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.

39 comments:

Sophia said...

ok, I have to start emailing myself what I just posted as the other post is closed after I sent it out into the Internet outer space....forgive my Swiss Cheese brain.

First of all, I did not expect anything more than softball questions, and it is nice to see the gentle side of Helton with the boys having fun. They could've said "Good bye" to JS ...maybe they couldn't afford an extra chair? :)

But they should've served cupcakes with this interview as it was gushing galore with MW as usual.

The thing that got MY attention was when asked about views at different tracks, Helton said they can't always see everything from Race Control so they count on the "television broadcast" to see what's happening?!?

You mean TPTB watch this dreck on ESPN to "find out what's going on" with the horrible camera direction work? In car cams, side views, roof cams, bumper cams, tight shots.

WOW. I think that comment sent anything else I might have retained, in detail out, the window.

TPTB DO WATCH the broadcast sometimes?
That needed a follow up question which we all knew would never come, but it is what it is. Photo OP and PR.

However it did come out today the ratings were down what, 21 per cent yesterday? Ouch.
IF ONLY they could've asked Helton about that.

Standard start times would be a good thing to help that some.

I think we need to see a Dave Despain interview with Helton. SPEED NASCAR guys have too keep their jobs. :)

Dot said...

@ dear Sophia, you said everything I was going to. One exception, the comments were disabled before I could type one on the other post.

I guess the NFL really gave NASCAR a spanking yesterday. I'll bet anything that we see uniform start times next year. At least when the Chase starts.

I love Biff. You could tell that he really doesn't care for the two pit stop rule in trucks. Good for him to ask Mike about it.

itsonlyrockandroll said...

The announcers talk tooo much
talk too loud. And tell us what we
can Plainly see on TV.
And why do we need comments on the
restarts ?? It is one of the best
times to hear the engines Roar. You
know..like at the track.
And .. during Full Throtle .. why
do we need to hear the Spotters ??
Mama Mia.

KoHoSo said...

Various thoughts on this one...

Sophia said...

I think we need to see a Dave Despain interview with Helton. SPEED NASCAR guys have too keep their jobs. :)

Good thought. I just doubt that Helton would subject himself to what would surely be some very touchy questions from Despain...and, can you imagine what some of the calls would be like if he took any? The phone lines in Charlotte would probably melt from so many people like me calling in who would love nothing more than to give Helton a piece of their minds. >:-)

Interesting on making Spencer leave...it was always my thought that he was kind of a NASCAR "teacher's pet" since he was the one that first floated the trial balloon for The Chase on the old version of the show when he was filling in one week (information that I believes could only have been given to him by Helton or Brian France).

Give The Chase a chance, huh? This marks the sixth year, does it not? Who's running NASCAR now? Is Brian France not able to make a final decision or did NASCAR get taken over by the State of California and I just missed that story? :-D

As for the show itself in general, I was again greatly disappointed in Mikey (and I consider myself a fan of his). There is nothing wrong with being pro-NASCAR and I could see how somebody with a personality like Waltrip's could not find any faults with their leadership, rules, and direction. However, he was just so over the top that I felt like I was eating a sugar cookie with double sugar frosted with triple-sugar icing and washed down with a glass of liquid sugar. I barely made it through the whole show.

Many times over this year I have brought forth the idea that Mikey needed a strong foil (stronger than Knauss) to keep him in line. Just like our parents always warned us, sometimes you get what you wish for (and you don't like it). Schrader worked because he was almost always good-natured about keeping Mikey in line. Spencer is a strong foil but he's a general sourpuss and looking to one-up rather than add to the show with his own thoughts and humor. If Speed is going to send us into Spencer overkill next season...well, I'll give him more chances to improve but, right now, I'm not very thinking very positively about it...but, I'll try.

Jonathan, southside of chicago said...

so nothing on the COT???? that was one of the main selling points of having him on when speed was promoting it. Does anyone have a complete transcript of the interview???

Ohio Eric said...

I knew the minute that Spence was gone, that the questions for Mike Helton would be non controversal. Biff is really comming around but Mikey was only trying to please the higher ups in Nascar. Can you imagine having Spence on the show with King Brian. Now that should get some ratings......

Anonymous said...

