Monday, July 14, 2008

Ryan Burr Handles "The Roundtable" Live

Allen Bestwick is off on a scheduled vacation, so ESPN veteran Ryan Burr stepped-in to host the Monday one-hour edition of NASCAR Now.

Burr is known for his fast-pace on-the-air, which he learned from hosting the thirty minute "wheels" of news on the ESPNEWS Network. Putting the Chicagoland highlights on hold, Burr led his three panelists into a candid discussion of Ryan Newman being released from Penske Racing.

The panel this week consisted of first year ESPN commentator Ray Evernham, NASCAR Now contributor Boris Said and veteran ESPN reporter Mike Massaro. This group struggled to get some energy and excitement going last week with Bestwick at the helm. Burr was determined not to let that happen again.

There was a sharper edge to this program because of Burr's rapid-fire style. He had the panelists answering his questions quickly and then he would just pick right up where he left off. Rarely has a Monday panel run through the Sprint Cup highlights at such a quick pace.

The key to this program was that Burr was well-prepared. While Bestwick is one of the most experienced NASCAR TV veterans, Burr clearly took the time to get his ducks-in-a-row where highlights and questions were concerned. Sometimes, hearing Burr ask questions that were slightly naive was a bit different. It gave the panel the opportunity to address more fundamental issues than would normally be discussed.

"It wasn't the most exciting race from start-to-finish," said Burr about Chicagoland on Saturday night. He pointed the panelists to the issue of whether Kyle Busch had won the race on the last two laps or Jimmie Johnson had lost it. Burr hammered the point that Johnson was clearly upset that he could not handle Busch in a shootout.

One interesting aspect of this entire hour was Burr's effective handling of Boris Said. Burr used a very "short leash" with Said, aiming specific questions at him that called for specific answers. Burr worked Evernham and Said in tandem where racing issues were concerned and it paid-off.

The program used "soundbites" from Chicagoland throughout the broadcast to reinforce the topics Burr was referencing. NASCAR Now's use of this "sound" was perhaps the best of the season and showed a wide variety of drivers, not only the top finishers.

Bestwick is not a big fan of loud music, so apparently the staff decided to take advantage of his absence. The "music bed" was screaming under the announcers almost every time any shred of video hit the air. The generic music was eventually tough to take.

Massaro once again was a integral part of the show with his comments on a wide variety of topics. Many times, it was Massaro that stepped-in to take the heat off Evernham and Said on tough topics like who was going to make The Chase. Still flying well under the TV radar, Massaro has been the quiet rock of NASCAR on ESPN for many years.

If there was a better-edited highlights feature than the Chicagoland mid-show piece, I have not seen it this season. Featuring the voices of the NASCAR radio announcers combined with team radios and "natural sound," there may be nothing more effective on TV. These are the type of features fans deserve to see again during the off-season.

Since February, Kyle Busch has enjoyed being on NASCAR Now quite often. He has spoken with all three hosts and genuinely seems to enjoy himself with the crew. Busch joined the program from Joe Gibbs Racing and Burr pinned him down right away about the final restart and finish.

Burr had some stumbles with Busch because of his lack of in-depth NASCAR experience, but kept the interview on track. His question asking Busch what he would have done if Johnson had gone high is a classic. "Go low," calmly said Busch.

Sometimes, NASCAR Now has to interview their guests when only the show host is available. That is the reason the three panelists sometimes do not get to ask questions. There is little doubt that this interview would have been a tad better if Massaro had been allowed to step-in and help. Busch was pleasant, but there were not a lot of smiles and very little joking around.

Kudos to NASCAR Now for presenting a full highlight package of the Nationwide Series race from Friday night. The program made sure to add-in the classic post-race comment from Clint Bowyer saying "a monkey could win" in the Gibbs car. Nice touch to make sure and include the JD Gibbs response to Bowyer in the show and then let the panel discuss it.

Many Daly Planet readers wondered if Allen Bestwick would ever take a day off, and who would step-in to fill the void. With Bestwick finally on vacation, the choice of Ryan Burr to host seems to have paid-off. His news experience in handling live interviews and being well-prepared was obvious.

In the show, Burr also announced that NASCAR Now would be moving to 5PM. We will have more info when it becomes available. For East Coast fans, the program is now quickly becoming a DVR or TiVo property. Currently, the series repeats at Midnight Eastern Time.

