Saturday, March 26, 2011

Live Blogging Nationwide Series From California (ESPN - 5PM ET)

Jennifer Jo Cobb has a new ride for the weekend and a chance to continue to keep her name in the media if she comes through with a solid performance. It's been a wild week for Cobb that included walking away from her former car on the starting grid, appearing on tons of TV and radio show and now jumping into the Rick Ware Racing ride and running the entire race. TV will be keeping an eye on this issue.

Some new faces in new places this weekend for ESPN. Allen Bestwick steps into the broadcast booth as Marty Reid is over in St. Pete working the IndyCars for ABC. Dale Jarrett is off this weekend, so Rusty Wallace will once again fill-in as the Lead Analyst. Andy Petree will be the third man in the booth.

Down in the Infield Pit Studio, it will be Nicole Briscoe and Brad Daugherty. Rusty may or may not be joining that group for the pre-race show at 5PM ET. It might depend on the weather. Friday was rainy and the track had water leaks, called "weepers," coming up in several places. Hopefully, that same situation will not present itself on Saturday.

Dr. Jerry Punch, Dave Burns, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will be the pit reporters. Tim Brewer and the Tech Garage rolled all the way to California. Jamie Little and Vince Welch moved over with Reid to work on the IndyCar race.

California is a track that has quickly divided the Nationwide Series teams in the past into two groups. Those with big budgets and Sprint Cup Series drivers who can run at top speed and those Nationwide Series regulars trying not to go a lap down.

I am told by some veteran reporters that this race may feature ten or more "start and park" cars. The teams that towed all the way to the West Coast can apparently get a head-start on traffic if they pull-in before the first set of Goodyear Eagles are out of tread, load up and hit the highway. This issue should be one to watch.

This series continues to be an experiment in marketing and public relations. The Sprint Cup Series drivers winning the races are not getting driver points, so the leader in the points clubhouse and perhaps even the season champion may in fact never win a single race. It would be nice for a regular to break through.

ESPN is going to have to work very hard to get the excitement level cranking once the race settles down. Bestwick has a very good historical perspective on the sport and can ask questions and bring up topics that Reid simply cannot.

This is a track where high speeds look boring on TV until something happens. Then, the intensity of the crash and the distance the cars go until they stop is a quick snap back to reality. Even with a SAFER Barrier, this is a dangerous track.

Veteran fans will remember this speedway has the black marks that are caused by the sealer put down between the strips of asphalt. Those marks have been cursed by more drivers that anyone can count in terms of ruining a good day or affecting a good run. Telling the tale of the challenges on the actual track is going to be key.

Needless to say, both ESPN and FOX need a ratings kick to get things rolling in the right direction. Sometimes, things happen for a reason. Bestwick in the booth might be just what the doctor ordered to change the tone and direction of telecasts that have sometimes bordered on embarrassing. Last week's scoring fiasco comes to mind.

This post will serve to host your comments before, during and after ESPN's coverage of the Nationwide Series race from Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA. To add your TV-related comment, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


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longtimeracefan said...

ESPN's coverage of the California NNS race tonight was pretty good. Much better than last week's NNS Bristol race. The difference: Bestwick vs. Reid, even with Rusty.

Anonymous said...

I missed the race today and was just watching highlights on

My main reaction: what a disgrace that they can't sell more tickets than that. In my opinion, if they are going to race in front of empty stands, they should just run Nationwide and Cup on the same day.


Justin said...

Unfortunately I was unable to watch the race live today, but I soldiered on to stay up to watch the F1 race and then the replay of the NNS race on ESPN2.

I had the privilege of viewing your comments here before watching the replay, and I must say I am highly suprised to see any negative commentary regarding today's race! ESPN did a fantastic job today at Fontana, and we can only PRAY that FOX will do half as good tomorrow!

Of course Allen Bestwick was great in the booth, and should permanently stay there! No disrespect meant to Marty Reid, but I feel he is a better fit for IndyCar and will most likely do a great job tomorrow at St. Petersburg.

Despite all of the negative Rusty Wallace comments I read prior to watching the replay, I found Rusty provided great analysis and meshed well with Allen and Andy Petree. All the negative comments about Rusty seem to be hyper-critical and gross overexaggeration; there are far larger issues in the television coverage of NASCAR to concern ourselves with than a few misspoken phrases by a race analyst.

In conclusion, great coverage by ESPN on all counts! I hope FOX is taking notes for Sunday!

Daly Planet Editor said...


While I appreciate your opinion, it is equal to the other readers on the site. They have the right to express themselves about the on-air performance of NASCAR TV personalities.

As you may remember, Wallace was replaced as the lead analyst in the booth by ESPN due to his struggles in that role.

Now, he is even more compromised by sponsors, manufacturers and his personal feelings for the other personalities in the sport.

It is no secret that he is held in contempt by many in the garage due to his conflict of interest between being an active NNS team owner and an on-air personality commenting on the very series in which his teams participate.

I actively campaigned to get Rusty removed from the TV booth and I personally wish Ricky Craven had come in to fill the lead analyst role in Cali.

So, please remember that your opinion and my opinion are just that. Our thoughts on what we see and hear.



Vicky D said...

I was also unable to watch the race live and am watching our recorded portion this AM. Sounds like AB is doing a great job I think AP had good comments and works well in the booth with AB.

Marylee from Richmond said...

Sorry to be so slow getting to this, but it was GREAT to hear Allan Bestwick in the booth. If only Dale Jarrett had been there instead of Rusty!

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