Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Edwards Moves Into ESPN TV Booth

This Wednesday a simple press release went out from ESPN about the upcoming Nationwide Series coverage from Darlington, SC. The actual content was anything but simple.

Lead Analyst Dale Jarrett is taking the weekend off and joining Allen Bestwick and Andy Petree in the TV booth for qualifying and race coverage on ESPN2 will be Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards. He will also be in that role for the June 29th race at Kentucky Speedway.

"Having a past NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and active NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the booth will certainly bring some unique perspective to our viewers,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president of motorsports. “We have a very strong on-air team for NASCAR and this addition makes it even stronger."

It was September of 2011 when Jack Roush was answering questions at Iowa Speedway. He was asked about the budding Nationwide Series rivalry between two of his drivers, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Edwards. "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 (in 2012). I'm not sure if he is going to just do the companion races or all the races."

That started the speculation that Edwards was following up on his frequent TV appearances during the 2011 season on both TNT and ESPN with an expanded role in 2012. Then, Edwards himself addressed that issue before the start of the current season. He spoke to Insider Racing News reporter Becca Gladden while in the Phoenix area for a golf tournament.

Gladden: Will you be spending more time in the broadcast booth on ESPN in the Nationwide Series this year?

Edwards: We haven’t made a final deal and there’s really no ‘deal’ – you know, it’s not a money deal or anything like that. It just basically comes down to time. If there are weekends where I can go up there and help the broadcast and they’ll let me do it, then I’d love to do it, but I don’t know if I’ll do one race or ten races …

Gladden: There was a rumor out there that you were cutting back on driving in the Nationwide Series in order to do more TV broadcasts.

Edwards: No, that was not my intention. Number one for me is to win the Cup championship. But, I do think – after thinking about it a little bit – I think that I might actually be able to learn some things being up there in the broadcast booth, to be able to watch the races that closely. Sometimes you see things up there that you don’t see either on television or in the race car. So, if it turns out to be something like that, I might do a lot more of them.

Well, the time is now and Edwards is heading into the highest-profile role on ESPN's motorsports coverage with no experience. Well, TV booth experience that is. Edwards is a past Nationwide Series champion and has also spent a lot of quality time over the past season or two popping-up in various support roles on ESPN.

Darlington's Nationwide Series race will feature the typical battle between the Sprint Cup Series cross-over drivers and the Nationwide regulars. Sprinkled in will be stories like Danica Patrick tackling the track and veteran Jeff Green stepping in for Eric McClure, who was injured in a Talledega crash.

The Infield Pit Studio will also return for Darlington so Edwards will be interacting with Rusty Wallace, Brad Daugherty and Nicole Briscoe before, during and after the race. ESPN's four pit reporters will also be working, so Edwards will basically be in the key position with a full NASCAR on ESPN TV team at his disposal as the Lead Analyst.

Several times since the season began Edwards has specifically pointed out that his goal this year is to win the Sprint Cup Series Championship and stay focused. Now ten races in, he is 11th in points without a win and has two-time winner Brad Keselowski only one point behind him in the standings.

The interesting TV note this weekend is that the Nationwide Series telecast will have an active Sprint Cup Series driver as the Lead Analyst in the TV booth while the Sprint Cup Series coverage will have a multi-car Cup team owner and part-time driver as the Infield Analyst in the Hollywood Hotel.

All of this points to the struggles of the TV partners to capture and keep the attention of the fan base in the era of online radio streaming, real time social media coverage and the easy recording of live events via the DVR. It should be interesting to watch the fan and media reaction to Edwards on TV this weekend.

We welcome your thoughts on this topic. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

64 comments:

Buschseries61 said...

I don't like Edwards but I don't mind him doing the Nationwide races. He doesn't own a team in the series, so there's not much of a conflict.

Also I've been curious to see how the booth would work without Jarrett. I will find out this weekend...

Anonymous said...

This guy is the next DW.

Anonymous said...

I have enjoyed not seeing Carl all the time this year. He was way overexposed last year. Looks like he is back. Too bad.

Anonymous said...

Carl loves himself too much, not interested in Eddie Haskel at all. He just has this phony vibe, that my Bs meter picks up a mile away.
Creepy.

Paul said...

I've enjoyed the active drivers who have been in the booth this year so far. I thought Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin did a good job calling the K&N Pro Series East and Denny Hamlin charity races at Richmond a few weeks ago on SPEED.

