Monday, July 25, 2011

Bestwick To Call ESPN Sprint Cup Races


Wednesday morning ESPN made it official. Allen Bestwick will call the network's Sprint Cup Series races. It was a big mid-season shake-up that the network had never done before.

Here is the official press release with the details from ESPN:

Allen Bestwick and Nicole Briscoe, two veterans of ESPN’s NASCAR coverage team, will have expanded roles as ESPN’s telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races of the season begin next week.

Bestwick, who has filled a variety of positions since ESPN returned to live NASCAR event coverage in 2007, will move into the booth as the lap-by-lap announcer for all ESPN NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts, including races, practices and qualifying. He will be joined by analysts Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree when ESPN starts its NASCAR Sprint Cup Series coverage with the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 31.

Briscoe, who has been a host and reporter for ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now since joining ESPN in 2008, and a fill-in host for the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show since 2010, will become the regular NASCAR Countdown host for all NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series telecasts on ESPN. Briscoe will work with analysts Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty in the ESPN Pit Studio at racetracks. Bestwick has been in the NASCAR Countdown host role since midway through the 2007 season.

Marty Reid, who has been primary lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series since 2009, and for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2010, will continue to call NASCAR Nationwide Series race telecasts on ESPN as well as practice and qualifying telecasts. In addition, Reid also will continue as lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage of five races in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, with the next event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Aug. 14.

“We are blessed with a talented and versatile group of NASCAR commentators,” said Norby Williamson, ESPN executive vice president, production. “We believe this arrangement best plays to our individual and collective strengths.”

Since joining ESPN in 2007, Bestwick has worked as a pit reporter and host and has called some races in the lap-by-lap announcer position. In addition to his new duties in the booth, he will continue as the main host and moderator for the Monday roundtable discussion edition of NASCAR Now. The program features a panel of three racing experts who discuss and debate the latest NASCAR news in a one-hour format.

Bestwick has extensive experience in both radio and television, having started his NASCAR career in 1986 as a turn announcer for MRN Radio. He worked for MRN for nearly 15 years and was the lap-by-lap announcer from 1988-2000, as well as host of the network’s daily news program. He made his television debut in 1995 on the original NASCAR Today program on ESPN and joined SPEED in 1996 as the host of a weekly NASCAR show, a post he held for 10 years. He started pit reporting for TBS and TNT in 1997 and was part of NBC and TNT’s NASCAR coverage from 2001-2006, both as a pit reporter and lap-by-lap announcer.

Before joining ESPN, Briscoe worked for two years as co-host of a motorsports news program on SPEED. Previously, she was a sports reporter at a TV station in Indianapolis, where she was first exposed to auto racing through covering the Indianapolis 500. She later worked as a pit reporter for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network on the Indianapolis 500 and Brickyard 400 as well as IZOD IndyCar Series race broadcasts before joining SPEED in 2006. She started her TV career as a general assignment reporter in Rockford, Ill., and also worked in TV in Fort Wayne, Ind., before moving to Indianapolis in 2004. With her new duties, she will continue as a NASCAR Now host on a limited basis.


Well, there you have it. In the blink of an eye, everything changed for ESPN's NASCAR team. Suggestions have been that ESPN got information regarding this decision from fans who filled out NASCAR Fan Council surveys. Others simply believe it was easy to see that Reid was struggling on the big stage in his first NASCAR season.

Any way you slice it, this might become a turning point for ESPN's entire NASCAR package. Just as a new crew chief may spark an entire NASCAR team, putting Bestwick in the booth may finally motivate the entire ESPN team to produce a TV product that veteran fans can respect.

Memories of Bestwick resonate with fans just like memories of veteran drivers. Bestwick's radio past and his move to TV were well documented. His struggles with NBC and move to ESPN were on a very public stage. He has worked his way up through the TV ranks and this is his reward.

Let us know what you think of this move and how you think it might impact ESPN's overall coverage down the stretch?

