Thursday, September 11, 2008

Time For ESPN To Make A Change


We have watched the struggles of NASCAR teams who seemingly had outstanding personnel assigned to every position.

Even with an all-star line-up, sometimes things just do not turn out as expected. Crew chiefs, drivers and crew members have all been changed to try and sort things out for the good of the team. The bottom line is performance.

Over the past seventeen months, the NASCAR on ESPN team has been working hard to get the best possible TV coverage on-the-air for the fans. At the end of last year, the network executives made some changes that they felt would fine-tune the 2008 season.

TV viewers welcomed Allen Bestwick to the Infield Pit Studio as the new host. Bestwick quickly organized Brad Daugherty and took charge of the pre-race show. Fans also watched Rusty Wallace come into his own after being moved to the infield.

Finally free to express his opinion without the burden of race analysis, Wallace has been offering observations and commentary that have been consistently interesting.

Stepping into the high-profile role as Lead Race Analyst has been Dale Jarrett. He instantly set a new tone for the race telecasts and one key to his success has been the emergence of Andy Petree as an observant and experienced partner to Jarrett in the broadcast booth.

This season, ESPN's Director has committed to showing the field finish the race. The network has consistently made great pictures and sound. The graphics are evolving and even the pit reporters have been working hard to present as much information as possible.

Unfortunately, there is one change that ESPN did not make in the off-season that needs immediate attention. It is a topic that has been discussed across NASCAR message boards, Internet sites and blogs like this one for quite some time.

While change is usually easy to discuss, this subject is not easy at all. When it involves someone that is well-known and has a long history in television, change is just simply hard to make. Perhaps, the ESPN executives know that all too well right now.

The bottom line is, it is time to replace Jerry Punch as the play-by-play announcer for ESPN's NASCAR coverage. There is no way around it. We have tried to side-step the issue, to delay it and even to deny it. After Richmond, there is no way to avoid it any longer.

Before the Sprint Cup Series gets to Loudon and begins The Chase, Punch should step aside for the good of the sport.

Fans waited until Sunday afternoon for the rain-delayed Sprint Cup Series race from Richmond. This event had so many storylines and interesting angles that the coverage was bound to be exciting and entertaining. It was neither.

Hard-working pit reporters, vocal infield announcers and well-meaning analysts in the booth simply cannot make-up for a play-by-play announcer who is unable to lead a major live sports telecast.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. sliding into Kyle Busch elicited nothing from Punch. Once again, it was Petree and Jarrett who provided the commentary for this incident as it happened. Punch never followed-up and seemed to be at a loss for what to do.

Fans who remember the commentary of the Fox crew during the original incident between these two drivers understand the contrast between the high-energy excitement of the moment on Fox and the drowsy monotone that Punch cannot change unless he is reading a promo or leading the network to commercial.

Later coverage of three-wide racing toward the front of the field elicited what NASCAR on ESPN viewers have come to know all too well. That would be silence. Silence when a multi-car accident sent cars spinning all over the track. Silence when cameras showed big clumps of cars racing hard under green.

Punch uses car numbers, names of the drivers and catch phrases over-and-over again during the entire telecast. Rather than add original commentary, Punch simply updates what he sees on the scoring monitor or is told to say by the Producer.

It is important to remember that Punch played a big part in the early ESPN history of NASCAR. Unfortunately, it is very clear that the many years he was away from the sport have taken their toll. His college football sideline reporter TV skill-set is not working where NASCAR play-by-play is concerned.

How this problem is solved is up to ESPN. Marty Reid, Allen Bestwick, Bob Jenkins and other ESPN names have been tossed around by fans for months now. What fans want is simply the excitement that comes with a veteran announcer painting a picture for the TV viewers that includes intensity and excitement.

While many thought that ESPN would wait until the season was over to make a change, this appears to no longer be a viable option. There are ten reasons why.

Punch is simply lost in his current role and may actually express relief if he is removed from it. If Punch and Bestwick swap roles or if someone else comes in to take-over, ESPN would be better off making the change this week.

ESPN has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in NASCAR and the entire focus of this investment is the next ten races. "The Chase" will be seen on the ABC Television Network live and puts the entire TV production team under a microscope and on the biggest sports TV stage possible.

ESPN has so many positive pieces in place to take the sport through the next ten races and end the season on a high note. Without a change in the play-by-play position, there will continue to be a need for Jarrett and Petree to describe the live action and for the infield studio to provide the updates on positions and standings. The rest of the team is forced to fill the void that Punch creates.

The Daly Planet has discussed this on-air situation many times before with readers, but without advocating change prior to the end of the season. Please add your opinion about this topic to this post.

Do you feel ESPN should stick with Punch in his current role, make a change right now, or simply wait and discuss any potential changes during the off-season?

To add your TV-related comment, just click 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.

113 comments:

majorshouse said...

I just want to know when we are going to get allen Bestwick in the booth with Dale and Andy. The coverage by Jerry Punch this afternoon was horrible and if Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree had not been there, I would have easily gone to sleep. We ahve been complaining about this all season long and ESPN has not heard our cries and it is time they do something before they lose the fan base because of the crappy coverage they have given us. I watched part of the Formula One race this morning on Speed and I loved the coverage that was given and since it doesn't have near the budget that ESPN does, you would think we would get our money's worth fromESPN.

SonicAD said...

Yeah, Jerry has to get out of the booth. Put him on pit road, put Mike Massaro in the host position, and put Allen Bestwick in the booth. It's the best way to go.

SquidBuzz said...

As usual, you have hit the nail on the head quite squarely.

bravo....

Sophia said...

Majorhouse

I agree F1 guys are GREAT and SPEED does this on shoe string budget. NO GIMMICKS and graphics during that race.

STRAIGHT RACING.

And "GENUINE" enthusiasm with Hobbs, Varsh and company.

Personally I want AB in the booth. No offense but Reid does nothing for me and often has 'forced enthusiasm' for the Indy races in this house hold's opinion.

Give us Bestwick in the booth. Put Punch someplace else.

He deserves better than what ESPN is forcing on him now.

Jo said...

I love Doc, as anything but a playbyplay man. Bestwick & Doc should have changed roles long ago. It kills me to see Doc, who asks good solid questions as a pit reporter or host left to twist in the wind.
Bestwick has the voice of a PbP man, Doc doesn't. When the PbP guy is silent for long periods of time, and everyone else is doing fill in - its not a good sign.

