Playing Favorites


For the past few years, there has been an open question as to whether or not NASCAR announcers show favoritism towards certain drivers and teams. NASCAR on Fox’s Darrell Waltrip has always expressed internal feelings for or against certain drivers. But, during Monday’s showing of the Coca-Cola 600, he showed more favoritism than usual.

During the telecast, the announcers revealed grades they had given to each team for their performance at this point in the season. At the top was, not suprisingly, Hendrick Motorsports with what I thought was a very generous A-. After all, while Hendrick may possess 2 of the top 4 points men, half of his team is not even in the top 10 in points.

Waltrip was livid, going on and on about how Hendrick should have gotten an A, because Jeff Gordon is a 4-time champion, Jimmie Johnson is the defending champion, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. is NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver. No part of Waltrip’s argument had anything to do with how the drivers are performing this season, but rather what they have done in years past. Keep that in the back of your mind for later.

Moving on, the crew gave first-year team Stewart-Haas Racing an A-, also. Play-by-play announcer Mike Joy said that they would have ranked them ahead of Hendrick Motorsports, but “they would have felt awkward doing so”. Why? Both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman are red-hot, they sit 2nd and 7th in the standings respectively, and they have an average points position of 4.5, compared to Hendrick’s 9.0.

The only thing that could possibly keep Stewart-Haas behind Hendrick are Hendrick’s 4 wins versus Stewart-Haas’ 0. But if we’re grading these teams based on wins, Joe Gibbs Racing(3 wins) should have gotten a better grade than Stewart-Haas, as should Penske Racing(1 win), Roush-Fenway(2 wins), and even Phoenix Racing(1 win).

 But the best of those teams, Gibbs, only got a B+, which Waltrip felt was generous. He believed that, if Hendrick should be dragged down because of Earnhardt Jr’s performance, then Gibbs should be dragged down because of Logano’s. 2 things he failed to recognize were that: 1. Gibbs was dragged down because they did earn a lesser grade than Hendrick, and: 2. Logano’s performance has improved drastically, while Earnhardt’s performance has not improved, if not gotten worse.

Waltrip was quoted saying about Logano that “these drivers should not be graded based on what they have done in the smaller series, or what they can do, but rather what they are doing now”. Sure D.W. Which is why you said earlier that Hendrick should have gotten a better grade based on past championships and popularity?

When grading Roush-Fenway, who earned a B-, Waltrip crossed back over his line again when he said that “Roush got a worse grade because we know they can do better based on what they’ve done in the past”. Make up your mind, Darrell. You sound like a politician campaigning on Hendrick’s behalf.

In the meantime, another team who earned a win this season earned a harsh C+(Penske), and one team(Phoenix) was not even graded because so much time was spent talking about whether or not Hendrick deserved an A.

We’ve heard whispers of favoritism before in NASCAR. But never have I seen an announcer, someone who is supposed to be unbiased, show so much emotion over the fact that one team didn’t get a slightly better, irrelevant, fake grade. And the way he, and his buddies, tried to cover it all up by shoving the “win” card in our faces was pathetic. That, and the fact that the only excuse he could use to make a case for what is, by far, his favorite team is that they have won championships in the past, and they have a popular driver racing for them.

Seeing as I write about NASCAR, I probably should be endorsing the sport. But how can you endorse a sport whose announcers are going to pull stuff like this?  NASCAR on Fox plays favorites. And 3-time champion Darrell Waltrip is their ring-leader.