Thursday, June 26, 2008

Steve Byrnes Anchors A Big Friday On SPEED

There are only a few more weeks of SPEED handling the practice and qualifying coverage for NASCAR weekends.

After the TNT portion of the Sprint Cup Series coverage, ESPN steps-in and takes over both the Nationwide and Cup coverage. As most fans know, this includes selected practice and qualifying sessions.

No one has made more of the recent opportunity to step-into the Fox footsteps than Steve Byrnes. Replacing Mike Joy as the host of both Cup practice and qualifying, Byrnes has been a comfortable fit. As fans who watched the Dale movie remember, Byrnes has a long history in the sport and a pretty good sense of humor.

This weekend in New Hampshire, Byrnes will once again lead the SPEED coverage. On Friday, it will be Sprint Cup practice starting the day at Noon Eastern Time. Byrnes will be joined by Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond in the announce booth. This team has been lots of fun and very informative during what can sometimes be rather boring practice and qualifying sessions.

For Cup practice, it will be pit reporters Marty Snider and Matt Yocum joining Byrnes and company. During the Nationwide Series session at 1:30PM, it will be Bob Dillner and Ralph Shaheen. The on-track triple-header ends with Cup qualifying that will start at 3PM.

Capping-off the night at 7PM will be Trackside. Byrnes, Hammond, McReynolds and Elliott Sadler make-up the regular panel. Friday night they will be joined by Dario Franchitti and Jeff Burton. The appearances of both those drivers should result in some good conversation.

Other TV notes for New Hampshire include the media guest for Tradin' Paint. It will be Dustin Long, who is the NASCAR reporter for several newspapers in both North Carolina and Virginia. This show has been struggling, and will hopefully engage in some meaningful conversation about NASCAR issues rather than continue to pander to the "everything is just fine" world where it has been recently.

For Kenny Wallace fans, he returns this weekend to SPEED and will be on RaceDay and Victory Lane alongside John Roberts and Jimmy Spencer. Hermie Sadler filled-in last week and did a good job, but the unique chemistry between Spencer and Wallace is what attracts NASCAR fans to the show. No, Hermie did not dance on-camera.

Just a little tip for fans, this week Wendy Venturini is going to sit down with Richard Petty and the new CEO of Petty Enterprises David Zucker. There could be no greater contrast in personalities or backgrounds then these two. That should be one episode of the Real Deal not to be missed.

Finally, Dale Jarrett returns from his vacation to anchor the Nationwide Series coverage on ABC. Taking the weekend off this time will be Tim Brewer, so manning the Tech Center will be the #24 crew chief and Maine native Steve Letarte.

If any other TV news comes in, we will update it here. Please feel free to add your TV-related comments to this post. Just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thanks for taking the time to stop by.


Newracefan said...

DJ's back and Steve Letart instead of Brewer- sounds like a fun day to me. About the only good thing about ESPN taking over practices etc. is that with less Nascar on TV I'll get more yard work done.

SophiaZ123 said...

Thanks for the column JD and even though I can't tolerate the TWO hour version much, I am glad Kenny W is back on the SPEED shows.

I was paranoid he might have gotten in trouble for his criticizing the COT a few weeks ago and then pretending to pretend all is well in NASCAR "Ratings are up and everybody is happy."

It was really something to see KW step up to the plate but end his seriousness with a sense of humor about it.:-)

I also second NRF...I watch less tv and get more things done when ESPN takes over. That's the good thing about that.

Anonymous said...

Sophia - Herman skipped NRD at Sears Point last year too when the Busch series was at a different track ... It was too much traveling for him, even though he could've flown back on one of the Buschwhacker planes ...

JD - lists "NASCAR Live!" at 8:30am pdt as kicking off the broadcast day ...

They really need to have Disney give the coverage of practice & qualifying to SPEED ... SPEED's got it down to a science ... Disney comes in like a bull (or would it be a mouse) in a china shop & just wreaks havoc on the whole thing ...

Daly Planet Editor said...


There is a thirty minuted edition of NASCAR Live hosted by John Roberts that begins the coverage. My column was about the on-track activity and Steve Byrnes.


Anonymous said...

NASCAR Live should be worth recording today since Casey Mears and Hendrick officially announced this morning they are parting ways after this season (no doubt rushed along by the Smith/Newton story about it last Sunday; back then Casey didn't appear to have a clue he was about to be let go).

