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.

24 comments:

Dot said...

I like Ricky on NN. Even though he doesn't drive anymore, he's sure knows what's going on. Is he going to be a regular now? I hope so.

Anonymous said...

How can Craven work for Yahoo and also work for ESPN? That is a huge conflict of interest. And aren't Yahoo and ESPN competitors?

Lesley said...

Involved in what could be the worst crash, and the best win, I am a huge Ricky fan!!Those were great days in Nascar..No Gopher Cartoons,No 10 hr prerace show..Just good racing...I think he is content knowing he doesnt have to play the silly game that has become Nascar...5 lap penalty for hitting kurt bush at the line?who knows!!But no clown shoes for you my friend!! Keep up the good work Ricky!

fbu1 said...

Ricky Craven's Yahoo articles have been thoughtful and respectfully honest. Most racing fans have generally liked Ricky during his driving career. He could quietly be a valuble long term asset for ESPN.

I will wait for the first TV racing broadcast from Yahoo before I consider them to be competitor to ESPN.

fbu1

3KillerBs said...

I never really noticed Craven as a driver, but he's one of the most insightful analysts I've ever read. He has a wonderful way of making the inside of a driver's head accessible to the fans.

Lisa Hogan said...

I enjoyed Ricky on the track and now enjoy him off the track.

I think he does an excellent job on TV.

Tracy said...

I said last season that every time Ricky Craven appeared on NN, I paid attention. He's always thoughtful, insightful, and well spoken. Plus, I hear him say things not coming from anyone else. Glad ESPN knows they have a good guy working for them and are using him.

I saw him win the truck race in Martinsville before he hung it up -so glad I was there.

Photojosh said...

I have come to really like Ricky as an analyst on NN. He comes across as someone who isn't in NASCAR's back pocket and will say what he wants to say. But also as someone who knows what's going on, has been there before, understands things from a racers point of view, and can spell them out in a way that the average fan can understand. Sort of like what I expect a few of the other announcer/analyst ex-drivers would be like if ESPN/fox/nascar let them loose to be a bit more critical of things.

Ricky has done a good job and deserves the additional TV time he is getting. I'm looking forward to more.

David said...

Ricky was also amazing when he was on SIRIUS too.

Dont watch NASCAR Now though so I cant comment on that performance. But if he is as good as he was on the radio then he is most certainly a great addition to the team

RonF. said...

Craven has been a nice surprise, and I think he's got good future in broadcasting. He's certainly smarter and more articulate than, say, Kenny Wallace and Jimmy Spencer on Speed. The popularity of Lajoie boggles the mind; he can barely string together two related thoughts, and will usually settle for a cliche when one is handy.

Wisconsin Steve said...

We should be seeing a lot of Ricky Craven on Mondays this year. I recall reading an article about him a couple of weeks ago, and it said that he planned on making approximately 30 trips to Bristol this season for the Monday roundtable shows.

KoHoSo said...

Craven's performance has been a very pleasant surprise because he never impressed me during his time as a driver as they type of outgoing person who would be good on television. Instead, he has turned out to be very professional and, best of all, very informative. It's a nice change from some of the buffoonery seen on other shows (not that being a buffoon is always bad -- it's just nice to have something different).

Anonymous said...

Years ago, when Craven was just starting out, I remember one of his high school teacher posting to the old rasn. Teacher stated that Craven was the definition of focused and implied that he was a very smart high schooler. Both his writing and his broadcasting have convinced me that he is a journalist talent. Without the brain injury, he would have been a great driver - as Evernham might have also been.

boyd said...

Two thumbs up for Ricky.
He brings ot only a drivers perspective to NN, but also knowledgable insight.
Hope to see him a lot on the roundtable editions.
The frank and honest comments are a breath of fresh air.

Anonymous said...

He does have the knack for telling us things most other TV people never tell us. He really knows the pulse of what fans would like to know.Imagine him with Mike Joy, talk about a huge improvement!! Ray Evernham is also very good. Randy LaJoie needs to prepare more. Randy said Jeff should have made an adjustment on his last stop, Jeff Gordon asked for and made an adjustment and blamed that for the loss.I hate it when I know more about the topic than what the TV person does.Those two wins for Craven, Martinsville with Jarrett and Darlington with Kurt Busch were great races.

Richard in N.C. said...

Last year I thought Ricky C was only super on EESPN and Yahoo - but this year I believe he might be even better. From a driver's standpoint, I'm not sure there is anyone I've seen on TV who is better at really explaining technical matters.

I would say that some analyst-commentators should start watching over their shoulder for Ricky catching up except that his credentials aren't as good as some (no championships) and he might be a little too dry for the casual fan.

Ricky is a real find.

Gymmie said...

I really enjoy Ricky on NN. Like others have said he's very articulate and well spoken. He uses simple terms and explanations that anyone whether you've been watching NA$CAR since the beginning of time or started watching 5 minutes ago can understand.

Newracefan said...

Ricky is the perfect compliment for Ray, giving us the crew chief and driver prespectives. He is very well spoken and professional and I was always glad to see his face on NN and I payed close attention to what he was saying because I respected his opinion. Hope the 30 trips is true and more would be fantastic.

Vicky D said...

Ricky quietly gets information & comments across to the viewers. I like him a lot I'm glad ESPN thought of him and put him on the air but sometimes it's the ones that you don't expect that actually do the best job.

The J said...

He does do a great job for them. i hope espn realizes this and doesnt decide to ditch him for someone they think is better, but really isnt.

Anonymous said...

GO RICKY GO!! U R GRRRREAT. Thanks to ESPN for hiring you. VegasDriver

Lou said...

Mr. Craven,
Hope you read this. Glad to see you again this season. Along with Ray E. It is an interesting watch on NASCAR Now. Look forward to your thirty trips to Bristol. I may not watch them all, but I will try. thanks

majorshouse said...

I have always liked Ricky Craven as a driver and even better now as a commentator. His quiet and knowldegable demeanor bode him well and he definitely complements Ray Evernham too. I hope that ESPN will continue to keep him around for quite sometime because he is definitely a breath of fresh air and many of the other commentators including Darrell Waltrip could take many lessons from Ricky Craven because he tells it like it is and will not be an apologist for anyone.

Anonymous said...

Kind of interesting how NASCAR through him out of the Sport and now he's one of ESPN's best analyst on the Sport. Talking about getting the last laugh!!!!