David said...

JD as others have said... You have taken 5 off an 5 on... The tire needs to be changed.. We really like Jerry but this is not him...

Anonymous said...

I really think the only reason Jerry had the play-by-play position was because od seniorty. He stuck it out with the network through thick and thin. He is the only one currently on the ESPN NASCAR team that was there for the orignal coverage.

We have seen too many times the boring Jerry. Today it didnt even seem to phase him that Dale Jr. and Kyle Busch got into a wreck. To him it was just an ordinary incident when in fact it was not.

It would really be nice if Jerry were to step aside for this weekends NH race. But I dont see a major network like ESPN making such a big change in the middle of the season.

I think if we continue to grip ESPN will make a change in the offseason. It worked for us last time for Rusty and getting rid of Brent and Suzy. Lets hope it works this time for putting Jerry onto pit road.

This is realy nothing personal for Jerry. Us fans hate to see Jerry stuggling in the booth. We all know he will do such a great job on pit road like he did for the Indycar Series and NASCAR back in the 90s.

Please ESPN. Its time for a change.

inkthatpaints said...

Spot on JD, very respectful and well said.

I want Bestwick calling the show.

Andrew S. said...

A quick easy fix which I believe will help put 3 differnt players in positions that accentuate their strength. First, move Allen Bestwick into the PxP chair. To accomodate that move, Dr Punch becomes the lead pit road reporter and move Shannon Spake into the studio as host to replace Bestwick.

Grover said...

Look at how fox did California early in the season and compare it to ESPN. At least the fox coverage was made somewhat watchable with Joy and crew. With Dr. Flashcube I didn't make it past lap 10.

With the COT and the year that a pair of disliked drivers (#18 and #99) are having I only see the ratings going further down the drink.

If Dale JR had 10 wins at this point in the year, most of this would be a non story, as the ratings would be huge. But with ratings down (again for the second year) maybe they will listen.

My vote is for AB, but Marty is a good guy as well.

Daly Planet Editor said...

andrew,

What an interesting thought.

JD

Matt said...

Absolutely.. have had these same thoughts since last year.

I like Doc and have so much respect for him, but he's a much better host. Just simply switch him with AB, probably my all-time favorite PxP guy, and everything's solved.

Gymmie said...

They need to swap...NOW. I'm tired of the *crickets* when Dr. Jerry should be talking, letting us know what's going on and/or resetting the field.

I really do like Dr. Jerry but he's not a PbP guy. I hate hearing him call a race as if he's talking about the sunny day outside.

Dot said...

I made a prior comment that JP needs to be taken out of the booth just like drivers are taken out of their rides. Or, crew chiefs off the pit box.

Do a test and see what happens. I've said before, I like JP, just not as a pxp guy. He needs a script to follow. Some people just can't speak spontaneously.
Unfortunately JP is one of them.

@ Grover aka Kyle. Seeing your new name makes think of Sesame Street. lol

BMroziak said...

I agree completely with your article.. I think adding Bestwick or Bob Jenkins would be a big improvement to the play by play position. I'm not as sold on Marty Reid, his Indy Car telecasts are ok, but for as much as I was critical of Paul Page, I think he actually did a better job on the Indy Cars than Reid. Jenkins did an Indy Race this year for ESPN and I thought did quite well, and I beleive he also did the Indy Lights telecasts. I'd like to see him in the mix. I've always thought Bestwick did a good job, I could never understand why NBC flipped spots with him and Bill Weber a few years back. I thought Weber, like Punch is more suited for Pit Road and Bestwick was a good play by play fit.

Adam T. Martin said...

The blog speaks the truth.

While ESPN has improved in other areas, the PXP is still feeling the hurt.

I'm for having Allen Bestwick or Bob Jenkins in the booth with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree.

stricklinfan82 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stricklinfan82 said...

JD,

You said it well. I love Dr. Punch. He needs to be a major part of ESPN's NASCAR coverage. This isn't a Musburger, Kolber, Fowler, etc. that was a fish out of water and had no business covering this sport as a "pesky side job on their day off from their real job". Punch is a Hall-of-Fame NASCAR announcer and was one of the cornerstones of the legendary ESPN NASCAR team of the 90's. We need him on the air at as many ESPN NASCAR races as possible. But he is not working out as a play-by-play announcer. There's just way too much silence and too many cliches (for you fans of..., sailing, "the concrete" SAFER Barrier, "young man", etc.).

The small tidbits of information Allen Bestwick throws in during his limited on-air time are the best parts of the broadcast. Whether it's important information like point scenarios and pit strategies or the most basic announcing concepts like reminding the viewers "the race is far from over, anything can happen as we saw ______", AB helps to fill in some of the gaping holes at times during the races. But in the "host" role he simply doesn't get a chance to chime in often enough.

Allen Bestwick needs to be the play-by-play man at ESPN. I'm just afraid that ESPN won't make the change out of loyalty to Punch, and even if they do make a change they will reward tenure and hire an ESPN announcer from another ESPN racing series or another ESPN sport instead of hiring the best candidate for this NASCAR play-by-play job because of his prior associations with competitor networks. Whether they like it or not, the suits at ESPN have to concede that Allen Bestwick has been the face and the star of their NASCAR coverage since the start of last year. No one has worked harder or worn more different hats when called on in times of need than AB.

It's time for ESPN to reward Allen Bestwick's great work and at the same time save the legacy of Dr. Punch before it is tarnished beyond repair. As a veteran fan that knows how great Dr. Punch really is, it truly saddens me to read so many comments from newer race fans that think Dr. Punch is the worst thing ever and want him gone completely from NASCAR based solely on their impressions from seeing him work for 2 years in this play-by-play role that doesn't suit his hall-of-fame credentials.

Anonymous said...

I am going to counter the sentiment suggesting the job should go to our friend AB and suggest instead the safer move, if not the one we really want, is Marty Reid.

Marty has proven competent during his fill-in duties on Nationwide races and has done great work on the IRL for several years.

Why an import instead of Bestwick? Because we don't know if the studio host position - which not only hosts pre-race shows but also contributes to all ESPN platforms (in Disney-speak) has a suitable second choice or if Brad and Rusty would fall apart with someone else.

