Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Marty Smith Gets A Chance To Shine
This season's turn-a-round of NASCAR Now has been nothing short of spectacular. The presence of Nicole Manske as both a viable studio host and a reporter from the tracks has been a key to this success. Add-in the one hour Monday shows hosted by Allen Bestwick and the hard work of the news-oriented Ryan Burr and things are hitting on all eight cylinders.
One voice that persevered through the chaos of 2007 after moving-over to the TV world was reporter Marty Smith. This season, Smith has been expanding his experiences to include front-page stories for ESPN the Magazine and featured interviews on ESPNEWS and SportsCenter. Wednesday, it was Smith's opportunity to host a NASCAR Now mid-week special from Joe Gibbs Racing.
This was a new experience for Smith who has not really been in the anchor chair, so to speak. For some reason, ESPN2 insisted on making a clearly under-the-weather Nicole Manske officially host the show from the Connecticut studio. She should have been given the day off.
Smith introduced a dynamic feature documenting the history of Gibbs Racing. His chat with JD Gibbs explaining the coach's absence due to a kidney stone and talking about the philosophy of the racing organization was interesting. Smith's interviewing skills worked well in this on-location situation.
Smith continued with Denny Hamlin, who graced ESPN with flip-flops and jeans. Tony Stewart was up next in an interview done slightly earlier. Smith did a remarkable job with Stewart and got some great personal information about the relationships he formed at Gibbs and what role they played in his life on a day-to-day basis.
It was a nice touch to feature Marc Davis on the program. This driver is going to make an impact on the sport when he arrives. That should probably be 2010. Next-up was Joey Logano and his answers were just as polite as Davis. The both showed-off one of the strengths of the Gibbs system, good public relations.
The tour of Gibbs Racing was hosted by Greg Zipadelli and finally gave fans a perspective of just how huge modern day NASCAR team facilities really are. Manske was inserted into the program again, and rather than let Smith continue with the program, it was Manske who spoke to Kyle Busch and his crew chief.
Event though Busch was in St. Louis testing, ESPN would have been better-off to let Smith continue to host this part of the show. Manske's questions were fine, but she was clearly not feeling well and Smith was available to continue the Gibbs Racing theme.
Smith was allowed to follow-up with JD Gibbs on the subject of Kyle Busch and this was a fitting way to close the show. NASCAR Now has the potential to continue to offer fans more glimpses at the inner-workings of NASCAR that we do not see at the track.
Now, having done three of these specials, ESPN may be understanding that there is an entire world of NASCAR shops and personalities located in a small area of North Carolina. Perhaps, NASCAR Now may set-up a shop of their own in Mooresville or Concord for 2009.
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