FOX Sports announced on April 27 that Larry McReynolds would make his return to the booth for the Cup Series race at Dover Motor Speedway. America’s Crew Chief hasn’t called a points-paying race in several years, but he is ready to put “the old coat” back on.
McReynolds spoke to Heavy ahead of the trip to Dover and provided some insight about his return to the booth. He explained that one of the executives from the Los Angeles studio called and asked if he would be willing to join Clint Bowyer and Mike Joy for the trip to Dover. There was no hesitation from McReynolds considering that it would give him the opportunity to get back to the track and mingle with crew chiefs and drivers.
“I go back to Daytona, the Duel races, I did those races with Mike and Clint from the booth,” McReynolds said. “As I told several people — told my wife, in particular — I felt like a guy that had a favorite coat. And I’d lost that coat. And then I found it and I put it back on, and I went, ‘Son of a gun. The old coat still fits good.’
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“And I have no reason to believe that’s not how it will feel on Sunday — Saturday and Sunday. But just to be able to walk in that garage on Saturday morning and talk to Adam Stevens and Rodney Childers and Jeremy Bullins and Aric Almirola. There’s just no substitute for that.”
The trip to Dover is a fitting place for McReynolds to make his return. The one-mile track presents numerous challenges for the drivers with its sensation of speed, concrete surface, and no room for mistakes. There will be numerous questions posed to McReynolds about strategy throughout the 400-lap race.
“I talked to James Small this morning — crew chief for obviously, Martin Truex Jr. — and he said, this is probably going to be one of the more challenging tracks and challenging races that we’ve encountered so far with this Next Gen car,” McReynolds added. “The track, the speeds, the loads, the concrete surface, the bumps, the aero, the rear diffuser, the list goes on and on and on and on and on.
“And I’m anxious to be able to be up there and be earlobe deep in the middle of all that. You know, to be able to go in that garage area after practice and qualifying, be able to watch it from the booth on Saturday morning, and then moving on into the race itself.”
McReynolds Briefly Joined the Booth at Bristol
The upcoming race at Dover Motor Speedway is not the first time in 2022 that McReynolds has joined the booth. He helped call the Bluegreen Vacation Duels at Daytona, and he made a brief appearance in the booth at Bristol Motor Speedway.
This second appearance created some throwback vibes for the fans and a surreal moment for McReynolds. The reason is that Joy and Bowyer worked with a special guest in Darrell Waltrip. The Hall of Fame driver spent 2001-2019 in the booth for FOX Sports and 2001-2015 with Joy and McReynolds.
“You don’t spend 15 years in a booth with two guys and it not be surreal,” McReynolds explained. “One thing that I’ll never do is toot my own horn, but I’m going to toot our horn. I felt like Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds laid the template. One, being together for 15 years is almost unprecedented when it comes to sports broadcast TV.
“…Going back in that booth for those couple of segments with Darrell and Mike — and of course, Clint was there — it’s very surreal. A fourth of my life, a fourth of my life was spent with Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip. Not a fourth of my career, a fourth of my life.”
The Peer Support Has Been Important
Following the announcement that McReynolds would return to the booth, there were a variety of responses from fans and members of the racing industry. The overwhelming majority expressed excitement about the decision. This list includes Kevin Harvick’s crew chief and a NASCAR Hall of Fame driver.
“Exactly what I had long hoped for. Every booth needs a crew chief who’s on top of the strategy,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. tweeted on April 27. “NBC has @SteveLetarte and Fox has @LarryMac28.”
McReynolds has an important role with FOX Sports, which his peers acknowledged on social media. He is the person that provides the information about fuel windows, tire wear, and pit strategy. He has extensive experience to rely on, dating back to his career as a Cup Series crew chief (1982-2000) and including his one-off Xfinity Series race at Talladega Superspeedway on April 23.
“To have Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who put a tweet out about it, Rodney Childers, who put a tweet out, that’s the ultimate compliment,” McReynolds said. “When your peers applaud what we’re doing this weekend, that’s — at the end of the day — that’s what matters to me.”
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