NBC’s NASCAR broadcasts to get post-race interview twist

Starting with Friday night’s Xfinity Series race, NBC will add a new interview element to its NASCAR broadcasts.

You know the moment when the winning driver gets out of the car at the start/finish line and grabs the checkered flag? NBC will be dispatching a camera crew and reporter onto the track to interview the driver immediately — before the winner even arrives in victory lane.

The audio of the interview will also be available on the public address systems for each track, which means the driver can essentially talk to fans during the celebration. Obviously, the network is hoping to generate some more raw emotion in the immediate moments after the win.

By the way, the driver will still go through the standard victory lane procedure once arriving there after the initial interview.

NASCAR informed teams of NBC’s idea on earlier this week and referenced the new procedure in the Xfinity Series drivers meeting on Friday, according to ESPN.com’s Bob Pockrass.

I asked NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood about this on Thursday, but he would not confirm the plan.

“I think you should stick around and find out,” he said. “We’ve got some ideas. Hold onto that thought and we’ll go from there.”

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Season Finale

This season of Survivor has been a blast yet again and it’s been fun to find out how many NASCAR fans watch it. There’s a really good amount of crossover there, so that’s made it really enjoyable to chat with everyone about the season.

Anyway, who wins tonight? Well, there’s no clear favorite despite Sarah playing such a strong season. But I can still guess at the order or who has the best chance.

After the bottom two players in the rankings went home last week, here are the top six — ranked by best chance to win. Also, I included what I initially said about them in the preseason power rankings:

1. Sarah (Last week: 1).

Current comment: This has been Sarah’s season in so many ways. She’s made brilliant moves, controlled the game and lived up to her promise of playing like a criminal instead of a cop. Sarah backed off when needed (she didn’t fight for ally Zeke at the expense of her own game), schemed when necessary (she orchestrated Sierra’s ouster after realizing she could get the legacy advantage) and pulled off winning moves like taking control at tribal council after Cirie tried to use the vote steal (which Sarah had snatched from the challenge when Michaela sat out). However, the big question is still whether Sarah made too many enemies along the way and whether that will be held against her at the final three.

Preseason comment: (Ranked 15th of 20) Why is she a game changer? I’m not sure. I don’t remember much of her game, except for both she and Tony being cops on their season. Maybe that will allow her avoid being targeted (why would they vote her out if she’s not a threat?) and make it far.

 

2. Brad (last week: 4).

Current comment: These players had better not let Brad get to the final three, because he has a great shot at winning if he does. Look at how many of his former alliance partners are sitting there already — and he hasn’t made enemies along the way. Overall, Brad has played a fantastic game and really changed his image this year (see my original comment below, OOPS!). He’s been a nice guy instead of the jerk people thought he was, but also made it far while being the only physical threat left in the game (something which is hard to do). They would be smart to get rid of him before the final three.

Preseason comment:  (Ranked 20th) He’s going to piss someone off and get himself voted out before the merge. I just don’t think he can make it very far with the style of game he plays.

3. Aubry (Last week: 3).

Current comment: It’s been a rough season for a player who looked so promising in her first season. She’s always seemed to be playing from behind and hasn’t been calling any of the shots. Even when she won immunity, she was crying after that night’s tribal council because she was completely out of the loop and left out of the vote. Her best chance to win is if she sits next to two people the jury loathes.

Preseason comment: (Ranked 2nd) She should have won two seasons ago, and I think her game will be respected (but not feared). She’ll sharpen things up this time and play a calculated, measured game overall.

4. Cirie (Last week: 2).

Current comment: One of the all-time great players made an all-time blunder last week. First of all, she voted ally Andrea out too early (Andrea even said on the Rob Has A Podcast exit interview she wouldn’t have targeted Cirie until the final four). Then Cirie alienated even-closer ally Sarah by trying to get cute with the vote steal and lost protege Michaela in the process! Terrible outcome all around. If she reaches the final three, she can win — but it will be very tough to get there now.

Preseason comment: (Ranked 9th) She’s going to be a threat and the other players will recognize it right away. So that might not work very well long term, unless she’s able to fly under the radar somehow.

