Monday, August 4, 2008

Pit Reporters Talk Pocono On "NASCAR Now"

This week Allen Bestwick hosted an "all ESPN" edition of the Monday version of NASCAR Now. This one hour roundtable is a group discussion that has a different cast every week. Sometimes, the show has a theme. On this Monday, Bestwick welcomed all four of the NASCAR on ESPN pit reporters to the show.

Bestwick took the lead in the highlights and directed the conversation to the pit reporters that covered specific drivers. This put a very different perspective on the program and allowed first-hand information to flow freely.

While ESPN viewers are used to Mike Massaro on this program, Jamie Little was the surprise of the panel. Moving over to NASCAR from the IRL, Little was able to express herself in a much more dynamic manner in this studio setting. Viewers were finally able to get a good feeling for her personality and sense of humor over the course of this hour.

Dave Burns began his pit reporting life as the class clown and has now migrated into a potential studio host himself. His TV resume is substantial, but he has always operated under-the-radar where his NASCAR appearances have been concerned. ESPN has given Burns several opportunities to expand his pit reporting and serve as host for the pre-race show on the Nationwide Series.

Shannon Spake is the newest member of the group and she held her own in this free-for-all format. Spake has struggled in some aspects of her ESPN TV life, but has been coming along now that she has been made a permanent member of the pit reporting crew.

Bestwick led his panelists through the race recap team-by-team. It was this point in the show that viewers began to understand how much information flows to the pit reporters when they are covering multiple teams. All four gave outstanding answers to Bestwick's questions and painted a great picture of what happened at Pocono.

Massaro was best when he spoke about the Montreal experience. Using his normally good humor, Massaro reminded viewers that the Canadian crowd stayed during the rain until the end. He took the high road and left out the negative issues that affected the event.

Bestwick took the time to review some questions about how TV pit reporters operate. The answers included the fact that pit reporters are assigned by driver, that the winning driver takes his pit reporter along to Victory Lane and that all the reporters make their own notes.

Winding-up the show was the Watkins Glen preview where the panelists did a solid job of recapping the race last season and picking their favorites for next weekend. Massaro suggested that perhaps Marcos Ambrose has something to prove after losing in Montreal. Hopefully, the TV crew will follow-up on that issue on Sunday.

This was another successful theme show for this Monday franchise. Next week, after a road course race, the panel will consist of Boris Said, Ray Evernham and Randy LaJoie.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


TexasRaceLady said...

This show was FUN!

There is a heck of a lot more to a pit reporter than I ever imagined. The amount of information they gather is astounding.

I always wondered how they selected which drivers they covered. And, most of all, how it was decided who went to VL.

And all those notes they take!

The personalities really came through. AB did a good job of throwing out a subject and letting them go.

I have a new respect for the pit reporter. Good job ladies and gentlemen.

Anonymous said...

And they all appeared to genuinely like each that was cool.

Anonymous said...

Yes texasracelady it was FUN.
I had no idea how much prep work the pit reporters do & how they get the "pits" they did was very informative.
Jamie Little was very surprising, she was much more relaxed and easy to listen to. MM & DB were very funny in their own right.

Thanks for the insight NN.
AB was his usual excellent self

Sophia said...

VERY fun show. I totally enjoyed it... :)

glenc1 said...

I 'knew' in my head they must do a lot of prep (they'd have to just to keep up...) But it was interesting to hear *how* they do it. Great fun and they all seem to know each other's styles and work well together. One of the best shows I've seen.

Newracefan said...

Very interesting show and I have more respect for Pit Reporters now. Shannon seems much more put together then I thought, she just needs to present the information a little better. Perhaps there is hope after all. Now if we can just find out who's idea it is not to follow up on the out of the race/ off the track teams we'll be doing good. For some reason I do not think it's the pit reporters who are leaving us in the lurch.

Vicky D said...

I'm sorry I missed this one - I was at work getting ready for TS Edouard - doesn't everyone feel sorry for me? Did they show or talk about Jack Arute's good work at Montreal on Saturday?

SonicAD said...


IIRC, a few years ago, maybe in 04 or 05, during the Chase, Shannon was doing a weekly show on SPEED with Marty Smith, and I thought she was pretty good on that. No surprise that she does fine here as well.

Anonymous said...

sonic--backseat drivers I believe it was called :)

SonicAD said...

Now that I've actually watched today's show, I agree it was awesome, and I was also very pleased to hear Goodyear has enough rain tires left for the Nationwide Series at Watkins Glen this week. Rain is forecast for this Saturday, so I'm really hoping we get another rain race!

Gary said...

My wife and I watched it during supper. Married 38 years, The show took the place of conversation.

That's a good thing, on a Monday.

Way to go ESPN!!! Great format, and AB was of course super-prepared.

