Saturday, April 28, 2007

Steve Byrnes Looking Good In The Hollywood Hotel

SPEED Channel continues to quietly offer some of the best on-track NASCAR TV coverage of the 2007 season. The NASCAR on Fox crew stepped-over to SPEED to telecast the Talladega NEXTEL Cup qualifying on Saturday afternoon. It turned-out to be an interesting and emotional session. It was also great TV.

The stories going into the weekend were well-documented. Mike Joy, Larry McReynolds, and Darrell Waltrip proved to be well-informed enough to address all of them. As the session progressed, the Fox Sports veterans were savvy enough to document the action on a car-by-car basis, and used the down time between laps to address the top news stories of the week. Mike Joy continues to be the best play-by-play announcer currently on the NASCAR TV trail. But, during this telecast, another story was also unfolding.

Very quietly, TV veteran Steve Byrnes has been asserting himself as a presence on high-profile NASCAR broadcasts. In this Talladega qualifying session, Byrnes joined Jeff Hammond in the Hollywood Hotel. No one has ever looked more at home. The upbeat personality of Byrnes mixes so well with the entire NASCAR on Fox gang that it really puts the spotlight on the "outsider" Chris Myers.

The Daly Planet has spoken several times about the struggles in the Hollywood Hotel this season, both with production issues and Myers quirky and eccentric behavior. Myers is almost the David Letterman of NASCAR, his style is either understood or completely mystifying. This season, his act is getting old.

Byrnes brings to the Hollywood Hotel a level of knowledge and TV professionalism that allow him to relate to both the hardcore NASCAR fan and the casual viewer. His personality has long made him a SPEED TV favorite, but his role has always been as a pit reporter or talk show host. In this new role, Bynes really helped to give the infield commentary position new relevance. He and Jeff Hammond really work well together, and the best part showed.

Perhaps, after this high-profile spin in the infield driver's seat, the NASCAR on Fox executives might recognize that Byrnes could play a role in returning the innovative TV concept of the Hollywood Hotel to a level of credibility it has been sorely lacking this season.

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