Monday, September 1, 2008

Knaus Continues To Learn The TV Game


SPEED viewers have watched Chad Knaus work alongside of Larry McReynolds and Bootie Barker on NASCAR Performance for several seasons. Talking about the most detailed and intricate technical issues associated with the sport seemed to be a natural for Knaus.

It was interesting this season when SPEED decided to add Knaus to the re-vamped Monday night show now called This Week In NASCAR. This show features conversation about a wide variety of issues, almost none of them technical.

New host Steve Byrnes was feeling his way through this program when it first began and the pathway was a bit rough. Working with Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle and Knaus proved to be a challenge.

Added to that task was the format that SPEED demanded. After a very brief chat, Byrnes and his panel offered a thirty minute preview of the race that was six days away and never touched the highlights from just the day before. Needless to say, it did not work with the fans.

While all the behind-the-scenes chaos was going-on with the format, a funny thing happened on-the-set. Waltrip and Knaus began to develop a relationship that continues to evolve. Waltrip discovered that Knaus could take a joke and actually had a sense of humor. Knaus discovered that the only way he was going to survive on this TV series was to learn to ignore Waltrip on a regular basis.

The resulting on-air dynamic has been fun to watch and played a major role in making Monday nights on SPEED interesting again. It also helped that the network executives finally relented and let the race review lead the show. It made a big difference.

This week, Byrnes, Waltrip and Knaus were all tired from a long California weekend and a three hour time zone shift. Waltrip started slow, but got himself back on-track by suggesting California go to restrictor plate racing immediately.

Of course, this resulted in Knaus trying to find the words to disagree while not gloating on the fact he had the dominant car all weekend long. It was too late, Waltrip was gone off on a tangent and Byrnes was laughing so hard he could not talk.

"I can't believe we still have a show," said Knaus while rubbing his temples and shaking his head. Byrnes and Waltrip had long since gone to "giggle land" and the movie references were flying. For veteran viewers of this show, it was somewhat ironic that Knaus sounds more-and-more like a former TV partner of Waltrip.

Kenny Schrader spent many Mondays shaking his head at Waltrip's comments. Eventually, Schrader developed a style of ignoring Waltrip just like Knaus is trying to perfect. This week, Knaus cut-through the clutter and the chaos like a veteran TV professional.

The Richmond preview featured some excitement after a very boring weekend at California. The TWIN production team pulls the best footage to back-up the comments from the panel and this week was no exception. Just seeing the three-wide racing, hot tempers and racing action served to finally help fans actually look forward to a COT race.

A key element of this program's success is the features and interviews that the NASCAR Media Group can put together. They have all the resources from the track and the NASCAR footage vault, so things like the outstanding feature on Clint Bowyer and his dad can result. I have the feeling we might see that one again on RaceDay.

As this program goes forward, Knaus is clearly going to grow his role as the voice-of-reason while Waltrip just continues to be himself. These two have already combined for some memorable moments this season and things should only get better. If the TV executives will just let them come back next week, of course.

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29 comments:

Newracefan said...

Too funny, I'm still laughing. Kudos to Chad for showing up, after winning yesterday which quickly rolled in to today and flying back in the wee hours he could very well have blown off TWIN, he showed up and had fun. This show makes my Monday

Tracy said...

Everyone looked tired and a tad punchy, but it was still a good show. We're back to watching it live, not on Tivo so we could fast forward to the review of last weekend's race. It's nice to get back to where it should be.

kbaskins said...

As much as I dislike Hendrick and especially Jimmie Johnson, I find myself actually really enjoying Chad Knaus. He has a great sense of humour. And I'm a Roush fan, but Greg Biffle just doesn't have the personality to fit in with the other two. I look forward the Chad shows, and sometimes skip the weeks that Biff is on.

I just love Steve Byrnes to bits. Mikey ... well, I would like him a whole lot more if he quit constantly plugging his sponsors. He just goes waaaaaaay overboard. I don't mind a little bit of pimping, but Mikey wears on me really quickly.

Most of the time the look on Chad's face makes me laugh harder than the jokes. When Mikey brought up making Fontana a restrictor plate race and Chad asked him what he took on the way to the studio to make Mikey think that was a good idea, I almost peed myself.

With the revamped format, TWIN has turned from a disjointed, rambling mess into something fun and informative. This show has come a long way from that first painful episode (and the second, and the third...).

*sigh* So now that I've admitted that I really like Chad, I have to go shoot myself.

--KarenB

TexasRaceLady said...

KarenB said "Most of the time the look on Chad's face makes me laugh harder than the jokes. When Mikey brought up making Fontana a restrictor plate race and Chad asked him what he took on the way to the studio to make Mikey think that was a good idea, I almost peed myself."

While not going quite that far, it did cost me a perfectly good glass of sweet iced tea. ROTFL

Another delight of a show. Between the references to an animated movie and the goofy chatter, we got some "nuggets" of wisdom passed along to us.

Great job, guys. As far as I'm concerned, you can come back next week.

=:-)

Geez said...

"The Richmond preview featured some excitement after a very boring weekend at California".

