NASCAR at a 'Crossroads': Darrell Waltrip Previews the Daytona 500, Talks Future of the Sport
Three-time NASCAR Winston Cup series champion Darrell Waltrip joined Dagen McDowell on Fox Business Network to preview the 2019 Daytona 500 and discuss the future of the sport.
McDowell asked Waltrip -- winner of the 1981, 1982 and 1985 championships -- how best to "build this sport back up," as attendance has declined in recent years.
Some racetracks that feature NASCAR races have removed sections of grandstands, while a few others -- like Rockingham -- no longer host races.
Waltrip, who retired from racing in 2000, said fans still pack grandstands around the country to see each week's Monster Energy Series race, but that many of the "core" fans are seeing big names they've supported start to retire.
Winning the Daytona 500 = a fun night and a rough morning. pic.twitter.com/O4HwBvucly
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 15, 2019
Jeff Gordon, who has since joined Waltrip and announcer Mike Joy to call races for Fox Sports, retired from racing several years ago, as has Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and several other big names from the 1990s and 2000s.
"We're at a crossroads," Waltrip said, adding that some fans have been hesitant to come to races after their favorite driver retired.
"There's a lot of young kids [racing] in this sport. We just have to get the fans to connect with them," he said, naming Chase Elliott (son of retired champion Bill Elliott), Joey Logano and Daniel Hemric.
Waltrip said that tens of thousands of fans each week love coming to the track: "You can smell it, hear it, feel it, touch it. You're so close to the action you're hooked."
But, for those who can't make it, Waltrip credited the Fox Sports team for how they bring the sport to people back home.
— Jeff Gordon (@JeffGordonWeb) February 15, 2019
"The way we cover these races, it's almost like being here," he said. "If we can grab your couch and shake it real good, you'd think you were here."
Watch more above and tune into the Daytona 500 on your local FOX station on Sunday at 2:30 PM ET.