Casey is supposed to have a news conference today - though I doubt it will be live on SPEED, they will probably discuss all of this today and maybe show some clips from it.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

I am glad DJ is back. But I do not know how or why, but I thought Rusty did very well while DJ was on vacation. But, I wonder. Did RW just change or was he coached during the off season? The more answers we get, the more questions we have. All I know is that the TV coverage is better. Looking forward to another good race weekend.

glenc1 said...

I did hear Rusty say earlier that he heard from the fans and listened to the criticism--I got the impression he took it to heart and was going to try and improve (maybe he had help). But I did hear a 'that's for sure' slip out last week, lol.

I'll be traveling and MRN-ing it this weekend. But I look forward to getting out early for the afternoon coverage. I'm a big fan of Steve's.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Thanks, glenc1. I also will be traveling this weekend. The recorder will be busy. Love the Blueberry I got for Fathers Day.

Lou,Kingston,NY said...

Blackberry, LOL

stricklinfan82 said...

Another enjoyable Cup practice show on Speed. It was nice to see the focus remain on the session they are there to televise. No full-screen video packages or off-topic chatter about anything but practice (ESPN) and no full-screen cut-away car or incredibly expensive and equally pointless pit wagon segments (Fox).

The most enjoyable part of the TNT productions this year has been the very simple and basic approach they have used for their race, qualifying, and practice shows. Wide camera angles and nothing but on-track action on the TV screen have been very enjoyable to watch. No overproduction filled with fancy on-screen nonsense and gimmick camera angles like their counterparts at ESPN and Fox. I sure hope ESPN and Fox have noticed the positive fan reactions to this and will adjust their coverage accordingly. Simple is better.

The Speed TV listings for the weekend of the Brickyard still haven't been updated so I'm still keeping my fingers crossed that some kind of deal will be worked out between Speed, ESPN, and NASCAR to keep all of these practice sessions on live television. Another year of tape-delayed Happy Hours and morning practice TV blackouts during the most important portion of the entire season will be incredibly hard to swallow and will quite frankly be completely unacceptable based on what we have been conditioned to expect from the previous TV networks that covered the sport before ESPN came back to "NASCAR Land" with their 1999 model of the acceptable amount of TV exposure to give a NASCAR race weekend.

Anonymous said...

I like Steve Byrnes - he seems like a gun guy who is first with the joke and last to stop laughing; a fun guy to hang out with. His broadcasting skills are a little rough around the edges. He just seems nervous. Maybe he should have a beer before going on the air, just to relax a little bit. I appreciate how much is going on in the booth and how difficult it is to mutli-task all of that and also present everything to viewers, so I cut the guy some slack. His likability makes up for a few deficiets (minor) in his style.

On the other hand, Kenny Wallace is way too comfortable on the air. I hate his craziness and dumb shtick sometimes. People argue that he is just being himself on the air, but I dont think so. I think he's created sort of an on-air personality, and it's rapidly becoming a parody of itself. Just my own opinion, but I could do without him.

Anonymous said...

Ack TYPO - Steve Byrnes seems like a FUN guy, not a gun guy. I don't know if he is armed or not. :) :)

Anonymous said...

I met Herman at Sears Point a few years back and he was a hot mess there as well.

Anonymous said...

I tell you what - I thought Rusty has done a wonderful job this year in all of his various roles. It has been a total turnaround from last year.

stricklinfan82 said...

I was disappointed that the Tivo style format for qualifying went away after the rain, and that knowing they had to skip one go-or-go-homer that they didn't skip Terry Labonte (who was the one guy in that group that was already locked into the race and didn't figure into the go-or-go-home drama, and was 40th in practice and not a pole threat) and instead skipped Tony Raines.

Tracy said...

Just finished watching Trackside. The schtick with Guitar Hero went on too long - thought Franchetti looked totally uncomfortable, and Elliot a total dufus in that stupid wig.

What really got me was Jeff Burton wearing those sunglasses. Lord have mercy, Jeff, you too? I couldn't pay any attention to what he was saying, those glasses annoyed me so much.

Newracefan said...

Tracy agree about the GH with Elliot and Dario but lay off Jeff he has an eye issue and the lights cause him to have problems. He in someone who gets a pass on the sunglasses

Rockin Rich said...

Nitpicking time: did anyone notice the error on the speed listings during qualifying? Until I stopped tracking the speeds because of it, I noticed that all the speeds of MPH were showing as MPH. It took a few drivers for me to tumble to it, but I finally decided that this was indeed what was happening. The speeds that were actually were shown correctly. It was very confusing until I realized what was happening, and gave up on the speeds. I looked very closely at the TV several times to be sure that what I thought I was seeing was indeed occurring.

