Friday, November 28, 2008

Best NASCAR TV Pre-Race Show Host Of 2008?

Now that we have discussed the play-by-play, booth analyst and pit road positions it is time to move onto what should be a very interesting category. There are lots of strong feelings, both pro and con, about the NASCAR TV hosts that come into our home for the ten months of the season.

Originally, we were going to combine all the show hosts together but we got lots of email about this topic and decided to only put the pre-race show TV hosts in this column. That is the exterior and the interior of the ESPN Infield Pit Studio above. You can click on the pictures to see them full-size. Thanks to Andy Hall from ESPN's PR staff for the photos.

Chris Myers starts the season off in the Hollywood Hotel and then hangs-around during the race to provide inserts with Jeff Hammond during the event. Myers has been on the NASCAR on Fox package for a long time and is a TV veteran. He can be seen on other Fox Sports events and fans may remember him from both The Tennis Channel and his long-running "Up Close" interview show on ESPN.

On Fox, Myers represents the "outsider" or the casual fan. Even after all these years, his role in the telecasts has not changed. He is the straight man, the goofy guy and the clown. This is such a complete opposite role from his other TV appearances that it is amazing.

When TNT comes along, Marc Fein and Bill Weber combine to host ninety minutes of pre-race TV. Fein is a Turner Broadcasting "in-house announcer" and works on many other sports for that company. He is well-known in other professional circles, but new to NASCAR.

Fein's role was to direct traffic during the pre-race show down on the TNT infield stage. His six race run was solid, although he battled some tough weather conditions on the outdoor stage at times. Fein was perhaps helped the most by having Larry McReynolds alongside to provide the NASCAR expertise while Fein continued to direct on-air traffic.

Weber stepped-in for the final thirty minute pre-race show done from the TNT "cocktail table" up in the announce booth. Joined by Wally Dallenbach, Weber showed off his journalist skills and covered a wide variety of topics. Weber is primarily a writer and this came through in several outstanding commentaries.

ESPN's ironman is Allen Bestwick. In 2008, he handled the pre-race shows for the entire Nationwide Series schedule and the final seventeen Sprint Cup Series events. After each race, Bestwick flew back to Connecticut and hosted the one hour "NASCAR Now" Monday roundtable show.

After a tough first year with Suzy Kolber, Brent Musburger and a cast of thousands, Bestwick was just what the doctor ordered for ESPN and ABC. He took the laughable pre-race show and used Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty to turn the Infield Pit Studio into something many viewers wanted to watch.

One of the most memorable TV moments from 2008 was Krista Voda hosting the Phoenix Truck Series pre-race show from Rattlesnake Hill with the beautiful sunset in the background. The stripped-down and basic approach of SPEED paid-off this season and Voda was a big part of the reason why.

All season long, Voda has provided just the right touch for the Truck Series telecasts. Nothing is overdone, things are kept in perspective and the SPEED announcers and the truck teams make viewers feel they are part of an extended family. From the sublime to the ridiculous, Voda has seen it all this season.

So, there you have it. The five faces that helped you through the pre-race programming for the past year and left some kind of impression that we would like you to share. Telling us what memories you might have of your favorite TV host and letting us know what rubbed you the wrong way this season would be appreciated.

To add your comment, 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 for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet in the off-season.


Anonymous said...

Sorry Krista but number one has to go to Allen Bestwick. He is the best. Number 2 would go to Krista.

Anonymous said...

You all can rail on Chris Myers all you want, but the Hollywood Hotel has the best pre-race show on television. It is organized, it moves quickly, it has great clips, and more than any other pre-race show, it gets you really excited for the green flag. They make every race on FOX feel like it's the Daytona 500 and that starts with the Hollywood Hotel. A clear cut winner in my book.

PammH said...

Just the opposite for me! Love me some Allen, but who he's paired with tips the scales. A tight 1/2 hr show w/Krista is the ticket!
THe rest are fine except for Chris Myers. :(

Glenn said...

Krista Voda- fun, happy, exciting
Allen Bestwick- most knowledgeable but the show is to d*** serious

Matt said...