We know the booth can run with Marty and the studio with Alan. And Marty will have a whole lot of free time next year if he stays with ABC because of the loss of the cable portion of the IRL contract.

Dot said...

I would still like to know what Allen Bestwick did to the PTB to be relagated to low man on the totem pole. Ever since he broke his leg a few years ago, it seems that he has just been put somewhere. Anywhere than where he belongs. Lost the IWC/INC gig and then the booth of whatever channel was brodcasting the races back then.

If any man deserves an upgrade, it's him. We deserve the upgrade too.

Sophia said...

Glad to see another person second my not a good idea of Mr. Reid. ANYBODy that watches the IRL regularly will know, they have no dream team either.

Bestwick goes with NASCAR like chocolate and...well, anything else!! :)
There was some special months back on ESPN with Jerry Punch sharing old stories with people and he was great.

If telling stories and getting info from a person in front of him is his strong suit, why FORCE him to be in a booth.

He is obviously a beloved person and figure in NASCAR broadcasts. He deserves to be in another position. Heck he would be better on NASCAR NOW than Ryan. Provided Jerry wants to work that gig...then again, not as much travel. So who knows.

All I know is, even in my few years with this sport I have seen and heard where Dr. Punch has shined!!! But pxp is not it. That is not his fault but his superiors should be spanked for not regonizing the wasting of his talent in that position.

Frankly, I mighy be bored too being forced to sit in a booth FOR HOURS, staring at a monitor (if that's ESPN's SCRIPT) through endless cautions, watching the COT and listening to people talking in my ear piece. :)

Sophia said...

p.s. GOSH I am a slow typist and check many typos. several have posted while I typed.

Embarrassing. . . We have many opinions on this subject.

Anonymous said...

Again! Its not Dr punch that is the problem!! I have been watching Nascar since the mid 70"s..Its boring now thanks to the safety concerns of nascar! Give them something to talk about other than the stupid (young guns)Pit road speeds... softer walls..No passing on the yellow!! Give us back racing and the brave people who do It...

Anonymous said...

Just my two cents:

I agree that Dr. Punch would be better served in another role. I have been puzzled by his delivery for a quite some time and I think that I have figured it out.

You can't expect a doctor to get excited about a wreck or potential wreck where someone might get hurt. Also, all those years of pit reporting, he only had to fill a short burst of time, throw out a stat or two, say the car number that was pitting and throw it to the next guy.

Swap JP and AB, but don't expect the pit studio to run as smooth in my opinion. I bet AB wrangles Rusty pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to ask this question in this forum --- and if it is completely off topic, please feel free to delete it JD.

Does anybody know what song was used during the featurettes about drivers and the Chase during the prerace show?

P.S. So I don't totally hijack the column ... I am betting that ESPN won't make any changes until next year.

bevo said...

Very well stated JD. I always enjoyed JP's work in the past with both racing and college football. I agree that his training as a doctor has something to do with this situation. You want your doctor to be calm and analytical, not reacting to the first impulse.

A play-by-play announcer has to lead with his enthusiasm, not over the top crazy but the viewer has to feel like he would be at the track even if he wasn't being paid. Sadly it feels more often like JP would really rather be anywhere else than the booth calling the race.

Anonymous said...

My opinion is that changes will be made in the off season. Bestwick would be far better than Reid. I'd getr rid of Rusty and Doc too. I get so tired of Rusty's "I,I,I,Me,Me,Me" self-centered attitude. Jarrett is outstanding and Petree is very good too.

Anonymous said...

Good call, JD.

When your PBP man is doing nothing but listing the cars he sees on the TV monitor (like that old traveling game for kids, where you shout out license plates), you have a serious problem.

Between the garbage phrases he uses out of habit and the fact that he stops talking at the most inopportune times, Punch has become the worst element of any race on this network.

How frustrating to have Bestwick, who has the chops and time in the booth, sitting right there at the track, but in the wrong job!

Anonymous said...

The F1 coverage is far and away the best of any auto racing show . Second best is always the NHRA coverage . The F1 shows consist of three very entertaining and smart people in the booth , and one pit reporter . The NHRA shows consist of one very good man and one so-so man in the booth and a couple of pit reporters . And therin lies a very valuble clue for the networks who produce NASCAR coverage . In the world of auto racing on tv , less is more .

earl06 said...

+1 for a change.

ESPN ought to axe the Rusty pestilence once and for all and put Dr. Punch in his place in the infield. He is a great reporter and would be best used for feature stories in the pre-race, and occasional interjections during the race.

Of course AB should do the PxP.

This leaves the studio host chair open. If ESPN could steal Wendy Venturini away from SPEED, she would be perfect for the job and could shore up the network's reporting staff for the support shows.

Tom said...

Would it be possible to find out what exactly the network honchos have against Bestwick? This guy has always been tip top, and only gotten better with age. What is the reasoning behind his placement? Did he PO someone important? It just boggles me that he is not the top guy!

Tom
Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

Let's not forget his name is preceded by DOCTOR! Broadcasting is not his first avocation. I loved him on pit road in the old days. He LOVES this sport! I hate to see him struggling so. It's akin to me becoming an architect/builder instead of a pharmacist. I may love it, but would you want me to build your house?

Anonymous said...

Yesterday's broadcast was a perfect example of why it IS Jerry Punch that is the problem.

Between Dale Jr spinning Kyle Busch and the exciting finish to the race between Johnson-Stewart, there wasn't the normal excuse that we could blame on the racing or the car.

Punch couldn't deliver and actually took away from the broadcast, and, while ESPN will probably not consider a change, the start of the Chase would be a good time to make the switch.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Speed's F-1 coverage is the best out there right now IMHO. Simple with people in the booth who get it and actually care about what they are doing.

If there ever was a case against Punch the Earnhardt/Busch incident should seal the deal. He was asleep at the wheel. ESPN please put Jerry in the infield where he belongs and put Alan up there with Dale and Andy.

GinaV24 said...

