FOX NASCAR to use all-driver lineup in booth for Xfinity race at Pocono June 10

Photo courtesy of CJ Woliver

By Yvonne Jones, Staff Writer

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Having a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver in the booth for Xfinity races has been such a hit,  FOX NASCAR has decided to use one at every position for the Pocono Raceway coverage on June 10.

For the first time in motorsports history, the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at the 2.5-mile triangular-shaped Pennsylvania track will be broadcast entirely by active drivers at NASCAR’s top level. The broadcast lineup will have Kevin Harvick as the play-by-play man, Joey Logano and Clint Bowyer as the color analysts, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as pit reporters and in the Hollywood Hotel will be Danica Patrick and Denny Hamlin.

“Three years ago, when we started having drivers in the booth for Xfinity races, I don’t know if we knew how successful it would be,” said Jacob Ullman, FOX Sports SVP Production & Talent Development. “Literally, everybody who has done it has been unbelievable.”

Ullman said about nine months ago, “our boss, Eric Shanks (FOX Sports President, COO & Executive Producer), had the idea of taking the next step and do it with ‘all drivers.’

So with Harvick having the most appearances in the booth at the time, the network thought the 2014 Cup champ would be the right person to be the anchor. After that, Harvick hand-picked Joey (Logano) and Clint (Bowyer) to be with him.

“That, for me, has been a lot of fun and I have enjoyed my time up there and I’m glad these guys let us invade their space, so this will be a lot of fun,” Harvick said.

Picking Patrick for the Hollywood Hotel, Ullman said that was a no-brainer “with all of the commercials she has done, the TV appearances.” Patrick said the all-driver broadcast crew could change televised sports coverage.

“I think this is a great opportunity … this is a great idea,” said Patrick, driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 10 Ford. “I think this will draw a lot of attention and, perhaps, revolutionize TV a little bit with sports, with who is included and how they are. I think there is nothing better than putting people in position who are the most current and aware of what’s going on, and on top of that, personalities that are prepared to give their honest opinions.

“So, I think this is going to be really cool and I don’t quite know what I am in for. I have no doubt it will be probably more of a challenge than whatever I am doing that day, otherwise, but I am up for the challenge. I like to try new things, so we’ll see how this goes.”

As for the pit road crew, Ullman said the goal was to identify three people who hadn’t necessarily worked for FOX before, but were folks that might fit in the future and that’s where Erik [Jones], Ricky [Stenhouse Jr.] and Ryan [Blaney] came in.

Bowyer, a teammate of Harvick and Patrick, is looking forward to the assignment. FOX plans to shadow the drivers with the regular crew on hand for support.

“It’s going to be a ton of fun,” Bowyer said. “It’s extremely hard when you go up there in the booth and watch Adam Alexander do his thing, and you watch you (Michael Waltrip) and you watch the two of you work alongside each other, taking care of the business side of things and calling the race. There is a lot going on behind the scenes, and pit road reporters have to get the information fast, get counted down, and know who to throw it to … all these things we take for granted watching the race on TV.

“When you are up there in the booth and you see all of it going down, and the producer is in your ear, it’s really eye-opening, so, it’s going to be a learning experience. It’s going to be something — I can promise you that.”

 

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