This is a tough call between AB and Krista..

I guess I like SPEED's approach to a pre-race more, so for that reason I'm gonna go with Krista. It's so simple, yet still gets you excited for the race. She's the perfect host for this series.

But AB deserves a lot of credit too. He turned a dismal pre-race show in 07 into one that couldn't be missed this year. The only downfall for him is the cast that he works with.

Anonymous said...

Krista gets my vote by a hair width over Allen Bestwick. Krista V. does it with a minimum of "extras" has only 1/2 hour & besides- she's a really great witch! ;)

Allen being called Ironman is a bit redundant, JD, add best all around category & after AB takes it many years in a row -we just rename it for him.

TexasRaceLady said...

Dang, JD, you've backed me into a corner --again! You want me to chose among all very good hosts.

1. Krista --- sorry, Alan, but she makes me feel as if she's sitting on my couch talking racing.

2. Alan --- lose the button-down look and you've got a winner.

3. Chris --- he's relaxed and having fun with the groaners that Hammond throws at him.

Anonymous said...

My top three are, who else John?

1) Krista
2) Noell
3) Voda

Allen B is a close 4th.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Too much information there!


alex said...

1. Allen Bestwick - His years of nascar experience and professionalism were the main factor that saved ESPN's broadcasts.

2. Krista Voda - I really like the half-hour format of SPEED's Setup show, and Krista's ability to have fun and be serious at the same time is a stark contrast to ESPN's show.

3. Marc Fein - I've known him for a few years from the TBS Atlanta Braves games, and I feel he's made a fairly smooth transition to Nascar. While only involved for 6 races, he has done his homework to know the cars, drivers, teams, and nascar stories of the year. He's nowhere near the ability of Allen or Krista, but I feel he's doing really good for only 12 races under his belt.

4. Chris Myers - He does a decent job hosting, but the dumbed down gimmick really gets to me. As JD has said, Myers is a different person on Tennis broadcasts, and while I haven't seen these firsthand, I don't see why he can't be more professional at the same time. Perhaps he could take a few tips from colleage Krista Voda on how to be serious, funny, professional, and well-informed all in the same broadcast. Finally, we know he kids because he cares, but I could go without that quote in 2009. Thanks

Anon 4:43 - You're right, FOX has the best prerace show. I agree with all of your points, but that show is not any better because of Chris Myers. If he works on what I mentioned, the show could be even better.

Anonymous said...

JD- A buffet. I enjoy them all (except for TNT's which I've never watched), maybe a little more because they are each different, and good. I believe Alan B. is the best host hands down, but I actually enjoy FOX's the most.

Anonymous said...

I'll also go with Krista Voda mainly due to her and partly due to the way the show is set up.

As someone said, Bestwick is the best all-rounder. I'd put Chris Myers 3rd because of the dumb/clown act.

I must say I _really_ want to vote for Wendy Venturini for best of something. I hope there's a category for her.


Newracefan said...

Krista first only because I like Speeds prerace show the best. Then AB for obvious reasons. Chris Myers is third and would move up if he loses the goofball act because the show itself is well organized and has interesting info in it for the most part.After Speed this is my favorite prerace show. Marc is last only because he's new and if he keeps up the good work and Larry Mac's there to keep him in the NAscar loop he's moving up.

Anonymous said...

Sorry JD, just have liked the girl every since her Totally Nascar days. She she just come across as if we have know her almost her entire life. Like one poster said it feels like she is sitting on the couch right next to you talking racing.

Nan S said...

My vote goes to Krista.

@Alex - Chris Myers doesn't call any tennis matches, they had him do a series of one on one interviews with many different tennis players, from many different countries. He does a great job and conducts interesting and intelligent interviews. That's why I hate his Nascar "personality" so much. He acts like an unintelligent fool, which tells me what he thinks the Nascar demographic is.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

JD said:

"Bestwick, just what the "doctor" ordered (my quotations).

First, I though, a sublimial message, perhaps, because the out right, out loud ones haven't worked. Yet!

Couldn't stop laughing thinking of Dr. P "ordering" Alan to take his job...please!