JD,

You of all people should know that the race broadcast can depict a race anyway they choose. Your comment above is very misleading.
I was there and no one around me felt is was boring.

They may have felt that the story line was king and only showed what they felt was supporting it. If you meant to say that the broadcast was boring that's one thing, but to say it was a boring weekend is another.

I and many other's who were there saw a good race. Please tell me you are not taking part in the southeast pile on.

Sophia said...

KarenB

Don't be too hard on yourself...I felt the same way about HMS and Chad...THEN Dale Jr joined the team. SHOCKEROO!!

And I also am enjoying Chad over Biffle (no offense Greg) The boys did seem tired...especially Michael.

My only gripe was the Weekend in review from SPEED shown. I did not need to see the crude Drew Carey. Whew boy...if ONLY I could post the quotes from HIS article in a magazine some years back. The women would all be throwing up on their keyboards.
But other than that blunder, I enjoyed the show. So nice to have things back in order.

Love the way Mikey and Steve quote the Castrol "Danger" guy... "How far'd I go?"

That insipid commercial has grown on me and the delivery of the actor in the commercial for that line is perfect.

So glad SPEED relented and let the boys talk the review first...as they should.

Is it just this old monitor I am using at the moment or does Chad look super tan in his photo?

Thanks for the fun read, JD.

It's great to have a FUN show on Monday night.

Karen to add to your comment, I just wish Chad could be on EVERY WEEK!

oh, and I enjoy him on NASCAR Performance too!

p.s. and to add to TRL comments..I hear the best inside stuff on this show. Love the scanner stuff they choose.
=:>0

glenc1 said...

Huge fan of 'Cars', so I did love the show. Everyone else is wondering who Darrell Cartrip is. J/k, it was a good show. There was something that made me LMBO, but I can't remember...anyways, I found the soundbytes with Carey funny. I had no issue with his humor; it was really Wendy's comment that brought it out...just a guy who knows how to improv.....

While Waltrip sounded ridiculous with his 'restrictor plate' garbage.

Daly Planet Editor said...

glen, I think Mikey was having a little bit of fun at Chad's expense on that one. Give him credit, he said the same thing last year.

geez,

I have been a TV guy since the early 1980's. I have moved over fifteen times and lived in CT, NC, TX, FL and Washington DC. I also spent a great deal of time working in LA.

Last year after the race, Ms. Zucker the track Prez told a radio guy she would like to rip it up and put in high banks because the racing was so boring.

It has nothing to do with the location, only the configuration. I said nothing about the crowd or the weather, those are different issues. The fact is that these new COT cars don't put on a good show on this track.

I understand completely your point about racing in the back of the pack. Unfortunately, with only one more race after Cali to make The Chase we all knew where the focus would probably be.

Next season when the weather is different and the lights are on and the guys have another year to figure this COT thing out I think it might come around.

Not piling on and one more hurricane may make me move far away from the Southeast!

JD

Ken said...

JD

Looks like you might get a couple more hurricanes before the Richmond Race.

AMS fan said...

Another good show.
I'm back to watching every week.
Even when they get carried away with their antics, it's still pretty good. It's just plain GREAT to see people enjoy what they do.

Dot said...

TWIN is a must watch for me every Monday. Has been since it was IWC.
I am so glad that they changed the format. See, it can be done mid season. Thank you SPEED for caring about your viewers.

I remember before SPEED came to be on my cable system searching the TV listings for FSN. They would show it on that channel at some weird times. I taped it whenever I found it. SPEED channel is the reason I upgraded my cable package.

I agree about Biff. He needs some comedic material. Nice guy, though. I don't think he still knows how to deal w/Mikey. He should talk to Chad for some pointers.

Anonymous said...

Help me out here. MW wants restrictor plates at Fontana. But how do you have a massive parade of tightly packed traffic when there is braking. I understand restrictor plates at Daytona/Dega because the drivers are wide open all night. But Fontana??

Aside from that, TWIN was AWESOME. The show has found a groove and a tone and is running with it. I like NASCAR Now, Tivo it daily. But I really look forward to TWIN.

Lou said...

Just finished watching the midnight reair of TWIN. Another good show from Steve and the gang. The movie references made me laugh, and they kept those up for the whole show. They fit well in the flow of the show.

Chad with his track analisys was good. And how being in the front has the advantage over even the tenth place car time wise per lap.

Glad to see the 84 get a few mentions. 84 and 44 had good runs and glad to see that recognized.

Since I did not watch any pre race programs or Trackside. I did enjoy the SPEED highlights segment from the weekend shows. These guys seem to have fun with what they do.

Yes JD, you may be right. We may see the feature on the 07 again. It seemed like a Real Deal w/Wendy minus Wendy.

How great is that! Steve got Chad to go back to the numbers on the roof. Gave closure to regular viewers. Nice to get back to us on that. If I recall, I think I watched that also on TWIN after the show on NASCAR.com when that first came up.

Once again, Thanks Steve and all for a good show and the review before the preview.

Kenn Fong said...

J.D.,

You're right about Chad playing the straight man for Mikey and Steve. It's great to hear the rapport between the three.

As for Biff, I don't mind that he doesn't yet know how to roll with the other two. He might be a little stiff, but he does know how to talk about racing.

