Friday, November 28, 2008
Your Favorite NASCAR TV Studio Analyst Of 2008?
As we wrap-up the "best of" series over the next several days, we are trying to cut the TV pie into pieces that make sense to discuss. NASCAR offers a lot of experts on TV and one big category is the guys who talk to us during the pre-race, the race itself and from the studio.
Let's get your opinion on the analysts who work at the track or the network headquarters. We'll start with the folks who travel to the races.
The NASCAR on Fox gang kicks-off the season with Jeff Hammond in the Hollywood Hotel. Although he is joined by Darrell Waltrip during the pre-race show, Hammond goes it alone as the infield expert while he watches the race with Chris Myers.
Hammond is another one of the hardcore NASCAR TV personalities. He works on several TV programs every racing weekend. These include "Trackside" on SPEED along with the practice and qualifying sessions for the Nationwide and Cup Series. Hammond moves seamlessly between the broadcast and cable TV networks.
Although previously mentioned in the booth analyst category, the name Larry McReynolds pops-up again in this one. McReynolds moves down to the infield for the six TNT races and his presence has made quite an impact. His role is to provide advice on race strategy during the live telecast.
McReynolds could easily have become the fourth man in the booth. TNT's Kyle Petty kept a running commentary with him and continually asked his perspective on race-related issues. Several times it was McReynolds who predicted the racing strategy used to win the TNT Sprint Cup Series races.
Credit goes to Rusty Wallace for being a team player. Moved from the Lead Analyst position down to the ESPN infield, Wallace made the best of his new role and never was at a loss for words. Aided by the professional TV presence of Allen Bestwick, Wallace seemed to enjoy his new role.
For better or worse, Brad Daugherty has to be put into the studio analyst role. In addition to his season of work in the Infield Pit Studio, he was a regular on ESPN2's "NASCAR Now" and routinely addressed all types of NASCAR topics.
As the season moved on, Daugherty became the cheerleader while Wallace was often the skeptic. Both of these roles had their place and Bestwick really made the most of this duo. They are the only ones who worked together in this setting for the entire ten months of the racing year.
The other pre-race analysts are on SPEED. Jimmy Spencer has a personality that is defined on "RaceDay" by large cigars and a rather unique hairstyle. He is also well-known for his hard-nosed opinions and very direct style. Spencer means well, but his rough and tumble upbringing sometimes leaves him just a bit short in the sophistication department.
His tag team TV partner is Kenny Wallace. "Herman" has been around the sport for a very long time and is a personality that many fans just love. Enthusiastic and honest, Wallace has worked hard on his TV skills in order to handle his roles on both "RaceDay" and "Victory Lane."
One key TV element of both Wallace and Spencer is their ability to laugh at themselves. Whether dressed up in black gowns and white wigs to hold court or being featured in "RaceDay" pieces that question their ability to form complete sentences, these two keep things in perspective where TV is concerned.
Another face that viewers saw in 2008 was Boris Said. He became a semi-regular in the ESPN studios on "NASCAR Now" and was often the analyst in the network studios on Sundays handling two shows. Said is eager to learn better TV skills and came a long way this season.
The final name in this category is Ray Evernham. Moved around by ESPN this year, Evernham settled into a role in both the Infield Pit Studio and on Monday's "NASCAR Now." Rumored to be selling his interest in GEM and retiring from NASCAR, fans should expect to see a lot more of Evernham in 2009 where ESPN programs are concerned.
An honorable mention goes to Ricky Craven. He was a frequent panelist on Monday's "NASCAR Now" and was then invited several times into the studio on Sunday to work alongside Ryan Burr or Nicole Manske. He handled all these assignments well, but was not a TV regular where ESPN was concerned. It should be interesting to see where Craven lands for next season.
When you listened to these men speak about NASCAR topics in 2008, who did you trust and understand? What person gave you a perspective that made sense and talked in terms that brought the sometimes complex issues of NASCAR to you in an orderly manner? There was a whole lot of talking going on in 2008. Who did you listen to?
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