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Fox Daytona Broadcast Review: What Did They Get Wrong?

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What’s Happening?

While the Daytona 500, and Daytona weekend in general is big for NASCAR, it is equally as big for one of its TV partners, Fox. It’s Fox’s first regular season NASCAR broadcast of the season, and it routinely brings in the largest audience of any NASCAR Cup Series race. Fans have been heavily critical of Fox in recent years, so, has Fox listened to the criticism, or did they struggle in 2024?

  • For this, we will focus both on the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series broadcasts. Both of these broadcasts happened on Monday night.
  • Both of these broadcasts had their ups and downs, which is understandable for this point early in the season to some extent. However, Fox did garner some criticism for their coverage of the Clash, so, there was some pressure to perform well.
  • Fans had some mixed opinions on the Fox broadcasts for Monday night. There were some elements that fans loved, but, there were other elements that the fans did not like.

Cup Series

The Good

Before we look at some of the bad from the Cup Series race, let’s take some time to look at the good. Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick did a very good job in the booth. Getting events like the Clash, the Duels, and Daytona 500 qualifying to build chemistry has done a lot to help.

Harvick and Bowyer bounce ideas off of each other nicely, and it was great to hear their analysis of different parts of the race. There were long instances where Harvick and Bowyer both would be talking with each other and explaining in detail exactly what was going on on the race track, which allowed Mike Joy to step back and step in when needed. Having continuity in the Fox booth is definitely going to help in 2024.

As far as the commercials went, figment1979 on Reddit actually broke down the full-screen commercials and how much green flag racing they cut into. He concluded that 25% of green flag laps were not shown because of commercials, which was down from 26.5% from one year ago, likely due to there being an incident caution in stage one, where there wasn’t one in 2023.

However, Fox’s commercial coverage went down late in the race with Stage 3 only seeing 5.4% of the green flag laps covered by full-screen commercials. This is a good thing, and it allows fans to keep up with the race in its’ most dire moments towards the end. Commercials can be annoying, but they are a part of the broadcast whether fans like it or not because Fox has to pay the bills somehow.

There was also the creative use of Crank it Up during a pit stop which was at least a neat idea. Maybe it would have been better served pre-2022 when the 5 lug nuts and squealing pit guns made for those iconic pit road sounds. However, it was a nice idea, and it was great to see Fox getting creative.

The Bad

Now, it’s on to the bad of the Fox broadcast. Thankfully, there was not as much to criticize as there was after the Clash, but, there were issues.

There were some factual missteps in the broadcast. Most notably, referring to Kyle Larson as the 2022 Cup Series Champion in the pre-race, which is not true because he was the 2021 Champion. There was also the Fox crew alluding to William Byron “replacing” Jeff Gordon in the No. 24, which is technically not true. Chase Elliott replaced Gordon in the No. 24 in 2016, and Byron did not race in the No. 24 until 2018 when Elliott switched to the No. 9. Ultimately, these were minor missteps, but, they were noticeable.

While I complimented Fox on their dispersing of commercials, there were some strange sponsored segments. Most notably, there was a Wendy’s skit featuring DJ Khaled with about 36 laps to go that was a bit weird, but, at least it was a side-by-side. Dude Perfect did a promo for Samsung after Stage 2 which was odd, but, it was during a stage break. Again, these were things the broadcast maybe could do without, but, they did not completely overtake on-track racing.

The end of the race was probably the biggest issue for Fox. While the broadcast did a great job of explaining the end-of-race procedure for caution at the white flag in 2023, no such explanation was heard in 2024. NASCAR fans were debating each other all across social media about the finish, and maybe a better Fox explanation would have cooled that somewhat.

They sort of assumed that every fan knew the rules, which broadcasts cannot do especially for more niche rules. It’s especially true if the broadcast is as big as the Daytona 500 with such a big casual fan audience.

Overall

Overall, the broadcast had some rough moments, but, it was a very good show. Fox is beginning to figure out their booth again, and that makes the race coverage more enjoyable. Maybe we could do without some of the wacky sideshows, but, those rarely overtake the entirety of race coverage.

Xfinity Series

The Good

The Xfinity Series broadcast had an interesting commentary team on Monday night. Andy Petree joined Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip, which was a cool nostalgia trip for fans who remember Petree’s days calling NASCAR on ESPN.

The Xfinity Series broadcast also had to deal with major adjustments to the schedule. While there was little pre-race coverage, having the race still happen on FS1 was solid as well. Many may have wanted to see the Xfinity race before the Cup Series race, but, given NASCAR’s TV obligations to Fox, running the Daytona 500 at 4 PM ET was probably the only slot they could use.

With less sponsor obligations, there were also less wacky sideshows during the broadcast. This meant that the focus could be on the racing on track rather than the sponsors.

The Bad

Unfortunately, there was a lot of bad in the Xfinity Series broadcast as well. First off, were the broadcasters on site, or were they back in the Charlotte studios? That’s not immediately clear, but, if they were not on site, that’s a big disadvantage to broadcasters. We discussed this issue below in our Truck Series TV coverage.

If they were off-site, then that may explain some issues with the broadcast. There were two accidents late in the race where commentators did not fill in on the full story. There was the John Hunter Nemechek spin on the front stretch where Josh Bilick was run into by Dawson Cram. Cram was out of the race after this incident, and there was no mention of that as they were analyzing the crash.

There was also the SVG spin later. SVG spun out Jeb Burton, and the commentators did not know that SVG also spun out until they saw the replay. SVG did make a great save, though. Both of those incidents are shown below.

Overall

The Xfinity Series broadcast definitely had a few more issues with covering incidents than the Cup Series broadcast did. Some of that could be down to the potential decision to make the commentators broadcast off-site. Were they on-site or off-site, we still do not know.

If the commentators were on-site, then those were a couple of major misses. The camerapeople could also be attributed to missing the Cram/Bilicki drama.

How do you feel that Fox did on Monday night? Did Fox do good, or did they do bad?

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Joshua Lipowski

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