Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday Night TV Shoot-Out: Benson/LaJoie vs. Waltrip/Knaus

It is that time of the week again when the two big Monday NASCAR TV shows get to duke-it-out for your attention as a fan.

ESPN airs the one hour "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now at 5:30PM Eastern Time and then re-airs the show at 1AM Tuesday. SPEED airs This Week In NASCAR at 8PM and then repeats it twice at Midnight and 8AM on Tuesday morning.

Both these shows are after the same audience. NASCAR fans who want more information than they were able to get from the live TV and radio broadcasts. Despite the updated information and stories on the Internet, there is nothing like watching experienced NASCAR personalities talk about the weekend of racing.

On this Monday, NASCAR Now will continue to rotate panelists in the studio. Host Allen Bestwick will be joined by Randy LaJoie and Johnny Benson. Mike Massaro will also be on the panel and has become a semi-regular because of his ability to speak to almost any issue and his wealth of NASCAR reporting knowledge for ESPN over the years.

Over on SPEED, it will be the new "odd couple" of NASCAR TV with Michael Waltip as Oscar and the buttoned-up Chad Knaus as Felix on TWIN. The complete opposite personalities of these two have really begun to be a hit for SPEED. Waltrip seems to be finally comfortable with host Steve Byrnes and has begun to drive Knaus completely crazy on a regular basis, which is his main function on this program.

ESPN2 is up first, and Bestwick continues to have the best year of his long TV career. His transformation of this hour has been nothing short of amazing. The veteran crew slated for this Monday includes the winner of the NCTS race, a former Busch Series champ and one of the most experienced NASCAR reporters in the history of ESPN.

Bestwick continues to be long-winded, but when he keeps his questions short and lets the panelists talk, the show takes on a new dynamic. When he asks paragraph-length questions and adds-in his own opinion, things bog down in a hurry. Often, this depends on how responsive and interesting the panelists are during the show. On this Monday, Bestwick can just toss-out the topic and stand-back.

All the panelists get to ask questions of the two guests on the show and this has been a smart idea. Different views and personalities are what this sport is all about and the constantly changing faces on this TV series have made it work this season.

Over on SPEED, Byrnes might have a good show because of the wild nature of the Sonoma race and the fact that New Hampshire is next. Both of these topics are going to be good for Waltrip and Knaus in both review and preview mode. Which will come first this week?

When Byrnes can get Waltrip to settle-in and feel comfortable right away, viewers can sense that the show is going to come up to full-speed in a hurry. If things get off-base, the rest of the hour suffers. To both their credit, Waltrip and Knaus have been firm in their viewpoints and often hilarious in their differences.

This week, Daly Planet readers can view the programs and then offer their reactions on this post. We will skip the individual columns this week and let you tell us what parts of the shows you enjoyed, and what you think needs to change. Your comment can be any length, but please observe the rules on the right side of the main page.

To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by our site and offer your NASCAR TV comments.


Dot said...

Hi JD,
Hey, I'm the first one here.
I just looked into the future and we have Tennis on ESPN2 prior to First Report, then NN. After that Rome is Burning. Then, my favorite College Baseball.
There is a one hour cushion for us to see NN in its entirety (sp?). JD, I'm checking your site tomorrow to see if the time is changing. My DVR is already set. I got burned last week. Did see it later though. At least TWIN is on when SPEED says it is.

Vicky D said...

I always enjoy hearing Randy's comments and with JB & AB should be a great show. I'll be out of town for a week, so maybe the shows will be broadcast at the stated times then I'll be able to watch them on the DVR on my return. I would be ticked off if ESPN changes the time at the last minute.

Ritchie said...

Mr. Daly,

I am going to have to take you to task for the following statement:

Both these shows are after the same audience. NASCAR fans who want more information than they were able to get from the live TV and radio broadcasts.

These two show are as similar as Meet the Press and The View. Yes, they both talk racing, but I can't believe many people choose TWIN to get in-depth information. If that truly is their target audience, then they are delusional.

It is as you have pointed out before, Michael Waltrip is the franchise. The people who currently watch this show do so with the intent of being entertained by his silliness. Sure, there may be a pearl of racing wisdom that drops out of his mouth every so often, but no one is sitting on their couch expecting it. They are simply waiting for the zaniness to comence.

Maybe I am getting a bit too protective of NN, but I just don't feel that TWIN should be placed on the same level as NN. One is substance, one is fluff.

Gary said...

Speaking of THE VIEW, we need all the females (that report from the track) to do a weekly panel show about what they saw going on during the previous race, from their perspective.

