Monday, August 11, 2008

Biffle Searching For His TV Role

All season long, fans have been watching Steve Byrnes and the NASCAR Media Group producers try to get a handle on the new This Week In NASCAR TV series.

Despite the best efforts of the entire gang, things took a while to gel. The new program teams Byrnes with Michael Waltrip on a regular basis. The third member of the panel is either Greg Biffle or Chad Knaus. This system has been working-out well for SPEED as Biffle and Knaus split their time in the second chair.

We all know that Michael Waltrip is a lightning rod on TV. Fans either love his personality and excitement or hate the frequent sponsor plugs and tendency to talk-over anyone at anytime. SPEED knows both those reasons cause fans to tune-in when Waltrip is on.

Chad Knaus looked as if he needed either Valium or a hug when he first ventured into "Mikey Land" this season. Despite the best efforts of Byrnes to be the referee, Knaus was simply not ready for the powerful presence of Waltrip on the program. Bear in mind, Waltrip has been in that chair for over ten years on SPEED.

Then, a funny thing happened. Knaus figured it out. All he had to do in order to deal with Waltrip was totally ignore him. The results were hilarious. Knaus began to offer his own detail-oriented answers to questions from Byrnes and Waltrip just stared in disbelief. Eventually, Waltrip began to get it. Knaus was the new Ken Schrader.

Since that time, Waltrip and Knaus have had a blast on TWIN and the viewers have been eating it up. We have been comparing them to "The Odd Couple" TV show with Knaus as the detail-oriented Felix and Waltrip as the free-spirited Oscar. Any way you look at it, this duo has figured it out.

That leaves this week's second panelist Greg Biffle. Last season, when the show had three panelists, Biffle had someplace to hide. This year, he has had no such luck. Everytime he turns around...Waltrip. Everytime he tries to speak...Waltrip. The look on Biffle's face on the program this week was simply one of pain.

Byrnes gets credit for pushing this program to develop and his ability to direct TV traffic in tough circumstances is well-known. On this Monday, Byrnes was put to the test as Waltrip had several agendas to advance in-between the highlights.

NAPA was back and Waltrip told the tale of a one-year deal that mandates performance to renew. Waltrip's driver David Reutimann had spun early at The Glen and had another tough day. He is currently in 27th place in the season point standings and remains winless. Waltrip updated Reutimann's issues.

Michael McDowell was involved in the big crash and Waltrip was very clear in his opinion that David Gilliland caused the entire thing. Waltrip said on national TV that Gilliland tried to hook McDowell and crash him because McDowell has just passed him. As the replays rolled, Byrnes talked with Waltrip while Biffle stayed quietly out of the issue. There is no doubt that Waltip's comments will get the Internet message boards rolling.

A review of the Watkins Glen highlights and a preview of the upcoming weekend at Michigan again worked well in that order. Byrnes gave Biffle a chance to shine as he described racing at MIS. No doubt Biffle is excited to return to a track where his team has a solid record. He seemed to also be excited to finally get a word in edgewise.

This program now has a personality and a generates a lot of fun. When Biffle decides to stand-up for himself on this show as he does on the track, perhaps the final piece of the TWIN puzzle will fall into place.

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Newracefan said...

Poor Greg, Mikey would toss it to him and snatch it back two sentences later. Steve has gotten use to Chad handling Mikey himself and forgot to rescue Greg. I would have a big problem Mikey's version of the wreck but I heard Randy say the same thing on NN.

D said...

I actually thought Greg did better tonight.... Michael even asked Greg his opinion a few times to try to get him involved.... I do love Chad & Michael though..... it definitely works....and I for one never thought it would... Greg is starting to "get it"... I enjoy the show! Love how they keep making reference to how its all in order now... three weeks in a row...

Daly Planet Editor said...


You should see my emails...hilarious!

TDP readers helped to push that change down the road.


Anonymous said...

The funny thing is Sunday night on the NASCAR Now race review, Randy LaJoie held the same view as Waltrip that Gilliland's failed attempt at retaliation caused the wreck. I haven't gotten to watch my Tivo of today's show to see if he said the same thing again.

