While not quite as highly publicized as criticisms for their NASCAR Cup Series coverage, Fox has received their fair share of criticism for their coverage of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. BrakeHard took a look at their coverage and why he feels it is Destroying the Truck Series.
Likely the biggest complaint when it comes to the broadcast itself from BrakeHard comes with regards to the Fox commentators. Jamie Little, Phil Parsons, and Michael Waltrip do most of the races with Adam Alexander doing a few races in place of Little. What’s interesting is that Parsons and Waltrip have been doing the Truck Series for years since Rick Allen was in the booth in the late 2000s and early 2010s.
How much of the fall-off is due to the skills of Parsons and Waltrip and how much of it is due to the lead commentators? That’s a question BrakeHard did not go into, but his sentiment on Jamie Little is not an uncommon one. However, with Fox coming back for 2024, Little will have an opportunity to continue to improve, as Play-by-Play broadcasting is difficult to master. It takes time, and she should have an opportunity to continue to learn in 2024. Then again, she needs to improve heading into 2024.
The remote broadcast is another issue that BrakeHard brings up, and, it is indeed not ideal for a broadcast. As someone who has done Play-by-Play broadcasting before, commentators feed off of the energy of the event at the venue, and it is important at a motorsports event in particular to see the entire event in front of you. This allows commentators to point out things off-camera to help guide the production.
With some Truck Series broadcasts being remote, it makes it tough for the commentators, and it makes it difficult for the viewing audiences. The commentators miss things, and it becomes painfully obvious to the viewers as BrakeHard points out.
BrakeHard also brings up the production quality of Fox as well. He brought up specifically the instance of Fox missing a Jessica Friesen flip at Knoxville, which, is definitely unacceptable. TV broadcasts should not miss big wrecks, and it is frustrating for the viewing audience.
Now, it is worth noting that producing a motorsports event is unlike any other sporting event because there are so many cars on the track. Whereas other sports focus on one ball, motorsports is a sport with essentially 32 balls in play in an average Truck Series race. Still, that does not excuse certain production mistakes that have been made.
However, the thing BrakeHard spends the most time on is the schedule. He notes that the 2024 schedule has only one true standalone race, Milwaukee. This is vastly different from the past when the Truck Series went to plenty of short tracks across the United States.
Now, there is a trade-off with standalone weekends to take note of. The fewer standalone weekends there are, the fewer unique tracks the Truck Series can go to. However, the more standalone weekends there are, the more racing happening during the weekend for those attending a Cup Race weekend.
However, BrakeHard brings up a strange aspect of the 2024 schedule that could mitigate this benefit. There are three races in 2024 (Pocono, Talladega, and Homestead-Miami) that start between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. on a Friday. That is a tough ask for some people to watch at home while coming from work, but at the race track that is a bigger ask.
The race schedule could be pinned on Fox, but the start times absolutely can be. The reason why NASCAR starts Cup races so late is because of TV ratings and the West Coast audience. As BrakeHard points out, these start times are not great for ratings.
Could Fox give up the Truck Series with the 2025 TV deal? Maybe or maybe not. However, they could make some major changes to their coverage as a result of the TV deal as well. We will have to wait and see.