Race Weekend Central

Couch Potato Tuesday: Erik Jones’s Debut Brings Unsavory Booth Behavior

Welcome back, folks. Hope you had an excellent Mother’s Day Weekend. Last weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series were both at Kansas Speedway. The week was up and down at best.

SpongeBob SquarePants 400

Looking back, I should have seen what happened early Saturday night coming. The Braves-Nationals baseball game ran long. Even with the rule changes that are designed to speed up games this year, the average game length through the first couple of weeks was two hours and 52 minutes. The game was scheduled for a three-hour slot. It wouldn’t take much for problems to result.

If Saturday night’s race were on FOX and the aforementioned scenario happened, then they would have shifted it to FOX Sports 1. You still have a decent amount of homes, despite the ongoing U-Verse spat that shows no sign of ending anytime soon. That wasn’t the case Saturday night. Yes, FOX Sports 2 was an option, but not a good one. The household drop-off is massive (84.8 million to 45.4 million). One of NASCAR’s major sponsors (Comcast Xfinity) doesn’t even carry the network in many markets. As a result, FOX made a somewhat unexpected decision. They pushed pre-race programming (and potentially the start of the race, had the Braves-Nationals game gone to extra innings) to the FOX News Channel, which is actually in more homes than FS1.

Generally, there isn’t much of note on FNC on a Saturday night. No new episodes of The O’Reilly Factor or On the Record with Greta Van Susteren. Just random stuff, reruns, and the occasional live news update if something breaks. I doubt they’ll miss the viewers for a half-hour of the FOX Report. Am I happy that this had to come to pass? No. They probably should have just run the race on FOX. Having NASCAR and baseball on separate networks when Cup is on Saturday night should be an important move for the future. They already had to swap Martinsville and Richmond because of the same issue earlier in the season. At least they anticipated the problem that time.

Outside of the channel issue, the main takeaways of pre-race coverage is that it’s quite thin. Viewers got a couple of interviews and brief “Get to Know You” piece about Greg Ives in which we learned very little about him. Perhaps Ives is a relatively staid fellow, or he’s just shy. Just felt that we could have learned a little more about him.

During the race, there was a decent amount of focus given to Erik Jones, who made his Sprint Cup Series debut on Saturday night (since Denny Hamlin started the race at Bristol last month, that doesn’t count, much like when Ted Christopher relieved Dick Trickle at Watkins Glen in 1998). I can understand the excitement. It’s not every day that an 18-year old gets to make his Cup debut, especially since the age limit rules went into effect in 2001.

However, as the race continued on, the coverage of Jones got questionable. For lack of better words, the booth was fawning over him. It was getting ridiculous. After Jones wrecked, it was like the wind was taken out of their sails. When that happens, the specter of favoritism enters the conversation. I’ll admit right here that I don’t want to go there, but it has to be said. Jones was having a pretty dang good debut run Saturday night. No one wanted to see him crash to end his night. The behavior I noted from the booth was reminiscent of when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was going through his slump a few years back and Darrell Waltrip was trying to grab onto any possibility that Earnhardt Jr. was about to turn the corner. The coverage of Danica Patrick during her rookie season in 2013 was similar at times in both the tone and in how frustrating it could be for viewers.

I’m sure that Jones wants people to cheer for him to do well. Every driver, whether they’ll tell you that or not, wants to have fans cheering them on. However, they don’t need the broadcast booth to be cheering for them as well. It’s unprofessional.

Let’s face it. Most of the drivers in Cup do watch the race broadcasts via tape delay. They might not admit it, but they do. Many of them have a DVR (or DVRs) at their place of residence set to record every race. They’re going to see and hear that. Incidents like what we saw Saturday night may cause some of Jones’s fellow competitors to think differently about him. No driver needs that at any point of his career, let alone a driver that’s 18 years old and trying to make a name for himself.

FOX Sports has been openly hyping Jones’s ascent all season; take the constant hyping on Xfinity Series broadcasts as if he were actually a regular in the series when he isn’t. Granted, due to NASCAR’s rather dumb scheduling, he’s been seen in the Xfinity Series more than the series he’s actually full-time in (the Camping World Truck Series). However, that’s not an excuse. Apparently, Jones is a “sexier” target for attention than most of the other drivers in the Xfinity Series. As a result, he’s considered an “Xfinity regular” while not running for points.