It would be good timing for NASCAR PR to be behind such an effort, without any stated talking points, etc. Hah!

Anonymous said...

Ritchie is 100% correct, these shows are 180 degrees apart. Nascar Now has become must see TV for those of us who really love racing. Smart, intelligent, informative, with guests who are prepared for the show and always inform and entertain us. TWIN on the other hand is a show I have stopped watching as I have had my fill of MW, with his DOPEY demeanor and poor attempts at being humorous. Definitely SUBSTANCE vs. FLAKY FLUFF!!This blog seems to be overly protective of the Waltrip brothers, but I for one feel it is time for FOX/ SPEED to consider replacing them with talent comparable to what ESPN and TNT has. That race broadcast yesterday on TNT was very good, I even think Larry Mac has found a role he is good in. If you compare right down the line it isn't even close, Mark Fien vs. Chris Meyers, Wally and Kyle vs. DW and Larry, Larry in his new role vs. Hammond,except for Mike Joy, TNT's people are much better and do a much better job of bringing us the race coverage. I for one don't mind checking the TV listings as I don't want to miss NN.

Anonymous said...

I personally think those who don't like TWIN because they think MW is "flaky" and not "serious" enough need to pull the stick out of their rears and learn to have fun.
Funny how you'd rather watch a show about NASCAR with guys that weren't even in the Cup or Nationwide races, but in trucks. Lajoie doesn't even drive anymore, just makes the seats those drivers sit in. So if you'd rather have the info from guys not even in the big races, rather that info from a driver/team owner that actually raced in the Cup race and a championship crew chief that was there, by all means, go for it.
I personally would rather have my info from the guys that were actually there. JB is great but he is not in Cup racing anymore and I actually wish he was back on TWIN

Anonymous said...

This blog seems to be overly protective of the Waltrip brothers
You haven't been reading it long, have you?

Anonymous said...

If you read them very carefully, Ritchie's and Anon 9:20's comments are accurate and right on the money. There is no need to become upset over them or try to insult someone for an opposite point of view. Sometimes when you read something that is true but at the same time you don't like it, you can react very negatively or lash out at the person or persons responsible. That's not the point of this blog, it's to express views and hopefully the networks listen and make changes that most viewers want. I know others who share these opinions about TWIN and NN as well. NN and TWIN are two completely different shows, with two different approaches. I personally like the NN approach.

Ritchie said...

anon 9:31

Easy my friend. I didn't say that there was no place for watching Mikey doing his comedy routine. I just said the shows are different.

Yes, Mr. Waltrip was in the race, but last year he wasn't in half of them and he still remained as a panelist. That tells us that viewers didn't care about his experience in the race. Viewers simply wanted the Michael Waltrip Comedy Hour.

Greg said...

My God, Lighten Up This is racin', it's supposed to be fun. We are not curing cancer here, we are trying to figure out how to make a car go faster. I can't see how people want it both ways. You gripe at NASCAR that they won't let the drivers be themselves, then you gripe at the drivers because they are not all serious and corporate. If you want serious corporate information then watch NN. If you want racing information with some humor then watch TWIN. But John is right, both shows are going for as many viewers as they can get because they want the money!!

If you are truly interested in racing and getting "inside" information, then get off your butt and buy a car and go to your local short track and learn how to drive. Sorry, but ESPN and SPEED are TV shows, not actual sources of racing information. You sound like Cole Trickle.

You know what racing and sex have in common? Most guys think they are good at it!

Oh, and BTW, Allen Bestwick is by far the most talented NASCAR reporter and play by play guy in the business. It astounds me how much abuse that guy has taken over the years. Why ESPN doesn't have him in Doc's position is unfathomable. Keep it up Allen, we love your work!

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Good Morning JD,
Based on the last 8 comments(2 through 10), one would think the Shoot-Out already started. Love the picture at the top of your page. Look forward to more of the same that we get every week on NASCAR Now, a top notch program as usual. And I do enjoy Mike and Chad on TWIN. It is just that I do not record or watch the show live until I have read the comments in your column, in that I do not care about a race I have yet to see at the start of the program. Thanks, JD.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

comments 3 through 10, sorry for the typo.

SophiaZ123 said...


Shootout indeed! I think we need a sheriff or at least a Barney Fife with bullet in his pocket. :-)

To Anon responding about the Waltrip brothers with something like "You haven't been reading this blog long have you?" made me laugh out loud.

Like Lou, I usually wait until comments about TWIN before deciding to watch..ONLY because i also hate the nonsensical ba$$ackwards format.

