Saturday, November 14, 2009

Eyes Turn To The Original Mr. Excitement


Jimmy Spencer recently had some changes in his TV assignments for SPEED. Spencer was added to This Week in NASCAR on Monday nights during the Chase. At the same time, he was removed from Victory Lane. That is the program that interviews the winning driver, crew chief and owner right after the race.

Spencer was replaced by Larry McReynolds, who changed the tone of the show by coming in with prepared questions that related directly to the events of the race. McReynolds also uses his notes to voice the highlights and update what viewers saw as the event unfolded.

Spencer now travels to the Sprint Cup Series tracks only to continue his role on RaceDay. That two-hour show is the franchise for SPEED on Sundays since the network does not carry any of the Sprint Cup Series points races.

Originally, RaceDay was a unique program that allowed for candid interviews, good humor and opinions from both Spencer and his fellow panelist Kenny Wallace. Now, the dynamic of the program has changed. Spencer and Wallace now take the topics offered to them by host John Roberts and make speeches to the TV cameras.

Over the last several years, Spencer has defined himself as someone who shoots from the hip on TV. His emotional rants are sometimes right on the money and sometimes so far off-base it's frankly embarrassing. Roberts often finds himself trying to offer a sentence or two when Spencer is finished to get things back on an even keel.

The positive thing about Spencer is that no one else on TV with the exception of Kyle Petty offers these types of outspoken comments. That is not to say other analysts don't have strong feelings on NASCAR topics. They just choose not to share them on TV without planning their words well in advance.

Currently, Petty is seen briefly on RaceDay in a short pre-recorded segment. His only other TV appearance is on a trivia show called NASCAR Smarts. When Kyle Petty finished his summertime tour with TNT, NASCAR lost a valuable TV voice that has not been replaced by anyone in the ESPN corps of announcers.

Saturday, Brad Keselowski continued his aggressive driving in the Nationwide Series by again ruffling the feathers of Denny Hamlin. TV replays appeared to show the kind of racing that rarely takes place in NASCAR's top series these days. Keselowksi continues to be a hard-charger who is upsetting the very drivers he will be racing with next season in the Sprint Cup Series.

The TV networks and the NASCAR media made the most of Saturday's flare-up and reviewed Keselowski's recent run-ins with other drivers. ESPN went off the air after the race and does not have another NASCAR TV show until Sunday morning. The analyst on that program is Boris Said. He cannot speak to this type of issue like Spencer.

With only two RaceDay shows remaining, Spencer is going to be channeling his "Mr. Excitement" personality as he wades into the ongoing discussion about Keselowski. Hopefully, Spencer will have put some thought toward this issue before the RaceDay program begins at 12:30PM ET.

How Spencer reacts on this topic and what comments he makes may go a long way toward setting him up for another Monday night TV show. This time, both panelists Chad Knaus and Greg Biffle are occupied with Chase duties. Spencer will be facing off with Michael Waltrip alone on This Week in NASCAR.

While there is no doubt that host Steve Byrnes, Spencer and Waltrip have known each other for a very long time, that certainly does not change how outspoken Spencer has been on this program. It has been a rocky road with Spencer challenging Knaus and Waltrip on several emotional issues, only to be quietly moved along by Byrnes.

Ultimately, the question is which TV program fits what Spencer brings to the table and uses his personal NASCAR experience most effectively? That may be what SPEED and NASCAR Media Group executives will be discussing during the off-season.

Where do you come down on this issue? Does Spencer's outspoken style work on TV or is the era that Spencer represents long gone? Since we have watched RaceDay for nine months, what have been the parts that you have enjoyed and what might need to be addressed over the winter months?

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Comments may be moderated in this forum. Thank you for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.

37 comments:

Erik said...

Shooting from the hip keeps the viewers awake and sometimes makes them think. In the era of the drivers and other NASCAR personalities saying the exact same thing week in and week out, the sport needs more Spencers.

Sophia said...

I used to LOVE RACEDAY...I don't know what possessed SPEED to make this a TWO hour show for rowdy crowds. No thanks.

When it was an hour, less puff, minutia and much more insight & substance.

Since we hear SPEED ENCOURAGES rowdy crowds, stupid wavy signs, maybe the same "suits" with those ideas have ruined RDay (& Trackside with crowd NOISE I might add) I love the guys but not how they seem told to perform.

Sure there are some great moments on this show still..but I just don't watch it much.

It stinks Wendy can't do the walk down pitroad with the drivers in their racing gear...

