Wednesday, September 23, 2009

SPEED Hopes To Build On Truck Series Momentum

Let's face it. The Camping World Truck Series jump in TV ratings last week was not just due to a single race in Loudon. The trucks were the second part of a slam-dunk doubleheader on SPEED that was started by the Whelen Modifieds.

Click here for the article over at that talks about the nice ratings jump for the trucks. The brief article does not mention the Mods or the fact that Mike Joy and Dick Berggren again did a super job of calling the action in a simple and effective TV telecast. Talk about a great lead-in.

Sure, the trucks put on a good show and the hype from the previous race about the Matt Crafton vs. Ron Hornaday dust-up was in the news. Krista Voda does not usually get involved in petty stories, but she did everything but set up a boxing ring for Crafton to take on all comers during the pre-race show.

SPEED is taking a very deep breath this week as only 31 trucks were originally entered for the 9PM ET Saturday race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Since that time, four more trucks have miraculously turned up and the entry list is now set at 35.

The race in Loudon came down to Kyle Busch being pursued by Kevin Harvick who could not get past his teammate Ron Hornaday. Harvick popped a cork after the event while the old veteran Hornaday watched Busch take the bow with the checkered flag.

With neither Busch or Havick in the Las Vegas race, SPEED is going to be faced with the reality of the truck series. There are perhaps fifteen trucks in the field that have run the entire season. Several are add-ons with familiar names like Max Papis, Brian Ickler and Aric Almirola.

On the flip side, many are clearly field fillers. Fans who watch on TV are not going to see the ten or more trucks that pull off the track and drive right into the garage before the first fuel stop. The actual race itself will look very different from the nice formation fans will see at the start.

While SPEED had all the ingredients in place at Loudon with a great lead-in race and a good field with some Cup drivers, Las Vegas is going to be a very different animal. The competition at the front of the field had better be good, because with a big track like Vegas the field is going to string out quickly.

Voda's Setup this week will no doubt be upbeat with the strong TV ratings and the good racing at Loudon. The pre-race producer has also done a good job of keeping fans up to date this season on the changing cast of characters in the series. Some like Todd Bodine have even come and gone and come back again.

It will be up to Rick Allen to mix the excitement of the trucks at speed with the reality of what is happening in front of the fans. Phil Parsons will also be along to keep a perspective on the handful of trucks truly capable of contending for the win.

On a good note, Johnny Benson will join Allen and Parsons for his final appearance of the season in the SPEED TV booth. Benson is still on injured reserve and considering his options for 2010. Michael Waltrip will be attending to Sprint Cup Series duties in Dover, DE.

There is a live sports car race leading into the CWTS this week. The start time is late for the East Coast and the green flag drops after 9:30PM. It should be interesting to see how many trucks are running at the finish and if the series can once again keep the attention focused on the battles at the front of the pack.

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Sicklajoie said...

Too bad the truck race stunk. I was at Loudon and it was a great crowd for the modifieds. All that energy following the mod race was quickly put to rest when the trucks hit the track. 8 start and parkers in the first 30 laps and single file racing made myself and many others go and wander around the souvenir trailers until the ACT race that followed came up.
The series is in a heap of crap right now. I'm guessing a good reason for the higher TV rating was because of the mod race that preceded it. I heard the mod race got a .5 rating, not bad for a regional series.

PammH said...

Ummm-according to the times from jayyski, the truck race on Sat nite starts @ 10pm. I will be waaay in bed before it hardly starts! Not playing to the crowd, imo.

Newracefan said...

10pm that's a DVR for sure, I'm going to the cup race Sunday and there is no way I'm staying up that late. You know us Nascar people we get to the track HOURS before the event.

Tom said...

Green flag actually set for around 9:40 ET. Yup, it's late, but it's a Saturday.

The last two truck races at Vegas have been tremendous. Last year, Mike Skinner beat Erik Darnell by just .02 seconds, and two years ago, Travis Kvapil held off Johnny Benson and Jon Wood in an outstanding three-way shootout over the closing laps.

One honest downer...five of the 12 truck race winners have started from the pole. Predictable? Maybe. Will the race be exciting? Absolutely.

Dot said...

I don't think I'm going to the truck race. Now that I know they'll be here next year (allegedly), there's no urgency to attend. I know, I'm a bad fan. However, I'll be here at TDP. Probably one of a few based on Pammmm's comment. That is pretty late for you eastern folk.

I don't think they've ever had a full field here. Somehow they manage to find Odd Odd Wads to fill the field. No points for those guys.

DL said...

I love the trucks... almost more than the cars. Seems to be more "old school" going on there. I try to watch every chance I get but most of the time, must DVR becuase the start times are even more erratic. SPEED does a great job with coverage. As for drivers Mike Skinner is my regular fave, but it's usually Kyle Busch that I watch when he's entered in a race. Doesn't matter what you think of him personally- that kid races for the win every time, and that's what I like to see.

RobFromToronto said...

I want to love the truck eally do..its alot mroe exciting usually than sprint cup..but on my 60 inch HD tv..speed tv in HD looks horrid..its alot of jagged and fox look its not my tv..friends of mine experience the same issues with speed's broadcast quality..that said.
I like the broadcast team for the truck races..they have a good flow going and dont detract from my enjoyment like espn and fox do for sprint.
The biggest problem now..that i have with the trucks have basically..2-3 trucks than can win..and 30-ish that dont stand a chance unless those 2-3 crash or break..parity does not exist in the truck series as it does to a larger extent in sprint where on any givin day..10-15 drivers have a legit chance.
The starting times dont bother me..i'm mid 40's retired non-partier so you'll fine me at home watching sports at 10 pm

Anonymous said...

Love the trucks. The absence is Kyle in the Las Vegas race is another reason to watch.

Anonymous said...

Love the trucks - when Kyle IS racing. Otherwise, yawn....

Haus14 said...

I would take the complete opposite approach of anonymous. Love the trucks, but without Kyle Busch it just isn't the same.

red said...

i love the trucks and would ordinarily be quite content to stay up into the early morning hours to watch a race in vegas. BUT, as with nrf, i have to be up at an ungodly hour on sunday morning to get on the road to dover! so, i may miss the trucks this saturday. (then again, i can sleep later, right? so who knows?)

as for the mods being such a strong lead-in to last week's truck race? not sure about that. how many folks actually tuned in to the mods race? how many race fans even know about the series, let alone made time to watch? i agree that it was a great race and a wonderful broadcast but if, as sicklajoie said, the mods pulled a .5 rating, then i don't think that explains the truck race rating.

the S&Pers in all series make me cringe but when the trucks get going, it's a great show -- and the broadcast team is usually excellent.

(and nrf: i finally have my dover details! will send them thru in an email to you in a moment. hope your "no rain" dance is outstanding!!)

Vicky D said...

Well, I think LV won't be an exciting race. For the truck series, I would prefer smaller tracks 3/4 to 1 mile tracks are better. Our fav has had so so races the last couple of times out, we're hoping for a big day in LV for David.