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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