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Couch Potato Tuesday: A Look at What to Expect from NASCAR on FOX in 2023

We’re at the dawn of another season of NASCAR racing. The offseason is complete and we’re within 36 hours of qualifying for the Daytona 500. It’s as good of a time as any to talk about the upcoming year and what you’re about to see from NASCAR on FOX.

News-wise, likely the biggest story of the year is something that you’re not really going to see all that much. In Los Angeles, Kevin Harvick announced that he will be joining the broadcast booth for NASCAR Cup Series races full-time in 2024.

While Harvick will be racing his final full-time season in Cup this season, his aura will hang around broadcasts for most of the year. Heck, Harvick actually showed up in the booth Saturday night at Raymond James Stadium during the Monster Energy AMA Supercross broadcast on Peacock. That was random.

He is actually scheduled to get some reps in the booth later this year. He will have a total of seven races in the booth. In FOX Sports’ official press release that was released on Feb. 5, Harvick’s first outing in the booth is scheduled for the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 4.

See also
Kevin Harvick Joining FOX Sports Booth in 2024

With Harvick’s full-time arrival already announced, 2023 comes off as a bit of a lame-duck year despite the fact that no one in the booth is actually getting replaced. I don’t necessarily expect it to affect ratings in any way, but it wouldn’t shock me if a number of viewers just want to get through the year in order to look toward 2024.

For this season, you will continue to see a revolving door of guest analysts on Cup broadcasts. Tony Stewart, who was in the booth at the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, is scheduled to remain there at Daytona International Speedway. Beyond that is currently unannounced.

While it’s great that Stewart is back for another go-around, it doesn’t solve the problem that I’ve talked about for a year straight. There is next to no continuity in FOX‘s Cup Series broadcast presentation. It’s like watching the fourth season of the original American Gladiators after they fired most of the regular contestants. You had an entire season where replacement-level gladiators were getting lit up on a regular basis. We’re into the second year of replacement analysts here. It’s not great.

Outside of the Harvick news, the biggest story is who is not back. Back on New Year’s Eve, Vince Welch announced that he is no longer with FOX Sports. Naturally, that results in big changes for FOX since Welch was on the broadcasts for all three of NASCAR’s national series.

In January, I wrote the above article about what this move is going to mean for FOX’s broadcasts. Yes, there was some guessing in there, but some of the guesses came true.

The one that absolutely came true is Josh Sims replacing him on pit road for Cup broadcasts. He will make his Cup pit reporting debut Thursday (Feb. 16) night during the Bluegreen Vacations Duels and will be there all year long. Sims will also have pit reporting responsibilities on Xfinity Series broadcasts.

For the Xfinity Series, FOX Sports will continue to use either one or two guest analysts. This weekend, those guest analysts are Ryan Blaney and Austin Dillon. They’ll join Adam Alexander in the booth for the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300. Guest analysts for the remainder of FOX Sports’ portion of the 2023 season are TBD. Expect a drivers only broadcast at Charlotte Motor Speedway as well since it works best for FOX Sports.

For the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, FOX will split up the play-by-play responsibilities. Jamie Little will get more play-by-play work on Truck telecasts, but she won’t be full time. Adam Alexander will add Truck play-by-play duties to his existing work on Xfinity Series broadcasts. Michael Waltrip and Phil Parsons will serve as analysts in Daytona, but there will be guest analysts here as well.

Harvick will be there for three races. Andy Lally told Frontstretch at Daytona last month that he will be back in the booth for the two Craftsman Truck Series road races (Circuit of the Americas and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course). If that schedule holds, it would likely mean that Waltrip would not make the trip to COTA as COTA is Harvick’s first scheduled Truck race in the booth. More guest analysts will be added to that list.

There are a couple more pit reporting changes. With Sims replacing Welch on Cup broadcasts, he will no longer be a part of Truck broadcasts. Jamie Howe, who has worked mainly as a backup pit reporter in recent years on Truck broadcasts, will now be full-time. She’ll be joined by Amanda Busick, who will be making her NASCAR debut this weekend.

Busick will be working on Truck broadcasts in addition to returning to her duties on NHRA broadcasts. She comes to NASCAR broadcasts after spending last year pit reporting for SRO America. That work was a combination of regular pit reporting and going over the wall in a fire suit during Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS events.

