Tuesday, January 6, 2009

ESPN Announces 2009 NASCAR On-Air Line-Up

The news from ESPN for 2009 is a mixture of positive changes and some lack of change that may surprise fans.

Topping the news is the fact that Mike Massaro will replace Ryan Burr as one of the three co-hosts of NASCAR Now. Nicole Manske will return and both Manske and Massaro will travel to the racing weekends and report from the field. Ryan Burr was a solid interviewer and news anchor, but Massaro is a much more experienced NASCAR journalist.

Allen Bestwick will continue to host the Monday NASCAR Now roundtable that has become the flagship for ESPN2's coverage of the sport. Bestwick will apparently continue to have a constantly rotating panel of reporters, analysts and NASCAR personalities.

With Massaro moving to NASCAR Now, it will be Vince Welch who steps-up and joins the NASCAR on ESPN crew of pit reporters. Returning will be Dave Burns, Shannon Spake and Jamie Little. Welch filled-in last season and with the reduced IRL schedule on ESPN in 2009 was available. Welch will continue to work the IRL events as well.

Bestwick will also continue to host the NASCAR Countdown pre-race shows and have his trusty sidekicks with him. Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty will return as regulars and will be joined by Ray Evernham on selected races. Evernham is ESPN's utility player and will appear on NASCAR Now, selected races as an analyst and also on other ESPN programs like First Take and the ESPNEWS Network.

Several weeks ago, TDP hinted that Marty Reid was going to be actively involved in ESPN's 2009 NASCAR coverage and we were correct. Jerry Punch will handle the play-by-play for the Nationwide Series races until the ESPN Sprint Cup coverage begins. At that time, Reid will step-in and handle the Nationwide events.

That will free Punch to focus his efforts on the final 17 Sprint Cup Series race for ESPN and ABC. Reid is an ESPN veteran who had been a fill-in for Punch in the past. Just like Welch, Reid will continue his IRL duties including the Indy 500.

Punch will once again be joined by Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the announce booth. The NASCAR on ESPN team will be rounded-out by Tim Brewer.

This information answers a lot of questions about ESPN's 2009 NASCAR coverage. The Tech Center will be back on the road for the entire season with Brewer and his auto parts showcase. ESPN has also returned the Infield Pit Studio with Bestwick and company. This muti-purpose facility served to host a wide variety of programs for ESPN in 2008.

This new line-up gives Punch a breather when the Sprint Cup Series come around to ESPN and frees him from "double duty." While it does not address some of the play-by-play issues Punch struggled with over the last two years, perhaps it will be the break he needs to really bring home the Sprint Cup season with a strong finish.

Thanks to ESPN for all the information and the snazzy new picture of Mike Massaro. Good luck to the entire on-air and production crew during the 2009 season.

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. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


bevo said...

Color me underwhelmed. Something about lipstick and pigs.

And to top it off - no HotPass... I am not going to be a very pleasant person watching ESPN's portion of the schedule.

Anonymous said...

Im feeling quite a bit of emotions right now. I am shocked, surprised, and disappointed in a way. I am surprised ESPN made changes with the Pit Reporters and making Mike Massaro less and Vince Welch more. I never really saw a problem with the pit reporters.

I am a bit surprised that they will have Marty Reid call only the second half of the Nationwide Series season. It would have been nice if they just did the whole season with him.

I am very disappointed with no movement with Jerry. The only difference is he will not call the final Nationwide Series races. Maybe ESPN sees something we don't. Perhaps Jerry can focus better when he only has one race per weekend to focus on?

These changes are a bit surprising. I dont see now how ESPN is trying to save $$. They just added two more broadcast crew members! We will have to wait and see how these changes work. I really dont think there will be much of a difference, but prove me wrong ESPN!

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I don't think a "breather" is what Jerry Punch needs. He needs to be re-assigned to pit road, or terminated altogether.
I knew ESPN would not listen to the fans. Whether it's Sprint Cup or Nationwide, Jerry is HORRIBLE in the booth. I refuse to be put to sleep with his yawn-inducing play by play. It's official now, so yet another year of waiting for the right person,
(read:Allen Bestwick)to take control.I don't know whether to laugh or cry....