86 comments:

Jamie said...

YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Finally. Someone in Bristol woke up.

GinaV24 said...

Great news!

Anthony said...

This is absolutely wonderful news! Allen's presence in the booth should help ESPN's broadcasts get MUCH better. He is one person I don't mind listening to, and I think he will bring out the best in Andy and Dale far better than what Jerry and Marty have done in 4 years.

Anonymous said...

YAY!

longtimeracefan said...

Hal . . . le . . lu . . jah

Hal . . . le . . lu . . jah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hal . . le a a . . lu . jah!

Anonymous said...

I think AB will be a big improvement and mesh well to Andy and DJ. Sorry, but I'm not a fan of Briscoe and never have.

bknotts said...

Great news on both parts. They're both very talented, and will make the ESPN part of the season much better.

glenc1 said...

YIPPPPPPPEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!

Whatever you do, Allen, DON'T PLAY HOCKEY!!!!

KoHoSo said...

What wonderful news to wake up to here on the west coast!

JD, did you have any hint that this was coming?

Delenn said...

As I said on twitter a couple of hours ago:
@TheDalyPlanet Just seen news about AB on play-by-play and Briscoe in the studio. Woo-hoo. (Starts dancing down the street). About time!

Roland said...

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Roland said...

YES YES YES!!!!!!!

LVI56 said...

Very happy to see. And something worth noting:

A few months ago I took part in a survey from a third party research co (one of those paid ones). It asked about ESPN's Nascar on-air talent, hosts, pit reports and analysts, and asked some pretty detailed and in depth things (clearly Nascar or ESPN put it out). So if it was ESPN's survey, they were looking into changing/evaluating things for a while, and getting fan input. Very nice to see.

Of course, I gave AB very high marks and comments.

Roland said...

Its Christmas in July!!!!!!!!! This is so wonderful to hear. I guess this was the "nail in the final coffin" for Reid. Finally ESPN listens to us! And getting Nicole to host Countdown is also wonderful news. She will do an excellent job. Too bad her "analysts" are the worst in the sport. We need Craven in the pit studio!

MRM4 said...

I can actually look forward to the races on ESPN now.

Anonymous said...

Well played ESPN (finally). Now if the truck can get it right and stay away from tight shots and in cars, we might have us something to sit and watch!

Roadgeek Adam said...

The fact that they made such a good decision here is probably the best they have ever made in the time since 2007.

Allen Bestwick in the booth for the Cup races are the best thing for this 17 race stretch with Marty Reid being the Nationwide caller. I am more than content with it.

Bill said...

Allen left the booth a few years ago, and wanted to go back to pit reporting, right? That's what I remember, anyway. That was a sad day.
This is a happy day! Now, maybe we can get him together with Schrader, Mikey Waltrip and Johnny Benson to do inside NASCAR again! LOL

Bill said...

Allen left the booth a few years ago, and wanted to go back to pit reporting, right? That's what I remember, anyway. That was a sad day.
This is a happy day! Now, maybe we can get him together with Schrader, Mikey Waltrip and Johnny Benson to do inside NASCAR again! LOL

Bill said...

Sorry for the double post. Rented fingers.

West Coast Diane said...

Longtimeracefan: That's exactly what I said when I saw news on Jayski's.

Thanks JD and Planeteers!

Delenn said...

@Bill
Allen didn't want to leave the booth. NBC replaced him.

Brian said...

GREAT News!!! Someone at ESPN listened!!!

SnowdogBob said...

Best News Ever!!!! I can now watch the chase for the first time in years.

Does anyone know if Allen still plays hockey? (please say no)

Spencer said...

espn has went from worst on my list to best because of this move now

Palmetto said...

'Bout time!!!

Daly Planet Editor said...

AB lives in Rhode Island. He broke his leg playing ice hockey. NBC chose to move Bill Weber into the TV booth and kept him in that position.