I love JS being added to TWIN..he is a real personality and not a homogenized/pasteurized corporate robot sadly, like CUP drivers have been told to be.

Take Rday back to an hour and let this show run until race time. Why in the world should ESP-U get some no compete clause when all they do is thumb their noses at the fans?

And if we are watching the race, BSPN becomes a lesson in frustration with trying to actually "watch the pictures as we NEVER see the racing."

SPEED should get priority over their stuff.

Tracey said...

how much cna i type? lol. where spencer fits in is a common theme here i think. it fits into teh whole 'lack of emotion' think i think. Spencer is HONEST. LOVE IT! I don't care if I agree or disagree with him, he tells it like it is, which is refreshing to me. I hate it that nascar has become so 'lame' lately with the lack of good rivalries, and emotion. Spenc is a breath of fresh air. And the Denny/special k thing? AMAZING! just what we need! EXCITEMENT! WOW! LOVE IT! Now granted, huge Denny fan here, but, this is GREAT! I love it! Denny is so emotional and is SHOWING IT! GREAT DENNY! SHOW US HOW U FEEL! LOVE IT! I wish more drivers would tell us how they really feel after an incident. I like JJ too...but man, he was so lame after hsi wreck last week. it would have been much better if he told us how he REALLY felt! People might have actually liked him then. Anyways...I'm rambling....in review...love spenc and denny vs. specialk. and i want a 'team denny' shirt please

Anonymous said...

Jimmy Spencer is outspoken, but you have to be more than that otherwise you are just a blowhard. You hit it on the head by saying McReynolds is prepared with his questions -- he takes his time on the air seriously. Spencer sometimes forgets he's not in his living room. He would probably do well to take a course in broadcasting, but he seems like the kind of guy whose ego would never allow him to admit he needed the work. I rarely agree with him, but he has been there and I haven't, so I love to listen to him. Still, it's 2009 and there is a lot of talent on the sidelines, so I think Spencer needs to spruce up his on-air abilities so he is more than just an act.

On a side note, Brad K is going to be very interesting. I think his style and attitude appeals to a LOT of fans, but his style of driving probably does not sit well with the garage at large. Personally, I think he is needed to shake things up and I wish more guys would drive like him, faults and all. There are too many guys driving safe and following an unwritten protocol of how you drive and when. Forget that, I say. The 12 car is going to be a breath of fresh air for the fans. Tweet that, 11!

KoHoSo said...

RaceDay is another example just like This Week in NASCAR where Speed tried to fix something that was not broken. It was a great, fun, spontaneous mix where Jimmy Spencer really shined and was perfectly paired with Kenny Wallace. Then, just as Mr. Daly states in his article, it became nothing but prompts for each of the panelists to make long rants that are indeed often embarrassing (so much so at times that I change the channel and often do not come back).

As for Spencer on TWIN, it is nothing like the old days of IWC/INC when he was an occasional fill-in panelist and was somebody to look forward to rather than dread. Now, too much has changed with him, Michael Waltrip, and the whole show overall to be a good fit. I have the feeling that Speed might have had the same thought I expressed on this blog several times earlier this season -- that Mikey needed a strong, comical foil like he used to have in Ken Schrader. The problem is that Spencer has plenty of contrary opinions but does not present them in a way that seems good-natured or with any humor. With laughs being the best thing that IWC/INC/TWIN was known for, it just makes for a sour hour of dour power that I can no longer stand to watch.

Just like almost every aspect of NASCAR Cup racing it seems, it's time to start getting back to the roots for the many long-time fans like myself that are becoming more and more disenchanted every week and truly embarrassed at this time to continue to introduce new people to the sport via television. In the case of Spencer and the Speed programs that he appears on, it is time to get back to having fun...not lecturing, not talking down to fans, and not being so scripted and/or forced.

Sally said...

After the now infamous interview with Larry Mac and Kyle Petty, isn't Spencer the only one who hasn't backed down or tried to 'explain' his comments about the state of Nascar racing? Maybe I just missed reading it somewhere. As ridiculous as Spencer can be, he will often be the only media person to take issue with Nascar. He is often off base, and sometimes ridiculous, but it's almost worth wading through that to see if he's going to come up with some good points.

Newracefan said...

Did I read this right just Mikey and Jimmy on TWIN oh good Lord.

Like the TWIN Jimmy most of the time, Raceday needs to be reworked. If it wasn't for Wendy and Hermie I would FF most of it

majorshouse said...