Make the change NOW! Move Allen into the PXP role, we all know how well he can do it and put the doctor back on pit road or in the infield studio. I'd rather Rusty was gone, too, but I'll put up with him if I have to in order to get the booth right for the races. The telecasts are moving to ABC this coming week -- and if the chase is as important as NASCAR would like for us to think it is, then they'd better do something right now.

red said...

this is the proverbial rock and hard place for me. as do so many others on this blog, i have great respect for dr punch and i maintain that he belongs in the broadcasters part of the forthcoming nascar hall of fame. his knowledge of our sport is extensive and deep and we have been well served by his talent.

until now.

simply yet bluntly put: he is the wrong person for this particular job. while his detached demeanor is likely an asset at other times, it is a detriment to being the PxP on a race. the PxP position is critical to a successful broadcast: a strong PxP person can redeem much if a poor job is being done by director and producer. it is equally the case, however, that a weak PxP can undermine even the best work done by them.

as anon 8:50 am pointed out: there was some great racing being shown in the cup race yesterday -- the #88/#18 moment, the #48/#20 last ten laps -- but those moments were so muted by the absence of a strong PxP person as to be invisible. i agree that sometimes, it's that horrific COT that is the problem: too little racing to even call. but many times, it's been the lack of a solid PxP person to help bring energy to the broadcast.

because we had the opportunity to hear dr punch call both cup and n'wide yesterday and we had 2 different style cars to watch, it became evident to me that the lack of energy is not the racing per se. sadly, it is the poor positioning of dr punch in the PxP position. when the races are separated by a day or more, it isn't quite as apparent but yesterday really drilled it down to basics and dr punch, quite simply, can't deliver in that job.

i have no suggestions for who to put in there instead but i believe this is a critical moment for espn. the final 10 races are going to be seen by a wider audience b/c of being on abc. if dr punch remains in his current position, i believe it will submarine the efforts that have been put forth by the entire production team and folks will tune out. there are now more options than ever before in the season: the nfl is back and baseball is winding down into championship mode. people have strong alternatives in their sports viewing choice. now is the time to bring "the best and the brightest" to the front.

it is painful for me to say that i don't feel dr punch is the person for the job.

(and i need to add that i was somewhat offended by the posters yesterday who felt those of us commenting were offering opinions "in hindsight." we comment as the races are being run, reacting immediately to what is shown and said -- as well as what is missed. certainly, columns and comments post-race have that element by their very nature. but i would suggest that a careful read of all the "as they're running" race columns could hardly point to "hindsight" as a factor.)

majorshouse said...

I have watched NASCAR from its early days and Jerry Punch is better suited for pit road and for the life of me cannot figure out why ESPN does not see this. He is just not cut out for the bootha nd still have not figured out like many of the posters here why Allen Bestwick gets the short end of the stick.

haus20 said...

I believe this is the "change we can believe in."

Anonymous said...

Jerry uses too many of the same phrases.

"For you [Place Drive Name Here] fans..."

"We are gonna go racing NASCAR [Series Name Here] style!"

"As he goes sailing by....."

"NASCARS Finest..."

chase said...

JD, I hope your column will be read by ESPN because, as I've been saying for way too long, it's time for Punch to leave and leave NOW before ESPN's Chase coverage is completely muddled. Yesterday's coverage of both the Cup and the Nationwide races was simply lousy - Punch sounded and looked way too tired even though he had a 'day to recover' from whatever ails him. For him to do almost back-to-back pxp was ridiculous. Time for Allen Bestwick to FINALLY be in the booth where he should be. If it hadn't been for DJ and Andy and Allen I would have flipped the channel - Daughtery is just a cheerleader and I'm trying hard to be able to justify his role in ANY coverage and Rusty just continues to annoy. If the booth can be fixed and fixed now that would be a dream come true! So John, do you think anyone from ESPN with any clout will read this and get off their collective duffs and give us the coverage we deserve and rid themselves of Punch? Sure hope so!Thanks John and others who have posted!

Anonymous said...

All I can do is concur. Like the "koi change" in the commercial, we need a "Punch change". Listening to the doctor call a race is like watching flies on the wall.
Micahmidasmicah

Ziggy said...

Yep, count me in. Doc should be moved back to the pits.

Zignats

Geez said...

I would really like to hear Bob Jenkins calla cup race again.

I was watching the Indy Lights race and Bob was like comfort food:-)It brought back memories of the old NASCAR / ESPN days.

Daly Planet Editor said...

chase,

While my columns bring up a specific topic and let me start a discussion, it is the comments of the NASCAR fans that have done the most to help with change.

When I email with the TV folks, they often refer to the experienced perspectives of the fans and TV viewers who post here.

Stating an opinion without being mean or throwing stones is the most effective way to get a point across on the Internet.

I hope the TDP readers continue to do just that on this topic.

JD

Anonymous said...

Dr.Punch (Mr. Toyota) has got to go, the coverage is great but he is awful. Allen Bestwick has got to have someone at ESPN that would like for him to disappear. He is funny and add's so much to anything he does.

Anonymous said...

I started to watch the Richmond race, but a few short minutes of listening to JP and I switched to the Eagles-Rams game on Fox.
After a while I went back to the race, but again JP got to me. One of the things he does that really get to me is when he says "the chevy of (driver) hit/got hit by (driver). It seems that he only identifies the car if it is a chevy. He does this on a consistent basis. If he id'ed each brand ,that would be fine. Does he get paid extra from chevy or is this just a personal bias?
Now that football has started and I have a good option it seems that I will watch more football and less racing until FOX is back.

Racingphan said...

Every time the poor doctor starts a thought with "Wouldn't it be special if...." I know I'm gonna gag up my pretzels.
That might just be the ESPN perspective of always looking for the human interest angle instead of the racing. (They showed the IRL champs' wife more than his car yesterday.)
How do you put the doctor in the pits where he belongs though, without a loss of face...???

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

A couple months ago in Speedway Illustrated magazine, there was an interesting article where Tony Stewart interviewed Dr. Dick Bergerren, the creator and editor of the magazine.

Many humorous questions were asked by Tony but there was some fascination commentary by Bergerren about his driver interview style and attitude. He has the respect of everyone in the garage area because he in turn respects them first.

Before Dr. Dick was on NASCAR on Fox, the person in the garage area who was widely respected was Jerry Punch. He was admired as a pit reporter by both TV audiences and the racing folks. I see no reason why he could not step back into this role and have the instant respect of everyone in the garage area. He would be good competition for Bergerren and the rest of the Fox reporters, would elevate ESPN's game and bring credibility to the garage area ESPN has not had since they were replaced by Fox.

