Monday, August 18, 2008

Craven Really Clicks On "NASCAR Now"

Ricky Craven has been writing about the sport for some time now, but this year he has been featured on selected episodes of NASCAR Now. The Monday hour features a recap of the weekend's racing and has a trio of panelists who change each week.

Allen Bestwick has single-handedly carved a niche for ESPN2 on Mondays where NASCAR is concerned. This week, Bestwick hosted Ray Evernham, Mike Massaro and Craven. This trio turned-out to be a very good combination.

Evernham has proven to be much more valuable to this program from a crew chief perspective and continues to offer detail-oriented explanations that work well to clear-up issues remaining from the weekend. Massaro has been Bestwick's right-hand man and is a frequent guest on this TV series. His perspective as a reporter working pit road for the races always serves the program well.

It is Craven, however, who makes a mark every time he is on NASCAR Now. His personality works very well on TV and that is an asset that cannot be purchased or learned. Just like Dale Jarrett, Craven lets others speak first and then quietly has the last word.

David Ragan was the guest and he showed a very controlled and more polished personality where racing was concerned. Finishing third was explored by Bestwick who focused on the key pit stop where Ragan himself made the decision to stay out. Ragan did a good job in the interview and kept things postive.

The big news of the week was "magnet-gate" with the Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series car and the NASCAR dyno. The program used footage from all parties concerned to present a very balanced overview of the incident and the reasons behind it. Massaro provided the background information on why the dyno tests were being done at MIS.

Most interesting was Ray Evernham insisting that this incident was not about racing, but just about a team protecting something they had worked hard to gain. "The bottom line is, it wasn't cheating," said Evernham. "It was trying to hide an advantage. I don't think that they (NASCAR) should take points away from them for that."

Craven's response to this issue was that the stigma attached to it is going to affect the Gibbs Racing reputation and that is the biggest shame. "This didn't need to happen," said Craven. His point was all the victories of this season for Gibbs are now perhaps a bit murky where the fans are concerned.

"Since we are all dressed like lawyers, I am going to talk like one," said Massaro. "It may not be cheating...but it is obstruction of justice at the very least." Massaro's point was that NASCAR was simply seeking the truth about horsepower and trying to alter that outcome was going to result in some penalties.

This is the type of intelligent discussion that fans search for on TV and this season the Monday edition of NASCAR Now has delivered all year long. This week's trio of panelists was one of the best in terms of free-flowing coversation, clearly defined roles and respect for the views of others.

Bestwick may be keeping an ironman pace, but he seems to be none the worse for wear with three months left in the NASCAR season. Missing only one show this year because of vacation, he is eventually going to get to look back on a whole lot of faces who graced the ESPN2 studios on his new Monday night franchise.

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Anonymous said...

"The bottom line is, it wasn't cheating," said Evernham. "It was trying to hide an advantage. I don't think that they (NASCAR) should take points away from them for that."

That's explicitly NOT intelligent discussion. That's just plain old ignorance, or the observation of a cheater.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 7:16PM,

Or a guy on a TV show expressing his view on the subject.


cvt said...

Bestwick has done a fine job with his rotation and Massaro has proven to be a real asset. I was not a fan of Craven while he was driving, but I find he really shines on-air. The contrast between him and Rusty Wallace is stark.

I also believe Knaus outperforms Evernham.

Anonymous said...

NOT cheating?

Well, I guess if ESPN wanted a race-team-management apologist, they got one.

Newracefan said...

It's Ray's opinion and he's allowed to have it. I am not sure if I agree with him. I guess if the employee/employees responsible a punished severly by JGR then I may agree if not I don't know. I think Ray's real point is that Nascar should not be releasing the numbers to all the teams and punish those who work harder. He may have a point.

Ricky Craven does an excellent job and I would welcome him back anytime.

Decent show overall, a little heavy on the Bubble Boys and never an update on Dave Blaney or the fact that the car almost tipped over. I actually learned more about the race than during the race some how I don't think that is the way it is suppose to be.

Jessica said...

Not NASCAR Tv but in other media news, Tony Stewart on his radio show tonight told Ryan Newman that they will let MM have the 4 and Ryan Newman will run the 39, a number close to Ryan's heart.

TexasRaceLady said...

I really enjoyed this show. The information and opinions flowed freely and intelligently. While I may not agree with all of the opinions expressed, I respect the freedom to make them.

Ricky Craven has really made more of an impression on me as a member of the round table than he ever did as driver. Very intelligent and precise in his explanations.

I'm with NRF, I wish they'd given us some news about Dave Blaney.

Sophia said...


I hate to be acronym challenged, but who is MM?

I thought the guys on the show were great but I missed the first few tired of watching little league...After 20 minutes, if I heard the word bubble boy one more time I was gonna be sick.

And yet Blaney's wreck was not, sorry I turned off the show.

Oh, I did hear Evernham's comment about the magnets but I thought maybe just being 5 years as a NASCAR fan I didn't appreciate the "grey area's" in the Etch-A-Sketch rule book of NASCAR. :) But it was one of those political comments, lol.

Jessica said...

Morgan McClure

Illpolo said...


