Ricky Craven went into Nashville a rookie all over again.
Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race marked the ESPN analyst’s debut in the announcers’ booth, as he joined veteran play-by-play broadcaster Marty Reid and former NASCAR driver Dale Jarrett.
So how did Craven do? I’d give him an A.
Craven didn’t dazzle, but he didn’t annoy either. The only downfall for the former driver was his lack of enthusiasm in the closing laps, as Reed Sorenson and Kevin Harvick duked it out for the win in an exciting, though not historic, finish.
But otherwise, Craven was amazing.
His presence wasn’t overwhelming, which made him bearable to listen to. That alone gave him a leg up on Jarrett, and the man he replaced this weekend, Andy Petree.
Craven also contributed some very valuable insight, and did so in a fashion that made him sound quite intelligent. It was almost like he knew what he was talking about, which I believe he did.
He also didn’t seem to be a big player in the “bias” department.
In my opinion, for all it’s worth, Craven is by far the best driver/analyst ESPN has seen since the network returned to NASCAR in 2007, and perhaps the best driver/analyst in all of NASCAR broadcasting. At least, this week.
With Craven’s bearable presence, valuable insight, and lack of bias, I hope the ex-driver returns to announce more races in the future.