Friday, March 28, 2008

Friday's "NASCAR Now" Ties Up Loose Ends (Updated)

Ryan Burr hosted Friday's edition of NASCAR Now. Focused on the Martinsville qualifying, Lead Reporter Marty Smith joined Burr from the track with a wrap-up of the action and an interview with Jeff Gordon who is on the pole for the Cup Series.

Smith then added some additional information on other news stories, including Greg Biffle's contract negotiations with Roush-Fenway Racing and Elliott Sadler's bad back. Smith was up-to-date and seems to work well in this scenario with Burr.

With the hard news done, Burr led the show into tying up some loose ends from earlier in the week. NASCAR Now had interviewed new MWR driver Michael McDowell and tried to get his impressions on replacing Dale Jarrett as he retired.

Unfortunately, it was teammate David Reutimann who was taking over the UPS sponsorship and therefore what most fans will know as the Jarrett ride. McDowell was the new kid on the MWR block and he was not ready to face those kinds of issues on national TV.

Friday, Reutimann appeared on the show with the UPS hat firmly on his head and spoke with Burr about his change of teams. His answers worked well to clear-up any confusion from earlier in the week about who would be driving what. Give credit to Burr, who corrected himself and then followed-up with Reutimann.

Jack Roush and his missing part were up next. ESPN's Terry Blount had been put in the tough position of reporting a story involving Roush that had actually taken place several weeks prior and even involved a totally different ESPN reporter. But, it was Blount who opened the door to "part-gate" and left almost as much confusion in his wake as Roush did with the allegation.

Burr presented unedited footage of Roush addressing this issue from the Infield Media Center at Martinsville. Unfortunately, it made Roush look rather petty and foolish while it explained how ESPN had been made a pawn in the ego war between Roush and Toyota's Lee White. Burr explained the entire timeline and finally made sense of Blount's story.

One headline this week has been Mike Wallace's daughter Chrissy attempting to run the Craftsman Truck race in Martinsville. During earlier testing at that track, NASCAR Now had hosted Chrissy on a satellite interview. This was a great opportunity to get her face and personality across to the fans.

Unfortunately, huge sunglasses covered a lot of her face and the content of the interview was affected by this distracting issue. Friday, Miss Wallace appeared with her hair away from her face and with her huge sunglasses in her pocket. The interview included a soundbite from Tony Stewart and great treatment of this young driver by Burr back in the studio.

This show really closed a lot of the loopholes left from a rather hectic week of NASCAR news. MWR got their driver swaps sorted-out, ESPN got the Roush timeline on the table for all to see and Chrissy Wallace got her pre-race interview on national TV.

These good editorial choices by the NASCAR Now team continue to show how this TV series has matured. This effort put these stories "to bed" before the weekend racing and left the table clean for a new batch of interviews and news from Saturday and Sunday.

NASCAR Now returns with a one hour Sunday show at 10AM Eastern Time, and then the "Big Monday" roundtable version of the show airs at 6PM on Monday.

Update #1: The NN folks are saying that indeed Mike Wallace will be in the studio for the Sunday morning one hour edition of NN from Bristol, CT. Good choice.

NASCAR Fans Make Note: The Monday show will be hosted by Allen Bestwick, but the panel will consist of Mike Wallace, Johnny Benson and Mike Massaro. That should make for a very interesting dynamic with three very different personalities on the panel. Thanks to our friends at ESPN for that info.

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In-Progress At Martinsville: Friday On SPEED

This is an all Fox and SPEED weekend because the Nationwide Series has the weekend off. SPEED is shifting the Martinsville NASCAR programming around the Barrett-Jackson auto auction, so some on-track action will not be live.

Friday on SPEED kicks-off with one hour of Truck Series practice at 11AM Eastern Time followed by three hours of the auction. At 3PM, SPEED returns with the Go or Go Home show looking at the teams outside of the Top 35 in points. This is going to be a very important issue as the 2008 points have now begun to set the field.

At 3:30PM, the NASCAR on Fox crew presents Sprint Cup qualifying action for approximately ninety minutes and then SPEED continues right into the final Craftsman Truck Series practice session.

At 7PM, the network wraps-up the day with a Trackside show featuring Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Jamie McMurray. Those three drivers have a lot to talk about from recent weeks, and perhaps McMurray will be the biggest story after qualifying. The show is hosted by Steve Byrnes with Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds alongside. It will be live at the SPEED Stage outside the Martinsville track.

This page will serve to host your comments about SPEED's coverage of the Friday action at Martinsville. To add your opinion, simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. This blog is TV-related, so please keep your comments focused on the TV coverage of the sport. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.