Monday, July 14, 2008

"This Week In NASCAR" Has A Restrictor Plate

It has taken host Steve Byrnes and the NASCAR Media Group production team a while to get This Week In NASCAR running on all eight cylinders. Now, the TV series is humming along but somehow can't win the race. One quick check of the TV engine reveals the problem. TWIN has its own restrictor plate.

Monday's date was July 14th. The day of the Brickyard 400 is July 27th. Several minutes after panelists Chad Knaus and Michael Waltrip were completely fired-up and talking about the Chicagoland race, the restrictor plate was once again slapped-on another episode of this TV series. It was time to talk about the Brickyard.

The voice in the earpieces of the announcers told them the news. "So, what's happening at Indy?" said Waltrip jokingly. "Let's look ahead," answered Byrnes after he stopped laughing. It seems that the only people not getting this joke are the SPEED Channel executives. The format of this show is killing it.

There was Chad Knaus, brilliant crew chief of Jimmie Johnson. His driver had fought back all race long and almost pulled-off the win, only to be topped by the incredible outside run of Kyle Busch. Knaus had a story to tell and TWIN finally had a contending team member on the set. It would have to wait.

Waltrip and Knaus began a professional preview of Indy just as they have done so many times for other tracks as they are forced to offer a static preview first. Complete with edited video features and soundbites, this portion of the show lasts for thirty minutes in a world where uninterested viewers have surfed-on in just seconds.

Byrnes and Waltrip continued the laughter as they now introduced a preview of the Craftsman Truck Series at Kentucky, which will be carried on SPEED. The NASCAR Media Group knows how to put on a show and all the video and sound is outstanding. The problem is viewers had yet to see or hear about the Cup Series action.

The hard thing for the panelists to do is get back the level of excitement that began the program. Byrnes encouraged Waltrip and Knaus to come back up through the gear box as rapidly as possible. He did this with the good humor that has come to be Byrnes trademark in this series.

Once the highlights finally got underway, the magic that Waltrip and Knaus have found began to work once again. These two have discovered how to interact and that this new on-air relationship works for both of them. They now have open and flowing conversation without Byrnes prompting them with questions. He simply "directs traffic."

Dave Despain continues to stop by with his pre-recorded commentary and is usually interesting. His views on Tony Stewart's recent moves were thought-provoking and contained the bitter sharp edge we have come to expect from Despain.

Recently, the panel has begun to have fun with viewer questions. It will be interesting to see if TWIN allows fans to send voice or video questions soon to add a new level of fan interaction. Byrnes also confirmed next week's TWIN will be taped this week.

Once again, this group has begun to mesh and viewers have begun to return to Monday nights on SPEED. Perhaps, once the restrictor plate is lifted we will all find out just how fast this TV engine really runs.

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Lou said...

Enjoyed the first few minutes, then returned at the bottom of the hour to enjoy the last half of the show. The answer Chad gave to the viewer question was good. But the look on his face was priceless. Good to see Mike and Chad get along so well. Looking forward to the last half of the next show.

Newracefan said...

After I got past my surprise that they were talking about the Brickyard I enjoyed the show. Mikey and Chad were still having fun despite the races outcome. I was impressed with what Mikey had to say about JJ and hearing from Chad about how upset JJ was at himself was great inside information. It was a fun show despite the restrictor plate. My only question is what is next weeks show going to be about since they already did the Brickyard?

Sophia said...

like, Lou, I watched the first few minutes then went for a walk and watered flowers and came back at half past the hour.

To speak of races two weeks away is just plain ludicrous.

This show format is a perpetual buzzkill as Mike talks animatedly about the last few laps and Chad says something, WHAM...put the fans on hold for 30 minutes. If I want to be put on hold, I can call the cable or phone company :)

TPTB better get with the program so to speak. The great personalities can NOT overcome a POORLY SEGMENTED show that continues to irritate and annoy the NASCAR fan.

