Friday, August 21, 2009
Play-By-Play Announcer Returns For ESPN In Bristol, TN
Last week in Michigan, ESPN experimented with a live NASCAR Nationwide Series telecast that featured four analysts in the booth and no play-by-play announcer. The reviews were mixed, but ESPN was clear that this was a one time experiment. Click here to review the TDP reader comments.
Friday night the NASCAR on ESPN telecast returns to the normal format, but not with the popular Nationwide Series team of Marty Reid, Rusty Wallace and Randy LaJoie. Instead, the network will use Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree to call the race.
Wallace will be a member of the pre-race show along with Brad Daugherty and host Allen Bestwick from the Infield Pit Studio. While this has been a good move for Wallace on the Sprint Cup Series races, he has served the network quite well up in the booth for the Nationwide Series events.
Reid and LaJoie just love to give Wallace a hard time as certain events unfold on the track. The vast majority of the time, those events involve Rusty's son Steven or teammate Brendan Gaughan who make up the RWR Nationwide Series teams. Credit goes to Rusty who has been more than tough enough to take the ribbing and keep right on going, no matter how much his wallet had just been dented.
This on-air dynamic has been fun to watch as it is pushed along by the jovial personality of LaJoie. Reid is a professional who keeps the information flowing and lets the analysts do their jobs. This irreverent mix is perfect for the Nationwide Series as it continues to search for its own TV personality.
Reid, Wallace and LaJoie did not cower to the Carl and Kyle show in this series and pointed out the efforts of all the teams on the track as the racing unfolded. Reid was also the first announcer this season to be honest with the fans where the numerous start-and-park cars were concerned.
The challenge for Punch is to ramp-up his excitement level to match the anticipated hard racing on Friday night from the drop of the green flag. The new restart rules are going to be something to see at Bristol. As Mike Joy on the Whelen Modified and Rick Allen on the Camping World Truck Series races proved, this track generates excitement for TV viewers when the play-by-play announcer is on his game.
As usual on so many Fridays, it will be SPEED starting the action with Nationwide Series practice at 10:30AM. Steve Byrnes, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond will then stick around to call both sessions of Sprint Cup practice beginning at noon ET. That trio will top off the day with Nationwide Series qualifying at 4PM.
Before calling the Nationwide race, Punch and company will first handle Sprint Cup Series qualifying at 5:30PM on ESPN2. Nicole Manske will give the ESPN team a breather at 7PM as she hosts an edition of NASCAR Now from the other Bristol.
Bestwick then leads the ESPN2 team onto the air at 7:30PM with the NASCAR Countdown pre-race show and Punch takes over to call the action at 8PM. The actual green flag is scheduled for 8:13PM.
TDP will be live blogging this event and have a post up for your TV-related comments immediately after the race. In the meantime, please feel free to leave your opinion on the topics mentioned above.
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