Tuesday, May 6, 2008
"This Week In NASCAR" Covers Richmond And Darlington
"You can't just be that irresponsible" said Michael Waltrip. What a way to start the Monday episode of This Week In NASCAR on SPEED.
It was a four minute review of Richmond at the top of the show that featured Steve Byrnes hosting with Waltrip and Chad Knaus as the panel for an hour. Byrnes tried to cover as much ground about Richmond as possible. He knew what was coming.
Waltrip's point about Kyle Busch was that drivers must remain in control of their car, even late in the race. "This is unacceptable behavior," said Waltrip. "You can't just run over the leader and wreck them." Waltrip reinforced that Busch had a prior history of doing just this, and that somehow it was now just accepted by NASCAR.
Knaus had a different view, and took the time to point it out. Knaus was not so sure TV provided a good view of what happened. "Just because he (Busch) has a bit of a cloud around him right now, I don't think you can throw the whole Junior nation at him," said Knaus. His point was that it had happened many times before in the sport while going for the win, and it was not as bad as it was being made out to be.
"If you want to call it black-and-white, he screwed up," answered Waltrip. "Saturday night he was wrong and that is what I saw."
As usual in this show, once the momentum starts to build it is quickly deflated by the format. It was time to leave the emotion and the interest of the most recent race, and begin a long drawn-out preview of Darlington. You could almost feel the energy leave the room.
Although the NASCAR Media Group that produces the show turns-out wonderful features with outstanding editing, it is still tough to change gears and put the "preview" before the "review." Even with the drama and majesty of Darlington, the memories of the emotion surrounding Richmond in the first segment lingered.
It was twenty-two minutes into the show when Byrnes admitted to TV viewers that because of the test at Lowe's Motor Speedway, TWIN had been taped on Sunday. He introduced an "insert" from the Speedway featuring Waltrip and Greg Biffle.
Their discussion centered on the COT and the continuing issues of the car on the mile-and-a-half speedways. It was a nice point made by Waltrip that the COT is bigger than last season's car, and on narrow tracks like Charlotte it was going to get a bit crowded.
This week, the show got to the Richmond highlights before the thirty minute mark. Denny Hamlin was the early emphasis as Byrnes led the group through the video. Knaus and Waltrip worked well together on the issues in the race. They dealt with Hamlin lapping a lot of cars and the short track problem of seeing through the tire smoke in accidents.
When the topic got to the Waltrip accident, things got honest. "What you expect at that level is someone to not make that mistake," said Waltrip. "It was just unfortunate for me." Knaus tried to kid Waltrip that as he pushed Mears down the track Waltrip's rear tires were spinning and Mears has his completely locked-up.
Waltrip repeatedly said he felt like a 12 year old while he sat in the NASCAR trailer. Since he was wrecked anyway, Waltrip said that being parked by NASCAR was probably the best thing to do.
Byrnes chose to move the program ahead and did not ask Waltrip if he would do the same thing again now that he had time to think about it. Byrnes had raised the issue that the deliberate retaliation cost Waltrip a lot of points. Waltrip himself questioned whether his new COT car was really wrecked, or if he may have been able to continue after the first hit. That question will remain unanswered.
Things got interesting when the topic of Denny Hamlin stopping on the track came up. "You have to penalize him," said Waltrip. "He can't just pull up there and bring out a caution." Knaus and Byrnes were not so quick to agree.
"I don't know what happened." said Knaus. This did not go over well with Waltrip, who clearly believed Knaus and Byrnes were being politically correct. Knaus hung-on to the belief than when he "knew" the facts he could pass judgement.
"Is there any way we could just every now and then call it an ace?" asked Waltrip. "Just say he did it and that's what it is." Byrnes asked Waltrip when he had become the voice of reason. "I'm getting old," answered Waltrip.
As the final recap of the race, the panel once again reviewed the Busch vs. Junior accident. Waltrip again said Busch just got in over his head, and both panelists reviewed the strong race of Earnhardt's Hendrick team. They closed out the content portion of the show by complimenting Clint Bowyer both on and off the track.
The "scanner chatter" continues to be a strong feature on this show, and the "weekend review" and questions from viewers have been regulars since the new show began.
It seems that TWIN is going to stick with the "preview before review" format this season, and adding-in an update from the Lowe's Motor Speedway about testing was a nice touch for this show.
All three panel members are continuing to create the personal relationships that will define this program, and there is no doubt that TWIN has come a long way from its original episode. Both the program and the personalities involved continue to generate strong feelings from NASCAR fans.
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