Sunday, August 5, 2007

Venturini Scores Robby Gordon Interview For "RaceDay"

RaceDay continues to be the best NASCAR pre-race show on TV. As the NASCAR TV partners covering the NEXTEL Cup Series have come and gone, viewers have seen all kinds of pre-race activity. All along, SPEED has left RaceDay alone to develop into a mandatory weekly pit-stop for fans.

As ESPN stepped into the mix, SPEED chose to put RaceDay in a timeslot that matched it up head-to-head with ESPN's pre-race show called NASCAR Countdown. This was a move that ESPN was absolutely unprepared to counter. Now, for one hour, both ESPN and SPEED have their live shows on the air from the same location, and their garage area reporters chasing the same stories. All the action is now not only on the track.

Sunday, Wendy Venturini continued her solid performance as the fan's choice for credibility and personality as she got Robby Gordon to agree to a live interview. Gordon was both apologetic and defiant, and Venturini handled him well. She allowed him to offer his side of the story, and drew out his feelings about his own mistake in ignoring NASCAR's black flag. Once again, RaceDay had scooped the big boys.

Host John Roberts also welcomed Tony Stewart for a live interview with the panel, making another statement to ESPN. Stewart answered all the questions, gave another friendly poke to ESPN, and recapped his excitement about winning Indy. Its clear that like most drivers, Stewart likes the welcoming atmosphere on the RaceDay set, and the antics of both Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace.

This season, Venturini has also been preparing a weekly feature called The Real Deal. It has been a success for the show because Venturini uses her background in racing to make the interview subjects feel comfortable. This week, Reed Sorenson discussed his rise into NEXTEL Cup and the challenges facing him this season.

Venturini got this very young man to talk about himself, which he rarely does. She finally brought out some comments that show more of Sorenson than the public has seen so far in his brief career. She then "tagged" the story live with Sorenson's crew chief, and allowed him to fill-in the gaps about their performance this season.

Spencer and Wallace have their act down pat, and this time brought Mark Martin into the mix and immediately asked him a ton of good questions that really brought out his feelings on DEI, his Army sponsorship, and the rumors of his return to full-time racing. Martin really gave viewers the low-down on the Ginn lay-offs, and explained his personal role in saving jobs at the now "shuttered" racing operation.

Each week John Roberts gives Spencer and Wallace a little more leash for one segment and allows them to talk about one topic. This week, it was single car teams and the guys were interesting in their opinions and predictions that the NEXTEL Cup garage would soon consist of eleven owners who all owned four car teams.

The balance of this show is best when Venturini is providing the infield details, and the panel is playing to the crowd and handling the group interviews. Over the last several weeks, SPEED has tried to integrate a comic element with two "characters."'s Ricky Rachtmann and SPEED's own "clown" Rutledge used to have a role on this show, but now the race-related content has pushed almost the entire two hours absolutely full. Viewers are better off without them.

SPEED can keep things light, and both Spencer and Wallace love to poke fun at themselves just as much as others. This mix of the serious and the hilarious has proven to be a winning formula for SPEED. As the season rolls-on, and the mood turns even more serious, the challenge for RaceDay is to continue to provide for fans the most NASCAR information of any show on TV today.

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 comments.


SophiaZ123 said...

LOVE Wendy!

Love Spencer even if he can insert his foot into his mouth. He is REAL!

I love Kenny, ADD laugh and all.

Though I am still irked the show has more FLUFF at two hours than the one hour show, you are so right this show is FUN!! At least for me.

If you can make me laugh and smile while GIVING me inside info along the way, it's all good.

Oh, and JR is always a gentleman to keep things moving along. Great team.

Well, except for that tattoo freak who I should NOT mention as otherwise this post is very positive. *sigh, sometimes a girl can't help herself*

Thanks for showing the GREAT things as well as the crummy things in this sport.


Anonymous said...
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jfs-va said...