Glenn said...

Newracefan said...
My only question is what is next weeks show going to be about since they already did the Brickyard?

Good question there NRF.
I wonder too, but I won't be there to see.
I never thought I'd admit Chad Knaus is a smart guy and I would listen to what he has to say, but he is. I like Steve Byrnes. Mikey is Mikey.

Speed, I'm done with the show. The format of the show makes no sense. If any of the channel executives have read this blog you should know that's really the main complaint about the show anymore.
At least I won't have to think about it anymore.
I've heard that ratings are based on 500 people with Nielson boxes. So each person with a box represents so many people. I'm only 1 who has given up, I just wonder how many people are out there like me.
FOX has alot of shows that I don't agree with and should have never been made, so I don't watch them. (The Simpson's is one)
IMO FOX has made a commitment to NASCAR so I say thank you.
It's just a shame that one show out of all the NASCAR programming has to be so absurd.

TDP said
TWIN has its own restrictor plate.

Is it a restrictor plate or just a bad router? When it's obvious that the cast think it's funny to preview, because it's time, something's wrong. But we all know that, well not the producer of TWIN.

Good article JD, keep up the good work. I'll quit griping now.


Anonymous said...

curious,the guy who only shows the winning car on Fox races, does he produce TWIN? This would explain the horrible format they refuse to change even though the fans hate it.

Anonymous said...

Count me in the group that loves TWIN and thinks the incessant badgering of TWIN's format - as if they are wrong and you know the right way - is getting old. Maybe it is a compliment that you can't find much else to criticize about this show except it's "backwards" format.

Let me for one say I appreciate the backwards format. After the incredibly long pre-race shows, not to mention all the other coverage of Chicagoland before, during, and after the race - I am a little tired of Chicagoland on Monday. Instead, looking AHEAD is what gets me excited. Then, once I am amped, we can review the past weekend in more detail. It fits me just fine. In fact, I love it.

PS Waltrip wasn't saying "So what's happening at Indy?" with a laugh because he thinks the format is ridiculous. He was laughing because he had been holding up the segment with extra comments and was making a joke about going on even longer, even referencing how the producers were telling him to move-it-along in the earpiece. So, yeah, he was laughing and joking about moving on to Indy, but only because he was going over the time, not because he think the format of his own show is broken, as you seem to think.

Anonymous said...

I was impressed with both Mike and Chad. Mike had two of his cars wrecked by careless rookies and Chad's driver lost the race in the final laps but neither one blamed anyone. I don't care anymore about the format, I just enjoy the show and the panel, class act guys.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Anon 1:11AM,

You have the perfect right to your opinion, and I am going to leave your comment up.

We have watched and detailed since February the struggles of this show to get to the point where it is fun for viewers.

As to your comment about the post-race coverage at Chicagoland, there was almost none. ESPNEWS was brief because of other sports and was limited to Larry McReynolds and a couple of drivers.

This Monday program in one form or another has been on SPEED for over a decade. Several times network executives have tinkered with the format only to have the results be a complete mess.

What is the purpose of promoting a race some thirteen days away at the top of the show? Happy you seem to enjoy it, but it makes no sense.

Finally, you can suggest to me what Waltrip and Byrnes meant from their comments, and I will respectfully suggest that I know full well exactly what they meant.

My email box is a very busy place.


Anonymous said...

This may seem a non-sequitor, but stay with me on this.
Anyone else hear the "F- you Bomb" clearly uttered on camera by a player during the batter intros in ESPN home run derby coverage?
I mention this to see how MLB will react as compared to NASCAR responses to Junior's "don't mean s#*t" comment on air and other driver's profanity. It'll be an interesting test to judge whether NASCAR penalties are heavy handed-as compared to other sports sanctions.

Bray Kroter

Tracy D said...

I tried to watch TWIN. I really did. After the first few minutes, however, I was outta there when they started talking Indy. Never came back, either. Sigh.

