Friday, September 21, 2007

SPEED's "Trackside Live" Rocks The House With Junior

Steve Byrnes and his Trackside Live gang were pumped on Friday night in Dover. Along with The Chase, the panel had something else on their mind. Only days after his big announcement about sponsors and car numbers, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was appearing on the show live and in living color.

One of the biggest crowds in the history of the SPEED Stage turned out with lots of signs and lots of energy. It certainly appeared that Junior nation was still in full force. Both the signs in the crowd and several of the chants also proved that the Junior gang had not lost any of their creativity.

Junior himself was brimming with energy, and this one hour program just overflowed with information that fans wanted to know. Kudos to Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond for taking their time and asking all the right questions. Once again, these two have proven to be the top NASCAR analysts by far, and reinforced it on this show.

Steve Byrnes continues to fly under the radar as one of the best multi-purpose announcers among the NASCAR TV partners. Trackside Live has become a Friday night franchise for SPEED, and the enthusiasm and camaraderie of the panel is unmatched.

For fans staying at the track, the SPEED Stage is a great place to stop-by after the on-track activities end, and have some fun. Tonight, it was the place to see and be seen at the Dover track. Junior was going to be live, and this was as close any many fans would get to him in a lifetime.

One of the newest personalities on Trackside is Elliott Sadler. He has worked very hard on his TV skills, and now fits in quite well with the older and more experienced panel. In this show, he had several opportunities to ask Junior personal and in-depth family questions that few others would dare to ask. It was clear that Junior respected him, because he clearly and honestly answered all of them.

It was also clear that Junior was a bit nervous to be in-front of a raucous crowd, but he hung-in there and deserves credit for dealing with a ton of background noise while he kept his focus on the panel and answered their questions.

SPEED's TV crew did the right thing and kept things simple. No fancy music or graphics, no sound effects or tons of footage used. It was just Junior and the gang, alone and live in front of a throng of pumped-up fans.

As usual, Trackside gave one announcer an opportunity to step to a smaller side-stage and interview the guest one-on-one. The SPEED Producers made a great decision and selected Elliott Sadler. In his own down-home style, Sadler conducted a unique interview that really played on his personal relationship with Junior and the feelings he has experienced over the past six months.

SPEED allowed Junior a couple of sponsor plugs, and they included a poker site that he and Sadler had created. That should bring some additional stories in the media over the next several weeks. Sadler prodded Junior into admitting his concerns over the COT and his hope that NASCAR will continue to be flexible in its development.

Junior brought on his current team mate Martin Truex Jr. and this was a great moment for fans to step-back and absorb the incredible level of change that was about to happen in the sport next season. Both men talked about their time together, and how things would play-out when next season began. Truex is about to assume a mantle that will be tough to wear, but he seems to be game to do the job.

In a great moment, Larry McReynolds quizzed Junior about DEI and how he felt about their future. Junior was clear in his good feeling that Mark Martin and Aric Almirola would be the two drivers sharing his former ride for 2008. He also had kind words for Max Seigel, the new DEI executive, and his hard work in learning the industry.

Although it does not have the flash of RaceDay, there is no doubt from the fan reaction that Trackside Live has been a solid addition to the NASCAR TV package once again this season. Friday night's show with Junior and Martin Truex really worked hard to showcase both drivers away from the track and address not only their professional but also their personal sides.

One has the feeling that the SPEED executives might be trying to expand this program for 2008. With most of the drivers present at the track as the program airs, the potential exists to broaden this franchise and work to include more racing personalities in a setting other than pit road or the garage.

With the success of the two hour edition of RaceDay, the network might have a point in considering expanding the Trackside series as well. We shall see.

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...

Byrnes is a guy I dont mind listening to, and he has a good personality. Good job Steve, speed guys, and lets not forget Wendy over there -- she is doing a fine job. Its a shame ESPN has the bigger portion of the TV package, those stick and ball freaks could never compare to what we see on Speed.

Anonymous said...

Fun show.

Thre's something ESPN doesn't get: Fun.

Anonymous said...

I personally loved tonight's show. The loose format allows the driver guests to relax. Dale Jr and Truex did quite well, the anwers were fun and informative.

The regulars do a great job. I agree that E. Sadler has grown into his roll. His Dale Jr interview was very good.

For me, tonight's program was A+.

SophiaZ123 said...

I found tonights show fun as well! and if you didn't like Jr, you could TURN IT OFF at the beginning.

Sadler has really improved and earned his keep on this show. Some crazy moments too, last years dive off stage (As they went OFf the air! SCARY) Then hitting Hammonds in the head with baseball. Ow.

I was bummed to hear the COT is coming to the Busch races though...ugh.

The guys seem to have a good time but the crowd was SO WOUND UP I had to used close captioning to read the dialogue. :-)

Truex has come a long way at handling himself on tv, too.


They could learn volumes from SPEED but are too arrogant to notice or care.

Also was that Chris Long they were calling muscles who went to DIRECT TV? Better watch out what he does to NASCAR...he ruined SPEED AND INC.

stricklinfan82 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
stricklinfan82 said...

Speed broadcasts are always very enjoyable to watch. Those guys have a great time on the air and make every show fun to watch and listen to.

It's a shame ESPN locked Speed out of televising Friday's Cup practice. It's comical that fans have to suffer through watching a 90 minute show from the Speed Stage where practice is going on in the background and that's all the announcers are talking about, but yet they're really not televising the session because ESPN won't let them. I admire Speed for doing everything they can for the fans under these conditions but it's ridiculous that we fans have to put up with this kind of garbage. How can NASCAR let ESPN do this to the fans?