I won't say it the way the previous poster did, but indeed ESPN did interview both R. Gordon and Stewart also. Perhaps it was after SPEED did, but let's be fair and not make it sound like only SPEED interviewed them.

As for the "comics", I don't get the need for them. Do serious sports fans really need that? It reminds me of the goofy antics on Alton Brown's cooking show on the food network. I watch it for the food knowledge, not the wacky skits.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thank you for the comments. No one is intimating that ESPN did not have Jamie Little interview Gordon on Countdown. What we are addressing is the move of RaceDay to a head-to-head schedule with Countdown.

This column deals with the Sunday RaceDay program, and Venturini is the headline because this new competition for news is the theme.

On Sundays, you have ESPN doing NASCAR Now, then SPEED with RaceDay, and then ESPN comes back with Countdown.

The key is to pay attention to the stories RaceDay has moved to their first hour, when Countdown is still not on the air.

Although I had a blast working at ESPN for almost ten years, I have no desire to return to that business, and appreciate the opportunity to offer these columns for discussion in this first year of the new NASCAR TV contract.

Thanks again for all your comments.

Anonymous said...

How is it that Speed can fill two hours of programming with real racing related content and the four letter network must resort to pre-produced video segments and videos to have enough product for a one hour show?

Busch Fan! said...

I feel that Spencer and Kenny Wallace go on a bit too much just saying the same thing over and over and over. I guess they like the sounds of their own voices. I also enjoy Speed's telecasts and I hate the music videos during the ESPN races.

cwebs said...

While I agree that RaceDay is generally far superior to the TNT and ESPN pre-race shows, I have to admit that I was quite disappointed with the RaceDay folks today, especially Spencer and Wallace. Neither one of them was able to ask a tough question of Mike Helton. Here was a perfect opportunity to ask probing questions and force NASCAR to explain their reasoning for some strange decisions at the end of the Busch race in Montreal. Too bad Jimmy and Kenny weren't up to the task.

I have some serious questions here: Did Helton agree to appear only with the understanding that no tough questions regarding the Montreal Mess would be asked? Were Spencer and Wallace intimidated by the mere presence of the powerful Helton? Did the bosses at SPEED instruct them to avoid angering Helton? Just how incestuous is the relationship between NASCAR and SPEED?

I'm just a fan that's fed up with sports "journalism" in general. Enough with meaningless hype!!! Enough with the inexperienced "talent"!!! Enough with the overly-cozy relationships!!! A pox on all their houses!!! said...

Jamie Little and Wendy Venturini's interviews with Robby Gordon - both well done. I think race fans got equal value out of both.

We did not, however, get equal value from the interviews done with NASCAR on that subject:

Speed Channel - Mike Helton sits down for an extended interview with John Roberts, Kenny Wallace, and Jimmy Spencer in which he answers multiple questions on that subject, as well as several other subjects brought up by the show's hosts.

ESPN - Robin Pemberton conducts a taped three question interview with NASCAR novice David Amber.

Question 1: "Why was he suspended?"

Answer: "He's not suspended, he's been PARKED for his actions in the Busch race yesterday."

Question 2: "Has his driver's license been suspended [huh?]?"

Answer: "He is not licensed to drive in today's race."

Question 3: "Will his suspension [still not understanding the concept of parked vs. suspended] be lifted before next week's race?"

Answer: "He's parked for today's race and we will review his status for Watkins Glen later this week."

Why in the world did David Amber do this taped interview? How about sending ANY of their NASCAR-knowing pit reporters down to the NASCAR trailer to do the interview, or better yet how about inviting Pemberton or Helton to the Countdown Studio so he could have an intelligent discussion with Rusty Wallace or Andy Petree on the subject?

I've been watching ESPN during the head-to-head portion of the pre-race shows since I traditionally watch the pre-race show on the network that is televising the race but I think next week I'm shifting to NASCAR Raceday. The Bobby Allison segment on ESPN was very well done, but the actual news portions of the ESPN pre-race show are very weak in comparison to Speed's.

