FOX isn’t afraid to try new things with their sports coverage, and though they’re not always successful, it’s still interesting to see a network willing to step outside the box to capture viewers.
Case in point, their upcoming NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono, which will feature an on-air broadcast crew comprised entirely of active NASCAR drivers, and they’ve attracted some big names (including Kevin Harvick, seen above, on play-by-play):
Kevin Harvick will be the play-by-play announcer, alongside analysts Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer. Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will cover pit road. Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin will host coverage from the “Hollywood Hotel” mobile studio.
Harvick, Bowyer, Hamlin, Logano and Patrick have been guest analysts for Xfinity Series races since the network began rotating prominent Cup drivers in the booth in 2015. Blaney and Stenhouse have contributed as driver analysts on Fox Sports One’s daily news program.
Jones will be making his debut as part of a national race broadcast.
There are a few sides to this one, the first being that in the end, it’s just an Xfinity Series race. It’s not the big time. Those are some low-stakes, and it makes sense to try to draw in eyes from the NASCAR community or even casual viewers who might want to see how it goes.
The best analysts in sports tend to be people currently involved in the sport itself, or someone just out of it; it’s why FOX and CBS threw money at Jay Cutler and Tony Romo, for example. So that’s definitely a positive; these drivers all know the ins and outs of the track, and most if not all of the personalities involved as well. In theory, they should be able to provide the kind of context and insider knowledge that makes it worth watching a random Xfinity Series race. Plus, we could learn about the drivers themselves, their personalities, and listening to their dynamics in the booth could be some fascinating insight for the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
The downside? Well, it could be very bad, with no veteran broadcast presence to guide the ship. And it’s also possible that the drivers aren’t exactly going to be willing to dish out inside info, or at least not as willing as we’d like them to be. Plus FOX has actual broadcasters who are being usurped for the race, which could cause a bit of tension as well.
Still, it’s an interesting lineup of names, and what’s the harm in trying this kind of thing for an Xfinity race? We wouldn’t have cared about it at all, and now it’s at least intriguing, with little downside.