Monday, January 14, 2008

Larry McReynolds Leads The Pack At Daytona


There might have been all-star drivers like Dale Junior and DJ on the track, but the real story of Monday's Pre-Season Thunder on SPEED was not out there turning left. He was seated up in the TV studio alongside host John Roberts. Much to the relief of many NASCAR fans, Larry Mac was back.

After a 2007 season that separated McReynolds from all the other NASCAR TV analysts in terms of information and dedication, he showed that 2008 will continue his dominance. Working on the Fox, TNT, and SPEED TV packages, Larry Mac seemed to be everywhere last season.

Few of us can forget his 2007 performance at Sonoma. Sick as a dog, perched on the TNT infield studio set next to the track and with his voice fading, McReynolds hung-in there as the voice-of-reason and guided viewers through the chaos of the race.

Monday at Daytona, it didn't take McReynolds thirty seconds to get back to his hyper-excited ways. He had all the info from testing right down to the fine details. This was a bit of a shift from Jeff Hammond, who tends to offer more of a commentary than McReynolds type of detailed explanations.

It is this combo of personalities that serves them well when they work with Steve Byrnes on TV assignments like Trackside, practice and qualifying shows. Alone at Daytona, they offer the same information in two very different styles of delivery.

McReynolds had Kevin Harvick as an in-studio guest, and did a great interview with this owner/driver. As fans know from last season, once testing is over the public access to the Sprint Cup drivers is limited. So far, it has been great to see these high-profile figures in an informal and relaxed setting. One thing is clear, they like to talk with McReynolds.

This week, Truck Series pit reporter Adam Alexander is covering the garage area. Monday, he tried to interview Tony Stewart right out-of-the-box. Things did not go well. Stewart was pleasant, but gave Alexander absolutely no information and looked like he would rather have a sharp stick-in-the-eye.

McReynolds did a great recap of the new COT issues at Daytona in terms even the casual fan could understand. This type of reporting is where he shines, especially when he can be in the garage with examples of what he is talking about. He certainly did set the stage for some interesting issues to appear later in testing.

This higher-profile TV presence for SPEED at Daytona has also served to promote the Rolex 24 and even the Barrett Jackson Auction. Even while serving those purposes, the network has not forced the kind of "promo intrusion" that we saw with TNT.

In wrapping the show, all three SPEED personalities were on the set and presented the kind of top-notch appearance and professionalism that this cable network has been working hard to achieve for years.

So far, the 2008 season on TV has to be very pleasing to the networks, the fans and most of all...NASCAR. There is a lot riding on the next four weeks, and if SPEED keeps up this type of performance, it may be the perfect "ramp-up" to Speedweeks.

The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below, and follow the easy instructions. There is nothing to join and we do not require your email address. We just want your opinion on Pre-Season Thunder on SPEED.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was a great show today, but at first I thought I had missed it.

I tuned in at about 6:28 pm and Pre-season thunder was on already. I thought for some reason, the show might have started at 6:00 and would end at 6:30. It turns out that was a re-play of the truck testing show and the cup testing show started as normal at 6:30.

what was that about?

Matt said...

I don't think we can blame Adam Alexander for Tony's poor answers. Tony hates testing, and hates being asked about testing, and would not have been anymore informative with anyone else.

Daly Planet Editor said...

SPEED chose to show the previous week's final show as a lead-in to the Monday original testing program.

Daly Planet Editor said...

matt,

Could not agree with that more. Adam knows his stuff.

Tripp said...

Larry did tonight what he did all last year, be the best on-air talent in all NASCAR. Larry's the whole package. Smart, funny, knowledgeable, enthusiastic, self-deprecating, warm and eminently likable. Sure, there are some that don't care for him, but it wouldn't surprise me if he was liked and respected by more NASCAR fans than any other air talent in the sport.

Having him on my big-screen is like welcoming back an old friend.

Newracefan said...

