Sunday, June 1, 2008
"RaceDay" Changes Its Tune For TNT
"Enjoy it while you can" was the advice given to me as The Daly Planet followed-up on the big change coming for one of NASCAR's most popular TV shows.
Next week, as TNT comes on-the-air with their coverage of the sport, the network will once again present a ninety minute pre-race show divided into two separate programs. Marc Fein and Bill Weber will host.
Last season, SPEED's popular RaceDay program went head-to-head with TNT as both programs originated live from the track. This season, things will be different.
RaceDay will back-up and end its two hour live telecast when TNT begins the pre-race programming. So, RaceDay will be first and then ninety minutes of TNT will lead-into the live race. That means for the next six races there will be three and a half hours of live pre-race programming.
Just so everyone is on the same page, SPEED is owned by the Fox Cable Network Group and TNT is owned by Turner Broadcasting under the Time Warner corporate umbrella.
This week at Dover, RaceDay starts at 11:30AM and ends at 1:30PM when Chris Myers and the NASCAR on Fox gang take to the air in the Hollywood Hotel. Earlier this season, we actually saw RaceDay overlap with the Fox pre-race show even though both networks are ultimately owned by Fox.
This Sunday, John Roberts will host Elliott Sadler, Brian Vickers and Martin Truex Jr. as guests on the show. Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace will be alongside of Roberts as usual. They will review Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s season-to-date, recap Jody Ridley's amazing Dover win back in 1981 and Rutledge Wood is back to be, believe it or not, a stunt double.
Wendy Venturini will interview Mark McArdle, who is in charge of the Competition side of Gillett Evernham Motorsports. Where RaceDay is concerned, it may be Venturini who feels the effect of the schedule change when it takes place in another week.
Late in the RaceDay programs, Venturini has become known for her ability to seamlessly mix-in with the Cup teams and drivers as they assemble for driver introductions. She has also done a live "pit walk" from the starting grid as the show winds-down and the teams are in final preparations for the race.
All of these elements might disappear when RaceDay is moved ninety minutes earlier on the clock. The drivers will be doing very different things and the scene in the garage area and on pit road will also be very different.
One interesting aspect of this move is the absence of a June programming schedule on the SPEED website. The months jump from May to July, seemingly omitting the time period when TNT is on the air with regular weekly races before the big Daytona July race. Update: Since the original column, June is now on the website schedule page.
Last season, SPEED aggressively moved RaceDay right into the path of both TNT and ESPN/ABC as the Sprint Cup season left the cozy confines of the Fox Network. Now, it seems that for the next six weeks it will be TNT enjoying the exclusive ability to be live on-the-air as driver introductions and the final prep is underway for the races.
The Daly Planet will continue to follow this story and report on how and why these changes came about between two very different TV networks.
We welcome comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. The rules for posting are on the right side of the main page. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.