The view from my couch

2004 Nascar Nextel Cup Awards Show on TNT at the Waldorf Astoria in NYC
by Vivian Simons
December 6, 2004

The show began with an Alan Bestwick introduction to the ceremony and with some video of cars on NYC street along with some notables who were in attendance. There was no loud lead in music or graphics which was great, in my opinion. After an itinerary run down, Bill Weber gave us a short capsule of 2004, which consisted of what he described as “Timeless moments to preserve”. This consisted of how NASCAR is mixing the past with the present and showed some video of some championship moments while mentioning there was lots of new faces and names in NASCAR. Then he recapped some action on different tracks throughout the year before the beginning of the Chase for the Championship. He reminded us that at the last race of the year, there were 5 in contention for the Championship. After that he told us that Pit Bull had be canceled and attempted to make a few jokes. About this time I noticed that the picture in the Waldorf was very faded looking and his lips were not matching the words at all. However, he did tell us that he had been told there was no 5-minute delay being used and I found that hard to believe due to the fact that his lips were quite a bit out of sync with the words. I was afraid the whole show would be this way.

After that he introduced some of the Championship Team along with the Owner, Crew Chief, Sponsor representative and of course the Driver, Kurt Busch. After that, TNT showed a short video of comedian Jay Mohr with some of his antics with different drivers. The shots of Jay still seemed faded and his lips were out of sync at this time. I was not impressed by Jay's attempts to make the audience laugh.

Next up was a song by Scott Stapp, former lead singer of Creed, with a video playing in the background. I tried to figure out what he had to do with NASCAR to no avail. It just did not fit in with the show I felt. I still don't know why NASCAR chooses the performers that they choose year after year.

After a commercial break, Kimberly Gibbs was introduced as an assistant for the show to help present the awards. This was the only view we had of her during the show so I don't know if she ever came back on stage or not. At this time I noticed that the lips were in sync with the words. Plus, it was no longer a faded picture.

It was then time for the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award which went to Kasey Kahne. Kasey accepted graciously but seemed to have a hard time with the teleprompter. Bill Weber then asked fans to log on to NASCAR.com and vote for the most dramatic moment of the year. Fans were given 5 choices. After that the Marketing Achievement Award was presented to Nextel and then we had a commercial break.

Upon return, Robin Pemberton presented Bill Dewar, General Manager of Chevrolet with their 24th manufacturers award.

We were then treated to the presentation of the award to the driver, Jamie McMurray for 11th place. Mike Helton explained why NASCAR was now giving this award. Jamie was too cool as he accepted and made his speech. He had a lot of voice inflections, laughed, looked around a lot and used hand motions during his speech which brought a lot of reality to the show as he seemed to be spontaneous rather than just performing.

Next, Bill Weber introduced Jim Hunter and Kenny Crosswhite which led to a moment of silence to honor all the people from Hendrick Motorsports who were lost on October 24 in a plane crash. They also mentioned the NBC Sports Executive, Ebersol who has also lost a son recently in a plane crash.

After commercials, they began the top 10 awards. I was surprised that after Jeremy Mayfield accepted the 10th place award that Jay Mohr came out to talk with him briefly. The next award was to Elliot Sadler who finished 9th in points. Mohr came out after his speech also which then began the trend of Mohr coming out after each driver and talking with them a minute and cheering the audience on for that driver.

After commercials, Matt Kenseth was presented the 8th place award with Mohr coming out after his speech which culminated with a short video he called “What were they thinking” and had comments on each one. Ryan Newman then accepted the award for 7th place and after Mohr cheered him on they went to another commercial break.

Tony Stewart accepted the 6th place award and Mohr came out to discuss Tony's monkey MoJo. During Tony's acceptance speech we were treated to shots of both Mike Helton and Brian France. I am sure TNT wanted to catch their reactions to what Tony was saying. Brian seemed amused but Mike did not, in my opinion.

After Tony, there was another break for commercials and then we were treated to Pictures of You video of drivers back then and now. I enjoyed this video very much. Brian McKnight was then introduced and he sang “Win” which seemed to be appropriate for the occasion.

Another commercial break and awards were presented to 5th place, Dale Earnhardt, Jr and 4th was presented to Mark Martin. Jay Mohr came out after each for his now normal participation of the ceremonies.

Commercials came again and afterwards, the announcement of the most dramatic moment of the season was announced as being Jr winning the Daytona 500. Jay Mohr mentioned that he did not have to look at the results to know the answer to that poll. After this, Jeff Gordon accepted the 3rd place award and when Jay came out he mentioned how Jeff had been sick. I had been wondering all evening if Jeff would be there as I had read on Jayski that he was sick and may not make it. Plus, during the evening when they were showing different drivers in the audience, Jeff was conspicuously missing so I guess he came down from his room only to accept the award and make his speech. Jimmy Johnson then accepted the 2nd place award. Like Jeff, he mentioned the Hendrick loss and how close the NASCAR community really is. It was good to see Rick Hendrick in the audience and to know he is supporting all of his teams by being there.

Back from commercials and Joseph Galli of Sharpie and Irwin Industrial Rubbermaid, accepted the sponsor award from George Pyne of NASCAR. He gave an unusually long speech during which the cameras caught a shot of Brian France in the audience and his expression was priceless as it seemed to be saying “How long is this man going to talk?” Keep in mind this is just what I seemed to feel his expression read.

John Darby then presented the Crew Chief award to Jimmy Fennig after which it was announced the number 20 team won the Pit Crew of the Year award. Mike Helton presented the owner's award to Jack Roush after this. Jack also gave a long speech but some of his remarks were very amusing.

Off to commercials again before the big and final presentation of the evening. John Rich then presented Kurt Busch the Goodyear Award. This award is a gold clad car model of the winning driver, and I thought it interesting that John mentioned that at one time they had 5 of these models in progress for weeks since there was no specific winner while leading up to the last race of the season. Brain France then presented Kurt with the championship ring. Finally Tim Donahue, the Nextel President and CEO presented the trophy to Kurt. Kurt very graciously accepted all of these awards and gave a very good speech after which Jay Mohr came out and made his comments.

After another commercial break, Bill Weber and Alan Bestwick made final remarks and after Bill once more introduced Kurt as the Champion, the show was over.

After the bad beginning, TNT corrected the problems with the lips and voice sync and the faded out look, the show seemed to flow well. I think the lack of graphics and the usual loud music made it a better show. I think they showed a lot shots of the audience which were unnecessary at times, but it was good to see a lot of drivers who were not involved in the chase out in the audience. I still don't understand why Jay Mohr played such a big part in the award ceremony. I would have preferred to see one of the normal announcers, be it booth or pit road do these duties. I know they are trying to draw a bigger audience, but sometimes I feel it is best to stick to the usual crew during award ceremonies. The allotted time for the show was exceeded but TNT did stay with the show and we were able to see the whole show which is always a plus.

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