Also I think Michael Waltrip does a great job when calling the Camping World Truck Series on SPEED. Of course, in MW's case, he's surrounded with great talents in Rick Allen, Phil Parsons, and Ray Dunlap; so Michael's "wackiness" isn't a distraction.

I don't mind Carl, though I agree that he is overexposed and gets far too much air time. He doesn't come across as being full of himself. He's kind of like Kasey Kahne, in that he gets a lot of attention for his looks, not because he goes out looking for it.

I'm curious to see how the Nationwide race will be covered with Carl in the booth. Also, we may find out how valuable DJ really is when he's not there.

Anonymous said...

I think Carl does okay, but would ratther see Everham or Craven. MC

Teena said...

Don't like it. Most Nascar fans know that Carl Edwards is not real. The media loves him because he makes all the right moves, he is so fake. I remember one of his team members saying , "We never know what Carl we are going to see."







Carl we a


re goin

Anonymous said...

I agree with anonymous that called Edwards Eddie Haskell;I am sure all the drivers he has harrassed will agree with that name. To me, Cousin Carl is being rewarded for bad behavior: Brad, Junior, Matt, Harvick.All these incidents can be found on You Tube.I don't think any car owner, and especially drivers,should be in the booth, talking about their competition.

Anonymous said...

anon 7:59--while I'm not a big fan of Carl's, you could also find bad behavior from all the people you mention...who've all been in trouble at one point or other. Harvick himself was *suspended* once for his bad behavior, but I think he might be good in the booth too if he was interested now that he's no longer an owner.

I don't think Carl is phony. I think he is what he is at that moment, which I could see why people would interpret it that way; but I think it's true for him. I also think he become a better person since marriage & kids, and we haven't seen that weird sense of anger in a long while...heck, even Tony Stewart stopped kicking tape recorders....

Like him or hate him, Carl's good on TV--I thought he tried to be objective & fair, but time will tell if he goes too heavy on the sponsor mentioning like Mikey. With two others in the booth, I am less likely to object to a 'color guy' as others have done the same. Ownership is a little different, and we'll have to see how, say, he speaks of Stenhouse or other Roush guys.

Anonymous said...

ESPN loves him because he doesn't have a Southern Drawl. He will bring nothing to the telecast. Much like Ricky Craven. Yawn.

Anonymous said...

Carl is not one of my top drivers, but I say, let's give him a chance going forward. I'm familiar with essentially all of the 'incidents' referenced above involving other drivers. There's high probability that Carl won't be as bad as many of the other talking heads we have had to suffer through. Let's just see how he handles the next few races. I've long believed that when Harvick straps a helmet on that he engages a 'stupid' switch with what he says/does, but he's been in the booth a number of times and has done an excellent job, in my opinion. For this weekend, I'm going to try to find a "Danica" filter for my big TV. If I'm lucky, I'll find a combo filter that drowns out Joy,DW and the Princess. One can only hope......

MRM4 said...

I don't think any active car owner or driver should be a part of a broadcast unless they come in for a few minutes. The only exception I would put on that is when they're calling a race they have no vested interest in or none of their fellow competitors are in - such as Hamlin calling his charity race at Richmond.

I am against it because it takes away from their ability to be critical of their own team and drivers. They need to be objective and cannot be. Mikey, who loves to talk, said nothing about his driver, Clint Bowyer, running into Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson at Martinsville. That is when you need someone to say who they think was right or wrong in that situation. Instead, Waltrip said nothing.

The networks don't let active owners in other sports be on their broadcasts as an analyst. Why is NASCAR different to them? That would be like letting Mark Cuban call a Lakers game or Jerry Jones call a Giants game.

What is Edwards going to do if Ricky Stenhouse, another Roush driver, does something stupid? Is he going take up for him and be a total sheep or is he going to be critical and have Roush ot Stenhouse ask him later why he's not taking up for a "teammate"? There are no negatives than they are positives. There are plenty of good retired drivers and car owners that could fill in when needed.

Garry said...

Side note: Yet another driver issues a comment that fans want wrecks. Enter Ryan Newman. Here's an open letter to drivers, including Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman. Shut your mouths. Stop talking down to the people that pay your salaries. As far as Edwards, I'm not keen on a current owner/driver in the booth at all. If Stenhouse wrecks Patrick, what commentary will Edwards have then? He clearly doesn't like Ricky, even though he is a "team mate", and no one likes Panica.

Anonymous said...