5. Tai (Last week: 5).

Current comment: He has two idols heading into the finale, which bodes well for his chances of making the final three. But given his penchant for flip-flopping and indecision, I just can’t see the jury deciding to reward him with $1 million — even if he’s sitting next to someone less likable.

Preseason comment: (Ranked 16th) Everyone loves Tai! Everyone wants to work with Tai! But here’s the thing: Does he play a strategic game? I don’t think so. And so when he’s sitting at final tribal, this group of vets won’t reward him — just like when he lost to Michele.

6. Troyzan (Last week: 6). 

Current comment: Troyzan has played a floater game this season and thus will not be rewarded by a jury of veteran players. He has an idol, which might help him make the final three, but I don’t see him getting any votes even if he gets there. That’s a shame, because his pre-merge game seemed pretty good.

Preseason comment: (Ranked 12th) He had the misfortune of going up against one of the smartest players ever, Kim Spradlin, who got the better of him. Let’s see how he does this go-round).

 

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 11

No big surprise on Sierra going home last week, though that still leaves the game up for grabs with only two episodes remaining.

Now that we’re down to the Elite Eight, it’s starting to get clearer who still has a chance — and who absolutely cannot win.

Here’s how the final eight players stack up, ranked by best chance to win:

1. Sarah (Last week: 1). If she doesn’t win, it’s certainly not for lack of effort. Last week’s move to turn on Sierra after learning about the Legacy Advantage was cutthroat, and it went to the next level after Sarah still was gifted with the advantage anyway! She even looked at Sierra like, “How did you get voted out?” — after SARAH voted for her. Amazing stuff! The biggest question is whether she will leave too many bitter people on the jury.

2. Cirie (Last week: 2). In some ways, this is starting to look like a horror movie for the other players. The killer is outside! Don’t let them in! Oh no! Cirie, master of the social game, is playing SO well and — remarkably — no one seems to be noticing. Her name is never brought up as a target and she’s done well to put the focus on Andrea for people coming after her alliance. If Cirie makes the final three, she wins.

3. Aubry (Last week: 4). There’s a huge gap between the top two players and this spot, and many of you feel I’ve been putting Aubry much too high. But she’s been playing under the radar and is getting to the point where she could be sitting at final tribal — again. Maybe this time, the jury will turn on others instead of her (remember, she was punished in her first season for some strange reason and lost to Michele).

4. Brad (last week: 6). I’m uncomfortable putting Brad this high, especially since tonight could be a perfect time to send him home and decimate the remaining players from the minority alliance. But if he somehow survives these votes, it could be a real boost for his overall chances. Because let’s face it: He’s played a great game and has seemed like a totally different guy than the first time he was on Survivor.

5. Tai (Last week: 8). This is by far the highest Tai has been ranked all season, but I admit it’s starting to look a little better for him. There are eight people left, so he’s getting to the point where he could soon use back-to-back idols to reach the last four. And then he’s only one immunity win away from sitting at final tribal. So…I guess it’s possible.

6. Troyzan (Last week: 6). He’s still got that idol, but what else? Even if he floats to the final three, is the jury really going to reward him with $1 million? I would say no, based on the game he’s played.

7. Andrea (Last week: 3). It doesn’t look good for Andrea. Everyone is now talking about her as a major threat and she’s being targeted regularly, so it’s highly doubtful this group of smart veterans would let her reach the final three.

8. Michaela (Last week: 8). She can’t win. A jury would never go for her argument, because they don’t like her (personally, I think she’s hilarious). So it doesn’t matter if she makes the final three, because she won’t get any votes.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 10

Dang it! I was so bummed to see Zeke go last week, even though it was only a matter of time (I had him ranked No. 9 entering the episode). Unfortunately for Zeke, he was too good at the game AND had a compelling story, which made him a giant target.

So who’s next? Well, with the six-person voting alliance shrinking to five (Cirie, Andrea, Aubry, Michaela and Sarah) and possibly getting shaken up, the game seems wide open.

Here’s how the final nine players stack up, ranked by best chance to win:

1. Sarah (Last week: 1). It certainly seems like the Survivor story is being told from Sarah’s point of view, which means she’s controlling much of the action. Even last week, when her ride-or-die ally Zeke ended up going home, it was based around her decision not to fight it and make waves. So she’s still in a very good spot, and I love how she’s playing this year.