Do it again.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoyed todays show. Everyone got along really good. I loved the sense of humor everyone had. I hope ESPN does this again sometime. It was very enjoyable to watch. I give it an A+

Dot said...

I'm just now watching NN. Good show so far. I too, am impressed with all the p/rs do. I'd like to see a "behind the scenes" of them working.

Ditto to you nrf @8:06pm.

Just heard about KBs pit road violation. This is the exact reason the pre race show should be cut in half or, eliminate the Countdown show. We could've heard about this during a post race show.

To Vicky D, they showed Jack interviewing Carl when the race was called. And yes, you do have my sympathy. Hope you're safe.

Jaysond said...

Fantastic, A+! I'm not sure if this particular combination came about by accident or was actually a brilliant idea on someone's part, but it definitely was the best race recap show I have ever seen. They didn't just zip through the finishing order, they spent a couple minutes providing "inside information" on many of the notable race teams (29, 88, 48, 18, 8, etc.). The pit reporters (who'd have thunk it) brought a new, fresh perspective to the table, with new, relevant information. This is a combination that MUST be repeated! It takes the role of the pit reporters to a whole new level, I hope the networks realize how much these folks really have to offer to the fans the day after the race. They were each great to listen to, and with AB leading, I don't think this show could have been better. Perhaps going a little deeper in the field, but I'm not complaining.

Thanks ESPN for taking last year's train wreck and turning it into must see TV.

Anonymous said...

Too bad they didn't show the replay at Midnight - I was ready for it!

Karen said...

I think Jamie Little is much prettier in her civvies and no ponytail.

SonicAD said...

The replay is on right now... it got moved back because of a baseball rain delay over on ESPN.

Anonymous said...

This was the best NASCAR Now show I've seen. I hope ESPN makes this a regular Monday item.

While a great show I felt Shannon was trying to establish her own credibility. She does a great job in the pits on the weekend but she showed that she is the lowest on the totem pole when throwing Jamie Little under the bus about her notes.

I definateyl feel that Jamie Little could move succesfully into the booth and replace Rusty Wallace.

I love how they explained the breakdown of who covers who. I was at Phoenix last year in the pits and trust me these guys are always on the run. Just ask the trooper that Jamie Little wore out all afternoon.

Dave is one of the all time best pit reporters on TV. He has a feel for what the viewers what to know during the race.

Mike is good at getting out facts but seems to have an agenda to "scoop" stories. Rather he focus on the race and the stories of that race then his own next big story / quote.

Shannon is doing a great job and will develop into a superb reporter / commentator picking this all star teams brains.


speedangel said...

It was nice seeing the pit reporters in a less frantic environment for a change. I really enjoyed getting their perspectives and seeing how they prepare. It gave me the idea that there could be a show, maybe an episode of NASCAR Confidential, that just follows them for a weekend. Of course, it would probably have to be Fox reporters featured if that episode ever came about.

Delenn said...

I feel this episode of NN shows one thing - just how under-used the pit reporters are, and just what the broadcasters are missing. This was a great show, with well prepared people, yet when it comes to raceday, I can turn off the audio on the pit stops and can pretty much say what they will say. Someone has to come up with how to use these people much better than at the moment, because this shows how much they are wasted.

Anonymous said...

My favorite NASCAR radio show is the "Pit Reporters" produced by PRN. I have always enjoyed hearing the points of view provided by reporters "in the trenches" especially when it comes to reviewing the most recent race. Bravo, ESPN - it was one of the best Monday review shows of the year IMHO.

Richard in N.C. said...

SUPER show, except for 1 thing - it should have been done much earlier in the season so the pit reporters are more than just faces on camera. This seems to me a show that ESPN ( & FOX) should do early every season.

It never ceases to amaze me how very much better ESPN's coverage of NASCAR has become over 2007 with really only modest changes - that is just by moving a couple of people around. ESPN's coverage could have been dramatically improved in 2007 just by moving Allen B.

Lou said...

Until this spring, when we attended our last race at Martinsville (with no plans to attend another NASCAR race ever for reasons other than to discuss on this column.)

For all the races we attended, yes we noticed the "pit reporters" and listened on our scanner at how they have to be able to react in an instant. The chatter that we do not hear on TV vs. what we hear at the track gives us who have insight to both that what they do is indeed a tribute to what they do.

Lou said...

And I am happy to see that the Monday NN was able to let the pit reporters shine and let us in on some of the things they do they we do not see.

This was a Monday show that I did enjoy very much. Thank you AB and pit reporters. Keep up all you do.

Anonymous said...

Great show! Very informative and entertaining. Who better to know what is going on than those on the front line of battle! : )

Anonymous said...

I actually was somewhat dreading this show, but it was fantastic!

All four of the pit reporters really let their personalities shine and showed how much the know about racing. They all came across as very knowledgeable and professional.

I had forgotten about Shannon Spake on Backdoor Drivers. Thanks for reminding me. That was a great show...