Saturday, March 8, 2008
SPEED's "Tradin' Paint" Suddenly Very Calm
There was a lot of anticipation before the Saturday edition of Tradin' Paint took to the air on SPEED. Host John Roberts had regular panelist Kyle Petty alongside and USA Today NASCAR Reporter Nate Ryan as the media guest.
It did not take Kyle Petty long to get cranked-up a bit about the Roush Racing penalties on the 99 team. Ryan offered that the penalties were right along the lines that NASCAR has followed since the COT was introduced.
Petty agreed, and decided that the point in question was really that "intent" had been the excuse offered by the Roush organization. "Intent is not in the rule book," said Petty. "Intent is not anything, take it and wipe your rear end with it."
Ryan was the USA Today reporter who highly publicized the comments of Lee White, now with the Toyota organization. Roberts made Ryan defend his story and White's comments, which he did by slipping behind the "free speech" excuse. Petty responded that White should have been questioned about why he made these comments.
"Lee White has no dog in that fight," said Petty. He continued to question why Ryan chose to use this type of comment in a national publication. Ryan was reminded that the Ford Racing management did not attack Michael Waltrip Racing and their engine additive issues one year ago in Daytona. The point was well made.
Changing the subject, Ryan responded to the Robby Gordon appeal with suggestions that the NASCAR appeal system is murky at best. Petty's point was that a mistake is a mistake, and Gordon's issue did not even merit the original penalty.
The remainder of the show featured polite conversation on topics that the Producer had chosen to offer the panelists. This season, that has been one of the problems with this program. It has gotten polite.
SPEED switched the positions of the panelists this season, which features the host in the middle and the other two panelists sitting awkwardly at the two ends of the main desk. As Jenna Fryer from the AP asked, "where do you put your legs?" It simply has not worked.
Another new wrinkle is trying to put the two panelist in a video effect featuring two boxes side-by-side. The pace of the show and the willingness of John Roberts to jump-in quickly makes this almost impossible. It might work for Larry King Live, but not for Tradin' Paint.
Roberts is the key to this program, and his role has to be defined. If this show is going to cream-puff NASCAR issues, it will join Pit Bulls on the cancelled shelf. Roberts let Ryan off-the-hook on why he chose to put a big sensationalized story in USA Today that was just as suspect as the Roush explanations it addressed.
Taped in front of a small crowd in the cold, this edition of Tradin' Paint was not exactly what the doctor ordered on a weekend packed with high-profile NASCAR news. Last season, after Petty joined the show, Tradin' Paint was on the "can't miss" list all year long.
This season, the SPEED executives need to do a little work on the set, the format and the topics to get this TV series back on-track. As the only show where non-TV media personalities are featured, it plays a vital role in exposing to the TV audience a lot of viewpoints that are not put forward by the full-time NASCAR TV announcers. It would be a shame if it faded away.
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