Bestwick started with ESPN as a pit road reporter in 2007. He stepped in to fix NASCAR Now and established the Monday one hour roundtable. He stepped into the infield studio and brought credibility as a host. He has been calling the standalone Nationwide Series races for several years. This is a well-deserved promotion.

PammH said...

hurrah!! dancin' in the street here...what great news!

Arniect88 said...

Better late than never.

Well deserved and a real treat for fans. No one knows the rules and history of NASCAR like AB, not even Mike Joy.

Mike (Detroit) said...

Yeah....Ya can't help but love ol AB. Good for him, good for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Best magic trick ever, Weber making himself disappear...I read he's working as a magician in a hotel. I guess he's living the dream.

Gymmie said...

Was BEYOND happy to rad that this morning! SO SO SO SO SO SO SO happy! <3

Prayers have been answered

glenc--Exactly!

Bill--No Sir. He was kicked out after he broke his leg playing hockey. They put Weber in the booth while he was recovering, NBC/TNT liked the combo, so Allen was never put back in. ESPN kept him on pit road & used him a few times to fill in.

Sophia said...

YAY! I missed him since he left Inside Winston Cup. I remember when he said Good-bye on that show & I was depressed as I'd enjoyed the camaraderie on that show so much.

I might actually try to watch Cup Races again If they do not do excess bumper/in car/rear cam junk

Thanks for the heads up.

KoHoSo said...

Sophia...that is the $64,000 question, isn't it...whether ESPN will use AB's smarts and follow his "directions" or if he will be forced into following the predetermined story lines that v2.0 of ESPN coverage has forced on us since day one?

That being said, it will still be miles better than what we had now that Mickey Mouse put "the coffin in the nails" on Marty Reid's Cup gig.

Lou said...

It is good news. And about time, well deserved. Something we have been talking and reading about on this blog for a very long time .

Happy for AB. Heck, happy for us fans. I hope this is what Mr. Bestwick wants. I know I am excited he will be calling cup races.

Bill said...

@Delenn, @Gymmie- Thanks for the facts in that AB leaving the booth situation. I thought it odd at the time, as I would think a booth job is coveted, and one wouldn't leave that gig unless he/she was thrown out!

And Nicole Briscoe is not just a very pretty face. She's an exceptionally capable host, and I don't think she snubs her nose at NASCAR off camera as much as she used to, as in 'Hubby's racing series is far better than this good ol' boy stuff.'

Anonymous said...

My prayers are answered. Thank you God!

teamchip said...

About time AB is fantastic

Adam Wood said...

Absolutely wonderful. Sounds like ESPN is finally starting to get serious about their NASCAR coverage. Now if we can just move all the races after Michigan to ABC I'll be a believer in ESPN again.

Anonymous said...

sorry not a fan of this at all. don't like bestwick

rich said...

Hallelujah

Sally said...

With this news, I may actually watch the final races of the season. AB isn't afraid to ask the tough questions, and not be a cheerleader for Nascar. It seems someone at ESPN was actually listening to the fans...and acted on it. Amazing. Now, if they also listened to the part about covering the entire race, not just the front of the field, and using less close shots....

Austin Thomas said...

Sweet hes a awesome guy rock on Allen

matriarch said...

Never have I seen so many fans happy about a change in broadcasters. This is absolutely wonderful. We have been calling for this for years, and finally we get something we want. Oh Happy Day.

GinaV24 said...

The post from Anon 2:22 must have been from Marty Reid! LOL

Sam said...

Best news on this blog in quite a while. AB certainly deserves it.

Anonymous said...

KoHoSo - you are reading my mind. Am greatly concerned he will be forced to follow the script. But, fingers crossed for a good outcome.
Go AB, yeah fans.

Anonymous said...

This is great news - Anyone else think it is funny that ESPN got from 1979-2000 with one outstanding play by play guy, and now has used 3 in 5 seasons? AB is a great choice.

