Monday, February 11, 2008
Surprise! "This Week In NASCAR" Will Debut Tonight On SPEED
Monday night takes on a whole new profile as SPEED has confirmed that the first episode of This Week In NASCAR will debut tonight at 9PM.
Still putting the final touches on this new program, SPEED had originally intended for the first "official" episode to air after the Daytona 500. Tonight should be an interesting show to put on the DVR or TiVo, as a new era begins for the network.
Steve Byrnes steps in as the TWIN host, and tonight Kenny Schrader and Michael Waltrip will be joined by Toyota driver David Reutimann. With all of the on-going stories about Daytona, including the success of MWR, it should be interesting.
Byrnes faces the challenge that Allen Bestwick handled so well, and that Dave Despain handled so poorly. Balancing three very distinct personalities all of whom have their own personal and professional agendas on display has always been a task.
The transformation of Schrader into a part-time Cup Series driver was painful to watch for many veteran fans. It was the exact same feeling when Johnny Benson transitioned to the Truck Series, and then ultimately off of the show. Now, Schrader is a story once again, and his mentoring of young drivers and his diverse racing activities other than Cup have come to the forefront.
Waltrip faces a choice of returning to the "Mikey of old" or continuing to push the boundaries of his personal credibility with ill-timed sponsor mentions and politically-driven tangents of conversation. This show played a key role in exposing the wonderful and quirky personality of Waltrip, and in 2008 it can once again serve to return him to a fan favorite. The choice is his.
While this espisode is in many ways a dress rehearsal, it may be just the "ice-breaker" that the new cast and production staff needs to get this TV series back on track. There is one non-points race to review, pole qualifying to discuss and the upcoming four days of racing to preview.
This may be exactly the right mix of topics for Steve Byrnes to explore as he begins to work toward the goal of injecting fun and laughter back into this show.
As Inside NEXTEL Cup gives way to This Week In NASCAR, it should be interesting to see if the magic is back. This first episode airs at 9PM Eastern Time on SPEED.
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