Rant aside, Saturday night’s race was actually really good by the standards of competition. While there weren’t all that many lead changes (16), there was a lot of action through the field as drivers drove with a little more aggression than normal. However, with the groove moving further up the track, it might not last all that much longer. You might see a completely different race at Kansas Speedway come Chase-time.

Darrell Waltrip’s lack of preparedness showed again on Saturday night at times. Lots of things happen during the race. You have to keep up on it. Waltrip was completely confused as to how Paul Menard got up front with 40 laps to go. True, he hadn’t been up front for most of the evening, but he had to have known who pitted and who didn’t. Apparently, that’s Larry McReynolds’s job. He had to essentially cover for Waltrip. I’m sure McReynolds would be more than willing to share his notes with Waltrip if Waltrip asked.

Of note, I’d hate to go to Walmart for school supplies after McReynolds makes a supply stop. He probably buys so many notebooks and pens at a time for his copious notes that there simply wouldn’t be any left for anyone else.

Normally, red-flag coverage can be an interesting time, as the Bristol telecast showed us. However, lightning in the area severely cut down what FOX could do, and for good reason. They don’t need anyone to get hurt. Safety is important for everyone.  As a result, coverage was limited to a couple of interviews in the Hollywood Hotel (including once with an unusually relaxed Martin Truex Jr.) and a couple of pit interviews before going off to FOX Sports Live.

Post-race coverage, built into FOX Sports Live, was decent. Viewers who stuck it out until after one in the morning on the East Coast got a few interviews and analysis before going back to Los Angeles. I just wish this rain would stop affecting Sprint Cup races and go where it’s needed way more. With our luck, it’s probably going to rain at Sonoma next month, where it darn near never rains on race weekend.

Overall, the racing that we saw was quite good. The enthusiasm for the on-track action was quite a bit higher than it’s been in quite a while on FOX. However, FOX has to check themselves before they wreck themselves. It’s one thing to want someone to do well in their Cup debut. It’s a whole ‘nother ball of wax to essentially root for the guy. I’d rather not see that behavior from the booth again.

Toyota Tundra 250

On Friday night, weather was also looking to be a potential issue. Luckily, that threat never came to pass. However, another storm swept over the field with a familiar tune.

Ray Dunlap has taken a reduced role on broadcasts in 2015, a move that may or may not actually work out in FOX’s favor (tweets from Dunlap indicated that his work on the ARCA broadcast at Talladega may be his last pit-road assignment for FOX Sports). However, his primary role this year is to do features for NCWTS Setup. This week, FOX aired a piece where Dunlap sat down with Johnny Sauter in Daytona to talk about a number of topics.

Interestingly enough, much of the piece was centered on Johnny’s father, the late Jim Sauter. Younger fans might only remember him as the guy who would drive for the Mueller Brothers off and on (No. 89 Evinrude Pontiac/Ford), or as a tester for IROC. However, Jim Sauter was a very fast driver with a large family (Johnny’s one of 11 kids). Another topic was Johnny’s natural aggression. Johnny carries himself on-track quite a bit differently today than he did when he was younger. Pretty much, it’s not advisable to mess with him. However, his emotions can get the best of him at times.

While Jones was definitely the main story Friday night, the coverage that he received was nowhere as ridiculous as what he got on Saturday. That’s mainly because he’s a regular in the series and everyone’s already seen what he’s capable of. That said, he whooped them on Friday.

Sadly, the race wasn’t all that competitive. Once you got beyond lap 75, there wasn’t all that much racing to be found. Despite only four cautions, a mere 20 trucks managed to finish the 250 miles. FS1 did do a dropback through the top-10 to see how everyone was doing, but that was curtailed by a caution when Ray Black Jr. blew an engine.

When there was action to be seen, FS1 did a decent job in bringing that action to viewers. However, there was just so little of it. Jones made the whole thing anti-climactic until he ran out of fuel. That is nothing against FOX Sports or Jones. It’s just an indictment on how uncompetitive the Camping World Truck Series can be at times.