I like the fact that Jimmy is not politically correct, but doggone it, I get tired of his rambling rants and have quit watching Race Day. I think that TWIN could be really interesting on Monday night as well and will definitely be worth watching.

Donna in FL said...

Where do you come down on this issue? Does Spencer's outspoken style work on TV or is the era that Spencer represents long gone?
When honest opinions disappear from NASCAR, so will I. I DO NOT want a bunch of TV people just mouthing the company line and saying how great everything is. Spencer is over the top at times, and I disagree a lot, but I really don't think what he says is fake (just for show), nor is Kenny or JR. I will always respect an honest opinion and god help us if guys like him are ever silenced (off of TV).

RaceDay, what have been the parts that you have enjoyed and what might need to be addressed over the winter months?
Hands down, Wendy V. The immense like, ease with her and obvious respect from drivers and crew is apparent everytime she does an interview, or asks a question. NONE of her questions are ever irrelevant fluff. I do like Spence, Kenny, JRoberts most of the time (I don't think the enthusiasm is anywhere near faked, there's that genuineness again) H. Sadler does a good job interviewing too. I'd like to see less "canned" segments (like race highlights) and more discussion, we certainly don't have any shortage of NASCAR topics. I also really like the segments they produce of drivers 'off the grid', they need to do more of those with a wider number of drivers, not just the popular ones. I really also liked, during HoF week, they had segments with retired famous drivers. I think NASCAR history is really important and maybe a bit per week could be devoted to that.

bevo said...

Now, the dynamic of the program has changed. Spencer and Wallace now take the topics offered to them by host John Roberts and make speeches to the TV cameras.

JD - you have hit on the biggest problem for me as a former viewer of RaceDay. Somehow both Spencer and Wallace have gotten it into their heads that their mission is to lecture to us. Neither of them offer profound insights so they just come across as blow-hards.

As for the crowds in the broadcast I have been against that since you started this blog. :)

Anonymous said...

Spencer's best fit is anywhere outside the range of a microphone and a camera. I dont like his personality.

Vicky D said...

JS is grating to me and he gets on these tangents and never finishes it and leaves us wondering what he was trying to get across. Like someone else said above, KW lectures us I don't care for that either.

Chris from NY said...

Agreed w/ anon @10:44.

Jimmy Spencer is crazy. I'd rather have more Kenny.

Beating A Dead Horse said...

I certainly hope Jimmy Spencer is reminded of his exploits on the racetrack, especially his rookie year on the Busch Series, before he lays down the law to BK.

Dot said...

I watch RD to see the driver interviews with Hermie & Wendy. And, Wendy's Real Deal. JS & KW can get on my nerves but, sometimes they do say something interesting. The times I do miss it, I seem to miss something good and have to read about it here.

Two hours is one too long. Maybe 90 mins would work.

Couldn't TWIN find a body to fill in Greg's/Chad's seat? I'll watch just to see the dynamic between Mikey & JS.

BTW, I'm on team Kez.

PammH said...

Dot-you post is spot on! I will be soooo glad when the season will be over. Can't believe HD couldn't spring for another comml w/JoLo. The one they have is on my last nerve!

Vicky D said...

Pamm every time that dang commercial comes on, I cringe.

Dannyboy said...

I'm frankly getting tired of reading in this column "I hate so-and-so, he's a bigmouth" or whatever.

I'm sorry: none of the on-air personalities makes a pre-or-post-race show compelling enough to either watch it because I like them or turn it off because I don't like them.

When I was at Fontana last year I stopped by the SPEED stage to check out RACEDAY. It's obviously catering to fans at the track, so fine.

But y'know what? BFD! Just like when I'm at home, there isn't really much "there" there. I don't watch much of it on a Sunday, and I didn't hang around much when I was there.

There's just too much else going on to spend much time flapping jaws about what "might" happen.

Now I'm gonna go watch me some football ;-)

Daly Planet Editor said...

This show is all over the place!

Anonymous said...

The other thing this points to is the superiority of Speed Channel executives to ESPN execs.

The Speed suits realize that they're like baseball managers. They move players (talent like Spencer) around to fit certain situations better during the season. Sometimes they're wrong, but a high percentage of times, their right.

Contrast this to the ESPN suits who commit to specific talent in specific positions. Change is much harder for the ESPN managers to accept.

ESPN has Yankees talent and Mets managers. Speed is the underdog kicking their butt.

- RA Eckart -

Anonymous said...

I love JS! I loved it when he punched Kurt Busch in the nose. You might not like it, but it worked. You might not like his opinions, but at least he has the guts to express them.

larry said...

spencer says BK shouldn't spin someone out...They didn't ask him why he spun people out when he was racing. Totally hypocritical in my opinion.

