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.

28 comments:

Anonymous said...

Punch needs to go, but Marty Reid is only a little bit better. Hard to imagine a guy who deserves more respect than Dale Jarrett, but he also has to go.

Anonymous said...

Oh man am I dreading Sunday already.

I watched Cup qualifying today, and I cannot tell you how many times Jerry Punch told us Mark Martin was 50 years old.

Punch kept framing it as: What will we see: the crowning of a four-time champion, or a 50-year-old win?

Why not frame it: What will we see: the crowning of a four-time champion or Mark Martin finally win one after 27 years of trying?

The second option is so much more dignified. And to make it worse, have you noticed that every time Jerry Punch tells us Mark Martin is 50 (which he does a LOT), he does so with a tone in his voice like "Hey, here's something I bet you didn't know?" like he is telling us for the very first time.

During qualifying, I think Punch told us Martin was 50 like it was a stat maybe 50 times. No joke. NO exaggeration. I think he said it 50 times. He will easily do that in the first half of the Cup race. ESPN - are you reading this?!

Anonymous said...

I was watching a DVD the other day that had on it extensive clips of Richard Petty's 200th win, the race Ronald Reagan attended.

The race was called by Jim Lampley, who knows nothing about racing. Nothing. But he is the consummate professional when it comes to play-by-play announcing, and he was a joy to listen to. It didn't matter that he didn't know much about racing. He could call what he saw, he used his voice as an instrument, he added excitement and drama and seamlessly integrated his broadcast partners to cover the things he didn't know - but not in a way that he is announcing what he doesn't know and asking questions, but allowing the others to do their job. He was great. I bet in the 20 years of doing Olympics and boxing on HBO, Lampley hasn't watched a single solitary race on television. I also bet you that if you put him in the booth on Sunday on short notice that he would do a better job than Punch and Reid combined.

I guess what I am saying is that they need to stop looking for someone inside racing to handle the play-by-play. They need a qualified broadcaster. If you put that guy in the booth with a driver who can be eloquent on air (say, Ricky Craven) and someone with some personality and expertise... then you have a winning combo.

But to be honest with you, I don't even think ESPN will move punch from the lead role. I don't see any sign that he doesn't like it. I hear him on radio shows and I get no indication that he thinks he is doing a bad job. In fact, I get the overall impression that he thinks he is doing a great job. You have written for several seasons about how he needs to go and how ESPN needs to make a change. Frankly I think short of making an offhanded racial remark, or falling asleep on the air, or accidentally swearing on live TV, I don't see Jerry Punch being fired. And I don't think he's going to make one of those three mistakes.

We are stuck with Jerry Punch, now being shown in the 1st position.

Anonymous said...

I beleive that Mr.jarret was enslaved,er empolyed by the Martians,er ESPN as a tool to further their world dominince with some kind of mind control implant.Proof: always keeps a mindlees smile,wears the same ugly green coat,never see's the action on track,and sends brain waves thru the t.v. saying that everything is allright,go to sleep,go to sleep,you'll never feel the slight sting in the back of your neck and everything will be good.
Check next weeks NATIONAL ENQUIRER for details.

Anonymous said...

JD, one of your favorite phrases is "there is little doubt". In this case you use it in regards to the doctor's role for next year.
Maybe there is little doubt for you, but I sense plenty of doubt amongst the posters here.

Anonymous said...

ESPN needs to put Bob Jenkins back behind the mike. I think he's hiding over in the background at Versus or SPEED but he would be the man to retool the announcing crew.

Anonymous said...

Bob Jenkins is the fix for the announcing crew. I know he's hiding over in the shadows at Versus or SPEED, but that's who ESPN needs to revive the crew.

Anonymous said...

I don't think Marty Reid is an improvement over Jerry Punch. I like DJ and Andy, but they are extremely reluctant to criticize anyone or anything. A few races ago, guest host Jeff Gordon made them both look silly when they refused to acknowledge that Biffle followed through on his promise to wreck Lagano. Rusty and Tim Brewer need to slide gracefully into retirement while we're at it.

Donna in FL said...

I don't know if Marty's the guy to tap for Cup. Frankly, I like him right where he's at, he's helped make NNS TV the next best thing to Trucks.
Jerry Punch wants his job. I want ESPN to take off both his collar AND his leash. And burn all papers.

I see someone has beat me to it so excuse the following rant addition. I've now mentioned it to another reporter and may as well do it here. WHAT is the obsession with Mark Martin being 50+ ???? WHEN did his story become "oldest driver who would win the title"??? I'm SO sick of it and DO NOT want to even hear a PEEP about his age next year!! What Mark has been trying to do is win a title. His first. PERIOD.
Thank you for allowing comment.

