Sunday, March 25, 2007

SPEED's Victory Lane: The Little Engine That Could

It sounded like a simple idea. Use SPEED's RaceDay crew to originate a low-cost hour of programming after the NEXTEL Cup race was over. To do this, NASCAR had to agree to place a small set directly in Victory Lane at the tracks. Their willingness to cooperate in this innovative idea has resulted in the sleeper hit show of 2007...Victory Lane.

John Roberts has cemented himself as a fan favorite because of his laid-back style and charming manner when hosting shows on SPEED. His ability to handle the chaos of Victory Lane is even more impressive. What started out as an opportunity to interview the winning driver, his crew chief, and car owner has turned into something much bigger. And fans love it.

This week, Bristol provided a setting that allowed Kyle Busch to come on-board and view the race highlights minutes after stepping out of the car. Busch is a great interview, and was treated as an equal by Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace, who comprise the panel on the show. In light of the past problems with Spencer and Kyle's brother Kurt, the frank and free-flowing conversation of the panel reinforced just how far this show has grown in stature.

Now, the show has added Bob Dilner on pit road, and allowed other drivers to come directly to the set in Victory Lane. This allows for a parade of drivers who only have this one media outlet to tell their story right away. It also clears up many of the loose ends that always exist after the host network does their brief winner interview, and leaves the air.

One of the unique features of this show is that drivers often times get to see the video of what happened to them on the track right along with the viewers. It really allows stories to be told and to develop live on-camera. By the time the other NASCAR TV shows roll around, this type of emotion and developing storyline is gone. That is the struggle facing Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing on SPEED...the emotion isn't there.

Victory Lane is a treat, and viewers who have not set their DVR for this program should add it to their list. Its fun to watch, even days after the race. If Kenny Wallace ever wins one of these races, it would really put the cherry on top for this hard-working crew.