Monday, May 4, 2009
New TV Series Called "My Name Is Kyle"
It was the week after Michael Waltrip made his interesting cameo appearance on My Name Is Earl. On this Monday, another personality dominated the NASCAR TV talk-shows. My Name Is Kyle was the title of this series.
While Kyle Petty was riding his motorcycle and across the country and sending pictures to Twitter users, Kyle Busch was dominating both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in Richmond. That got a lot of folks talking.
Waltrip joined host Steve Byrnes and panelist Chad Knaus for a version of This Week in NASCAR that covered a lot of bases. Unlike some other TV types, Waltrip is firmly on the Kyle Busch bandwagon and essentially voiced the view that the current dominance of Busch in the sport is historic in nature.
Knaus continues to provide the level-headed analysis on this program that one might expect from a crew chief. It was clear from the start of the show that he was upset by the equipment failure Saturday night on his car. Knaus was upfront in saying a brake line was placed incorrectly in the shop and was torn by the suspension when the racing began.
The vibe on this program is different with Knaus present. Last week, Waltrip constantly spoke overtop of Greg Biffle and many TDP readers noticed. This week, Knaus coolly waited for Waltrip's jokes and comments before offering his own remarks.
Perhaps, Biffle can take a cue from this when all three panel members join Steve Byrnes and a live audience for next week's show. That is All-Star week and nothing causes more hysteria at SPEED than the build-up to that network's high-profile Sprint Cup event.
Just imagine giving Waltrip a live audience packed with all kinds of dignitaries, sponsors and NASCAR types. Adding Darlington highlights and an All-Star preview should put that show over the top.
TWIN continues to work with two panelists on most programs and the combination of having two drivers on the show really isn't clicking this season. Whether it is the occasional presence of Knaus or Waltrip's inability to respect Biffle, the two-driver combination lacks the punch and fun of the Waltrip/Knaus team.
Byrnes has done a good job keeping the show on track since it started in 2008. Now, the formula is familiar and all Byrnes has to do is keep Waltrip semi-focused and get in all the sales features. For someone used to dealing with Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds almost every weekend on Trackside, this Monday studio assignment is a piece of cake.
Each week, Waltrip correctly points out the value of the footage gathered by the NASCAR Media Group and edited into tremendous features. The two or three minutes shown in TWIN really begs the question of why there is no program series on SPEED using this content. Perhaps, Waltrip's persistence may pay off in 2010.
Over at ESPN, the NASCAR Now bunch was a new mix of Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie and reporter Angelique Chengelis. Host Allen Bestwick did his best to breathe some life into the group, but this combination did not click.
Chengelis is a hardcore NASCAR reporter who has been outstanding on the all-journalist editions of this show, but was out of place with LaJoie and Craven. Right now, Craven is probably the best studio analyst on TV. He also knows how to deal with LaJoie's sense of humor and sometimes crude remarks.
Unfortunately, Craven and Chengelis did not mix. Each had their own views, stated them and moved-on to the next topic. Bestwick kept the pace quick, but eventually Chengelis began to ask Craven questions herself. It was the reporter in her.
Since ESPN continues to keep a tight lid on any actual discussion of the sport, nothing came of the comments and Bestwick returned to the script. Without a Mike Massaro, Ray Everham or Marty Smith to mix things up with Craven, Monday's NASCAR Now just zooms-by harmlessly and leaves no lasting quotes or moments.
It is clear, however, that ESPN knows it has hit on a goldmine with Craven. His studio appearances on the Sprint Cup Series morning preview show have changed the entire dynamic of the program. When given the opportunity to interview guests, his thoughtful questions raise the level of conversation. It should be interesting to see how the network continues to use Craven for the rest of the season.
If the younger Busch brother wins at Darlington, it could mean another Monday episode of My Name Is Kyle. Ironically, on this show Waltrip gets a leading role.
Thanks to Getty Images for the photo, click on it to see it full-size.
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