Saturday, August 8, 2009

ESPN's 2010 NASCAR Preview?


It might not be exactly like seeing the classic pairing of Bob Jenkins and the late Larry Nuber from the 1980's, but Saturday afternoon ESPN may be offering fans a glimpse into the network's NASCAR future. This might just get your attention.

The cast of characters for NASCAR's live race coverage on ESPN has been shifting slowly for the past two seasons. These positive changes in the ESPN on-air talent have been welcomed. Suzie Kolber moved aside and in stepped Allen Bestwick. The Infield Pit Studio has been buttoned up ever since that first day.

Joining Bestwick has been Rusty Wallace, who stepped away from the pressure of the Lead Analyst role on the Cup Series. Wallace has been enjoying his new perspective from the infield with Bestwick and Brad Daugherty. Wallace can still step up when needed, but talking as an expert from the infield really suits his style.

Bestwick, Wallace and Daugherty will start the Saturday Nationwide telecast with a thirty minute pre-race show. Tim Brewer will man the Tech Garage where he continues to try and connect the issues in progress on the track with the parts and pieces in his mobile studio. These four faces are in the right places as ESPN heads down the stretch.

Partnering with the infield gang are the four regular ESPN pit reporters. Coming off a horrible week in Pocono, there will most certainly be more thought given before asking questions or making statements in the Watkins Glen pit area. Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Vince Welch are sometimes told what to ask, but veteran reporters just kind of know when a train wreck is coming. Welch learned that the hard way.

Key to the broadcast and perhaps to the remaining future seasons of NASCAR coverage by ESPN are the three men in the broadcast booth. Dale Jarrett has worked very hard to become a smooth and polished analyst. He has also learned the hard way how to offer play-by-play coverage when needed.

Saturday, when Jarrett looks to his left he will see the TV veteran Marty Reid calling the play-by-play. The weight of the world will be lifted off Jarrett's shoulders. He will be free to continue to develop his reputation as a TV analyst because Reid will direct the TV traffic, make the race exciting and put Jarrett in the spotlight. Reid is a classic play-by-play motorsports announcer.

The difference in Andy Petree's on-air performance between working with Wallace and Jarrett is night and day. Once Wallace made the move to the infield, Petree came alive and has teamed with Jarrett to provide interesting and thoughtful analysis. What may finally push Petree up another rung on the TV ladder is having Reid alongside.

This single telecast may well serve as an example of what ESPN can actually bring to the table where NASCAR is concerned. The network bobbled in many areas in year one, but made the first round of changes. In year two, significant change in several areas solved almost all the remaining issues. Now, in year three we may be seeing on Saturday the line-up that ESPN expects to put front and center for 2010.

How this race unfolds on the track will be one issue. How the live telecast unfolds on ESPN2 will be quite another. All the big dogs are in place and the pressure is on to get all the on-air elements clicking. The same on-air issues discussed by TDP readers are also discussed by the ESPN management and NASCAR.

If by the final laps of this race it becomes clear that a new and exciting on-air dynamic has been created, we may well have finally witnessed the beginning of the type of NASCAR franchise that ESPN enjoyed in the 1980's and 90's.

TDP will be live blogging the telecast and welcomes your comments on the ESPN team. The live blog will start at 2PM and continue through post-race comments. We will also be working on Twitter to get reaction from NASCAR fans to the telecast. You can click on the picture of Jenkins and Nuber to see it full size.

In the meantime, please feel free to add your comments on this topic. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

22 comments:

Dannyboy said...

JD: Thanks for the memories. The Bob & Larry show on Thursday & Saturday Night Thunder was just simply as good as it gets for motorsports. I've never been Jenkins' greatest fan, but he is a solid professional and his expert handling of the play by play was so good I'm wondering if someone at ESPN will eventually dig up those tapes and make them required viewing for the "new guys". RIP Larry Nuber too. He is sorely missed.

One hopes their excellence and that of the ESPN NASCAR crew back in the 90s will be forever the standard. We can't bring back Nuber or BP, but their example was gold and we cherish the memory.

Anonymous said...

Is anyone else having audio problems in Nationwide qualifying?

Anonymous said...

