VARIETY OF VIEWPOINTS ADDS SPICETO SPEED NASCAR PRE-RACE SHOW
SPEED talked with members of the NASCAR RaceDay broadcast team, including John Roberts, veteran driver Kenny Wallace and Wendy Venturini, about what they have seen so far this season on and off the track. They also provide a few predictions for what could be in store for the second half of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season.
SPEED: What driver has surprised you with unexpected success or improvement this year? Why?
ROBERTS: Denny Hamlin, he is leading the way for the rookies.
WALLACE: Kasey Kahne, he did not have a strong finish in 2005 and no one expected Evernham to be as strong as they have been.
VENTURINI: Kasey Kahne, with his four wins.
SPEED: What driver has been the biggest disappointment?
ROBERTS: Robert Yates Racing, they have had a tough season and the strangest things have been happening to them.
WALLACE: Robert Yates Racing, they are powerful teams with good drivers.
VENTURINI: Ryan Newman, I am surprised at their season with only one Top Five. Maybe it is the chemistry within the team?
SPEED: What driver is most in danger of losing his ride by the end of the season? Why?
ROBERTS: To tell you the truth, none of them. It is not that easy to find a good guy to put in a Cup car.
WALLACE: All of them that are not running well
VENTURINI: David Stremme, with an average finish of 30.6, he walks the plank.
SPEED: Last year, Jeff Gordon & Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t make The Chase … will either/both make it this year? Why or why not?
ROBERTS: I think both of them have a chance. They have both been doing really well, and have been running consistently.
WALLACE: They are both pretty marginal drivers to make The Chase. It could go either way for both of them.
VENTURINI: I think they’ll both make it. Dale Jr. has been solid and Jeff Gordon is back in the Top 10
SPEED: Who do you think will be the biggest name not to make The Chase this year?
ROBERTS: Dale Jarrett
WALLACE: Jeff Gordon, he seems to not have a competitive team this year.
VENTURINI: Kurt Busch
SPEED: Who do you think will be the biggest surprise in The Chase this year?
ROBERTS: Denny Hamlin
WALLACE: Denny Hamlin
VENTURINI: Denny Hamlin
SPEED: Best guest you’ve had on NASCAR RaceDay so far this year? Why?
ROBERTS: Can I name a few? Elliott Sadler, he is a great sport and really funny; Mark Martin, he is a really classy guy; and Jamie McMurray, he jokes around with us as well.
WALLACE: Will Farrell, because he is funny and he made it a good show.
VENTURINI: Martha Nemechek, in our Real Deal Interview. She served our production crew homemade bread and fresh coffee when we went to her home. You can’t beat that.
SPEED: Biggest story of the season so far?
ROBERTS: The early announcements of drivers leaving their teams.
WALLACE: Tony Stewart and his misfortunes this season
VENTURINI: Dale Jarrett leaving Robert Yates Racing to drive a Toyota next year. (Brian) Vickers leaves Hendrick; and Casey (Mears) leaves Ganassi to take over the No. 25.
SPEED: What will be the biggest story of the second half of the season?
ROBERTS: Actually seeing who goes where.
WALLACE: The Race for The Chase, with the drivers putting themselves in position and seeing who is going to be in the ninth or tenth position, which is always fun to talk about.
VENTURINI: The announcement of the Toyota drivers
SPEED: Do you watch a replay of NASCAR RaceDay and critique yourself?
ROBERTS: Yes, every minute. I do it for amusement and to get better. I think it is important to look at yourself and see what areas you can improve.
WALLACE: Only if it is late on Sunday night and I am in bed, I might turn it on and watch it. Otherwise, it embarrasses me to watch myself. I usually depend on the great guys from SPEED to tell me what I am doing wrong.
VENTURINI: Every Sunday night when I get off the plane. I Tivo it and watch it when I get home. I think you have to in order to improve.
SPEED: Strangest thing you’ve seen in the NASCAR RaceDay live audience?
ROBERTS: It would have to be ‘Funnel Man.’ This guy comes to about 80 percent of the races and funnels beer throughout the show. He is the ‘Houdini of Budweiser.’
WALLACE: I have not seen anything strange. We have a really good crowd that comes out and they are a lot of fun.
VENTURINI: I rely on Kenny and Jimmy’s funny stories of what they see since I’m reporting from the garage during show.
SPEED, celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2006, is the nation’s first and foremost cable network dedicated to motor sports and the passion for everything automotive. From racing to restoration, motorcycles to movies, SPEED delivers quality programming from the track to the garage. Now available in more than 71 million homes in North America, SPEED is among the fastest-growing sports cable networks in the country, the home to NASCAR on SPEED and an industry leader in interactive TV, video on demand, mobile initiatives and broadband services.