Home / Couch Potato Tuesday / Couch Potato Tuesday: A Closer Look At Danica Patrick’s FOX Debut
Kurt Busch paces the field in the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway
(Photo: CIA Stock Photo, Inc. ©2015)

Couch Potato Tuesday: A Closer Look At Danica Patrick’s FOX Debut

Welcome back, race fans. I have to tell you, last weekend was frustrating as heck. Rain bites; it’s as simple as that. Here in Upstate New York, local racing was rained out Friday night due to severe thunderstorms. Sunday saw downpours in Michigan and Saturday saw the same in Illinois. Weak.

Quicken Loans 400

Sunday’s race was plagued by rain. If not for NASCAR’s Air Titan 2, the Cup Series probably would not have reached halfway, forced to come back Monday and deal with more precipitation.

Normally, when you have instances where weather could play a role with the race, FOX tends to try to downplay the issue. The reasoning for it is they don’t want to think about the logistical nightmare that a postponement could cause. Remember, pushing the race back means that FOX would have to find lodging for up to 300 people.

During the first three delays, the commentators were touting the benefits of the Air Titan 2, since the three delays were each less than an hour in length. With just jet dryers, by comparison it likely would have been quite a bit longer, but the sun was definitely helping out. They made it sound as if nothing couldn’t be overcome.

There was a disconnect at times between what FOX was showing viewers (including myself) and reality in regards to the delays, though. FOX would go to commercial with the cars still running behind the pace car on track and Twitter would be reporting the cars on pit road and the red flag out. I felt like FOX was far enough behind at times that I was hitting the live button on my remote control just to make sure I was actually “live.”

(Photo: CIA Stock Photo, Inc. ©2015)
Kurt Busch was snapping selfies in a soggy makeshift Victory Lane Sunday. If you wanted other post-race interviews, you were out of luck. (Photo: CIA Stock Photo, Inc. ©2015)

By the time the rains returned on lap 136, the tone was quite a bit different. Here, you saw Michael Waltrip openly stating that the race would be called at any moment. You almost never see that. He was legitimately bummed out. I know the feeling when that wall of heavy rain shows up. That’s what happened right before NASCAR called the Coke Zero 400 last year in Daytona. I suppose that’s what happens when Michael Waltrip drops the veil, so to speak, and starts getting real.

With the race already 90 minutes overtime when the fourth red flag was displayed and lightning in the area, FOX Sports 1 chose not to do interviews during the delay for safety reasons. That’s completely understandable.  There was lightning around and we remember what happened a couple of years ago at Pocono. Then, they chose to go to FOX Sports Live at 6 p.m. The decision was a pointless move as five minutes later, NASCAR called the race.  When that happened, Kurt Busch got his “Victory Lane” interview in a couple of inches of standing water, and that was it for the day.

I would say that FOX’s broadcast was frustrating, but then again, so was the whole day.  My advice for future races affected by rain is that FOX better make dang sure they don’t represent the happenings on-track in a different fashion than what is actually happening.  Also, watch when you’re taking your breaks.  The booth commentators and the production truck have the NASCAR officials’ channel at their disposal.  If they know they’re thinking of stopping the race, don’t go to commercial.  Simple as that.

McLAUGHLIN: Dear NBC…

Great Clips 250 Benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of America

Saturday brought foggy conditions to Michigan International Speedway. It wasn’t the foggiest that I’ve ever seen there (they still ran the race), but vision was not particularly the greatest.

The broadcast, once it began had two main stories to talk about. One of those stories, which took up a good chunk of NASCAR RaceDay – XFINITY Edition, was the return of Kyle Busch to the No. 54. Of course, I’m going to feel a little uncomfortable with that much publicity being given to a Sprint Cup superstar coming down to mess with the XFINITY regulars. However, it was in an XFINITY Series race that Kyle Busch got hurt back in February. They had to mention it. Am I surprised that he won on Saturday? No, not really.

The second story was Danica Patrick making her debut in the broadcast booth as a guest analyst. FOX announced the move back in March and believed that Patrick would really be something in the booth. I wasn’t so sure. I had similar reservations about Patrick in the booth that I had with Kevin Harvick before the season started. Well, Harvick turned out to be great.

What did Patrick think about her booth debut? She was asked about it during the third rain delay on Sunday. She stated that Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip more or less run the show in the booth. She had a good time, but decided to more or less stay out of the way. It’s a similar description that Al Michaels gave in his autobiography, You Can’t Make This Up: Memories and the Perfect Marriage of Sports and Television, of his on-air role with the Los Angeles Lakers under Chick Hearn. The difference here is that Alexander and Waltrip, as much as you’re probably not going to believe it, are more welcoming than Hearn would have been.  Michaels basically couldn’t get a word in edgewise until he was taken off the broadcasts.

