Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ESPN Sets NASCAR Starting Line-Ups

This is season number six of NASCAR on ESPN. Along the way, there have been ups and downs as there always are in any major event series on national TV. This year, the core of the line-up is returning but there are some changes.

Heading into Daytona, it will be Allen Bestwick stepping into the Lead Announcer role in the TV booth replacing Marty Reid. Last year, Bestwick was inserted into this role just before ESPN's Chase coverage began.

Reid was relegated to the Nationwide Series races for the remainder of the season, but is not returning for Daytona. Reid's name is listed as an occasional host for the NASCAR Now program, but expect to see him back on ESPN's IndyCar races and working select Nationwide Series telecasts in the booth.

Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree are the workhorses for ESPN's NASCAR coverage. Petree has been there for the duration with Jarrett now firmly entrenched in a role the network first gave to Rusty Wallace. The current pairing is working just fine.

Wallace continues his role as an infield analyst alongside Brad Daugherty on the NASCAR Countdown program hosted by Nicole Briscoe. This season Daugherty continues as a Sprint Cup Series owner, but Wallace had to put his Nationwide efforts on hold. That was especially difficult for him as it left several family members, including son Steven, unemployed.

Briscoe has proven effective in the role of getting comments on specific topics from the infield analysts without clogging up the live telecasts as ESPN tended to do in the past. She has also proven to be a trooper during rain delays and even weathered the emotional storm after friend and IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon lost his life in a racing accident.

Dr. Jerry Punch told Scenedaily.com that he has settled his differences with Kurt Busch after an incident last year that ultimately cost Busch his ride. Punch returns to anchor the same pit road crew of Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Dave Burns. Expect to see Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake in these roles as well as the season progresses.

Briscoe and Massaro will once again team up to host NASCAR Now from ESPN2's Bristol, CT headquarters. We mentioned Reid may also appear, as will in-house ESPN announcers Lindsay Czarniak, Mike Yam and Michelle Bonner.

Marty Smith returns as Lead Reporter with Spake also working for the show on the road. Contributors include Ryan McGee, Terry Blount, David Newton, Ed Hinton and former pit crew member D.J. Copp.

To add a little zest to the weekend preview version of NASCAR Now, ESPN hired AJ Allmendinger as a field reporter. His Daily Dinger feature will air on the weekend show and contain offbeat interviews with anyone and everyone he finds interesting.

ESPN announced this week the network extended the contract of analyst Ricky Craven. He will continue to work the weekend NASCAR Now shows from the studio as well as other programs during the week on other ESPN Networks. Craven also gets out of the office as he will work in the TV booth for five Nationwide Series races.

The two names expected to be included in the starting line-ups were Carl Edwards and Ray Evernham. Jack Roush flatly said last season that the reason Edwards will stop racing in the Nationwide Series in 2012 is to move into the booth with ESPN and become a "sportscaster."

Edwards most recent comments on the topic came to reporter Becca Gladden in an interview while Edwards was working on the air for the Golf Channel in Scottsdale, AZ. Edwards clearly enjoys TV work, but told Gladden his focus is driving in the Sprint Cup Series this season.

Evernham is a mystery. He says that he is finalizing some TV plans that will be announced soon, but is not named in ESPN's official news release. We do know that Evernham will not be back on SpeedCenter over on SPEED, where he has been replaced by Ricky Rudd.

Word on the street was that Evernham was rejoining ESPN in an analyst role that would keep him in the mix but not take up too much of his time. Since the one-hour Monday NASCAR Now show is gone, Evernham would be a natural for joining the mix either in the TV booth or infield as the season went along. We will keep you posted.

Finally, we have to celebrate the fact that Tim Brewer is ready for another season of being locked in the Tech Garage for the duration of the races with parts and pieces ready to go in case something happens on the track. Brewer puts a lot of time and effort into his work and has become something of a cult classic on ESPN's coverage.

There are three years remaining in the current NASCAR TV contract with negotiations expected to begin for a new agreement this season. Whether or not ESPN returns depends on a lot of factors, but NASCAR Chairman Brian France has said he would like ESPN to continue in the sport.

