Friday, August 14, 2009

Dale Jarrett Moves Front And Center For ESPN


The Nationwide Series has been racing since February. Like the trucks on SPEED, the Nationwide Series enjoys a TV home on the ESPN networks during the season. All the way through Homestead in November, fans know where to go to watch Kyle and Carl take on the rest of the field.

This Saturday, ESPN2 is going to offer something TDP discussed earlier in the week. Click here for that column. The topic drew a lot of comments and emails. Instead of Marty Reid calling the race, ESPN will have four NASCAR analysts who will talk among themselves while the race is in progress.

Rusty Wallace, Ray Evernham and Andy Petree are on the list. These three will be upstairs in the announce booth. Down in the Tech Garage will be Tim Brewer. Also on hand will be Allen Bestwick in the Infield Pit Center in his normal role of hosting the pre-race show and the telecast in general.

While all of those personalities are certainly going to play a key role in this TV experiment, there is little doubt who will be getting the most attention. Front and center on Saturday afternoon will be Dale Jarrett.

Working with the low-key Jerry Punch on the ESPN race telecasts forced Jarrett to develop his own play-by-play skills rather quickly. Someone had to provide the excitement and it was clearly not going to be Punch. Jarrett and his normal broadcast partner Petree have been forced to jump in when on-air silence is the only other option.

This season, ESPN assigned Reid to the Nationwide Series races down the stretch. He stepped in to relieve Punch of those duties. Although Reid made a great first impression in only a handful of events, he is taking this weekend off.

Even with Reid absent someone has to call the laps, the cars, and describe the action on the track. The mechanics of TV include transitioning to the pit reporters, to Brewer in the Tech Garage and to the frequent TV commercials. Indications are that Jarrett will carry the load.

As sports TV has become more flexible in the new media and Internet age, the traditional on-air roles have become blurred. Guys like Jarrett can move from the analyst position on a high-profile race to a studio role for Monday's NASCAR Now review show and then appear on the ESPNEWS network to discuss NASCAR topics in the news.

Perhaps, Jarrett and Evernham have proven to be the best when it comes to multiple roles for ESPN. Both have moved seamlessly through whatever tasks and assignments have been asked of them and yet continue to maintain a very distinct personality on the air.

In addition to the race analysis and general comments about NASCAR, both Jarrett and Evernham have been passionately outspoken about the current Sprint Cup Series car and the fact that changes continue to be needed for the overall good of the sport.

While Evernham has seen limited action this season in the broadcast booth at the tracks, Jarrett has been continuing his exposure as the featured face of NASCAR on ESPN across the board. Saturday, he will be asked to expand his experiences again and be the leader of the pack when it comes to coordinating the ongoing conversation among the four analysts and four pit road reporters.

While the Producer and Director may be talking in a lot of different ears during the live race, there is little doubt that a point person is going to emerge and that will be Jarrett. Like other top TV professionals, Jarrett took the time and invested the effort needed to learn his new role in front of the camera.

One of the top tennis announcers on TV works for ESPN and that is Cliff Drysdale. "Mr. Cliff" as he is called transitioned from the analyst side of the microphone to the host and play-by-play position over time. Drysdale is an excellent example of what may be in Jarrett's future.

One well-spoken individual with credibility in the sport and a good set of TV skills may be just what jumps off the page when Saturday's little TV experiment is done. My guess is that person is going to be Jarrett.

Bestwick begins the pre-race show on ESPN2 at 3PM and the "Backseat Drivers" special edition of the Nationwide Series race is next at 3:30PM. SPEED starts the day with Nationwide Series qualifying at 10:30AM and then both sessions of the final Sprint Cup practice at 12:30PM.

TDP will be live blogging the Nationwide Series telecast beginning at 2:30PM. Please join us. In the meantime, please feel free to leave us your opinion and prediction on Saturday's "Backseat Drivers" telecast. To add your comment, 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 The Daly Planet.

24 comments:

charread09 said...

I enjoy Dale Jarrett a lot on the broadcasts and have commented many times that he has a pleasant disposition and knows his stuff as a driver and his father has probably mentored him in this area. I hope he continues to succeed in this new chapter of his life.

Anonymous said...

Today I watched Jerry Punch on NASCAR Now (taped from earlier in the week) talk about his good friend Tim Richmond on the anniversary of his death.

I don't think I've ever heard a boring Tim Richmond story. The man was walking excitement. But Punch told not just one, but TWO boring stories about Tim. And whatever poignancy the stories has was destroyed by Punch's deathy-slow, monotone delivery which nearly put me to sleep.

Dale Jarrett is great. I liked him on the track, and I like him in the booth. But he isn't Superman, and no one can overcome the kyroptonite that is Dr. Jerry Punch.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Saw that one as well. Never a moment of emotion. Wish I knew what the heck was going on.

Dot said...

Funny BSPN would try the no PxP for the NW race when it's the CUP race that really needs it. Marty has done a splendid job.

I love DJ in the booth. I'm glad he will get his chance to shine. Not thrilled about Rusty being there though.

