Monday, August 20, 2007
SPEED's "RaceDay" Hangs-In At Michigan
Despite the continuing bad weather, SPEED offered a one hour edition of RaceDay on Monday in Michigan. The network has worked very hard to cement their reputation as the first channel to turn-on for NASCAR information.
SPEED has been trying to make some hay while the sun was shining, no pun intended. The network has been covering qualifying and practice for both the Busch and Cup Series during this three race stretch due to some programming conflicts in the ESPN schedule. This is the SPEED version of the full-court press.
Once "The Chase" begins, ESPN returns to their exclusive coverage of everything on the track for those two series. The NEXTEL Cup races move over to ABC Sports for the higher profile of a broadcast TV network.
SPEED returns to their "support programming" role with the shows they originate from the tracks, including RaceDay. The network does continue with its Craftsman Truck Series coverage, which has been consistently solid this season.
Host John Roberts is an endless source of energy for the network, and he has worked hard to manage his cohorts Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace. On this rainy Monday, a tired Roberts hung-in there after a very long weekend of hosting live shows.
Spencer and Wallace had some time in this show to talk, minus the hype of the big RaceDay show. It proved to be very interesting, and even retrospective. They addressed the retirement of Ricky Rudd, the potential switch to Toyota of Gibbs, and the future of Kyle Busch. Spencer was strong in his criticism of what was done to David Ragan, who Spencer contends was brought-up to the Cup level much too early.
Roberts led several free-flowing conversations about topics ranging from young drivers to potential sponsorship issues and team expansion. In this type of informal setting, it was interesting to see what each panelist could offer on these topics.
Wendy Venturini continues to be the heart-and-soul of the telecast, and she kept things in perspective on this Monday. Luckily, Wendy knows the cast of characters in the garage, and moves seamlessly though the maze of personalities and egos. She did just that in Michigan, talking to everyone from Jamie McMurray to the pizza delivery man.
The production team on RaceDay has been on a roll this season, and has quietly achieved the one thing that ESPN is still struggling for with its pre-race show...credibility. Like them or not, Spencer and Wallace are always entertaining. Roberts is always professional, and Venturini is always right in the middle of everything.
When you add-in the intelligent decision-making behind the scenes, RaceDay has finally been able to put the failed NASCAR programming efforts of SPEED in the past.
The Daly Planet thanks you for taking the time to stop-by.