Saturday, September 18, 2010
Live Blogging "NASCAR RaceDay" From New Hampshire (SPEED - 10AM)
Well, things continue to change in the world of SPEED. That was apparent on Saturday during the all-day coverage from NHMS. Sunday morning brings RaceDay and perhaps even more changes in format, coverage or on-air presentation.
Darrell Waltrip and Rutledge Wood are not involved in the program this week. Update: Interesting to see Wood in a pre-recorded feature after being told he was not in the show. Perhaps, he is not physically there? Hmm....The regular cast of John Roberts, Kyle Petty, Kenny Wallace, Wendy Venturini and Hermie Sadler will handle the on-air duties.
A little birdie tipped us off that the opening might be a little different this week. That's saying a lot, as RaceDay over the years has presented some very interesting concepts for the show open. Some have been great and some not very memorable.
The late season NASCAR hype is in full swing. SPEED's truck series announcers told fans about the great race on Saturday even as two Sprint Cup Series stars stunk up the show. The pit road reporters gushed about the fantastic action even as they avoided asking the real questions in the post-race show. Yep, it's that time of year.
NASCAR Now precedes RaceDay on Sunday at 9AM on ESPN2. Nicole Briscoe is anchoring from the studio with Ricky Craven alongside. Reporters Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis will be reporting from New Hampshire.
ESPN might have some struggles in production of the races, but NASCAR Now has been a straight-shooting program all season long. Gone are the days of hype and confusion. The Sunday morning NASCAR Now show is tied to a post-race review show in the same way that SPEED's RaceDay is tied to Victory Lane.
While the presentations may be different, it's always interesting to see which stories make which network programs before and after the races. RaceDay has been hit and miss this season on the panel but solid in the reporting. Unlike the ESPN show, RaceDay relies mostly on live interviews and has played to that strength for years.
Every race weekend, fans email me asking why Kenny Wallace has to yell all the time. Specifically, they feel Wallace talks down to the fans and tells them what they should be thinking rather than just presenting his opinion. Wallace has been struggling this season with Kyle Petty in the next chair and it should be interesting to see how Wallace presents himself on this first Chase weekend.
NASCAR has been hammering home a philosophy to the radio and TV gang that you are either with us or against us. Trying to convince the broadcasters to play a role in shaping the image of the sport has been a bitter pill to swallow and may in fact be in the process of backfiring. The world is different now. Twitter, bloggers, Facebook and countless other instant communication options make "faking it" a losing proposition.
SPEED has always been the marshmallow in this mix before the weekday Race Hub show started. This year, Steve Byrnes has been exploring topics the network would never touch in the past. Now with Race Hub on the air, it puts John Roberts in a very different light as the RaceDay and Victory Lane host.
Ultimately, this Sunday's RaceDay comes down to Roberts' ability to handle all the different pressures that are being directed at him and simply focus on directing traffic. If Roberts continues his habit of trying to have the last word on every topic, it could be a long two hours of live TV.
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