Sophia said...

sigh...BSPN proves they don't care what the fans want.

Anonymous said...

ESPN has way too many people assigned to cover Nascar. As they showed last year, they can talk and talk and talk and not say anything of interest.

Lou said...

Happy for Mike Massaro and sad for Ryan Burr. Mike has proven himself, but Ryan was a student of the sport IMO and was very business like, and hope to see him during the season.

Glad Ms.Manske is back, I think she conducts good interviews and knows just when to push or stop to get the replies from her comment or questions.

Good to see Allen Bestwick back for NN and the roundtable.

Anonymous said...

ESPN seems to be refusing to listen to the fans' wishes almost defiantly--like a child stomping his foot.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps the break will help Dr. Punch, but I doubt it.

All ESPN needed to do was take a swing at switching the Doc and Bestwick's jobs. What could it have hurt? We all know that the Doc is good in a "host" roll and Bestwick has proven over and over that he is good in the booth.

Oh well. To copy bevo, color me unsurprised.

Anonymous said...

Kudos to Ryan Burr for a solid season on Nascar Now. I hope he continues to be a Nascar fan...or at the very least...won't hate it like some of the other ESPN folks.

Less races to cover or not, I'm not happy seeing Punch back in the booth. We're kidding ourselves if we think his play by play will be any different.

Oh well, at least it's still six months until we have to watch Cup on ESPN.

Karen said...

TDP said . . .

This new line-up gives Punch a breather when the Sprint Cup Series come around to ESPN and frees him from "double duty." While it does not address some of the play-by-play issues Punch struggled with over the last two years, perhaps it will be the break he needs to really bring home the Sprint Cup season with a strong finish.

Who's kidding who? Honestly, JP must not read his own bad press. Plus I think Massaro is going to miss being on pit road and is better suited there. He's going to do a great job on NN but where's he gonna get his info if he's stuck in CT?

Unknown said...

Ugh I'm with bevo.
Wish my local MRN/PRN station would carry the Bush races.

Anonymous said...


Couldn't they set up the pit studio at the home office in Bristol and just take a live feed from there instead of trucking that thing around each week? Seems like the cost of an uplink vs. hauling it around would be a no-brainer.

Anonymous said...

I'm certaining glad ESPN did not cave into the pressure to remove Jerry Punch. I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I don't think he deserves the abundance of criticism he receives.

Unknown said...

The changes are disappointing. Ryan Burr did a great job with NASCAR Now.

Anyone else disappointed Allen Bestwick has not reached the play by play position yet? I guess we're in for another year of the dang pre-race shows better than the actual telecast of the race!

Marty Reid commentating the second half of the Nationwide Schedule is a step in the right direction, but it still doesn't fix the lack luster Sunday Telecasts.

You know, I got a job that made me miss the races live on Sunday. I thought I would record the races and watch them later, but later I realized... as bad as the actual race telecasts are on the Cup Side with Punch as the play by play, I don't even care and it isn't worth it anymore.

These changes are no good, very disappointed... again.

Lisa Hogan said...

I am not surprised.
This does remind me to pick up plenty of batteries for my remote. More mute button abuse is predicted! :)

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The fact that Jerry Punch returns as play-by-play announcer shows:

1) ABC/ESPN has not listened to fans. The criticism of Punch's style and lack of technique in his current role hasn't been mixed. It has been overwhelmingly negative.


2) ABC/ESPN doesn't even realize there is a problem in the play-by-play position. Clearly there isn't a NASCAR fan anywhere in the ABC/ESPN ranks, or if there is he/she isn't willing to speak up and say "Hey everyone, this is not how racing is called!"

majorshouse said...

I was really hoping that we would get AB in the booth doing the pxp instead of Jerry Punchy. I still say that he would be better served chaning positions with Bestwick because that is where he always shone the brightest.

