Fox’s Mike Joy has been involved with racing for more than 50 years. Dale Earnhardt Jr. needs no introduction. The two notable names sounded off with differing opinions on a longtime NASCAR tradition this week.
The fans overwhelmingly agreed with the 15-time most popular driver.
Mike Joy is a proponent of front stretch interviews after win
Earlier this week, one fan posted on Twitter how he missed the winner’s postrace interview with confetti and drinks flying in Victory Lane from years past. Another fan tagged Fox’s Mike Joy to get his thoughts. The veteran announcer responded.
“TV and Nascar agreed on interviewing the winner at start/finish, capturing immediate raw emotion and sharing it with fans close by,” Joy wrote on Twitter. “It also eliminates a sometimes long and uncomfortable pause getting the winning car to victory lane. We often show shots from the VL celebration.”
But the 72-year-old, who has worked 43 Daytona 500s in one capacity or another, wasn’t done. He followed up with another tweet on the subject the next day.
“Victory Lane got to be a joke,” he tweeted. “People drape a towel on the driver covering up his sponsors, put hats on his head, change them mid-interview, stack crap on the roof of the car, and even put up a ‘fence’ so he couldn’t swat competing brands off his roof. Sad fight for TV airtime.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. disagrees with Mike Joy
While all those things that Joy suggested happened are true, they weren’t as pervasive as some might believe and didn’t detract from the significance of the celebratory moment among the team members and the winning driver.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. inserted himself into the conversation this week and admitted as much.
“Have to agree that this does more for me than the often awkward front stretch interviews,” Earnhardt wrote, in response to another tweet about forever missing Victory Lane interviews. “The first thing a driver usually wants to do after taking the checkered flag is get to his crew to celebrate. It’s a special moment.”
Fans and one specific driver overwhelmingly agree with Earnhardt
What do fans think about the postrace interview? In an unofficial Twitter poll with more than 1,400 respondents, 86.5% preferred a Victory Lane interview.
Many suggested it was a more anticipated and grander moment to see the driver get out of the car and celebrate with his team. Last year, one particular driver learned that, in addition to being a delayed celebration with your team, the front stretch interview can severely damage your reputation.
Brandon Brown’s life has not been the same since his Xfinity Series win at Talladega. Unfortunately, it’s not because the win changed his career and sponsors were beating down his door to partner with him. In fact, it was just the opposite.
Sponsors fled from Brown after fans shouted a derogatory chant directed at President Joe Biden, but NBC’s Kelli Stavast misinterpreted and incorrectly said on the broadcast they were offering support to the driver by saying, “Let’s go Brandon.”
The phrase made its way onto t-shirts and bumper stickers, and even into the halls of Congress. It’s been divisive. Brown admitted how it was a struggle to find sponsorships because businesses typically want to stay away from anything political.
Brown’s awful experience alone is reason enough to abandon the front stretch interviews. Add in that Junior and most fans prefer Victory Lane interviews, and it’s time that NASCAR and the networks reconsider what is best for the drivers and the fans and not the pocketbook.