Monday, October 27, 2008

Knaus Plays A NASCAR TV Doubleheader

Monday's NASCAR TV started at 5PM with the one hour "roundtable" version of ESPN2's NASCAR Now.

Allen Bestwick has been ESPN's ironman this season and he played host this week to Ray Evernham, Boris Said and Mike Massaro. While Carl Edwards winning in Atlanta was the first order of business, it was clear that the panel was itching to talk about the big decision made by Chad Knaus late in the race.

After the highlights were run, Bestwick welcomed Knaus to the program by satellite from Charlotte. His interview went well, and Knaus was able to review for Bestwick the decision-making process that helped him and Jimmie Johnson to wind-up with a second place finish in dramatic fashion.

As Knaus talked to Bestwick, there was something very familiar about his surroundings. While NASCAR Now has a bad habit of not identifying the location of the program's guests, this one was easy to figure out. The bright lighting and the red stripe on the wall behind Knaus told veteran NASCAR fans that someone was double-dipping on this Monday afternoon.

Knaus was comfortably sitting on SPEED's This Week In NASCAR set while doing a liveshot with NASCAR Now on ESPN2. That may be the ultimate in guest sharing. The only thing that could have made the Knaus appearance on ESPN2 more fun is if Michael Waltrip had made a surprise appearance.

Bestwick led a tight hour with good conversation, but this panel misses Ricky Craven and that is now very clear. Boris Said is a great guy, but he is not really active in the sport right now and is being asked to comment on issues with which he is not familiar.

The only blemish in this show was ESPN refusing to promote the fact that this week SPEED is stepping-in to covering the Nationwide Series practice and qualifying. Imagine, dumping the on-air promotion for your only exclusive NASCAR series because another network is helping with coverage. Talk about a bad decision at this time of the year.

Knaus then changed into his SPEED shirt and teamed with Michael Waltrip and host Steve Byrnes for This Week in NASCAR. The show is relaxed and this week Waltrip gave Knaus a lot of room to operate. Credit goes to Waltrip for taking a backseat this week and being an asset to the program with his experience.

Byrnes is still tasked with far too many sponsored features including the goofy Chase profile. This week the TWIN gang had a very informative discussion about the Atlanta race because two of the major stories were on the set.

Waltrip had taken the ESPN on ABC crew by surprise with his consistent charges up through the field on Sunday and it seemed that he may finally get a moment in the sunshine.

As fans have seen before with the high-riding veteran, a tangle with the wall ended his day. Byrnes and Knaus were supportive, but let Waltrip off the hook where his multiple late race incidents were concerned.

Tony Stewart's car chief was very briefly profiled in this program and then Stewart's miserable weekend in Atlanta was next. Once again, this strange feature forced both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series highlights to be extremely brief. TWIN should have recapped the new sponsorship of the Truck Series by Camping World, given the fact that all the races are on SPEED.

Humpy Wheeler was along to talk about the huge track called Texas World Speedway that exists in College Station, TX. I had the pleasure of working on both ARCA and SCCA events at that track. It was amazing to see a structure that big in the middle of nowhere. Wheeler's insight continues to suggest a TV series for him in the future.

Monday proved to be a good day for NASCAR TV and a very good day for Chad Knaus. His professional profile is at an all-time high and his first season on TWIN has allowed him to show a part of his personality that most fans had not seen before.

Both shows will be back next week. Bestwick will have Evernham, Said and Massaro returning at 5PM ET. Byrnes will have Chad Knaus back next week but Waltrip is taking the night off. SPEED promises Waltrip's replacement will be a special guest, so your guess is as good as mine. DW anyone?

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Kyle Petty Responds To Daly Planet Column

Politics during this time of the year are apparently not limited to the Presidential race. This weekend, Kyle Petty appeared on national TV with a black band across the car number on his baseball hat.

His appearance on Tradin' Paint came only hours after David Zucker, the new CEO of Petty Enterprises, was quoted as saying Kyle was not in the company's plans for 2009.

To cover the potential fall-out, Zucker suggested that Petty could be running a limited schedule if a sponsor is found. News reports have Kyle doing everything from running with another team to retiring.

On the TV show, it was Bob Pockrass who was the media guest. Neither show host John Roberts or Pockrass asked Petty about his hat or its meaning during the thirty minutes. It was later that Pockrass filed an article for about the topic. Click here to read the story.

Petty was very forceful on Tradin' Paint when the subject of the Boston Ventures purchase and other mergers arose. Click here to read The Daly Planet column on the subject. Basically, Petty said that nothing had come from all the over-hyped mergers in the NASCAR industry. It was clearly a hot button.

Chad McCumbee was in the #45 Petty Dodge in Atlanta. He finished 36th and was 6 laps down on the field. It was his first Atlanta Sprint Cup Series start.

Currently, Kyle is scheduled to be in a Petty car during the Sprint Cup Series race in Phoenix, AZ. It may be his final time in a Petty Enterprises ride. Regardless of the reality, Petty credits his son Austin with the black band suggestion.

Austin wanted his father to "close the personal door" that was still open between the #45 ride and Kyle's late son Adam, who lost his life back in May of 2000.

After all the history involving the Petty family over the last several decades, I think a black band through a car number on national television winds-up closing a lot more than just that.

Perhaps, once the Phoenix race is over, we may hear some more from Petty on the reality of what has been happening behind the scenes. Thanks to Bob Pockrass for the article and to David Griffin of NASCAR Scene for the photo.

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