Thursday, May 7, 2009
Mark Martin News Brings Out "NASCAR Now's" Best
It has been awhile since viewers of NASCAR Now have seen veteran writer Ryan McGee. After leaving the NASCAR Media Group, McGee wrote several solid articles for ESPN.com and appeared on NASCAR Now several times. Then, he was gone.
McGee had branched out to other sports for ESPN and that left a void on the NASCAR side. While it is nice to see the faces of the NASCAR on ESPN announcing team, journalists like Ed Hinton and McGee are missed on ESPN's various TV networks.
Wednesday, the news of Mark Martin returning to drive fulltime in the Sprint Cup Series in 2010 brought McGee to NASCAR Now. He addressed the pros and cons of the Martin decision and then talked about Brad Keselowski. McGee's advice was for Keselowski to stay right where he is, even if that means no fulltime Sprint Cup Series ride until 2010.
Brad Daugherty was on next and voiced his perspective clearly, but having members of the ESPN broadcast team on the air is different from having journalists who are assigned to gather and report the news. Daugherty confirmed that McGee hit on the right points and agreed with his statements. Enough said.
What a pleasure it was to see Ned Jarrett as the next special guest. Host Nicole Manske followed the script and asked about Darlington, but passed on the opportunity to ask this NASCAR legend his feelings on the breaking Mark Martin news. Sometimes, NASCAR Now's tightly scripted format misses the obvious. Jarrett decided to retire at the young age of only 34. Martin is perhaps a tad over 50.
Changing gears to a conversation between Cale Yarborough and Joey Logano at the Darlington museum led to a hilarious moment. Logano innocently asked Yarborough if the cars he raced back in the old days really came from the showroom floor. I guess the term "stock car" is something Logano had never confirmed. Yarborough talked about the early cars, but this piece left a lot on the table in terms of what is in the museum and Yarborough's personal history at Darlingon.
It was up to McGee to get things back on track by relating the always funny story of Yarborough and Pearson taking a ceremonial last lap before the start finish line was moved to the other side of the track to allow for more grandstands to be built. The duo was in pace cars, the year was 1998 and the photographers were ready.
As some fans will understand, David Pearson is David Pearson. With some chosen fans in the back seat, Pearson floored the Camaro from the drop of the green and took his last lap at full speed to the delight of the crowd. Even casually, Pearson was not going to be remembered as finishing second to Yarborough. Good story.
McGee has been put in charge of the ESPN.com power ranking for NASCAR teams and has Tony Stewart at the top. In explaining his decision, McGee made sure to thank all the ESPN.com readers for the hate mail. Then, he defended his decision by saying the normally slow-starting Stewart is set to explode over the summer.
NASCAR Now is a program that needs the wit and wisdom of McGee and Hinton as well as the regular contributions from Lead Reporter Marty Smith. It certainly would be interesting to see McGee and Hinton put into some Monday roundtable shows. Ray Evernham, McGee and Ricky Craven would be a combination that might click.
Manske continues to work her way into the host role and this Saturday will be alongside of Craven on the 10AM hour-long preview version of NASCAR Now. This is the ESPN version of RaceDay on SPEED and features Mike Massaro and Smith as reporters in Darlington this week.
Hopefully, as the season progresses, NASCAR Now will sprinkle a little more Hinton, Smith and McGee on the daily shows. Last year, once the Fox portion of the coverage was over, Hinton and Darrell Waltrip had a great live conversation.
Now in its third season, expanding the role of journalists in this series will only bring more credibility as NASCAR Now continues to mature.
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