Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Monday's NASCAR TV A Study In Opposites
By the time Monday rolled around, most NASCAR fans had seen the Southern 500 highlights many times. Still, both NASCAR Now on ESPN2 and This Week In NASCAR on SPEED had to rehash the Saturday night race.
Luckily, host Allen Bestwick had a solid trio of panelists in Ed Hinton, Ricky Craven and Mike Wallace. After the highlights, Bestwick welcomed Mark Martin to the program via a liveshot from his race shop in Florida. In a great move, Bestwick allowed all the panelists to interview Martin and once again it made all the difference.
Mike Wallace has a long history with Martin and referenced their old racing days in the Midwest. Craven asked Martin about his new found enthusiasm for racing. Hinton politely asked how Martin shed the black cloud that has been above his head for years. It was clear that Martin loved this interview and never stopped smiling.
Bestwick led the panel into the Jeremy Mayfield drug suspension topic with the disclaimer that Mayfield had declined to be included in the show. The details of the suspension were reviewed and then things got interesting.
Each panelist had a point to make and they certainly did. Wallace told Bestwick that the teams do not have a list of banned substances that would cause a positive test. Hinton called for NASCAR to be both more specific and transparent. His point was that a blanket suspension without a specific drug listed caused untold problems.
Hinton's assertion was that a prescription mistakenly used for something like an injury or illness should not be lumped-in with the suggestion of illegal drug use of substances like cocaine or heroin. That point was hammered home.
Craven has been a wonderful surprise this season and he continued to emerge as one of the top NASCAR TV analysts. His theme was that Mayfield is an adult and is responsible for informing NASCAR of any medications he may have been taking before a race. Once again, Craven used his own point of reference to hold Mayfield accountable for his own actions without suggesting an addiction problem may be present.
This was an outstanding discussion of a sensitive topic and served to let several different viewpoints air. Shortly after the show, NASCAR AP reporter Jenna Fryer sent this note on Twitter:
"Contrary to popular opinion, NASCAR indeed DOES have a list of banned substances it provided all teams in December."
Even after the good start by the NASCAR Now team, Fryer's message almost guarantees that the Mayfield topic will continue unabated in the media. TDP will keep you informed as to what happens with this issue.
Steve Byrnes hosted This Week In NASCAR on SPEED later on Monday. This show was taped before a live audience and the results were rather interesting. Even panelist Michael Waltrip commented that the studio audience seemed to be only mildly interested in the show. He tried to get them fired-up, without results.
The panel also included Greg Biffle and Chad Knaus. Their perspectives added to the program because both teams were involved in compelling stories on Saturday night. Of course, the program kicked-off with Waltrip's big car fire and lots of "Ricky Bobby" jokes.
As usual, the show contained the outstanding features edited by The NASCAR Media Group. Byrnes kept everyone in line and having a live studio audience present certainly affected the dynamic on the set. This was the second show to our memory where all three panelists were present and it worked out far better than the last.
SPEED and NMG cooperate on this program where content is concerned. It was clear from the start that the Mayfield issue was not going to be addressed and it was not. Producers maintain that this is a highlights program and not a news show. The topic was clearly known to all present on the panel, but the production team chose to avoid it.
Two Monday NASCAR TV shows and two very different approaches to the same topic. Did you watch both shows? What do you feel are the pros and cons of dealing with this issue? Let us know what you liked and did not like about each program.
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