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?