Friday, November 28, 2008
Best NASCAR TV Booth Analyst Of 2008? - Weekend Comments
As we continue our "best of 2008" conversation, this time we are going to ask for your opinion of the TV booth analysts.
To limit the field this season, we are going to concentrate on the men who called the races for all three of NASCAR's national touring series. You can click on the picture of Andy Petree above to see it full-size.
Darrell Waltrip is the first person that many fans hear as the season begins. His style over the years has changed and 2008 saw Waltrip get very emotional when the Fox season came to a close. This year also marked Waltrip as the centerpiece of a "Let's Go Racin' Boys" song that was unveiled at Daytona to mixed reviews.
Waltrip's season was memorable for the Michael McDowell crash. "I've never seen anything like that in my life," said Waltrip at the time. There was also the very public primetime moment when Waltrip watched Kyle Busch make contact with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in Richmond. "Oh, he turned him!" yelled Waltrip.
The dichotomy of Waltrip as either an elder statesman of the sport or simply a sponsor-driven pitchman continues to haunt his every TV appearance. One minute speaking eloquently about racing issues and the next minute hawking "Digger" T-shirts on his website, Waltrip is someone fans have strong opinions about.
Waltrip's time in the booth is spent with the hardest-working man in NASCAR today, Larry McReynolds. While continuing to re-define the English language, McReynolds may be the most trusted of the booth analysts. While he plots strategy and fills-in the details for the Fox TV package, that is only the tip of McReynolds' TV iceberg.
He moved to the infield for TNT's coverage and proved to be a key to the network's summer success. In addition, he teamed with Jeff Hammond to call practice and qualifying sessions for both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series telecasts on SPEED.
Add to that his presence on Trackside and his hosting of NASCAR Performance on SPEED and there is no doubt that to many fans McReynolds is the top NASCAR TV authority.
McReynolds shared the TNT broadcast with Kyle Petty. With his career in transition, Petty learned from his Tradin' Paint TV experience with SPEED and let his personality shine through on the TNT broadcasts. The results were fantastic.
Petty helped TNT to one of their best summers ever. Fans also got to learn more about his off-track personality and knowledge of the sport. Certainly, all race car drivers have egos, but Petty managed to create a team environment and treat all the on-air TV personalities as equals. He will return to TNT in 2009.
Wally Dallenbach Jr. needs to be mentioned, but his priorities lie elsewhere right now as TV viewers can attest. An avid outdoorsman, Dallenbach is deeply involved in TV programs about hunting, fishing and conservation. He does not attend NASCAR events or participate in any other NASCAR TV programs than the six TNT races.
Dale Jarrett became ESPN's Lead Analyst this season and stepped into Rusty Wallace's former role. Much like his father, Jarrett uses a carefully practiced and polished approach to live TV broadcasts. It is clear he has been well-trained and is always professional and well-mannered. His strong work ethic this season has been regularly called upon as ESPN struggles to find a direction for its racing coverage.
Flying under the radar once again has been Petree. After a season of being talked-over by Rusty Wallace and routinely having his opinions dismissed, Petree came to life in 2008. Jarrett and Petree were the perfect pair to deal with the wild set of issues TV viewers saw NASCAR endure this season.
These two had to watch the Indy debacle, try to inject some excitement into The Chase and call lackluster Nationwide Series races all season long. Often, it was these two who combined to provide the majority of the play-by-play descriptions for viewers of The Chase races. Jarrett eventually may be a good candidate for that position.
Phil Parsons has been the voice of the Truck Series for a very long time. With his distinct mannerisms and voice, Parsons commands respect on the air from viewers and competitors. Over the seasons, Parsons has worked with a variety of announcers and his steady demeanor has helped make all of them better broadcasters.
Parson's biggest challenge may have been Michael Waltrip. Assigned by SPEED to the Truck Series telecasts, Waltrip began by talking over-top of anyone and everyone during the races. As the excitement level rose, so did Waltrip's voice until he was overpowering the entire telecast.
This season, the patience of Parsons helped Waltrip to craft a role on the Truck Series broadcasts that actually worked. Finally, Waltrip figured out it was his knowledge and experience that viewers wanted to hear, not just his voice.
That is a snapshot of the group of people who have been in the NASCAR TV announce booth this season. Please take a moment to let us know who you enjoyed the most this year and why. If you would like to rank them in order, feel free to do so.
The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Just 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. Thank you again for helping us with this "best of 2008" series.