This too may seem to be a non sequitor, but hang in there with me. Think of those books you've read that you just couldn't put down. Analyze how they're written. They start, if they're written by masters of the art, in the action, the heart, of the scene, progress rapidly through it until they stop just before the end. You're hanging onto the last words, so you flip to the next chapter - just a few more pages, right, and you'll turn off the lights?

Now think of books that start with a bang, then revert to forty pages of backstory or even worse, prologue. How many pages do you give them before you throw them at the wall? Most people, about ten. Maybe 20. TWIN uses up half of its allotted pages (or time, as the case may be) with a story that has nothing to do with the opening of the show. It's hit the wall time, in a big way. Anyone with any sense of story structure knows a clunker like that will never fly with those who love action stories.

And racing is about action.

Daly Planet Editor said...


The FCC regulates profanity in two ways. The first is the kind aimed at the camera in an interview like Junior mistakenly did a while back.

The other is profanity heard by the microphones as backgound noise that was not intended to be broadcast. This is often the case during sporting events.

Other than a network apology, I would not anticipate any penalties in this case. The FCC has actually been very cooperative with sports on TV over the years.

In the future, I would request that you send me any off-topic issue by email. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

Was it me and my tiredness, or did the last half-hour of the show seem more interested in pre-produced pieces and commercials than actual discussion?

Yes it's getting old having to go over the same gripes every week, but when the show has such good aspects it seems insane to pursue a format that just messes it up.

I had a close friend who worked in TV production for a time a few years ago. His close contact with upper network management left him completely convinced that the only motivating factors up there are "what's in it for me?" and "what do I have to do to get it?"

So logic and reason really has nothing to do with it.

Anonymous said...

Like Lou I watched the first few minutes then fast-forwarded through the remainder of the first half of the show. If I have little interest in a promo for the next race in the first half, I have zero interest when that race isn't for two weeks. Normally I at least listen to the comments from Chad and Michael during that segment but I didn't even bother with that. In fact, I felt like I fast-forwarded through the majority of the show since it seemed like there was quite a bit of taped pieces and promos that were of no interest to me. It's unfortunate because other than the preview of the race being in the first half, the show has seemed to have really been getting a lot better but I didn't enjoy it that much last night (probably because of how little there was to watch after I fast-forwarded so much).

The one part that I did like, as I always do, is when they answered the viewer questions. I'd like if they reduced the amount of time they spend previewing races and answered a few more questions each week.

Sophia said...

I had forgotten I hit the tape button when I left the room 5 minutes into TWIN and later watch the first part..Man, that was a LOT of pre produced video! and previewing the TRUCK RACE before discussing Chicagoland??? Totally bizarre.

It seems they spend more time being in infomercial for SPEED CHANNEL than "discussing" recent races..but I have said that before and others similar comments. If I see one more force fed view of WRECKED I am going to scream. One day last week they had some big logo with TEXT over a show before a NASCAR show came on and it was totally irritating.

Whoever wrote about the book analogy was EXACTLY correct. I have read books that jump back and forth in time from chapter to chapter and HATE THEM and they go back to the library.

Same with movies that start out today and are then told in total soon as a scene gets good, bang, total change of mood.

SPEED does this with TWIN this week and honestly, I don't know if those guys read this blog but when they laughed about going to Indy, and then Steve Byrnes paused for a moment, I half expected him to say "nah, we are not going to Indy, we are going to discuss more Chicagoland, first."

After ALL, they lied to Mikey about having Jr on the radio later on.

BTW, I am a fan of Jr but I love the way Mikey pokes fun at the obsession with him...or calling out Joooooonyer during some shows, lol.

And see, we need more sock moments ON THE TV rather than make us go do the cluttered mess on for extra.

Why tell us that when we want more FUN and PROPER Sequence on our tv.

Oh, and I second the need to answer more email. I LOVE that part, too and it last what, 60 seconds???

The people here could produce a better show than what's being done.

