Monday, September 21, 2009
Spencer Exits Before Helton Interview On "TWIN"
Greg Biffle was the meat in a Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Spencer sandwich. The TWIN panel has expanded to three panelists with the recent addition of Spencer for the remainder of the season.
Host Steve Byrnes made short work of the race highlights because this week the show was adding yet another twist. NASCAR President Mike Helton was in the SPEED studio to answer some questions and address some topics as the sport headed down the stretch.
Spencer and Waltrip felt each other out as they both tried to have the last word during the highlights and on the issues. Greg Biffle had some moments and held his own, but it was very clear that the Alpha Dog competition was in full swing with his fellow panelists.
"We'll get to your drivers later," Spencer told Waltrip in the highlights segment before the David Reutimann vs. Dale Earnhardt Jr. crash. That was certainly something that neither Chad Knaus or Biffle had ever said to Waltrip this season. There just might be a new sheriff in TV town.
Byrnes worked hard to figure out this new television dynamic. Spencer seems to always be on the verge of making strong statements and that is going to conflict with the pro-NASCAR tone often heard from team owner Waltrip.
Things were just about to get interesting when Byrnes suddenly thanked Spencer for stopping by. It seemed awkward as Waltrip joked about Spencer appearing when he was away. Spencer then wondered how Waltrip got himself in a Ferrari while on vacation.
It was apparent when the program returned from commercial just why Byrnes had thanked Spencer. He was no longer on the set. In Spencer's seat was Helton. Instead of involving one of the most colorful and sometimes controversial SPEED personalities in the interview, Helton was left with a multi-car team owner and an active driver who both race in the Sprint Cup Series.
Needless to say, this changed the dynamic of the program immediately. While Byrnes asked a question about the economy, it was Waltrip who turned into a gushing school kid with his endless compliments for the sanctioning body and Helton himself.
Helton remembered Kenny Schrader being on the program after Waltrip asked the classic question about just how much Helton makes. "Not as much as you do," responded Helton with a touch of irony. Waltrip was on a roll. Drug testing, electronic scoring and doublefile restarts were on his list of why NASCAR is great.
Helton's message was to give the Chase a chance. The sales pitch was that this new concept is just now getting mature. For the fans, for the media and for the competitors this is still something that NASCAR is developing and it may well be tweaked slightly as time goes on. It was a well-delivered message from NASCAR's best spokesman.
It was Byrnes and Biffle who got the most out of Helton. Biffle got Helton to admit NASCAR is actively looking at changing the starting times of Sprint Cup Series races for next season. While things were originally driven by the TV networks, it was the promoters and the fans trying to attend the races who suffered.
Helton declined to comment on the fuel injection issue with a moment of silence that turned to laughter. He did, however, remain on the show through the Dover preview and that paid dividends. With some time at the end of the program, Byrnes asked Helton about the testing ban. Helton confirmed it will stay in place.
Biffle raised the issue of doublefile restarts in the Camping World Truck Series. "We would like to get it into the truck series," replied Helton. His explanation was that next year is the possible start date after NASCAR decides what to do with the current pit stop rules for the trucks. Great question by Biffle and answer by Helton.
It's always good to see Helton in this environment. While Byrnes did manage to sneak-in one question from a fan about points, the missing element in this show was Spencer. Biffle and Waltrip simply cannot be expected to address the more difficult issues and they did not. It was safe, easy and friendly for Helton.
Next week another round of fun begins when Chad Knaus is added to a show that will feature Spencer and Waltrip for the full hour. After a Dover race that promises to be a key event in the Chase, those three should make for some interesting TV.
If you watched the Monday program, please leave us a comment. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thank for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.