Vicky D said...

I like Krista's pre-race show because it seems more spontaneous being on pit road and all but Allen's got everyone else beat handsdown.

Unknown said...

Allen Bestwick hands down.
I did not watch much of the truck pre race shows this year to be honest. Not because of Krista, but because of the timing of the races I had to watch 90% of them on my DVR.

What I did watch of Krista I liked. As PammH said who they are paired with during the show makes a huge difference in the over all pre race show, but this is just about the host.

If we were rating the overall show, Cup on Fox would slightly beat out the Trucks on Speed. But thats just because DW cracks me up picking on Hammond.

stricklinfan82 said...

My vote goes to Allen Bestwick. Even though he's great in the studio, I do hope this is the last time he's a nominee for this award. In my opinion he should be in the #1 NASCAR play-by-play man for ESPN in 2009 and allow Dr. Punch to take the anchor chair in the studio and assume the position of being the early favorite for 2009 NASCAR Pre-Race Show Host of the Year.

Krista Voda would be second for me with Bill Weber third. As for Myers and Fine I give Chris Myers the nod for 4th place because of his tenure working NASCAR TV broadcasts. I will add though that I don't think Fox uses him properly in the host role. I don't think that in his 9th year covering this sport he should still be playing the "NASCAR Dummy" role. Unless he actually hasn't learned anything about this sport after all these years (which I HIGHLY doubt is the case), I personally would prefer it if Fox would let us hear more of the broadcast professional side of Myers I hear on Fox Sports Radio and on the NFL on Fox and less/none of the "What is a lugnut?", "I have nothing to say so I'll just call Dick Berggren old", and "I kid because I care" gimmick.

Tom said...

AB of course, but I do not underestimate Chris Myers potential. He is a clown, now. I suspect we may see that change a bit and they start allowing him to use his true professionalism. As much as I like AB, and he is currently the best, Myers is far better than he is allowed to portray right now. Overall, It wouldn't hurt my feelings if pre race was just about eliminated (except for Daytona, when anticipation is high). SPEED has the right idea throughout the year, KISS, works everytime!

Inverness, FL

Anonymous said...

No brainer-Allen Bestwick. No one else even close. Voda's come a long way since the disasterous Nascar Nation. She's fun and breezy with the the chit chat,but is not very knowledgeable about Nascar and racing. In 2007,the Monday night gang interviewed her the week before the Homestead race. They made the mistake of going off script and asked her a specific question about Nascar and she whiffed it. The Monday night guys were roaring.

Anonymous said...

I found all the pre-race activity to be useless, overspent, and overblown.

I do like Krista Voda because of the 1/2 time as opposed to 60 to 90 minutes.

Anonymous said...

I love the Fox crew. I think the sum is greater than its parts. Chris is great in his role with Jeff and DW. We all get ready to watch the pre-race, we've got our snacks and drinks, we sit and can feel like the Fox guys and Chris is in our family room.

I think that's why Fox is rated higher than all the other network pre-game shows. Chris has made the group popular with fans and insiders too. He has 3 Emmys and the Fox Pre-race Hollywood Hotel has been nominated for 2 Emmys.

My number 2 would be Krista.

Anonymous said...

Krista is my vote for best pre-race host, and show. Sorry AB, but there comes a point when he toes the line just a little too much and it's getting worse.

I like Myers and the Hollywood Hotel, and unlike everyone else here, I like Webrer I don't have to look it up, cuz he already did :)

GinaV24 said...

1. Allen Bestwick -- just an awesome guy who does the best job; 2. Krista Voda - does a great job and sure does make Speed worth watching. After seeing Chris Myers do his deal on Fox's NFL broadcast, I just do not get the "dumb" act that he persists with for NASCAR. Heck, after 7 years, pretending to still be a casual fan is just plain silly. Weber was better this year than in other years, but I still don't like his presentation.

Anonymous said...

I don't believe that there are more than two candidates.

Krista Voda's wonderful demeanor places her at the top of the pre-race show host list.

Bestwick is out of his element here; he should be demoted to play-by-play.

chase said...