For a chunk of the race, that was so. Early on, Patrick tried to assert herself a little more commentary-wise. Eventually, she determined that her attempts at participation were not all that great, so she voluntarily decided to cut back. As a result, Patrick’s role in the booth by the end of the race was a slightly expanded version of what you see with a special guest as opposed to a guest analyst (there is a distinction here). I feel like I wanted to see a little more out of Patrick. If she gets another chance in the booth (when that will be is anyone’s guess at the moment), I’d like to see if she could improve on Saturday’s performance.

Post-race coverage was a bit rushed due to the fact that the race ended about 15 minutes beyond the end of the scheduled time slot.  Having said that, viewers still got a decent amount of coverage without FOX Sports Live getting in the way.

(Photo: CIA Stock Photo, Inc. ©2015)
This “Busch bow” scene wasn’t really a surprise Saturday at Michigan. (Photo: CIA Stock Photo, Inc. ©2015)

Overall, the racing Saturday was fast and furious, especially toward the end. I wish FOX Sports had a better shot of the inside of turn 4 because they did not have a good shot of the hit that Jeremy Clements took on lap 112. As for Patrick? She was OK, but rather quiet at times. She also didn’t show much emotion in the booth. Perhaps that’s just because she’s naturally calm. However, you do need to project yourself to a degree. Otherwise, you come off as bored.  But…that just seems to be what Patrick is like as a person.  She doesn’t come off as excitable as Michael Waltrip.

Drivin’ For Linemen 200

The rain issues this past weekend were not limited to just the Sprint Cup Series. The Camping World Truck Series had issues of their own Saturday at Gateway Motorsports Park. When NCWTS Setup went on-air, it was sunny outside and it looked like they were going to start on time. 10 minutes before the anthem was supposed to be sung, the heavens opened. Rat farts.

Before the rains came, we had the weekly discussion of Erik Jones and how seemingly everything under the sun is preventing him from winning. As it turned out, he found a new way to lose.  I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll say it again here; they’re running out of ways to talk about the young man.  He’s completely overexposed.  I’d like to see some of the other drivers be able to get some more publicity, especially if this funk continues.

Ray Dunlap sat down with retired driver Terry Cook to talk about his 2002 season, including a win at Gateway. Back then, Cook was one of the standouts in the series, while his wife, Amy (East), was a pit reporter for ESPN. Yeah, you can imagine that things might have been a little unusual when he made it to Victory Lane.  If I were critiquing races back then, I have no idea how to handle that scenario because it’s the grandpappy of favoritism setups.  It seems that East was professional, for the most part, but she couldn’t hold back her joy when Cook won at Gateway.  That’s a tough call.  NASCAR is a family sport and commentators often end up in the position of commentating about family members.

Today, Cook is the spotter and driver coach for John Wes Townley, one of the bigger surprises of the season thus far. No, he does not wreck weekly anymore. According to Cook, Townley tends to drive a very loose truck and has a lot of control; more than you’d think. It was a good look at how Townley’s improved his form from year-to-year. At this time last year, I doubt anyone would have guessed that Townley could be contending for wins.

During the race itself, there were a number of incidents whose coverage left something to be desired. First up was the wreck involving Mason Mingus and Justin Boston. I do commend FOX Sports for searching and coming up with a definitive angle that showed Mingus tried to put himself in a hole that wasn’t there. It was Boston’s corner and Mingus went in the grass, wrecking them both.

I would have liked to hear from either driver here. The booth did make note that Boston and Mingus had been released from the Infield Care Center, but we did not get any interviews with either driver. We had the same issue when Erik Jones had his incident. The only difference is we did get radio chatter that clearly indicated he felt that it was Ryan Ellis’ fault. Was it really? No. He just wiggled. It happens, Erik. You’re not superman. Erik Jones is 18 years old, and he’s not even acting his own age right now.  Sure, he’s frustrated, but this petulance has to stop.

Post-race coverage, even given the circumstances surrounding the rain, was lacking. While it’s always good to see the enthusiastic Spencer Gallagher get his due, there were a couple of big stories at the end of the race that needed to be covered. Anyone who stuck with the telecast well after Midnight Eastern would have wanted to hear from Matt Crafton and Erik Jones. We did not get that opportunity because FOX Sports 1 left Gateway to get to the United States-Serbia U-20 match (which proceeded to go long by 45 minutes). We did hear from John Hunter Nemechek, who took blame for the Crafton wreck, but that’s not the same as hearing from the champion and his biggest rival this year.

