Sunday, July 19, 2009

Marty Reid Starts His ESPN Nationwide Series Run


This season ESPN decided to give Jerry Punch a break from calling both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races down the stretch. For the past two seasons, Punch also handled the practice and qualifying coverage for both series. It really wore him out.

ESPN made a great decision to bring in TV motorsports veteran Marty Reid for the remainder of the Nationwide Series races. Reid will also handle some of the other weekend coverage, lifting the load off Punch during this seventeen race run.

Saturday night from Gateway, Reid began his journey with the stand-alone Nationwide Series event. This was a smaller TV crew as some NASCAR on ESPN announcers took the weekend off. Dale Jarrett was out, so Rusty Wallace moved up to handle the race analysis with Andy Petree.

There was no Infield Pit Studio, so Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty were nowhere to be found. Instead, Mike Massaro left the NASCAR Now studios to double as pit reporter and pre-show host. In his firesuit from pit road, Massaro hosted a fast-paced and much more casual show that really worked well.

Once Reid led the TV team into the actual race, it was very clear that things were going to be a little different. As NHRA and IRL fans know, Reid is smooth and enjoys all forms of racing. His last few seasons on ESPN had him hopping between the drag racers and the international field in the IRL events.

Like a good TV pro, Reid keeps things light and lets his analysts handle the replays and opinions. Reid focused on keeping the telecast flowing and the information correct. That was no small task in this race.

One attribute that immediately surfaced was Reid's commitment to keep track of every car on the track. Earlier in the day, the SPEED TV team watched 13 of the 34 Camping World Trucks roll into the garage and park. 13 teams cashed a check without even bothering to race. It was never mentioned.

Not only did Reid mention the start-and-park cars, he did it immediately when they pulled off the track. Avoiding the game that NASCAR plays when they assign a word like transmission or engine failure to each car to hide the truth, Reid was front and center with the fact these cars were there to get paid and had no intention of racing.

That honesty carried on when Rusty Wallace's colorful son Steven was involved in an accident. Reid allowed Rusty to watch the replay and despite the fact that his son was still raging on the track at the other driver, Rusty called it honestly and said his son was off-base with his emotions.

Rusty was not made to feel uncomfortable or left out to dry on the air. During the last telecast that Wallace worked with Punch, there were long periods of awkward silence. This time, everyone kept their heads and the race continued.

Petree has been a rock for ESPN since the first season. Quietly consistent, he has apparently fought off the critics who called for Ray Evernham to take over that role. Once again on this night, Petree was outstanding in his ability to recognize what strategies the teams were using and what the crew chiefs were thinking.

Credit to ESPN for breaking into commercial and returning to the telecast when the situations warranted. This was a small track with fast action and the responsiveness of the entire TV team was noticeable. Good pictures and great sound have become so commonplace with this crew it was barely noticed.

ESPN's graphics on the crucial race off pit road work well, but have yet to translate to the finish line. The "flying headshots" of the drivers whizzing by as they finish the race have never worked and this is really the only graphic element that needs tweaking before the big Indy weekend coming up next.

Massaro and Little were solid on pit road, but Dave Burns had a very tough time with Kyle Busch in Victory Lane. Smiling and happy, Busch was not asked about the race but about giving his smashed guitar trophy pieces to his crew earlier in the week. This was a question that only belonged in a pre-race interview and left most of the real information about Gateway and the upcoming ORP event still on the table.

Just as NASCAR struggles to define who is watching by demographic, ESPN struggles to add the kind of music in these races that makes sense for adult viewers. Matching the music to the track never worked, so at Gateway the driving beats of an Associate Producer's iPod were apparently used.

This strange music struggle has been a tough challenge for all four of NASCAR's TV partners. Now thankfully done with TNT's Buckcherry and seven months away from Fox's "Let's Go Racin' Boys," the time is right to pick a theme and stick with it for the ESPN/ABC races.

All in all, what a nice breath of fresh air and solid performance from both the TV team and the Nationwide Series drivers. From an interview with Morgan Shepherd before the race to the intensity on the track, this was a fun telecast to watch.

TDP welcomes your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by and have a great weekend.