This show could be such a GEM AGAIN.

SPEED's motto: If it wasn't broke, we will fix it anyway.

And ruin a much beloved show.

If only the panel had veto power over the producer. :(

GinaV24 said...

Thank God for DVRs! It's the only reason I still pay any attention to this show. I set up for it to record and then watch the first few minutes, than FF until I get to the current race, then maybe, if I have enough time, watch the pre-produced stuff and the preview of next week's race. I'm in agreement with the person who wrote the book analogy. I love to read, but the author of anything I start had better have my attention and KEEP it, not throw it away or I'm done. That is essentially what TWIN is for me -- a show that could be interesting, but because of the format, is a turnoff.

Anonymous said...

I wasn't sure the backwards thing bothered me that much till last night--they were obviously excited to talk about Chicago, and then whammo, gone. And I realized I don't look forward to the show as much as I used to (in fact, I started flipping back & forth.) It's only part of why, but I have to admit, it's awkward and just doesn't work.

boyd said...

Obviously Speed loves this backward concept, so lets look for a solution.

Lets have 2 NASCAR shows! The way most of the people on here blog, it's that way any way.

A 30 minute preview show "NASCAR The Next Time They Race" With the same cast of characters, and talk all they want about what about it.

Then a new show called, wait for it, "This Week in NASCAR", so they can do the review show. Keep it an hour show and do justice to NNS, and NCTS also.

Just think, an hour show with the personalities and talk that all the fans seem to clamour for. Why hasn't this been done before?

Karen said...

It's just befuddling to me if anyone at Speed other than the host and guests read this blog that has any say-so at all doesn't change the format since so many here are telling them right out front they're not watching b/c of it. Are TPTB that stubborn to admit they're wrong and then there is no NASCAR show at all b/c of no viewers?

I don't get it.

Anonymous said...

Once again my FF-finger got a workout through the beginning of the show. Mikey, Chad, and Steve now have great chemistry. Too bad TPTB don't care about pleasing the fans with formatting.


Dot said...

First it was Sophia now it's glenc1typing the words right out of my hands. lol

Why are we being tortured? Not only with the format, but with so many videos/stories not pertaining to the current race. I liked it when the guys would explain why so and so did this, so and so couldn't turn his car, etc. Chad could be a wealth of info if only the panel had more time to talk.

Here's a hint SPEED, give up the upcoming race until the end (about 90 seconds) and let's hear more about what happened at the Sat/Sun race.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you JD, the show has become a mess. I used to watch or DVR this show (under its various other names) religiously on Monday nights. Of course, it was because it used to be a wonderful review show with some previews on upcoming events. Now that it has become basically a PREVIEW show with some reviews, I have lost total interest in watching it and haven't recorded one in months. I don't want to waste the HD space on the DVR. If this is what the show is going to be hence forth, I vote to just can it and find something else to air in its time slot. So long as it isn't one of the Christenson (sp?) shows like Pass Time or Pinks. Those are also wastes of bandwidth IMO.

Anonymous said...

I too am frustrated by the current format and watch much less religiously than I did in the past. Was unable to watch either Chicagoland race, so was really hoping for good recaps.
Did they even mention the Nationwide race?
So, we are going to get 1/2 hour of Chicagoland and 1.5 hours of Indy over 2 weeks? And I HATE racing at Indy! Guess I'll listen to some jazz on NPR instead!

Sophia said...

Kind of off topic but Chad Knaus related...I have a new computer guy to deal with an ongoing laptop issue..His voice kept sounding familiar.

Today I realized he sounds JUST LIKE CHAD KNAUS!!! LOL. I finally told him that but he is more of an Indy guy.

But yea, another show about the Brickyard seems stupid. AND this is gonna be a VERY LAME FORMAT ONCE THE CHASE STARTS! HELLO. How are they going to jump ahead when everybody will want to review the 'latest race details of the previous weekend's race?

Totally absurd.