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We don’t do a lot of posts about the TV coverage around here, because we don’t see much of it live and there are some great sites out there that do a better job (like TDP). But there was a news item this week from ESPN that I thought warranted a little TNI TV talk.
Starting with next weekend’s Brickyard 400, Allen Bestwick will take over as the regular play-by-play voice of ESPN’s Cup Series broadcasts. He replaces Marty Reid who will continue to do the Nationwide and IndyCar races. Bestwick will be joined in the booth by NASCAR veterans Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree, creating what I think will be the strongest broadcast booth in NASCAR.
It seems like in the past, NASCAR always had a surplus of really good play-by-play announcers for TV coverage. Names like Chris Economaki, Ken Squier, Eli Gold, Bob Jenkins and Mike Joy come to mind. It didn’t matter what channel you were watching, there was always somebody really knowledgeable leading the broadcast. Fast forward to more recent times, and things have been different. Outside of the FOX crew, we’ve seen quite a few different PxP guys for NASCAR coverage. Both ESPN and TNT have struggled to nail down that most important spot.
All three networks that carry Cup Series races have taken their lumps from fans in recent years, and to some extent they always will because races are tough to cover with so much happening at once. But for ESPN the move to Bestwick should improve broadcasts dramatically. Bestwick is a veteran and a pro when it comes to covering NASCAR events, having been around the sport since 1986. He’s done everything from play-by-play, to studio shows, and reporting from pit road. And putting him with smart, well spoken guys like Jarrett and Petree will really elevate ESPN’s coverage.
From the little bit of reaction I’ve seen around the internet following the move, it appears as though most are excited by it. And it’s good to see ESPN listening to those watching its broadcasts. I think they will definitely be glad they did.