Tuesday, April 15, 2008
After a good start on-the-air and an even better fan reaction to his work, ESPN viewers have been asking one question. Where in the world did Ray Evernham go?
Noticeably absent from some of the high-profile NASCAR Now and ESPNEWS programming, Evernham will be returning to the network in yet another role this weekend. He will be teaming-up with Rusty Wallace and Dr. Jerry Punch to form the announce team for the Nationwide Series race from Mexico City.
This is the first time for Evernham in the ESPN announce booth, and his crew chief experience should mesh well with the excitement and driver perspective that Wallace brings to the party. Since both men are also owners, addressing those issues might take a little bit of work to sort-out.
Added to this group will be the pit reporting of Dave Burns, Vince Welch and Mike Massaro. Jamie Little and Shannon Spake will not be making the trip to Mexico.
ESPN2 will have coverage of the final practice and qualifying, with ESPN handling the race itself. Practice comes along on Friday, April 18th at 4PM Eastern Time. With no other NASCAR action, qualifying will be on Saturday at 11:30AM and the race will be on Sunday at 1:30PM.
Seeing Evernham in the booth leads to speculation about Andy Petree's desire to continue behind the microphone. Both men provide the crew chief perspective, and Petree has spent the vast majority of his life actively involved in the business of racing. While this has been an outstanding season for him on-the-air, he may eventually choose to return to racing.
Viewers may remember that Evernham already has a very good relationship with ESPN, including his Race Wizard series that put him on the network regularly last season. While ESPN indicated originally that Evernham's participation in the NASCAR TV package would be outside the actual events, this coming weekend in Mexico City may go a long way to changing that for the future.
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