When I first read that Tim Brewer was part of this mix, I thought he was going to be in the booth too. I was worried. I'm glad he'll be in the garage. You know, BSPN could save some money by rerunning the TB segments from the June race.

Karen said...

I'm thinking these four in the booth are going to be a bundle of nerves in the beginning. I can hear Rusty hogging the air. I'm not sure DJ has that enthusiasm it takes for PxP since he's sort of laid back. I sure wish him well. If this works, they could move Marty to Cup and DJ could stay in NW. They're never going to put AB where he's supposed to be; doing PxP. He may not want it. It is a demotion, isn't it, to go from hosting to PxP?

Karen said...

P.S. With Jeff Gordon having back problems, wouldn't surprise me if he pops up in one of the booths within the next year or two. He does his stint in different positions for ten years. Then Carl Edwards moves to the booth as well. Only my prediction.

Anonymous said...

jarrett > waltrip

Anonymous said...

DJ is a polished professional in the booth and I'm sure he will shine. Ray is also very articulate. Forget about Rusty and his out sized ego. Technically, he has shown me that he has no in depth knowledge of the COT. I'm no fan of Punch, but one possible reason for his lack of emotion is that he's a Doctor. Doctors have to be cool to perform. He shouldn't be doing play by play.

Rockin Rich said...

Dot @8/15; 1:05 AM —

The provisional TDP comedy pole leader for this posting:

When I first read that Tim Brewer was part of this mix, I thought he was going to be in the booth too. I was worried. I'm glad he'll be in the garage. You know, BSPN could save some money by rerunning the TB segments from the June race.

Anonymous said...

Rusty will know more about next year when the NW cars go there. Just saying. I think he talks to others in the garage who tell him what the car is doing. Same as DW. Not a big deal to me. They could add more verbage by saying 'well, Carl Edwards or Kurt Busch told me that...' but I don't think it would add to the telecast. Rusty's a talker...we've all known people like that, they can't seem to help themselves. But Dale is more average, and he seems to instinctively know the time to jump in and talk. After watching last week's coverage, I really think he could do pxp.

David said...

Dot, there was no ESPN June race...

Jayhawk said...

One of the reasons I don't watch Monday Night Football is their practice of repeatedly ignoring the football game, merely using it as a visual background for some interview or disscussion between the "sportscasters" while play after play happens on the field without them paying the slightest attention to it.

Do they really think that I am going to tune into an auto race and see them treat the entire race that way?

ESPN really does believe that we do not tune in to see the event; we tune in to see ESPN and the heroic and oracle-like announcers who use the event as background to their greatness.

Anonymous said...

"Indications are Jarrett will carry the load"
Is this your opinion or you have any info?

Vicky D said...

And these guys in the booth for Nationwide qualifying are doing the same thing except they are practically ignoring the NW regulars while pursuring the cup guys and actually getting giddy when they do well.

Dot said...

@ David, Oops. Okay, how about last year's August race?

bevo said...

"Much more looser"? Really?

I'm not one to demand the Queen's English on a broadcast but come on!

BTW is this NW qualifying or a Cup preview show?

Vicky D said...

Bevo, and did you hear Larry Mac just gushing because Denny was in the #11 NW car not mentioning poor Scott Lagasse being ousted from it.

Lisa Hogan said...

VickyD: Scott was mentioned multiple times during yesterday's coverage. :)

Anonymous said...

How many times do we have to see that really dumb Golden Corral commercial. I am getting pretty sick of it.

Frank in Sebring

Anonymous said...

All the fans want is to watch the race,not to listen to a bunch of old timers brag about themselves. Wheres buddy and ned when we need them

Anonymous said...

JD,
Did you notice that ESPN2 is now showing English Premiere League soccer games on Saturday? With college football starting up soon, this is yet another thing to fill up a Saturday.

Sophia said...

In all fairness to BSPN, I've heard from a friend this week and my 89 yr old mom (she watches golf a LOT) Golf commentators have ruined that sport for several years with their know-it-all talking heads yammering non-stop even during putts.

A friend I had lunch with said he understood the whole camera gripe I have with NASCAR, and agreed, if folks MISSED homeruns or touchdowns at home, folks would not put up with it. But all sports commentators get way off topic and blather on endlessly w/o address things going on the field. FOX & ESPN got him irked and he claims Fox's graphics and everybody's 'guest in the booth with no connection to the games as they cross promote' is just totally irritating.

So my final verdict will be the camera work today since I have no radio MRN in the house today.

Also I have not been able to get on Twitter today, though I've only tried for the last hour or so..and no Twitter status updates yet but many have had problems from different parts of the country since the big outage last week.

Hope that is fixed before the NW race. :)

Holmes said...

To me, the largest injury of the year is the network that least needed RaceBuddy for its broadcasts is the one that owns RaceBuddy. Ohh, the shame, the shame!

glenc1 said...

While waiting for other things to come on, I've seen ladies golf several times this year, and the ESPN coverage was very good with Terry Gannon on pxp. They also did a very good job with the tennis that I've seen. Just making the point that it's not *all* bad.