Monday, August 18, 2008
Waltrip Gets The Monkey Off His Back
Apparently, all it took to help Michael Waltrip break into the top twenty in a race was a fuzzy monkey. Starting-off This Week In NASCAR on SPEED, Waltrip shared the story of a fan giving him a stuffed animal for good luck. He put it in the car at MIS and the rest is history.
As host Steve Byrnes would say, "you can't make this stuff up." Waltrip's stuffed animal story set just the right tone for Byrnes and Chad Knaus to jump into the details of the weekend at MIS.
Kudos to TWIN for including Marcos Ambrose and Dave Blaney in the MIS Sprint Cup Series highlights. Byrnes also questioned Waltrip about why Carl Edwards was not penalized for clearly throwing a water bottle onto the backstretch. Another part of the race ignored by the ESPN TV crew at the time.
Knaus was clear and open about the incident involving Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon. It has been a tough year for both teams, and Knaus added his behind-the-scenes info about what this incident meant for the Hendrick drivers.
Highlights continued and Waltrip and Knaus were now in high gear. The success of this show is the ability of Knaus to completely ignore the Waltrip hi-jinks and continue on with his technically specific explanations. Knaus filled viewers in on why the cars were purposefully so loose even as Waltrip showed-off his new shoes.
Knaus told viewers that he was watching Trackpass on the final lap when Johnson made contact with the 28 car and spun through the infield. How is that for some good TV information? Johnson's crew chief watching exactly what the fans are watching.
The Nationwide Series got a good mention this week, but the highlights were much too short. Waltrip was forceful in talking about the clean air issue at MIS and the fact that it made all the difference. Knaus backed it up by saying the lines of the drivers through the corners made getting clean air sometimes impossible.
"Magnet-gate" was up next for a topic and it was Waltrip who surprisingly jumped-in and indicted Gibbs Racing for having a pre-meditated plan of action. Waltrip admitted that he had experienced the same thing, but that the size and specific depth of the magnets made it clear things had been planned in advance. Waltrip stopped well short of suggesting senior management was involved, but certainly the Gibbs engine shop or crew chiefs were put on the hot seat.
It was time to look at Bristol, and Knaus called it "an amazing little racetrack." Waltrip got teased a bit about his incredible crash that will live forever on YouTube. Knaus talked about the drivers lifting each lap and the fact that the motors are not particularly stressed on this track.
Wrapping-up the Bristol conversation, Waltrip talked about just how easy it is to miss the correct pit stall in Bristol because of the tiny track and the pit lane rules. Highlights of the spring race worked well to help viewers remember exactly how the newly-paved track has resulted in very different racing.
Byrnes finished the show with some email questions and this segment really showed-off the incredible relationship that Waltrip and Knaus have been enjoying on this show. After Knaus told viewers that the numbers on the roofs of the cars were oriented to the infield because that is where the manual scoring is done, Waltrip calmly told him he was wrong.
Not that Waltrip knew he was wrong, but because he knew it would drive Knaus completely nuts. Even as Waltrip answered the next question, Knaus was still fretting and asked again how he could be wrong? When Knaus blurted out that he personally had never scored, Waltrip had achieved his goal and the chaos began.
Give Steve Byrnes credit for keeping things somewhat under control and guiding this show off the air with its dignity almost intact. Since February, this TV series has done a compete about-face and is now a solid viewing choice for NASCAR fans every week. Waltrip and Knaus truly are NASCAR TV's odd couple.
The Daly Planet welcomes comments from readers. Simply click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.