Ziggy said...

Uggh :(
Hopefully the local terrestial station here in S Fla does not pull the plug on Sprint Cup races.

Anonymous said...

They are grooming Reid to take over for Punch. Give it another year and 2010 will see a new Cup Series PXP.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any information about what Ryan Burr will be doing in 2009?

Anonymous said...

With all due respect I appreciate Dr. Punch's past work on pit road but he's simply not cut out for the booth. It's apparent ESPN could care less what the fans think. They sure didn't listen to anything we said.

Daly Planet Editor said...


Please re-phrase your comment and re-post. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page.


Ryan has been working hard this season after NASCAR in a variety of roles. I have seen him on ESPNEWS frequently. I will find out what 2009 is going to hold for him at ESPN.


Anonymous said...

These changes are so disappointing!

- Dr. Jerry Punch remains in a role he struggled in last year.

- Ryan Burr is dumped completely

- We get a lot less of Mike Massaro; him and Dave Burns were the only 2 credible pit reporters. Now I am down to just 1 I can trust for information.

- Allen Bestwick is still denied the role of play-by-play that he has earned and the fans request.

- We still have Brad and Rusty in the infield studio.

- Too many talking heads in 1 broadcast still.

The only positive "changes" are:

- DJ and Andy don't change

- Allen and Nicole are still on Nascar Now

- There is somebody else in the broadcast booth for the last 18 races of the year for the Nationwide series

Conclusion. ESPN sends message: we do not care about the fans.

Anonymous said...

Well, I really don't know what to make of these announcements. I think that Mike Massaro is a better pit reporter than an ESPN studio host. At the same time, Ryan Burr really didn't do much for me.

As far as Vince joining the pit crew full time...well, I can't really say anything good or bad. I don't know what his knowledge or background of NASCAR is like, so I can't slam or praise this move yet. His N'wide work is pretty good, so we'll see what this full-time promotion does for the coverage.

I don't quite know why they would use Marty Reid for the 2nd-half N'wide coverage INSTEAD of the first-half. Punch doing two races per weekend shouldn't be an issue...Mike Joy and Allen Bestwick used to that on FOX and NBC. Why fly an extra person to the same racetrack to call a 2 hour race when other announcers (Bestwick and Punch) are already there? That move is not saving money.

Lastly, ESPN seems to be content with the lousy ratings it gets during its Cup races because the network won't make the changes we, the fans, want to see. Not replacing Punch is only part of it. We'll probably see the same taped video clips, bad music selections, and lack of overall excitement from ESPN again.

Anonymous said...

I'm certaining glad ESPN did not cave into the pressure to remove Jerry Punch. I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but I don't think he deserves the abundance of criticism he receives.

If you think simply saying the car number as it appears on the screen is good play-by-play, if you enjoy hearing that every car is driven by a "young man" who "sails" into turn one, if you like long silences when something unusual happens on the track--then Jerry Punch is your man.

Personally, I expect more.

alex said...

I'm surprised they made changes where they did, and surprised they didn't make changes where they didn't. I suppose "underwhelmed" is a good word.

Anonymous said...

Well fellow Cup-ers, ESPN has made clear that they hold our overwhelming dislike of Punch with total disregard.
I supect that to make a switch of Dr P for AB, they would in effect be admitting that they were wrong and the audience is right.
This arogant "take it or leaveit" attitude has induced me to say, "i'll leave it"
I will write NASCAR MEDIA head Paul Brooks and inform him that I will no longer watch NASCAR on ESPN.
I encourage all other Daly Planet "orbiters" to vow to do the same. Don't cave in. Boycott NASCAR on ESPN

Daly Planet Editor said...


When you have a moment, please drop an email to me at editor@thedalyplanet.tv please.

Thanks, JD

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to everyone out there. I should not have said what I said.

Anonymous said...

I can't believe that once again Alan Bestwick has been overlooked. Host of a roundtable discussion, Wow!!! Use your heads ESPN, put the useless talking heads on the talk show and Bestwick in the booth. Rusty Wallace has already said everything we never wanted to know about his spoiled son. Where"s DW? even he's a better choice.

