Monday, June 1, 2009
Shifting TV Gears
The excited voice of Mike Joy was prominent in the Monday Sprint Cup Series highlights of both NASCAR Now and This Week in NASCAR. It may well be the last time viewers hear Joy until the end of the season TV review shows. NASCAR on Fox has left the building.
In its place, the gang from TNT will combine with SPEED to cover the next six Sprint Cup Series weekends. SPEED will handle the practice and qualifying while TNT will cover the races. One signal that the gears are shifting in TV land appeared Monday on Twitter.
Kyle Petty, the TNT color analyst, announced that he will be riding his motorcycle to all six of the TNT races. While this might not normally get a lot of attention, Petty added that his motorcycle also has a sidecar. In that sidecar, driving to all the TNT races, will be SPEED's Rutledge Wood.
Add a video camera, throw-in meeting NASCAR fans along the way and this little three-wheeled summer drive might make for some fun times and great publicity for TNT. Petty and Rutledge are all over Twitter and there is no doubt that service will play a key role in this project. There will be more information about this litte escapade coming during the week.
Last week we discussed TNT's RaceBuddy online application. Just announced is that PRN's Jim Noble will be the pit reporter working exclusively for the Internet audience. RaceBuddy is free to all broadband computer users. Click here for the story.
Monday saw Ricky Craven anchor the panel of NASCAR Now with Allen Bestwick as the host. Although Brad Daugherty and Tim Brewer were also on the show, it was once again Craven offering the timely and thoughtful comments. The race reviews were solid, but Craven also took a moment to back-up fellow broadcaster Mike Joy.
In the Nationwide and CWTS highlights, the video showed Kyle Busch making his now famous runs from the media after the races where he does not win. Just like Joy on the Fox telecast, Craven said it was time for the younger Busch to grow-up. Unlike Joy, Craven expounded on his statement and drove home the point.
Craven's concern was the fact that Busch left Joey Logano standing on pit road being interviewed on national TV while firmly believing he caused teammate Busch to lose the race. Dave Burns of ESPN put Logano on the spot and it was clear the young driver was deeply upset. In fact, one moment of Busch's time on TV would have explained that Busch had a tire going down and Logano had nothing to do with the real problem. Sometimes, it's not all about you.
Craven has emerged this season as a force in the studio for ESPN. His appearances on the Sunday preview and Monday review shows have changed the entire dynamic of those programs. In late July, ESPN will add a Sunday night one-hour version of NASCAR Now. Putting Craven in a position to appear on all three shows would be a strong move.
Later Monday evening, it was Chad Knaus on This Week In NASCAR joining Michael Waltrip and host Steve Byrnes. This was a unique show, as Knaus won at Dover and Waltrip's driver David Reutimann won the week before in Charlotte. The irony was that a rain-delayed Monday race had cancelled TWIN on the week MWR finally won.
This trio is the right one for this show and once again the combination of information and fun worked well. Knaus really settled-in to this series once he figured out that Waltrip was basically harmless. That is a concept that Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers and Dave Despain have never grasped. Byrnes and Knaus enjoy kidding Waltrip even as he continues his stream of consciousness rambling about everything and anything under the sun.
This show has allowed viewers a peek inside the mind of the top crew chief in the sport and it has been well worth it. Knaus gets it, whether he is talking technical about a track or describing why he made changes on his race car at the last event. Fellow panelist Biffle is a great guy, but having two drivers on the show normally results in two versions of the very same commentary.
On this Monday Waltrip begged for a plane ride to Texas, took a shot at Helio Castroneves by talking about his off-shore accounts and sang a song by the Eagles. All this while wearing running shoes and quarter socks. If SPEED can talk Knaus into appearing regularly, things will only get better for fans of TWIN.
One final media note. Clint Bowyer's former girlfriend and professional model Athena Barber will be joining the cast of 3 Wide Life next month as a correspondent and segment host. This show already includes former NASCAR bad boy Shane Hmiel and local Charlotte area entertainment reporter Brittney Cason. The 3 Wide Life website has the list of stations and regional sports networks where the series is carried.
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