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How was the FOX Broadcast of the LA Clash?

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Joshua Lipowski

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What’s Happening?

Saturday night was the first NASCAR on Fox broadcast of the 2024 season. Given the unusual scheduling of the Clash being run on Saturday night instead of the scheduled Sunday afternoon, Fox likely had to scurry a bit to make the broadcast happen. While there were elements that were complimented, there were also elements that were heavily criticized.

  • NASCAR has been on Fox since 2001, and Fox has been the exclusive broadcaster of the Clash along with the Daytona 500 since 2007. The two have been together for nearly a quarter of a century at this point, which is longer than any other media partner in NASCAR history.
  • Fox re-upped their deal with NASCAR in the offseason, so, they will be broadcasting races, including the Clash and the Daytona 500 until at least 2031. Fox’s coverage will be slightly less, however, since they will only broadcast the first 14 races of the season alongside the full Truck Series season. However, there will be no Xfinity Series coverage and no practice/qualifying coverage for Fox in 2025 and beyond.
  • Fans had some criticisms of the Fox broadcast from this weekend. Much of it had to do with the camera work rather than the actual commentary.

How the Schedule Affects Fox

Before digging into the review of the broadcast, it is equally important to talk about how the scheduling affects Fox. Originally, the Clash was supposed to be run on Sunday afternoon, and Saturday was supposed to be just practice/qualifying and the heat races. On Saturday morning, that schedule changed, and the main event was now on Saturday.

This can be a major inconvenience for Fox. Not only were broadcasters and producers given one less day to prepare for the main event, but they also were asked to put on a race day production when the plan was for a practice/qualifying production. It’s entirely possible that Fox did not have as many cameras, camerapeople, or typical trinkets and toys at their disposal because the original plan was for a different broadcast.

Ultimately, we do not know what went on behind the scenes, but, it’s important to point that out. Asking TV networks to move a major network TV production up a day with only a few hours notice is a tough ask. Fox had to work with potentially fewer resources than originally expected.

The Booth

Many were excited to see the new Fox booth for 2024 in action. Kevin Harvick joins alongside former driving teammate at Richard Childress Racing, Clint Bowyer, and NASCAR broadcasting legend Mike Joy. How did it work?

Overall, the booth worked quite well, especially given the time crunch. It takes time for a booth to develop chemistry with each other. As time goes on, Harvick will learn the cadence of Joy and Bowyer, which will allow Harvick to better understand when it’s time for him to talk. That got better and better as the race went on. One good example of the solid analysis the two provided together was explaining Todd Gilliland’s wreck.

Again, this happened on a time crunch. The kinks that the booth was working out during the Clash were originally supposed to be worked on during the heat races, but, the weather accelerated that process by a day. This group will have Daytona 500 qualifying and the Duels to continue working on this before everything starts for real with the Daytona 500 on February 18th.

Harvick does indeed provide a nice FOIL to Bowyer. While Bowyer is the funny and energetic one, Harvick is the more straightforward and calculated one. Again, the chemistry between the two needs some work, but, that should come with time.

Camera Work/Production

Now, if there was anything fans were critical of from Saturday night’s broadcast, it was the camera work and production value. Fox indeed made some major missteps in this area.

All of the tempers and arguments that happened post-race, Fox caught none of that on the actual broadcast. The wreck on the last lap with Bubba Wallace being turned by Kyle Larson was missed as well. On top of that, there were instances where the commentators would mention something, but, the broadcast did not show it.

In the clip below you see all three on display. Fox missed the crash with Wallace and Larson, and they did not show it afterwards. On top of that, Joy pointed out that Chastain was put into the wall, but, the broadcast did not show it.

Some of this could be explained away by the factors listed above. Fox had to make a last-minute change from a practice/qualifying broadcast to a full-race production that was creeping into a previously scheduled college basketball broadcast. The college basketball broadcast explains the quick-off that caused Fox to miss the tempers after the race.

The potential lack of cameras probably explains missing the post-race as well. It’s possible that Fox did not have as many handheld cameras on site because of their original plan. Keep in mind, they did not receive word of the change until the day of the show, so, they can’t plan to fill in the gaps like they would like.

Still, the fact that Fox was unable to make any mention of the arguments and fights that happened after the race is quite a misstep, and not showing what broadcasters are pointing out is one as well. Fans who are not active on social media may not know what happened after the race because the broadcast flat-out missed it. It’s also confusing for fans if the commentators are reacting to one thing, but the broadcast is showing another.

Why was there no camera that caught Ross Chastain putting Tyler Reddick in the wall after the race? Why did no one catch the Wallace spin-off of the final corner, which Larson admitted post-race was caused by intentional contact? The TV broadcast, how most fans consume NASCAR content, showed none of that.

Overall, the Fox broadcast had some issues with it, but, it’s also important to realize the time crunch they were in. This was not an ideal situation for Fox, and the Daytona 500 should be much smoother. Still, there were some things that they needed to clean up.

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Joshua Lipowski

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