Thursday, September 20, 2007

Brad Daugherty Replaces Andy Petree For Dover Busch Race

The NASCAR on ESPN team will change slightly for the Busch Series events at Dover and Kansas City. Brad Daugherty will join Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth as an analyst during both events.

This Saturday at Dover, Andy Petree will step aside and Daugherty will join Rusty Wallace and Punch as the announce team. On the Kansas City race, Wallace will take a break and Daugherty will work with Punch and Andy Petree.

As you may remember from an earlier Daly Planet column, Daugherty moved up to the booth from the infield during both the practice and qualifying shows on ESPN2 at Richmond.

This season, Daugherty has been fighting an uphill battle for credibility with the viewers. Putting him in the booth at Richmond was the best thing ESPN has done with him all season. Free of the confines of the Infield Studio, Daugherty was a very different person.

NASCAR fans who caught ESPN2's long day of qualifying and practice at Richmond may have come away with a new opinion of Daugherty's NASCAR credentials. He made a long telecast very enjoyable, and worked well in that environment.

By this time of the season most fans know Daugherty has been an owner in the Busch and Truck Series, where he has won races in both. Kevin Harvick and the late Kenny Irwin Jr. were the most notable drivers who have raced for Daugherty.

Many times this year The Daly Planet has asked ESPN to let Daugherty spread his wings and get involved in some news reporting, preparing a feature report, or taking Suzy Kolber's place when she does her live starting grid interviews. The first opportunity for change came at Richmond, and Daugherty made the most of it. Now, another higher profile assignment is on tap.

Last week, it was tough for him to be placed alongside Rusty Wallace and Dale Jarrett in the Infield Studio for Sunday's NASCAR Countdown. Things did not get testy, but there was a whole lot of disagreeing on some of Daugherty's opinions about The Chase this season. Unfortunately, the opposing opinions came from both of the veteran drivers. Daugherty, however, deserves credit for sticking to his guns and continuing to voice his views.

This Saturday, there is a live college football game at noon on ESPN2. Normally, these games are taking slightly longer than three and a half hours to complete. Unfortunately, NASCAR Countdown is scheduled at 3PM, and the Busch Series race at 3:30PM. They are also on ESPN2.

It could make for a very interesting Saturday afternoon, as all the other ESPN Networks are also carrying live college football in-progress at 3:30PM when the race telecast is supposed to begin. For the Busch Series, there is nowhere to run.

Unless East Carolina and West Virginia's football teams decide to speed-up the action, there is a good possibility that NASCAR Countdown and possibly the race telecast will be affected. At 6PM, ESPN2 has its marquee football match-up of Kentucky vs. Arkansas, so it is doubtful that the start of the Busch race will be delayed.

Into this scenario marches Daugherty, with his first assignment in the booth for a live NASCAR race. In many ways, it will be a fitting test for someone who has hung-in there this season through a lot of adversity and carved his own niche. His role as the "voice of the fans" was new, and uncharted territory in TV land is always tough.

SPEED steps-in to cover the Busch Series practice on Friday at 1:30PM, and qualifying on Saturday at noon. They are also busy with the Craftsman Trucks live from Las Vegas on Saturday night at 8:30PM. ESPN2 sneaks in NASCAR practice for one hour at 11AM on Saturday morning. All these times are Eastern Daylight.

So, off we go into an interesting three day weekend in Dover. Even as Junior stories continue to take center stage, ESPN2 makes a move that puts Brad Daugherty in the broadcast booth alongside Jerry Punch and Rusty Wallace on Saturday.

Hopefully, this move will yield positive results for all those involved, and put some more attention on the struggling Busch Series as they move toward the end of their season.

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