Sunday, May 4, 2008
Jimmy Spencer Faces-Off With "Old DW"
Normally, the SPEED program called Victory Lane appears shortly after the Sprint Cup race is over on Sunday. Recorded live from the Victory Lane area at each track, the show then appears on SPEED at 8PM Eastern Time.
When NASCAR schedules the Sprint Cup race to be held on Saturday, a strange thing happens. SPEED holds the show until the regular time on Sunday night. Fans searching for post-race TV coverage are drawn to ESPNEWS, a network that began covering NASCAR extensively this season. The network provides live coverage of the press conferences from the Infield Media Centers, and has done a solid job this year.
After all the action on Saturday night, fans tuning into Victory Lane on Sunday got a whole lot more than they might have bargained for. Host John Roberts and panelist Kenny Wallace were still stunned by the final turn of events on the track as the program started, but another panelist was ready to speak his mind.
Jimmy Spencer is far removed from his title as "Mr. Excitement." His presence on TV has been an interesting mix of colossal mistakes and fascinating insights. On this Sunday night, Spencer was about to have the best TV show of his entire career.
With Roberts and Wallace at a loss for words about the Busch vs. Earnhardt incident, it was Spencer who stepped right-in and began with a shot at NASCAR on Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip.
"What I heard on Fox was just political correctness. They are trying to make it right. Kyle Busch made a major, major mistake here. This guy (Busch) needs to respect the lead (of the race). He drove in the corner too hard and he took out Dale Junior. I think he went over the line and that is my opinion," said Spencer.
Victory Lane uses hard working Bob Dillner as a reporter. On this show, he delivered great sound with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and pushed him a bit on-camera. After Earnhardt delivered a patient answer about the incident, Dillner asked him about some additional team radio comments about Kyle Busch.
Junior responded "you just put words in my mouth trying to start some crap." Earnhardt then followed it up with what is destined to be a classic. "If I want to talk to Kyle I have to get in line," said Junior. Dillner has been outstanding on this series, and his ability to get in the media crunch and come out with the story was on display again Sunday night.
Spencer was on a roll, and he continued with his analysis of exactly what happened with Busch and Earnhardt. Spencer spoke directly to the fans in very plain and simple terms. He broke things down to the basics.
"He (Busch) overshot the corner. He drove in maybe fifty or seventy-five feet too far. Junior gave him the room that he needed and Kyle took too much. That is for me, disrespect for your fellow competitor. He just did not respect Junior enough to back down a little bit," stated Spencer.
It was Bob Dillner's turn again, and this time he had Kyle Busch exclusively for SPEED. Dillner set the table, and let Busch comment on the entire incident and what led up to the contact. Busch half-jokingly said this night might have ruined his career. Dillner allowed Busch to talk, and then asked him what he might have done differently. His answer was simple, just go into the corner a bit lower.
This was Victory Lane giving both drivers an opportunity to speak to the issue. It was also a perfect opportunity for Spencer to sum-up his thoughts. Spencer's point was easy to understand. In Busch's interview he spoke to many topics, but never apologized to Dale Junior for effectively ending his night.
"He is a talented driver and the sport needs him," said Spencer. "He will heal from this, he will win more races, he will contend for the championship. He just has to learn a little bit more maturity."
Kenny Wallace then said this could be the turning point in Kyle Busch's career. It was Busch himself with Dillner who suggested he might have ruined his career with that one move and the subsequent accident.
From start-to-finish, this show belonged to Jimmy Spencer. Love him or hate him, this is the role that SPEED hired him to fill. He provides analysis based on his many years in several forms of racing, and then adds-in a unique opinion that is often the most memorable of all the NASCAR racing analysts.
As this show continues to gain momentum, SPEED may reconsider a late night Saturday airing for the remaining night races. With Darlington looming, Victory Lane is set for even more fireworks under the lights.
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