We welcome your comments on ESPN's starting line-ups for this season's NASCAR coverage. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.


Buschseries61 said...

Besides AB, blah. Another year, more of the same. I'm underwhelmed.

Anonymous said...

I still think Brewer is in his basement or Flossies Basement.. Okay I am kidding but it is bizarre he is never seen with anyone else during the broadcast ever..

Anonymous said...

Dang, see and hear too much of Carl Edwards now, he is too much mouthand you can tell by looking at him , he is oozing all over himselfwhen he runs up to the booth to get his face on T.V

RPM said...

Please, please let somebody else pick up ESPN's contract when it's up. They could screw up a sand pile with a ball pein hammer.

Anonymous said...

I am with B61 - "blah. Another year, more of the same. I'm underwhelmed." Tell me the race producer and director will be replaced and I would have some hope. MC

Anonymous said...

There's no way ESPN actually hauls Brewer to the track to do those segments, I think it's just a backroom at Whiskey River, he sits in bar and watches race and when he hears his name he runs in back for the segment. If he's actually AT the track somebody at ESPN has no clue what they're doing, Green Acres looked more like a real farm (even though you could see the seams in the wall that had sky/clouds painted on it) then it looks like he's at a racetrack

Garry in Colorado said...

Fully expect ESPN to send immediately The Good Doctor down to Kurt Busch's pit and do an interview asap. Make no bones about it, that will be must see t.v. regardless of the conversation each had over the Thanksgiving weekend. I like Tim Brewer, but sometimes I wonder if the Tech Garage is actually at the track or back in Connecticut? We'll see what season six brings, but I'm pretty sure by Fontana, I'll be watching my paint dry and grass grow...

Anonymous said...

Tim "fumble-phrase" Brewer? Forget his stage presence, his inability to convey technical concepts should have disqualified him from any on-screen role years ago. Where's Mona Lisa Vito when you need her?

glenc1 said...

I don't get this whole Carl Edwards deal. Maybe it's money, maybe it's the amount of time to be spent, but you'd think by now they'd know if he was in or out. The Dinger segment is out of left field...it'll be interesting to see how that turns out. But in general, I don't have issues with the on air talent now, so much as the way these productions are done, and we've gone on & on about to no avail. The best on air people in the world can't fix a badly produced race.

Probably something only his mother would care about, but I think Steve Wallace is 'Stephen', not Steven.

AncientRacer said...

Over / Under anyone on how often Tim will explain what Throttle Body Fuel Injection is and how it works -- just during Speedweeks?

Book is open!

PS: Sorry, but we have closed the betting on Brewer explaining "Why NASCAR mandates tires be round."

Anonymous said...

Is there anyone on this planet that needs to see another Geico / Progressive / Allstate etc. commercial ? Unless they sell Anti Waltrip announcing insurance. I'd buy into that. The rest of them are sort of OK. Just keep us from enduring any more of the two blabbermouths. You could also lose the dippy dames. Give us more of the contenders each race and less of Danicant/Daniwont.

GinaV24 said...

LOL, I think the same as buschseries61.

Brian wants ESPN to continue - of course he does, they pay lots of $. Since BZF never actually watches the races on TV, the bad coverage doesn't affect him. I try to avoid watching ESPN since other than AB calling the race, it's a wasteland for NASCAR.

Meantime the fans are left to fend for themselves.

Roland said...

Status quo was not the way to go. I was hoping for some changes, didnt happen. MRN/PRN for me for the Marty races.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Editor, A. Bestwick did all the Cup races for ESPN last year, starting with the Brickyard, not just the chase races. Marty Reid did not do any Cup races.

As for Carl Edwards, this has been much ado about nothing. Roush tosses off an off-hand comment and suddenly Carl's supposedly doing PXP or color commentary on every NNS race. I take Carl at his word, if he's not racing and he's asked to, he'll come up to the infield studio and hang awhile.

AveryNH said...

