Monday, April 28, 2008
Talladega Takes A Backseat On TWIN
The debate rages every time that This Week In NASCAR throws the switch from review to preview. Once again on Monday, the SPEED program continued to pull the ultimate bait-and-switch on NASCAR fans.
Two of the key stories from the Sprint Cup race at Talladega involved Jimmie Johnson and Michael Waltrip. Their run at the end of the race and the colossal failure of either to complete that effort were certainly on the minds of the fans.
TWIN had Waltrip and Chad Knaus as panelists on the show and both were ready to talk for the full hour. Unfortunately, after a brief "teaser" about Talladega, the program once again followed the normal format and switched totally to a preview of the upcoming race from Richmond, VA.
Despite the outstanding video previews and footage of the Richmond action, fans still have to adjust to the panel talking about "the future" before the discussion of the past race has even started. Changing gears is tough to do when the other NASCAR TV shows do not follow this type of format. Perhaps, moving things around for one episode might be a good experiment.
Knaus and Waltrip have begun to have fun with each other on this show, and Waltrip has finally found his on-air groove with host Steve Byrnes. The fun is creeping back into this program in the same type of manner that it developed on the original Inside NEXTEL Cup series.
The NASCAR Media Group is also feeling out this show as they produce the series, and things have begun to take shape. The background now contains moving video, the lighting has improved, and the pace has been slowed down slightly. The program needs more camera shots of all three panelists, and the decision to have the two guests either talk to the host or the camera needs to be sorted-out.
Knaus is beginning to be a good match for Waltrip. While Waltrip brings his unique sense of humor and style to the program, Knaus is always trying to be the serious-minded crew chief. This contrast makes for some fun moments, and usually results in Knaus shaking his head in disbelief.
Once the show switched topics to Talladega, fans could see what should have been discussed right up-front. Waltrip, Knaus and Byrnes had a lot of fun with the highlights and the good vibe of this show was back. This included Waltrip "discovering" the truth about several issues he had during the race.
Knaus has proven to be a great student of the sport, and his analytical perspective is a welcome addition. His veteran comments about the racing action proved to be memorable when he discussed Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson coming together late in the event. He and Waltrip also addressed bump-drafting in a very frank manner.
Each week there is a review of some SPEED moments from the weekend and also an edited feature that contains "scanner chatter." This week that was lots of fun, and Knaus and Waltrip "tagged" the feature by saying some of the Cup drivers were "whiners."
The scanner feature transitioned directly into Dave Despain's weekly editorial. Perhaps, Despain could be best-served by emerging directly from a commercial and then letting the show proceed with business as usual.
A feature on Jeff Burton was informative, but interrupted the focus on last weekend's racing. There was a lot of conversation left on the table about Talladega and this is another big issue for this TV series. How many features are too many?
Surprisingly, both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series got very poor treatment. Despite the issues in both events, the highlights were minimal and the time allotted was brief. Certainly, the Nationwide discussion should have been much more substantial and wide-ranging.
As This Week In NASCAR continues to mature, the struggle to prioritize content will no doubt be the primary issue. Had this show featured the three weekend races and then transitioned into a Richmond preview, the results for the viewer may have been very different.
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