NASCAR: Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace goes off on Olbermann in radio interview


As part of his op-ed yesterday on how this NASCAR off-season has veered into the bizarre, my colleague, Tony DiZinno, brought up the recent Twitter scrap between big-name sports commentator Keith Olbermann and six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson – a scrap that began with Olbermann spouting off on the Kurt Busch/Patricia Driscoll saga.

The details of the Olbermann/Johnson exchange are in the link above, so I won’t rehash.

But Johnson isn’t the only Cup champ that has jumped in. Yesterday on Phoenix’s Fox Sports 910 AM, 1989 champ and NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace put in his two cents on the matter and on Olbermann’s belief that racing isn’t a sport.

He didn’t hold back.

“I don’t pay any attention to Olbermann. He doesn’t know anything about our sport,” Wallace said. “Our sport’s the most popular form of motorsport in the world. There’s no doubt about that, you can’t argue it. You get in a car, you run 200 mph sweating your brains out. You lose anywhere between 10 to 12 pounds in a race – that’s what I used to do – I mean it’s physical.

“We’re not trying to say we’re stick and ball guys, by all means. But to try and belittle the drivers and say it’s not tough or something is not correct. Because every NFL guy or any basketball player, anybody like that, they’re in shock and awe when it comes to NASCAR and what it takes to run these cars in the Daytona 500 or Bristol or anywhere – two inches apart, running 200 mph, for 500 miles, three and a half hours.

“They don’t talk any crap on it.”

Wallace then said anti-NASCAR negativity in some corners of the American sports media is a constant obstacle that must be fought. Later in the interview, he returned to Olbermann.

“I’d love to have Olbermann in a car one time and run his ass around the track and see what he says then,” he said.

One of the radio hosts then proclaims that Olbermann could “kiss [his] ass.” To which Wallace replied: “He can kiss my ass, too, how’s that?”

While any Formula One fan may beg to differ on Wallace’s assertion of NASCAR being the most popular motorsport in the world, he otherwise puts up an OK defense. Racing does take a lot out of you physically and mentally, and you’d figure a lot of athletes in the ‘Big Four’ sports (Detroit Lions back Reggie Bush, being one example) have respect for racing.

However, it would appear that Olbermann’s mind is made up. He closed his tweets on the subject with the following on Friday:

All you can do is shrug and go back to my colleague’s op-ed and its central point: We really need to get some cars on the track, so we can focus on that.

The first practice at Daytona Speedweeks is in 27 days.

Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick team up again on NBC’s Indy 500 coverage

Danica Patrick Mike Tirico
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Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick will return to NBC Sports’ coverage of the Indianapolis 500, which will be broadcast Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. ET on NBC (green flag at 2:30 p.m.).

Tirico and Patrick, who both joined NBC Sports for its inaugural coverage of the event last year, will reprise their roles as host and studio analyst.

One of the most versatile voices in sports, Tirico also hosts NBC Olympics’ primetime coverage, Football Night in America and many other premier events, including hosting on-site at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this year for the first-ever IndyCar-NASCAR crossover weekend.

AT THE BRICKYARD: Daily Indy 500 coverage schedule on NBC, NBCSN

He again will be joined during prerace, in-race, and postrace coverage by Patrick, who became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 in 2005 and also was the first female pole-sitter in NASCAR driver.

They will make their debut together duing practice coverage on Aug. 21, on NBCSN.

“My first Indy 500 last year exceeded my very high expectations in every way,” Tirico said in a release. “Although this year’s race will take place under unprecedented circumstances, I can’t wait to get back to Indy. I’m confident that our team at the Brickyard will provide viewers with as exciting a viewing experience as possible. I am also thrilled that Danica Patrick is along for the ride again this year. We had such a great time last May and look forward to bringing Indy home for the viewers again.”

Said Patrick: “The Indianapolis 500 is an event that transcends mainstream and motorsports which is why it’s so special. We are living during a time that if we can bring people together, we should. Even if it’s not physically. I am honored to be back with the NBC Sports team and Mike Tirico. The memories I have from 15 years at IMS hold such a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to make more this year in the booth, or however we are positioned in 2020!”

This will mark NBC Sports’ second season as the exclusive home of the NTT IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, which will take place in August for the first time ever because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.