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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