Glad they got rid of reid for the most part. Now dump Wallace and you'd have a somewhat enjoyable brodcast. I love AB DJ and Andy together. Pit road is decent and Nicole is devolving. Can't wait for brewers two cents, "that's right AB, when a wheel turns it rotates in a circle. Back to you AB"

Daly Planet Editor said...

Bestwick was inserted days before Cup coverage began. The plan was originally to keep Reid in the PXP role. Reid had no idea it was coming.

Edwards cleared his schedule to do TV. How and why he suddenly found a desire to focus on Cup should be a good story.

My feeling is that it won't take long for him to get the TV itch again.

Dot said...

I remember a couple of races that showed T Brewer telling us something in his segments that had nothing to do with what was going on on the track. That's how you can tell BSPN scripts his segments. If I wonder about something during the race, I just ask my twitter friends and get an answer. Twitter has made Brewer obsolete.

I agree with Anon 8:28AM who wrote "There's no way ESPN actually hauls Brewer to the track to do those segments, I think it's just a backroom at Whiskey River, he sits in bar and watches race and when he hears his name he runs in back for the segment." LOL

OSBORNK said...

I don't think Tim Brewer is at the races and I don't see a need for him to be there. They can (and I suspect they do) take two or three days and tape a bunch of his segments. He can do several on each topic. When something happens on the track or the race gets boring, they can simply go to the tape and use Tim's filler material. He just needs to stay out of sight on race days. His information is generic, inapplicable to the situation in the race or not informative anyway.

Anonymous said...

I am with Anon @0615...we need Mona Lisa Vito! LOL!

Anonymous said...

Ray Evernham is a mystery no longer.
ESPN.com just posted that Evernham is returning to ESPN this season.

Bobby O said...

Sorry, I still miss BP!

Veri word worksis....ahhhh!

Workwife is better!

Who in there right mind wants another sis?

BS61, you are nuts!

Anonymous said...

Like Bill Gates said many times " That Steve Jobs caught us flatfooted again" Seems that same way for FOX/ SPEED again. To let ESPN get him, with his great commentary and stick with the poor Hammond, Waltrip, and MacScreach babble makes me sick. At least those Craven, Evernham NASCAR NOW shows will be informatiive,interesting and fun. David HIll may be the least qualified executive on the planet.

Anonymous said...

headline to johnnie skipper
no one cares

nan said...

So basically, ESPN will have nine thousand different people covering Nascar.

SD80MAC said...

I agree with one of the previous posters...there is absolutely nothing that even the best on camera talent can do to fix ESPN's danged "story telling" way of scripting the race coverage. Alan Bestwick, Andy Petree, Nicole Briscoe and the Pit Road reporters are as good as it gets. I find Wallace totally obnoxious and Dale Jarrett boring (if only he could express the excitement Gentleman Ned did when he was in the booth!). I just ignore Tim Brewer. He is not there for us die-hard race fans - he is there to explain things to the layman that has no knowledge of race cars. As long as ESPN continues with the story telling crap, I will be switching back and forth with SiriusXM and muting the TV.

SD80MAC said...

Off topic, but this HAS to be said! Since when does a question end with a period instead of a question mark? That, and words dropped to compress for space is expected on Twitter, but totally unneeded in print and online media.

I frequently read through a lot of the article links on Jayski.com. 2 of the dozen or more I read tonight were terrible, not for the topic or opinions presented, but for the grammar and obvious ignorance of the need for proof reading. Out of respect for journalists in general, I will not post direct links, but there are a couple in Jayski's February 15 list that suggest the writer needs to go back to grade school for retraining!

One article in particular had multiple questions that ended with periods, sentences with incorrect hyphenation and sentences with blatantly obvious missing words. That particular article contained a paragraph commenting about social media with a suggestion by the writer to "Use those thumbs judiciously.". Looks to me like the writer needs to be a bit more careful about the use of elbows!

Charlie said...

Looks like Espn is staying with what they figured worked best. I would say if you asked Espn about last season and how it was covered they would say they did a fine job.
I figure will we get more of the same this season. Scripted races with tight, tight camera shots.

If Espn keeps losing viewers and fans won't that make the next contract price a lot lower?