Sunday, July 29, 2007
SPEED's "Victory Lane" Answers All The Questions
Finally, SPEED has broken through with its one hour NEXTEL Cup wrap-up show called Victory Lane. Normally a hap-hazard and casual affair, SPEED has worked very hard over the past several weeks to bring this show up to a "network" level with increased production efforts and manpower.
Even as ESPN was still on-the-air, SPEED was beginning to record this tape-delayed show by watching Tony Stewart and his pit crew climb the Indy fence. Host John Roberts set the scene, while trying his best to control the enthusiasm of panelists Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace.
SPEED's Bob Dilner immediately had great sound bites with Kevin Harvick venting his frustration on Tony Stewart and the way he was treated. Stewart's version of what happened on the last several laps differed greatly from Harvick's. Both Spencer and Wallace basically called it "racing action."
Victory Lane's subsequent video highlight package of the race was outstanding. Then, the crew took the time to go through the entire field and document what happened to each and every team. This is exactly what ESPN needed to do before signing off the air.
Sure enough, race winner Tony Stewart walked right over to the SPEED set and appeared as the featured guest. Tony loves Jimmy Spencer, and they had a great time talking about the battle with Harvick. Good old Kenny Wallace asked Stewart about his new clean-shaven look and the kids that rode with him on his celebration lap. Stewart looked relieved and talked very clearly about his feelings and how his luck has been holding out this season.
This type of interview is exactly why viewers enjoy SPEED. There was no hype, no drama, and nothing phony. Stewart said things like "I pray for days like this" and "I wanted the track to be as slick as it could be." Then, Kenny Wallace was hilarious in kidding Tony about taking a big drink out of a bottle with his hands off the wheel in the final laps. Wallace asked if Tony was driving with his knees, and Tony said yes. These are the conversations that only happen on Victory Lane.
Juan Montoya talked honestly about his Brickyard experience with Bob Dilner, and he continues to build his reputation as a fan-friendly favorite. Juan keeps things simple, and complimented his team mate Reed Sorenson. Wallace and Spencer "tagged" this story with their comments on the entire Chip Gannassi team.
SPEED then wrapped with interviews of Sorenson and Jeff Gordon before the panel gave their views of the race, the next six events leading to "The Chase," and their predictions for the championship.
For a TV series that started as an afterthought, Victory Lane has proven to be a critical program for fans who want to know the "why" and "how" of the race they saw earlier that day. Spencer, Wallace, and Roberts have proven to be as popular with the drivers in Victory Lane as they are with the fans that flock to their RaceDay program. Sunday in Indy, they put on a very good show.
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