I think the producers missed an opportunity by sticking with the two-regulars instead of three format. If they added Biff as the third man this week, they'd have Chad and Biff, representing the top two finishers. It would have been good to hear Biff and Chad talk about the little tête-á-tête near the end of the race. (It was an actual head-to-head conference atop the 48 pit box!)

Pacific Time Zone Kenny - Alameda, California

Dannyboy said...

"Geez",

You were there and many around you found the race exciting. You said much the same thing on another thread, so I will repeat my two cents:

I was there too, and when I left the race with 50 laps to go, there was a line waiting to leave. Yes, I know things can happen and "you never know", but after nearly 4 hours of strung-out endless droning, with Jimmie destroying the competition I'd had enough. And I've built race engines and raced them, so I like the sound.

Mikey had it right when just before he mentioned plate racing at Fontana he exclaimed how the event is so cool and everybody gets excited (and indeed the buildup and the start left nothing to be desired) and then the race starts and - he pauses abruptly - you realize there's a big problem for the fans.

Go back and watch the tape, he's worried the fans won't come because the "show" is lacking. Even when the Indy cars lapped at 240, the track is so forgiving that they could go side-by side and you didn't worry. Do that at 200 at Texas and it's nail-biting, white knuckle time.

Next year when the race is a Chase race in cooler October, I bet you many fans will opt to stay home and watch football no matter that there's more at stake.

When they built that place Penske opined that they could up the seating capacity to over 100,000 in a short time. Haven't heard much talk about that now, have you?

Great banter on tonight's show surrounding the "Cars" references. And once again Mikey takes the high road where Clint Bowyer is concerned even after the harsh words from Clint last week.

Anonymous said...

I have a lot of respect for Chad and thought he did just fine last night. I didn't understand Byrnes though as he kept going off on silly,giggling tangents. Definitely not one of the better shows.

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Anonymous said...

Good Show? Michael was at his usual terrible self. He needs to go, thank goodness for NASCAR NOW.

Lisa Hogan said...

anon is back with "southern greed" this time.

Really enjoyed the show last night. For me, just the right mixture of laughs and information.

What a difference from the start of the season. Thanks SPEED.

Anonymous said...

I thoroughly enjoyed last night's show! It was good to see & hear 3 guys being themselves - no suits, no boring explanations - just 3 guys having fun at what they were doing at the moment. Just wish I could hear what's being said during commercials - obviously, we missed a few choice jokes!

I pay extra for SPEED and am more than happy to - TWIN makes it all worthwhile!

Vicky D said...

Once Speed changed the format back to discussing the weekend's race first then it's gotten back on track. I thought Mike & Chad were on it yesterday and Steve seems to be having a better time ot it. I'll keep on watching that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

Mikey-Chad-Biff

Are Schrader or Vickers even part of the show anymore?

Anonymous said...

I'm glad we have this show. If you want "serious" NASCAR news, watch NNow. Or even Wind Tunnel.

Chad is learning a lot about how to interact with a driver who has an actual personality and speaks without scripted responses by being on this show. It can only be good for him.

Gymmie said...

@Karen--LOL! I definitely know what you're saying! I don't like Chad, Jimmie or Hendrick (except for Jr. and Casey and then Mark next year) but Chad keeps trying to get me to like him :).

@glen--agreed about Drew's comments and improv he does! I loved the What's My Line show and they'd get him in on the action! I didn't find anything wrong with them, it was one of those things you could go either way on.

It was a great show! Loved the shout out to 'Cars'! I love it that the guys are having fun again! And like the post that I can't find now...able to have fun and still sneak in some edumacation for us :).

@aanon 9:05--I don't think Brian is part of the show at all anymore and we've only had 2 Schrader appearances that I remember. One on the Expert Panel and another was a special segment he did :(. It's definitely a shame, I miss Schrader :(.

Anonymous said...

West coast Diane said:

Thank you Speed for returning TWIN to a fun format. There are enough shows with mostly serious discussions. TWIN is a breathe of fresh air.

Chad is getting better every show, seems much more relaxed. Chad contributed much more than usual so it wasn't totally Mikey (who I like, but not incessantly). Biff just needs to loosen up a bit.

I also thought Steve was much more relaxed and I loved that he was so animated. I also loved the "Cars" thread. Just makes it more real and natural as opposed to scripted stuff.

So, I am happy, except I would like Schrader to be there as others stated.

clint said...

how can i say this and still have it shown 3 hours later.

you win 3 and a half point races in an 8 or 9 hundred race career, of course you want more plate tracks.

i like the show but come on.

Anonymous said...

Another fun show! Keep up the great work guys.

Mary

stricklinfan82 said...

Absolutely love the "new" TWIN. My only wish would be less pre-taped video segments and more Steve, Michael, and Chad/Greg.

Anonymous said...

If I was a movie producer,,Id have the Biff in a Gene Wilder Bio.. Of some kind...(Thats a complement by the way Biff!!!) Your very dry since of humor cracks me up!!! You look so much like a very young Wilder...Perhaps, Young Frankenstien 2...We are all so proud of you here in Washington!!! LW...Everett,WA