ESPN needs that old skool personality in the garage area that, unfortunately, Tim Brewer does not bring. Punch creates a bridge between the viewers, the long time fans, the race officials and the race teams that is badly needed by ESPN and that Brewer and the other ESPN reporters do not provide.

Moving Punch back to the pits and garage area is just what ESPN needs if they want to be considered a serious competitor to the Fox gang. I encourage ESPN mgmt to make the change sooner rather than later.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 11:25AM,

Please change that last paragraph and re-post. Thank you.

JD

Anonymous said...

Let me try again PC.

I've got the answer.

We need Eli Gold in play by play and for good measure, Glen Jarrett in the pits. Throw Doc in the pits too, as he is still a very respected figure in NASCAR.

I still contend TNN had the best NASCAR coverage. A little regional in its approach, but they told the stories that needed telling and with the famous Buddy Baker cackle, the great country fried bumper music, and solid interviews that pulled no punches.

But the ESPN people are similar to the NASCAR people in that they are slow to act and it will take a major (SNAFU) on the part of Punch to reassign him.

Gymmie said...

@anon 4:20am--agreed about F1! The majority of the races they're not on the same side of the pond yet you wouldn't know that by listening to them.

Ray In BAMA said...

Allen,Dale,Andy in the booth. Wold be the best team on TV. PERIOD!!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon....nicely done! I thank you and I am sure Eli thanks you as well.

JD

w17scott said...

Mr. Editor -
The comments are on-point ...with a number of play-by-play veterans on hand, it's time for ESPN to make a move ...the fannies aren't filling the seats and the NFL season is upon us ...only a top-flite ESPN broadcast can keep the interest high and build momemtum to season's end ...act now.
Walter

tom in dayton said...

Let me second the remarks of Stricklinfan and Anon at 11:15am.
Whenever I heard That either Dick Bergerren or Jerry Punch would be bringing the story from the pits and garage, I knew that segment of the race at hand would be well covered.
I want Punch to remain on the ESPN NASCAR broadcasts but just in the role he has nurtured to near perfection over the years. What he could do, as the infield/pit coordinator with his depth in the field, is a concept that those in charge should seriously consider!

ps:
Mr. D. - as was posted earlier in this column "Bestwick goes with NASCAR like chocolate and...well, anything else!! :)" - I think we have another serious caffine attack occuring..(hasn't been the same since her beloved Digger disappeared in June)....
thanks!

Vince said...

I shared a commercial flight from Greensboro, NC to Charlotte with Dr. Punch about 20 years ago. I was already a long time Nascar fan and a fan of the Dr's pit reporting. I was lucky enough to sit close enough to the Doc to chat with him. He was very gracious to all of us race fans sitting around him and answered all of our questions on that short flight. He seems like a genuinely nice guy.

I was glad a few years ago when Dr. Punch finally got his chance at being the PxP guy. I though he deserved it. But that being said, I think it is time for a change. Doc I love ya and you're a great guy, but you are putting me to sleep and killing me with all your cliche's. Enough already!

I'd love to see AB back in the booth as the PxP guy. Not Marty, please. And if ESPN would happen to get rid of Rusty and Brad I'd be very happy too. I'm not a fan of any of the Wallace's or Waltrip's for that matter. And like a previous poster said, Brad is nothing but an over paid cheerleader. He brings nothing to the broadcast.

But I do NOT think ESPN will make any changes until the off season, if then. They are just too arrogant and hard headed to make a change right at the start of the Chase.

Again, sorry Doc, but your time has come and gone. Go back to the pits where you can report. You were really great at that.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. At least twice (and probably more times but I was doing other things during parts of the race) "Dr." Punch did nothing more than repeat EXACTLY what some one else said immediately before he opened his mouth. This is a sad, frustrating situation. SPEED got the word and changed the order of business on This Week in Nascar. Now ESPN has to get the word and remove Dr. Punch from the "play by play" booth.

Rick said...

I was driving across the Texas panhandle during the race so I did not see it and could not even get a radio broadcast. When I got home here in New Mexico the NW race was on. I watched maybe 5 minutes before changing it to Speed Report. Punch was very tired from what little I saw.

And guess what? I found I didn' really miss the race at all. I saw SR, VL, and WT, the fantasy leagues all totaled without me, and I found out what I needed to know by reading here and in other places.

I'm sure I'll watch some of the Chase races, but I now know I can have my Sunday's back until ESPN makes some changes.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Switch Allen & Jerry now - PLEASE!! I've missed Allen with the play-by-play ever since they moved him away from it. If Allen has a fault it's that he's great at almost everything so he gets shuffled around to fill the voids other cannot. The most pressing void needing filled right now is a lead for the play-by-play. Jerry is a fish out of water here and it hurts to continue to see him struggle.

ri88girl said...

Stricklinfan I agree 100% and wish I could have expressed myself so eiloquently.

I want Doc on Pit road to help Jamie and Co. who NEED his help! I think putting Shannon in the infield is an interesting idea.

I worry that if AB is in the booth, he will be to overloaded for Nascar Now which IMO is part of the sticking point to getting him into the booth. Ryan Burr is doing a good job and has some of AB's qualities so I hope ESPN would give him the nod and let AB do the PXP because at least until the fans are happy agian, I don't think anyone else will satisfy.

JD you put it all so well, and so delicatley that I hope if he reads your artical Doc will understand that this is not about him but about his position. The pits need him as I said. Hopefully he will want to help.

NorCalFan said...

For the last ten races, ESPN needs to make the switch now in the booth between Allen B and Jerry P. If TPTB don’t want to make the change permanently, fair enough, but it’s not too late to salvage what remains of this season. By reassigning JP to his comfort zone on Pit Road, he can get back to doing what he does best and at the same time, maybe he could mentor the pit reporters on good interviewing technique. It could be a win, win situation for all. Please ESPN, don't subject us to anymore PxP commentary that leaves the fans wondering what is happening on the track, especially now that the most exciting part of the NASCAR season is here.

Lisa Hogan said...

I, too, have deep respect for Dr. Punch and his NASCAR history. He was placed in the wrong position from the beginning of the ESPN coverage.

I won’t go into the reasons Dr. Punch should be removed from the booth as others have expressed that very well.