NN shall be "time slot roulette" per usual on ESPN. That's the most annoying thing about that show. And good luck on the repeats. That can never be found without a court order, search warrant and a map !!

Ritchie said...

Hi Greg,
Thanks for the stream of consciousness you offered to us.

Sorry, but ESPN and SPEED are TV shows, not actual sources of racing information.
You are saying that ESPN and SPEED are not sources for information? That is actually the only reason they exist.

We are not curing cancer here, we are trying to figure out how to make a car go faster.
I thought we were watching TV. Who is making the cars go faster? Who was trying to cure cancer? Why can't the people you are talking about do both?

You gripe at NASCAR that they won't let the drivers be themselves, then you gripe at the drivers because they are not all serious and corporate.
Who is griping at NASCAR? I was griping at Mr. Daly, but only mildly. We are all griping about the TV shows, but not the drivers directly.

You sound like Cole Trickle.
I don't know what you meant by that, but I find it strangly amusing. I guess I would respond by saying you sound like Jean Girard.

Just joking. Enjoyed your post.

Daly Planet Editor said...

I think you guys have taken a good look at exactly why NASCAR TV is so diverse.

Bestwick has pointed NN in an entirely different direction, but last year at this time we were all ganging-up on the horrible version of the same show ESPN was putting on-the-air.

NN is holding a very tight line to the "look" of the show. Suits and ties in HD are a lot different than khaki shirts and Mikey's goofy shoes.

Both networks are chasing the same audience with two completely different approaches. It's fun to watch.

NN misses a crew chief perspective and TWIN misses a third voice. Again this week both shows will go without. I look forward to reading your reviews of both shows when they are complete.

By the way, your comments have made this the top-rated NASCAR blog on the Internet. Thank you for your contributions.


bevo said...

I just wish they would bring back RPM2Nite :)

Sadie said...

Personally, I'd rather watch khaki pants and goofy shoes, than stiff shirts and ties, I see that all day at work. They are two different shows with two different ideas on discussing the same race. I don't understand what is the big deal is. If I get home in time to watch NN, I watch it. If not, I'll watch TWIN for the same information but with a laugh or two. No biggie here.

glenc1 said...

bevo, you said it. And I didn't mind that RPM covered all kinds of racing; I learned about other series I didn't know existed. It was a totally different kind of show than any on right now. They didn't talk one guy to death (Busch, Logano), cause there was so much to cover. Not the most in depth, but that wasn't what it tried to do. Sigh.

I do agree that these shows may be looking at a similar audience, but they're on at totally different times so you can watch both if you're inclined (and obviously one could record one even if they were simultaneous.) I don't really see it as a competition though.

Anonymous said...

They are two different shows with two different ideas on discussing the same race. I don't understand what is the big deal is.

I don't, either--I watch both.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, but ESPN and SPEED are TV shows, not actual sources of racing information.

Sure, they are--when someone in NASCAR racing appears on those shows and says something, that's "information."

Not sure how YOU define "information."

Newracefan said...

Watch both, Love both. When I'm done I have had many different perspectives on the same race and the problem with that is?

Anonymous said...

There is no competition...when at best all you get in local print is 1 summarized story and TV network news is 15 seconds (at the most)...I will take as many progams as SPEED and ESPN have to offer.

SophiaZ123 said...

Boo hiss. JB could not get there due to bad weather. if this show were in Charlotte, easy to get last minute fill in.

Spring Rubber said...

It's a shame we don't have Johnny Benson. They said he was supposed to fly in, but the airport got shut down all day due to storms in the area

Dot said...

I got in late and turned on NN expecting to see Tennis. Surprise, surprise it's NN. Will catch what I missed on tape.
To Sophia,
Thanks for the JB upate. I was just wondering where he was. BTW, I liked your "time slot roulette" comment. I wish I would've used that in my first post. Too funny.
PS, I now set the DVR at a two hour window so if NN is late starting, I can see all of it.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Whew!, were the first 25 minutes fast paced or what. Take a breath. Lots of recap info on the race. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

I was looking forward to seeing Johnny. Oh well. Maybe I won't watch the whole thing now.

Newracefan said...

HD channel not broadcasting in PA as per Comcast so I missed the first 45 minutes. HUmmmmmm. Guess I'll DVR the SD from tonight in case it's not fixed hopefully it will be on time. Maybe I'll add a few extra shows too. What a bummer

Tracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I love TWIN. I look forward every week to TWIN. I find TWIN to be entertaining and fun while being informative.

