Sunday, September 4, 2011
Roush Says Edwards Headed To ESPN
Update: In the post-race comments after the MIS Sprint Cup Series race, Rusty Wallace said "Our Carl Edwards" when speaking as an ESPN analyst. This further reinforces the comments below that Jack Roush offered after the Iowa Nationwide Series race that Edwards is headed for ESPN full-time next year to work on the Nationwide Series telecasts.
We don't normally get to see the post-race press conferences for the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. NASCAR.com only provides that service for the Sprint Cup Series races.
Luckily, Iowa Speedway put together a UStream.com feed so that the post-race from the Saturday night Nationwide Series race would be available to fans via the Internet.
It was an exciting finish, so many fans wanted to hear more from Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Carl Edwards than ESPN had provided in a brief post-race show.
Alongside of race winner Stenhouse was owner Jack Roush. The few media members there wanted to know more about the building tension between young hot shoe Stenhouse and the veteran Edwards. Roush said this year he would handle it, but then came to the topic of 2012.
"I think he's (Carl) made his decision," said Roush. "I think he is going to become a sportscaster for ESPN for the Nationwide Series races. I'm not sure if he is going to just do the companion races or all the races."
The small amount of reporters at the Iowa Speedway did not even follow that comment up with a question. Roush was simply trying to tell the media why Stenhouse would not have the same type of problems with Edwards in the future.
In answering that question, Roush may have accidentally revealed part of ESPN's plans to have new and fresh faces in the TV booth when the Nationwide Series welcomes Danica Patrick and Travis Pastrana in 2012.
Click here for the video link of the post-race comments. Roush talks about Edwards ten minutes into this clip. After the commercial, you can skip ahead using the slider control on the bottom of the page.
Edwards has been all over ESPN this season and many of us wondered why. Saturday, he was present on the air in the Infield Pit Studio as his fellow Sprint Cup Series drivers qualified on TV. While Edwards is glib and likable on television, his presence while also an active driver is awkward.
In the rapidly changing world of media, we have seen ESPN gravitate toward embracing more active athletes this season and actually putting them on TV to comment on their own sport. NASCAR Now has been regularly bringing in drivers, including Paul Menard after the Brickyard, to the one-hour Monday show.
Edwards in many ways is just like all the other top Sprint Cup Series drivers. He has both a strong fan base and a pretty significant group of folks who are not on his bandwagon. Along with Junior, Jimmie, Kyle and Jeff there are always strong opinions when Edwards is the topic.
The most interesting part of the Roush comments is the fact that ESPN does not currently have different on-air talent for the Nationwide Series races. Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree work the TV booth while Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty handle the infield pit studio.
The Sprint Cup Series race coverage does not begin until late July for ESPN and the same team of announcers handles the companion events. It is only the few standalone Nationwide Series races after July that have different on-air talent.
Jarrett is the face of NASCAR on ESPN. Wallace just had his contract extended to 2014 by the network. Those are the only two former drivers on the TV team. Daugherty is an owner and Petree a former owner and crew chief. There is no slot for Edwards without a major revamping of the entire team.
If Daugherty were to leave, that would put Edwards side-by-side with Wallace in the infield. They would be exchanging observations on a series in which Edwards routinely roughed-up Steven Wallace and left him in the dust. The elder Wallace is not the biggest Edwards fan.
Roush was clear that Edwards would be working in the field, not the studio and that he would not be a reporter, but a sportscaster. To most of us, that means in the TV booth. We will be asking ESPN for reaction to the Roush comments and will update this post Sunday.
In the meantime, we welcome your comments on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.