The Final Word – As we await the next great announcer, 16 will soon become 12 after Dover

Mistakes. They happen. You just have to learn to overcome them, hopefully not to be repeated. On Sunday I made a mistake, and I know that it will never happen again.

I listened to some of Vin Scully’s final broadcast for the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then I turned the channel to listen to those describing the action for the race at New Hampshire. Big mistake. I went from an 88-year old icon describing the action, informing me with tidbits of information about the 18 players penciled in to the lineups, hitting me with trivia of all descriptions to keep me engaged even during the down times, and kept me glued to his every word and at the same time keeping up with the progress of the game. Scully was a true artist. You would think with 43 drivers, 43 crew chiefs, and 258 crew men, NASCAR announcers would have a vast canvas on which to paint their pictures.

Be it baseball, football, or describing the action on the track, Scully is the template all should attempt to emulate. The action is often slow in developing, what is newsworthy might take a while to unfold, but you are never bored. You want to stay tuned so you did not miss anything, be it something on the field of play or just as likely some entertaining commentary that amused or educated.

In NASCAR, Ken Squier did exactly that. A more contemporary team, in my opinion, was Kyle Petty and Wally Dallenbach. They made me laugh, learn, and stay tuned to the broadcast. I did not want to miss a thing. Some wonder why I keep returning to this theme. Have you noticed anything changing for the better yet? You have your answer. I am tired of seeing fans leave, grandstands coming down, and attendance figures hidden away. Aren’t you?

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I think there are announcers out there who do a fine job but not near enough. If a radio or television station or network does not have one, they need to find such a wordsmith. Broadcast schools should produce such skilled practitioners of the art who through time and experience will become the verbal Rembrandts of their time, those who will keep us listening, watching, and caring. To fail to do so is a mistake.

Kevin Harvick made no mistakes in Chicago, but he suffered misfortune to finish 20th. At Loudon, he suffered neither, got past the 20 of Matt Kenseth to punch his ticket to the Round of Twelve in the Chase. It was his 100th race for Stewart-Haas and his 11th victory for them.

Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., and Jimmie Johnson all had good finishes. They were good enough to join Harvick among the Top Eight on the day. Kyle Larson was just out of the Top Ten, but that was good enough to move him back into contention for the next round. Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, and Chase Elliott had to settle for Top Fifteen finishes, but even they managed to increase their wiggle room in points.

Things did not go so good for Austin Dillon, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, or Chris Buescher, as that quartet heads to Dover needing to make up some ground before the cut-off. There were no expectations for Buescher, who at 30 points in the weeds needs to win Sunday to advance. Stewart, on the other hand, is hoping to head off to retirement with a stronger challenge, but after finishing 23rd last weekend he is 11 points out. With Dillon and McMurray only five out, he would need to leapfrog ahead of them both and still catch Larson to do it without taking the checkered flag.

Stewart won at Dover just over three years ago, so it might be a mistake to count him out just yet. However, since that victory, Johnson had taken three there, with Harvick, Kenseth, and the semi-retired Jeff Gordon with the others. In fact, 10 of Johnson’s 77 career decisions have come at Dover. Betting against him this Sunday might prove to be the bigger mistake.

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