Bestwick returns next week and will handle the stretch-run to the finish. Please give us your opinion of Ryan Burr and this edition of NASCAR Now.

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RPM said...

It was a good show, but it definitely was missing the AB touch. There was no "fun" in this edition of NN. It was strictly buisness.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed it. I know for example that lots of people like Johnny Benson, but I find him very boring and at other times the show just drags too.
This group had alot of energy from beginning to end. As for Ryan not having the years of experience and knowledge that AB has...I can live with it.
I look to this show for info and entertainment. I feel like it delivered both. And lets face, it was another race that was only made exciting because of the ending.

Dot said...

I thought Ryan did a good job. If AB takes any more time off, I'd like to see him fill in.

Who really needs to go is Boris. He can offer no real racing information (as in being in the race). He did make a qualifying comment today though. Ray and Mike are fine.

I would like to see a rotating "racing" driver every week. Sprint, NW or CTS, it doesn't matter.

Anonymous said...

Ryan Burr has improved quite a bit in my mind. I might of had some harsh comments about him early this season, but I really feel that he has worked hard at his NASCAR homework and therefore has shown credible improvemment.

Boris should simply move on to something other than ESPN, until he can start making every Cup race and lend some knowledgeable insight. Right now he's talking in circles and making an attempt at being a comedian.

The suits and ties STILL gotta go. That dress code has looked odd all year.

Finally, I'm surprised they haven't moved the wall mounted Plasma TV on the set.
(that is in the background - in the work bench area).
That TV needs to be moved to the BACK WALL where that hokey DAYTONA poster is. Replace the poster with the NASCAR NOW TV and the set would be more useful.

Anonymous said...

Ryan did a pretty good job. He's really come to become a fan favorite over the last year. He's grown on me :)

Agree about Boris. I like him enough (well I'm still upset over the cold shoulder he gave Marcos) but with what he's "contributed" any of us could have contributed, heck maybe even more :).

I wonder if Allen was kicking and screaming when they said he had to take vay cay. IIRC, short of when he broke his leg, I *think* there was only one IWC show he wasn't there at least the years I watched. I even have one where his voice wasn't behaving and he was still there :).

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Anonymous said...

Good program tonight. Mike Massaro was especially good. I don't ever feel like the roundtable is much fun even with Allen, but it is usually interesting and watchable.

I'm not surprised the daily airing of NASCAR Now is being bumped back, but I'm surprised Ryan said it's going to air at 5 PM every day. Last year they bumped it from its original spot of 6:30 PM and moved it to 6 right when college football rolled around. Now they're bumping it all the way back to 5 so the College Football Live show can be on at 6 PM. I guess it's about that time again, when college football rules on ESPN2.

Anonymous said...

Ray talked about the Budweiser deal almost as an afterthought at the very end of the show, did he and Ryan Burr even spend 10 seconds on it? I realize Ray says nothing to worry about and it's all taken care of in the contract. But didn't Tony Stewart have a contract with Gibbs through 2009? Didn't the Navy unexpectedly tell Brad K and Junior they're not coming back for 2009? Junior said he was wasn't expecting that announcement.

Contracts can change quickly and options are probably written in on both sides for opting out or for modifications. Somehow I didn't quite believe Ray tonight when he so quickly stated nothing will change. I thought he was using NN to present a quick "everything is great" owner image rather than a true analysis. The deal is less than 24 hours old, how does he know what the new company will do?

TexasRaceLady said...

While missing the light-hearted touch of AB, this show was alright.

I was happy that Ryan kept Boris on the subject at hand. Boris can get carried away.

I was surprised that the sale of Budweiser wasn't brought up, since Ray was sitting there. But then again, it may be too early to know if anything will change.

Mike Massaro was his usual quiet, authoritative self.

I'm getting used to the suits and ties, but why not let the men sit in proper chairs?

The time change has me baffled. Four in the afternoon will be hard for this old lady to remember.

All in all, a good show.

Newracefan said...

Ryan did a nice job but the pace was a little fast for me and not enough fun but good show no the less.

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Sophia said...

TRL they did briefly mention the Bud takeover but if you sneezed, you missed it. Ray said those things are covered in the contracts>!? Tell that to NEXTEL SPRINT Cup or whatever it's called now.