TexasRaceLady said...

I, too, had to laugh at the comments about "all in order, now."

Had a great time watching the show. Kept me on my toes awaiting what was going to happen next.

Daly Planet Editor said...

That was a big email issue, how could ESPN go off the air and never really say what happened?

Guess MW filled us in.


Anonymous said...

Waltrip might have wanted to push his agenda on the 00/38 issue - but I think it was his right. Over on ESPN they tried to make it sound like McDowell's fault, but I think Waltrip is dead right - after some tough bumping, the 38 tried to hook/spin the 00 and didn't get what he was expecting. The replays clearly show him trying to hook the 00's bumper.

Waltrip's viewpoint on this affair is definitely biased, but he is not afraid to let out a strong opinion, and I think that is great. Over at NASCAR Now, they talked about the accident, and you got the feeling that everyone on that panel - if you pressed them off the record - would tell you what they REALLY thought about the incident. But on the air they're just a bit too diplomatic. On TWIN, you get a more unvarnished, honest opinion. It may be biased, but it is real, it is something to think about, and it is better television.

Matt said...

I guess it's hard for the fans to determine who was at fault for the big crash since we never got replays of the previous lap, but watching what was shown, it's pretty clear the 00 bumped the 38 going into turn 11.. so to completely put it all on Gilliland is a little much. Even if others have the same view, obviously MW has some bias since it's his driver involved.. and that's not the first time we've seen that.. so that kinda bothered me, especially when he setup the situation by saying the 38 moved the 00 and then cut him off..

Otherwise, the show was great. I agree that Chad and Mikey work better, but today was still good.

I also laughed hysterically at the weather and Robin Meade comments.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...

Once they got the order fixed, the whole show just seems fun and exciting. Love how Mikey seems to be enjoying the correct order.

I agree that Greg needs to either lighten up or figure Mikey out and learn to play off of him. Maybe he needs to talk to Chad and Kenny to get lessons.

Mikey is not afraid to tell it like it is. I think that he would be honest and let us know if one of his drivers started a wreck and it was their fault.

This show just keeps getting better and better. Hope that SPEED sees that and keeps the show for a long time to come. They also need to keep Mikey as he just makes the show awesome.

Sophia said...

One of the things that cracked me up were the little ongoing comments the show is finally an engine going in the right direction or something like that.

AMEN! They better keep the format as it is much more enjoyable. too bad Biffle can't be more talkative but he needs to tap Mikey on the arm more. He seemed to be a little off tonight compared to previous shows.

I can't believe I am saying this but I really MISS CHAD!! (If you all knew how I felt about Chad in past years, you'd realize them are strange words for me to say) Also I missed NP last weekend so I missed my dose of Chad

Our stupid digital box keeps rebooting and messing up so I finally hope to write BIGGER NOTES to watch NP next week.

I liked the comments about Robin Mead (but I had to google who she was) and laughed at the end when they promoted Robin Miller as co-host on WT (RM will be my only connection to IRL next year...thanks for not getting Versus)

The boys had fun tonight and thanks to the show being orderly, just ENJOYABLE to view now.

:) :) :) :)

Dot said...

Like Mikey or not, you gotta give him props for his NAPA comments. Fish or cut bait. Now I'm thinking the Ganassi merger just might happen.

That's why I believe him about the 00 and 38. I can't believe there is no tape of that prior lap incident. I don't like wrecks that take out the innocents, but that barrel hit by Sam H was spectacular.

Three weeks in order and counting. Great show.

Anonymous said...

A week ago.I said the TWIN show was the best of the season. Last night's show was not anywhere as good. It seemed dis jointed with Mikey rambling all over the place. Biffle is better this year, but he's just not a 'talker' and like most folks on the show, seems reluctant to point blame. I'm no Vickers fan, but Brian was very articulate compared to Biffle.

KoHoSo said...

Tonight was the first time I had a chance to see the "all in order now" TWIN since seeing the reports here that the previous format had been dumped. As I stated here many weeks ago, I wasn't going to watch again even off of my DVR until I heard that there were improvements.

