They might just get me to watch their broadcasts this year with the changes that will be announced tomorrow, according to USA Today’s Michael Hiestand.
The biggest change is the removal of Mr. “I tell you what” Wallace from the commentary booth to the infield studio, to a role where I think he will fit perfectly – an analyst that comes on from time to time, because, honestly, he’s good for a soundbite or two, but not a full race of commentary.
He’ll be joined in the studio by Allen Bestwick – by far the most experienced NASCAR journalist/TV host on the panel, as the full-time host of the Countdown programs on race day. He is going to do the job of two people – Brent Musberger (who only stood at the end of pit road and didn’t speak afterwards in the race) and Suzy Kolber, who can now focus 100% on her Monday Night Football job once more. In fact, here is Brent doing his job at Homestead in November:
Bestwick has hosted the studio show in the past, and has shown that he can get the best of other commentators on the set – putting him in there for the full race should be a good thing, and it will also mark a minor event – I believe that this will be the first time that two women will be patrolling pit road during a race on a regular basis, with Shannon Spake filling in Bestwick’s role in the pits.
Up in the booth, Wallace is being replaced by Dale Jarrett, who, as any fan will know, is the son of former ESPN and CBS commentator Ned Jarrett. In fact, his family is a media family with Glenn being used as a pit reporter from time to time on various networks through the years, and Dale doing some dabbling in the booth last year as a fill in for Wallace when he went on holidays in the spring.
The last change is one that should go a long way to making ESPN’s return to the daily racing news scene by picking up the co-host of the Speed Report – Nicole Manske – who is apparently a cheesehead; born in Wausau, but grew up in Danica Patrick’s hometown of Roscoe, IL – and even was on the cheerleading squad with Danica. Nice! 😉
Jeez, the stuff you can learn on Wikipedia! 😉
Anyone want to take bets on how long her bio page on SpeedTV.com lasts?
Thanks to Marc for the tipoff on the story!