Monday, February 23, 2009
Ricky Craven Finding A Home At ESPN
Last season on ESPN2's NASCAR Now, Ricky Craven was used as a part-time analyst. He would appear on select Monday night shows and sometimes lend his expertise to the Sunday programs as well.
In the Monday format, Craven would be paired with two other panelists and the program host, Allen Bestwick. On Sundays, Craven would be alone in the studio with a single host. All of Craven's appearances originated from the Bristol, CT network studios.
This year, it seems that Craven's hard work is being rewarded by the network as he has been featured in both of the Monday "roundtable" editions of NASCAR Now. Last week he was joined by Rusty Wallace and Ray Evernham. This Monday it was Evernham and fan favorite Randy LaJoie.
This group works well together because of their diverse personalities. All of them clearly respect Bestwick, who continues to ask the right questions and address the issues still lingering from the weekend.
It is Craven, however, who has begun to stand out with his comments. Here are some from the Monday show:
On Matt Kenseth's final pit stop: "There's more ways to lose races on pit road than there are to win. You need to be nearly perfect. The 17 team is as close to perfect right now as you can get."
About the final restart: "A great indication of a good, strong race car is restarts. If Jeff Gordon comes out of the pits first, I think we would be talking about Jeff Gordon winning the race. I think the cars were that equal."
On Kenseth's focus on the final laps: "I don't think he wins this race if he had not won the Daytona 500. What the heck? He's got the wind at his back. If he loses or finishes second the world does not come to an end. He just won the Daytona 500."
On the first and second place finishers: "How good a weekend did Matt Kenseth and Jeff Gordon have? Well, they beat Kyle Busch."
About Kyle Busch: "I have seen him drive cars all across the country. It does not matter what he is in, he is that fast. He finished third (in California) not only because of his driving talent, but because he perfected what he needed (on his car) throughout the course of the race."
On the Las Vegas track: "Speaking of change, it's always difficult. They have reconfigured the track and the progressive banking, I think, is the wave of the future. It gives you options and drivers love options. But like Ray said, the track has to age a little bit to be able to get better racing."
Craven has always been a class act and continues to contribute to the Yahoo! Sports NASCAR section as a columnist. Click here for a link to his latest column that contains many of the same themes as his NASCAR Now comments.
It is always interesting to see ESPN focus on developing a new talent and give them an opportunity to shine. Craven certainly seems to be making the most of this moment in time. Apparently, ESPN also likes the way things are going as it was just announced that Craven, Evernham and LaJoie will return as the "expert panel" next week for the program on Monday, March 2 at 5PM ET.
Have you watched Ricky Craven on ESPN? What is your opinion of his analysis and commentary on the first two races of the 2009 season? We welcome your comments.
Just click the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, profanity or hateful speech will cause your comment to be deleted. Thanks again and happy posting.