Anonymous said...

While I think it is clear that there is significant dissatisfaction with EESPN's handling of NASCAR broadcasts, I find it curious that you never see any criticism of EESPN (or TNT) from the major media outlets - they seem to prefer to cover for EESPN, maybe due to personal relationships with Dr. P. The only criticism I have seen of EESPN's (or TNT's) broadcasting is on internet only sites. Whenever I see mentions in the mainstream media of NASCAR's declining ratings it is always expressed as an indictment of NASCAR and the COT, never of EESPN's (or TNT's) handling of the broadcasts.

Since fans are clearly not nearly as wise as the media, maybe if the mainstream media, like David Poole and other newspaper writers, did not cover for EESPN then EESPN might take a real look at its product and bring it up to the level of FOX.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry to see Ryan Burr not part of NN for 2009. I think he is very professional, and I will miss him.

On the other hand, I did not think Nicole was that great. She had trouble reading the teleprompter and often mispronounced words. I hope she's better this coming season.

I'm glad ESPN does not make decisions based on blogs, this one or others. They would be going nuts. There is no consensus, and some of the opinions don't make good business sense.

I'll wait til the first show before I make a judgement. I wish the new team members well.

Anonymous said...

Doing NASCAR on TV is tough business. I think that we can all agree on that one.

Anonymous said...

DJP is a great guy, and does great at what he does. I'm glad ESPN refused to listen to all the haters on this blog.

Anonymous said...

Good luck to Ryan Burr. I thought he did an excellent job this season. Hopefully this job got him a little more "face recognition" at ESPN; I know that when I see him now on ESPN News or at the halftime desk of a college game I pay attention more than I would have in the past or if it was another ESPN News anchor.

But congratulations to Mike Massaro. While I think he's great in the pits, he really impressed me on the weekly roundtables and I think he'll be perfect for the daily NASCAR Now show. He seems very versatile, meaning he can hold his own in the pits and in the studio.

Speaking of the studio, someone like Shannon Spake is not very good in the pits but would be perfect as a full time reporter for NN, maybe reporting from North Carolina during the week. I wish they would consider her for that role.

I am a bit surprised that NASCAR didn't cut down on the amount of faces in the studio (keeping Rusty, Ray, Brad AND Tim) considering all the budget cuts we keep hearing about for TV.

Steve L. said...

The season's not even started and I'm all ready dreading the second half...

I'm really disappointed Punch wasn't swapped with AB.

Thanks for listening to the fans ESPN. **NOT**

Anonymous said...

"Philip Mathew said: Jan 6, 2009 at 11:47 AM 'I can see the role change for Massaro.... Massaro was comfortable on NASCAR Now during the Monday Roundtable show. Manske needs someone else there that actually knows something about the sport'." *
Which is why I am surprised that Ryan Burr went, and Manske is still there! Also, Burr did not seem to have an 'agenda' of his own, and he carried his weight. But I am glad to see the that Shannon & Jamie will still be back on pit road. : )
* From SceneDaily.com 1/06/09

Vicky D said...

I guess ESPN thought they had tough decisions for 2009, however keeping JP as PXP guy isn't one of them. And I'm glad Marty Reid will be doing the Nationwide races but I think he needs LaJoie (or someone comparable) in there to co-host. This is so shocking who are these people that are making these decisions - these choices are crazy to me. I'm with Bevo - underwhelmed and disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Oh sure, now that I've finally started to like Ryan he's gone :(. Guess I'll check on ESPNNEWS to see if I catch him sometime :). Maybe if someone needs a Vay Cay they'll let him play with us again :)

I'm also disappointed in Dr. Jerry still being the PBP. I'm not looking forward to *crickets* when we should be having the "missing" pieces being filled in. Guess DJ and Mr. Petree will have to get ready to try to carry the broadcast again.

I like Marty and Vince OK. I hope the girls did some homework and will come up with real questions this season. I don't have much hope but miracles can happen.