My choice would be Bestwick in the booth. I have not enjoyed Reid during his time in the booth. He is monotone with fake excitement.

I prefer a conversational tone from folks in the booth. I like to feel that I am being talked to not talked at. Bestwick has this ability and Reid does not.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:57PM,

Please feel free to come back and re-post. The simple rules for this site are located on the right side of the main page. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Nothing to add other than my agreement that Dr. Punch is not the person for the job. I like AB for it but since he's on double double secret probation from ESPN for some deep dark secret we'll never know maybe ESPN could hire Varsha, Hobbs, and Matchett to watch the race in the studio and give their usual entertaining commentary from afar...

Anonymous said...

Allen Bestwick is hands down the best play by play guy out there! With the exception maybe being Mike Joy.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jerry Punch does a much better job with one-on-one interviews; so he will do better in the pits and not in the booth. Allen Bestwick always does better doing comentaries (play-by-play and NOW). Dale Jarrett does an excellent job-just like his father. MOVE the DOC!

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said;

Ditto the calls to change PXP position for Chase for all the reasons stated.

On a related note. Although DW is not PXP, I still remember his call of the first JR/Busch incident at Richmond. "No he didn't....". It is the type of response you would have heard from AB. Which would feed DJ and AP to show similar reactions and inject enthusiasm in the booth. Everyone feeds off each other. Not asking for cheerleading. Just honest to goodness excitement of what is happening on the track and what the fans are feeling with some added perspective.

Someone also made a comment earlier about RW and his I,I,me, me. IMO here is the difference between RW and DW or Larry Mac(who I know many do not like). DW & LM will at least reference their experiences with interesting and fun stories involving some of the other drivers, current and back in the day, to make their points. Rusty rarely if ever draws on any "stories" to make a point. Just makes obvious and repetitive comments. Although RW was in the analyst role, it is the same issue with the good Dr. Just obvious and repetitive all with a lack of enthusiasm or perspective.

ESPN may be waiting for next season to make the change. That, IMO, is a major mistake. With the right decision they could boost their ratings for the last 10 years.

KoHoSo said...

On this article, I for once cannot add anything new to the discussion. This time around, I merely feel compelled to simply add my voice in complete agreement with the content and tone of Mr. Daly's entry. I too admire, respect, and love Dr. Punch. However, I also sadly agree that the time has come to be fully and completely open about the fact that he needs to be moved aside for Bestwick. With Allen in that chair along with Andy and DJ, the problems will be solved and ESPN and NASCAR get a good competitor and compliment to the crews on Fox and the much-improved one on TNT.

Anonymous said...

Anybody remember the 1988 ESPN team? Bob Jenkins, Ned Jarrett and Gary Nelson in the booth. Dr. Punch and Dr. Bergren in the pits. Think anyone could get the "old band" back together again? What they had was fun for them and the veiwers. What we have now is missing both! ESPN classic showed an old North Wilkesboro race recently. I watched the whole thing. It reminded me of how simpler is better. No tricks, no trying to figure out who's talking, nobody talking down to me and telling me how lucky I am that they are there to help me understand this complex bolt that tightens up or loosens up the car. The old coverage made me feel like they respected me, they did not force me to hear how many races they won, how fast they were and how smart they are. I just want to see a race! The races are on the track! The story is the race! The Boogity, boogity... When I was racing we did it this way means nothing to the viewers. What I'm trying to watch is the drivers on the track taking the cars to the limits of that particular moment. I don't care about the opinion of the guys in the booth, the guy's in the infield, the pit reporters and the cutaway display guy. I want a credible, former driver a former crew chief having fun with an energetic play by play guy while they talk about what I'm seeing on the screen (ESPN 1988)... As a veiwer, I'd like the chance to form my own opinions, Thank You

Anonymous said...

I don't think you are giving Dr. Jerry Punch credit for all the good he has done.

For example: I now know who drives the 48 car. Yes, it's Jimmie Johnson! Over the last five races, every time the 48 car is on the screen, Jerry Punch kindly reminds me "There's the 48 car, Jimmie Johnson!"

I know Johnson has won two Sprint Cup Championships. And I know the 48 car has won two Sprint Cup Championships... but it wasn't until Jerry Punch told me **100 TIMES** that the 48 car was Jimmie Johnson that it finally sunk in.

Thank you, Dr. Punch, for helping me learn more about NASCAR. Without you, I would have no idea the 99 car was Carl Edwards or that the 18 car was Kyle Busch.

THANK YOU!

Brian H. said...

In my opinion the perfect solution would be for FOX to cover the entire season. This is not a viable option though due to FOX's other programming such as the NFL and MLB.

Since my primary option isn't possible I would say remove Jerry Punch and put in Alan Bestwick or Bob Jenkins.

Could ESPN and FOX share Mike Joy?

Anonymous said...

Dr. Jerry Punch is the best play-by-play guy in the business. I like his style above the loud mouth play-by-play announcers must really like hearing their own voice since they never seem to be quiet.

Dr. Punch understand the TV pictures are the best medium for conveying the action on the track, and the play-by-play commentary should complement NOT replace what is going on. I am happy Dr. Punch understands that fact.

I think you are confusing a TV broadcast with radio. If you want to hear non-stop talking, then turn on the radio. That is what it is for.

He deserves the respect he has earned throughout the years.

Anonymous said...

Jerry Punch is AWESOME ... when he is in the pits! Send him there and bring in Allen Bestwick in to the booth.

Ken said...

I think a merger of talents would be a good idea. Use the MRN broadcast for the audio and the ESPN broadcast for the video. To make this work, they would need about a 5 second delay. That way, the director would hear what MRN was saying 5 seconds early and would be able to select the proper cameras to match the audio. I think that would be a winner for all concerned and would make the telecast about the race rather than about what is scripted.

