty was very up-front about the difference in his son from last year to the current season.

As a one time event, the "all Wallace hour" was fun and memorable. To see these three walk back and forth between talking about racing and relating as family was exactly what ESPN must have had in mind. Bestwick handled the nuts-and-bolts of the TV duties very professionally and that is what viewers have come to expect from these Monday shows this season.

There is no doubt that ESPN has hit on a winning combination, and the only question on many NASCAR fans minds is who will be with Bestwick next week?

Update: For those of you asking, here is the link to the story about the young actor who plays Lauren Wallace on the GEICO ads.

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Spring Rubber said...

Not really related to the content of the show, but I noticed that Kenny Wallace was wearing one of his brother Rusty's ties. (Rusty wore it during last weeks NW race and during the California rainout earlier this year) Apparently Kenny isn't accustomed to wearing suits often. :P

Anonymous said...

It was great to have the Wallace boyz on :). I loved their interaction and of course the Lauren Wallace tie in was great!

I hope they are able to come on again, it really made great TV. I know Rusty always joked that he'd never do IWC because they weren't "serious" on that show and they even had a fan vote to see if they should be "serious" just once for Rusty!

I've met Herman at Sears Point a few years back and he's a hot mess! I hope to be able to meet the rest of them :).

As always, Allen did a great job in navigating it all. Good show!

I loved the Jr. soundbites! I was happy we had the 30 minute block of the conference yesterday, Jr. is funny! I usually have his radio up on Trackpaass each week and he gives some humdingers, especially when he's bored under caution :).

Kyle said...

I still cant decide whats funnier.... Kenny in a suit and tie with his hair done, or Lauren Wallace spots on todays show.

I sure wish that they would have given Mike a bit more time to talk about his daughter. I think that is going to be one of the bigger story's through the next few years.

Once she gets a full time ride, in truck of nationwide the media is going to explode around her.

The honesty of Kenny saying he rides his brother coat tails was amazing in this day and age. But thats why we like him.

SophiaZ123 said...

I LOVED this show but I LOVE KENNY!..I know he is not everybody's cup of tea but he is what he is and no phony. I loved the interaction and the stories of their mom and dad...had to be on the phone longer than I thought for part of the show and hope there is a repeat tonight.

GREAT CHOICE for the show..and sense they no each other, it made for 'great chemistry' imo. Rusty's ego can drive me crazy and I did not like him in the booth, but I have come to enjoy Mike the more I see him. The Lauren kid tie in was totally fun.

Also Kenny checked in his "ADD laugh tonight" and I thought he looked like a little kid in the tall chairs.

Also noticed LESS VIDEO and MORE CONVERSATION than last week's show (even before the extra 8 minutes) GOOD CHOICE NN.

Thanks JD.

Anonymous said...

When did you guys see NN? I taped it @ 2:30pm and I got baseball. Don't know when NN started, I erased it. I would have missed the end anyway. Right now this minute (9:42pm) there is football on with 18 seconds to go. At 9:30 when NN was supposed to be on, there was 48 seconds to go. JD, please use this as proof about NN not being on when advertised. Twice in one day!!
Dot in Las Vegas
PS, there are 2 timeouts left. AAARRRGGGHHH

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm back. NN started @ 9:50pm. I'm a happy girl.

SophiaZ123 said...


SORRY you missed NN...JD posted on this blog around the first EST showtime that a ballgame was running late (LIVE)

Then on the replay I just now turned on NN at 12.51 and it's beginning.

NOW the earlier version went OVER and hour by about 12 minutes or 10...due to being in between two AB said they had extra time.

Kenny really cleans up well...Hermie is so cute...I am going to rewatch this as I got distracted with a call earlier.

Hope you catch the show's on at 12.53 EST as I type this.

SophiaZ123 said...

ok...just saw your post...GLAD you can see it..good show imo.

Brian said...

I hope there is going to be a 3rd showing... I'm not home for either showing so I missed 20 minutes of the show... bummer... Anyone know if there is a 3rd showing? what I saw was GREAT!

Carl in Alaska said...

Here in Alaska I record off Dish Network. Twice today I have recorded NN as advertised on the program guide. Twice today I have been disappointed with half the show. Everyday folks badmouth Fox and Speed but at least programing in on as advertised except in extreme occassions. Yes we get ESPN in HD but is it worth it when you don't get what you expect?


Spring Rubber said...

Carl, in all fairness, this same thing happens with every studio show that ESPN broadcasts, live or taped. Live sporting events ALWAYS get precedence, and as a result, many of the other studio shows, such as Baseball Tonight, get cut short, often airing for as few as 20 minutes due to live sporting events running long. It's not just NASCAR.

Karen said...

Thanks to all you posters here. I was reading at 12:25 a.m. and realized my taping at 5:30 was going to be very short on NN content. So I watched the end -- three-quarters of it -- on the second showing and then went to tape for the first part.

