Monday, September 22, 2008

Big Monday For NASCAR's TV Partners

The celebration by all concerned over an exciting Sprint Cup Series race from Dover is not going to end when the track is empty. Both ESPN2 and SPEED are giddy with the anticipation of putting together a Monday review show with this outstanding COT event as the centerpiece.

Although they use exactly the same content and race footage, NASCAR Now and This Week in NASCAR could not be more different. It is this difference that sets them apart and lets all kinds of NASCAR fans enjoy the Monday TV highlights.

Allen Bestwick and his three NASCAR Now panelists sit in suits-and-ties on a custom-designed High Definition set in the ESPN Studios. Perched on high stools like little islands, the only interaction between the four announcers is conversation.

Steve Byrnes and his two TWIN panelists sit in easy chairs on a Low Definition set in a studio where the dumpster guy and the UPS man can be heard through the rear door. This season the panelists have spiffy matching shirts, but where weekly panelist Michael Waltrip is concerned, socks are still optional.

The diversity between these two shows is a mirror of the diversity of the sport. At many tracks white wine mixes with cold beer and hamburgers sizzle side-by-side with Wolfgang Puck pizzas. When it comes to NASCAR fans, sometimes the action on the track is not the only show in town.

Bestwick resurrected a franchise that was in deep trouble and the results have been nothing short of fantastic. Erik Kuselias single-handedly made Monday evenings on ESPN2 a wasteland for NASCAR fans and the network let him finish out the entire 2007 season.

Now, Monday at 5PM and again at Midnight for West Coast viewers has become ESPN's NASCAR version of "must see TV." If there was a TV rating for a program being recorded for later viewing, this would be a good one to sample.

ESPN hits Bestwick with one of the most unique challenges in sports broadcasting every single week. Take a constantly changing panel and present a consistently interesting show. If the same combination of faces appear twice, it is never in a row and is usually for a logistical reason like travel schedules.

This Monday, Bestwick has Boris Said, Ray Evernham and Mike Massaro on-hand to discuss Dover. This fundamental combination of a driver, a crew chief and a journalist has worked best for this program all season long. Monday should be no exception.

While Bestwick enjoys the tight control and squeaky-clean atmosphere of NASCAR Now, Steve Byrnes loves the casual and chaotic atmosphere of TWIN. Originating from the NASCAR Media Group studios beside the highway in South Charlotte, Byrnes is effectively sitting in the exact same position Bestwick occupied for so many years while hosting Inside Winston/NEXTEL Cup Racing.

This week Byrnes will have Chad Knaus teamed-up with Waltrip on a show that many folks believe needs one more panelist to be as good as possible. Three voices make for a conversation while two make for a difference of opinion.

Knaus has been the surprise of the season for TWIN. A regular on the NASCAR Performance show with Larry McReynolds, Knaus has come into his own this season on TV. Having a veteran host like Steve Byrnes on-hand has helped Knaus to establish his own identity alongside that of Waltrip. Over the years, Waltrip has frustrated many panelists and several hosts with his style. This trio seems to fit together quite nicely.

Both TV programs look back, look ahead and offer opinions on the various topics of the week. NASCAR is better off for having this kind of choice for TV viewers and race fans. After the fun at Dover and the good feelings about Greg Biffle, both Monday shows should be primed to hit the air.

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


Dot said...
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Anonymous said...

Bummed that they don't bring back The Biff again after his second win... but Knaus will be interesting. The ABC guys made his mid-race move of staying out seem like a major league gamble. It will be interesting to see if Knaus agrees with that or if he felt it was more calculated than given credit for.

AND you got Mikey in the Top Ten, which means MW will be pumped up!

Looking very forward to TWIN this week!

Ziggy said...

This show should be another goodie.
With Knaus' "gamble" & Mikey's good run at the MM ole SB should have an easy show. I've cancelled my prior committments @ 8PM just to be glued to the tube.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Tonights TWIN will be a good one - can't wait! Then I'll click over to football. Wish they would add Da Biff tonight too. All 3 together would be awesome.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:17PM,

This is not a NASCAR Internet board. It is a blog where we require you to think and then explain your opinion.

That comment would be fine if you would add to it why you think these shows are boring.

I would invite you to think about that and then re-post. Your comments are welcome.


Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...
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Kevin in SoCal said...

Now, Monday at 5PM and again at Midnight for West Coast viewers has become ESPN's NASCAR version of "must see TV."

Not to nitpick, but the midnight showing for west coast viewers would come on at 9pm, pacific time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I guess taking the time to think is a challenge with which you are not familiar?

You have a great forum here to express your NASCAR TV views. I would encourage you to use it.


Daly Planet Editor said...


Most of us try to keep things in one time zone language to everything is consistent.

I appreciate your perspective on the issue. If this was broadcast, at least I would have a couple of time zone feeds to talk about.


Wisconsin Steve said...

The Monday NASCAR Now is a can't-miss show in my house, but I still have one complaint.

I cannot understand why they still take an entire segment to preview a race that is six days away. NN is on six days a week. Is a race preview on Monday night really necessary?

Personally, I would rather see them spend more time on Nationwide, Truck, and regional series highlights at the end of the show.

Anonymous said...

JD, can you find out from ESPN PR why ESPNews has completely punted the post-race coverage, supposed to be shown live or taped within the past hour or so on their channel?

Because they HAVE punted it, for a while now.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Working on that at the moment with both ESPN and NASCAR.

I will put something together shortly on that issue.


Newracefan said...

Hey NN has a desk, a tall desk because they are still using those bar stools.

Anonymous said...

The NN boyz have a desk today :)

TexasRaceLady said...

A desk!

I love the comment at the end that they used a little of the catering money from football. ROTFL

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a new post up for your comments on Monday's NASCAR Now on ESPN2. Thanks.