Saturday, August 2, 2008
NASCAR Pins Hopes On Pocono
Nothing will do more to quiet the roar from the fans and the media about the tire problems at Indy than a great Pocono race on Sunday.
ESPN has all the heavy-hitters ready to go and will open the day with a one hour edition of NASCAR Now at 10AM ET on ESPN2. Either Nicole Manske or Ryan Burr will anchor, with Allen Bestwick present on the Infield Studio Set in Pocono.
Last week, this program was very effective in setting the table for racing and outstanding in content. As ESPN VP of Motorsports Rich Feinberg related earlier this season, the network will be using all of the on-air announcers assigned to these events to support programs like NASCAR Now this year. The change has been very good.
NASCAR RaceDay is up next on SPEED at 11AM. John Roberts hosts the two hour show, with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace alongside. This week the show will have a whole lot of guests for a whole lot of reasons.
NASCAR President Mike Helton will be along, as will Bob Owen from Sunoco and Tom Foley from the American Red Cross. This race is focused on a charity blood drive and Foley will speak to that issue. In terms of NASCAR folks, Kasey Kahne, AJ Allmendinger and Jimmy Elledge will be on the show.
Wendy Venturini will be having fun this weekend as she will have her regular Real Deal segment and will also be talking with the one and only Kiefer Sutherland. He will be on-hand as the Grand Marshal of the race and also to plug his latest movie. It should be interesting to see how much he knows about NASCAR.
Next-up is NASCAR Countdown on ESPN at 1PM. Allen Bestwick will lead this show alongside Brad Daugherty and Rusty Wallace. This is their first opportunity to address the Indy issues of last week and also to update the happenings in Montreal. Wallace was present for that race and worked in the booth with Randy LaJoie.
Race coverage of the Sprint Cup Series from Pocono will start at 2PM on ESPN. Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will handle the action from the broadcast booth. Down on pit road will be Dave Burns, Shannon Spake, Mike Massaro and Jamie Little. Massaro is just back from Montreal, where he hosted the pre-race show and also reported from the very wet pits. As usual, Tim Brewer will be in the Tech Center.
ESPN is making sure that Bestwick and company will remain a part of these telecasts, so viewers should look for him to host the race recaps and take control of the live program coming out of commercial breaks to facilitate some discussions. The on-air dynamic between Punch and Bestwick is always interesting to watch, especially when Punch returns to calling the race. After the event, ESPNEWS will be live with the post-race interviews from the Media Center as they have all season long.
Victory Lane on SPEED airs at 8PM. Last week, Spencer and Kenny Wallace were quite emphatic in their views about the Indy events. It led to this column and the corresponding comments from NASCAR fans. It should be very interesting to see how the show plays-out this week.
The second edition of the new one hour Sunday night version of NASCAR Now is on at 10PM. This program is a very good wrap-up show for all the activity of the weekend and ESPN uses the resources at the track to add to the content of this studio-based program. Nicole Manske or Ryan Burr will host.
Speaking of of NASCAR Now, viewers should keep an eye out for the Monday roundtable show at 5PM. This week, another theme show will put all four of the ESPN pit reporters on the set along with Bestwick as the host. It should finally be a good snapshot of the real personalities of these four and a test of how they interact away from pit road.
Monday on This Week in NASCAR at 8PM on SPEED the "odd couple" is back. Chad Knaus joins Michael Waltrip and host Steve Byrnes to recap Pocono. Knaus has really found his stride on this show with the encouragement of Byrnes and when Knaus and Waltrip get going on a topic the results can be unintentionally hilarious.
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