I enjoyed today’s show and although I like Hammond I still prefer Larry Mac. His explanations are understandable and logical and I appreciate both. What was Tony’s problem, Adam’s question was appropriate and he tried to play to the fact that Daytona testing is not Tony’s favorite thing and left it open for Tony to say anything including testing is boring and I wish I didn’t have be here but instead he basically said nothing. Adam took it well and kept on trying and Tony eventually said something although not much. I know Tony hates Daytona testing but really. More tomorrow, can't wait.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree that, with the possible exception of Matt Yocum, I doubt anyone could have drawn Tony out tonight.

Tony's never going to learn to deal with the realities of being a professional NASCAR driver. Every time you think he's grown up, he performs like he did tonight. He doesn't get it: doing media is part of his job whether he likes it or not.

They are plenty of classy drivers who can be pleasant even when they're not in a good mood, and Tony needs to take a lesson from them.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and get a haircut.

Geez. Does Home Depot really like their representative being a surly guy who slooks like a slob?

Trucks Series Fan! said...

Yes and we missed it tonight I thought it was starting at 6 PM and it had started at 5:30. Maybe they'll be a rerun of it.

Anonymous said...

Welcome back, Larry Mac!

I love the energy he puts into the show. That, and he really explains stuff well.

stricklinfan82 said...

It was definitely great to have Larry Mac back on the air. In my opinion he is the best NASCAR analyst around. I really hope TNT wisens up and puts him in the booth this year. It was a crime for them to relegate him to the infield by the cut-a-way car and I'm glad he didn't let his "defined role" keep him from stepping up and being the star of the show during the "Summer Series". It's great to have you back Larry Mac!

SophiaZ123 said...

Wah~!! I missed it and no repeat tonight due to pinks and some other rubbish, scheduled around the Auction thing. DARN. It sounds like I missed a good show..though as a Tony fan, sorry to see he continues to suffer from some male PMS deal. Sigh.

I would've liked to have seen Harvick.

I must admit, when I first started watching NASCAR in 2004, Larry Macs enunciation and poor grammar nearly drove me nuts!!! But I realized the knowledge the guy had and would listen intently when he spoke. At this point, I don't even hear the double and occassional triple negatives, LOL.

Thanks for the great write up even if there is no late night repeat.

elena said...

I think Adam and others have to take Tony or leave him. He is often very sour and sometimes he hasn't done badly.

I spent a wonderful weekend watching football. This weekend and next are the best weekends in the NFL. Anyway, the players on the losing teams showed real character and came out and talked to the media. I mean they had to answer stupid questions like how do you feel? These guys do not depend on sponsors either. I mean unless they are not happy making $10-20 mil a year plus signing bonuses, and want to do commercials, then you can see it. But many of them do it for their fans. They know their fans spend tons of money on "stuff" and want to see them one more time.

I like Larry Mc, but I cringe at his poor grammar.

Anonymous said...

Tony's never going to learn to deal with the realities of being a professional NASCAR driver.

which is why most of the general public doesn't know who he is and never will, even though he's one of the greatest drivers in the world.

Too bad, but true.

I didn't cringe at Larry's grammar this evening (I'm used to it now and he's improved it unless he gets excited). I did cringe at the return of grumpy Tony, I had forgotten how much I didn't miss that part of NASCAR. Just decline the interview if you're going to be irritable.

I really do not want to spend the season witnessing and then reading about his 'me vs the media' antics. There were a lot of them last year, and they made Tony look bad, not the media.

Matt said...

I hate to get into the Tony vs TV debate, but as long as he doesn't cuss during his interviews, I'm not going to complain. Tony is Tony, and sometimes he does have a point with the media (ESPN ring a bell?). Besides, he adds the character this sport is in need of.

Anonymous said...

Good show tonight but I was disgusted at the very end. The guys started to talk about the closure of Morgan McClure and Adam Alexander changes the subject. I would of liked to hear a little bit more discussion on the subject.

Anonymous said...

Larry Mac, what else needs to be said? He and DW and Hammond, what a crew--entertainment, information and the was it was, all in one great package.... ESPN take notice, that is what we like.

Anonymous said...

SPEED gives us a nice 30 minute wrap up of the day's testing and people are complaining about 60 seconds of Tony Stewart telling the truth?

What was Smoke supposed to do?

Adam Alexander even set him up by starting the interview with negativity by saying "I know you're doing your favorite thing - testing and media commitments".