Newracefan said...

UNDERWHELMED absolutely perfect word. While I liked Ryan Burr I am OK with Mike on NN but I will miss him on pit road. JP still in the booth is a mistake and one the fans will be paying for this season. The only smart thing was putting Marty Reid in the NW booth, Doc doing 2 races a weekend is a nightmare. Can someone please find out if AB even wants to be in the booth I'm having a hard time believing he PO'd someone that bad.

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Maybe the good Doctor went to play by play school in the off season. We can only hope.

Must say I was shocked...not that they didn't listen to the fans, but that they don't appear to be cutting costs. At least in the personnel area. Maybe they will do equipment sharing with Speed/Fox.

Zero on the excitement meter and 100 for major disappointment.

15 days until leaving for Daytona, that should help :-)

Anonymous said...

DJP is a great guy, and does great at what he does. I'm glad ESPN refused to listen to all the haters on this blog.
No one here "hates" him. In fact, Punch has gotten a lot of praise here...for being a solid reporter.

What do you like so much about his work as a play-by-play man? Be specific.

rich said...

Bevo, you hit the nail on the head. Color me underwhelmed also or perhaps stick a fork in me, I am done (with ESPN anyway). Hope that Directtv does something a little like Hot Pass. Or if not I hope Sirius/XM is still around and maybe I will go that route. Oh well, bring on Daytona, I am ready to enjoy the first half of the season anyway.

Sophia said...

Richard in NC

While I am familiar with many acronyms for ESPN (BSPN being my fave invention :-) ) I missed the memo on EESPN.

Please tell me what the extra E stands for. :-)

Sorry for the thread drift JD but inquiring minds want to know!

back to the topic, when folks start suggesting DW, you know they are desperate for "ESPN" changes !!

PammH said...

I echo alot of other sentiments here. Horrible choices by BSPN. The blonde know-nothings still in the pits, JP still in PxP, Rusty & Brad back....ugh. I will not be listening to them again this yr-soooo disappointing. We, the fans are ignored again...figures. :(

Dot said...

I didn't see Boris' name anywhere? Did I miss it?

There's still hope that JP will not be the pxp guy. Cup coverage doesn't start on BSPN for 6 months.

I'm glad Mike Massaro got promoted. Ive always liked him.

Anonymous said...

Sophia, I borrowed, in part, from a recent column from a well-known columnist - Evil Empire Sports-like Programming Network.

Regarding analysts/commentators, EESPN is doing to NASCAR what it does to some other sports like NFL. On its Sunday so-called pre-game NFL show the one time I looked this season EESPN had so many commentators that all of them could not fit on the set at the same time. I believe the watchword at EESPN is quantity over quality.

I do find it somewhat curious that with so many NASCAR commentators, none of them seem to have been interviewed on EESPN, EESPN2, or EESPNNEWS about PE, GEM, Sadler, Dinger, etc. At the same time it appears to me that the print media is not knocking itself out to cover any of the stories either.

Anonymous said...

I'm only happy that Nicole, Allen, DJ, and Andy are still around. (Nicole is a positive for me)

I'm unhappy with everything else especially Dr. Punch. Please, bring in Bob Jenkins or Allen Bestwick in his position.

I was hoping we would get Jack Arute in the pits.

Well 2009 is already meeting my expectations of continued disappointment.

Anonymous said...

We're all going to watch the races whether Jerry Punch is there or not and that's the bottom line for true race fans. I won't like it but I have no choice if I want to see the race on TV. So ESPN will stay with Punch as long as they want. I'd love to know how many people will boycott the ESPN broadcast. Not many hardcore NASCAR fans, I'm sure.


Anonymous said...

well, jerry punch covered the 1st half of the nationwide schedule the last 2 years, with no cup race the next day and still struggled with that coverage. this one race a week theory isint selling with me. Punch is a pit reporter and belongs there, with Mike Massaro. If anyone should have been put in the studio it should not have been massaro who is argubly ESPNS best pit reporter. Id rather see bestwick or Bob Jenkins replace Jerry Punch in general, but it looks like AB is stuck in the studio and Bob Jenkins is on versus this year with the IRL.

