Monday, May 19, 2008

"TWIN" Continues To Find Its Footing


Steve Byrnes and company got off to a fast start with This Week In NASCAR on Monday. Joining Byrnes on the panel were Michael Waltrip and Greg Biffle.

This week, before the Coke 600 preview, the panel ran quickly through the All-Star action from Saturday night. They added video highlights and extended the conversation for several minutes.

This allowed Byrnes to ask the right questions of his two guests. Biffle talked tires and Waltrip talked about the COT and clear air. Both guests were emphatic in talking about the struggles of the teams with the COT cars.

Once again, Waltrip used his sense of humor to talk about his own struggles in the Sprint Showdown. Some small changes meant to help the car with performance turned instead into a straight pathway to the back of the pack.

This one segment aimed at the previous race really helped ease the transition to the extended preview of the Coke 600. Beginning with the added test session, the panel then moved into full preview mode. Biffle gave way to Waltrip as an owner about the hassle of the test vs. the reward.

The historic footage of David Pearson was a nice start to the edited feature on the history of the Lowe's Motor Speedway. As usual, the NASCAR Media Group prepared an outstanding feature with footage not seen on other NASCAR TV programs. The follow-up conversation with the panel "paid off" the issue of future champions.

Moving to the review of the All-Star race, it was clear the panel did not like AJ Allmendinger's actions where Elliott Sadler was concerned. The comments were low-key, but the message was clear. It was an interesting way to get the message across.

There had to be a Dale Jarrett tribute, and it was going to be interesting to hear Michael Waltrip's comments. Waltrip chose to focus on the fact that Jarrett has remained a family man committed to the things in life away from racing that are important. His summary was that DJ had remained the same person regardless of the amount of success he achieved in the sport.

The panel finished-off the All-Star discussion with good comments from both panelists. Then, the fun began with talk about the unfortunate burnout competition. As Biffle said, since he was the only one that actually followed the rules the competition was not all that hard to win.

The extended feature from NMG using the scanners, radio and TV announcers from the All-Star race was even better with Biffle on the set. He was the perfect person to follow-up this feature with his comments as one of the race contenders.

After a brief review of the Truck Series, the fan questions brought-up topics like Sam Hornish and his "crab" car. One thing for certain is that between Biffle and Waltrip, almost everything NASCAR can get answered completely.

This program had a relaxed and friendly feel that had been missing from this series. Waltrip seems at ease, and Biffle continues to contribute good information because often times he was in the mix himself. It may have helped that the Producer allowed the panelists to talk a bit more about the race from the previous weekend first.

This one little touch really allowed the show to get "cranked up" and the conversation to begin flowing. Hopefully, this can continue after the Coke 600 and for the rest of the season. There should be plenty of highlights and plenty of stories next Monday on This Week In NASCAR.

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17 comments:

Kyle said...

JD,
I'm glad I read your article, otherwise I would have probably given the show a pass.

I got to the 8 minute mark of tonight's show, when they started talking about the test that happened what 2 3 weeks ago? I decided to take my new puppy Sadler (GO #19!) for a walk. Guess I'll have to Tivo the replay tomorrow.

Beating dead horse, Speed please stop showing us next week (or in this case 2-3 weeks ago) before showing us "last night". We understand there's time issues, but next week we be played over and over during Race Day and the other at track show you have on race weekend.

You have the pre produced segments, so you know exactly how long the conversational part of the show can last. Split it in 2 segments run the packages in between them, do a 2-5 minute next week preview and call it a show. I wouldn't miss that format of a show, the current format is just to painful to watch.. probably beating the dead horses skeleton at this point.....

Richard in N.C. said...

JD- FYI Greg Biffle was the guest co-host with Mark Garrow on Doug Rice's NASCAR call-in show on PRN tonight also.

Dannyboy said...

Not a bad show, but I'm still not getting why it is that I should watch a show that is less interesting than the one it replaced.

Am I the only one out here in TV land who couldn't care less if they eliminated the long, fancy pre-produced pieces that we already see on other shows like the pre-race shows or the like? I don't care if the production values are really good (and they are)- it's not why I watch this show.

On a constructive note: If you're going to play scanner audio, it would help if they identified the driver or crew chief who is speaking. They sometimes don't give us enough time to catch who it is we're listening to.

Anonymous said...

Last night's show was an improvement. The show was crisp and stayed 'on message'. They assigned blame in the AJ/Sadler incident instead of dancing around the issue.

Anonymous said...

Great show, very informative, relaxing to watch, with some humor thrown in, it all just really clicked for me last night. The All Star race for me was not real interesting, so glad they did not spend alot of time on it. Sometimes people take life too seriously, that is one thing MW has the ability to do when times are tough, he can make people laugh, even when he may not feel like laughing. Its great thearpy for all of us. Good show.

jfs-va said...

It was funny how Steve looked into the camera early on and said something like "we'll get to the Coke 600 preview a bit later" as if to assure fans of the preview that they would get to it. I thought that meant they would do the complete All Star review first, but nope, they didn't. They made it even more disjointed by discussing the race some, then going to the preview, then back.

Ritchie said...

"...it was clear the panel did not like AJ Allmendinger's actions where Elliott Sadler was concerned"

Here is one of my continuing problems with SPEED and the way they use on-air talent. Elliot Sadler works for Speeed on Trackside. Mr. Sadler fills in for Darrell Waltrip on SPEED. Mr. Sadler apparently is wrecked by Mr. Allmendinger. Michael Waltrip, who happens to be Darrell's brother, also works for SPEED and is on a TWIN giving his "objective" opinion about the accident.