Diving deeper, the soccer game is the primary reason why Crafton and Erik Jones weren’t interviewed on-air Saturday night.  However, Crafton did talk off-air to FOX Sports 1.  Having two pit reporters (Hermie Sadler and Kaitlyn Vincie) did hamstring the production to a certain degree as they could only talk to so many people.

It’s a true fact of reporting that I know only too well from my work at Lebanon Valley Speedway.  One person can only do so much.  For example, intermittent Camping World Truck Series competitor JR Heffner is a regular at Lebanon Valley in the headlining Modified class.  While he’s generally a friendly guy, he also tends to leave very quickly after races.  If you want to get quotes from him, you have to hurry.  Same thing with some of the lower level guys in the Pure Stock class (think G-bodies) since they have to park their tow vehicles outside the track.

That’s all for this week. Next weekend, the Sprint Cup Series takes their second week off of the season. The XFINITY Series will take center stage at Chicagoland Speedway with the ARCA Racing Series serving as support. Meanwhile, the Camping World Truck Series returns to Iowa Speedway for 200 laps of action while Formula One returns to the Red Bull Ring. Here’s your listings.

Tuesday, June 16

TimeTelecastNetwork
1 a.m. - 3 a.m.Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy TorontoNBC Sports Network*/# (from June 14)
10 a.m. - 12 p.m.XFINITY Series Great Clips 250 benefiting Paralyzed Veterans of AmericaFOX Sports 1*/# (from June 13)
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR America: Celebrate the StatesNBC Sports Network#
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Celebrate the StatesNBC Sports Network#
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR America: Celebrate the StatesNBC Sports Network#
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Thunder Valley NationalsNBC Sports Network*/# (from May 30)
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Tennessee, 450 Class Moto 2NBC Sports Network*# (from June 6)
10 p.m. - 12 a.m.Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: High PointNBC Sports Network*/# (from June 13)

Wednesday, June 17

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 2 a.m.Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Thunder ValleyNBC Sports Network*/# (from May 30
2 a.m. - 3 a.m.Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Tennessee, Moto 2NBC Sports Network*/# (from June 6)
7 a.m. - 7:30 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from June 16)
7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from June 16)
8 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from June 16)
8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network*# (from June 16)
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: Oulton ParkCBS Sports Network*/ (from June 7)
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: Brands Hatch (Indy)CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 5)
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: Donington ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from April 19)
10 p.m. - 11 p.m.British Touring Car Championship: ThruxtonCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 10)
11 p.m. - 12 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: Oulton ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from June 7)

Thursday, June 18

TimeTelecastNetwork
2 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
2:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network
5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 125NBC Sports Network*/ (from June 10)
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
8:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
11 p.m. - 12 a.m.Whelen Modified Tour Mr. Rooter 125NBC Sports Network*/# (from June 10)

Friday, June 19

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
12:30 a.m. - 1 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
4 a.m. - 5:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Free Practice No. 1NBC Sports Live Extra$
8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Free Practice No. 2NBC Sports Network
11 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.Camping World Truck Series PracticeFOX Sports 2
3:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.XFINITY Series Practice No. 1FOX Sports 2
4:30 p.m. - 5 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.NASCAR RaceHubFOX Sports 2
5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.Camping World Truck Series QualifyingFOX Sports 2
7 p.m. - 8 p.m.XFINITY Series Happy HourFOX Sports 2
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.NCWTS SetupFOX Sports 1
8:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.Camping World Truck Series American Ethanol 200FOX Sports 1

Saturday, June 20

TimeTelecastNetwork
5 a.m. - 6 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Austria Free Practice No. 3NBC Sports Live Extra$
8 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Austria QualifyingNBC Sports Network
9 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.GP2 Series: AustriaNBC Sports Network*
11 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.Mobil 1's The GridCBS Sports Network
11:30 a.m. - 12 p.m.Formula DRIFT: Road Atlanta, Part No. 2CBS Sports Network*/# (from May 9)
5 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.XFINITY Series QualifyingFOX Sports 2
7 p.m. - 9 p.m.ARCA Racing Series Scott 150FOX Sports 2
8 p.m. - 10 p.m.NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals QualifyingESPN 2*/
9:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.XFINITY Series Owens Corning Allcott 300FOX Sports 1