With so much green-flag action, the race ended with about 20 minutes left in the time slot. Despite that fact, post-race coverage was quite limited. There were only three quick interviews and checks of the points and standings before FS1 left to get back to FOX Sports Live. I find it rather frustrating that they don’t feel the need to at least fill their time slot these days with FOX Sports Live always waiting in the wings. Perhaps there just wasn’t all that much to write home about Friday night. However, even if that is so, it is the job of FS1 to make a race like Friday night’s race exciting. They didn’t really do a very good at that.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend looks to be quite busy. It will be only the third weekend of the year in which all three of NASCAR’s National Series will be in action. The Sprint Cup Series will be in Charlotte for All-Star Weekend, joined by the Camping World Truck Series. No points, but action will be had. Since the race was previously on FS1 (and SPEED before that) prior to this year, perhaps AT&T U-Verse will make an exception to their inappropriate anti-NASCAR stance and air the race live. Meanwhile, the Xfinity Series will be at Iowa Speedway for their first standalone event of the year, and the Verizon IndyCar Series sets the field for the Indianapolis 500. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, May 12

10 a.m. - 11 a.m.AMSOil Arenacross: Las VegasFOX Sports 1*#
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*#
11 p.m. - 11:30 p.mToyota Pro/Celebrity RaceCBS Sports Network*# (from April 12)
11:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.Formula DRIFT: Long Beach, Part No. 2CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 18)

Wednesday, May 13

4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*#
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*/
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/ (from May 2-3)
9 p.m. - 11 p.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: Brands HatchCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 9-10)
11 p,m. - 12 a.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*/#

Thursday, May 14

12 a.m. - 1 a.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
1 a.m. - 3 a.m.Blancpain Sprint Series: Brands HatchCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 9-10)
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.Indy Lights Grand Prix of IndianapolisNBC Sports Network* (from May 9)
3 a.m. - 4 a.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
4 a.m. - 5 a.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*/#
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*/#
3 p.m. - 6 p.m.Camping World Truck Series Practice No. 1FOX Sports 1
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.Camping World Truck Series Happy HourFOX Sports 1
9 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.Uncompromising: Kevin HarvickFOX Sports 1
9:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.100,000 Cameras: TalladegaFOX Sports 1
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.NASCAR Masters of the Clock: The Legend of MartinsvilleFOX Sports 1#

Friday, May 15

3 a.m. - 3:30 a.m.Uncompromising: Kevin HarvickFOX Sports 1#
3:30 a.m. - 4 a.m.100,000 Cameras: TalladegaFOX Sports 1#
4 a.m. - 5 a.m.NASCAR Masters of the Clock: The Legend of MartinsvilleFOX Sports 1#
5 a.m. - 5:30 a.m.The 10: Greatest Soundbites in NASCAR HistoryFOX Sports 1#
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of SpaFOX Sports 1*/# (from May 2)
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.Uncompromising: Kevin HarvickFOX Sports 1#
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.100,000 Cameras: TalladegaFOX Sports 1#
12 p.m. - 1:45 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint Showdown PracticeFOX Sports 1
12:40 p.m. - 1:35 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, TC/TCA/TCB Classes Race No. 1World-challengetv.com/Torque.tv^
1:45 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race PracticeFOX Sports 1
3:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint Showdown QualifyingFOX Sports 1
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.Camping World Truck Series QualifyingFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint ShowdownFOX Sports 1
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.NCWTS SetupFOX Sports 1
8:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200FOX Sports 1

Saturday, May 16

3 a.m. - 5:30 a.m.Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200FOX Sports 1*# (from May 15)
5:30 a.m. - 6 a.m.The 10: Greatest Charlotte MomentsFOX Sports 1#
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*#
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
8:40 a.m. - 9:40 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, TC/TCA/TCB Classes, Race No. 2World-challengeTV.com/Torque.tv^
10:10 a.m. - 11:10 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, GTS Class Race No. 1World-challengetv.com/Torque.tv^
11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.Formula DRIFT: Long Beach InsiderCBS Sports Network
11 a.m. - 4 p.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Time Trials, Part No. 1ESPN3$
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.Toyota Pro/Celebrity RaceCBS Sports Network*# (from April 12)
1:15 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, GT/GTA/GT Cup Classes, Race No. 1World-challengetv.com/Torq
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint ShowdownFOX Sports 2*# (from May 15)
3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.100,000 Cameras: TalladegaFOX Sports 2#
3:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.The 10: NASCAR's Wildest Throw-DownsFOX Sports 2#
4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.The 10: Greatest Soundbites in NASCAR HistoryFOX Sports 2#
4 p.m. - 6 p.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Time Trials, Part No. 2ABC
4:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200FOX Sports 2*# (from May 15)
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.Formula DRIFT: Long Beach InsiderCBS Sports Network#
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.Toyota Pro/Celebrity RaceCBS Sports Network*# (from April 12)
4 p.m. - 7 p.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Time TrialsESPN3$
7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race QualifyingFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.AMA Lucas Oil Pro Championship Hangtown MX ClassicNBC Sports Network
8:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.NASCAR RaceDayFOX Sports 1
9 p.m. - 11 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star RaceFOX Sports 1
9 p.m. - 11 p.m.NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals QualifyingESPN 2*/