New Sheriff? Hmmm don't think so, Spencer one on one with Mikey no contest, and we don't want it to be. Just having a new personality on the show brings in a new mix that can't hurt. Maybe they thought there would be too many panelists asking questions if Spencer stayed when Helton came on. I personally don't care for Spencer, he many times has been really critical and speaks without thinking and than later has to back off and he is a Jr. lover. Overall great show and nice having Helton on.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid the whole thing lived down to expectations.
What about the crummy racing with COT?
What about the demise of GM?
Mergers,acquisitions, consolidation, Kyle Petty out of the sport, Johnny Benson out of the sport, Ken Schrader, cascading tv ratings, a new NASCAR owned network, Brian France wanting an NFL franchise,Sprint/Nextel as a target for takeover?
But what we get is happy happy joy joy life is great and what about those double file restarts?

A waste of time

BrayKroter

mrclause said...

If Mike Helton or Brian France ever make a sharp, quick turn, Mikey will end up with a broken nose!

I've had my fill of both Waltrips and their idiotic self promotion. There are so many talented people to pick from, why these two over and over and over?

50 yr. fan said...

Great comments Sophia. Nailing
MW as a "gusher". I've previously
said "kisser", but (?) yours
is more discreet.

SPEED should spend some of their
pre-race time with a fan Q&A to
the NA$CAR suits. Maybe it would
get them closer to our opinions.

Deborah said...

TWIN has never been and never will be a hard news show. The show has always mostly been pro-NASCAR and it's puzzling why anyone would think that they're going to rip the governing body, the sport or grill Helton about all the problems in the sport. The segment with Helton was exactly what I expected and I liked it a lot better than the first half with Spencer - I thought there was no chemistry between him, Biffle and Michael.

Anonymous said...

I didn't expect much from the show....and wasn't disapointed. Helton added nothing to our knowledge base,Spencer was excluded and Waltrip talked too much. Byrnes should not be host. Biffle made a real effort to make his points and generally succeeded.

Anonymous said...

Watching Mikey gush over Helton made me want to puke. I would have liked the question asked "Why can't NASCAR ever admit it when their wrong" or admit when they make a bad decision, Oh I know their never wrong, right?

Vicky D said...

I thought Biff asked some good questions about the truck series pitstops and double file restarts. I also agree with Sophia what was Helton thinking when he mentioned race control watched the television broadcast sometimes to get a different view of the action. I guess they didn't get a lot of info but I suppose Helton wouldn't actually say that it ended up being useless.

DL said...

Not too bad, these 4 guys. Interesting to see Chad and Spence together next week, especially if Jimmie has a bad race. I didn't expect anything but sugar shock from MW again, but when Helton came in, I was disappointed that it became nauseating and they didn't ask about CoT tweaks next year, sorely needed. Spence should've stayed to ask a couple tough questions. Biff tried.
As for NASCAR needing to watch TV monitors at some tracks to observe scoring and debris, this is understandable as they have something like 30 cameras focused on the track? What we see on TV is only a fraction of what is actually being filmed, our home coverage is a result of direction choices.

Anonymous said...

I was really surprised to see Spencer gone because he commented on the victory lane show the night before that he was looking forward to asking Mike Helton questions on TWIN.

Anonymous said...

If you're looking for tough questions or honest back-and-forth conversation, SPEED isn't the place. They made that clear before the season even started when they just flat-out refused to address economic issues. (Remember how it took an editing blip to reveal DW's real opinions about that?)

Spencer is as close as we're going to get. I used to think he was a little clownish, too eager to be too silly on RaceDay but his appearances on TWIN have sort of changed my mind. It would've been nice to have Spencer included in the Helton interview. I don't know if the questions would have been much tougher but at least it would have cut into the time Mikey spent kissing up.

Anonymous said...

just a comment about Helton & Co watching monitors...it would be *impossible* for them to see everything 'out the window' at Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Indianapolis, and pretty hard to see details at a mile away at Talledega and a few other places. Same for the broadcast crews. But I doubt anyone in Race Control would have much time to be 'critical' of the broadcast considering all the other stuff they have to be concerned about. (Although yes, they ought to try it sometime...)

Mikey was sickening. Talk about sucking up to the boss. I appreciated Biffle asking about start times. They don't have the right formula for this show yet.

Anonymous said...

Having Helton sit there thru the recaps and video stuff was a colossal waste. Biffle was the only one with some really good questions (about the truck series).Kicking Spence out before Helton sat down said tons - and it wasn't good. I may not be a Spencer fan, but why were they afraid to keep him on the set if he's supposed to be there for the rest of the season?
Very disappointing show. And I'm usually a fan.

Zieke said...

Well said mrclause. We've been on the same page with the Waldrips for a time now. They just need to go away. At least Spencer says what's on his mind, even if he has to retract once in awhile. We can live with ya Jimmy. Don't forget the cigars tho.