Will Beck beer be on the car by the end of the season? I was disappointed that was glossed over as well but it's early yet.

I thought Ryan did ok...I had some distractions but liked he kept it at a fast pace but maybe too fast for some things. Ryan did better than I expected but honestly, I think Nicole could do an hour fill in as well and she has an easier going personality.

Also get rid of the high schools and give them real man chairs. I can live with the suits if they can put them in adult chairs that sit on the floor. :)

I must say, if given a choice between a show that's too slow and drags...I prefer this snappier pace.

But the earlie time of 5pm STINKS...dinner time prep or folks not home from work yet..and good luck finding the replay without a court order and a search warrant. ESPN RARELY plays it when scheduled!!

Ritchie said...

I enjoyed the pace of the show. Mr. Burr was able to get everyone in on the conversation and kept everything on track. Nice job by Mr. Burr

The show reminded me a lot of the other sports shows such as Baseball Tonight. It definitely was stamped with the ESPN mold and that is not a bad thing. No channel can pack so much information into a short amount of time and still make it interesting. My wife, who absolutely hates ESPN and everything it stands for, even stopped to watch some of it. I am currently waiting on the apocalypse.

As for Boris Said, I don't know what else to say. I'm sure he is a nice guy, but this is business. He simply adds no value to the show. His answers make no sense and sound like jibberish. There are a lot of people who could fill that seat besides him.

Anonymous said...

What is so great about Ryan Burr is that he actually became a fan of NASCAR. What started out as a temporary job for him has now become an interest, and a bit of a passion and it shows in his work for ESPN.

Haus14 said...

I too liked the pace...I have absolutely nothing against AB, but this is certainly something Ryan could do every week and I would be fine with it.

Anonymous said...

I thought Monday's show was fantastic. Everybody on the panel had some good points and Burr did a great job directing the conversation towards all of the guests appropriately.

It was also nice to have a host who doesn't pontificate constantly. Bestwick drives me nuts.

chase said...

Hey John! Boy, did it seem strange without AB. I realize that everyone needs some time off but I think the 'powers-that-be' should have let Mike M. take over instead of using Burr. Burr grates on me and always has. Mike M is very knowledgeable and knows exactly the points to bring up for discussion and the questions to ask. Said has got to go -- Marcos Ambrose would be a great person to take over that spot - he has zeal, is a real racer, and obviously loves the sport. Said is too grumpy and I don't feel he has what it takes to be on camera at all. I will be glad when AB returns! And those suits have got to go . . .

Daly Planet Editor said...


I think they wanted to make sure that Ryan has someone like Mike on the panel for help an reference.

If you noticed, Massaro would step in quickly if the show missed a beat. He provided some good timely answers for Burr during discussions.

I do agree that Massaro deserves the chance to host, it would have been fun if Marty Smith were on the panel with Massaro hosting.


Anonymous said...

I thought Ryan did a nice job; though I'll be glad when Allen is back. I didn't find it lacking in 'fun' and the pace seemed good.

As for Ray/Bud, I think what he meant was that the new company has to complete what they have contracted for (whenever that runs out) unless both parties choose to negotiate otherwise. After that it would be up in the air like any other sponsorship (although Bud is a strong brand and I suspect they will be around a while). The Navy works very differently--I believe they have to complete the yearly bidding process, which is different from most sponsors.

I like Boris, but I don't think he's quite right for TV. However, Boris is a 'real' racer with passion and knowledge, he just doesn't express it well on TV. His team isn't *trying* to make all the races, like many other teams he lacks full time sponsorship and resources. Personally, I think Craven has been excellent, and he isn't racing in NASCAR at all now...not sure that's a requirement for this type of analysis show. You're looking for a perspective on how a driver feels about situations, and I think that's still relevant. I think we need to be realistic that finding a current full time driver who has time to do the show and also has excellent broadcasting skills would be an ideal, but is asking a lot.

Anonymous said...

I prefer AB to Ryan Burr, but I find Burr OK on an occasional basis. I think ESPN needs to be more careful with the composition of the panel when Burr hosts to make sure he has the proper support.