Sunday, May 17

7:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of FranceFOX Sports 1
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, TC/TCA/TCB Race No. 3World-Challengetv.com/Torque.tv^
9 a.m. - 11 a.m.IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge: Mazda Raceway Laguna SecaFOX Sports 1*/ (from May 2)
9:40 a.m. - 10:40 a.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, GTS Class Race No. 2World-Challengetv.com/Torque.tv^
11 a.m. - 3 p.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, Day No. 2ESPN3$
11 a.m. - 5 p.m.NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals Final EliminationsESPN3$
11:30 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star RaceFOX Sports 1*# (from May 16)
12 p.m. - 1 p.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*#
1 p.m. - 3 p.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 Qualifying, Day No. 2ABC
1:30 p.m. - 2 p.m.NASCAR RaceDay - XFINITY EditionFOX Sports 1
2 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. XFINITY Series 3M 250FOX Sports 1
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.Moto3: FranceFOX Sports 2*
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.Moto3: FranceFOX Sports 2*
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.motoGP World Championship Grand Prix of FranceFOX Sports 2*/#
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.The 10: Greatest Drivers in NASCAR HistoryFOX Sports 2#
8:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint ShowdownFOX Sports 2*# (from May 15)
9:30 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star RaceFOX Sports 2*# (from May 16)
11:30 p.m. - 12:30 a.m.FIA World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of SpaFOX Sports 2*/# (from May 2)
1 p.m. - 2 p.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.ARCA Racing Series Menards 200CBS Sports Network
2:50 p.m. - 4 p.m.Pirelli World Challenge: CTMP, GT/GTA/GT Cup Race No. 2World-challengeTV.com/Torque.tv^
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.AMA Endurocross: Las VegasCBS Sports Network*#
5 p.m. - 7 p.m.ARCA Racing Series Menards 200CBS Sports Network*#
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
9 p.m. - 12 a.m.NHRA Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals Final EliminationsESPN 2*/

Monday, May 18

12 a.m. - 2 a.m.ARCA Racing Series Menards 200CBS Sports Network*# (from May 17)
3 a.m. - 4 a.m.V8 Supercars Ubet Perth Super SprintCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 2-3)
4 a.m. - 6 a.m.ARCA Racing Series Menards 200CBS Sports Network*# (from May 17)
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint ShowdownFOX Sports 1*# (from May 15)
11 a.m. - 1 p.m.Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star RaceFOX Sports 1*# (from May 16)
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
6 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 1
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2*#

* – Tape Delayed
/ – Highlighted Coverage
# – Repeat Coverage
^ – Available via free online streaming
$ – Available via password-protected online streaming. Check with your internet service and/or programming provider for availability.

I will provide critiques of the Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck series race telecasts for next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday. In the Annex, I will cover last weekend’s Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. Also of note, FS1 is debuting a couple of new specials this week. One is a half-hour feature on Kevin Harvick entitled Uncompromising. That should be interesting. The other is the Talladega edition of 100,000 Cameras, which you likely heard about if you watched the GEICO 500.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact FOX Sports personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage, please click on the following link:

FOX Sports

At this point, there is still no public contact e-mail for NBC Sports. When they finally get around to creating a new link, I will post it for you.

As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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Well, thank you for writing about it but why is this a shocker. Granted I thought DW was going to have a heart attack when Erik crashed. “That was one loud and long “oh no”!. But this is nothing new. Junior, Danica, Kyle Larson..etc. it is disgusting and it turns true fans off, shouldn’t these people ABOVE ALL PEOPLE BE NEUTRAL? Mikey Waltrip was twirling his mustache throwing Logano and his team under the bus the other night, with another wise stellar season so far, one race does not make..good or bad. You would have thought the way he carried on Mikey caught the 22 team robbing the Good Humor Ice Cream Truck, and Eric Jones was Dale Sr. ghost. Good Grief, the gushing and admonishment are very telling, but again this is nothing new. I do have to say, the race clearly looked like it was past DW’s bedtime, you saw his mind wander and go blank at the same time. Why doesn’t any of these people in charge understand what the fans are saying? Oh yeah forget it, they got their billions, they don’t care. As a sponsor and a car owner I would take umbrage as to how this sport is “represented” via these lame telecasts to the world, if the world gives a rats ass. I know if it was my hard earned money, I certainly would.