Ideally, FOX Sports would really do well to release a schedule for all of the guest analysts that they’re going to have this year (something that they have done in the past), but last year was effectively done on a week-to-week basis. You wouldn’t know who was going to be the analyst in the booth until the next week. It made it into a surprise, but I don’t think I want to be surprised there.

Admittedly, I thought back in January that Little would get more Truck play-by-play opportunities. However, she’ll continue to get plenty of time in the booth.

The ARCA Menards Series is back with FOX Sports for the full season of 20 races, up from nine last year. It is the first time since the SPEED days that the full season has aired on the FOX family of networks.

Here, Little will continue in her play-by-play role for the full season. Parsons will be her analyst once again. Don’t be surprised if some guests show up from time to time, but I couldn’t tell who they might be. Howe will be in the pits on the broadcasts, along with the returning Heather DeBeaux.

ARCA broadcasts in 2023 will be split between FOX Sports 1 and FOX Sports 2. 10 of the 20 races (Berlin Raceway, Elko Speedway, Mid-Ohio, Iowa Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Michigan International Speedway, Illinois State Fairgrounds, DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, Salem Speedway and Toledo Speedway) will be streamed live on FloRacing as well. The others will be available on FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports App.

While 2022 was a bit of a learning year for Little, this year is extremely important for her in the booth. While it’s currently unclear how many Truck races Little will be on the call for, she will likely have a minimum of 25 and likely more than 30 races on play-by-play this year. By the end of this year, we’ll know for sure whether or not she’s got the ability to potentially move up.

Remember that 2024 is the final year of FOX’s current TV deal. There will likely be changes for 2025 if FOX keeps NASCAR rights (I’m operating under the assumption that they will). I would not be surprised if Mike Joy retired after next year (by the end of next season, he’ll be nearly 75). At that point, there’s likely to be a lot of movement. A good year for Little will significantly raise her profile.

Overall, you’re looking at another season of constant change. An insignificant amount of quality will be determined by who FOX Sports has in the booth from week to week. You’ll have plenty of variety, that’s for sure.

See also
Holding a Pretty Wheel: And So NASCAR Begins Again

Also, I’ve been reading a lot of gripes about the cartoony depictions of drivers over the past few weeks. I didn’t want to comment on that during the Clash critique because I knew that FOX had the Super Bowl. When networks have the Super Bowl, they tend to change things up a little.

Sure enough, FOX unveiled some revised graphics during Sunday’s game. I don’t really think they’re better than what we already have. The cartoons are still there, though.

Will these upgraded graphics be in use this week in Daytona? I don’t know. FOX’s track record suggests no, but there’s no guarantee that it would be the case.

That’s all for this week. The action comes on fast and furious from Daytona starting on Wednesday with qualifying for the Daytona 500. The Bluegreen Vacation Duels are Thursday night, then the Truck Series opens its season Friday night. Saturday is a doubleheader for the Xfinity Series and the ARCA Menards Series. Sunday is the big one, 500 miles with more than $20 million at stake.

Outside of Daytona, there is still plenty of action to be had. The Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals continues at Volusia Speedway Park with the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Late Model Series and the Super DIRTcar Series competing. The World Series of Asphalt continues through Saturday night on FloRacing from New Smyrna Speedway, while Monster Energy AMA Supercross will be back in Oakland to make up the round that was postponed last month due to heavy rains. TV listings are in the Television drop down above, or can be found here.

We will provide critiques of the three primary season openers from Daytona in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday here at Frontstretch. This week’s Critic’s Annex in the Frontstretch Newsletter will run on Friday and cover Thursday night’s Bluegreen Vacations Duels. Next week’s Annex will cover the Brandt 200, the season opener for the ARCA Menards Series.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below. Even though I can’t always respond, I do read your comments. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons. If you would like to contact either of NASCAR’s media partners, click on either of the links below.

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As always, if you choose to contact a 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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3 Comments
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Jeff H

One change I wish NASCAR is the “booth” staff should be required to actually at the track for all three major series. The broadcasts from studio are very sub par.

janice

i still think kurt busch might be in the booth some for fox. i guess time will tell.

SUSAN PHILLIPS

WHY WOULD FOX SPORTS BRING SOMEONE TO ANNOUNCE WHO IS A MURDERER — TONY STEWART KILLED A FELLOW DRIVER. VERY POOR DISCRETION FOX. GOD BLESS -SUSAN

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