How do we know what Carl is going to say about his 'teammates' until he does? Just saying...I don't think you can assume everyone is going to 'be like Mikey' or Rusty. God forbid. OTOH...I wonder sometimes if the network tells them *not* to say anything if their driver/team is involved in something--with the idea that saying nothing is neutral. Which is kind of *is* provided the other analysts describe things honestly. That is where we have an issue.

53 yr. fan said...

Unbelievable that with Ricky Craven and Randy Lajoie available
that ESPN brings in Edwards.

m said...

John, This is off topic but, did you notice that the number of total commercials (215) equaled the total minutes (215) of the broadcast? That from Jayski. Interesting.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Pretty interesting. Usually one-third commercials, two-thirds show.

Anonymous said...

I personally don't care for Edwards and probably won't watch the Nationwide, just record and fast forward through it later. But the media thinks he is good looking and clean and that is enough to get him the job. Too bad. Looking forward to the Cup race on Saturday.

OSBORNK said...

Maybe they are using Carl as the anti-Redneck so they can say they have balance in their broadcasts. I'm neutral on Carl and I can tune him out like I do the Wal groups if he gets on my nerves. Maybe he will do well and I will listen.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I'm just bummed for Ricky Craven. He has worked hard for ESPN and done whatever they asked. Like to have someine in the booth without a dog in the fight.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Oops..."someone"

glenc1 said...

I'm sure Ricky isn't flashy enough or current enough for the trendy ESPN people...
:(

But the truth is, even in other sports, sometimes the analysts do have publicity and charity work they do for former teams, so I don't know that we can call them all objective either.

Anonymous said...

Edwards is exactly what NA$CAR doesn't need now...a fake spokeman for "all that is good with the boring racing". This guy is about as genuine as the Waltrip huksters, meaning, not at all.

KoHoSo said...

I have very mixed emotions about Carl being on the broadcast. On a personal level, like many others, I haven't forgotten about how Tony Stewart dubbed him as Eddie Haskell and I am also not a fan of his make or team. On a broadcasting level, it does bring up one heck of a conflict of interest (among the many we have these days) and leaving Ricky Craven on the bench in order to do this is also painful to see.

However, I have to also admit that Carl has done extremely well during the times I have seen him in an expanded role on a NASCAR telecast. He has been informative, communicates well, hasn't done too much in the way of self-promotion, and seems to know how to make his point in a succinct manner and then let others talk.

Despite the possible "dangers" and my personal opinions about Carl as a driver, my ultimate opinion at this time is the way I look at people in general. Carl's broadcasting work should be judged solely upon how he handles it and not be colored by how some others have handled conflicts so badly. As I have said here before, racing is such a big, close-knit family that it is hard for anybody not to have what could be considered a conflict of interest somewhere in his or her life. To me, the test will be whether the man properly separates Carl the Driver from Carl the TV Color Announcer. If he can accomplish that and earn our trust...while I would hate to see Craven left behind more often, I cannot blame ESPN for putting Carl in the booth to help boost ratings as that is indeed the name of the game as far as TV is concerned.

JMHO

Buschseries61 said...

I think Craven would be better in the infield JD. Things change fast on the track, and Craven’s thought-out comments tended to turn into monologues in past booth experiences. He’s great at explaining different perspectives, he’s observant, and in general knows his stuff. That's a valuable asset needed by the currently useless ESPN infield studio. Brad and Rusty following a script and agreeing with everything Nicole says is a waste of time and money. Switch Brad with Ricky and let Brad go down with the sinking ship in Connecticut.

Anonymous said...

I find Ricky Craven to be very good at his job in the booth. I enjoy his knowledge and passion and is the REAL DEAL..not fake Carl. RICKY CRAVEN!

Anonymous said...

Another talking head,cream puff questions,instant mashed potato answers.Above all,never,ever, question Nascar policy.More mind numbing blather!

Anonymous said...

And who better for Darlington that Ricky!

Andrew said...

I'm going to give Carl a fair shake on this evening's broadcast. Why not? Years ago, ESPN and other networks used to include Cup drivers in the booth for Busch races - and many folks enjoyed it. I think Carl will add some insight to tonight's race. We'll have to wait and see, though.

longtimeracefan said...

Having one of the current top drivers in NASCAR do a couple of fill-in gigs for the Nationwide series is a good thing for the sport.

Sure, if you're not a fan of Carl, then it's understandable if you're not too keen on the idea. But ESPN's ratings for the Nationwide series are up this YTD, and they are looking for new talent to maintain that up tick trend.

