NASCAR notebook: Waltrip nearing end of broadcasting career

Darrell Waltrip

DOVER — NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Darrell Waltrip will be making his final appearance at Dover International Speedway as a TV analyst for Fox Sports during Sunday’s Gander RV 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race.

Waltrip, known for shouting out his trademark phrase, “Boogity, boogity, boogity, let’s go racin’ boys!” when the green flag waves on each race, said it is a bittersweet time for him as he prepares to fade into retirement mode and spend more time with his wife, Stevie, and his family.

“It’s time for me to step aside,” Waltrip said, on April 5 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. “It’s time to make room for somebody else. They (Fox Sports) can’t make plans for their future if I don’t tell them what mine are. That’s why I wanted to clear the air. At the end of this year I’ll retire. Somebody else will get to get up here and work with Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy and have as much fun as I had.

“I could tell you a million reasons why I think (it) is the right time. But the biggest reason is because I think it’s time to make room for someone else, let somebody else do what I’ve done all these years.”

Waltrip, who won 84 Cup Series races and three championships during his driving career, was the first NASCAR announcer hired by Fox Sports before it had its’ first TV broadcast at the Daytona 500 in 2001, the race in which the legendary Dale Earnhardt Sr. was killed in a crash on the final lap.

That day, Waltrip’s younger brother Michael Waltrip won NASCAR’s biggest race, but all that Darrell Waltrip could do was repeat, “I hope Dale’s OK,” knowing how serious the accident appeared to be.

Mike Joy, Waltrip’s broadcast partner at Fox Sports for the past 19 years, said that Waltrip brought just as much energy to the TV booth as he did to his race teams.

“Ned Jarrett is really the only other Hall of Famer to have a Hall of Fame, multi-championship driving career, then transition to a Hall of Fame worthy broadcast career, either one of which would have gotten Ned or Darrell into NASCAR’s Hall of Fame,” Joy said. “It’s a bittersweet day for all of us.”

Waltrip’s final TV broadcast will be on June 23 from Sonoma, California, before Fox hands off its NASCAR coverage to NBC Sports.
Mike Helton, vice chairman for NASCAR, doesn’t expect him to go away quietly.

“Everybody knows the history of Darrell Waltrip,” Helton said. “He doesn’t just show up quietly. He kind of comes in with a bang, so to speak. That bang continued for his entire career, including 10 years from now.

“But from a NASCAR fan’s perspective, Darrell made me more of a NASCAR fan than I thought I ever would be. Obviously, it also pulled a lot of people into the NASCAR following just because of his style and his personality and his ability, but mainly because of his driving ability and style on the racetrack.”

Waltrip will be on stage celebrating Dover International Speedway’s 50th Anniversary Bash at Xfinity Stage in Victory Plaza on Saturday from 3:30 until 5:30 p.m., joining fellow NASCAR legends Richard Petty, Bobby Allison, Jimmie Johnson and more.

DelDOT prepared for NASCAR weekend

The Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) is prepared for the influx of NASCAR fans who are expected to descend on the grounds of Dover International Speedway as the track marks its 50th anniversary season this weekend.

DelDOT’s Transportation Management Center (TMC) staff, in coordination with the City of Dover Police and Delaware State Police, will monitor traffic in and around the Dover vicinity to ensure safe travel for motorists.

On Sunday, the Dover International Speedway’s main entrance on U.S. 13 will be closed for all southbound traffic when parking at the speedway is filled. When the race is finished on Sunday afternoon, Leipsic Road will also be closed to through traffic.

Motorists are encouraged to tune to WTMC 1380 AM and to view the variable message board signs surrounding the Dover area.

Parking on speedway grounds for Friday and Saturday is free. There will be a $10 charge for parking on speedway grounds on Sunday. Dover International Speedway has several parking areas available: the main entrance, with lots labeled South, North and West (enter main entrance off U.S. 13) and Lot 1, which is located on Leipsic Road (outside of Turn 4).

Race fans are also encouraged to board the “Race Express” shuttle from the Christiana Mall off Del. 1 in Newark and ride directly to Dover International Speedway. Service begins at 8 a.m. and costs $17 per person. This $17 fee includes parking and round-trip bus service (exact change is required). Children under 46” ride free. There are 800 seats available. For more information, call Advance Student Transportation at (302) 998-6726.

Motorists may adjust their routes or travel times by using DelDOT’s Smartphone application. The DelDOT App is available for Apple and Android smart phones and tablets and can be downloaded free, search for “DelDOT” at the Apple and Google Play stores. With the DelDOT App you can view real-time traffic cameras, travel times, delays, advisories, DART’s Real-Time Transit Information, and also listen to WTMC 1380 AM.

Delaware State News staff writer Mike Finney can be reached at mfinney@newszap.com.

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