The show overall is indeed greatly improved since I bailed out. However, I still have a feeling of emptiness over it. I know it's stupid to feel that way over a TV show, but it's still like I lost a good friend.

TWIN is still all rush-rush-rush, hurry-hurry-hurry, and I hunger for at least one program anywhere on TV (aside from the Sunday morning political shows) where people can at least occasionally expand on an issue or go on a tangent without being "marshaled" almost immediately into the next topic. I used to walk away from IWC/INC feeling that I had really learned something even if it was only a peek into an inside joke. While tonight's TWIN was by no means an unpleasant way to spend an hour...well, I am still basically sticking to what I have been saying since February.

The program was not broken because of the old format. It was broken because Dave Despain was not the right man to be the host and moderator (a position that shouldn't have been changed in the first place).

All of that being said...with how TWIN has now become a more sensible program, I hope that more changes for the better are in store. I will start watching more regularly again, but with a wary eye.

Anonymous said...

Chad is alittle stronger co-host than Biffle is. Replays, like it or not do show the 38 pushing the 00 against the wall, but many racers have their "moments". They even discussed that issue, drivers losing their tempers. Good show, honest opinions and some facts and humor thrown in for good measure. I had no clue that the 55 had made it back out, congrats to his team for doing that and BOO to ESPN for not letting us know what goes on with the cars that finish 12-43, unless your Jr or Jeffy.

Vicky D said...

I think MW will tell anyone within earshot, that if you want to make comments about the race or anything else, get your own show! Great show and I think GB is having a better time now although it's hard keeping up with MW.

majors house said...

I cannot stand Michael Waltrip and this is the reason that I do not watch TWIN. He thinks he knows more than he does and it is a shame that Biffel will not stand up for himself when he is with Mikey. I think if Mikey will look at the tapes, he will see that it was his driver that started that mess and he must have learned how to drive or not drive from Waltrip. I am surprised that NAPA is not making Waltrip pay them for their sponsorship because they definitely deserve better than waht they ahve been getting.

Deborah said...

Even as a big fan of Michael/MWR I didn't really agree with Michael's assessment of the incident between McDowell and Gilliland - even if Gilliland was trying to wreck McDowell, you have to ask what happened between them to get Gilliland that angry? In some ways Michael's in a no-win situation because some are upset that put the blame on Gilliland, but if he had blamed McDowell, some would think that being openly critical of his own driver is wrong too. IMO, it's a good thing that Michael is willing to stand up for and support his driver even if he's expressing an unpopular opinion.

I have to agree with those who like Chad and Michael together better - I didn't enjoy the show as much this week as I did the past couple of weeks when Chad was on. I like Greg but I don't think he has the same kind of rapport with Michael that Chad does and the show doesn't flow quite as well as a result.

HarpAmy/Amy in FL said...


What do you mean about the Ganassi merger happening? Are you saying the Ganassi is buying Mikey out or the reverse? I kind of think that if a merger happens, it will be Mikey buying Ganassi out. JMHO.


Sorry if off topic, I just wanted to get Dot's response on her statement. I wanted clarification.


I do admire Mikey for saying on tv his comments about NAPA.

I thought that I left the show feeling like there was some sort of inside joke/look between Steve and Mikey. Last night on the show, Steve and Mikey were talking about something and it seemed as if producers were talking into their heads about moving on or something and Steve gave Mikey a look and Mikey said that he knew what the look meant. I wanted to know what it meant.

SPEED, please keep this show in this order and keep Mikey and Chad and Steve together for a long time. They are great together.

Anonymous said...

J.D. I think your comment "Speed
knows those reasons cause fans to tune in when Waltrip is on" should
have been tune in or tune out.
Tks.J.D. Ron Il.

Anonymous said...

I am surprised that NAPA is not making Waltrip pay them for their sponsorship because they definitely deserve better than waht they ahve been getting.

Depends on what you think they're not getting. Waltrip's fans are very loyal to NAPA and his TV commercials are very well known.

As long as NAPA makes money from the sponsorship, it doesn't matter if the car wins.

Anonymous said...