Phil Allaway

I doubt that Darrell Waltrip intentionally stays up to 1 a.m. EDT very often. He is 68 years old, after all. The SpongeBob references were fine, although Darrell clearly had never heard of the show. Found that interesting since his kids are young enough that they probably watched the show when it first premiered in 1999.

The FOX crew admonishing Logano’s team for pit road mistakes is fair. They definitely hurt Logano’s run with the mistakes. However, he was still very fast. Saturday was a night in which Logano didn’t fade away like he has so many times this year. The team screwed up and kept having to charge back up. That’s the only reason why he never got back to the lead.

The gushing did get annoying after a while. I thought the Jones treatment live Saturday night was over the top, but after I gave it another watch, it was ridiculous.


This issue I have Phil isn’t with the critique it is about equal reporting, which there isn’t any. My point goes to this article, bias in the booth. The issue is with who they always chose to make a statement about or not. obviously almost always blowing it out of proportion, that is not fair and shows bias repeatedly. A certain driver and his crew for WEEKS now have been having problems on pit road, a big name..nary that type of admonishment or critique blown in THAT DIRECTION. I pay attention to these things. I say if you want credibility then equal critique and praise, after all that is what is fair. I am in no means saying that Logano’s team should be ignored, but the way it was talked about was ridiculous, like it happens all the time, it doesn’t. Again I watch these things and I find it very interesting who they seem to want to make a point about. Especially the Waltrips..who to promote and who not to promote…very telling.


I agree with you about the change in tone on coverage of Logano. Remember he no longer drives a Toyota but is now in a Ford. Makes you wonder if they would be all about bashing him if he was still in the brand that MWR has ownership of would be at the same level.


Than you Gina, you noticed it too…it is all about fariness and balance. Mikey and company are just not good ambassadors to the overall sport.


Frankly, I’m amused when they have Truex Jr. in the Hollywood Hotel and he talks about how fast his cars are this year with his former car owner two feet to the right of him.
Phil, how do the ratings for Saturday night races compare to those on Sunday afternoons? I know the quality of racing is normally better in the afternoon on a hotter, slicker track. Even Kentucky the year rain pushed it to Sunday was watchable.
I’m glad you have faith that there’ll be action in the All-Star Race. With the testing limits, it has become a nationally televised, overhyped test session for the points race the following weekend.

Phil Allaway

In the case of this past weekend, it’s pretty bad, rg72. But that always happens when it rains. Generally speaking, more people watch Cup races on Sunday afternoons than on Saturday night. That’s likely part of the reason why Richmond International Raceway is considering moving their Spring race to Sunday afternoon next year. They had a slight ratings uptick from last year despite the race being delayed a day.


I watch it in the day no matter what time the race is on….:)

Bill B

How can anyone use the words “professional” and “Darrell Waltrip” in the same sentence? You’d think by now FOX would have changed things up just to keep in fresh and interesting, but no, we get two Waltrips.
I really don’t dislike Darrell (Michael is another story) but he was and never will be a professional broadcaster and I think it’s time for FOX to give an overhaul to their presentation.

As for the race itself, as 1.5 milers go, it was pretty good.


You want unprofessioal. Both Waltrips and Larry McIlliterate have deep longstanding ties to Toyota. Those ties, and the fact that Larry can’t speak simple english should be enough to disqualify them from the broadcast booth. Saturday’s get a room fawning over Toyota’s newest driver as well as their openly pulling for him should be enough to have them escorted off the premises.


John Q, everything you say about the broadcast crew is correct. However, and in no way do I mean to defend Nascar, but I doubt that Nascar has ANY leverage to tell the folks who write the big checks how to run their business. Anyway you know that Nascar was aware of Fox’s plan before the contract was signed. They agreed to it so the deal is done. Move on, nothing to see here.


Yes, I agree but IMO NASCAR and its lawyers should have made sure there were clauses written into the contract about how broadcasts would be run.

