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(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Odds & Ends Around the Track: Farewell to DW Edition & Sonoma

This time every year NASCAR fans are ready for a change of networks. We say farewell to FOX for the season and farewell to Darrell Waltrip forever on television coverage of NASCAR. Just as he did during his racing career, DW moves the needle. Love him or hate him, you will never be bored by DW … ever.

Boogity Boogity Boogity Into the Sunset

Am I the only person who will miss the start of NASCAR races without Darrell Waltrip? Yes, I know it’s major league corny, but when those cars roll toward the start/finish line to start their long journey, I usually blurt it out with DW, “Boogity, boogity, boogity boys, let’s go racing!”

While I am at it, I confess to enjoying most Nickleback songs and I still cry at the end of Old Yeller. Maybe the reason I enjoy Waltrip more than most is because I see how much he loves the sport. NASCAR has been very good to the Waltrip family and the Waltrip family has been very good to NASCAR.

DW’s first race for FOX coincided with the worst televised event in the history of NASCAR: the death of Dale Earnhardt. Waltrip was part of the reason that NASCAR’s popularity soared, and now he has been along for the ride as it comes to a new normal level. Southern Charm is no longer considered a cool thing, and maybe it was inevitable that the more there were fans who never saw DW race, the less he would be popular.

Yes, even me, the biggest Darrell Waltrip fan in the room realizes it was time for a change. Even Mike Joy isn’t as great on the play by play as he was years ago, and yes, maybe the Southern Corn from DW is too old fashioned to sell. But allow me to give the man one more huge Boogity, Boogity, Boogity into the sunset because he deserves our respect.

God Bless America Times Two

The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series had the week off, but NASCAR sure made some headlines.

Their new “take the win away from failed post-race inspections” got its first application in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Series underdog Niece Motorsports and their fan favorite driver Ross Chastain thought they had just made team history by winning their first race since Chastain switched to Truck points and qualifying for the Truck Series playoffs.

But a measurement no longer applied in the Cup series came back to disqualify Niece’s truck after it failed minimum height. NASCAR officials said it wasn’t even close and their hands were tied. The call was an easy one.

All three levels of NASCAR have a problem with a lack of new teams that can contend for wins. Niece Motorsports is the type of organization that could someday grow beyond the Truck Series, but that takes exposure and sponsorship. Making the NASCAR playoffs would certainly help toward that goal, but now they are on the outside looking up again. The team’s truck passed pre-race inspection, and the rigors of a race will cause parts and pieces to fail, so this was not an intentional cheated-up truck.

NASCAR also had another PR problem after the same race. Newbie Austin Hill and cagey veteran Johnny Sauter have not been playing nice together. After yet another on-track incident, Sauter had had enough and decided to take his frustration out under caution. He realized NASCAR wasn’t going to do anything to curb the rough driving from one of their youngsters, so Sauter figured a little old-school short track justice was coming. “Boys Have at It” was a term coined years ago, but NASCAR has said that doesn’t apply to caution flags even when a veteran like Sauter does it artfully. Now, one of the fan favorites and few drivers that might put some fannies in the seats will be racing a late model at Dells Raceway Park this weekend instead of the Truck race. God Bless America, NASCAR made headlines for all the wrong reasons this week.

Fantasy Insight: Sonoma

Looking Back to Last Week’s Picks

Win: Chase Elliott-Finished 20th

Place: Kyle Busch-Finished fifth

Show: Brad Keselowski-Finished sixth

Long Shot: Erik Jones-Finished 31st

Road course racing in NASCAR is unique but always evolving. Years ago, you might have five or six really good road racers in Cup at Sonoma Raceway and another three to five who could perform well at Watkins Glen International. You also had issues with brakes, transmissions and engines being put to the test. Now, the parts and pieces are almost completely bulletproof. More and more drivers take pride in their road course racing ability, so the gap between the best and worst road racers has gotten smaller.

Despite not having a single top-five finish over the last five years at Sonoma, nobody has been more consistent than Jimmie Johnson. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. are the only active drivers with wins over the last five years, and while he is winless, Clint Bowyer is tied for the most top-five and top-10 finishes.

Win: Harvick-Still winless this year but should be in the hunt all day

Place: Kyle Busch-Never pays not to have the best NASCAR driver of this era in the top three

Show: Bowyer-Will never be confused with the wine and cheese crowd, but he can race here

Long Shot: Michael McDowell-(100-to-1 odds) Former road racing champ at a nice price

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About Dennis Michelsen

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Dennis a.k.a. DMIC has been covering NASCAR racing since 1998. After spending 23 years as a professional weather forecaster, Dennis still didn't know what he wanted to be when he grew up, so he started covering auto racing full time. He is the moderator of the Race Track Business Conference - an all-day educational seminar covering the business of speed - and is the owner of DMIC Media & Marketing where he spends his time mouthing off about all kinds of sports. He is also the play-by-play voice for the professional Ultimate Disc team the Chicago Wildfire of the American Ultimate Disc League. Dennis can be heard every Saturday on The Final Inspection on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee, Wis. talking NASCAR, and you can listen on the Radio.com app.

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7 comments

  1. Avatar

    DW bought a used car lot in a busy part of Owensboro. He received a permit from the city to sit out front with a bullhorn. He will do just fine.

  2. Avatar

    Sauter deserves to sit out. He knew he was messing up hitting Hill so if your going to do it anyway then make damn sure you take the other car out of the race completely. Sauter didn’t do that, so he messed up and for sure deserves to sit. Do it right.

  3. Avatar

    I will miss DW’s enthusiasm for the sport. I wish him well!

  4. Avatar

    I’ll miss DW. Sure, his shtick got old after almost 20 years in the booth, but you could never question his passion and love of the sport. When FOX got in on NASCAR in 2001 they took broadcasting races to another level with better graphics, features and big personalities at a time when NASCAR popularity was peaking. DW in the booth was a big part of that.

  5. Avatar

    Every minute DW spent in the broadcast booth diminished his legacy as a driver. Hope he takes Mikey with him.

  6. Avatar

    Boogity, boogity, BYE!!!!

  7. Avatar

    Out of line!! If you’re gonna sit Kyle for the same infraction, you must sit Sauter…. good call NASCAR