AB is the best hands down and I trust ESPN will FINALLY solve their huge problem by putting him in the booth for the PxP. Chris Myers is an insult to our intelligence and has no purpose whatsoever doing pre-race coverage - even for dolts! Krista is getting good! Thanks for these columns JD - hopefully the 'powers-that-be' will sit up and pay attention and CHANGE THINGS!

Lou said...

Thanks JD, this is a tough one.

But I have to go with Allen Bestwick. Too bad he is with ESPN. It has caused him to walk the company line this season. But he brought the pre race show to the high this year that all the others last season brought to the lowest low. His knowledge of the sport, his abilities in broadcasting, his abilities to work under many different situations with many other people. Not to mention how he carried the pre-race show during rain delays. And, oh yea, still did the Monday NN every week. And I may add, not always with the same roundtable.

Not a fan of the too many hours of pre-race. And did not watch all. But the hours I did watch AB was spot on.

My second is Krista Voda. This may be off topic. But I just think of how SPEED has done so much with so little to make the truck pre-race the good show it is.

Anonymous said...

Krista is the best. She is completely at home doing this kind of show and it shows every time. That terrific smile does'nt hurt either. Allen would be better in another format, possibly pxp.

majorshouse said...

My vote has to go to Krista Voda for the sheer reason that Speed's approach is that less is more and we don't need more than 30 minutes to get us ready to race and she also made one heck of a witch as well. I love Allen Bestwick and his knowledge is first rate, but he needs to leave the party line alone.

Anonymous said...

1. Allen Bestwick
2. Krista Voda
27. Chris Myers

Anonymous said...

Fox covers a lot of ground in its half hour, but my issues are the same as with its broadcasts: too self-serving and gimmicky. Never have like Myers. He's trying too hard.

ESPN/ABC is great, but an hour is too long. Cut it in half and call me thrilled.

Nothing new to add about Voda. Awesome show with the right amount of fun.

Karen said...

Chris Myers could be no. 1. I've seen many of the interviews he does on the Tennis Channel and the job he does in baseball. It's like he has two different personalities. One for all other sports and one for NASCAR. So my fave at this point is AB, then Krista. Bill Weber is getting there. Before last season, I couldn't stand him. Last year, I couldn't believe the difference in his approach and it served him much better.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately the best host (Allen Bestwick) doesn't work on the best show (Fox Hollywood Hotel). Without a doubt Allen improved the quality of the ESPN pre-race show 500% from 2007 simply due to talent & experience. I can't help but wonder how good a 30-45 minute pre-race show on any network could be with AB, DW & Hammond/Everham (pick 'em) on the job.

Anonymous said...

This is a tough call.

1. Chris Myers
2. Allen Bestwick

They could be tied, but I like NASCAR on FOX better than I do ESPN. I'm also hoping AB's in the booth next year, too!

3. Bill Weber (this has always been a strong point for him, along with pit road)
4. Krista Voda (only because I haven't seen too many of her shows)
5. Marc Fein (he's a nice guy, but not a NASCAR person)

Anonymous said...

So Race Day does not count? I get more info there than any other "Pre-Race" show.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 4:38PM,

RaceDay certainly does count, but not in this poll. It is not a pre-race show for a TV network that has the actual race.

We will cover shows like RaceDay, TWIN and NASCAR Now in "best of 2008" topics over the next week.

Thanks for bringing up that question.


Anonymous said...

Alen Bestwick is okay. He reads very well. He reads a script from a telepromter or notes, but does not seem "natural."

Chris Myers is a natural. He's done the Super Bowl, World Series, NFL, and I think right now he is doing pxp for the NFL on a regional station. Fox keeps him because he's popular.

Krita is great and my #2

Mary said...

Has to be a dead heat for Allen and Krista to be #1!

Myers and Weber dead heat for last.

Delenn said...

Sorry, JD, but I refuse to pick between Bestwick and Voda.

I love the 30 minute setup, and Voda is fun and friendly, and sitting across from you talking about racing.

Bestwick is Bestwick. Plain and simple. He could host a game of cricket and I would watch.

The rest are not up to these two.