NASCAR Now? I find it a little dry, too talky, and everyone seems like they are on their best behavior reporting news - it makes for a boring show.

But based on the comments here, I guess I don't know anything about racing.

Tracy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for pointing out how wordy Allen Bestwick is, JD!

It's to the point where I can't even watch the Monday Nascar Now or the Nationwide prerace show anymore.

I swear AB thinks he invented racing.

I would have watched today to see JB but I guess it's just TWIN for me this week.

TexasRaceLady said...

I enjoyed NN tonight. Randy and Mike were easy to listen to.

TWIN had me ROTFL. Mikey was on his game tonight. Chad was laughing so hard at times he couldn't talk.

But, the show was good. They previewed Loudon, and I wasn't at all dismayed that it came first because they made it interesting.

The review of Infineon was to the point. I really liked Chad's explanation of why Kyle was allowed to re-qualify.

It ws a good Monday night all around.

2 thumbs up. Well, maybe 1 1/2. hehehe

SophiaZ123 said...

I caught part of TWIN and after reading your comments TRL, I have the reminder on to catch the midnight viewing...I channel surfed across and caught some laugh out loud moments with Mikey..and he and Chad are indeed the odd will catch the entire show later...and might even watch from the beginning...Yikes...I need some laughs so if this show has them, I is gonna watch them.

Thanks for the heads up TRL. :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Thanks for the good comments. Please keep them coming on this topic as folks catch the re-airs.

Two very different shows talking about exactly the same topics on two very different networks.

Interesting to see how folks like one or the other for exactly the reasons others dislike them.

In my column and my request for comments, I was just trying to point-out how different approaches to NASCAR TV could still be effective to the fans.

Thank you for the good comments.


Anonymous said...

TWIN was awesome Monday night (other than the order of the show of course...)

I am loving Chad Knaus more and more. Too bad I could never root for a Hendrick car or I'd be pulling for the 48 every week for Chad.

He definitely has a future in NASCAR television if he ever decides to get off of the box.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Good Morning JD,
Just watched the last half hour of TWIN. Once again Chad and Mike were on their game. Gotta love the answer Mike gave to the fuel guage question. It was so funny, I was laughing so hard. Yes, I did enjoy it. But, I also did enjoy NASCAR Now. The first half hour was fast and informative and did slow down in the last half hour as that was approiate for the topic being discussed to start the last half hour. And they only spent 10 minutes or so doing a preview of a race that I have yet to see.(and that is a good thing) To borrow a comment out of context from TRL "2 thumbs up. Well, maybe 1 1/2. hehehe". Miss you Kenny S.

eaglesoars said...

Personally I'm reall fed up with most of SPEED'S programing other than actual race events. But even the events programing is being stuffed with wat to much ski type BS. I want the news and facts which IMHO NASCAR Now gives me. I can't stand thec stupid clown antics those bozo's on raceday and victory lane offer and I've quit tuning in all this year.
It's a shame for a guy that kept his TV tuned to SPEED 80% of the time 7 days a week before FOX bought it out, to only watching the actual race stuff now.

I just love how ESPN handles NASCAR Now, it is exactly the show we've needed since the bozo's on SPEED killed Krist Voda's show. I wish she'd go to ESPN.

Anonymous said...

To eaglesoars comments - AMEN! When I watch Speed's shows (which I rarely do anymore), I feel like I am watching a junior high school classroom 10 minutes after the teacher has left the room. For those who enjoy that sort of presentation, I'm happy for you. I enjoy humor, but I left junior high school a long time ago and have no desire to return. I do not find such behavor amusing or entertaining among children or adults.

I only watch the Monday edition of Nascar Now, and I find it entertaining and informative. I enjoy the panel discussions headed by AB. My preference would be for fewer guest panelists in the rotation, but I understand that others feel differently. Ideally, I would like to see the same panel each week with a guest brought in to discuss specific events or issues. Geeze - sounds like the old format of Inside Winston Cup. I guess Speed never heard that old adage - IF IT AIN'T BROKE, DON'T FIX IT!

Anonymous said...

I do not find such behavor amusing or entertaining among children or adults.

Perhaps we could require drivers' firesuits to be worn with ties to make sure everyone knwos they are Serious About Their Jobs.

Anonymous said...

Too bad I could never root for a Hendrick car or I'd be pulling for the 48 every week for Chad.

This may be the least logical comment ever written on this board.

Why didn't you just type, "I like the guy a lot, but I don't like his employer, so I can't support him."

It would make as much sense.

Anonymous said...

I notice that sometimes Chad is taken totally aback by Mikey's sense of humor.

