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Woody: Fox Trots Away A Winner

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 2 2010

Darrell Waltrip and his booth mates have headed to the sidelines. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Fox Sports wrapped up its share of the NASCAR season with last Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600, handing the mike off to TNT this weekend at Pocono.

After six races on TNT, ESPN takes over for the rest of the season (except when the races are on ABC. Yes, it gets confusing, but that’s another rant for another time.)

Back to Fox: I think Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy make a great combination, and Fox’s team of track-side reporters are second to none.

I’ve seen all the “thank-goodness-they’re-gone” comments that have flooded some other websites and the blogosphere regarding Fox’s exit. Some viewers think the boys in the booth have become too stale and predictable during their 10-year run. They think Darrell’s too cutesy, McReynolds too vanilla, Mike too much of a NASCAR homer.

I disagree on all counts.

Granted, they could occasionally benefit from some fresh one-liners, but with all the air time they have to fill its hard not to be redundant at times. Overall I think they do a good job of staying fresh and sharp.

Another criticism is that they “talk down” to viewers, explaining basic information that every race fan already knows. It would be like an NFL broadcast team explaining what a field goal is before each kick.

But remember, there are thousands and thousands of relatively new NASCAR fans tuning into each telecast who don’t know what “push” or “loose” means, or why pit-road speed limits are necessary.

The broadcasters have to strike a balance between informing the newcomers about what’s going on without boring their veteran viewers. Again, they’re not perfect, but I think they do a pretty good job of it.

I’m biased, having been a friend of Waltrip’s for some 40 years, but I think he was the prefect person to usher NASCAR into the TV Era and along with Richard Petty remains its best ambassador.

Darrell is glib and witty and has a natural rapport with the camera. As a three-time champion and winner of 84 Cup races he knows his stuff, and he can “splain” what’s going on so that even the newest newcomer can grasp it.

Sure, D.W. could use some fresh material now and then. Can’t we all?

I likewise think Larry McReynolds does a great job. Yes, his grammar teacher may occasionally break out in hives over his massacre of the King’s language, but I find that refreshing in this day and time. He puts on no airs, makes no pretense. The Larry Mac you see on TV is the same Larry Mac off-camera. And he’s an absolute mechanical mastermind who has been in the trenches. He knows whereof he speaks.

In terms of play-by-play, Mike Joy is a master. He has a perfect announcing voice, well-modulated and easy to understand, and comes across as the likeable personality that he is. And like DW and Larry Mac, Mike is a life-long gearhead who lives and breathes racing. He gives viewers the information and generally leaves the analysis, commentary and tech-talk to Waltrip and McReynolds – as he’s supposed to do.

I’m not saying that the new announcing teams aren’t good, they’re just different. Different styles, different tones, different approaches. After four months of Boogity Boogity, there’ll be a downshift in the booth.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 2 2010
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