2. Cirie (Last week: 3). For as good as Cirie is, she’s still playing a bit under the radar. Is that even possible? Well, she’s quietly pulling all the strings and people are approaching her to see if they can make moves. And yet she’s not mentioned herself as a huge target! Until someone figures out how dangerous she is, she’ll stay in a power position. They’d be foolish to let her reach the end.

3. Andrea (Last week: 4). You have to hand it to Andrea: She knew Zeke was going to come for her — he said as much — so she got him out first. Well-played, Andrea. I don’t know about her long-term prospects of winning, but she’s in a good spot with the majority alliance for now. However, I think Sarah will turn on her and convince others to do the same.

4. Aubry (Last week: 2). I like Aubry’s game, but it feels like she’s more along for the ride than making moves herself. I’m not sure that will result in a winning strategy unless some of the more prominent players get the boot and she can really start playing. Sarah indicated she doesn’t trust Aubry, so where does that leave her in the big picture?

5. Troyzan (Last week: 6). He was clueless after the majority alliance voted Zeke out. His hope is that the group falls apart and he’s able to grab onto some of the pieces. I want to pull for him, but he doesn’t seem to be in a great spot. At least he’s still got the idol in his pocket.

6. Brad (last week: 7). He really needed that Zeke alliance to work out, and it didn’t. Zeke proposed a final five with Brad, Troyzan, Michaela and Sarah. Maybe Sarah can salvage it and pull something together that involves Brad and Troyzan. Otherwise, Brad might be in trouble.

7. Sierra (Last week: 5). Oof. Sierra told the main alliance she wanted to flip and would do whatever they wanted, and they told her to vote for…Tai! They left her out of the Zeke vote completely. That’s not a good sign, because they didn’t even care about building trust with her. At least she saved herself last week, but she’s a top candidate to get booted tonight.

8. Tai (Last week: 8). His own alliance — Brad, Troyzan and Sierra — all voted for him last week! People will gladly throw Tai under the bus, and he’d better play one of those two idols soon or he’ll go home with both of them. He still has a chance to make the final three, but he wouldn’t win if he got there.

9. Michaela (Last week: 10). Not going to happen. Her best chance is to stick by Cirie and Sarah, both of who want to work with her, and keep voting with the majority. But she’s not making big moves herself and people on the jury don’t seem to like her attitude enough to give her $1 million.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 9

Well, well, well…how about that flip last week? Just when it looked like the majority alliance of six was going to pick off the other five players one by one for the next few weeks (BORING!), Sarah switched it up with her big move.

Although I’m not convinced Debbie was the right person to target (she was ranked No. 9 last week), it sure was satisfying to see her go home. And now the numbers are six (Cirie, Andrea, Aubry, Michaela, Zeke and maybe Sarah) to four (Brad, Sierra, Tai, Troyzan).

Here’s how the final 10 players stack up entering tonight’s episode (ranked by best chance to win):

1. Sarah (Last week: 2). Playing in the middle at this point in the game is a dangerous gamble, but Sarah is pulling it off so far. Can she keep it up while positioning herself to make the final three? As noted on the Survivor Know It Alls podcast, returning players often play like the winner from their season — and Sarah is playing a lot like Tony, only better. Still, that might catch up to her at some point.

2. Aubry (Last week: 4). Early in the season, there was talk about Aubry being a threat because she was so strategic. Remember, these players just watched her season before they went out to play (Millennials vs. Gen X hadn’t aired yet). But she keeps hanging around, and as long as bigger threats are still in the game, maybe she’s got a shot.

3. Cirie (Last week: 10). Her weak moment in the challenge actually might have helped her cause. It emphasized how little of a threat she is to win a physical contest, so maybe people won’t target her if that’s the case. Plus, thanks to Sarah, she now appears to be firmly in the majority alliance.

4. Andrea (Last week: 6). It seems like Andrea is starting to crack a little bit, but she’s also in the majority (as long as Sarah doesn’t flip again). I doubt we’ve seen the end of her battle with Zeke, though, and I think he could execute his goal if he gets another chance.