MM stands for Morgan-McClure Motorsports. The number 4 Kodak car was helmed most successfully by Ernie Irvan and Sterling Marlin, while other drivers included Bobby Hamilton, Robby Gordon (for like 5 races), Skinner, LePage, Jimmy Spencer, Scott Wimmer, Ward Burton, and the list goes on.

The first drivers each won a Daytona 500 and a bunch of other races, but the team's performance fell off after that.

Ward Burton was signed for 2007, but financial problems caused them to sit out in 2008.

Jessica said...

Morgan McClure

Sophia said...

Wow, thanks for the explanation guys...nice to hear the history behind the numbers.

I LOVE this blog I learn so much.

bevo said...

Evernham displayed a rationalizing usually only seen in a politician with his cheating comment. I have a hard time swallowing anything he, Waltrip or Knaus have to say about cheating. Their records on that subject speak for themselves.

The more interesting statement by Evernham for us is that Bristol, which some fans claim is a bore since the introduction of the COT, is fascinating because of the race inside the race. In other words the strategy. Any chance that ESPN will follow that in their race coverage? I think we all know the answer to that question.

blogcritic08 said...

I think Ricky Craven does an exceptional job in the studio, he is very well spoken and does reflect a drivers point of view very well, i think the man deserves a contract with one of the major broadcasters as a full time commentator, he was also a very good driver, IMHO.

Anonymous said...

As far as Evernham, I think many were expecting him to chastise JGR, much like Roush did, simply because he owns a rival manufacturer. Perhaps the owners realize that there is not that big of an advantage to what JGR did, AND in this soundbyte world, last thing Evernham needs to do is go on TV and demand JGR is banned from the sport, and then his team gets caught cheating. Jack Roush apparently has never learned that lesson even though his cheating cost Mark Martin a championship a few years back.

It's no secret that Chrysler's re-entry into the sport had a LOT to do with Evernham leading the charge, anyone thinking different is naive. I've always been a huge Craven fan back to when he drove the Kodiak car. He has always been thoughtful and well-spoken, but due to his lack of success aside from 2 really big wins in his Cup career, he's known as one of the first concussion drivers who has been seen as damaged goods since his wreck in Texas in 97. He, Park, Nadeau, and some others in that group. He has transitioned very well to covering NASCAR, but he's not enough of a name driver to get a job in the booth. He still has the itch to race but he's probably a little old for a top flight ride in any of the series aside from trucks.
Anyway, back to the program, Craven is kind of like Johnny Benson in that he's not there to be the show and be bombastic and crack a joke every sentence, even though that style works well for some, he's simply there to lend his expertise on drivers, tracks, cars, and the NASCAR way in a well spoken manner. He's kind of like someone you could sit by at a bar and talk racing and actually learn something.

Anonymous said...

I meant owns a team driven by a rival manufacturer.

majors house said...

I thought that this was one of the best shows we have seen on the Monday night NASCAR Now. I really thought that conversation about Magnetgate was the best part of the show and it showed the real personalites of Ray, Allen, Mike and Ricky. I loved it ans wish that they would let these three work the Monday show more often together.

majors house said...

I think that cheating is cheating and Ray did disappoint me there, but Mike Masero put the situation in real perspective.

Anonymous said...

So if ESPN covers a race and focuses heavily on The Chase, everybody rips them - but when Sainted Allen Bestwick hosts a show that focuses heavily on The Chase, everybody gives them a free pass?

My god - if I heard Bestwick say "bubble boy" one more time I was going to damage my television.

I loved Ray's comment about the dyno magnets. It's nice to hear honest opinions from people.

Evernham, Craven, and Massaro were all great on the show. I can't say the same for Bestwick.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 10:16AM,

It was almost like AB was getting paid every time he said those words.

By the end of the race and the Monday show it was two words I don't ever want to hear again.

If they change the focus of Bristol from the racing to The Chasing it is going to be a very long night.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Of course Evernham approves of cheating, he's shown that time and time again.

JD said...

Wouldn't it be nice if ESPN would allow the viewer to actually see the person that's doing the talking during these discussions instead of replaying the same racecar highlights over, and over, and's distracting if you're attempting to listen to the conversation that's happening.

ESPN needs to modify their paradigm a bit and let viewers see fewer highlights/lowlights and more of the panel. Highlights are OK when they are during commentary, but not during an intelligent discussion such as NN usually has on Monday evenings.

A good example of this, as I recall, was during the NN that had all reporters on the panel. I don't recall quite so many replays and the show seemed much 'friendlier' to me. How can a viewer relate to a panelist when he's watching the 3rd replay of an inane happening on the track...

Another JD

Richard in N.C. said...

What I understood Evernham to say was that the placing of the magnets under the accelerators (1) had to be premeditated, but (2) should not result in a loss of points since it was not an in-race violation. It did not appear to me that he was saying what the JGR people did was OK.

Anonymous said...

I like Craven,but I didn't think he added that much last night. I did enjoy Evernham's explanation of how piston failures occur at Michigan.

Anonymous said...

amazing how these nets hire all of the people that speedvision "took a chance on" and developed, and now espn and speed are production geniuses?

Anonymous said...
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