Friday, March 20, 2009
Updated - Fox Sports Pulled Darrell Waltrip From The Charity Race?
Things seemed a little tense on the Trackside set as Darrell Waltrip said he had something to clear-up right at the top of the show.
Waltrip wanted to address the growing issue about why he was not participating in the ESPN-televised charity race early on Saturday evening in Bristol, TN. Waltrip is the all-time winner at Bristol with 12 victories and a big fan favorite.
"I called my boss (at Fox Sports) and I want you to hear the message he left me," said Waltrip. He then played the song "I think you're crazy" back on his cell phone, much to the amusement of the panel.
"That put me out of business," declared Waltrip.
"I think we were all out of business with that phone call right there," said Larry McReynolds pointing at Waltrip and Jeff Hammond.
"We had a plan," said Waltrip. "But we have a man who is bigger than the plan."
About that time, Jeff Hammond jumped in and changed the subject. But, Waltrip had done what he needed to do in terms of getting the message out that he had been derailed from participating in this ESPN-televised race by his employers at Fox Sports.
TDP and many fans had been wondering why Waltrip had pulled-out last week after seeming to be very excited about this event and even being promoted as the in-race reporter.
Waltrip has appeared on ESPN many times for NASCAR conversations. He and Ed Hinton had a great appearance last season on NASCAR Now and Waltrip is often in demand as a spokesman for the sport, not just the TV network that carries some of the races.
If Fox executives David Hill or Ed Goren pulled Waltrip from this special one night event, they did so by choosing the interests of Fox over NASCAR and the fans. The Fox broadcast network only carries thirteen Sprint Cup points races and is then gone for the year.
At a time in the history of both the sport and the country when everyone is being asked to rise above petty differences and cooperate for the greater good, this smacks of selfish behavior and a very poor choice in priorities.
Waltrip, Hammond and McReynolds all seemed very discouraged that Fox had forced them to step away from this one night fun event at the very track where the NASCAR on Fox team will call the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. What a shame for all involved.
Updated - Thanks to Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip for reviewing this situation on the air Saturday afternoon. They explained it was Fox Sports Chairman David Hill who made the call that Waltrip should not participate. Joy also explained the decision had nothing to do with the ESPN coverage of the event. Classy touch by the Fox gang to update this info for the fans once and for all.
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