Sunday, June 22, 2008

Monday Night TV Shoot-Out: Benson/LaJoie vs. Waltrip/Knaus

It is that time of the week again when the two big Monday NASCAR TV shows get to duke-it-out for your attention as a fan.

ESPN airs the one hour "roundtable" version of NASCAR Now at 5:30PM Eastern Time and then re-airs the show at 1AM Tuesday. SPEED airs This Week In NASCAR at 8PM and then repeats it twice at Midnight and 8AM on Tuesday morning.

Both these shows are after the same audience. NASCAR fans who want more information than they were able to get from the live TV and radio broadcasts. Despite the updated information and stories on the Internet, there is nothing like watching experienced NASCAR personalities talk about the weekend of racing.

On this Monday, NASCAR Now will continue to rotate panelists in the studio. Host Allen Bestwick will be joined by Randy LaJoie and Johnny Benson. Mike Massaro will also be on the panel and has become a semi-regular because of his ability to speak to almost any issue and his wealth of NASCAR reporting knowledge for ESPN over the years.

Over on SPEED, it will be the new "odd couple" of NASCAR TV with Michael Waltip as Oscar and the buttoned-up Chad Knaus as Felix on TWIN. The complete opposite personalities of these two have really begun to be a hit for SPEED. Waltrip seems to be finally comfortable with host Steve Byrnes and has begun to drive Knaus completely crazy on a regular basis, which is his main function on this program.

ESPN2 is up first, and Bestwick continues to have the best year of his long TV career. His transformation of this hour has been nothing short of amazing. The veteran crew slated for this Monday includes the winner of the NCTS race, a former Busch Series champ and one of the most experienced NASCAR reporters in the history of ESPN.

Bestwick continues to be long-winded, but when he keeps his questions short and lets the panelists talk, the show takes on a new dynamic. When he asks paragraph-length questions and adds-in his own opinion, things bog down in a hurry. Often, this depends on how responsive and interesting the panelists are during the show. On this Monday, Bestwick can just toss-out the topic and stand-back.

All the panelists get to ask questions of the two guests on the show and this has been a smart idea. Different views and personalities are what this sport is all about and the constantly changing faces on this TV series have made it work this season.

Over on SPEED, Byrnes might have a good show because of the wild nature of the Sonoma race and the fact that New Hampshire is next. Both of these topics are going to be good for Waltrip and Knaus in both review and preview mode. Which will come first this week?

When Byrnes can get Waltrip to settle-in and feel comfortable right away, viewers can sense that the show is going to come up to full-speed in a hurry. If things get off-base, the rest of the hour suffers. To both their credit, Waltrip and Knaus have been firm in their viewpoints and often hilarious in their differences.

This week, Daly Planet readers can view the programs and then offer their reactions on this post. We will skip the individual columns this week and let you tell us what parts of the shows you enjoyed, and what you think needs to change. Your comment can be any length, but please observe the rules on the right side of the main page.

To add your opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the easy instructions. Thank you very much for taking the time to stop by our site and offer your NASCAR TV comments.

In-Progress At Sonoma: RaceDay, TNT Pre-race and Sprint Cup

Road courses are always different. Love them or hate them it seems they always provide a new kind of challenge for the TV crew. Sonoma was the site of a disaster last season for TNT. It began with interrupting Kyle Petty as he was leading a team prayer and moved-on to airing a profanity from him during the race and then dissolved into chaos as the announcers lost their cool on the final laps.

This Sunday afternoon will begin with Raceday at 1:30PM Eastern Time on SPEED. John Roberts will be joined by Jimmy Spencer and Hermie Sadler as Kenny Wallace was in Milwaukee running the Nationwide Series race. Wendy Venturini will handle the interviews and news, and Rutledge Wood will be a contributor.

Chip Ganassi, Kevin Harvick and road course veteran Ron Fellows will be featured guests. Venturini's Real Deal segment will focus on last year's race winner, Juan Pablo Montoya. Another feature will look at the original road course "ringer," Dan Gurney. Update: Gurney - still alive and not happy with TDP!

Next up is NASCAR on TNT Live! at 3:30PM. Marc Fein hosts with Larry McReynolds and Kyle Petty alongside. Montoya will also join this program live and answer questions from TNT viewers through RaceBuddy.

At 4:30PM it will be Countdown to Green hosted by Bill Weber. Seated next to Weber at the TNT cocktail table will be Wally Dallenbach. This thirty minute show focuses on more race-related issues and uses the TNT pit reporters as well.

At 5PM the live race coverage will begin. This year Kyle Petty will be in the booth and not driving in the race. Weber hosts with Dallenbach while Larry Mcreynolds contributes from the TNT infield stage. This is the race last season where McReynolds hung-in there despite being ill and single-handedly held the telecast together. The infield stage used to be located on the drag strip right next to the track, so the noise was intense. Perhaps, TNT has re-thought that location for Sunday.

Lindsay Czarniak, Ralph Shaheen, Matt Yocum and Marty Snider will be covering the pit road area for this event which is so very different where pit strategy is concerned. Last year things got rough and disjointed with the pit coverage, this year should be a big improvement.

This post will serve to host your comments about the pre-race shows and then the Sprint Cup race on TNT and SPEED. To add your TV-related opinion, just click on the COMMENTS button below and follow the directions. The rules for posting are located on the right side of the main page. Thank you for taking the time to stop by.