It will be interesting to read the comments here after tonight's race.

Also, congrats JD on your upcoming SiriusXM radio guest spot on Sunday. Looking forward to what you have to say.

Tracy D said...

Ricky Craven is so darned good in the booth. Why the heck don't we see more of him???
Carl Fakewords. Ugh.

Charlie Spencer said...

Buschseries61 opened this discussion with two concise sentences that sum it all up nicely. He's not an owner in any series, has no conflicts of interest, and his experience in the Nationwide series is certainly more up to date than anyone else in the booth for any NASCAR TV partner.

Charlie Spencer said...

Addendum: I do agree with those who would prefer to see Ricky Craven. However, we weren't asked our 'druthers'. (How's that for Southern?)

PS - wilicin cymobera sounds like a girl I might have dated in jr. high., a girl with hippie parents.

Garry said...

God Speed to Carroll Shelby. A moment of silence in memoriam.

w17scott said...

Mr Editor -
Disappointed, but not surprised with ESPN's choice ...with Evernham, Craven and Lajoie in the house, 'personality cult' take precedence over substantive analysts ...mute button also works for the four-letter gang
Walter

Joj said...

Carl is not worth much commentary & this is a family site so I'll let it go with 1 simple sentence -

Just not going to bother watching.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Just using this post to comment on the ESPN2 coverage tonight.

Andrew said...

Did anybody else notice that the Racebuddy commercial used some old Speedvision theme music?

Good broadcast so far. Hopefully ESPN keeps up its recent trend of not using the "Pit Studio" during the race. That makes a world of difference in the quality of the show. A little disjointed so far, but that's to be expected with a lengthy caution to kick off things.

Andrew said...

The segment between the first and second caution quickly became overrun by some tight-shots. It's more frustrating than normal because the booth and pit reporters are doing a pretty good jobs - and that effort is being wasted.

Buschseries61 said...

I haven't noticed a major difference between Carl Edwards and Dale Jarrett. Maybe they are both just playing the same role designed by Disney.

I do sense a bit of a problem with Edwards in the booth. Edwards radio chatting with his Cup competitors is a little awkward. Drivers aren't going to tell the booth much, but I'm sure they're going to tell the guy they are racing Sunday even less.

Buschseries61 said...

Man, the infield studio just kills the momentum of the broadcast. Talk about what's happening now under green, not 10 laps ago, not the final lap that is over an hour away.

ESPN needs to talk about all the drivers in the race and the action on the track right now. Taylor Malsam just pulled off the track on RaceBuddy, nothing on ESPN. I tuned in around lap 30, nearly a dozen cars were off the track at that point - a dozen in 30 laps? Does ESPN explain why? No.

Instead we are car hopping to the storyline drivers to endlessly analyze them and pull out some stats. BORING.

Buschseries61 said...

This is just sad. There's no excitement in this. The only excitement in the broadcast is played in replay.

ESPN missed Erik Darnell going behind the wall. ESPN missed Justin Allgaier coming down pit road. ESPN comes back from commercial their giant NBA promo blocks the view of a pit stop going on in the background.

Stop yelling Alan said...

Attention Alan : I know that they taught you to be a good
announcer at the cut rate school
but you dont HAVE TO YELL every time u think you are making a
point.
In fact - talk like a normal
human being would be a good
start.
U know talk like Cousin Carl ..
good idea right .. good nite

Anonymous said...

I have lost interest in the race. Oh, I'm still monitoring the progress, but the sound is muted and I am surfing websites like this one to amuse myself. ESPN just is not interested in the same aspects of a race as I am, it seems. Racing from an engineers viewpoint versus racing from a liberal arts major viewpoint I guess.

Buschseries61 said...

Kurt Busch hits the wall up in the corner of the screen, Carl Edwards asks for a replay to see what happened since we couldn't see.

Brendan Gaughan hits the wall, ESPN shows a replay, and Carl wonders why the tire failed.

Carl's questions/concerns are matching the fans. If Carl gets ESPN to wake up, I'd swallow a bitter pill and say let him do more races.

Buschseries61 said...

Vince was just clueless in that report on Elliott Sadler.

Garry said...

Why oh why are Cup guys in a Nationide race? They once again changed the outcome of a race, when they shouldn't be there. Logano once again wrecks people to get ahead. This is his last year in Cup anyway.

Garry said...