Newracefan said...

I wasn't sure about Marty at first but he has really stepped up and when the director cooperates the NW race is fun to watch. I would still prefer AB in the booth but I'll take Marty.

ri88girl said...

I have faith, the booth (including DJ) will have genuine fun with the race today, and look out the window all the time.

I have faith that when something happens whoever is talking will say 'oh troubel in x' and then shut up.

I have faith that the B team in the truck knows they are the A team in disguise and will put in another solid perfomance based on what's going on ON the track.

I have faith that the truck will be able to hit THE RIGHT camera when who ever is yelling 'trouble in x' starts yelling.

I have faith that Marty will run the pit reporters ragged getting the info he wants to give the fans. About all the teams and all the stories.

I wish I had faith in Sunday

red said...

i'll be missing the last n'wide race of the season due to life commitment that begins at 4 PM so have fun, gang!

marty reid has been a very positive change in the n'wide booth this season. i have enjoyed his professionalism and hope he'll be present and accounted for next season. with reid in control, there's a strong chance that the storyline will be dropped to cover the racing, ya' know?

as for the keselowski "story" this afternoon: potential over-kill level of covering that car and "hoping for excitement" is as bad as following young mr busch around the track all afternoon or watching the 48 endlessly at texas. let the story develop and flow. if madness breaks out, certainly have a camera ready to capture it but don't inflict a constant "nothing happening yet, fans, but we're waiting -- and hoping!" mentality on viewers.

i'll catch up with it all tonight so please keep the n'wide blog comments as informative and funny as usual!

sunday? dunno yet what i'll do. i'm very much in awe of what the 48 team has accomplished but i don't know if i can sit thru the broadcast. i'd much rather finish my nascar tv viewing season with another fantastic truck broadcast resonating in my head for the next few months than the anger that i suspect the espn cup coverage will produce.

ri88girl said...

Anon 2:20 AM

1st why are u up?
2nd what u said is sooo depressing. And I, for one, am so afraid u are right.

Tripp said...

I will be watching the Nationwide race for a variety of reasons, and Marty is one of them. He is very good at what he does and makes the broadcasts more enjoyable for all of the reasons stated in the DP article. While we won't have the benefit of the Nationwide "A Team" of Reid, LaJoie and Wallace, Andy Petree does a good job of keeping up with the fun. Why DJ can't amp up his game too is befuddling. His not joining in doesn't ruin things, but it would be a better broadcast if he did.

It is agreed that this is another major audition for Marty for the impending changes for 2010. However, he alone cannot transform the malfunctioning ESPN broadcasts. In fact, he might actually make things more disjointed if he doesn't follow the script. The PxP announcer alone cannot transform the broadcasts into something the fans might actually enjoy. That decision comes from the top. Without a new mindset, it will just be more of the same.

I'm going to watch tonight to have a little fun with Marty and root for Eddie "The Outlaw" MacDonald.

bevo said...

Excellent point made by Anonymous@2:20am. That's why Mike Joy is the best. ESPN is also hiding a great asset with Ricky Craven.

Reid has shown that he can adapt to whatever he's covering.

Martin Vincent said...

I wonder what Kenny Mayne is doing these days... :)

Vicky D said...

I enjoy Marty calling the NW races and I bet he would be an improvement for the cup races as well. DJ doesn't do anything for me although several races AP has stepped up to the plate and added to the broadcst. I still enjoy the 3 R's but I guess we'll see what will be for next year. JD - can't you find a better picture of Marty either???

Daly Planet Editor said...

Most of the others have him at IRL or NHRA events. This is the official ESPN photo!

Darren said...

Marty Reid rocks.

"From emphatically announcing each start-and-park car as they pull off the track "

Exactly. Everyone else is afraid to highlight this except Marty. How about last week when he pointed out that, "The crowd is smaller than in the past, but very enthusiastic." Marty is frank, and that's refreshing.

Now if only Phil "Start and Parsons" could join him in the booth so he could say, "Phil there's two of your cars pulling off. Another 60 grand in your pocket!"

Anonymous said...

Was surprised at the number of posters who think Marty Reid is no better than Jerry Punch. To me, the difference is enormous, and I've heard no direct criticism of why Reid is lacking.

Reid always stays in the middle of the racing action (unlike Punch's ability to stay silent over long stretches). And he constantly engages the other announcers to do the same. (Very similar to Mike Joy, but without getting overly excited like Joy occassionally does.)