Two more weeks until ESPN bails out on practice/qualifying coverage and lets a real racing network take them over :)

Anonymous said...

Nobody is going to toss a real hardball question at Mafia Mike Helton. He controls the credentials for the media. The last time a media person asked a tough question, his credentials were revoked for a year. This was earlier this year with a newspaper person.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robby Gordon. He was spun out by Ambrose under caution. He was able to get the car going again on his own. At the very least, he should have been scored second. However, I strongly disagree when he said he got around Marcos Ambrose "mostly clean." He lost credibility there. What a joke.

midwest race fan said...

john its really starting to seem like you just hate ESPN. I know it says you worked for them on your bio, but what did they do to YOU? LOCK YOU UP WITH THE GIMP? I like wendy on raceday and I agree she does a good job....she does stutter a lot and seem to fumble questions, but she is so good to look at I don't care..BUT LET'S BE FAIR! ESPN got all the same interviews SPEED did. jamie little spoke with robby gordon just like wendy and a few times I saw in the glass of an interview espn was doing ...wendy waiting to speak with that driver.
I disagree reed sorenson opened up at all in that real deal interview..I think he always looks nervous and shy. it's a two shot interview every week with b-roll (thanks for teaching me b-roll john)... is it me or does that interview seem like you can go to the yard and work and then come back and its still on. like I said before ... I like to look at wendy, but the real deal is the same thing every week. SPEED always hypes it as this big interview of the's really just the LONG interview of the week with a camera on wendy. maybe wendy is ready for 60 minutes?

Anonymous said...

Raceday is a "family" that I love to visit. Wendy has become the smart sister that we trust (who tolerates the antics of her brothers, Jimmy is the one who looks out for us and takes up for us, Kenny is the funny young brother, Mr. Roberts the "Barney Miller" type dad who controls the family. Ricky is the weird cousin we wish would go away. I love the family and wouldn't miss it.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anybody know what "lock you up with the gimp" means? I've heard a lot this season, but that is a new one.

Anonymous said...

The Gimp was a character in the movie Pulp Fiction. He was a man dressed in S&M leather bondage gear. If you were locked up with him, the point is he would have his way with you sexually.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Wow, thanks for the explanation. That's a little bit harsh, even for a NASCAR fan. I really don't get to a lot of movies that don't involve sports, and rarely like the ones that involve violence.

The rest of that comment was pretty good, so I am going to take one for the team and let it stay.

Anonymous said...

I'd been waiting for the return of ESPN for a long time, but was quite disappointed in their pre-race program. Speed wins out in that department in this house by a mile.

Now all Speed needs is the adorable Lindsay Czarniak to round it out. Between her and Wendy, those two could get the guys to tell them anything.They're both so down to earth and knowledgeable that it makes it all seem so easy.

Anonymous said...

Hey Wendy is the REAL DEAL!!! She is does a professional job in her interviews and can drive the hell out of a school bus! Ms. Excitement makes it 2 in a row at Charlotte. You heard it here first......

Corey said...

I've watched all the prerace shows since the TNN days. RaceDay is the BEST!!!Wendy, Kenny, Jimmy are No.1

Anonymous said...

(if you log on as anon, that Russian word deal is nicer to you :-) )

Wasn't sure WHERE to put this but ROBBY GORDON is giving a second car to race at Watkins Glen and the driver is.

. Are you ready for this? Marcos Ambrose!!! That's a good deal. Can't wait to hear more about's on Foxsports so I hope it is true.

snowfaller said...

Don't know if anybody will see this since this post is a couple of days old...

But, I just had a chance to watch the ARCA race from Pocono (up to the red flag) with Wendy in the pits.

My goodness she is incredible.

As far as female pit reporters nobody but Lindsay Czarniak is even close. Wendy is right up there with the best of them. She sure knows her stuff.

Anyway - kudos to Wendy Venturini and Speed for another great race presentation.