Wednesday, September 15, 2010
The first two episodes of Kyle Busch: Riding Shotgun aired back-to-back on ESPN2 Tuesday afternoon. The original airing of episode number one was preempted by US Open tennis on Monday.
This series just popped-up on the TV radar screen last week. In a media release, both ESPN and the NASCAR Media Group said a lot of polite things about the sport and each other. What they never explained is where this project originated and why it came about. This is the extent of what fans were told.
"A new and highly innovative five-part television series featuring NASCAR star Kyle Busch will air on ESPN2 to help kick off ESPN’s live coverage of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship," said the ESPN media release.
"Whether the fans love him or he’s not one of their favorites, this program will present Kyle and his personality in an intriguing manner that will get their attention, just like his driving on the racetrack," said ESPN exec Julie Sobieski.
"Kyle has a very busy schedule that week and we’ll be shooting one day and airing the next, something very rarely even contemplated in today’s television industry. We appreciate the opportunity and access that Kyle and his team have provided for us," said Jay Abraham, head of the NASCAR Media Group.
Episode one opened with Busch in his motorhome at the track. He was exercising with his fiancee, Samantha Sarcinella. She was telling him what to do and he complied while rolling his eyes. It seemed Busch was a good sport when it came to following directions from this young lady.
Footage from Richmond highlighted Busch in his pink firesuit as he caught grief from Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart for his attire. Sarcinella joined Busch again before the Nationwide Series race, sitting on the pit box . After a top ten finish, Sarcinella and Busch planned their honeymoon online and then browsed through engagement photos. Sarcinella lead the way.
The race highlights from Richmond morphed into the Chasers chatting post-race. Busch expressed an issue with Denny Hamlin to car owner Joe Gibbs, joked around during the photos in Victory Lane and ended the night asleep on the plane next to Sarcinella.
This first show ended with an opportunity for Sarcinella to be featured in her bikini out on the lake with Busch and friends boating. Busch got to do a little wakeboarding, Sarcinella got to do a lot of posing.
Episode two opened with Sarcinella playing to the camera while organizing clothes for a trip to New York. Busch then signed merchandise, made awkward conversation in the JGR shop and finally did a photo shoot where not one word was exchanged between himself and Hamlin.
Sarcinella was then at Kyle Busch Motorsports as she put logos on the charity truck while talking about various topics. SPEED fan favorite Rick Ren was forced to make even more awkward conversation with Busch while supposedly talking about KBM topics.
Busch finally lit up when given the brief opportunity to recap his Bristol, TN weekend as he hosted a crew dinner. He seems sincere in his understanding that it takes a team to help his racing efforts, unlike the infamous "old Kyle Busch."
Viewers were introduced to Busch's 1969 Chevy Camaro which had been fully restored. Clearly a car guy, Busch enjoyed telling the story of its origin. During this segment, Sarcinella from out of the blue offered that she did a bikini photo shoot with another one of Busch's cars.
Sarincella said she lay across the hood for the photo above shot by Charlotte area photographer Kevin Justice. What an interesting way to end a NASCAR TV show on ESPN2.
I certainly don't begrudge Sarcinella one moment of the opportunity to be on national television in a feature program series. The issue is that this project was intended to promote the Chase. Busch never expressed to the viewers his opinions about the sport, about the Chase or really about anything. Like it or not, the focus was on Sarcinella.
The remainder of this mini-series is going to chronicle Busch as he travels to promote the Chase through various media appearances. Ultimately, he will wind-up at ESPN on Thursday along with Stewart and Gordon for a full day of media work.
Perhaps, the hastily thrown together nature of this project resulted in the NASCAR Media Group creating a little bit of entertainment television to get things underway.
This is a very important week for the sport and ESPN got it off to an awkward start with the preemption of NASCAR Now and episode one of the Riding Shotgun series on Monday evening.
Hopefully, both parties will get back on track as the Chasers will be on the ESPN networks all week trying to drum up publicity for the final ten races while Riding Shotgun attempts to profile the most dynamic personality in the sport this season.
Did you watch these two episodes? We invite you to leave your opinion on the programs. To add your comment, just click on the comment button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting.
Bonus: Click here for a playback of the original Double Shot Of My Baby's Love by the Swinging Medallions from 1966. For those of you not familiar, that is a record player. Thanks for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.