Monday, September 22, 2008
"NASCAR Now' Rearranges The Furniture
When the NASCAR Now program first began in 2007, the on-air personalities sat behind a huge desk that dwarfed the announcers on the set. As the first season progressed, it was clear that the huge desk approach was not working.
This season, the Monday roundtable panelists perch on high stools in the studio. During the week, the on-air talent stands in front of a brand new set. The Tuesday through Sunday shows were going just fine, but the Monday show still needed some changes.
When the program featured female panelists, the "bar stools" were perhaps not the most graceful on-air approach for the hour. Also, on-air personalities with different body types from Brad Daugherty to David Poole were not well-served by trying to remain stylishly perched on their own little on-air "island."
This week ESPN2 unveiled the solution. Enter the huge desk once again. Host Allen Bestwick tried to smile, but the dynamic of the panel had changed a bit. Media guest Mike Massaro was now to Bestwick's left, while Boris Said and Ray Evernham were sitting at opposite ends of the huge desk. It will be interesting to see if this new interior design yields positive benefits for the panel.
At this time of the season, everyone is tired from the NASCAR teams to the TV crews. If there is one person who has a good excuse where being tired is concerned, it is Bestwick. He has been everywhere for ESPN and turned in a yeoman's performance for the company this year. Each week for Bestwick is capped-off by his appearance on NASCAR Now.
Massaro was once again informative and opinionated. If there is a change for next season, it may well be Massaro that steps into the host role on this program. After all the years of working diligently for ESPN, Massaro this season has been extending his credibility well beyond pit road with good results.
Boris Said has been focusing on keeping his on-air comments brief and it has paid-off with a much better presence on this program series. Said has a diverse motorsports background and works best when he has someone like Evernham to converse with on racing topics.
On this Monday, Evernham was subdued but worked hard to answer Bestwick's questions fully. There is no doubt that Evernham is almost always the most informed NASCAR personality on the panel and his comments showed the depth of his knowledge of the sport. If he makes a change in the off-season, Evernham may have a permanent place on the ESPN team.
Bestwick led the panel through the format of Chase talk, race reviews and a follow-up on topics in the news. After more than seven months on-the-air, the Monday show has a familiar feel and a good flow. Although this one episode did not feature a live guest, the panel did offer comments and highlights of the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series races. A Mike Skinner winning interview would have been a nice touch.
Unfortunately, ESPN continues to shun other NASCAR racing series. Aric Almirola won an exciting Camping World East Series race at Dover and Matt Kobyluck took the season championship. While shows like The SPEED Report showed highlights and interviews, NASCAR's only daily TV show did not.
After a computer glitch gave the panel some additional time to talk, Evernham was once again front-and-center for his opinions about the remainder of the season. This gave him an opportunity to show just how easy it is for him to converse on various NASCAR topics. At this point in the season, there is no doubt that Evernham's TV stock is rising.
Next week's show should be very interesting. Evernham will be thrown-in with the Infield Studio duo of Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. This is a good mix for ESPN and Bestwick seems to bring-out the best in all of these three on-air personalities. Monday's NASCAR Now airs at 5PM Eastern Time.
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