I was wrong.
I’ll admit it... but believe me when I say, it’s not easy. I was one who thought and wrote that it was time, maybe past time for DW to hang up his headphones and mic and ride off into the broadcasting sunset.
But, I was wrong. He needs to come back. Soon.
NASCAR may not survive without him.
Just look at it. Since the 2020 season started without the Three Time Champ and NASCAR Hall of Famer in the FOX broadcast booth look what all the sport has experienced -
- Rain impacts Daytona 500. Forced race to finish to Monday.
- The race saw not one, not two but three red flags.
- Ryan Newman miraculously survives a last lap Daytona crash.
- A slightly controversial finish resulted in NASCAR flip-flopping on its stance on the finish and pulling their full Race Replay from YouTube.
- The racing world is stunned and relieved as Ryan Newman leaves the hospital under his own power 48 hours after the accident. He will be out of action for an undetermined amount of time for recovery and clearance.
- No suitable Ford driver is available so Chevy’s Ross Chastain is tapped for the #6.
- Rain washes out qualifying at Vegas, much to the delight of Kyle Busch.
- New HP/Aero Package implemented at Phoenix as part of the short track/road course competition improvement initiative.
- Going into the fifth race, teams arrive in Atlanta to race. COVID-19 outbreak forces the event to go from regular racing, to fanless racing, to postponed, sending teams and fans home with an uncertain future.
- Racing is halted for 10 weeks.
- During the downtime, Xfinity driver Brett Moffitt breaks both legs in a motorcycle accident.
- Shops are closed.
- Employees furloughed, laid off or dismissed.
- The much anticipated and heralded 2021 release of the NEXT-GEN car is delayed until 2022.
- NASCAR and broadcast partners turn to IRacing to fill the void. Viewship was encouraging but Bubba Wallace lost a Cup sponsor and Kyle Larson lost his Cup ride in the process.
- NASCAR shuffles the schedule in an attempt to preserve the 36 race season-Chicagoland, Richmond and Sonoma loses races as a result
- After a 10 week absence NASCAR returns to the track at Darlington with no fans, no broadcasters at the track, downsized crews, abbreviated programs that includes no qualifying and no practice.
- This race saw a first lap crash of cars racing four wide (four wide at Darlington?)
- Seven-time Champion Jimmie Johnson’s pass attempt of a back marker ended with him stuffed into the inside wall, mere yards from taking the checkered flag for the Stage One win.
- Loose wheels and tire issues galore
- A sponsor banner becomes unattached from the outside wall and lands on the front of Denny Hamlin’s car.
- Hamlin is able to shake the obstruction. It couldn’t land harmlessly out of the way but found its way onto Tyler Reddick’s ride.
- A fire breaks out on the outside of Turn One-Two.
- With the entire sports world watching to see how NASCAR was going to pull off the first major live event. NASCAR’s procedures were commended as crew sizes were limited and procedures and rules were implemented to provide safe conditions for those at the track. The Sanctioning Body threatened severe penalties for violators. Everything was going swimmingly and then FOX showed the spotters, many seated side by side or standing shoulder to shoulder. Ooops, so much for social distancing.
- It was great to be back but it was hardly an event to write home about as Kevin Harvick dominated the race, leading twice for 159 of the 293 laps. The number of crew members going over the wall during a pit stop outnumbered the number of green flag on-track racing passes for the lead. No on track pass for the lead in Stage II, two in Stage I. After a pass on the restart for Stage III there were no other on track passes for the lead for the remainder of the race.
- Burnout was minimal because the car was being used again Wednesday night. Didn’t have the same impact anyway in front of empty stands.
- Tropical storm Arthur stayed off the coast of the Carolinas dumping rain on the track, postponing the Tuesday Xfinity race to Thursday and threatening the Wednesday Cup race.
- Rain reappears and delays the start of the Cup race
- The shorter midweek race format on paper appears to be just what is needed for appealing to sports fans tuning in to get their live sports event fix. Shorter race, inverted field putting faster cars further back, shorter stages are all geared for hard racing. A Wednesday night shoot-out. Did it pan out that way?
- Kyle Busch, like Jimmie Johnson in the previous race is mysteriously afflicted with CCDPS (Cup Champion Depth Perception Syndrome) and takes out a hard charging Chase Elliott by going for a hole and clipping his left rear, spinning him into the inside wall. Depending on the apologist... umm broadcaster contact ranged from an inch to a foot or more.
- Chase Elliott did not immediately go to the ambulance as required by rule, but went to the edge of the track to display his displeasure to the #18. Luckily, the speeding service vehicle avoided him, allowing him to let Kyle know that he thinks he’s Number one!
- More wildlife appeared as during a caution period a fox ambles onto the track. Maybe he was looking for the bird that appeared earlier.
- Based on the way the last two races have gone, if Dave Moody had of shouted, “Trouble in Turn Three. A swarm of Murder Hornets have taken out the FOX drone!” I wouldn’t have batted an eye.
- Race called because of rain. No burnout this week.
- Denny Hamlin gives his post race interview in his realistic mask that is funny in a creepy sort of way.
- As the drivers climb from their vehicle it is not driver Chase Elliott but crew chief Alan Gustafson who confronts Busch. That’s something we’re not used to seeing... a new normal?
- In the post race interview, Kyle said he made a mistake (which to hear and see was worth the price of admission). A convenient mistake that eliminated any threat to his teammate Denny Hamlin who went on to win the race.
- On the parade lap of the Coca-Cola 600, last week’s winner Denny Hamlin lost about $3000 worth of tungsten ballast with the chunks damaging the front splitter of Aric Almirola’s car.. Nine laps later, it was replaced and the #11 returned to the track. Significant fines anticipated.
- The longest race of the season got over an hour longer because of a red flag for... you guessed it-rain!
- Chase Elliott with victory in sight is two laps away from the win when teammate William Byron spins after a cutting a tire down. Elliott pits from the lead to take on four tires for the Green-White-Checkered finish. Brad Keselowski finds himself the leader of NASCAR’s longest race in history.
- Kez holds off Jimmie Johnson for the win while Elliott climbs back to third.
- Second place Johnson fails post-race inspection and is disqualified.
All in all, I think we can all agree that this has been a wild, weird season... and we’re only 6 races into it! At the current rate we’re going, having the the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as Grand Marshals can’t be that far off.
This is hardly just a run of bad luck, mere “headwinds” as NASCAR Steve Phelps might describe them. The NASCAR gods appear angry about something. Bringing back DW might just appease them. If nothing else his “Vortex Theory” might reduce the impact of the seemingly constant presence of precipitation that has dampened and hampered the season..
If it’s not disgruntled gods, it’s voodoo. Leaders in the organization should check to see if they have a lock of hair missing.
Something has to change. NASCAR needs to bring back DW.
Otherwise, they’d better start looking for a live chicken.
This sport needs some relief!