Saturday, March 14, 2009

Jimmy Spencer Cuts A Wide Path In NASCAR TV

Every year since TDP began back in 2007, there has been a memorable moment or two for SPEED's Jimmy Spencer during the racing season.

Spencer's sometimes hilarious and sometimes mind-numbing comments have been keeping fans coming back to RaceDay and Victory Lane every single racing weekend for years.

It was Victory Lane in Homestead last season when Spencer celebrated another Sprint Cup Series championship by asking Jimmie Johnson how he was "going to get it up" to defend his title in 2009. Click here for a video link. The look on Johnson's face was priceless. It was certainly an interesting transition to the off-season.

Click here for the 2007 link to the TDP column featuring Spencer offering comments about Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister, Kelley.

As fans may remember, it was during the time that Junior was making his decision whether or not to remain with DEI and continue the strained relationship with his stepmother. Spencer was not pleased that Kelley was involved.

"I think her ego is so big and (that) she is backing Teresa and Max (Siegel) into corners," said Spencer. "She's not a good negotiator. If she was working for someone else they would probably fire her."

Eventually, Spencer apologized for his comments, which included criticizing even the name that Junior's sister used professionally. At the time, it was Kelley Earnhardt Elledge. "I am shocked that she kept her middle name," remarked Spencer. "Why keep Earnhardt? I think she is using ego to control this and Dale needs to be careful about it."

TDP readers may remember the wildest RaceDay show in history from June of 2008. Click here to read the original column. The Sprint Cup Series was in New Hampshire and RaceDay was featuring Jimmy Spencer and his history in the old Modified Series. During that feature, the satellite transmission pathway failed and RaceDay was off the air for over forty minutes.

By the time the show returned, things were out of control. Sudden screams from the audience could mean only one thing. In the front row was a man with a monkey on his shoulder. The monkey was watching Spencer and drinking beer from a can. As show host John Roberts said at the time, you can't make this stuff up.

Spencer responded by talking about the new ownership of the Boston Red Sox, one of the most beloved sports franchises in the entire New England area. Unfortunately, he started by saying very matter of factly that "the Red Sox sucked."

This brought yet another classic moment that was right up there with the drunken monkey. The many Red Sox fans in the RaceDay audience expressed their opinion of that comment as a group. Mr. Excitement was getting the finger.

This year, Spencer has been up and down. At Daytona, he often seemed ill-prepared and several times lost his train of thought and just gave up. Spencer appeared frustrated and disjointed. John Roberts has become a pro at getting things back on track when Spencer falters.

The good news is that it only took a couple of weeks for Spencer to return to his outspoken form. Last week, with the series in Atlanta, there were several brand new comments destined to be added to the Jimmy Spencer collection.

It was Steve Byrnes while hosting the Monday This Week in NASCAR show who asked his panelists if they had seen Spencer call for Jeremy Mayfield to fire himself. The laughter that followed told the tale. Spencer was back in all his glory.

"In fact, I think they need to get rid of Mayfield," said Spencer on RaceDay. "Get new drivers if you want to be successful. They missed races. You can't fail in this sport. You find somebody that can push the pedal and be successful."

"Jimmy, you are asking Jeremy Mayfield to fire himself," said an exasperated Roberts.

"If he does not fire himself he is going to realize that the (financial) ditch is going to get deeper," said Spencer. "He won't get out of it. It's time to make changes."

"One thing about Spence," added sidekick Kenny Wallace. "He is brutally honest."

Earlier in the same RaceDay show, reporter Wendy Venturini had presented an interview with Michael Waltrip about the growth and success his team had experienced this season.

"Unfortunately, I don't think he (Waltrip) will win this year," said Spencer. "Michael needs to get some more hired guns in there. David Reutimann is finally paying off for him. Michael is going to do a whole lot better job for this organization by being the owner...and putting a top-name young driver in there and (then) being successful."

"Michael has done well, he is one of the best (restrictor) plate racers of all-time," continued Spencer. "But at the end of the day he is going to serve (MWR) better out of the car." Now that was vintage Spencer.

Where else on TV are fans going to find a commentator who can say that Mayfield is digging himself a financial trench and Michael Waltrip should get out of the driver's seat? Spencer often makes the carefully chosen words of other TV commentators and analysts seem almost meaningless.

At the same time, he can rile the fans and teams with his shoot from the hip style that has made RaceDay one of the most popular TV shows on SPEED. Spencer and the entire cast return for the upcoming Bristol race in one week's time.

Do you have an opinion on the TV commentary of Jimmy Spencer this season? Do you tune into the program to hear Spencer's opinion or reach for the mute button when he comes on camera? No TV personality with the exception of Michael Waltrip has such a divided fan base with strong opinions on both sides.

TDP welcomes your comments. Just click on the comments button below to add your opinion. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind while posting.

Thanks again for taking the time to read The Daly Planet.

Weekend Reading

There will be a new original column up on Saturday afternoon for your comments. In the meantime, click on the title of any column below to read and then offer your opinion.

Lack of TV follow-up on incident starts to glare.

Where is the real "tiregate" video?

Shannon Spake moves to the night shift.

"This Week In NASCAR" is back on track.

Pit reporters missing element in "NASCAR on Fox" broadcast.

Thanks again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.