Appreciate the heads up.

glenc1 said...

it was a fun show. I wouldn't want them every single week, but it was good to hear their viewpoints (and I did notice them mentioning Kenny working for Speed and had that same thought about the cooperation). It was nice that it wasn't an hour talking about Junior (I like Jr, but the media thing can get to be overkill...) The Logano interview parts seemed obviously 'planned' but nothing wrong with that. He's very likeable and media friendly. I have always been a Mike Wallace fan (notice no one pointed to HIM about who talks the most???) so I enjoyed listening to him talk particularly about Chrissy vs. his 'job'. When he loses Geico I wonder if he'll rethink things. Anyways, good show. The Lauren bits were actually funnier than I expected. (BTW--I saw an old clip of Cale Yarborough and I swear he was wearing a suit just like that with the stripes, lol.)

Live sports are always going to cause issues....just the nature of a sports network. I do wish they could put up a screen every so often with the line up so everyone could catch up (particularly for left-coasters), but I think they try and put on the broadcast alerts when they can.

Anonymous said...

-Were in cent.IL,had the tv.on at
4:30 watch NN. College base ball was running late top of 9th. (don't much like college ball)it kept us glued to the tv,great game.
We didn't watch Twin last night because of the format.The network tried to take it off the first of the year but couldn't get the job done,so the next best thing to do is piss enough people off so they
will stop watching the show.
Tks. JD. Ron Il.

Anonymous said...

I disagree with your notion that the panel should change every week. I would like to see that panel stay the same so that fans would have some continuity. The idea of never knowing who is going to be there is confusing for most fans.

Lisa Hogan said...

spring rubber-
Maybe Mom gave all the boys the same tie for Christmas. :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:12AM,

One problem with ESPN's Monday shows is that they rotate the on-air talent through NASCAR racing and at the track assignments.

There is always someone on vacation or doing other things on Mondays. That led to stepping outside of the ESPN announcers and bringing in other guests.

My feeling is that once ESPN begins its own portion of the Sprint Cup coverage that you will see the network use the "A Team" down the stretch.


Desmond said...

Below the post-race article, I thought that none of the shows would explain what Brian Vickers was talking about. Fortunately, I was wrong. A great explanation from AB and the Wallaces.

I am dying to know, though: is the boy's first name spelled Loren, Warren, Lauren or something else? And is he a real relative of the family or an actor? I think it's the latter.

Desmond said...

OK, I should have read the article first. Loren/Lauren is an actor. Those ads are still very funny!

So my next question is, does JD or anyone else know his real name? And does he have a website, MySpace, or IMDB page?

Daly Planet Editor said...


Here is some info: "Many believe Lauren to be a flesh-and-blood prodigy who one day will shove opponents out of his way on the high banks at Daytona. That perception is a tribute to the work of Eddie Heffernan, a 14-year-old actor who has breathed honest-to-goodness life into Lauren's voice, mannerisms and ill-concealed contempt for his adult cousin."

I posted the link to this article on the bottom of the main page.


Anonymous said...

Think it was an okay diversion, but it was too much for too long with the Wallace's.

One segment or two, maybe, but an hour began to sound the same for every issue and answer

And the clip is plenty from the little smartass. Thats a one trick pony

Bray Kroter

Anonymous said...

I loved the show. It was fantastic and very entertaining.Those guys sure are funny.I do like rusty in the booth.He is much better than last year.

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- I too enjoyed the show, but don't think I'd want to see the Wallace brothers together on N-Now more than maybe twice a year.

I have no idea what ESPN Classic carries late at night, but I wonder why it could not carry "review" programs like N-Now, NFL Live, etc. at the scheduled time if a live event is going to delay the re-broadcast of such on ESPN or ESPN2. I realize that not everyone has Classic, but at least then those that do have Classic would have a place to catch all of the replay if a live event is running long. In any event, what better programming does Classic have??

RPM said...

It was a great show. NN has picked up right where the old INC left off. I'm actually surprised SPEED allowed Herman to be on the show.

AB continues to show why he's the premier host in NASCAR programming. The bit with Loren (sp?) Wallace was pure gold. Now if ESPN would just move the show to a dedicated primetime slot!

Newracefan said...

Fun show, Kenny was the biggest suprise for me; he wasn't that silly guy we see on Speed (I'm ok with that guy too). They sort of went a little overboard with the kid but it was funny. I agree I wouldn't want to see it every week but I would be open to more than once a season

Anonymous said...

To Sophia, Thanks for your concern. I did enjoy the show. I really like Kenny, especially the phone numbers part.

To Richard in NC. I did peek over at Classic during the long football game. Boxing was on.

JD, why can't shows like NN and others be shown on Classic and ESPN on the same night? Or, run the repeats on Classic the next day. Maybe then more viewers can see what they thought they were taping. See my earlier comment. My cable company offers SPEED on the upper tier (pay more), but it also includes Classic. Do others have this same deal?
Dot in LV

cjj1259 said...

I loved having the Wallace boys on!

I could have done with a bit less with Lauren Wallace.

I really enjoyed hearing Rusty and Mike's comments about Stephen and Chrissy. I've always thought Rusty had a tough job of having to commentate on Stephen's incidents on the track, he's been honest in calling it like it happened. That would be very hard for any parent to do.

Jr. is always a good interview.