Monday, February 19, 2007

SPEED: Inside Nextel Cup

SPEED brought the studio debut of Inside Nextel Cup to the air Monday night without explaining what had changed since 2006. While host Dave Despain jokingly mentioned the fact that the set had new chairs, he failed to mention why Brian Vickers was no longer on the show, or why Greg Biffle was alongside the nine year regulars Kenny Schrader and Michael Waltrip.

This show has changed everything but Schrader and Waltrip over the better part of the last decade, and the 2007 version appears to be struggling. From the moment the first video of the studio appeared, Waltrip's body language betrayed his disgust with Despain continuing as the host. Michael has made no bones about his displeasure with the demise of Alan Bestwick in mid-season after a change in SPEED Channel management. Original panelist Johnny Benson was also dismissed during that shake-up.

Without Vickers, Despain seems to be the odd man out as he tries to lead a highlight discussion over the course of an entire hour. The three drivers barely even acknowledge his presence on the show, which begs the question of why he is still the host? The series was much better when the drivers were allowed to speak freely without interruption, a concept which Alan Bestwick understood and Mr. Despain cannot conquer. Clearly, the drivers must allow Despain to read his highlights and ask his questions, but the content of the show comes from the interaction between the drivers...period.

From the delightful Wendy Venturini to the noticeably absent Ralph Shaheen, SPEED has many other Charlotte area personalities who could step into a less formal and more cooperative role as the host for this weekly series. With the elimination of Vickers, a change at the host position is the one tweak this series needs to step-up to the level of the fun Raceday and the informative Victory Lane. SPEED needs to pay attention to this franchise, as all the other NASCAR-related programming that used to fill Monday night on the network is gone, a victim of NASCAR Images and SPEED's inability to cooperate for the overall good of the sport.

This is a pivotal year for NASCAR on SPEED, and the senior management needs to sit down and troubleshoot the problems with this former all-star performer.


Blake Keithley said...

Waltrip Or Despain and you side with Waltrip? You are kidding right? Get rid of "Mikey" and Schrader.

Diecast Dude said...

Mr. Daly:

Please leave a comment on my blog at with your e-mail address. I'd like to interview you for it. Previous interviews I've done have been with Lee Spencer and David Poole. Thanks.