Sunday, June 21

TimeTelecastNetwork
1:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of Austria QualifyingNBC Sports Network*# (from June 20)
6 a.m. - 7 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: Brands Hatch (Indy)CBS Sports Network*/# (from April 5)
7 a.m. - 8 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: Donington ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from April 19)
7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network
8 a.m. - 9 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: ThruxtonCBS Sports Network*/# (from May 10)
8 a.m. - 10 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of AustriaNBC Sports Network
9 a.m. - 10 a.m.British Touring Car Championship: Oulton ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from June 7)
10 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network
12 p.m. - 5 p.m.NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Final EliminationsESPN3$
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.Blancpain Endurance Series: Paul RicardCBS Sports Network*/
2 p.m. - 4 p.m.Red Bull Global RallyCross: DaytonaNBC
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.MotoAmerica: Barber ParkCBS Sports Network*/ (from June 13)
3 p.m. - 6 p.m.NHRA Thunder Valley Nationals Final EliminationsESPN>
4 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*#
4:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.Formula One Grand Prix of AustriaNBC Sports Network*#
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network*#
7 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
7:30 p.m. - 8 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
8 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
8 p.m. - 9 p.m.MotoAmerica: Barber ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from June 13)
8:30 p.m. - 9 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
9 p.m. - 9:30 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
9 p.m. - 10 p.m.Blancpain Endurance Series: Paul RicardCBS Sports Network*/#
9:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
10 p.m. - 10:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
10:30 p.m. - 11 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
11 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
11:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
11:30 p.m. - 12 a.m.Mobil 1's The GridCBS Sports Network#

Monday, June 22

TimeTelecastNetwork
12 a.m. - 12:30 a.m.F1 CountdownNBC Sports Network*# (from June 21)
12:30 a.m. - 2:30 a.m.Formula One Grand Prix of AustriaNBC Sports Network*# (from June 21)
2:30 a.m. - 3 a.m.F1 ExtraNBC Sports Network*# (from June 21)
7 a.m. - 7:30 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
7:30 a.m. - 8 a.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
8 a.m. - 8:30 a.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
8:30 a.m. - 9 a.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
10 a.m. - 11 a.m.MotoAmerica: Barber ParkCBS Sports Network*/# (from June 13)
3 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
3:30 p.m. - 4 p.m.NASCAR America: The States of NASCARNBC Sports Network#
5 p.m. - 6 p.m.NASCAR AmericaNBC Sports Network#
6 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#
6:30 p.m. - 7 p.m.NASCAR America: Scan all 43NBC Sports Network#

Key:
* – Tape Delayed
/ – Highlighted Coverage
# – Repeat Coverage
$ – Available via password-protected online streaming. Check with your internet and/or programming provider for availability.

As you can tell, the FIFA Women’s World Cup and the U.S. Open will wreak havoc on FOX Sports programming this week. I apologize in advance.

I will provide critiques of the XFINITY and ARCA Racing Series events from Chicagoland Speedway in next week’s edition of Couch Potato Tuesday on Frontstretch (along with the Truck Series at Iowa). My plan for the Annex this week was to cover BEING: Stewart-Haas Racing. However, Sunday’s rain delays resulted in the show not airing.  They plan on airing the show, but it’s not currently listed anywhere on the schedule. I did catch the Fans Speak show that aired at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday. It didn’t quite turn out quite how I thought it would. As a result, I will cover that on Thursday in the Critic’s Annex.

If you have a gripe with me, or just want to say something about my critique, feel free to post in the comments below, or contact me through the email address provided on the website in my bio. Also, if you want to “like” me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, please click on the appropriate icons below. Finally, if you would like to contact FOX Sports personally with an issue regarding their TV coverage, please click on the following link:

FOX Sports

At this point, there is still no public contact e-mail for NBC Sports. When they finally get around to creating a new link, I will post it for you.

As always, if you choose to contact the network by email, do so in a courteous manner. Network representatives are far more likely to respond to emails that ask questions politely rather than emails full of rants and vitriol.

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About Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor. Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as Tony Stewart's Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions.

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4 comments

  1. Avatar

    Totally disagree with you about Danica in the booth. I like that she was quiet and wasn’t unnecessarily hyping the action. That is what really turns me off about Michael Waltrip in the Xfinity and Truck races. I feel like her being more calm also settled him down some. I really enjoyed her perspective and hope to see more in the future. But I also felt that some of the other ‘guest’ commentators talked way too much and at times I just wanted to mute them. It is ok to let the pictures tell the story at times that’s the advantage of tv versus radio.

  2. Avatar

    Why anyone would want to share a booth with Michael Waltrip is beyond me. My guess is she probably couldn’t get a word in edgewise and then eventually gave up. She seems like a pretty laid back person, so I’m sure fighting Michael for mike time was futile.

    Kinda strange that Indy Car is not taking advantage of Nascar’s off weekend

  3. Avatar

    I think it’s pretty obvious why Fox doesn’t let fans know it’s raining and waits longer to inform viewers that the race has been red flagged. It’s called stringing the rubes along. They want to keep people on the hook for as long as possible. The minute the race is red flagged you can hear channels changing across the country and viewers abandoning ship.

  4. Avatar

    Oddly her take on her “booth” experience mirrors her Cup experience.