Thursday, October 1, 2009
This is the time of the year when Sprint Cup Series drivers begin to get tense. Answers get a little shorter, faces are a little tighter and crew chiefs work a little harder. This year, there are two exceptions to this rule.
One well known exception is named Jimmie Johnson. Love him or hate him, he is the king of cool when the TV cameras are on. This season, the other exception is NASCAR's favorite senior citizen Mark Martin. He is usually seen endlessly repeating the same theme of thankfulness and smiling ear-to-ear.
Every racing weekend, SPEED airs the Trackside show. This program is sometimes taped in the afternoon and sometimes done live. This weekend in Kansas, SPEED will welcome both Johnson and Martin to the program at 7PM ET Friday night.
Steve Byrnes has been hosting this TV series for years. His skills at gently directing traffic and keeping things on schedule are usually on display. This time of the year, Darrell Waltrip is long gone and Elliott Sadler is on the panel. Sadler has joined his brother Hermie in carving out a nice niche on SPEED.
Rounding out the panel are the hardest-working guys on SPEED, hands down. Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond are a part of every single Sprint Cup Series Racing weekend. Unlike the other NASCAR TV personalities that come and go, McReynolds and Hammond start in Daytona and stay put all the way through Homestead.
Normally, this show is a harmless hour of fun and some conversation for the hardcore fan featuring behind-the-scenes information. On this Friday, however, the two top candidates in the Chase for the Championship are going to be sharing the same stage.
This gives the panelists an opportunity to ask some questions and get some answers that perhaps fans have not heard before. The one thing that this panel does quite well is get a bit deeper into the mindset of drivers and teams that succeed.
Johnson and Martin may be quite different, but they share the same kind of quiet discipline from their exercise programs to their focused approach to racing. It should be interesting to hear them speak on various subjects in this long-form TV program. So often, we hear them talk in short "soundbites" on shows from NASCAR Now to RaceDay.
Trackside still suffers from a tough stage configuration, distracting audience noise and bad weather, but it has muddled through. Cold and wet are two words currently being tossed around about the conditions in Kansas this weekend, so we shall see how things work out.
There is a full day of practice and qualifying coverage on tap before Trackside. The complete NASCAR TV schedule is located on the right side of The Daly Planet main page.
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