27 comments:

Gymmie said...

Mr. Reid did a great job! I hope his role is expanded for years to come :). He's really finding his way in calling the NA$CAR races.

I love Mr. Petree!

Zippit said...

I agree the broadcast was much better with Marty Reid in the booth. Less focus on only Kyle and Carl which was a nice relief.

Though I think there's something wrong with a broadcast when you can call when the next commercial break is going to fall (about every 7 laps) and how many laps we miss of on track action (about 5 laps).

Daly Planet Editor said...

Zippit,

I have a column coming up next week on the commercial issues and the products in those breaks.

JD

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RvNGrammy said...

If Marty Reid does his homework and learns the driver's names and stops sounding so phoney, he will do ok. He sounds like he is pretending to have a good time and I hope that changes to his really doing so. I miss Ralph, Wally and Kyle already. Marty called Denny Hamlin Kevin Hamlin yesterday during practice. Oh, I know, only one small error, but Denny is a big name, isn't he?

There was a long period of time in the middle of the race where all they talked about were the Cup drivers and, oh, yeah, Leffler. They left the pole winner, Brad Keselowski, out of most of the coverage, showing only one of his pit stops.

David said...

NV

Were they talking about Cup drivers when he called Denny Kevin?

Because Kevin Hamlin was in the #42 this weekend and that was probably where the flub came from. I didnt see practice but I can't imagine why they were talking about Denny since he wasn't there this weekend only Kevin Hamlin was.

I believe Marty sounds genuine and his excitement was clear to me.

the only aspect I had issue with was Rusty.

Marty kept us informed at all times and did a great job I felt in knowing who everyone was and talking about everyone's stories

Dot said...

I think Marty Reid is the Ralph Sheheen of BSPN. I thought he did a good job. You could feel the vibe. AP seemed more alive tonight too. Rusty? What can you say? I bet it killed him that his cars were involved in the wrecks. Though Steven did add some excitement. I'll tell you what, it's the in car race reporter thing. It curses every driver who does it.

I have no hope for Indy next weekend. The PxP guy really sets the tone. I'm hoping DJ & AP will take over and just let JP throw it to commls and promos. A job he does so well.

It did seem a little less scripted tonight. And, I agree with Zippit, less Kyle & Carl was refreshing.

You're right JD. BSPN needs a song. Maybe the woman who did the anthem could sing it, lol. Now that you're on the list, the Planeteers could make some suggestions they could use.

Anonymous said...

Minor Complaint: They really need to settle on pronouncing "Kez-low-ski" without sticking that extra syllable in there.

Anonymous said...

I look forward to reading that article, JD.

The Extenze commercials every break were a bit much and the one with the cockroach had me wanting to call up the FCC on ESPN. That's saying something right there because I don't normally like the FCC.

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Vicky D said...

And when ESPN (supposedly) came back from commercial (this happened lots of times during the race) I see this big wreck and then Kevin Hamlin or Conway I can't remember which starts talking about that male product. I thought the wreck was from the race I don't think they should do that. I think when Marty gets used to the cars/drivers he'll be better although I think he did a super job considering of who was in the booth with him. And I liked him reporting the S&P'ers too.

eaglesoars said...

I've got to re watch the race this morning as I was continually interrupted last night, but what I watched I thought was excellent. I really like Marty, I liked him doing NHRA too.
Kevin Hamlin is a name too, ..... his, so I'll bet he is real glad Marty called him that instead of plugging a drivers name that wasn't even at the track.

eaglesoars said...

Speaking of ESPN, Marty Reid and NHRA, a little off topic but wat's happened to John Kernon(sp)? I guess after the RPM 2Nite show shut down I guess ESPN cut him lose, I listen to him and Buddy Baker on Sirius radio, then ESPN started calling him to fill in and eventually full time as a reporter in NHRA last year but haven't heard hide nor hair of him this year. As experienced and knowlegable as he is in NASCAR it would seem he'd be a great to any of their broacast teams.

Just wondering??

eaglesoars said...

"a great addition to to any of their broadcast teams. "

bevo said...

