Friday, November 20, 2009

Live Blogging The Camping World Truck Series From Homestead (SPEED - 7:30PM)

Can you believe it? Here we go with the final live CWTS blog of 2009!

Homestead is the place and Krista Voda is the face who will start the SPEED TV. She hosts The Setup with Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander. Rick Allen, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip will call the action.

The trucks are under the lights on a nice night in South Florida for racing. The pictures from the NMG compound have been great to this point and the sound has been superb on practice and qualifying shows.

SPEED keeps it simple and can be expected to shine the spotlight on as many CWTS teams as possible during this final race. It should be interesting to see how the action plays out on the track and translates to the TV.

This post will serve to host your comments on the CWTS race from Homestead. To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks again for stopping by!

Frank Caliendo To Host Sprint Cup Series Banquet

The official news of the celebrity host for the banquet was released on Friday along with the musical acts and the featured comedian. Here is the media release:

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony is coming to Las Vegas and Frank Caliendo is on the pole.

Caliendo, the renowned comedian/impressionist with considerable sports crossover star power, will serve as the host of the annual post-season show for NASCAR’s premier series, Dec. 4 at Wynn Las Vegas.

Serving as the event’s emcees will be two people highly recognizable to NASCAR fans – Mike Joy and Krista Voda from NASCAR on FOX and SPEED. (The awards ceremony will be broadcast live on SPEED on Dec. 4, at 9 p.m. ET.)

Two premier musical acts will supply additional star power for the ceremony’s Vegas debut: singer/songwriter David Gray, a Grammy-nominated artist with album sales exceeding 12 million; and Escala, a female electric string quartet who emerged during last year’s “Britain’s Got Talent” television show.

Also, comedian John Pinette will return for a third-straight year to NASCAR’s post-season national series awards ceremony lineup – and his second-straight appearance at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards Ceremony.

Caliendo, who currently performs his own one man show at the Monte Carlo in Las Vegas, is perhaps best known among sports fans for his weekly appearances over the last six years as guest prognosticator on FOX NFL SUNDAY, but he also has a strong NASCAR connection. He was featured in several videos shown at last year’s awards ceremony and also has appeared at post-season events for both the NASCAR Nationwide Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

“I’m excited to be hosting this year’s awards ceremony and look forward to a great evening celebrating the 2009 NASCAR season,” Caliendo said. “I’m on the pole but don’t worry; even though we’re in Vegas, I’m not dancing.”

Caliendo’s repertoire of dead-on impressions includes NFL broadcaster John Madden; former NBA star Charles Barkley; former presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton; and actors Robert DeNiro and Jack Nicholson.

An eight-year veteran of television sketch comedy as a cast member on “MADtv” and with his own series, “Frank TV,” Caliendo has been a fixture on television for the last decade. He has comedy specials that run regularly on TBS and Comedy Central and he is a regular on the late night talk show circuit. He also was a special correspondent for Superbowl XXXIX and co-starred in the film “The Comebacks.” In addition, he recently signed a 10-year deal to headline a nightly Las Vegas act.

With the heart of folk music at his core, Gray’s mix of acoustic and electronic instrumentation has established him as one of the world’s leading music artists. With a career now spanning more than 15 years and nearly 12 million album sales, Gray’s commercial success is also backed up by a critical consensus and countless accolades. Gray recently released his highly anticipated seventh studio album, “Draw The Line.” USA Today called it Gray’s “most ambitious, affecting and densely musical work to date” while Entertainment Weekly said “Gray’s sincerity and robust voice have been missed, and his new music sounds well-produced and confident.”

What are your thoughts on the host and other acts announced by NASCAR for the banquet? To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. Thanks.

Truck Series TV Team Says Goodbye

There are many interesting features on the current NASCAR TV landscape, but none is perhaps as unique as the work of SPEED's Camping World Truck Series TV production team.

Over the past three years, TDP has referred to them as "the little engine that could" and as producing the best NASCAR series to watch on TV. We have argued with Rick Allen over start-and-park trucks, howled with laughter at the Halloween costumes and watched Michael Waltrip tweet with the fans during the race.

Producer Keith D'Alessandro has put together quite a little group. To say the productions are old school is putting it mildly. His focus on the teams, personalities and actual racing is evident from the start of practice through the final lap of the race.

Over the years, Krista Voda has hosted truck series pre-race shows from pickup truck beds, desert mountains and the infield among the fans. TV viewers have seen her in the freezing weather of a February night in Daytona and standing in the pouring rain at Martinsville.

Voda is the perfect opening act for the truck series. She is knowledgeable, professional and personable. The most interesting part is that she is alone. Voda's strength is that what you see is what you get. Her fearless approach to TV comes across as someone who truly enjoys what she is doing and is simply there to get fans caught up on the news before the race.

Her cast of characters features pit reporters Ray Dunlap and Adam Alexander. This duo has an amazing amount of information about the teams, drivers and personalities in the truck series. Their reporting style during a race is much more of an ongoing conversation with the crew chiefs along pit road. The bottom line is, even with just two voices, it works.

Even after several seasons as a regular in the TV booth, Waltrip is still the new kid on the block. This year has seen Waltrip settle down and put the emphasis of his excitable commentary on the drivers. Although an occasional moment of "sponsor-itis" still breaks out, Waltrip's perspective and personality have been good for both the series and the broadcast.

The team of Rick Allen and Phil Parsons is always discussed together. They have worked on this series for many years. The combination of Allen's personal passion for the competitors and Parsons knowledge of the happenings behind the scenes is a huge part of SPEED's success.

The contrast between the high tech and theme-driven coverage of the Sprint Cup Series by ESPN and the low tech race-driven coverage of the trucks from SPEED is amazing.

This season, even with the loss of several key teams and dwindling numbers of trucks actually racing, SPEED managed to grow the series TV. Through the Fox and TNT portions of the Sprint Cup Series season, the trucks fit right in.

It was only when ESPN took over the Cup coverage that the contrast in production styles of race coverage lept off the TV screen. The old school truck series approach just let things happen and then followed the action. ESPN's tech-driven coverage played back team radio conversations, replayed pit stops for analysis and reflected a race theme that had been selected in advance of the green flag.

D'Alessandro and his team stuck to their guns this year despite some challenges and in the end it paid off again. Going into the final race Friday night in Homestead they have been the most consistent and enjoyable TV team of the season.

The only thing lacking has been some additional programming support from SPEED. That issue might have been solved this week when the network confirmed that the Monday through Thursday program series NASCAR Race Hub would be returning for 2010 starting January 11.

This should finally give the truck series a true TV home for mid-week news and interviews away from the track. Ironically, SPEED seems to be gravitating toward one main host for the program. Her last name is Voda.

Have you watched the Camping World Truck Series this season on SPEED? This is a great opportunity to give them some feedback about what you liked and what you think could or should change for next season.

To add your opinion, just click on the comments button below. This is a family-friendly website, please keep that in mind when posting. Thanks once again for taking the time to stop by The Daly Planet.