I miss when this show had 3 on the panel. Ken Schrader and Johnny Benson were very cool to listen to and put Michael in his place. Allen Bestwick was also #1. Yesterday, there were a lot of akward moments of silence and Michael Waltrip would cut off Greg Biffle in the middle of his sentence so he could hear himself talk. As is, we got to hear Michael to his usual sponsor plug-ins and useless info that had nothing to do with the show. At the end we got the "thrill" of watching Michael put his leg behind his head, Greg looking at him uncomfotably and a very sloppy goodbye.

Sophia said...

i caught the end of the repeat of this show last night...when the show went OFF the air, the ending was tv for another moment.

I don't remember Biffle attempting to lift his leg like Mike in an attempt to put it behind his head.

I like Biffle but the chemistry last night was lacking. Chad and Mikey are fun, last night, the show was not as smooth.

SO, with it just TWO panelist, if the other half of the Odd Couple is missing it seems to throw the show off.

So yea, last night was not as fun as the previous two but still huge improvement with the fixing of the order.

Dover fan said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Daly Planet Editor said...

Dover fan,

Please re-phrase your comment. Thanks.


Anonymous said...

This show is FINALLY fun again.


Dot said...

To Harpamy in FL,

I've been readng the rumors on Jayski about Ganassi & Waltrip.
My personal opinion is Dodge is not long for the automotive world.

My apologies, just being polite in answering Harpamy. If you "remove by blog administrator", I understand.

Anonymous said...

JD - You wrote "SPEED knows both those reasons cause fans to tune-in when Waltrip is on." Let me offer an opposing view.

I was following NASCAR long before MW came along. I saw him appear on the scene and develop as a driver, move on to ownership, and become a TV personality. I view him in those three different roles. As a driver, I have no feelings one way or another. I think of him as one of the best restrictor plate drivers and mediocre at best anywhere else. As an owner, I admired what he accomplished as an owner/driver in the Busch Series some years back. As a cup owner, I think his days as an independent owner are numbered. It's a tough business, and I think he's headed for a merger or oblivion.

When I first saw him as a broadcaster, I had no particular feelings. He was flaky, but it didn't really bother me. I think the approval of loyal fans worked on his ego, and he let his worst characteristics get out of hand. His broadcaster persona got more and more extreme. He now reminds me of a rude, spoiled child who always has to be the center of attention. I do not care for that behavior in children and find it offensive and boorish in adults.

My general reaction to MW the broadcaster has been comparable to developing an allergy. At first there was little or no reaction. As time went on, it began to grow into a noticeable irritation. Eventually it grew into a violent reaction, and I can no longer tolerate any exposure. I have completely stopped viewing INC. I read your posts to keep track of the show. On the rare occasion when MW misses a show, I will tune in. I enjoy the truck series racing, and I usually tune in to the start of a race. The first time I hear MW's voice, I am gone for good.

I understand MW has many fans, and SPEED and NAPA have made economic choices. However, the polarizing behavior of MW does have its consequences. I used to patronize NAPA shops first among the many auto parts stores available to me. Now NAPA is the store of last resort, and I haven't been in one in two years. SPEED loses me as a viewer as soon as I hear his voice.

I recognize that I am in a minority, but I suspect that I am not alone in my reaction. Generating strong feeling on both sides does not automatically mean people on both sides tune in. Some of us just tune out. Like an allergy, we do our best to avoid the cause of our violent reaction.

Michigan fan

Anonymous said...

TO at 3:46am. great post I felt we were the only ones had the same feelings, and do the same thing.Thanks
Tks.J.D. Ron Il.

red said...

anonymous said...
TO at 3:46am. great post I felt we were the only ones had the same feelings, and do the same thing.Thanks
Tks.J.D. Ron Il.

agreed as well, altho' i think i'm just more feeling the effects of the allergy meds (to continue the analogy): i'm just so very tired of him. yes, he can sometimes be amusing but even those moments happen b/c he's working to be center stage.

he exhausts me and, rather than continue to take the needed medicines in order to tolerate the allergy, i, too, have just removed myself from it all together.