Friday, July 2, 2010
NASCAR's Qualifying TV Doubleheader
Daytona has some interesting schedule twists and Friday fans get to watch back-to-back qualifying sessions on two very different TV networks.
ESPN2 kicks-off Friday's NASCAR TV with Nationwide Series qualifying at 1PM ET. This might be a very good weekend for ESPN. Allen Bestwick is working with Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree in the TV booth. Bestwick has been on top of his game this season and his knowledge and enthusiasm about Daytona is infectious.
The resurgent Dr. Jerry Punch leads the pit road reporting corps. Shannon Spake recently showed her versatility by hosting a week of NASCAR Now in the ESPN studios. She returns to pit road along with NASCAR Now's fulltime host Mike Massaro. The final team member is Dave Burns, who always seem to fly a bit under the radar.
There are lots of stories in the NNS this weekend, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the vintage #3 Wrangler car. The "NNS new car" debut has gotten tremendous positive reaction as it appears NASCAR has hit on a winner with its design. Plenty of drivers would like to notch the first pole in the new model.
ESPN has a very distinctive style for qualifying. It includes original graphics and an extensive timing and scoring layout. Fans have seen the network hit or miss with the qualifying shows. This is going to be one it needs to get right.
Up next at 4PM with the Sprint Cup Series qualifying is SPEED. Steve Byrnes, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds have already logged a long day on Thursday in the TV booth covering practice sessions. Friday they will call qualifying while Jeff Hammond and Phil Parsons will be handling the interviews.
SPEED's style is very different from ESPN. They both work well and relay information, but SPEED has almost perfected qualifying through trial and error over the years. Byrnes sets the right tone of fun and informality on the air.
Just as with the NNS telecast, there are plenty of stories unfolding on the Sprint Cup Series side. One of the biggest was the major wreck late in practice that took out several cars including Denny Hamlin, Reed Sorenson and Tony Stewart. The culprit was a bump to Hamlin from his own teammate, Kyle Busch.
Earlier in the day, Busch relayed that the Daytona track was rougher than ever with several bumps that upset the cars and left the teams searching for solutions. Busch pointed to the area of "the patch" left over from the February race. All of this should make qualifying a bit more interesting.
Once ESPN2 and SPEED are done, the coverage shifts to ESPN for the NASCAR Countdown show at 7:30PM. We will live blog this show and the race in a new post. Please use this page for your comments on the qualifying coverage from the two networks.
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