The stars of NASCAR will be out at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway on June 10 for FOX’s live broadcast of the NASCAR XFINITY Series race. In fact, they’ll be making history. FOX Sports has assembled a star-studded “Drivers Only” on-air broadcast team for the race consisting of Danica Patrick, 2014 NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Clint Bowyer, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Blaney and Erik Jones.
The race broadcast (1:00 PM ET on June 10 with pre-race coverage at 12:30 PM ET) marks the first time a nationally televised live sporting event has featured an on-air team composed strictly of athletes actively competing in that sport.
Harvick will serve as the play-by-play announcer with Bowyer and Logano as analysts. Blaney, Jones and Stenhouse Jr. will report from the pits, while Patrick and Hamlin host FOX’s coverage from the “Hollywood Hotel” mobile studio.
“This is going to be really cool,” said Patrick, who has extensive television experience and holds the record for most Super Bowl commercial appearances. “I don’t quite know what I’m in for, but I’m sure it’s going to be more of a challenge than whatever else I’ll be doing that day … I think this will draw a lot of attention and perhaps revolutionize TV a little bit with sports and who is included and how.”
Harvick, Bowyer, Hamlin, Logano and Patrick have served as driver analysts for FOX Sports’ coverage of the NASCAR XFINITY Series several times over the past three years. While they are fierce competitors on the track, the drivers generally get along off the track, so they expect a lighthearted, perhaps even comical, few hours on the air.
“We know we’re going to screw up,” Harvick joked. “FOX knows we’re going to screw up. That’s part of the fun of it and the fun thing about FOX — when you screw up, poking fun at yourself or each other. Laughing and making fun of ourselves and each other definitely will be an element of the broadcast. We all have been around long enough that we probably could BS through anything if we had to.”
“It is going to be a heck of a lot of fun … but we are going to mess this up,” Bowyer quipped. “I think (Kevin) Harvick will be good because he’ll put in the research, time and energy. I will probably be terrible and Joey (Logano) will be somewhere in-between.”
Bowyer expects the driver pit reporters could have the most interesting jobs of the day, as they are the ones charged with interviewing drivers involved in a wreck.
“I can’t imagine having to go interview a driver after he just crashed because I know how pissed you are – it really is a touchy situation,” Bowyer said. “When you see a guy like Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) show up with a microphone, I’m sure none of those guys are really going to want to talk to him.”
The bosses at FOX, however, aren’t too concerned about the potential on-air train wreck their newest broadcasters like to joke about.
“If it feels exactly the same as a normal race, then we’ve done something wrong,” said Jacob Ullman, FOX Sports SVP of Production and Talent Development. “It’s supposed to be fun.”