Smoke answered questions by saying things like "you don't know who is showing their hand" and "you can't read too much into single-car testing speeds" which are very true and people rip him for being negative?

I guess it's like everything else in NASCAR - people who don't like an announcer or driver will find any way they can to rip them.

Larry Mac is the best and nobody else is even close. I absolutely love his energy!

Anonymous said...

What was Smoke supposed to do?

He could take some lessons on how to answer from Mark Martin and the other classy guys who know how to answer a question without acting like it's a major imposition.

You know, the reporters don't really ask this stuff for themselves (they could do that off-camera)...it's so the audience, the fans, can hear the drivers for themselves.

Lisa Hogan said...

I am enjoying the SPEED nightly shows so much! John Roberts did his usual excellent job. I’m always happy to welcome Larry Mac to my TV screen. I’m also enjoying the clips of the past races they are including in the programs.

I enjoyed the Smoke interview and smiled through the whole thing. Smoke being Smoke.

I’m going to drift a bit here, JD.
Just my opinion:
I have found that all NASCAR web sites have fans who complain about NASCAR folks’ appearance, grammar, attitude or personality traits. There are fans who complain that NASCAR folks aren’t natural on camera or that they are fake or have practiced interview phrases. Unfortunately, some of these fans are standing on both sides of the issue.

As for myself, I enjoy all of the folks being themselves. warts and all, so to speak. I don’t enjoy plastic personalities and I like a little flavor thrown into the mix.

Anonymous said...

Glad to see Larry Mac - he looked refreshed and ready to go!

Tony is Tony, and that's OK. We all understand that he doesn't like testing. He gave an honest answer without verbally attacking the media for asking. Let it be.

Ritchie said...

As we have seen during the past year, you cannot simply take a NASCAR veteran and expect him to become a TV comentator. That is why I think we will never be able to fully appreciate how lucky we are that Larry Mac decided to do TV.

It is amazing that he can translate shop-talk into short statements that the casual veiwer can understand. He also notices and points out race strategy sooner than any other commentator in racing today. Most importantly, he never belittles his contemperaries, even though they may deserve the belittling.

As racing enthusiasts, we are very lucky that he decided to become a race commentator. Professionals like Larry Mac do not come along very often.

Anonymous said...

NASCAR sure is a funny animal...

If drivers toe the company line and give the answers they are supposed to, people complain about generic drivers.

If drivers give honest answers with their honest feelings, people complain they are grumpy, etc.

I actually think part of the decline in the NASCAR ratings last year was because of the success of Johnson and Gordon. People got tired of watching generic (albeit great) drivers win week after week.

And, to stay on point for JD - Larry Mac is awesome. The combination of John Roberts (the best NASCAR host) and Larry Mac (the best NASCAR analyist) is impossible to beat!

Personally, I love Tony with longer hair. It looks great!

Anonymous said...

I love to hear Tony talk, he tells it like it is, none of this kiss a-- NASCAR PC friendly suck a-- stero type yes men. more of Tony brings back memories of what racing used to be like, a sport for real men.

Anonymous said...

Larry McReynolds also does good interviews, such as the one with Harvick yesterday. He's very versatile.

I love Tony and accept him as he is, but it does seem fair to say "Tony being Tony" keeps him from being more famous overall.

I was at the grocery store this morning and Jeff Gordon was on the cover (by himself) of a magazine called Best Life. I'd never heard of it before but he looked so handsome I simply had to buy it. Apparently it's aimed at men, so I'll tell my husband I bought it for him, lol. It looks like GQ with more practical stuff inside, maybe aimed more at guys in their mid 30s (like my husband) or 40s. I haven't read it yet, it's at least eight pages long -lots of photo and big story. The cover says "Fast Track Your Life! NASCAR's Greatest Driver shows you how to reach the winner's circle."

I browsed around the web to find out what kind of magazine it was and recent Best Life covers were Patrick Dempsey of Grey's Anatomy, Jon BonJovi, Keith Urban, and Pierce Brosnan, so Jeff's in some good company there.

Sorry to ramble, all I'm saying is I can't see Tony ever being in the position to be on a magazine like that, even with two championships. He's too moody and doesn't come across well in interviews, most times. I still love him, but he's an acquired taste, media wise.