Anonymous said...

I am as happy as everyone else here about the news. But lets see what everyone is saying come the 7th or 8th race. I would be willing to bet that a lot of people are screaming for AB to get out.

Anonymous said...

That's a start - now for a few more tweaks and not letting football supercede NASCAR and they are on the right track.

Andrew said...

IndyCar fans are jealous.

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I hope Bestwick brings the same professionalism to the booth that he's shown as the host. When he was with NBC, he, Parsons and Dallenbach slipped into shenanigans mode way too often. We already have Waltrip and McReynolds for that. Give us a good solid broadcast with a minimum of goofing off, please.

As for Briscoe...I'm not sold on her yet. Still can't get over the bashing she's thrown on drivers that mixed it up with her hubby in the ICS. Not sure she's truly impartial and unbiased.

Just my $0.02.

KoHoSo said...

Andrew...for those of us that also follow IndyCar, at least part of the time we get good ol' Bob Jenkins. Sadly, we're still stuck with Marty for the only IndyCar race that anybody bothers watching.

TexasRaceLady said...

Hell has officially frozen over! There is dancing going on in this house.

Called my Montana friend, she let out a shriek of happiness --- she works in a bank. hehehe

Now, as others have said, let's hope AB is given free rein to follow the racing, not ESPN's script.

Flooflox said...

Interesting about the reason Allen wasn't in the booth. Always wondered about that. Though he made one hell of a reporter especially in the winner's circle.

VERY pleased that Mr. Bestwick will be back to calling the races. I'd rate him and Bob Jenkins as my top 2 favourites over the decades.

saltsburgtrojanfan said...

Hey thats good We finally have a credible play by play man. Nothing against Marty but he was way out of his element.

My first choice would still have been Bob Jenkins, but I like AB and his work too.

Now if ESPN can work on their camera work and showing us the racing on the track, not just the leader or the chasers.

Buschseries61 said...

I just read this on Jayski!!! YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What a great surprise!

SonicAD said...

So I finally gave up on watching NASCAR a couple months ago. Lost interest, tired of bad TV coverage, etc.

Then I see this news.

Guess I'm watching this weekend!

Anonymous said...

I'm very happy for Allen Bestwick. Good guys don't always finish last. However, I'm not a fan of Nicole.

Anonymous said...

Well, that takes care of the problems in the booth. The production is another problem. One strategy that would result in marked improvements would be this: Mount one single camera on a pole thrust into the air and waved around randomly by drunken fans. Send the video out over the air.

William said...

I hope he can live up to the expectations everyone has of him.

Jonathan said...

YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS

Awsome music to my ears LOVE IT!!!!

LOOOOVVEEE IT

Ben in N.C. said...

Bestwick is a guy that as soon as you hear his voice you think about racing. Instantly. Just Like Squire, Hall, and Jenkins amoung others. Great move. He even called the turn three heartbreak for Earnhardt at Daytona when Cope won on MRN. Awesome Move Espn

Anonymous said...

Finally, we can take ESPN seriously.

Ben in N.C. said...

Well, that takes care of the problems in the booth. The production is another problem. One strategy that would result in marked improvements would be this: Mount one single camera on a pole thrust into the air and waved around randomly by drunken fans. Send the video out over the air.


That is hilarious. And so true.

terri said...

I just got home from working 12 hours...and I came here first!

THANK YOU, JESUS!!! There is a god!!!!

Roadgeek Adam said...

Ben in N.C.: That was Bestwick?

Newracefan said...

OMG OMG OMG when I saw this on Twitter the morning I was overjoyed. AB is the man in the booth and I think Nicole does an excellent job as well. I don't compare her Indy car discussions, she is not a reported then she is a wife and I expect her to be biased. I've neve seen any issues with her when she has been doing Nascar. I have not been looking forward to ESPN taking over for the remainder of the season but now I am. I just hope he can get the cameras to look in the right place.

cheacheschong said...

