Column: Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! Fox Sports needs a change



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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Darrell Waltrip soon "Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! "On the way to retirement.

It's time.

And time for Fox Sports to look at deeper changes in their NASCAR television broadcast as well.

Everyone longs for an opportunity to say goodbye on their own terms. Waltrip now has the chance to end its second career NASCAR broadcast and tighten its classic slogan while part of Fox Sports's NASCAR schedule ends in June.

NASCAR fans have demanded changes in almost every area of ​​the sport, but an area in tip-to-toe for some reason is what Fox advertises for elite Cup Series coverage. Waltrip and Mike Joy's punch 1-2 spends a lot of time spinning the wires of good days, while newcomer Jeff Gordon chuckles awkwardly with the gang.

The yukfest carnavalesco in the booth is obsolete, and the tone of voice of all this has only been widened since the network began using the current drivers in its coverage of the Xfinity series. Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and others have proven that by simply talking about the action in front of their eyes, they can deliver an informative and entertaining program without tales and jokes that always fall flat.

Waltrip suggested that this might be his last season at the booth, ending a broadcasting career that began with the 2001 Daytona 500 and Fox Sports announced the acquisition of a slice of NASCAR's television rights. He was in tears when Brother Michael won the race at the same time Dale Earnhardt was killed in a fatal accident elsewhere on the track.

"Mikey! It's all right! "He screamed. Then Waltrip looked at Earnhardt's shipwreck. "What's up, Dale? Is he okay? "

It was a historic moment, but since then Waltrip has become a caricature of himself, and the errors and speeches only increased the urgency of new voices. He also helped to get a TV commercial for his younger brother, who also has an extraordinary personality.

The Hall of Fame pilot admitted in January of a response to a Twitter user that his latest race might be on the horizon.

Waltrip acknowledged that Fox Sports had assembled "an incredible group of talented young people" in their tweet, "but they still need the wisdom of the" old man, "I'm happy to say that for another year this" old "will be me! "

With 11 Cup races remaining on the network coverage this season, there have been speculations that Waltrip would announce its retirement already this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. The conversation was so strong last week – with the supposition that Harvick is in line to replace Waltrip at the booth – that both the 2014 champion and his manager insisted that Harvick will still be heading to Stewart-Haas Racing next season.

Fox Sports said no announcements about its talent were scheduled.

Waltrip must go ahead and publicize their plans.

He is one of the celebrated NASCAR characters, one of the first to build a brand around his exaggerated personality, and has made him a lifetime as one of the sport's strongest ambassadors. But as active as he is in social media, there is no way he has missed the crushing criticism directed over the last few days in particular. He seemed a little quiet on Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, and seemed slow to pronounce his "Boogity! Boogity! Boogity! Let's run, boys! ", Call to open the race.

While Waltrip and Joy were chosen by those dissatisfied with the broadcast, Gordon has been stuck since his debut in 2016. The booth is not big enough for the two veteran egos and Gordon, the Hall of Famer guy who should be NASCAR's version of an athlete who became a radio broadcaster that Tony Romo became for CBS Sports.

Still trying to set his course while being respectful of his elders, Gordon had to learn to enter his opinion and, well, correct Joy and Waltrip. Dale Earnhardt Jr., for his part, was an instant success with his exclamations of "Slidejob!" For rival NBC Sports.

Fox Sports, like everything else in NASCAR, needs a change and the first one will probably be Waltrip making the biggest call of his 19-season career on TV – it's time to hit the road. He is 70 years old and has always been a central figure in the weekly tour program. He made his debut in 1975 and has been a part of NASCAR's road show ever since. He has seen everything from the lean beginnings to the NASCAR boom of popularity to the current fight to stay relevant.

However, retirement was never his forte, and Waltrip became a driver when his best days stayed long behind him. He won 84 races and three World Cup titles, but was simply circling at the end of his career. It was another celebrity-style farewell tour: Fox's contract was waiting for him and he drove from the race car to the booth non-stop.

But that was in 2001, and the modern fan that NASCAR is looking for on TV or its handsets has little connection to a rider who made his last Cup match when today's stars like William Byron were still small.

Fox Sports prepared riders like Harvick to become broadcasters in the future and used Bobby Labonte, Regan Smith and new hired Jamie McMurray on race day. The network caught up with analyst Ricky Craven and rookie Bob Pockrass when ESPN pulled out of NASCAR this season and reinforced its commitment to the sport by investing in a state-of-the-art virtual studio in Charlotte. Fox's resources are deep, the well reporting team is experienced and Larry McReynolds has found a new role since Gordon replaced him at the booth.

Harvick is under contract to drive next season. But Fox Sports should not wait to head to its booth until Harvick or crew chief Chad Knaus or whoever is ready. The three-man booth has become outdated and there are better ways to use the talent that Fox Sports already has to renew the broadcast.

The sooner Fox Sports and Waltrip recognize that the change is coming, the better it will be for the network and its star network. Fox may begin experimenting with how to approach next season, and Waltrip can do another farewell tour that honors his lifetime commitment and contributions to NASCAR. He can wait for retirement as a NASCAR dignitary.

He can also skip Monday morning's comments.

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