Tuesday, July 8, 2008
"NASCAR Now" Misses A Reporter
Allen Bestwick normally plays host to a revolving panel of three on the Monday hour-long edition of NASCAR Now. This week all three panelists were in place, but one perspective was missing.
It was Johnny Benson who joined Ray Evernham and Boris Said in the ESPN2 studio to talk about the weekend at Daytona and preview the upcoming Chicagoland race. Bestwick did not mention to viewers why reporter Marty Smith was not on the panel as previously announced.
This changed the dynamic of the show and left Bestwick as the only media representative. Normally, ESPN reporter Mike Massaro has been the semi-regular media guest with the exception of themed shows like the recent "all Wallace brothers" program. Marty Smith and Brad Daugherty have also sat in the media chair on the panel.
There is certainly no problem with having two drivers and one crew chief/owner making up the program, but it leaves a slice of the NASCAR pie on the table. Massaro and Smith bring observations from a media perspective, something Bestwick is lacking because of his current Infield Studio role.
In the host role on this show, Bestwick had to work harder than normal to get some energy out of the panel. The three personalities he had to work with are just not the type to respond in the same way as a Dale Jarrett or a Marty Smith. There was simply no spark for the discussion.
Viewers might have found it interesting that the authoritative Benson often left Said with nothing to say. Benson has a vast amount of experience compared to Said in NASCAR and currently drives full-time in the Craftsman Truck Series. This appeared to be an uncomfortable role for Said and it showed.
Responding to Said's comments about bumping on the closing laps, Benson offered the opposite view and told Said it was not OK to just drive "like a dog with a hand grenade in its mouth" as Boris likes to say. Said's own accident in the race was not discussed.
Normally, this program features two "liveshot" interviews with NASCAR personalities. Surprisingly, this episode did not. Bestwick just gamely led the panel through a wide variety of issues that received factual but not very interesting answers.
Fans of Johnny Benson had to be pointing to the fact that he and Evernham usually teamed to answer the NASCAR questions on this program. Benson had a long run on Inside NEXTEL Cup on SPEED before being dismissed, and one wonders why he does not show-up on other NASCAR TV shows.
It seems that Bestwick enjoys Benson and Massaro on this Monday show and both have been frequent guests. As ESPN takes over the Sprint Cup Series telecasts in a couple of weeks, it should be interesting to see which panelists the NASCAR Now Producer selects down the stretch.
This was an informative show but had less of a vibrant feel than most episodes. Despite working hard, Bestwick was not able to make the panel respond and have some fun with their comments. Having no interviews or liveshots in the program also contributed to a less than stellar hour.
Once again, NASCAR Now paid less attention to the Nationwide Series than was deserved. Since ESPN telecasts the entire series, this continues to be confusing. After much-too-brief highlights, Bestwick led the panel into a discussion about Toyota having an advantage in the Nationwide Series.
Bestwick closed-out the show with a Chicagoland preview and Evernham showed his value to ESPN with a great explanation of what teams will face running at night under the newly-installed lights without testing.
While all three personalities made good points in this program, it was clear that the show needed a spark from a media type or even commentator Brad Daugherty. The three "human ingredients" Bestwick was given were familiar, but no matter how hard he stirred there was just no excitement or fun to be found from this combination.
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