Friday, July 31, 2009
NASCAR's B Sample Ready For Random Testing In Iowa
The Nationwide Series flies under the radar for a wide variety of reasons. This Saturday, all those reasons are suddenly gone. The trucks are in Nashville and the Sprint Cup Series is in Pocono. Instead of a small crowd at a second tier track, the beautiful Iowa Speedway beckons. Most importantly, the college football season is still weeks away.
This weekend, NASCAR's best TV will be the Saturday Nationwide Series qualifying coverage and live race on the ESPN family of networks. Finally, the B-team gets a moment to shine.
ESPN's crew of Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie produced a fantastic Nationwide Series telecast from O'Reilly Raceway Park last weekend. Along with Jack Arute, Rick DeBruhl and Mike Massaro, this entire TV B-team is back again and this time viewers are in for a little surprise.
Iowa Speedway has brought in extra seating for the NASCAR fans. Out in the middle of nowhere, there has been an awakening. Officials are bracing for 55 thousand fans to fill the stands on Saturday. These people are making a statement. At 4PM ET when the ESPN cameras show the first pictures of the sold-out racetrack, NASCAR's waterlogged Sprint Cup Series officials in Pocono are certainly going to take notice.
Click here and scroll down for Jayski's Nationwide Series entry list for Iowa. You may have to keep scrolling for a bit. There are 51 cars in total. Let me repeat that. There are 51 cars trying to make the Nationwide Series field in Iowa.
ESPN2 is handling the qualifying coverage at 1PM ET on Saturday. Unlike some of the ridiculous happenings of last week, there will be a lot on the line for many teams who must make the race on time or go home. Iowa to North Carolina is a very long drive. Qualifying should be something to see.
Current storylines from this series involve Brad Keselowski's continuing emergence, Steven Wallace perhaps finally coming of age and the fact that Des Moines, Iowa's Michael Annett, pictured above, is trying to make the race. Also, only three Cup drivers will be in the Iowa event. Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch will make the trip from Pocono.
Motorsports TV veteran Reid has accomplished the same two things Allen Bestwick did for ESPN when he took over the Infield Pit Studio hosting duties. Reid immediately changed the TV tone and brought instant credibility to the position. The effect has been tremendously positive.
Balancing two very different personalities like Wallace and LaJoie on the air is no easy task. Perhaps some folks remember Reid standing between Scott Goodyear and Eddie Cheever on the IRL telecasts for ESPN. Reid also helped a new motorsports TV announcer learn broadcasting skills on the IRL series a while back. I believe his name was also Wallace.
This speedway is built for good TV and good racing. The design has proven to be popular for both the fans and the teams. With a sold-out crowd, live national TV and a full field of Nationwide cars, the facility designer should be proud. I believe his name is also Wallace.
A high-profile race like this can change the careers of drivers who will be watched on TV by the NASCAR media and owners from Pocono. Not much else to do after the ARCA race in that neck of the woods. The results should be some additional news coverage online and perhaps some additional driver opportunities down the road.
This may well be the second weekend where the Nationwide race upstages the Sprint Cup Series event. TDP will live blog the race on Saturday afternoon.
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