5. Sierra (Last week: 5). So much for that. Just when it looked like Sierra was in a power position, she now finds herself in the minority — this after she proposed a final three deal with Sarah and Debbie! Sarah may choose to work with her again, though, which could help Sierra’s chances if she can get over the feeling of betrayal from the Debbie vote.

6. Troyzan (Last week: 1). The Sarah flip was a big turn of events for Troyzan. Even his own alliance (Sierra, Brad, Tai) would probably rather throw him under the bus now to save themselves for another week. However, he does have an idol — which he might need to use sooner than later.

7. Brad (last week: 3). His chances plummet thanks to Sarah’s move, which now puts him in a minority alliance. Even if Sarah reunites with her buddy Sierra, will Brad get spared? He’s a target and will be for the rest of the game.

8. Tai (Last week: 8). I’ve been down on Tai all season, and a lot of the feedback from you Power Rankings readers lately is that I have him too low. After all, he has TWO idols and hasn’t made a bad move yet. But I still feel like the other players don’t take him very seriously, and this jury of veterans is ultimately going to want to reward a real strategist. Tai just isn’t that, and I have to go with my gut here.

9. Zeke (Last week: 11) Well, he’s out of the line of fire for the moment as he temporarily reunited with the Andrea alliance and was able to help Sarah pull off her move. But even though he’s in the majority, there’s still a lot working against him: Namely, people are aware he’s too much of a “player” and also has a compelling “story.” So they probably won’t let him get to the final three.

10. Michaela (Last week: 7). I know a lot of people don’t like Michaela, but oh my gosh, she cracks me up so much with her antics. A couple weeks after sipping from the mug as J.T. got blindsided, she ate coconut like it was popcorn while Debbie got the boot. Hilarious! That said, I doubt other players appreciate her attitude — and I don’t think the jury would give her $1 million in the end.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 8

Last week’s merge and double elimination took out both Hali (who was ranked No. 4) and Ozzy (who was ranked No. 12) — and it nearly took out top-ranked Zeke after he seemed to ruin his own game by going to Debbie and Sierra to try and organize a coup against Cirie and Andrea.

With Zeke hurting his chances, there’s a new No. 1 this week. Here’s how the 11 remaining castaways stack up, ranked by best chance to win:

1. Troyzan (Last week: 2). Here’s why I continue to be so high on Troyzan: He’s the No. 3 in his alliance, meaning Brad and Sierra might be targets first; he doesn’t seem to be on many radars; and he has an idol. That’s sort of the Adam formula from last season.

2. Sarah (Last week: 3). I’m not sure where Sarah sits right now, and that’s a good thing. She’s certainly not a target, and she could also have some influence over the direction of the game by playing in the middle for a couple more votes. She voted with the majority to boot Ozzy, but that doesn’t mean she’s committed to them.

3. Brad (last week: 9). I’m finally starting to get on the Brad bandwagon as far as his chances. I was so skeptical for the first few weeks, but he really seems to have changed as both a person and a player from his other Survivor appearance. He’s making bonds with people like Aubry and, even though guys like Zeke can see through him, what he’s doing is working so far.

4. Aubry (Last week: 8). Although she’s with the minority alliance, she’s not one of the top targets there (Cirie and Andrea are). So perhaps that will help her stay safe as others continue to go after big threats — and remember, it also looked like she bonded with Brad (which could help keep her off the chopping block).

5. Sierra (Last week: 7). Surprisingly, Sierra is actually the leader of the majority alliance. She is running the game in some aspects. However, I’m not sure that’s a good thing for her at this point — because people might recognize that and come after her.

6. Andrea (Last week: 5). She’s either the leader or No. 2 in the minority alliance (along with Cirie), and I don’t think that bodes well if the majority group (Sierra, Brad, Troyzan, Debbie and Tai) are able to stick together.

7. Michaela (Last week: 10). There was a nice moment where Michaela and Cirie bonded, and you could tell Michaela really listened. But listening is one thing; acting on the advice is another. Let’s see if that was a turning point.

8. Tai (Last week: 11). I still don’t think Tai can win, but with every week that goes by and those two immunity idols remain in his pocket, his chances improve.