If NASCAR won't give Cup guys points in NNS races, then why do the NNS regulars get second place or third place etc. points if a Cup guy finishes ahead of them? If there are no points awarded to a Cup guy, then they shouldn't take away from a NNS driver's points. Right?

longtimeracefan said...

Pretty good broadcast tonight.

Anonymous said...

I'd say Carl was great. A good addition to the broadcast.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a fan of Carl Edwards, but I thought he did an excellent job calling the NNS race. The advantage of having a current driver in the booth is that they know every ripple in the track and what strategies work and which ones don't. I can remember when DJ replaced Rusty for some races while DJ was still driving. Instead of vague generalities, DJ was talking about specifics about the car's setups,etc. The tough part for Carl will be when Nascar screws up or his team mates do something dumb. Actually, it'll be interesting to see how he handles other Cup drivers screwing up in the NNS races. Carl was even gracious about Brad K and admitted he was biased about Stenhouse. Let's try Carl again is where I'm at.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed the broadcast and thought Carl did a very decent job. I cannot describe how much not having DW made the broadcast so enjoyable. MC

AncientRacer said...

I thought Carl an asset to the broadcast. He did what a color commentator should do in the booth.

Was interested to see he showed up in a three-button suit coat fully buttoned. I believe that may have been a #Blazergate first.

I did note he admitted a bias once when talking about Ricky Stenhouse but he did so in a disarming way that fit right in. So very different from … oh, well … you know.

Garry said...

What I liked was there were a few instances where there was long silence, almost a lap and a half where NO ONE talked. Beautiful!! See Darrell? You don't always have to flap your mouth every second. It was great!

Anonymous said...

Guess this is one of the reasons this 62 year old life long fan up until a few years ago has almost zero interest in Nascar---I remember the days of Fireball Roberts and his Pontiacs like yesterday---yet can not tell you much about the current state of Nascar---

Anonymous said...

To all the Carl Edwards detractors and I would have been one had I known he was going into the booth, he did a very credible, unobtrusive job unlike the Waltrips and Rusty who give me goosebumps like I would get from fingernails dragged across a blackboard

Anonymous said...

I'd trade Carl for Durrell and Joy in a heartbeat and save Fox a ton of money. Carl showed what is possible if only the suits could recognize it!!

Anonymous said...

West Coast Diane said:

Not a Carl fan. Although I will admit that since marriage & kids and not doing the buffed up tough guy, his deameanor has changed.

With that said, he did very well in the booth. He has a pleasant voice. Which means, to me, you can watch the race and choose to listen to him or not. This is unlike DW & Mikey, where they speak in a loud, always excited manor which detracts from focusing on the race.

I too, have an issue with the conflict part. Not sure that part will ever go away.

Carl has a long way to go to retiring from racing, but, if racing is still around, he will have a future in the booth.

Lisa Hogan said...

I recorded the race and watched it this morning. Since I FF through the fluff, my frustration meter was not pegged. :)
I thought that Carl did fine in the booth.
I appreciate the fact that the Danica and Travis camera shots were kept within reason.

O.K. I am going for my fifth try to post and prove that I'm not a robot!

Sally said...

Not being a Carl Edwards fan, I was pleasantly surprised at how well he did in the booth. His reasonable tome of voice is much easier to listen to than the over-the-top rantings of the Waltrips. He admitted to any biases, and even managed to be neutral about Brad K. All in all, a most pleasant and informative broadcast.

Anonymous said...

I watched and LISTENED to the entire race while recording it and watched the last half again today. The irony of it all was that Carl made it look easy. Straight and to the point, no BS, no self promotion and he didn't contradict himself every three minutes while his colleague buried us in mindless trivia. The big lottery question for tonight is how many times we're going to hear about the minnow pond???

Stick with the Biff said...

I echo the sentiments...I thought Carl did his best to make it clear Ricky was a 'teammate' so to speak and even laughed about his history with Brad. He tried to contribute in a positive way, not just talk to hear himself. I do think Carl has changed on a personal level (and I am a Biffle fan who was very put off by Carl back in his "Eddie Haskell" days--as was Biffle.) At least he is not an owner, disclosed his affiliation & tried to be objective in his comments, unlike certain other broadcasters we know.

Anonymous said...

For those of us that enjoyed Carl's analysis and pxp last night, keep that in mind tonight as we listen to Kenny Wallace, Kyle Petty,Rusty, Big Brad, the Waltrips and Mike Joy.

Anonymous said...

Carl wasn't right, he sounded muted and off, which was o.k. in my book, can't stand him...