I was running very late yesterday and I listened to the first few minutes of the race on the radio. When I got home and went inside, the excitement I heard on the radio was lacking on my 52" high definition TV with home theater.

red said...

anon 3:54 said (in part);
"He (dr punch) deserves the respect he has earned throughout the years."

and no one -- NO one -- disagrees with you on that. but i strongly disagree with the balance of your comment about his role as a play by play commentator. please, if you haven't done so already, review the very beginning of my comment at 9:21 this morning:

"this is the proverbial rock and hard place for me. as do so many others on this blog, i have great respect for dr punch and i maintain that he belongs in the broadcasters part of the forthcoming nascar hall of fame. his knowledge of our sport is extensive and deep and we have been well served by his talent."

dr punch is a asset to the sport but his talents are not suited for the PXP position and i believe that returning him to where he had been so very successful -- pit road -- would be the right move to make. he has the respect of the owners, the drivers and the teams on pit road BECAUSE of his knowledge of and respect for the sport.

he's just the wrong person for the PxP position and each week that espn keeps him jammed into that spot, they allow part of his well-deserved and hard-earned reputation as a broadcast journalist to be eroded away.

and that's why i would like to see him moved to the pits: he's earned the right to have his reputation be respected and maintained.

Anonymous said...

I vote for Bob Jenkins into the Play by Play position.

Village Idiot Intern said...

I would like to add to everyone's praise of Jerry Punch as a pit reporter on NASCAR broadcasts and a sideline reporter on football broadcasts. Jerry Punch in these roles looked and sounded like a man who not only loved his job but awaited each broadcast with eagerness and anticipation. Jerry Punch in the play-by-play role doesn't have the same demeanor and certainly doesn't seem to enjoy this role with the same joy that once existed.

Furthermore, Varsha, Hobbs, and Matchett, having no network resources on hand, can call a Formula One race from halfway around the world with more intensity and diligence than a man in the booth with all the assets of the network at his disposal. And if each and every one of us television viewers can notice and comment on the maladaptive work in the booth, certainly someone at ESPN whose raison d'etre is observation and analysis of the on air product can do the same.

Or perhaps not.

Newracefan said...

Being new to the sport I only know JP in his current role but I'll take the word of the posters here about his pit reporting abilities. I have seen flashes of brilliance when he has done some other Nascar related things for ESPN. I have heard AB do PXP and he needs to get that job back. While I think Shannon in the pit studio is an interesting idea I do believe Rusty would run right over her. There was no chemistry with Rusty and JP so if Rusty is staying that prob won't work either. Mike Massaro could work. The perfect thing in my opinion is put JP in the pits to teach Shannon and Jamie how it's done, not to mention you'll always have someone who can handle Smoke. If the pits are too strenuous for him heat, running back and forth, etc (maybe that's why Dick B only does a partial season, if not perhaps ESPN can borrow him to whip those reporters into shape) do not give him as many teams to cover, or put him back in the garage/ infield care center to catch all those race victims (this may not be very much work at all and not worthy of his talents). I want JP to stay with us but I need AB in the booth before DJ and AP burn out and Nascar loses more fans

Mary said...

Ok so my choice is Mike Joy, Allen Bestwick,DJ, Andy Petree, Marty Smith, Mike Massaro, Jeff Hammond, Larry Mac, John Roberts, Steve Byrnes, Krista Voda, Rick Allen, Phil Parsons to do whatever of the jobs anyone sees fit!

Vicky D said...

Tough column to write and post, JD. I think it needs to be done, but I hope it doesn't hurt JP's feelings. I think AB would do a great job as the pxp guy. I'm not very optimistic of the change though.

Anonymous said...

Here is a great clip of Allen Bestwick doing play-by-play from the 2001 EA Sports 500. (the video starts with a 15-second jingle, sorry).

Just listen to this man and compare him to Jerry Punch and then tell me which one is better:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BMK4UtL8XAg&feature=related

Richard in N.C. said...

I am a big fan of Dr. Punch, but he just does not have the TV experience to be a really effective PBP announcer. Any blame should be laid at the feet of the ESPN executive(s) who wrongly put Dr. in a position not compatible with his many talents.

I believe either Allen B. or Eli would do a super job as PBP.

That having been said, Dr. P is a huge asset that ESPN is not using effectively.

NASCAR is approaching a significant crossroads in its history. The Hall of Fame will be opening soon - but many of those that should be enshined there early will not be with us many more years - Bud Moore, Glen and Leonard Woods, Junior Johnson, Richard Petty, and others are all in their 70's. Who better to be based in NC and bring these NASCAR pioneers and the Hall of Fame to life for today's fans than Jerry Punch. Given the esteem with which he is held, there are many people involved with NASCAR that might be willing to sit down with Dr. P, but not with others in the media - such as Teresa Earnhardt, Roger Penske, etc.

ESPN's using Dr. P for PBP is like hitching a thoroughbred to Santa's sleigh.

Anonymous said...

The clip is incredible.

Words where they were needed, no unnecesary jabbering. Geniune excitement, and AB knew exactly what was happening at all times, including who was in the wreck...no "Oh! Lots of cars collide! Let's look at the replays and see who they were!" which is what we get now.

Matt said...

Anon @ 5:52,

I loved that race because of Allen.. that was one of his best races. I've watched the ending so many times because he made it so exciting.. the racing helped of course.

With all this talk about old-school ESPN, it makes me miss Benny a lot. I wish we could bring back the crew one more time.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I would like to get back on track please. We are talking about Jerry Punch and your feelings about him handling the play-by-play on the broadcasts for ABC during the upcoming Chase.

We would welcome your thoughts on that subject. Thank you.

JD

Kenn Fong said...

J.D.,

Perhaps the reason ESPN won't make the change is they are afraid you'll send them a bill for your consultant's fee!

Left Coast Kenny
Alameda, California

Anonymous said...

The reason I turn down the volume on the TV and listen to MRN is because of the boring play-by-play and commentary ESPN brings the viewers. Bringing back Alan Bestwick to the play-by-play will allow me to finally turn the radio off and turn the volume of the TV back up again.

Anonymous said...

Allen Bestwick definitely needs to be placed in the broadcast booth. He is a really great announcer. I don't think he's 100% as good as Fox's Mike Joy, but he's close. He should never have lost the lap-by-lap duties to Bill Weber back at NBC. Put Punch in the studio and AB in the booth. It's as simple as that.

glenc1 said...

I have to say...as everyone has said, we all respect Jerry--but this is just not working. Maybe they could make him 'pit commander' or something...give him his own show in addition to the pits...a once a week interview show...

Others have told me that Allen's PxP got complaints from fans, but I sure don't know where those people are. It's time to make the change. He's done everything they've asked and with a smile. Wake up, ESPN...