I don't know if this was also the case after the rain delay because I didn't look at the posted speeds.

Yeah yeah, I know, the elapsed time in seconds was also posted. I just associate with MPH better than ET.

Not a biggie, (qualifies as a nit), but annoying to me none the less.

I did notice that they skipped Raines. I was really bummed that the Tasmanian Devil didn't make it. I really like the guy. He certainly is a very different personality than anyone else racing in Cup. As he has said, he should have come over to the US 10 years ago. That might have given him enough time to develop his oval racing skills. As it is, I am afraid he doesn't have enough time left, (age discrimination!), to develop the skills and get a decent Cup ride.

On another topic, I am afraid that the Cup race on Sunday will be rained out. The weather forecast is not promising. Another day of TV scrambling to fill the time?

I could say it will be interesting to see how it all plays out, but Weber will say that for me many, many times I am sure. I don't think it will be very interesting. Hope I am wrong about the weather. Unfortunately, I won't be wrong about Weber.

SophiaZ123 said...

I missed Trackside...forgot all about it. Might catch the re-air

Can somebody tell me what you mean about the GH deal?? What happened with Franchitti? I like him and think he is a nice man but if they just tried to make him look like an idiot I will not watch.


SophiaZ123 said...

Ok this guitar here segment is TOTALLY USELESS. What are these guys? 8

Poor Dario tried to be a good sport. I would've loved to have heard about his breaking his back and his recovery from that and did the G forces from racing cause issues. Arrgh..this segment seems ENDLESS. Are you kidding me?? They wasted interview time with this rubbish.

Silly me thought I could see a decent interview with Dario. Then you have the crowd chanting his name and Sadle..and these stupid graphics effects...!#!%&!%^!&$%&

And this is it? Wasted a good 5 minutes that could have been CONVERSATION TIME.

oh, I'm sorry, this is SPEED...they don't like conversation anymore..just video/graphics.

Well off with this show. I did watch for 30 minutes sort of and never heard digger mentioned! lol

Anonymous said...

I wasn't home for Trackside, but it is on the Tivo. As soon as I read here that it features Sadler wearing a wig, I decided it won't be worth watching.

It's been three weeks, can I ask for DW back now?

Anonymous said...

@tracy--yup, Jeff has eye sensitivity issues (which is why he blinks a lot when he *doesn't* have them on). Jeff's glasses don't annoy me at all, the ones who does is Kylie's. I'm still waiting for someone to use those things as "mirrors". It's the same with Steven Wallace, while Steven's is due to his Tourrette's because of his ticks he often wears sunglasses.

@rockin' rich--I actually wasn't paying that close attention so didn't realize the errors in posting speeds. I was sad that the Tassie Devil didn't make it either :(. I really like him. But YOUPPI! to Patrick :)

@anon 1:18--have to talk to Ms. Stevie about that one :)

Anonymous said...

I used to watch some of SPEED's pre-race and post-race shows, but it was always an effort. I watched them in hopes of learning more in-depth and background information about the racing and the people who participate in the sport at all levels. A little humor is nice when mixed in, the spice of life for me. But obviously SPEED's taste in humor is far different from mine. They seem to prefer the juvenile kind, often set up and forced. SPEED also seems to prefer their own on-air people to be over the top. Loud in voice, fast in delivery, extreme in personality, engaging in flamboyant behavior. That seems to be SPEED's priority, and the quality and accuracy of information that they present is unimportant. They are great at ignoring the elephant in the room or being a shill for NASCAR. I am a fan of Larry Mac and Wendy Venturini, but I refuse to waste my time wading through the rest of SPEED's nonsense just to hear a few minutes of those two. There are obviously some loyal fans of SPEED's present program content and over the top personalities. However, I am not one of them and have stopped watching. SPEED obviously believes in H. L. Mencken's famous observation: "Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public."

Rockin Rich said...

Anon @ 11:04 AM:

Well said! H.L. Menken's quote is very apropos.

Remember that Speed is part of the Fox/FX family. They certainly are getting rich with their estimation of the American viewing public's tastes.

I too do not watch Speed's pre-race coverage very often. Lots of acting, not much journalistic reporting. I feel much the same when I watch Rusty & Co. on ESPN. The conviviality between those players seems very contrived,and forced to me.