Reid is the consumate conductor of the orchestra. He pays attention to the bit players (start-and-parkers and cars that don't get much TV time). And he uses his support staff to handle the major stories of the day. That's what a solid play-by-play man does.

I realized some people hate ESPN, but they are going to be with NASCAR for a long time. So we have to focus on how to make things better. Simply swinging a bat at all things ESPN only makes the small-minded poster FEEL better.

- RA Eckart -

ri88girl said...

In re reading the comments, it seems the problem is the chemistry or lack there of in the booth. The tree R's work, but DJ and Marty don't seem to click at all. Maybe that should be the change in NW coverage as well as Marty full time for NW. I won't accept anyone other than AB for PXP in Cup. Sorry. That boat has sailed ;)

Dot said...

The script is set for Marty today. Kez is starting behind Diva (Hamlin).

I am surprised that BSPN doesn't realize that Marty does a much better job than Punch at PxP. Are they not allowed to mix things up and change out the on air talent during the season? I know it's too late now.

When will we know who's in the booth next year at BSPN?

Vicky D said...

But Dot, doesn't ESPN realize that Speed's broadcast of the trucks is the best of the weekend. Good booth chemistry and enthusiasm. Plus they are looking out the window to see things going on on the track.

Miserable, since they won’t change, I will said...

If this weekend is a preview of next year, I just don't think I am handle another year of NASCAR. I actually like Marty, I miss the heck out of him on the NHRA broadcast. Paul Paige is the worst....that is until you list to DR Jerry Punch. The true example of promoted to incompetence. The man was the BEST pitroad reporter out there but is just awful as a play by play guy. Now NHRA has Dunn to pick up the slack and he does a great job, ESPN's crew just follows him down the hole.

What has me now done with NASCAR completely was the reminder of DW. Have you ever heard a guy focus everything on him before? He says "I" so much it is unbelievable. I like Larry, Jeff, and can tolerate Mike Joy, but DW kills the entire broadcast.

So in DW lingo, I can’t listen to that another year. I will not be watching NASCAR next year and I will not watch the Homestead races today and tomorrow. I just can’t deal with it anymore…..

Such a shame, the only sport I truly loved and watched since the first race televised in Daytona, (I faked being sick so I could stay home from church to watch it, I was like 10)but I no longer enjoy simply because of the broadcasts. Well, to be honest, the ugly race car doesn't help either.....

Steve L. said...

I'm not a fan of DJ, he just lacks the announcer voice I think he should have. His 'ah's and studdering drives me crazy.

The main thing is to follow the racing on track, look out the window and not the monitor, let the PXP call the action and the cameras follow, things would be so much better.

Reid is better than JP, but I'm not convinced he's the one for the Cup job. If they would just give AB a try, just once, and let us fans see how much better he is, we'd all be happy. (well, if they kept him there)

Change must come, do something! This ain't working ESPN!

Miserable, since they won’t change, I will said...

If this weekend is a preview of next year, I just don't think I am handle another year of NASCAR. I actually like Marty, I miss the heck out of him on the NHRA broadcast. He is the best one out there today. Paul Paige is the worst....that is until you get to DR Jerry Punch. The true example of promoted to incompetence. The man was the BEST pitroad reporter out there but is just awful as a play by play guy. Now NHRA has Dunn to pick up the slack and he does a great job, ESPN's crew just follows Punch down the hole.

What has me now done with NASCAR completely was the reminder of DW. Have you ever heard a guy focus everything on him before as much as he does? He says "I" so much it is unbelievable. I like Larry, Jeff, and can tolerate Mike Joy, but DW kills the entire broadcast.

So in DW lingo, I can’t listen to that another year. I will not be watching NASCAR next year and I will not watch the Homestead races today and tomorrow. I just can’t deal with it anymore…..

Such a shame, the only sport I truly loved and watched since the first race televised in Daytona, (I faked being sick so I could stay home from church to watch it, I was like 10)but I no longer enjoy simply because of the broadcasts. Well, to be honest, the ugly race car doesn't help either.....

Dot said...

@ Vicky D, evidently not. Their arrogance prevents them from admitting anything is wrong. Kind of like the CEO of NASCAR.

It's not just who's in the booth, it's the entire race broadcast on BSPN. From the camera shots, pre fab story lines, etc etc etc.

Anonymous said...

It's not enough for ESPN to screw us out of the first 25 minutes of Happy Hour, but once they finally graced us with their on-air presence they had to shove a long canned video in our face; the same video I'm sure they'll start tomorrow's ABC broadcast with as well. ESPN must go!!!!!