Sunday, July 20, 2008
Reporters Take Center Stage Again On "NASCAR Now" (5PM ET)
The TV executives in-charge of NASCAR Now seem to take great pride this season in changing the ingredients that host Allen Bestwick must use to create a brand new one-hour show each Monday.
Even after an off-week for the Sprint Cup Series, the Producers have been smart enough on this next Monday to invite a variety of NASCAR writers and reporters to the show. They are going to offer a season-to-date perspective and talk about some top issues in the sport. It certainly is an all-star line-up.
The outspoken Jenna Fryer from the Associated Press will be there. Fryer is a frequent guest on the Tradin' Paint program on SPEED and her discussions of various NASCAR topics with panelist Kyle Petty have been memorable. Fryer is also heard on Sirius Satellite radio and offers a weekly opinion column along with her AP news stories that are circulated worldwide.
As an African-American, Gary Graves from USA Today should offer some interesting views on many current NASCAR news topics. Graves has a long history in motorsports and many racing fans may know him from his recent NHRA coverage of the Kalitta accident. This will be his first appearance on NASCAR Now and hopefully not his last. Graves has a lengthy sports journalism background and his perspective will be interesting to hear.
Finally, ESPN's own Lead Reporter Marty Smith will round-out the panel. An original member of NASCAR Now, Smith suffered through a painful first season with this TV series. This year, revitalized by new hosts and a new format, NASCAR Now has been storming through the TV landscape and Smith has been an integral part. His ability to relate on-camera to the viewer and his laid-back style have worked well for him at ESPN.
This panel has the potential to produce one of NASCAR Now's best shows. The key to the hour is going to be Bestwick. This season, he has sometimes chosen to actively participate as a panelist and sometimes chosen to simply be the host. This is a tough call, as he is a NASCAR veteran with a tremendous amount of experience in the sport. On this particular Monday, he may be better served to toss out a topic and then direct traffic.
In 2008, it has only been ESPN that has confronted the sometimes difficult issues associated with the sport. NASCAR Now has not shied away from controversy, and all three on-air hosts of this series have done quite well with these types of issues.
On this Monday, Bestwick has a menu available to him that swings wildly from the COT to Mauricia Grant. Tony Stewart has just shocked the sport and several other historic teams are currently on the verge of collapse. With the news this week that GM is pulling-back on NASCAR sponsorships, it will be Bestwick's challenge to weave his way through these topics with this unique panel.
On the Monday before ESPN begins Sprint Cup coverage for the season, Bestwick has the opportunity to send the network down the road with what might be the highest-profile "roundtable" of the season.
There will be a full column up on this program shortly after it concludes. Your comments about the panelists and the season-to-date are welcome on this post. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.