Monday, January 21, 2008

SPEED's "Monday Thunder" Covers The Bases


John Roberts and Ray Dunlap kicked-off the week for SPEED's continuing NASCAR Pre-Season Thunder shows. The duo never mentioned the absence of Phil Parsons, normally the analyst for the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series pre-season shows.

Dunlap provided a lot of information from the analyst chair in the studio, and showed-off his vast knowledge of the personalities involved in the sport. It was nice to have Dunlap to guide viewers through many of the new faces who will be involved in the series for 2008.

Roberts gave Dunlap free reign to present the news, and his work resulted in a very interesting profile of the new Nationwide Series. Several topics were covered, including the focus of the series as new driver development and the potential issue of an age limit increase for the Sprint Cup. These were the drivers most affected.

Then, Dunlap broke out the big issue. He said that it was going to be next to impossible for an independent Nationwide team to compete against the "super teams" of the Sprint Cup owners.

He acknowledged that even with the advent of the COT in the Sprint Cup series, fans were probably in for another year of dominance by those drivers in the second-tier Nationwide tour. Carl Edwards was interviewed, and he once again committed that his "super team" was going for the Nationwide championship.

It was nice of John Roberts to have a video update of NASCAR VP Robin Pemberton announcing the change in the Sprint Cup qualifying. It was bold of Ray Dunlap to immediately say NASCAR "almost" got it right. Dunlap pointed out that the non-top 35 cars need to qualify before the rest of the field in case of rain. That certainly seems like a common sense issue.

Give credit to SPEED for showing the weekend testing highlights of the Nationwide action. This extra bit of effort really helped. Dunlap also presented the regular "tech tip" and updated viewers on the new restrictor plates that will be used on the Nationwide cars during the season.

In The Daly Planet Sunday column previewing this show, we suggested that it was going to be important for SPEED to "take the temperature of the Nationwide Series, and then report honestly on the overall health of the patient."

As John Roberts closed out the show with Dunlap, he asked Ray "what is your opinion of the health of the Nationwide Series?" You really can't get any better response from a TV network than that.

Dunlap acknowledged that there will be less than full fields this season, and suggested that NASCAR scrap their previous practice of "assisting" some teams to get to the racetrack so the field would be full of 43 cars.

Dunlap suggested cutting the fields to 36, but keeping the prize money the same and distributing it to the smaller field. He also reminded viewers that in 2009 this series would go to their own version of the COT. The tough issue this season for owners is that every current Nationwide car will be off the track next year.

This was a well put together show by SPEED. It updated the weekend action, as well as the Monday happenings. It contained video from The Media Tour, a Bob Varsha promo for the Rolex 24 and lots of good driver soundbites, including the series champion Carl Edwards.

Very quietly, SPEED has made something very interesting out of what most of us thought was boring. That would be pre-season testing. By combining the production resources of the network as a whole, these weeks of coverage have become solid programs that are "can't miss" viewing for fans waiting for the season to begin.

There is one more Nationwide testing show on Tuesday, and then SPEED steps into first-time TV coverage of the Charlotte Media Tour. The Tuesday program is at 7PM Eastern Time.

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8 comments:

Anonymous said...

JD, you negelcted to mention that, when Dunlap said NASCAR "Almost" got it right (re: qualifying) and said the go-or-go-home cars should run first in case the weather is an issue later, Roberts, instead of agreeing or disagreeing essentially negated his comments by saying something to the effect of, "You're never happy."

Yes, he smiled, but the point was made.

I like John Roberts, but were I Dunlap, when the show went into a break, I would have said, "Hey, don't ever do that to me again on the air."

It isn't Roberts place to shoot down (or minimize) the opinions of the other hosts.

Some might even say he was pandering to the NASCAR brass by doing that.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 6:40AM,

I thought they were just kidding around, but now I see your point.

The fact that Dunlap was both the analyst and the reporter and did the Tech tip was kind of new.

I thought Ray turned in a strong performance, and even kept his outspoken nature going despite his problems in the past.

JD

Truck Series Fan! said...

I was surprised when Ray stated that Nascar "almost got it right". His point made sense to me, but cutting the field to 36 or so cars and then it'll have 75% cup drivers in it (in my opinion). I don't like the way that sounds. And then next year it'll have 85% cup drivers in it and so on.

Anonymous said...

I was surprised that they didn't address the fact that Pemberton provided the reasoning behind having the GOGH cars run last -- that a team could gain an unfair advantage by faking an issue and having their run delayed.

I had been of Ray's opinion but when I read what Pemberton had said I acknowledged Nascar's wisdom in hiring the guys who used to break the rules to make the new ones. :D

Tripp said...

Good show by Speed overall. Ray, in his unique style got the good information across in an entertaining fashion.

Ray's opinion about "almost getting it right" is correct or not depending upon your point of view. From the race team's perspective, he's probably correct, but remember that NASCAR is a sport presented as entertainment. As drama is key in the presentation, and the most dramatic parts of qualifying is when the GOGH guys are on the track, it would be silly to spend all the drama at the beginning. So from a purist's perspective, having the GOGHers first makes sense, but the networks prefer them at the end. In the real world, that makes more sense.

Also, Ray's contention was supported by his argument about weather. He said that if the GOGHers qualify first, then rain during qualifying wouldn't potentially keep them out of the race. This is not true. In order for qualifying to be "official", all of the cars scheduled to qualify must turn their laps on the track. If weather halts qualifying before all have run, then the starting order reverts to the first 42 in owner's points and the past champion's provisional.

Unless NASCAR made a rule change that wasn't covered on Speed's report then Ray got it wrong, which he doesn't often do.

Anonymous said...
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haus20 said...

just a general Speed "thunder" question...are they broadcasting out of the hollywood hotel or is that an actual Daytona Media center?

Daly Planet Editor said...

haus,

That is the broadcast studio in the infield that is used by multiple networks.

JD