@eaglesoars- Kernan left Sirius a couple of years ago (co-host with Buddy Baker) and married a woman in Chicago. He joined the broadcast for the NHRA during their chase last year. Haven't heard if he's going to do the same thing this season. He was planning on writing a book with Buddy back then, don't know if that's stilla go or not. He and Buddy had great chemistry together.

Isaiah said...

That's great to see that Marty will be on the rest of the Nationwide Series events. Now if we could get Bill Weber to host the pre-race show and have Bestwick replace Punch in the booth, that would be awesome!

Dannyboy said...

One more kudo to the ESPN broadcast team, especially the producer & director:

When Kyle Bush was running away from everybody at the end , they focused on the side-by-side battles for other top 10 positions.

It was the only thing that kept me tuned-in.

Good job, guys!

Anonymous said...

I think having Marty on one day and then the good doctor the next is only going to further highlight the Punchmeister's inability to be the play by play guy.

Lesley said...
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Anonymous said...

This was the first time that I actually noticed the music being played. That was probably because I enjoyed it. So one person's noise is another person's pleasure.

Anonymous said...

I was very surprised that Marty Reid mentioned each "start and park" car as they went out of the race.

I wonder how NASCAR feels about this? Do you think there will be a discussion about this and ESPN will be told to cease this new practice?

West Coast Diane said...

Marty Reid over Jerry Punch....resounding YES! Definitely engaged in the action and excitement in his voice.

Rusty in the booth, even part time...resounding NO! Has nothing to do with being team owner. IMO, just brings nothing to the telecast in the way of information or insight.

TexasRaceLady said...

For the first time in a while, I enjoyed an ESPN broadcast.

The lack of pre-scripted agenda all about Kyle and Carl was refreshing.

Marty's acknowledgement of the Start and Parks was appreciated. I may not like the situation with the S&Ps, but pretending they don't exist is burying your head in the sand.

The chemistry between Marty and Andy got better as the race wore on. Rusty contributed, but still hit sour notes. However, in his defense, he defended Scott in the wreck between him and Stephen.

I'm hoping the ESPN Cup crew that takes over next week was taking notes. *fingers crossed*

Steve L. said...

It was refreshing not to have to hear JP. Marty does do a much better job and in a couple weeks should be even better. He didn't back down from saying anything negative about Stephen, like the possible points and monetary fines coming this week. I just don't like this having someone in the booth who has a big interest in the cars on the track. As a parent, I felt bad for Rusty for the kind of behaviour Stephen was showing on track. Very awkward and you could feel the awkwardness Rusty was feeling as well.

I too feel that this better telecast of the Nationwide Series will just magnify how bad the Cup Series races will be. Just like the last couple of years, we'll all be wanting the season to end to put us out of our misery from bad race coverage from ESPN.

Sophia said...

JD Look forward to your column about commercials content & Frequency that is driving family away.

I watched SPEED against ESPN. LOVED Speed's wide angle shots, LESS in car cams.

The camera work still seemed too much incar/bumper/roof cam then wide shots but not as much as they totally ruined Daytona.

Energy was up in the booth for sure.

I am not expecting this to transfer to CUP though.

If y'all remember we praised BSPN's IMPROVEMENT in NW last year but CUP still was mess.

Not expecting change and they really need to think about the sponsors of races affecting the viewers.

Jimbacca said...

I caught the reair to watch the full race. Marty was great. Kept everyone on point when they got distracted. I would like to see him in pxp and put Jerry back in his natural environment. Not sure there are many that can touch Jerry in the pits. Rusty is well hit or miss. Sometimes it looks like he's going to be hitting on all 8 then its like a plugwire comes loose. Andy worked great with Marty as the night progressed. Solid job by the new mix. Even the camera work seemed improved. What else changed? It couldn't just be the magic of Marty.

Karen said...

I was so glad not to hear DFR SOS. Guess ESPN, at least on the NW side, didn't get the memo. Only time I heard it was out of Brendan Gaughan's mouth.

Re: Rusty Wallace. Last night no incessant repeating of what JP had just said; i.e. "that's right, Jerry, blah-blah-blah.

Too bad Steve Wallace isn't a chip off the old block. And Rusty's thinking about putting him in Cup next year? Oy vay.