Snappy-3 said...

They really really need to get Waltrip off this show. His overflowing butt kissing of NASCAR gets worse every week. Although Jimmy Spenser gets a little over the top the other way, at least Jimmy is open and honest. Not all sugar coated brown nosing.

Anonymous said...

I actually wanted to turn it off, Mikey was so "over the top", but was afraid I might miss something in the Helton segment. Someone has got to put a sock on Mikey and glue it on with permanent glue -- or just get him off the show.

I don't like Spencer on RaceDay. He and Kenny are like to big clowns, but I do like his serious side which he brings to TWIN. Removing him from the set for Helton was a big mistake. His questions, along with Biffle, would have been much more informative than Mikey's gushing.

I'm actually finding him insulting and difficult to listen to.

Sophia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.C. said...

The TWIN show Monday was just as I figured it to be....softball and worthless as so many have said before me. Spencer being dismissed before Mafia Mike came out was NOT a shock to me as he was the only "panelist" with the cojoles to ask MM a question of substance. Nascar has taken the attack of "theres nothing wrong with our product and we have new watchers/fans every week". That MY be true but at the cost of their LONG TIME FANS. I have been involved in Nascar since 1958, having worked with teams, driven in lower eschelon classes and watched as my beloved sport has taken so many awkward turns that the NHRA has become my primary automotive focus. At least at an NHRA venue you do NOT have to pay extra tribute to the All-Knowing (Im)potentate of Nascar (or win some obscure contest) to get access to the drivers and crews. My racer-chick and I walked in the pit area in Charlotte, amazed at the access to Tom Hammonds, Doug Herbert, JOHN FORCE, and generally all the faces who make that competition so great. I sat one row below Fast Jack Beckman on Saturday in the BLEACHERS..he was gracious and very funny as usual. Imagine a Juan Pablo Montoilet doing that at maybe Indy??...Not possible. Imagine my utter shock at Fridays "exhibition" of Spencer, Rusty and Brewer in the staging area, communing with the likes of Don Prudhomme and others. I know for a fact that as soon as they had a snootful of nitro fumes and burnt rubber, they headed for the quieter, more sedate climes of a suite to sip whatevers and commune with "their type" of people. Sadly, Nascar has gone to the dawgs and NHRA has shown real accomodation to its fans. Access and COMPETITION are what brings attendance and viewership. Nascar loses

Buzzy said...

I used to like that show. Dumping Spencer has also dumped me. Tired of MW Kissing up.

Dannyboy said...

"We'll get to your drivers later" is some kind of a challenge??? They laughed about it after he said it. No big deal.

To me, Jimmy was even more subdued than last week and brought little to the table. I was disappointed that his only strong opinions were:

"Kasey Kahne is done" re: the CHase; and "Kyle Busch is some kinda driver". Wow. Real controversial.

And as for JS departing when Helton came on, isn't it possible that Jimmy knew he'd be "talking to a wall" as far as Helton is concerned? If you think Mike Helton said "I'll only come on if you get rid of Mongo", then you don't think much of Helton's self-confidence. I somehow doubt that was the problem.

OR: It coulda been a mutual decision. they both knew they'd be talking past each other.

I think it was a great show. ESPECIALLY since the Helton stuff eliminated some of the pre-recorded NMG pieces that don't belong in this show.

Regina Ellison said...

Chad should be on the show every week! I tuned out after the first couple of minutes of Mikey kissing up to NASCAR. Loved how Spencer just blurted out that we would get to his teams in a minute. I didn't learn anything new with Helton being on so that was a waste of time!

Daly Planet Editor said...

Dannyboy, what show were you watching? The look on Waltrip's face was priceless. The same one had used to get when Schrader put him in his place.

Anonymous said...

I watched TWIN and thought that the build-up to have Mike Helton on was very disappointing. I was disappointed that Jimmy Spencer did not stay on the show and if need be have MW leave; but couldn't everyone stay. Also I think that Mike Hilton needs some public speaking courses and learm how to smile more.

Lou said...

As I mentioned last week,somehow or way i would watch twin on monday night, and i did. It was good to see jimmy s on the show. and i was disappointed when he left the set. was looking forward to him w/the interview w/helton. had to laugh when helton passed on the fuel injection question, that was just opening another can of worms. and no, i did not watch the race.

Buschseries61 said...

I thought there were a few good questions mixed in. The truck double file restarts, pit stops rules, & start times. The comment Helton made about not being able to see all the action out the window made me realize how far this sport has come from its roots. We have gone from mostly small short tracks where you could see it all to mostly 1.5+ speedways where the governing body can't even see all the action on track. Sad.