Anonymous said...

I love to hear Tony talk, he tells it like it is, none of this kiss a-- NASCAR PC friendly suck a-- stero type yes men. more of Tony brings back memories of what racing used to be like, a sport for real men
I don't remember the "real men" of the good ol' days insulting the reporters interviewing them.

Richard Petty was always professional, for example.

GinaV24 said...

I like Larry Mac and Jeff Hammond. They both have their good and bad points, but they both tell me what I want to know and can make me laugh while they are doing it.

Tony is Tony. He's not my favorite driver, but with NASCAR trying to make all the drivers be so PC, letting him just be himself is fine with me. If he wants to be a jerk on TV, well, that's his privilege.

Anonymous said...

Tony may be a character, but he's still hostile with reporters.

I watched the webcasts of both Dale Jr's press conference and Tony's press conference today. (FYI I'm a Penske Racing fan.) Dale Jr. answered every question in detail. Though sometimes he was asked something he said he wasn't sure about -someone asked him about the comments that the TV ratings were down because of him not winning - he would pause and then give as much of an answer as he could. To everyone.

Tony came out and was sarcastic right off the bat to whoever it was who was in charge of the conference and picking the questions. That guy asked him two questions -the same questions he asked Dale Jr and Tony gave sarcastic remarks. One was... how would it feel to win the 50th running of Daytona? Tony said... the same as winning the other 49. He wasn't smiling. There was dead silence, as I don't think the host liked that answered too much. Same question earlier, Jr talked about winning at Daytona anytime was a good thing and why.

Tony had something snide to say several reporters before he answered their questions. A couple of questions asked he just answered.... No. and then dead silence. As I said, Jr. answered all questions in detail and he's probably been asked those question a lot already.

After it was over, Tony smiled at the host who he was rude to earlier and said thanks, and you could hear everyone laugh and I believe someone said...trial by fire, so maybe the host was new . I don't think Tony being nice at the end made up for him being rude earlier, but that's my opinion only.

SophiaZ123 said...

Miss the press conferences today?????? But was happy with SPEED to REPLAY monday's show since there was not repeat last night.

As far as tony on SPEED's show, he looked a little grumpy but I would not call him HOSTILE or rude...just not having a great day.

after reading the comments from yesterday i was expecting to see a real punk attitude. He did not look happy but it was ok.


Now I am curious to the press conference deal...what station carried that and is there a link?

Thanks AGAIN to SPEED for repeating Monday's show.

elena said...

to anon, thanks for the heads up on Best Life mag with Jeff. He's also going to co-host Regis and Kelly on Thursday. He is a good example of what makes good tv.

I cannot accept that if a driver is rude, he's "real." If a driver is nice and polished, he's "phony."

Most everyone of my adult friends and family members work with the public. They are nice, and they are not phony. One of the greatest NCAA basketball coaches of all time lost his job for being "himself." Being "real" is not all it's cracked up to be.

Million of fans will never get the chance to go to a race or game. Athletes are the ambassadors to their sport. So who does that and make good tv? Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Payton Manning, and yes Jeff and Jr.

Karen said...

Elena,

Jeff is cohosting Friday, the 18th, on Regis & Kelly according to my cable guide and elsewhere I read a post.

Truck Series Fan! said...

Well I like Larry Mac's naturalness but Tony's sarcasm isn't funny (I think) and neither is Ryan Newman's correcting reporter's grammar.

elena said...

Thanks, Helen

Elena :>)

elena said...

Oop, sorry Karen. Thanks for info on Jeff.

elena :>)

haus20 said...

anonymous...what press conference were you watching? Any bit of sarcasm by Tony was followed by a smile from Tony and laughter from the audience...

btw...it is Clair B. Lang that says "Baptism by fire" at the end of the presser.

It is always nice to see real drivers and real personalities like Stewart - Harvick - and JPM.

These drivers are covered 38 weeks a year. The more you get to know someone the more you see the negatives that go along with all of the positives. That is what makes Nascar so enjoyable. These guys are human.

Passion, excitement and emotion is what makes this sport great. It is a part of problem with TNT and ESPN broadcasts...they don't have any of those ingredients in those broadcasts.