I think this suppports my conetion that Chad's driver has the spontenaiety and charisma of a cardboard cut-out, and that Chad has to do the show to be reminded of why racing is FUN.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
SophiaZ123 said...

to Lou in Kingston.

Dittos to your comment and a thumb and a half comments as well.

Miss you KS !!


D said...

I LOVED TWIN last night, they are now getting comfortable with each other. The humor doesn't seem forced like it did earlier in the season. My opinion is that you should watch the show you enjoy, don't watch the one you don't. If you happen to like both for different I them both. It seems every week its the same comments in here... We know many of you don't like to smile or laugh. We know many of you don't like Michael, We know many of you only believe people wearing suits..... but there are those of us who enjoy smiling... even laughing and the bonus of getting information along with it...I too miss Shrader, but unfortuately we all have to adjust to change in our life..... even when its in something as trivial as our nascar programing.... :) So here's to enjoying the diversity in programing that can reach many different audiences... its not a competition even though the title of this very article implies that...

Newracefan said...

Just finished watching Mondays NN due to Comcast technical difficulties. I enjoyed NN and Randy LaJoie is getting better each week and although JB was missed they didn't miss covering anything but the jB's trophy in the studio. TWIN was hysterical, Mikey trying to deny ever having bad behavior was priceless. I very much enjoy Chad's explainations (this is the perspective that is missing on NN)and yes he has a future in TV maybe when Larry Mac retires. I don't what him to get there too soon cause I like having him where he is. As for the comment that JJ must be cardboard-trust me you don't know him very well, he just is not as willing to let it fly as Mikey (let's face is who is). I like the idea that the 2 shows are very different AB carries NN as a News Report. TWIN is the fun of Nascar which is why I started watching in the first place. I am not the type who watches news 24/7 (my job gives me enough of a real life problem solving adventure every day) so TWIN is a must see for me.

SophiaZ123 said...

I thought Mikey's denying he ever got mad soon but got mad, what was it INSTANTANEOUS (the night he wrecked Casey and then Mikey got parked!) was priceless as was the fuel gauge comment.

Heck, I found he and Chad so funny I may have to actually watch the show from the beginning next week without the blinds pulled !! :-)

I have enjoyed Schrader's 'reporting' on SPEED REPORT and hope he gets to do those more often, too.

dannyboy7293 said...

'd' said it best:

"I LOVED TWIN last night, they are now getting comfortable with each other....My opinion is that you should watch the show you enjoy, don't watch the one you don't. If you happen to like both for different I them both."


I like both shows for different reasons. And they both give fans different insights into what's going on behind the scenes.

This week's TWIN was even bearable in the reverse format because they had some good stuff about New Hampshire set up. Michael's observations are almost always on the money, even when he's goofing off.

And did anyone notice how generously he complimented Robbie Gordon's talents as a road racer? He's not someone you'd expect MW to be talking up.

Also: "Last time somebody pointed a finger at me like that, he was fixin' to slug me..."

The genuine fun that Chad and Steve are having with Michael is reminiscent of the old INC/IWC shows.

This week (on the West Coast) as opposed to the previous 2-3 weeks, ESPN actually scheduled NASCAR NOW to start after TWIN finished, the first such scheduling in a long time. I was able to watch both of my favorite shows. In previous weeks Arena Footbal ran long and delayed NN for a half hour once, and an hour plus another time.

Randy is a good panelist and I like him a lot, but he's better when there are three panelists, as when he used to appear on SPEEDVISION and SPEED. As much as Rusty annoys me at times, I'd have liked to see Randy bounce some stuff off of him. Mike M is growing on me, but I have to say that there are other journalists who might feed the chemistry a bit better. NN has a tendency to get a "drone" going sometimes.

A word about the pre-produced video pieces: FOX and ESPN are very good at the technicals but soft on the content. It's music video stuff. They seem to need to show everybody just how much they can do with their video editing suites or something. It's distracting rather than informative. And the music is almost always loud enough to mask any actual interesting spoken words.

Speaking of which, ESPN continues to produce better scanner chatter pieces, and last week I was really impressed with how much film they had of the principals involved actually speaking on the radio. Makes it a bit easier to follow when you can see them say it.

Thanks as always for the info JD.

john said...

DalyPlanet has been dropped from Jayski the past two days ??????

Daly Planet Editor said...


Jay only links the full length columns that I forward to him. Sometimes, we have an overlap of information and I do not need a link.

The columns will being this Friday with a New Hampshire preview. Thanks for noticing.