Thursday, June 14, 2007

Ryan Burr Leads A "NASCAR Now" Fans Can Watch

It was the day after the big bombshell. The day after the story of the year. The day after the announcement that will start the driver dominoes falling for the rest of the NASCAR season. For the NASCAR TV networks, its time to make the donuts.

With SPEED Channel and TNT having to wait for the upcoming weekend, it was only ESPN2 and NASCAR Now that had center stage in TV land on Thursday. After a mixed effort on Wednesday that included both tremendously good and occasionally bad moments, NASCAR Now rebounded with a strong effort on this "day after."

There was no doubt that the "Earnhardt Hangover" was ringing in the head of Kyle Busch and sending him scrambling for the Goody's Powder. Host Ryan Burr introduced the first interview I have seen of Kyle since the announcement. Reporter Angelique Chengelis asked Kyle the right questions, and got very surprising answers. No doubt we will see more of this interview as the week progresses. To sum it up, Kyle's answers did not quite agree with Rick Hendrick's statements. If these two last through the season it will be amazing.

Burr brought in Tim Brewer to lend his perspective to the story, which is exactly his function on the show. He filled in the gaps, and spoke about Kyle's future and what teams need to look at before dialing his phone number. Brewer is best used in this role, and he has a great chemistry with Burr.

Veteran reporter Mike Massaro was up next with a fun profile of Nashville winner Carl Edwards and his musical interests. At last, NASCAR Now took the time to prepare a piece on a driver that did not involve him...driving. There are so many great personal stories among the NASCAR drivers that this would make a great weekly feature for NASCAR Now to "place" regularly on a Wednesday or Thursday. I wonder how many fans went directly to the Internet to check-out Carl's record label. This is the "other side" of the sport that is always fascinating for the fans to see.

Since Craftsman sponsored a segment of this show, we saw Truck Series driver and ironman Mike Skinner interviewed by phone. Burr is smooth, knows his stuff, and made Skinner feel right at home. Mike is beginning to define the kind of driver that goes to, and stays in, the Truck Series. It would be great to have a Truck Series featured interview each week on the same night, so fans of that series would know where to catch their favorite drivers.

Time-and-time again Vault Cola has sponsored a confusing segment called "driver pick'ems." One expert, in this case Tim Brewer, is asked to pick one driver over another in the upcoming Cup race. Brewer is very polite, and did his duty, but basically he just handicaps who looks strong and who has work to do. Maybe picking the top five or top ten finishers would be more fun, because at least that would...make sense. Once these "pick'ems" are done, we never see or hear about them again.

Awful nice to have a fast-paced show led by a television professional like Ryan Burr. He sets a tone and pace that allows a lot of information to get to viewers in thirty minutes. Burr is very popular, and perhaps we will see him on more episodes of NASCAR Now. This was an entertaining and interesting episode that featured two good journalists in Massaro and Chengelis, and one good analyst in Brewer. There was no shouting, no hype, and no one could question the integrity of the information that was presented.

TV Notes: With the Trucks and Busch Series running on Saturday, and Cup on the high banks of Michigan on Sunday, it should be an interesting weekend with all three NASCAR TV partners originating pre-race shows and event coverage. NASCAR Now's Mike Massaro will be hosting the qualifying and NASCAR Countdown show for ESPN from Kentucky. Look for a special feature on SPEED's RaceDay on Sunday that you might want to watch with your dad.

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