Props to Marty Reid for updating us on their audio problems.

Vicky D said...

Don't notice the audio problems on qualifying yet but Marty is keeping us informed on the first group. I don't think in the future DJ will be able to do the cup PXP doesn't he take a lot of vacations? But maybe it's to get away from the broadcast booth. Hope the pit reporters ask good questions and not ask the drivers how they are feeling about things. The scenery is breathtaking too.

Anonymous said...

The only change at ESPN that will get me excited will be the full removal of Jerry Punch from the play-by-play chair.

And when that day comes - I am sure that my excitement of hearing that Punch is being replaced will be immediately dampened by the news that Marty Reid is taking his place. Don't get me wrong -- Reid is competant and understands the job description in ways Punch apparently is unable to -- but Marty Reid is just barely an acceptable alternative. He's not exactly Mr. Excitement or Mr. Knowledge, himself.

If I were running ESPN, I would work out a deal to pipe in the audio from MRN and then hire a camera director who could keep up with their fast-paced commentary. ESPN could call it a budget saver by simply "syndicating" the other networks' audio, and at the same time provide an exciting racing experience.

Seriously, every time SPEED does the scanner feature -- and they show action with the MRN audio, it is exciting. Can you imagine an entire season on ESPN broadcast with that level of adrenaline and excitement? It would completely change the perception of the sport to the casual fan.

Walter said...

Mr Editor -
Seems like ESPN stepped up to the plate in pairing Marty Reid w/DJ and AP to elevate the on-air team ...it remains to be seen if the production team will elevate itself to a higher level; no doubt they have the tools and know-how ...question remains, will they show it?

Mark said...

just saw an Extenze ad. Other kinds actually have been appearing on ESPN as well

Anonymous said...

until Bestwick is in the booth, espn is a joke

Anonymous said...

Bob Jenkins and Larry Nuber were the best announcers that Na$car ever had they realized they were not the show but the racing was as they told us what was going on not joking around and telling and showing us about who paid espn the most money. If they could find announcers to do that again the ratings would go back up.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Rough start for this team on the qualifying show. ESPN missed the entire pole lap of Kevin Harvick while they were all distracted with interviews.

Apparently, they thought Marcos Ambrose would keep the fastest lap and were all about that topic.

JD

Vicky D said...

JD - hubby noticed the gabbing during Harvick's qualifying run and them missing it too. I guess it even happens to a professional and bet Reid won't let that happen again. I was screaming at the tv because ESPN was only interviewing the cup guys, lucky Brad K or a driver with the last name of Earnhardt.

Anonymous said...
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Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 12:52PM,

Search ED+ads+family on Google to get an overview of what I have been getting in my mailbox.

There are even some online groups forming about this issue. Should be interesting to see what happens.

JD

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

Espn should rename the national series the Rusty and Steve show,as 8o% of the show is showing steve.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Please feel free to Google "US+Fidelis+daly+planet" to read our column on that issue.

The topic today is the Nationwide Series coverage from Watkins Glen.

Thanks,

JD

Anonymous said...

JD,That picture brings back some very good memories. Winchester Indiana in the late 70's,Sammy Sessions Snowball race. Track announcers Jenkins and Nuber. They interviewed a USAC Super Vee driver that showed up looking for a ride. That guy got in a roadster that practiced in the high 16's and qualified it at almost 15 flat.You could see a blue smoke hazing off the tires,it doesn't get any better than that. Oh by the way that driver was Tim Richmond.

Been a Bob Jenkins fan since then.

Frank in Sebring

Martin Vincent said...

Ready for a shocker?... #91 may not start and park today. Either Peyton Sellers, who failed to qualify, or Mike Bliss, who lost his ride, may replace Dave Blaney and run the full race.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Martin, that would be great. I was hoping to get a handle on how the S&P situation would work out for today.

JD

Anonymous said...

It was mentioned Friday Bliss would get in the 91 car during Happy Hour on ESPN - but is he eligible if he didn't practice? It was never reported if he actually got in a car during the broadcast last night. Payton Sellers on the other hand, did practice his own car.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for all the info, please move the Nationwide Series comments up to the new post on the main page.

We will be live blogging the race with you.

JD