Dot said...

Good point RA Eckart. Good, bad or indifferent, at least they try.

ri88girl said...

Ok, KB is deffinetly showing a preferance for SPEED as a whole. I wonder if the drivers are beginning to hear about the bad ESPN coverage.

Dot said...

@ ri88, I could see Weed not wanting to talk to Spittle but, wasn't it Dave Burns he walked away from? He's less annoying.

I don't care who the driver is or what happened on the track, they should always talk to the reporters.

glenc1 said...

you know, the problem for me has always been...we like people to be outspoken...but only when they're outspoken in an intelligent, well thought-out way. And of course, Jimmy rarely is. I actually got what he was saying this time, hit him once, it's retaliation, hit him twice and you wreck him on purpose, that's wrong. Kinda made sense to me. But that's a rarity from Jimmy. I expect them to be honest, but as anon 2:26 says, when they're just shooting their mouths off without logic, I tune them out.

Vicky D said...

I just checked the attendance for the truck & NW race, trucks 28,500 and NW 35,000 that's really bad. Hope they have a better turnout today so ESPN can show us the wide shots.

Daly Planet Editor said...

Vicky, it was so bad last year I wrote a column about it. This race needs to be in Las Vegas or even Daytona. That summer Daytona race is a mess with rain anyway.

PammH said...

Sure can't tell KW is under the weather this morn. He's up to his usual annoying antics. He also tweeted it was their JOB to make people angry! I don't understand that concept myself..veri word-panties!

Dot said...

@ VickyD, this means tight shots and bumper cam mania today.

Anonymous said...

Actually...I think that's a pretty good crowd for NW & trucks, isn't it? Height of popularity, Richmond used to put about 55,000 for a NW race. So those numbers don't sound so bad to me. Just saying...

Dot said...

@ Pamm, sometimes it worth a comment to use the veri word, panties. Lol

Why would RD want to anger fans? Giving them food for thought would be a better tactic.

dara2K said...

I enjoy SPEED Nascar RaceDay and it is "appointment pre-race television" for me. The chemisty of John, Jimmy and Kenny is the best! I have noticed subtle changes with Jimmy Spencer since his Mom passed away. Perhaps his not staying through the race to the Victory Lane show may not be all network manipulation but Jimmy's preference to his time well-spent. TWIN was the BEST Nascar show on TV back when Michael Waltrip, Allen Bestwick, Schrader and Johnny Benson were on the panel. Haven't watched it much since them. It has changed for the worst...SPEED could do better..they have...

Anonymous said...

To Anon 1:51pm: Texas drew 62K for the truck race and 76K for the Nationwide race last week.

Hey, did anyone else hear Kenny Wallace describe his 1991 wreck where his head whacked the B-post and he had a concussion and vertigo? (I forgot about that one.) But it sure explains a lot, huh?

- RA Eckart -

Anonymous said...

It is sad to see the attendance at Phoenix dwindle. It is a great little race track and the 500 kilometer (312 mile) distance is perfect for TV.

Would love to see more of the 500 mile races shortened to 500 kilometers. This is a distance that would provide much better racing and fit in a TV window that could help ratings.

GinaV24 said...

I agree that Spencer can make some of the dumbest statements on this earth, but I'd rather have an honest statement then all this PC nonsense all the time. I don't watch raceday any more since I have given up on the prerace stuff that amounts to nothing of value to my day - I don't watch the countdown program either.

I think it's pretty interesting that Hamlin is using Twitter to whine about other drivers. After Dega it was twittering about Jeff Gordon and how NASCAR listens to him but not Denny. This week its to complain about how Kez is racing him. How about just manning up, Denny and talk to the guy in person? Naw, that wouldn't be as much fun -- or as safe. Honestly, its kind of nice to see Kez race. All this nice nice stuff between drivers or just snide remarks just makes me tired. I don't think that wrecking a guy to get to the front is the best choice, and all these guys are better at giving then receiving, but actual racing on the track, like Kez has been doing, is FUN to watch.

Richard in N.C. said...

Since I'm familiar with Jimmy from when he raced, and Kenny too, I enjoy hearing their thoughts. I very seldom watch all of Raceday, but I try to catch part almost every Sunday, at least until the CBS & FOX NFL pre-game shows come on. I still think Jimmy and Kenny know more and are more honest about NASCAR than a very sizeable segment of the press covering NASCAR.