Friday, November 28, 2008
Best NASCAR TV Play-By-Play Announcer of 2008?
Thank you for returning to The Daly Planet in the off-season. To start the look back at the ten months of NASCAR racing on TV we are going to take an opportunity to talk about "the best of 2008."
Rather than hand-out awards, this seems to be a good time to take a deep breath and remember what we all liked best about the hundreds of hours of national TV offered to NASCAR fans this year. To start-off this post-season project, we are going to ask you to pick one of four men as the best NASCAR play-by-play announcer this season.
The picture above is of a very young Ken Squier on the right hosting a post-season awards program for his Thunder Road International Speedbowl in Barre, VT. Before TV came along, the best announcers were on the Public Address system. Squier and others like Chris Economaki felt it was critically important to be the source of excitement for the fans. It kept them coming back for more.
It was sometimes said that Squier could make a wheelbarrow race sound exciting. As NASCAR migrated to TV, it was often Squier and Economaki who continued to keep the excitement level high anytime cars were at speed. To them, the thrill of racing was something everyone should experience...even from the living room. Watching the Daytona 500 live with Squier on the call brought millions of fans to the sport.
Our four TV personalities have varied backgrounds and all came to NASCAR with the same goal as Squier. That was to give their best effort to translating the reality of the racing to those fans watching on TV. Let's meet the four TV professionals.
Mike Joy kicked the season off on Fox and then Bill Weber stepped-in to handle the TNT summer schedule of the Sprint Cup Series. Both of these announcers had limited exposure, but Joy also handled the Cup series practice and qualifying sessions on SPEED during the Fox portion of the schedule.
Perhaps, the most memorable moment of Joy's season was being live in the booth for the Michael McDowell crash in Texas. Click here for a column that will refresh your memory about how the TV veteran Joy handled that moment.
Weber does not have the luxury of handling practice and qualifying. He is here and gone in six short races. This season, Kyle Petty and Larry McReynolds helped Weber have the best summer of his life on TNT. Relaxed and calm at last, Weber was able to keep his perspective and finally put his extensive knowledge of the sport to good use on the air.
Click here for a column that summed-up the TNT summer visit for 2008. One key to Weber's success was the outstanding TV directing of veteran Mike Wells. After the forced drama of Fox and Artie Kempner, Wells was a breath of fresh air who showed fans the race and aggressively followed the action from start to finish. It made a big difference for Weber.
Just like in 2007, ESPN made Dr. Jerry Punch double-up and call both the entire season of Nationwide races and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series events. He also handled the practice and qualifying sessions for both series.
This NASCAR experience of the last two years has been rough for Punch. The veteran reporter and beloved NASCAR icon had a tough time in the role ESPN chose for him.
Click here for a column that talked about the team struggles of ESPN and the issues that happened over the 2008 season. Credit goes to Punch for hanging-in there and completing another season of the ESPN/ABC TV package.
The final person in our discussion is Rick Allen. A complete NASCAR outsider, Allen was imported from Nebraska and placed directly in the national spotlight on the third-tier Craftsman Truck Series coverage on SPEED. Needless to say, success has followed.
Click here to read about the great season the Trucks have enjoyed on SPEED and the role that Allen has played in that success. As with Joy and Punch, Allen also handles the practice and qualifying sessions for the Truck series.
There are always a variety of opinions on topics like this, but what we would ask is for you to pick the person among these four who you enjoyed most in 2008.
Feel free to tell us the reasons behind your choice and what memories you have from this year. While you may discuss the announcers other than the one you chose, please understand that derogatory speech will cause your entire comment to be deleted.
Thank you for helping us in this "best of 2008" series as we review the personalities involved in this past season. To add your 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. Thank you again for stopping by.