Monday, September 22, 2008

Waltrip Repels The Bowyer Curse

Nothing solves a problem like success. It has been a while since Michael Waltrip could say that about his NASCAR career. Monday on This Week In NASCAR, he made the most of it.

Series host Steve Byrnes knows how to handle the panelists regardless of their good or bad days at the track. This week, Byrnes had Chad Knaus coming-off a fifth place finish and Michael Waltrip still over-the-moon about a top ten at Dover.

One of Waltrip's top TV assets is the ability to poke fun at himself. Several weeks ago when ESPN made extensive use of Clint Bowyer's derogatory comments about Waltrip's driving ability, Byrnes let Waltrip talk about it on the show. The results were hilarious.

This week, Waltrip closed that circle by relating the fact that Bowyer had approached him after Dover and said "maybe you can still drive." That really put the ESPN hype in the correct perspective. What a smart way to put that to bed.

One key issue in this TV series continues to be too much pre-recorded content. This week, it was a feature on Jeff Burton's career comeback and then his weekend in Dover. Ironically, last week this "Chase" feature was on Bowyer.

While this may fit a broader agenda of exposing The Chase drivers to casual fans, viewers watching this program know all of them and would have been better-served with other content.

When the SPEED executives grudgingly allowed TWIN to flip the program format, they could not have imagined the impact it would have. This episode was a good example. After letting Waltrip and Knaus get warmed-up with a discussion of Dover, the transition to a preview of Kansas resulted in some great conversation. Both panelists contributed observations from their own unique perspectives without missing a beat.

Humpy Wheeler continued with his stream-of-consciousness feature that is often strangely fascinating. Recently added to TWIN, Wheeler just shows-up in a pre-recorded feature and talks about something. This week he talked about The Chase in a monologue that ran the gamut from barometric pressure to world peace and all made sense.

The only national NASCAR series carried on SPEED is the Craftsman Trucks. It is no secret that this series is in deep trouble. There has been no sponsor announced for next season, Dodge has withdrawn factory support and on Saturday night in Las Vegas there was a field of only 31 starters.

Sooner or later, it is going to occur to someone at either SPEED or The NASCAR Media Group that devoting more time on TWIN to the Truck Series is perhaps a good idea. This week the trucks once again had a side-by-side duel to the finish line that resulted in veteran Mike Skinner getting his first win of the season.

TWIN did not have one moment of a winner's interview with Skinner. The video highlights consisted of Johnny Benson hitting the wall and then the final two turns of the race. Coupled with ESPN's horrible treatment of the trucks on NASCAR Now, what chance does this series have without the exposure of two of NASCAR's "official" TV series?

This is the first stretch run for This Week In NASCAR and with some small changes it certainly can continue to keep the momentum high through November. While fans might have been disappointed that Greg Biffle was not added on this episode as a third panelist, perhaps SPEED might consider heading in that direction for 2009.

Biffle will return next week with Waltrip and Byrnes as another episode of TWIN hits the air Monday at 8PM Eastern Time.

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Anonymous said...

I think the Truck's problems are not with promotion, but that the CUP owners are now using the ARCA series as the training ground.

Daly Planet Editor said...

That is a great point. One issue is the direction of the series for the future.

That being said, this season's highlights should be run in full with interviews for the duration of the schedule.

As someone famous once said, "a little help over here maybe?"


Newracefan said...

I had a great time watching TWIN, I was very enlighting listening to Chad explain what things a crew chief can do to make a car better without giving away his secrets in reponse to a very serious question by Mikey.
I wonder if the Chase driver video clips have appeared because Speed dropped their Chase show and they are putting the pieces where ever they can?

AMS fan said...

I'll go out and say this was the best show of the weekend.(second to the truck and cup races)
Mikey, of course, a little over the top, but that's Mikey.
Chad continues to grow on me. He is such a "student" of NASCAR racing. Now that he is allowed to talk more, he now knows how to shut Mikey up and get a word in, he speaks with so much in depth knowledge of the sport, it's amazing to me. No wonder he is a two time champion.

TDP wrote;
"While this may fit a broader agenda of exposing The Chase drivers to casual fans, viewers watching this program know all of them and would have been better-served with other content."