ESPN's never going to get it. Their qualifying coverage was HORRIBLE yet again. Yet another week of seeing the Kyle Petty's of the world run and then missing the go-or-go home cars of Mayfield, Lepage, Wimmer, W. Burton, and Blaney making their runs during commercial breaks. STOP SKIPPING THE GO OR GO HOME CARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They are the people that matter most during qualifying. Can we please get an ESPN producer/director that understands NASCAR and which cars are important to see during qualifying and which cars aren't?

Speed Channel actually understands the sport, and even has a 30 minute show on Fridays called "Go or go home" that features a pre-qualifying analysis of the go-or-go home situation. It's quite a drastic contrast when we have the change the channel to ESPN2 for qualifying and watch the go-or-go home cars get completely ignored and be chosen as the cars to be skipped during commercial breaks.

I don't even think ESPN's announcers, let alone the guys in the production truck, understand the concept of the top 35 rule during qualifying. Rusty Wallace even dropped the word "provisional" into the conversation after Clint Bowyer's qualifying run. Are you kidding me??????? Provisional?, in a non-past champion's provisional context?????? Those haven't existed since 2004 I hate to break it to you ESPN.

Someone at ESPN needs to get a clue, move past the year 2000, and arrive to the year 2007.

Anonymous said...

"ESPN's never going to get it. Their qualifying coverage was HORRIBLE yet again. Yet another week of seeing the Kyle Petty's of the world run and then missing the go-or-go home cars of Mayfield, Lepage, Wimmer, W. Burton, and Blaney making their runs during commercial breaks."

Well, for some of us Kyle Petty fans, seeing his (at the time, top 10, ultimately 16th) run WAS important. Kyle is an icon in NASCAR, and seeing him do well even made the likes of Jerry Punch happy. (Maybe since we know JGordon's gonna make the race, we should have commercials during their run?)

Some of the "Go or go home" cars did run during commercials (it's how they're paid so you get to see it!), and ESPN ran "reruns" of their runs to catch up.

Yes, ESPN has made some major mistakes, horrible mistakes in some cases. This wasn't one of them.

Colin Baird said...

Speed presents NASCAR the way NASCAR should be presented. The other networks are all about themselves. ESPN has some people trying to do NASCAR that don't know a race car from a corn cob. TNT is more of a circus with Weber and Wally as the two feature clowns. Fox is all about Darrell Waltrip and his plugging Toyota and his hick brother. Speed does it all for me.

Anonymous said...

Trackside is definitely a can't miss show for me. It is always enjoyable to see the drivers in a more relaxed environment away from the track and garage.

I mean - Junior is crammed down our throat constantly by all networks but where else are you going to find out he has buffaloes...

The one thing I love about Trackside is when they overlap their main guest with a related guest. They did the same thing a while back with Dale Jarrett and David Reutimann.

Drivers are almost always interviewed on their own and it's always fun to see some of the interaction between drivers you don't usually get to see during the normal flow of practice/qualifying/racing, etc.

On a lighter note, I watched the US-England women's soccer World Cup game this morning on ESPN2 and they missed the kickoff of the second half. Worldwide Leader In Sports indeed...

I still can't believe the final cup practice is not on this afternoon.

Anonymous said...

Not airing practice is just not acceptable! Anyone notice how the one practice that is being aired was called "Happy Hour" on the schedule and description, yet it was really the first Saturday practice and not Happy Hour. If ESPN doesn't want to air the practices, that is fine, just give SPEED the opportunity to do the broadcasts!!!

stricklinfan82 said...

I respect that you're a Kyle Petty fan and was happy to see him have the qualifying run he did. Qualifying is about the go-or-go home cars though, and they should all be shown on TV no matter what. If someone has to be skipped during qualifying it should be the guys at the bottom of the top 35 in owner's points, because they are the worst teams that don't have to worry about making the show. If you have to skip 10 runs for commercial breaks you should skip the guys 26th-35th in owner's points, period. Every driver has fans and someone's going to be upset when their driver is skipped, so a logical decision should be made to skip the most irrelevant cars.

Kyle's done a lot of great things with the Victory Junction gang camp, but in today's NASCAR he is just a backmarker that is, what, 34th in owner's points? If someone has to be skipped, your "NASCAR icon" that has won 8 Cup races while running full-time in 25 of the last 26 years should be second on the list, because he's 34th in owner's points.

If Jeff Gordon was 34th in points and running 35th every week I would be consistent and say he should be 2nd on the "skip list" too.

SophiaZ123 said...

I loved the name of Junior's Buffalos, LAVERNE and SHIRLEY!!

We ain't gonna learn that from ESPN.


I am watching the Busch qualifying on SPEED. WHAT A DIFFERENCE!!


You miss ENOUGH STUFF on the racing show and now, you GUNK up the QUALIFYING SHOW and make it a game of HIDE AND SEEK.

I SEEK to see my drives qual, and then ESPN HIDES the results, does not clue us in if an engine has problems. THEN we have to watch RACEDAY to see why somebody is in the back of the pack to start.

I know I said I was going to cut back on my ESPN GRIPING BUT SERIOUSLY NASCAR FANS, more importantly


Apparently judging by the soccer comments and other past sports comments about ESPN coverage, they can't DO a good job on Stick and Ball and are TOTALLY UNDERQUALIFIED to show racing, on ANY LEVEL.

We NASCAR fans don't just like the 'racin' but I like the specificity of what goes on with drivers, cars and or engine problems, tech inspection..Not to mention Ambrose calling his wife every 4 hours to see if she is in labor yet.

Back to the Busch Qualifying.


Anonymous said...

TRACKSIDE--about as good as it gets in personalities, information, humor and production crews.....what more can you say????