Friday, February 22, 2008
"Trackside" All The Action SPEED Can Muster
Few people thought that one memory of the weekend at the California Speedway would be Darrell Waltrip asking if anyone had some gloves because he was freezing. Yes, that is DW and his Super Nova a while back in warmer times.
DW was alongside of host Steve Byrnes and the usual suspects Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond on the SPEED Stage in Fontana. Because of the bad weather, SPEED had decided to push Trackside up to 8:30PM and call it a day. It was a good idea.
Matt Kenseth stopped by in the middle of the rainy mess and bailed out the Trackside crew with some good conversation. One of the key elements of this TV series is that drivers get talking with the panel and forget about the TV cameras. Kenseth was great, and even stepped-in to help the experts with the rain-out procedures for setting the field for Sunday.
Next to come to the set was Bobby Labonte, and he was even better than Kenseth. Labonte addressed a wide variety of topics from the COT to his own personal choices in career path. Seeing him in this casual setting looking good on TV and speaking his mind really suggests a future guest appearance on This Week In NASCAR.
Labonte was the perfect person to address the Petty Racing relocation to the Mooresville, NC area. He spoke in very plain terms about how hard it is for teams like Petty to keep-up with the super-teams. Labonte continued to echo the comments of Kenseth about the continuing discoveries with the COT and the most interesting aspects of this new car.
As the rain began to fade, McReynolds asked Labonte about the potential problems with the Nationwide Series. His answer was interesting. What Labonte quietly said was that the Cup Series owners were adversely affecting this series. Without offending anyone, Labonte made his point about the fact that in the past, the Cup racers fielded their own cars. Now, the big owners bring-in their hired drivers to try and dominate the series. Point well made.
Byrnes keeps this show casual and fun. The panel has worked together for so long the jokes fly and the guests are all in on it. The best part of the California show was that after an all-day rain delay that did not allow any cars on the track, some good old NASCAR fans still braved the weather to stand at the SPEED Stage.
Kudos to SPEED for hanging in there and the entire TV crew for keeping the equipment operating in tough conditions. Hopefully, Saturday will find a nice day in the area of the country where they all say it never rains.
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