Saturday, October 4, 2008
SPEED's Kenny Wallace Could Be Talladega's Wild Card
That is the crew above that many fans remember from the old Inside NEXTEL Cup Racing TV show on SPEED. Kenny Wallace was just getting into the TV business back then. He was the part-time guy when one of the regulars had to take a Monday off.
Now, Wallace finds himself headlining two of the most popular shows on SPEED at each Sprint Cup race weekend. RaceDay and Victory Lane have each forged a path through the jungle of NASCAR TV shows and formed a bond with the audience.
In a way, it seems that Wallace has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Sunday at Talladega, that will be put to the test.
Veteran fans have a vivid memory of Wallace staying right-in-line behind the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. as he won at Talladega. Kenny gave Sr. the push he needed and understood his role in the race and the sport in general.
Michael Waltrip has shared a lot of TV time with Wallace over the years. Now, Waltrip finds himself in need of someone to help him boost one of his team cars into the Top 35 in points. Someone who can run Talladega, stay patient and understand his role in the race and the sport. He dialed Wallace and made the offer.
This puts together quite an interesting scenario where NASCAR TV is concerned for Sunday. The possibilities are almost endless. Wallace will begin the day with his role as a panelist on RaceDay at 11AM.
On this particular Sunday morning, instead of two hours of conversation with John Roberts and Jimmy Spencer there will be a driver's meeting and sponsor duties. Wallace will be handling two very different tasks at the same time, driver and broadcaster.
Once RaceDay is over, Wallace will be available for an ABC interview during NASCAR Countdown with Allen Bestwick. At 2PM, he will be in the car and ready for a reprise of his famous role. This time, he has Toyota power under the hood and absolutely nothing to lose.
Immediately after the race is over, Wallace reports directly to Victory Lane. While it may not be as the driver with the checkered flag, fans should remember that at Talladega anything can and often does happen. How Wallace finishes this race and what role he plays in the ending could be the story of the weekend.
Expect Wallace in his driver's suit to join Roberts and Spencer as the Victory Lane show on SPEED is in-progress. He has done this before and his firsthand account of the racing made both the program in general and the questions he asked of the guests that much better.
RaceDay has been in a bit of a funk. The program was moved back an hour to clear the TV schedule for the NASCAR Countdown show on ABC. No more pit walks with Wendy Venturini while the activity buzzed around her. No more driver interviews with Hermie Sadler as the drivers waited to be introduced to the huge crowd on the main stage.
Having Wallace in the race will be a good shot in the arm for the TV show. Having him in a MWR car really keeps it almost inside the SPEED family. Waltrip should be able to look in his mirror and see David Reutimann and Wallace looking to line-up the three Toyotas and make some noise.
After the ARCA and Craftsman Truck Series races showed just how hard it is to pass, the Sprint Cup race should be fascinating. In the past, two COT cars were able to just hook-up and run away from the pack under the right circumstances. No doubt Waltrip would like to learn what three cars can do.
So, the day ends for Wallace in Victory Lane reviewing the race highlights and asking questions of the winning driver, crew chief and owner. Regardless of who that is and how the chips fall, the ABC TV crew may find themselves calling the name Kenny Wallace several times as the race gets down to the final laps.
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