Now I'm not saying that Mr. Allmendinger wasn't at fault, nor am I saying that Michael shouldn't assign blame to AJ. I'm just saying that at SPEED, if you aren't in their clique, you are probably going to take the blame regardless of what really happenned.

This is a problem I have seen more than once on this program. I have heard non NASCAR fans observe that NASCAR seems a lot like high school. If this is true, I guess SPEED is NASCAR'S version of MTV's "The Hills".

Anonymous said...

Good point about SPEED and Elliott Sadler. I notice sometimes they are easier on their "own" drivers, even in interviews, especially Elliott and Carl.

Nascar.com pointed out the irony in Sadler complaining, since he wrecked Tony Stewart at Darlington a few laps in with a dumb move, and pretty much ruined Tony's chance to win. Sadler said on TV it was a rookie mistake. So Sadler and the TWIN crew (Waltrip) has no reason to be unusually upset about with Allmendinger, who is probably more deserving of a rookie mistake than veteran Sadler. I guess Sadler's insulted he wasn't wrecked by a more famous driver.

Waltrip has spent the season on TWIN explaining away Michael McDowell's rookie mistakes. If Allmendinger drove for him, I'd bet he would do the same thing. So I think his bias is showing.

Ziggy said...

At this point in the season I nominate last night's production as "THE BEST SHOW OF THE YEAR".
The whole show was relaxed, not rushed, as MW & The Biff were able to discuss the topics without SB cutting them off. I almost fell out of my chair when SB stated they would get to the preview of the 600 a little on in the show. (like maybe 45 min later ?) but that never materialized - SOF (same old format). Anyway I agree with JD, it's finding it's groove.

Daly Planet Editor said...

jfs,

That was a "Daly Planet reader" line as those guys read your comments every week.

It got me laughing pretty good. Steve has a wicked sense of humor in real life.

JD

Anonymous said...

JFS, I got so excited when Steve talked about getting to the 600 a little later in the show. I thought, hallelujah, they've seen the light. Alas, our chains were just being yanked.

I'm only half-way through the show since I TIVOed it and haven't been able to watch it all. So far it seems better than the others this year.

Mary
Richmond, VA

SophiaZ123 said...

Mary

I confess, I felt SB yanked our chain and they would finally stop this lunatic backa$$ward sequence.*sigh* so I tuned out for a while and tuned back in way later.

JD, Twin may be continuing to find it's footing but until they take off their shoes that are obviously on backwards, they are still alienating many.

;-) jmo

Newracefan said...

Enjoyed the show, I too went finally with the SB "600 a little later" jokes on me. I wonder if that was Steve's way of saying he agree's with us but his hands are tied so he's doing what he can. Greg and Mikey work better together each week and defer to each other often which is a sign of respect in my book. I wonder if the guys would have been so critical of AJ if he had come out with I'm sorry when interviewed after the race like Elliot did when he wrecked Tony. That's were the difference is. I may be in the minority but I like this show. Did anyone else notice Mikey buttoned one of his sleeves half way thru the show, he cracks me up (I bet he leaves them unbuttoned because they are too short, he's a tall guy and my other half has the same problem with sleeves)

Deborah said...

A.J. did apologize profusely and took complete responsibility when he was interviewed exactly as Elliott did when he got into Tony but there's no telling if that was seen by those on the panel or by Elliott himself. I was wondering whether A.J. has done something on or off the track that fans might not be aware of that might be influencing the other drivers to not have much tolerance for his mistake.

Overall, I thought this was one of the best shows all season. I record it almost every week rather than watching live, and I found myself fast-forwarding much less than I have with prior shows. It seemed like there was much less filler and much more solid content and discussion. Michael and Greg were very good together last night - it was the first show where I wasn't wishing for a third panelist for an extra perspective. I watch because I want to hear the opinions of those who were in or at the race, as well as hear them joking around with each other and I got plenty of that last night. I hope they continue in this direction because it's a good one.

Dot said...

I too, was excited when Steve said that they would get to the 600 later. Dang, shot down in flames.

I will always watch this show even if it is backa**wards. Like I've said before, look what we did to ESPN with NN. Now it's Twins' turn. Look out SPEED, here we come.

Anonymous said...

I watch the show regularly...but I watch almost all NASCAR related material. For the most part, I enjoy the show.

Sometimes the comments are so comical that I'm almost rolling on the floor laughing about them. (and yes, it's usually Michael Waltrip's comments!) For instance, did anyone else think that Steve Bernes was going to lose it after the "surrounded by Busch" comment? And the look on Greg Biffle's face was priceless! (or am I the only one who thought this?)

While I normally don't see, hear, or learn anything new from the show, I do find it entertaining!

SophiaZ123 said...

Deborah,

I taped the race but did not watch it and got home in time for highlights on VL.

I also wondered if AJ did something OFF or away from track/cameras we are not aware of for the panel to be so hard on that guy. AND Sadler did make a bonehead move the week before with Stewart...so, I did not get the harshness.

I must admit the surrounded by Bush comment was funny and it did seem like SB let the guys talk more when I clicked over about half past the hour. When they talked about the ALL STAR race and even took a commercial break I got all excited that SPEED had heard our pleas.

Glad I was not the only one that felt flim-flammed, lol.

But more talk is good. I hoped they talked more during the preview part but frankly, can't stomach that out of order deal.
;-0