Possibly some truth to this, but even if I know the driver, I do like to hear current soundbites or interviews to see that all is good on the personal side and the fire still burns inside.
I enjoyed seeing that Jeff and Kim are still the special couple. (something to look up to)

Humpy Wheeler's segments are informative and thought provoking.

You would think SPEED would do more to promote the truck series. Which they may be and I don't see it. After 9:00 pm Monday I don't watch SPEED until practice starts of Friday. (hmmmm)
And for the channels I do watch I don't recall any advertising for the truck series.
It would be a better use of time if they spent the "preview" segment for the trucks and Nationwide series and only a minute on the next race. For the ones of us who watch to much, by race day we're full of knowledge about what's going on.

As i've watched a few recent recorded TWIN shows i've noticed that there is 2 1/2 minutes of commercials at each break. I thought earlier this year, and last year, there was only 2 minutes of commercials.

Now I'm off to look up "dinker". Only Michael!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

The english language by MW! LOL dinker!?!
I really enjoyed the show. I was hoping Da Biff would be the "pre-taped driver" segment - no respect for Biff.

Watching Chad deal with Mikey is great TV.

Another opportuniy missed - not enough Trucks, but atleast a mention. sigh CTS is doomed.

I loved the Humpy segment again.
Just awesome.

Jibba said...

They are headed in a different direction. The truck series is more like an (I still need to race but I can't get a cup ride)series. I love 'em but it sure isn't a starter series.

Tracy said...

I ADORE the truck series. It's more fun to watch than the Nationwide, and that used to be my fav. Why can't it get any respect? It's great racing.

TWIN's new Humpy segment is priceless. Would love to see Humpy in the studio as the third panelist. Wow.

Dot said...

Why is there no CTS coverage on TWIN? They're on the same channel. I was at the race Saturday night and there was quite a turn out. I hope I didn't attend the last truck race at LVMS. The drivers had their autograph session and that had a nice turn out also. I don't get it. If you love NASCAR racing, go to a truck race. Same thrill, smaller crowd.

Mikey was too funny last night. I do think he and Chad play off each other well. It appears that Mikey is trying to absorb what Chad is saying about set ups, etc.

I think it's time again for the TDP posters to get TWIN to add a little truck content to the show. NW, too. Hopefully we'll get a third panelist. Maybe someone different each week. They listened to us about the format and changed it, in mid season no less. See ESPN, it can be done.

The Chase driver segments are just a mish mash of what we have already seen. They should've just made another show about them. But, that would've preempted one the T&A or car building shows.

Sophia said...

Love this show. Great fun.

But gotta say STUNNED at the ignoring of the Truck Series. Best racing there is !!

The canned taped bits about the chase are a snooze to me...i have seen the "Kim Burton cam" way too often and this looked like repeats to me. They could easily keep this to ONE SEGMENT on the show and give the TRUCKS a segment. Skinner deserved to be heard from and the other top drivers.

SHAME on SPEED and TWIN for this Truck series could be on life support and they don't seem to care.

I gotta go find the TWIN on clip :)

Daly Planet Editor said...

Quick note from the TWIN crew: Mikey gets a Monday off next week so it will be Greg Biffle and Chad Knaus on the show.

Aren't things fun in TV land?


Lou said...

Enjoy MW on the show. It will be different w/o him. Look forward to next Monday night.

Newracefan said...

Next week should be interesting.

Speedway Guide said...

Michael Waltrip does have a good self deprecating sense of humor. He is a great spokesman for a sponsor. It is no wonder that NAPA has stuck with him when he wasn't running all that good.

Vicky D said...

Several years ago, I believe this show was 90 minutes long so they could devote more time to the Busch & Truck series and that made it more enjoyable for the true nascar fans. And if I'm not mistaken it was also on one of the Fox channels too.

stuck in 200 said...

The 90 minute experiment didn't last long - it was unwatchable. 90 minutes of the old crew was just a bit much.

Mikey's reaction to the Burton segment was ... interesting. He had quite a bit to say about Kim and Jeff and how great it is to have that support from your wife both when things are going well and when they aren't. I wonder what he could have been thinking of?