Saturday, November 21, 2009
Marty Reid's NASCAR Moment
The coronation is scheduled for Sunday. The fireworks are scheduled for Saturday. Jerry Punch will describe the solemn ceremony. Marty Reid will handle the explosions.
Last year at this time, Reid was not even a blip on the NASCAR on ESPN radar screen. He had spent the last couple of seasons moving between the NHRA and IRL coverage for the network. Reid had even trained Rusty Wallace on the IRL for an entire season before Wallace was deemed ready to debut on the new NASCAR product.
Now, Reid is in an amazing situation. Brought in this year to call the last dozen or so Nationwide Series races, Reid finds himself in Homestead with a plateful of dynamite. In one hand he has a wick and in the other a lighter.
The stars have aligned to shift the focus of NASCAR fans squarely to what is often the forgotten race of the weekend. The Truck Series title was decided even before the Friday race. Over in Sprint Cup Series land, the have-nots will be tip-toeing around the #48 team on Sunday to avoid being on the evening news for all the wrong reasons.
It is the Nationwide Series that has all the potential for the kind of old school knockdown dragout season finale that fans want to see. Amazingly, the championship will be handed to Kyle Busch once the engines are fired. It is what may happen after that point that could put Marty Reid very much in the spotlight.
The sizzling feud between the hard-charging Brad Keselowski and several of his future contemporaries in the Sprint Cup Series next season may well come to a rather dramatic conclusion once the green flag falls on Saturday's race.
In a script right out of central casting, Keselowski finds himself surrounded by Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and David Reutimann among others. The hard feelings extend to Nationwide Series regulars like Steven Wallace, Brendan Gaughan and Mike Bliss who are watching Keselowski saddle up in a Penske ride for 2010 and leave them far behind.
Just as there are two storylines in the Chase races, the Nationwide Series will share that split personality in Homestead. TV cameras will have one eye on the racing action toward the front of the pack and the other squarely on Keselowski at all times.
Reid will step up to call the action with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree alongside. In Phoenix, Reid set the excitement level high from the start and forced Jarrett and Petree to come along for the ride. Both analysts responded with perhaps their best live ESPN telecast of the 2009 season.
From emphatically announcing each start-and-park car as they pull off the track to joyfully teasing Rusty Wallace at every opportunity, it has been made very clear that Reid marches to the beat of his own drummer.
Pulling no punches and playing no favorites, Reid often has the politically correct Jarrett on his heels where commentary is concerned. It is the quick-witted Petree who has responded favorably to Reid's fun loving nature and jumped into the deep end of the pool.
Using a classic play-by-play call, Reid is looking for a supporting cast that can offer information and expert commentary. This has been a challenge for Tim Brewer in the Tech Garage and for the ESPN production team. Several times, Reid has simply said on the air that the cameras are not following the best racing on the track.
Surprisingly, it has been the four pit reporters who have stepped up their game and gotten involved in providing the kind of updated information that Reid demands when talking about a team or driver. The corps of pit reporters have turned in some of their best performances on Nationwide Series races since Reid came on board.
Unfortunately, one topic that has to be mentioned are the possible changes in the ESPN line-up once the season is done. Over the last two years, not being able to deliver the desired results during the final seventeen Cup races of the season has already resulted in changes. Jarrett was added in the booth, Wallace was moved to the infield and Bestwick was designated as the show host.
Now, the focus is on Punch. His low-key style and deliberate approach did not catch on with the TV viewers. While maintaining his place in the hearts of NASCAR fans as "the doctor," Punch has failed as the frontman for the team. There is little doubt his role will be changed for next season.
In the harsh world of sports TV, the door is now open for Reid. An exciting and memorable telecast on Saturday may go a long way toward helping the ESPN executives in their decision-making process for 2010.
With all the potential excitement on the track and a decades of motorsports television experience behind him, Reid has an opportunity to take a major step in his new NASCAR TV career once the green flag flies at 4:45PM Saturday on ESPN2.
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 again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.