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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