Sunday, August 3, 2008
In-Progress At Pocono: "NASCAR Countdown" And Sprint Cup Series Race (ESPN 1PM)
Here we go with the big shot-in-the-arm that NASCAR so badly needs this week. It will be up to Allen Bestwick to set the tone for the day when he hosts NASCAR Countdown at 1PM to begin ESPN's live coverage.
Bestwick will be joined by Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace in the Infield Pit Center. Wallace has just returned from a very wet race in Montreal where NASCAR used rain tires, windshield wipers and brake lights for the first time. The question is, will ESPN show highlights and what will Wallace say about the rain issues?
Bestwick will have Dave Burns, Mike Massaro, Jamie Little and Shannon Spake as pit reporters for the pre-race show. This hour should be a very diverse mix of the fall-out from both Indy and Montreal mixed with the hype of both Pocono and the upcoming Chase for the Championship.
At 2PM, ESPN will switch to race coverage and that means Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree upstairs in the announce booth. This big track with very repetitive laps should be a true test for Punch and company of how they can handle a very long and sometimes very boring Cup race.
Look for Bestwick and the Infield Studio crew to be used a lot more in this telecast once the race hits the midpoint. Last season, this was the now infamous "shut-up and drive" race that included on-camera celebrity interviews under green and also SportsCenter updates. One big issue was Suzy Kolber and her crew talking about the race on-camera while the cars roared by in the background at full speed.
This season, ESPN has the potential to put on a very good show from the HD pictures to the brand new line-up of announcers. The Pocono race will be the first good test of ESPN's Sprint Cup commitment and may well signal a positive shift in momentum for this TV crew down the stretch.
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