Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Gateway Brings Ridiculousness On Track & With Kenny Wallace

I’ll fully admit that I am in a lot of pain right now after a fall at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Monday after covering the NASCAR race weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

Additionally, I unfortunately cannot give you all that much in regards to behind-the-scenes TV content from Gateway. Didn’t really see much of the TV personalities from FOX Sports, with the exception of Michael Waltrip, who I saw running down pit road after his Grid Walk before running up the stairs to the booth.

Having since watched Sunday’s broadcast of the Enjoy Illinois 300 presented by TicketSmarter in the NASCAR Cup Series, two specific things stand out.

One was the inclusion of Kenny Wallace into the broadcast booth for the entirety of stage two.

The other was the complete lunacy that was the Denny HamlinRoss ChastainChase Elliott spat(s).

See also
Thinkin' Out Loud: 2022 Enjoy Illinois 300 at Gateway

In Wallace’s case, he was already at the track hosting a one-time revival of SPEED’s old Trackside show with John Roberts. He lives nearby and likely would have been there anyway, of course.

As we all know, Wallace is an excitable fellow. That’s always been the case, even before he ever did television. That’s probably why everyone likes him so much. He can be off the wall at times, but you can tell with him that everything comes from a good place.

On paper, Wallace was supposed to be a guest in the booth, but in practice, he was more like the guest analyst for the time he was there instead of Waltrip. I honestly couldn’t tell you why Waltrip was the guy in the booth for this week. It’s as if they drew straws for last weekend and he was up. On the other hand, perhaps it was just because he would have already been there for Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event.

With Wallace in the booth, there was no reason for Waltrip to be there. He can do anything that Waltrip can do — and better. Wallace also likely works better with Clint Bowyer than Waltrip does. They’re both off the wall at times, but Wallace can be a bit more measured in his zanies. Then again, Wallace is 58 now. Perhaps he’s slowing down a little (this is his final substantial season of dirt racing).

Wallace confirmed that he was going to do the Trackside stage show months in advance of the race. I’m pretty sure that FOX Sports knew that as well and used that knowledge to ask him to come up to the booth. It should have just asked him to do the whole dang thing and let Waltrip fly back to Charlotte after Saturday’s race.

But in regards to the aforementioned complete stupidity, Wallace more or less took the lead with that. He talked about how drivers that he raced with, such as the late Dick Trickle, described such situations. Of course, Trickle wasn’t really talking about racing in the Cup Series most of the time, rather his barnstorming days on midwestern short tracks when you needed a level of cooperation in order to have the best possible races.

You could definitely argue that some of the antics that you saw Sunday is an extension of drivers who generally don’t have to pay for or fix anything they wreck. Trickle was not one of those guys, and neither was Wallace when he was coming up through the ranks. He had to help fix his own stuff more or less until Felix Sabates bought into the NASCAR Xfinity Series team he was driving for in 1992.

After the Elliott spin, which wasn’t even really Chastain’s fault (I agree with the broadcast on this one), the whole thing devolved into roller derby … or wrestling infused with roller derby. Hamlin was like a big beefy blocker against Chastain’s jammer.

And before I go on, yes, I watched RollerJam when it was on TNN. For the sake of this argument, Hamlin is Tim Washington (No. 17, Enforcers) in this clip. His desire is to do the mechanical equivalent to Chastain of what happens to Tony Santiago here.

That has to hurt.

Now, that didn’t happen during Sunday’s race, but Hamlin has effectively pledged retribution at some point. It could be this weekend in Sonoma, later this summer or in the playoffs, but he’s going to try it at some point.

The booth found this whole thing ridiculous. Which it was. This whole retribution stuff drives me nuts. My understanding is that seeing Cup drivers doing ridiculous stuff on TV leads to stupid stuff on the local scene. Things are getting out of control, and I don’t believe these Cup drivers realize the amount of power that they have.

Overall, there was a fair amount of racing for position. The early part of the race (effectively all of stage one) was rather boring; there wasn’t much of anything going on. As the race continued on, it seemed to get better.

I found that even outside of the time that Wallace was in the booth, Waltrip just didn’t bring much to the broadcast. He’s not particularly used to being on the Cup broadcasts these days other than the Grid Walks, which really aren’t stellar. It says something that Hamlin dissed him for some of his past ridiculousness during the Put it Out segment (all in gest, of course, since Hamlin and Waltrip are basically best friends).

FOX Sports 1 did a decent job covering the stupidity that was the let’s-gang-up-on-Chastain stuff going on. Hamlin and Elliott taking swipes on the restart reminded me of what happened to Dale Earnhardt after he won The Winston in 1987, but this was under green.

There was nothing intentional about what Chastain did, but his driving is wearing on his opponents. The only time that it wasn’t good was a directorial decision to completely cut away when Chastain dove to the inside of Hamlin entering turn 3. It almost looked like Hamlin was going to turn down on him and give Chastain the right rear treatment. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.

See also
The Underdog House: Erik Jones Takes Gateway to the Top 10 in St. Louis

Post-race coverage was split into the final battle between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, along with the aforementioned shenanigans. The interviews with Chastain and Hamlin came after they had already talked about the topic at length with the assembled media.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the NASCAR Cup and NASCAR Camping World Truck series will travel to Sonoma Raceway for a weekend of action. It will be the first time the latter has raced there since 1998. The ARCA Menards Series West will be there as well for its 200-kilometer event that often generates a sizable entry.

In sports car racing, it is the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the biggest race of the year for the FIA World Endurance Championship. New cars for the future are being revealed this week. BMW on Monday was first to unveil its new LMDh car.

