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.
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