I am looking forward to Larry Mac and the fox crew. It will be very refreshing to see that again...

Anonymous said...

anonymous...what press conference were you watching? Any bit of sarcasm by Tony was followed by a smile from Tony and laughter from the audience...
...

Not true. Dale Jr. got genuine laughs, Tony got uneasy ones - until the very end with the host when he genuinely smiled at the host.

In USA TODAY-
...Stewart, a dyed-in-the-wool Midwesterner who grew up in Columbus, Ind., has been somewhat reluctant to discuss the Japan-based manufacturer. He provided mostly clipped answers Tuesday.

My opinion - The sentence ...he provided mostly clipped answers... is an understatement, though I suspect the reporter was trying to be diplomatic to Tony. Too early in 2008 to tick him off.

But I believe the USA TODAY reporter was seeing the exact Tony Stewart press conference I was.

Anonymous said...

Any bit of sarcasm by Tony was followed by a smile from TonyThis is known as being passive-agressive. (See Carl Edwards.)

Daly Planet Editor said...

OK guys, let's agree to disagree on Tony and wait for another day.

There is no doubt that there are going to be several different perspectives on Tony's situation, personal appearance and treatment of the media.

As a TV website, the only thing mentioned was his brief interview with Adam Alexander, who is new at dealing with Cup drivers.

What Adam did to Tony and also to Junior was ask questions that were "bigger" than the agenda at hand. In speaking to Stewart as if he knew him, Alexander got nothing from Stewart during the entire interview, which is the reason it was mentioned.

In speaking to Junior during his first on-track testing, Alexander kept trying to focus on winning the race for Hendrick, as opposed to the type of day-to-day TV questions that Junior likes to answer.

Alexander should get better as these shows go on by simply limiting his agenda to what actually happened that day, and letting the drivers themselves bring up the potential of doing well in the race.

Since the interviews are recorded, there is no need to keep "pushing" the agenda of winning the race when these guys are basically just turning the first wheel of the season.

Thanks!

JD

Lisa Hogan said...

Well said, JD
I just want to repeat that Larry Mac is always welcome on my TV. :)

Anonymous said...

In speaking to Stewart as if he knew him, Alexander got nothing from Stewart during the entire interview, which is the reason it was mentioned.

That's the problem. Last season, and I guess this season, Tony acts like you have to EARN the chance for him to answer your question. He did it with the ESPN reporter from NASCAR NOW, and he did it with Adam. It's ridiculous.

Of course athletes are going to have reporters they prefer talking to or feel more comfortable with, but usually they aren't so blatant in their disrespect of those who aren't in that group. Because they are professionals and act as such.

Why does Alexander have to "know" Stewart to conduct a competent, reasonable interview? You said above that Adam knows his stuff. He has NASCAR experience in the Trucks, so obviously he know something about the sport. Adam didn't "do" anything to Tony in that interview and the questions were not inappropriate or suspicious. These drivers (and other athletes) have been asked every question under the sun in their years. Why are NASCAR drivers suddenly entitled to be coddled/be protected by the TV reporters? (Since you said that's not the day-to day question Jr "likes" to answer.)

Jimmie Johnson during Champion's Week was interviewed by many people and outlets who had probably never been to a race. He didn't "know" them, yet managed to answer their questions.

I hope we don't see "the media, especially ESPN, is treating Tony poorly" mentioned as a theme in these blogs this season. Tony should NOT get a pass for this behavior.

Anonymous said...

Post above: 'Jimmie Johnson during Champion's Week was interviewed by many people and outlets who had probably never been to a race. He didn't "know" them, yet managed to answer their questions.'

I'm trying to imagine the week before the Super Bowl and trying to imagine, Eli Manning, Brady, Favre, or Tomlinson rudely or brusquely answering a question from a reporter they've never seen - because there's gonna be a thousand of 'em roaming around - because that reporter isn't their friend or the person who is usually in the locker room covering them.

I'm imagining the NFL would take a nice chunk out of their pocketbook for doing so.

But of course, those guys are not on the level (ha) of Tony Stewart, who gets to do what he wants.