The NTT IndyCar Series will be at Road America, while Formula 1 takes to the streets of Baku in Azerbaijan. TV listings can be found here.

Now that I’m back from St. Louis, I’ll have critiques of the Cup and Truck races from Sonoma for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. For the Critic’s Annex, I’m going to cover Saturday’s Pacific Office Automation 147 from Portland International Raceway. Three hours at an average of just under 49 mph.  Jeepers.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments. Also, if you want to like me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

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As always, if you choose to contact a network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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kb

Years ago, when Mikey was doing his gridwalk, I will never forget how he spilled tacos on Hamlin’s hood. The look on his (Denny’s) face was funny as hell. Needless to say, he was rightfully not happy. I think about that now and then and I still laugh to this day.

babydufus

suprised you didn’t roast the xfinity or truck coverage which were both abysmal new lows. i know it’s not the fox a team (which already sets the bar low) but still.

as for hamlin… is he trying to act his age or his shoe size? what a dunce.

while were at it let’s just castrate or lobotomize chastain now and get back to the boring racing where no one except the underdogs run their cars at the limit or actually race.

not a good weekend for nascar at all.

Charlie

That’s why I listen to the pros on the radio and DVR the race. Besides, the NHRA was on afterward!

Sally Baker

No offense, but I learned more about your trials and tribulations and TV preferences than about the actual race coverage. I usually enjoy your take, but think you got as sidetracked as Denny.

Carl D.

Same here. I read this column and all I can remember is that the writer likes Kenny Wallace more than he does Mikey. Don’t we all? I always enjoy Phil’s columns, but maybe he needed to take a break while on the pain meds.

janice

i was surprised at how subdued waltrip sounded in the booth. i expected chaos to erupt when wallace got there with waltrip and bowyer.

yeah i remember when waltrip dumped taco’s on hamlin’s car. hamlin was not a happy camper that day.

Bobby DK

I thought the same thing about Mikey. And then it hit me. Is he auditioning for a full time booth spot next season just to be like brother, DW? He will have the whole Fox Nascar off-season to come up with his own version of” Boogity Boogity Boogity”. How many more ways could he make that dumber?

Bill B

I hope not. Besides, it seems to me Kurt Busch is being groomed for that job.

Bill B

First off, sorry for your fall. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

It was nice to see Kenny Wallace. He is fun in small doses, and since I haven’t seen or heard from him for a looong while, it was a nice surprise.

As for the whole Chastain/Hamlin deal, it was like watching two children on a playground (especially when Hamlin wouldn’t let it go).

Charlie

First and foremost, I hope you are OK from the fall. I am a great deal older than you. Falling is not fun. Take care. That floor will up and move if your aren’t careful.
Once I saw Dumber, of Dumb and Dumber brothers, I muted the replay of the race. Lots of action. And I agree about the childish antics on the track. I enjoy the sport too much for that.
The camera coverage was good and hate I didn’t hear KW and Clint Bowyer interact.
Good column. Thanks.

Kathleen Kulesza

I can’t stand Michael Waltrip so I decided to listen to the race on Sirius XM which was a good choice. Rusty Wallace said that Kenny had bought a hundred tickets for family and friends.

Sue

Sorry about your fall but remember
“you can’t get a good man down.” I’m sick and tired of Hamlin and his antics. plus the fact is he is all talk when he is out of his car. I wish Bill sr. was still around. Remember when he told the drivers that they needed Nascar more then Nascar needed them. That sit down he had and told nascar that he wasn’t expanding his new team until Nascar changed. Then he had to tell everyone . No class.

johndawgchapman

Mikey was definitely a third wheel. They should have had Kenny Schrader, for one segment then Kenny Wallace, Then Rusty. And done away with Mikey.
Thankfully, Sonoma will be ending the Faux coverage. I’m looking forward to it. I’ll miss Mike Joy, & Really miss Larry Mac, unless he’s doing double duty.

Bill B

Now we get to hear Letarte spew words nonstop, Jr’s nonstop yelling at us, and Burton’s shrill voice.
Yay?

WR

Don’t forget Rick Allen trying to channel 1980 Al Michaels when the leader is coming to the finish line. Every. Damn. Race.

DoninAjax

The first TV timeout lasted 15 minutes and it took 8 laps (46-53). That was probably about 11 minutes of commercials. That’s about 27 green flag laps.

Dan

Read an article this morning “Hamlin Vows To Get Even With Chastain”. Makes me wonder why Hamlin can’t let this go. He’s already in the playoffs so what’s the problem? Maybe he’s just pissed because he hasn’t won a championship yet and probably never will. The guy’s becoming a pain in the ass.

Cjoseph

Hamlin is a dumb f**k!

Sally Baker

And a first class whiner.

Echo

Keep it up Hamlin and Chastain will put in the wall so hard you will be wearing a cast just like Joey did to you when you played that game with him. Hamlin is an egotistical dufas.

DoninAjax

The whiny wanker probably believes he deserves to win a title, no matter how he gets it.

Al P

So Hamlin said Chastain had no chance to win after spinning Chase. Hamlin held up Ross a half-lap, but after that, Ross passed the back half of the field and was as fast as leader McDowell. Chastain lost by less than 5 seconds. Ross’ chance to win was ended by Hamlin’s petulance, not the contact with Elliott. So pay him back (again), big man! But what if you do it wrong? I heard Hocevar’s agony and cries for help at the end of the Truck race. Don’t want a repeat of that.

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