Did anyone mention Ralph Shaheen? Not saying I'd put him in there, but since we're naming all the 'pros', lol...I feel like someone oughta mention him.
:)

Gymmie said...

@nrf--if you have Classic (I should remember from all the posts when we all get ready for the football shuffle) you can catch some of the older ESPN races with Dr. Jerry in the Pits. And sometimes you might even catch a young Dave Despain with hair even :)

Steve L. said...

Another vote for ESPN to make the change to remove JP from the booth now, before the chase begins.

Jerry was born in 1953, which makes him 55 years old. When you close your eyes during one of his broadcasts, he sounds like a tired, very old man.

Which brings up another point. It's been suggested he returns to the pits as a pit reporter. At his current age, do you think he has the energy to run around in the pits like he did in the old days? I've been in the pits during a race and have seen those guys and gals actually run from one end to the other all day long. I'm not sure he's able to to that anymore. Shoot, he tires out just talking during a race.

AB is the ONLY choice for this job and it needs to be made now!

glenc1 said...

Steve L--I only have 2 words...Dick Bergerren. I don't think age is the problem, lol.

This is sort of out of place, but...I just have to say it, delete if you will....

Anon 12:24...tonight's TWIN feature on Kenny Irwin reminds me of why comments like yours make me ill. We do not need to go back there for good racing, we just need announcers who will bring it to us.

Erik said...

Dr. Jerry Punch is a good guy, and is great at what he does. I have no problem with him as a play by play announcer. He should stay there as long as he wants.

Photojosh said...

As I (and many MANY others) have been saying, put Bestwick in the booth and move Punch to the infield studio.

That's all there is to it. ESPN has play-by-play gold already on the payroll. And to be fair to Punch, he's a talented man who is just ill suited to the job he's been given. He will probably do just fine as an infield host.

Anonymous said...

Two words. Bob Jenkins......

Adam T. Martin said...

Having a switch of roles with Dr. Punch and Allen Bestwick would be gold for ESPN/ABC. They have improved in other areas of the broadcast, but the PXP is hurting.

Punch in the pits. Bestwick in the booth.

That or bring us Paul Page or Bob Jenkins.

Anonymous said...

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the bigwigs at ESPN are reading the article/comments because we NEED a change.

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

Anon 1:45AM,

We are looking for your opinion on Dr. Punch as the play-by-play broadcaster for ESPN and ABC this season. Thanks.

JD

Anonymous said...

Bob Jenkins is the man.

rich said...

Well I must say that it is about time for JD to drop the hammer. I have tried to listen to Dr Punch and give him a chance but it is just not going to happen. I do not think that it is all his fault however. I think the producer or directer is not setting a proper tone. There is too much talking down to the fans. Just take F1 on Speed to see the difference. Those guys are not even at the track and have hardly any ear feed from the producer but they put on the best damn racing show out there. This past Sunday was probably the best racing that I have watched this year. The knowledge and energy is unmatched maybe with the exception of NHRA drags on of all things ESPN. Another great production, but I digress.
I am not sure who to suggest for PxP for Sprint Cup but I think Allen Bestwick is probably ESPNs logically choice and they need to make the change now before it is too late.

CaseMoney said...

Is Bob Jenkins in the doghouse or something? It boggles the mind that he wasn't given PBP duties to begin with. Put Bob where he belongs!!! He is the master!!

Anonymous said...

Mr Daly

I am jumping ahead in your blog-time sphere with this, but hear me out.
Lest anyone doubt that Dr Punch and the viewer are far better served with him as the lead pit reporter, just imagine how the post race IRL debacle would have been handled had Jerry been in the pits rather than Jack Arute. I have no doubt that Punch would have taken control, ststed that there is a contraversy and sorted things out on the spot. Now THAT is where his value is, but he must be putting up a hell of a fight to hang onto the perceived elite role of play by play. In order to save face, I have no doubt that ESPN will keep Jerry in the booth through the chase, but through the 'magic of television' they will revamp the role for 2009. As was the case when I was a session player with the Rolling Stones and the Moody Blues in London, everyone wants to do something else.....drummer wants to sing, bass player wants to drum, guitarist wants to write, etc etc.
Frustrating that this is such an overwhelming simple and obvious change that must be made, yet evryone drags his and ger feet in order to save face.
Bray Kroter

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

Looking for opinions about Jerry Punch and ESPN's coverage of the Sprint Cup Series this season.

If you would like to raise another NASCAR-related topic, just drop me an email at editor@thedalyplanet.tv anytime.

Thanks,

JD

majorshouse said...

I was watching the Hooters 500 in Atlanta when Allen Lowicki won the championship in 1992 and got to experience one of the best announcing teams around. It was Bob Jenkins, Benny Parsons and Ned Jarrett. I really long for that kind of racing television. It was good and ESPN has definitely lost the spark that it used tohave when it pioneered television coverage of NASCAR.

delenn said...

Bestwick is second only to Mike Joy is the PxP role. That is where he should be.
I don't agree that Punch would be best suited to the pit studio role though.

This is my idea (come on ESPN, please listen).

Booth: Bestwick, DJ, Petree. This may well be the best booth in the business - given TNT stepped up this year, and Fox has Joy and McReynolds.

Pit lane: Punch (lead reporter - like Weber used to be for NBC). Also for pre-recorded pre-race segments etc.
Also definate: Burns
Now, I'm still not sure about Spake and Little. Could they get Yocum and Czarniak?

Infield studio: Not too keen on Rusty (I loved him as a driver, but he never seems to add anything to the telecast).
How about: Massaro and Brewer, joined by DJ at the start (in the same style as the Hollywood Hotel). Brewer can run back and forth to the Tech Center, and we can see some of those opinions I know he has.

If they wanted to leave Massaro in the pits, try Manske in the presenter role.

That leaves Rusty, Brad, Little and Spake who would not be required. Sorry folks.

The main thing though is to get Bestwick in for Punch. As soon as possible.

Dot said...

I'm glad there are still current comments because I want to add one more.

Remember last year when Erik the Clueless was on NN? And how mean we were to him? Notice how every comment made in this column says how much JP is loved? He's just in the wrong place. I hope when/if he reads this, that we are not trying to hurt his feelings. We do love you, Jerry.