9. Debbie (Last week: 13). OK, Debbie — nice move. Nice, niiiiiice move. Debbie, if you recall, was the one behind booting Ozzy; not only was it her idea, but her extra vote came into play. I’m still not high on her game and overall chances, but she now has a big move to claim on her resume.

10. Cirie (Last week: 6). She’s the leader of the smaller alliance and a threat, so she’ll be an easy target sometime in the new few weeks if the majority alliance stays together. I think she’s playing great, but she doesn’t have much protection.

11. Zeke (Last week: 1) Dammit, Zeke. My favorite player of the season goes from first to worst after nearly blowing up his own game last week. Now he’s not only broken the trust with his former alliance, but he doesn’t appear to have anyone to work with (despite what the previews hinted). I hope he can salvage his game, but he’s also being talked about as having too compelling of a story for people to let him reach the end.

Survivor Game Changers Power Rankings: Week 7

I’m still trying to digest what happened last week with Zeke and Varner (I wrote more about that here), and it will definitely be hard to just move on with the game like nothing happened.

That said, Zeke was already No. 1 in my power rankings heading into last week, and I’m going to keep him there for now. While I think his story could eventually make him more of a target (“We can’t let him get to the end or he’ll win”), I think his fellow castaways will rally around him for awhile and he won’t be voted off anytime soon.

From the previews, we also know THE MERGE IS HERE — so that will shake things up dramatically.

Here’s how I see the castaways ranked (by best chance of winning) heading into tonight’s episode:

1. Zeke (Last week: 1). The biggest challenge for Zeke will be to shake off what was a traumatic personal moment and refocus on the game. Given his love for Survivor, I think he can do it.

2. Troyzan (Last week: 2). I like the spot Troyzan is in. He has an idol, but he’s also not a target at all right now (why would they vote Troyzan off when they could go after bigger threats like Ozzy or Brad?).

3. Sarah (Last week: 9). She’s good with her old tribe — Zeke, Andrea and Ozzy, at least — AND had that short-lived alliance with Troyzan before the swap (remember that scene?). Having connections on both sides could be a very good thing. Time for the cop to play like a criminal.

4. Hali (Last week: 4). This first merge vote is going to say a lot about where Hali is and reveal much about her chances going forward. I don’t have a great read on it. But for now, I’m leaving her up high because she’s not an obvious threat.

5. Andrea (Last week: 10). Before Varner outed Zeke, he also outed a supposed alliance between Andrea, Zeke and Ozzy. If that’s really the case, those three could do some damage if they can pull in a few others.

6. Cirie (Last week: 3). I’m a little shaky on Cirie now that the merge is here and Sandra is gone. No one looks at Cirie and goes, “Oh, she’s not a threat.” They all know it, and she’s too dangerous to keep around for much longer.

7. Sierra (Last week: 5). It feels like her chances are still too closely tied to Brad’s. She either needs to make her own big moves or she’ll end up without a good enough resume — even if she survives until the end.

8. Aubry (Last week: 6). Who does she have to work with? Brad, yes. Tai, maybe. But she’s seemed to be on the outs of various tribes through the whole game, and people also view her as a threat socially.

9. Brad (last week: 7). I don’t like his chances with the merge because he’ll become too big of a target — although his alliance with Aubry could prove helpful. The only huge physical threats remaining are Brad, Ozzy and maybe Michaela — which means any of them could be a classic “merge boot.”

10. Michaela (Last week: 8). She’s strong in immunity challenges, but she’s not really the type that’s going to keep her head and stay calm for the rest of the game. That’s going to get her in trouble at some point.

11. Tai (Last week: 14). His two idols will keep him safe for awhile, along with people going after bigger targets. But like Debbie, he’s more of a “Let’s bring him to the end” type for the eventual winning player.

12. Ozzy (Last week: 11). Ozzy is in trouble now that the merge is here. His name is going to be brought up frequently as a target, and unless he goes on an individual immunity run, he might be out soon.

13. Debbie (Last week: 13). She’s too volatile and the other players aren’t going to respect her game enough in the end (although I can see someone taking her to the final three). I can’t even see her using her extra vote in a situation where it would help her.