I was shocked Jimmy Spencer was gone & Mike Helton was in his chair. There is a man that is not a current driver or owner and not afraid to speak his mind. But instead we get Michael Waltrip gushing about how wonderful NASCAR is, to the point he made it sound like everything they touched turned to gold. He was a waste of time to listen to and served no purpose but crack jokes & express his love for NASCAR. Waltrip got on my nerves with the Hornaday/Harvick issue. Right when he had he chance to explain the driver/owner relationship & how Harvick should not be angry at Hornaday (after all, he is going for the championship) he went on how great Kyle Busch's crew chief was. The whole issue was not touched by anyone on the panel. I'm glad Spencer put Michael in his place about gushing over his team. I would not mind Spencer replacing MW next season on TWIN. We might get some relevent conversation.

Anonymous said...

I do not watch anything with Michael Waltrip as a speaking entity. I don't think I've ever seen anyone as full of himself as Michael, unless it was his brother. Hang in there Jimmy.

GinaV24 said...

This show should be called "totally a waste of time with Mikey". I'm sure that exiting Spencer before bringing out Helton was figured out beforehand. Raceday has lost me as a viewer because I really don't need people like Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace telling me what I should "think" as a fan. Sorry, I prefer to get some facts and make up my own mind. I was hoping that Helton might actually give out some info but it was just the usual "NASCSPEAK" that we always continue to hear.

I sure won't be rushing to tune in because Spencer has been added to the show.

That display tonight of Waltrip's made me want to toss my dinner. Someone ought to smack him -- watching a grown man grovel like that was embarrassing.

Richard in N.C. said...

I thought it was a reasonably interesting show - and I think NASCAR should try to get Helton on TV more. I think he is the best spokesman NASCAR has. Helton is on Eli Gold's weekly MRN show at least once each year and does take a few calls.

Yes, Mikey can be a cheerleader at times, but I am certain that he appreciates that there is a sizeable segment of the media (like Lee Spencer, Mike Mulhern, hatchetman Ed Hinton, and now Jerry Bronkowski) who apparently would rather have a root canal that say anything positive about NASCAR - so I suspect MW feels some need to balance things.

Newracefan said...

I was fine with TWIN would have liked for Jimmy to stay but whatever. I am assuming that Helton etc have multiple TV monitors for all/many cameras not just what ever is being shown on my TV. There is no way they could follow the race with just what I'm seeing at home

darbar said...

Despite the fact that we all knew that Helton would only be thrown marshmallows when baseballs are called for, I don't think Speed would ever have the brass ones to look for truth and serious answers. In this time of falling ratings, falling attendance and the economic chaos, Speed would have benefitted from asking the tough questions. I just wonder if Byrnes and the rest were given a script of what to ask or not ask. But in our world, we would have played hardball and asked Helton about the bad racing with the COT, the points racing that goes on as drivers only race hard enough to get into the Chase, asked about the horrible TV ratings and bad attendance, what can be done to even the playing field so that cars other than Hendrick can have a good chance to win, addressed the bad TV coverage. But alas, all we got was the same old, same old.

I would pay money via pay per view to get Helton/France in a room with Robin Miller and Dave Despain and have them throw daggers at those two and get some real answers.

Richard in N.C. said...

I'm not sure it is fair to fault Steve B, Mikey, and Greg for not asking Helton tougher questions. Helton is at the track for virtually every Cup race, but you never read of any of the NASCAR media "big feet" asking him tough questions or of asking and not getting an answer. I believe many in the media would much rather write about what they see as NASCAR's faults than to ask Helton or Brian F about them on the record.

Anonymous said...

As to NASCAR's TV, Helton, Robin Pemberton, etc., have access and monitor every camera angle that ESPN, Fox, etc. have available. They don't watch/listen to the broadcast, they select views to address angles they might not physically be able to see. And they watch lots and lots of replays if there is an incident.

Anonymous said...

I like Michael Waltrip but he is like a kid in the candy shop. He just has fun and likes to be silly which is fine.

Jimmy Spencer doesn't mince words, can be equally funny and serious and he likes to shake things up a bit. I am a Jimmy Spencer fan and am disappointed that he wasn't on the set during the Mike Helton interview. Needless to say, I didn't watch that part.

Why is Nascar seemingly insistent on making itself politically correct and delivering it to the fans in a nice, neat little box? Where's the grit? The reality?