GinaV24 said...

Geez, that is really a waste of effort. Apparently, ESPN didn't hear a word the fans said. Jerry Punch may be a great guy, but he's a lousy PXP person. Hopefully Sirius will stay in business because that's how I'll be following the races once they switch to ESPN. No reason to tune in and listen to the same old drivel or dead air.

Anonymous said...

I guess ESPN is not reading enough posts to be keeping Punch on playxplay. You gotta feel sorry for him. Hope Dale and Andy bone up on their air time so we'll know what's going on. Tim is a great guy (met him) but unneeded on TV broadcasts. Shannon and Jamie are worth their weight in gold just to be there. They don't even need to talk.

3bud said...

To those how say there is hate here for Dr. Jerry Punch I wholeheartedly disagree. It is the respect for him IMO that makes it hard to listen to him struggle so much in his current position. I have memories of him in the pits interviewing Dale Earnhardt among others,and doing a great job of it. The problem is he is not cut out to do PXP. While not to many are great at all things involved in their business some are very good at certain positions. I along with many others have lots of respect for Dr. Jerry Punch. That does not necessarily make him right for the PXP role. I guess without HotPass there is not much choice and I will be watching,maybe with an occasional cringe.

Anonymous said...

All is lost for the true NASCAR fan. No Hot Pass, Sirus. Yikes, what are we to do to hear and see exactly what is going on. Now all we will have is JR and commercials. Yuk. I feel like I have been sold up the river.

KoHoSo said...

I read nothing in this announcement that is going to make me stop my personal boycott of any company that sponsors a race on E$PN or rekindle my interest in the Nationyawn Series. However, it will assure that the batteries in my remote control will be fully charged at all times so I can easily sail through what is sure to be tons of useless, mindless commentary provided by an outlet that, at its top levels, considers all American racing fans to be thoughtless idiots who simply melt back into the hollows when cars aren't on the track. >:-(

Anonymous said...

KoHoSo- I really do believe you are wrong about EESPN. Their arrogance and condescension extends far beyond just racing fans, but then of course they are the GM of sports networks.

Glenn said...

And how much longer does this tv contract last? I guess it doesn't matter, some networks are going to do what they want anyway. Some viewers have things they liked last year, some will like things this year. Some like FOX, some don't, some thought TNT did a great job, some didn't. I do remember a lot of comments about the ESPN coverage, most of which had many suggestions for improvement. From memory, ESPN could have made 1, maybe 2 personnel changes this year and the majority of participants here would have been excited for the new season. As we have learned from ESPN, The Worldwide Leader in Sports, they cannot do anything simple. They have to try and cram 10 pounds of crap into a 5 pound bag. It hasn't worked yet, it's doesn't work, and it's not going to work.
I wish the best for everyone this year, happy racin', safe racin', and that everyone who needs a job gets one.
I enjoy the races so much I have recorded every cup for the past 2 years, I've only been a fan a little longer, even the ESPN broadcasts. I have been sorting them the past few days and I played one of the '07 Busch races. It was just as bad now as it was then. To many voices, to many bells and whistles.
Now that I've rambled enough, here's the fact.
I have no desire to listen and watch Dr. Jerry Punch call out car numbers, tell me the drivers name, tell us they're running 3rd, then raise his voice, say a promo and send it to commercial.
It's just not gonna happen with me this year!
NASCAR, ESPN, Sponsors, please take note, You will not be getting my viewership during ESPN broadcasts. I see KoHoSO won't be watching either, and there might even be a few more of us.

Anonymous said...

Been working double shifts so I'm a few days behind.Bevo said it best underwhelmed is about it. I won't watch the BSPN portion this coming year. I guess I'll listen MRN/PRN & follow online only.

I can not take another 17 races of car number bingo. Or interviews interrupted by a glimpse of cars on track. Nope not going thru it again.