Race Weekend Central

The Critic’s Annex 83- NASCAR RaceHub Announces the Nominees

Hello, race fans. Welcome back to the Critic’s Annex, where we take a look at additional motorsports-related television programming. The past week and change has been slim pickings at best for motorsports programming. Just plain nothing on. Of course, having said that, this weekend is the complete opposite with almost every series of note in action, as well as the local racing scene in Upstate New York (where I’m based) getting up and running.

As you may know, Wednesday was a big day for NASCAR since the nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2013 were announced. The Hall of Fame’s announcement venue of choice: A regularly-scheduled episode of SPEED’s NASCAR RaceHub. Interesting. Let us take a look.

Danielle Trotta, fresh off getting “owned” during an interview with Clint Bowyer on Tuesday (everything I’ve read about Bowyer off the track characterize his actions on the show as par for the course and absolutely no reflection on Trotta), hosted Wednesday’s show. Since I’ve rarely actually sat down and critiqued this show, I’ll state her for the record that I am pro-Trotta. I like her on the show. Its her primary (or secondary) gig for most of the year (once Fall comes, she also does work with ACC football), so she’s grown quite comfortable in the role.

Here, she hosted the show with Rick Allen and Larry McReynolds in the studio with their opinions of the nominees. Allen talked about how he had voted for ten of the 15 people that had been inducted and what he was thinking. Meanwhile, McReynolds talked about how the voters nailed the first 15 picks.

Ultimately, the 25 nominees were spread throughout the one hour show. Probably not the best way to go, to be honest. There is something to be said about making the audience wait in order to build up the suspense, but no one was going to get spoofed here. Here’s a bit of inside information. NASCAR didn’t send out the official press release with the nominees until after SPEED finished their little exposition. As a result, we all learned who got picked at the same time everyone else did.

John Daly wrote on Tuesday that he believes that the NASCAR Media Group could have made a whole big special out of announcing the nominees with three minute vignettes about each nominee. With commercials and analysis, it would have been a two-hour show and he suggested that Mike Joy host it. I suppose something like that would be more interesting to watch on a Wednesday night than reruns of Pass Time and Dumbest Stuff on Wheels, but he’s suggesting a longer special than what will likely be put out when the inductees are announced next month.

If you absolutely had to maintain NASCAR RaceHub’s exclusive on the announcement, they could have done it differently. Dedicate the entire first half of the show to unveiling the nominees with Trotta, Allen and McReynolds. Maybe just take what ultimately aired and reorder the segments so that all the Hall of Fame discussion is together. Then, cover what I’m about to get it.

Following the unveiling of the first five nominees (all returning, in alphabetical order), Trotta threw the show to Rockingham, where a feature about Rockingham Speedway getting ready for their first Camping World Truck Series race aired. Wendy Venturini talked to track owner/promoter Andy Hillenburg and other notable figures in the Rockingham area (Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin, Richmond County Manager Rick Sago, Richmond County Chairman of Commissions Kenneth Robinette) about their thoughts about having a NASCAR race back at Rockingham for the first time since 2004. The excitement is very high at the high-banked slightly more than one mile tri-oval. I’ll definitely be watching that race.

The next two segments featured the next ten nominees. Allen and McReynolds talked about the nominees and described what made the nominees really stand out. Generally, this wasn’t a bad discussion. These nominee discussions were sandwiched by a look at Texas Motor Speedway’s top-5 moments (Inside Note: In Albany, the first Cup race at Texas was pre-empted due to a local Arthritis Telethon, thus, I never saw it).

After going through the first 15 nominees, Allen and McReynolds took a short break. Perhaps, they went to go get some chicken tenders. While they were out, BK Racing’s Landon Cassill and Travis Kvapil came on set to talk with Trotta. The topics of discussion were how the team came together to start the season (at the absolute last minute), how Cassill and Kvapil got their rides, and the battle to stay in the top-35 in owners points. Also of note, the new Dr. Pepper paint scheme for the No. 93 was shown via pictures. This car will race this weekend in Texas. I guess the interview was informative, but it was definitely a little one-sided. Kvapil barely got to say anything. It was mostly Trotta and Cassill. That’s a shame.

The second part of a two-part interview (conducted by Steve Byrnes) with Kasey Kahne was next. Here, Kahne talks about the early days of his race career when he was scraping to get by in Indiana. It was an interesting piece. Wish I saw part No. 1 first, though.

Finally, after the review of the 20 returning nominees, the five new nominees were announced. This group was broken down into the three non-drivers, and the two drivers. The inclusion of Anne B. France as a nominee here is already quite controversial. “ESPN’s David Newton”:http://proxy.espn.go.com/racing/nascar/cup/story/_/id/7801759/nascar-wendell-scott-nominated-hall-fame-class-2013/ has already come out against the nomination, and others are sure to follow. Here, Allen and McReynolds, along with NASCAR Hall of Fame Executive Director Winston Kelley seemed to realize that there might be griping here, so they decided to try to put out the flames. They did an ok job.

Each of the two new driver nominees (Rusty Wallace and Wendell Scott) were discussed. McReynolds discussed Scott with almost the exact same terminology that he had discussed Jack Ingram earlier in the show (He described Scott as being a “one man show.”) The idea of Scott changing his own tire is almost mythological these days in NASCAR, especially since seemingly no one has brought forth any evidence of this (Regardless, ESPN tried to re-create this in their docudrama, Wendell Scott: A Race Story, which will air on ESPN Classic Saturday morning at 7:30). We do know that Morgan Shepherd did it once in a Truck race around 2000, and I believe evidence exists of that (he apparently borrowed equipment from Stan Boyd’s team and did his solo pit stop under a caution). Meanwhile, based on the discussion on the show, you’d think Wallace would be a near-lock to get in on the first try.

Generally, NASCAR RaceHub is a great show, but they went about announcing the nominees wrong. This is a rather important announcement, and it was treated like events on the most recent version of American Gladiators. Let’s just say they liked to build up suspense by going to commercial break right as events were starting. That irritated me while watching contenders lose in the Joust, and it irritates me here. They should have grouped all the nominee reveals and discussion together. Then, you could have your time with BK Racing and the taped footage from Byrnes’ chat with Kasey Kahne. I think it would have worked better than what we ultimately got. A rare miss. Regardless, it was definitely a good idea to have Allen and McReynolds, both of whom served as Hall of Fame voters last year, in the studio to discuss the nominees. For next year, they need to group it better.

I hope you liked this look at SPEED’s not-so-special look at the nominees for the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2013. Check back next Thursday for more criticism and possible praise. Until then, enjoy the action this weekend in Texas, Long Beach and Shanghai.

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