About time, took a long time to figure that out. Alan should've been ther years ago.

Ben in N.C. said...

Pretty sure Roadgeek. I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Half of this is one of the best decisions ever made by this network. Allen Bestwick. I have never been a fan of Nicole Briscoe's.

Anonymous said...

Hey guys,

I wish AB all the best, he is a PRO! But if you get a new quarterback and don't change the playbook, he will be handicapped. I hope the powers that be will let Allen, be Allen and not dictate what he must do. I am happy for the move, but will withhold judgment until I see it in practice

Al

Anthony said...

Finally a good decision!!Nicole will be excellent!!

kobalt48fan said...

Great job ESPN, Love you guys, Briscoe will be a fresh addition, Spake is awesome too, she should be more involved as well!

Anonymous said...

One of the many reasons why I LOVE the NASCAR Fan Council! Can't wait to hear AB callin the action and look forward to Nicole bringing some life and common sense to Rusty and Brad!

JS said...

YESSSSSSS! Man, ESPN just got much better. Welcome Back AB!

My honest opinion is this: it wasn't that Marty Reid was bad...it's just that Allen Bestwick is arguably the best PBP guy in RACING and seems to have an endless enthusiasm about NASCAR.

I don't know about Briscoe doing the pre-race shows...I actually thought Reid might have done a good job there, but I'm not complaining seeing as The Worldwide Leader finally woke up and smelled the hair products AB was teased about using during the Inside Winston Cup days.

Vicky D said...

I'm hoping that AB can turn the ESPN broadcasts around. This has been a long time coming, I'm so glad that Bristol finally listened to the fans!

Lisa Hogan said...

I am happy that Bestwick will be in the booth for the Cup races.

If the ESPN truck doesn't show us the race, as in the past, Bestwick will make it less painful to try and follow the action on the track.

YeOldTimeNascarFan said...

This is fantastic. AB is a class act and has a real love of NASCAR racing, its history and culture. His sense of humour and relaxed style make watching the races fun and entertaining. I am now actually looking forward to ESPN's coverage, something I have not been for some time.

I simply can't stand these network assigned announcers like Reid and their fake enthusiasm and hyperbole. How many times can he say "Here we go!" in one race? You could have made a drinking game out of it. He was better than Bill "I want a better room NOW" Weber but that's like saying cat poo smells better than dog poo.
I am in a special kind of hell right now with TNT and Adam Alexander's idiotic "announcer man" voice and even dumber comments. Winners from this weekend "Driver number 39 going for the lead here in New Hampshire!" Driver 39? Forget it's Newman? And thanks for reminding us we're in New Hampshire. Really. No kidding. Never mind the fact this came after at least 5 laps of Newman trying to get under the car ahead. Or "Carl Edwards - he came to play!" I threw up in my mouth.
How many times can he call a car being passed that is actually the one doing the passing? And how many times does he need to make an observation only to be openly corrected by Kyle and Wally before he learns to just keep his thoughts to himself?

Anyhow, to the actual point of this article, AB's new role is great news.

Anonymous said...

Good grief! What took them so long??? I don't usually look forward to ESPN carrying the Cup races, but now there's something to look forward to!

Anonymous said...

I was going to call into Sirius and propose this exact thing only days ago. Reid was emotionless and ESPN has by far the worst broadcast team.

Anonymous said...

It's a great start! Now get rid of Rusty and Brad and get Ricky Craven in the pre-race. If only Ray Evernham could still help, then the coverage at ESPN might actually creep towards quality.

Anonymous said...

IT ONLY TOOK THEM, WHAT, 3 YEARS!!!!!!!!

MortonGroveDon said...

This is a good start......but lets see when the race starts. If ESPN uses the same format it has all season in the NNS, even AB wont make a difference. But you have to start somewhere, now time to trim down some more. No need for 6-7 guys in ties and jackets for one race....