Monday, August 6, 2007

Pocono's "Victory Lane" Shows Busch In A New Light

NASCAR continues to make good on a promise that SPEED's Victory Lane program will continue as normal despite the change to ESPN on the NEXTEL Cup TV coverage. At Pocono, with ESPN still on-the-air, the trio of John Roberts, Jimmy Spencer, and Kenny Wallace were already recording their show.

Out of the public mayhem of RaceDay, both Spencer and Wallace get an opportunity to talk more about racing, and play less to the crowd. This has led to some interesting insight from two drivers with two very different perspectives.

Spencer was in his glory at Pocono, being a Berwick, PA native. He kept a good perspective on the stories of the race, including the Dale Earnhardt Junior shock change and his subsequent run to second place.

The Kurt Busch that was in Victory Lane was quite different from the old version of a spoiled rookie. Spencer was excellent in asking questions of his old nemesis, and treated Busch in a professional manner. Spencer actually handled the vast majority of the questioning, and his behavior went a long way toward ending any question of lingering animosity.

Busch actually thanked Tony Stewart for pressuring him into a situation where he had to "go" at all costs. In this interview, Busch gave credit to others including new Crew Chief Pat Tryson for both race strategy and team dynamics.

Unlike his stammering Winner's Circle interview, Busch looked and sounded like an adult. It would have been easy for the panel to pick-on him, or bring up the problems of the past. They did not. As The Daly Planet mentioned in a previous column, this show has finally come of age.

Pat Tryson was next-up, and this is one of the things that other networks still struggle with, that its not all about the driver. Tryson was low-key as usual, and gave his opinions in a good-natured interview. Spencer was on-the-mark with his review of Tryson being released by Roush, and then hooking-up with Penske.

After the race, Spencer and Wallace really work hard to keep the excitement going, and Roberts is still one of the best at hosting "from a distance." That is to say, he "directs the traffic" while the show is on-the-air and let's the other panelists talk openly. This is such a plus for a host at the track.

SPEED offers a nice timely highlight package of the race, and allows Spencer and Wallace to voice-it-over, as opposed to simply using the host. This allows the panel to include in the highlights the information that the winning driver and crew chief has passed along in their earlier interviews.

Bob Dillner has taken his lumps, but he has hung-in there as Victory Lane's single reporter and done a good job. At Pocono, he had the tough task of interviewing Dale Junior, who is not his biggest fan. All went quite well, and Junior explained both the shock change and the flat tire that affected his day. It was quite clear from this interview that Junior is dedicated to DEI this season, and along with Busch, seems to also be a full-fledged adult these days.

Roberts is also good at letting the two "driver-panelists" talk about one subject in the last segment of the show. This time, it was Watkins Glen and the increased importance of the road courses in "The Chase." Spencer pointed out the motivation of Robby Gordon after the Montreal fiasco, and Wallace brought up the extensive road course testing that the teams had been doing at Virginia International Raceway.

Once again, Victory Lane was a nice little package for NASCAR fans. Let's hope the network keeps this show steady for the rest of the season, the only thing that would be better for viewers is repeating it following Inside NEXTEL Cup on Monday nights.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, or email if you wish not to be published. Thanks again for taking the time to stop-by and leave your opinion.


Anonymous said...

from SophiaZ

I must say I enjoy this show as well but forget why I was only half paying attention to the KB interview (though he is NOT a driver I root for) but I saw Spencers demeanor with him and agree, all animosity seems gone.

You are also correct they need to REPEAT this show on Monday night with INC.

And side note, I thought INC was a hoot and a half tonight with Kenny and Mikey being very funny together. Sniffles doesn't add much to this show and I wish they would've gotten somebody else on the panel. Brian Vickers had the personality of a water cooler until the end of his gig last year and I must say he did improve.

I know you don't like Despain on the show John but I do and his laughter seems OUTRIGHT Genuine and always makes me laugh. It was a good watch tonight, but as you said, it was a great package WITH VL.

The other crap that SPEED runs after INC is PURE RUBBISH.

Oh, and did I mention how I am sick, SICK, SICK of that brunette SPEED uses for all their commercials? HER commercials were so suggestive (as I think was pointed out here) that they at LEAST got rid of the one where she hung her bikini or underwear on her finger. SHEESH. Then again, we have all those "E.D." commercials during NASCAR but that's another column for another day maybe, John. COMMERCIALS we get sick of seeing during the race.

I also love John Roberts for the reasons you mention. He has a great personality w/o trying to act like it's ALL ABOUT HIM.

He also appears the gentleman always and the voice of reason when insanity insues.



Tripp said...

Interesting comment about the past acrimony between Spencer and Busch. It was in no way evident in the interview. Mr. Excitement has channeled his energies in more productive ways, and there's little left in the senior Busch that would warrant his old moniker, "Rubberhead".

"Victory Lane" continues to be a class product that delivers the goods for the avid NASCAR fan. Kurt Busch, who can sound like a corporate clone at times was naturally ebullient. Winning can do that, but the Speed trio encouraged his high spirited insight into the win. They opened the door for the truly talented Tryson to show the viewers how it looked from his perspective.

This show, and its talented staff both on and off screen continue to hone their craft to the point where "Victory Lane" is must-see-TV to wrap up a race day.

Anonymous said...

yes i agree, it should be run after inside nextel cup on monday night. what a great show it is. thank you speed. keep up the good work

Disney 81

indybigjohn said...

Jimmy Spencer simply proved that he has become a professional.

KudzuCarl said...

I also noted how far the Spencer and Busch relationship has come - and the professionalism of both. One thing in the race coverage that made me smile -- Kurt's wife looking lost in Victory Lane. But I think it was his first win since the wedding, so it was probably pretty new to her. You could almost hear her thinking -- "I've gotta kiss him, but I don't want to get in the way, how the heck do I do this....."

snowfaller said...

Well, I don't know if they need to replay VL after INC, since most fans should have already seen it on Sunday.

It sure would be nice if Speed had something between INC and their Friday programming though. It's a shame NASCAR basically disappears from Monday night to Friday around noon (other than NASCAR Now which doesn't count).

Thank goodness for the internet so you can at least get some information during the week.

BTW, Speed still shows the Melanie commercial with the bikini on other networks, but they don't appear to run it on their own network. I'm sure there's a good story behind that one as well.

Daly Planet Editor said...

There is a great story behind the Melanie changes...just wish I could tell it here.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Jimmy Spencer has no problem with busch anymore. If you remember it was Busch and his Fight that made him popular. Also I don't know if its still there but they used to put victory lane on IN DEMAND on our cable here thru the week. Worth a check. And one more thing. Is it me or is the 8 car the only car that gets by with changing shocks durring a race? I remember he did the same thing a while back. Oh and he didn't cut a tire, he spun it on purpose for the caution.

jfs-va said...

Daly Planet Editor said...
There is a great story behind the Melanie changes...just wish I could tell it here.

August 7, 2007 11:41 AM fair teasing like that. :>)