I would like to see Johhny Benson and Ricky Craven appear regularly, perhaps on a rotating basis, to represent the driver's point of view. Both have wide experience in NASCAR, and both are observant and thoughtful. Their comments are always worth hearing. I don't consider it necessary that the driver's viewpoint be provided by someone who currently drives in the cup races himself. It isn't necessary to perform the act yourself in order to be knowledgeable. If it were, there would be no male obstetricians.

In stick and ball sports, it is usually the journeyman players or those fighting to hang on who make the best managers and coaches. I think those who have to struggle more are better students of their sports than those who reach star status. Benson and Craven are two examples from NASCAR, and I would like to see more of them.

Michigan fan

Dot said...

To Glenc1& Michigan Fan,

After I posted earlier, I realized that a current driver couldn't be on NN. No time to get to CT (they really need to rent space in NC). Both of you brought up good points with Benson and Craven. I do like them better than Boris. At least they have raced longer.

To JD,

Mike as host and Marty in the reporter seat? Heaven.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the show with Ryan Burr, but not nearly as much as with Allen B., as it seemed shallower. With Allen B, I believe he is better able to follow up a subject and go in an unplanned direction. At the same time, if I had not become accustomed to Allen I would have been very pleased with the show.

Since I have been a fan of Boris Said for many years, I enjoy hearing what he has to say. I still believe he is getting a bad rap for standing up for principle- and obviously lost the PR battle to Ambrose.

Anonymous said...

those drivers have not raced longer--they've raced longer in *NASCAR* series.

I think a driver's perspective is relevant no matter what the series.

I just have to wonder how many 'race fans' even know that sports car racing even exists. Give it a try, you might find it interesting. ...lots of the NASCAR people do, and they're even looking there for talent.

Anonymous said...

It matters to me where drivers have gained their experience. I have been following NHRA drag racing for many years. If you were to bring Don Garlits, Bob Glidden, and John Force together to tell drag racing stories, I would be glued to the TV. If they switch topics and start talking NASCAR, I will start channel surfing to find something better. Kenny Bernstein is the only drag racer I can think of with any real NASCAR relevant experience. Besides piloting top fuel cars and funny cars to championships, he also owned a NASCAR cup team some years back (1980's ?). Beyond that, I would put my own knowledge of NASCAR against theirs any day.

The experience of Juan Pablo Montoya and other prominent names from open wheel racing shows that even great drivers have a lot to learn when they change the type of cars and racing. It doesn't reduce my admiration for their accomplishments in other series, but it does show that heavy "stock cars" with small tires are an altogether different animal.

Michigan fan

Anonymous said...

I like Boris on the show ... And how funny people are in complaining about the PR stunt with Marcos Ambrose, but I bet all of them tuned into the Cup race at Sears Point to see IF there'd be any kind of incident between Boris & Marcos ... And you'll tune into the Nationwide races at Montreal and Watkins Glen ... It was a fabulous PR stunt that worked ... And ESPN will be reminding people about it as well as Montoya & Harvick's dinner discussion from last year's race at Watkins Glen ...

I like Ricky Craven, but he's never raced in the COT ... Same with JohnnyB (He hasn't been in a Cup race this year, but has a strong biased toward Toyota) ... Boris has actually been in two Cup races this year in that flippin' COT ...

The problem with this week's Monday roundtable was when they were showing the in-car footage from Jimmie's car ... but they either drowned out the audio with MRN VO or music ... You couldn't hear that Kyle had jacked up Jimmie's rear end and was in essence spinning his tires (as they weren't on the ground) ...

Bowyer's monkey in the 20 car was from the Daytona race ... Not Chicagoland ... Unfortunately, the panel didn't seem to have a problem with JD & Joe Gibbs talking smack about Bowyer, et al ... But, they had a problem with Bowyer making the monkey comment ... Double standards of hypocrisy are not flattering to a show that's NOT supposed to show bias ... The way the 18 car ran on Friday, I'm pretty sure it was a 20 car that was just repainted ...

The overt use of loud music has to go ... The 15-34yo single male demographic is NOT the main demographic of NASCAR races ...

Ray couldn't say much about the Anheuser-Busch sale affecting his sponsorship contract ... He's hopeful that InBev won't get it thrown out as InBev's MO is to dramatically cut ad budgets ... He's probably also hoping the Grupo Modelo rejects the InBev offer & the merger goes away ...