This weekend is the Championship weekend for all three NASCAR National Touring Series. The Cup Series, the Xfinity Series, and the Truck Series are all at Phoenix Raceway this weekend. The Truck Series was on track on Thursday evening for a practice session, but there was no TV coverage for the practice session.
It’s not the first time that the Truck Series has had a practice session not televised. Not only that, but the Championship race is televised at 10:00 PM ET, which is great for fans at the track, but it is very late for fans on the east coast. How Can NASCAR work to rectify some of these problems with the Truck Series?
Stream Untelevised Practice Sessions on YouTube
Now, some of this could be down to the streaming rights that NASCAR has, but, if a TV partner is going to choose not to broadcast practice, then why can’t NASCAR pick up the slack? Practice and qualifying sessions are understandably not high priorities for TV partners because they don’t bring in a lot of viewers. However, NASCAR should make sure they are available to the fans who want it.
If a TV partner will not stream a practice session for whatever reason, NASCAR can do something simple to give the fans something. Maybe it’s as simple as just one camera situated above the grandstands following the big names as they take the track. All the while, someone like Alex Weaver, Alan Cavanna, or even Steve Letarte could be walking through the garage providing analysis.
It doesn’t have to be a full-fledged production, but it should exist for those who want it. This is especially true for Championship weekend. It also may become more possible as NASCAR takes over production duties for the NASCAR Xfinity Series beginning in 2025.
What About Start Times?
Unfortunately, start times for the Truck Series are a much more difficult conundrum. Phoenix Raceway is currently three hours behind the East Coast, at least until Sunday because it does not observe Daylight Savings time. Therefore a 7 PM ET start time on a Friday night means a 4 PM local start on a weekday.
The race needs to start later to give the crowd a chance to show up, but 10 PM ET may be too late. A 9 PM ET start puts the race at 6 PM local. Fans could show up to that potentially, and it is still a decent time for the TV audience.
Again, it is the Championship race, so, having a good start time is critical. There is also the issue of the 2024 schedule of having three races starting between 5 PM and 6 PM ET on a Friday, which is a problem for fans both at the track and at home. Now, some of those races have issues with lights such as Talladega and Pocono, so, they have to start earlier.
Broadcasters on Site
Fox has relied on broadcasters for the Truck Series to be off-site for a large part of the Playoffs. This is a major disadvantage to broadcasters because they are relying on what they see on a screen rather than being at a race track. Fox is likely going to be re-upping with NASCAR as well for the next TV deal, so, if they bring the Truck Series back, this is something many fans would like to see fixed.
As someone who has done broadcast work before, it is very difficult to broadcast something when you are not on-site. Broadcasters feed off of the energy of the event, and they also need to be able to see the entire venue in front of them to call the action when something happens.
Tonight’s Championship race will once again be a remote broadcast. A change back to being on-site could help the broadcasting product in the series.
Could some of these changes be made? Well, we may have to see next year or even when the next TV deal has been struck. These are small changes that could help alleviate some of the issues that the Truck Series is dealing with in terms of coverage this weekend.