Of course since I have no access to those contracts – perhaps Fox is doing exactly what NASCAR wants – although with ratings in free fall, it seems wrong to me.

Shouldn’t the idea be to attract fans by showing good racing on TV?


IMHO Fox isn’t worried about Nascar, it’s selling advertising to its customers. Nascar is like all its other programming a means to an end. Its just business to them. And the same could or can be said about everybody involved.

As to what Nascar should have done, aren’t they doing the same thing, selling a product? Once you sell it you really can’t complain about what the customer does with it.


Phil, Whether or not NASCAR chooses to release attendance figures it is easy to figure out what they are by a quick glance at the stands. In you columns could you release the TV numbers. It is pretty obvious that the both the Toyota truck and Xfinity Cup Practice series aren’t drawing flies. I strongly suspect that the TV numbers are equally dismal.

Phil Allaway

JohnQ, the ratings aren’t always available when I’m writing the columns, especially for races that are on cable as opposed to broadcast. Usually, we run news articles here talking about TV ratings instead. I saw the ratings for Saturday night already, but I didn’t see them until after I wrote the critique. They bite. Rain always kills ratings for races, but it was apparently pretty bad before the rains showed up. Having pre-race on the FOX News Channel definitely didn’t help things, either. The U-Verse spat takes away millions more households (I honestly don’t know how many, but the Wikipedia page for At&T U-Verse claims that there were 4.3 million TV subscribers in 2012. It’s probably more than that now).

Bill B

From Jayski….
FS1 earned one of the lowest NASCAR overnights in recent memory for Saturday’s rain-delayed race at Kansas. Rain-delayed NASCAR Sprint Cup racing from Kansas drew a 1.5 overnight rating on Fox Sports 1 Saturday night, down 55% from last year (3.3) and 62% from 2013 (3.9), both of which aired on the FOX broadcast network


Ha, sorry, Phil but this behavior as you pointed out has gone on for quite a few years. No other sport is broacast in such an unprofessional manner. Only NASCAR and I’m with the other posters here, the fawning is pathetic and inappropriate. Its time for a new “cast” in the booth — one without Waltrips or Wallaces. I can’t believe that Chris Myers has continued his “stupid” act for so long — he’s not, I’ve seen him do football broadcasts and by golly, he is smart & professional. Even a toadstool would have picked up a few thoughts on NASCAR after 14 years so the pretense is ridiculous.

I don’t “chase” races around the TV dial any more. When I turned on the race and saw baseball, I didn’t bother to look for the pre-race on FoxNews. I’m not a big fan of the pre-race garbage anyway. I made dinner and then turned on the computer. I get better info from twitter & the MRN broadcast than anything from Raceday or Fox.

I’m sure Erik Jones is a nice fellow, just as Kyle Larson, Joey Logano, JPM and Danica are nice people, but the uneven, unprofessional commentary from the booth detracts from the broadcast and the sport.

this bunch with their ties to Toyota and other “interests”, including a full time Cup team owner in the booth, isn’t going to change. Fox needs to clean house and try with a new group in the booth.



Spot on comments and I’ll be following your column from now on. Unvarnished is refreshing–thank you.

NASCAR is working very hard to stay relevant and has made huge strides. They are listening to fans. However, there’s a disparity here due to Fox being less in NASCAR’s sphere of influence. The horrible race reporting crew issue falls squarely on Fox’s shoulders. But you’d think they’d work it out since more NASCAR fans equals more viewers. Fox is clearly not paying attention and NASCAR needs to press for change. How is it that Fox nails NFL game day reporting and misses the boat on NASCAR? Safe to say they simply don’t care or don’t have innovative people that’d prefer increasing the pie and simply not settle for equilibrium or status quo.

Fans will be fans, to really get momentum, the companies that buy advertising spots need to vote with their pocketbook. Or Fox needs to wake up and realize they could increase ratings with a better crew.

My solution: stream MRN audio and watch the live telecast. The poor Fox reporting keep my XM subscription going.


If I recall on one of the documentaries showing how the networks evolved into broadcasting races, the relationship READ CLOSE FRIENDSHIP between BZF and the head of Fox sports was very telling. No ethical problems there…lol.


Hey Phil….remember when I was saying all the things above TWO years ago? Anyway thanks for catching up. Maybe I’ll start participating in this forum again….maybe.

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