The season is now complete. You’re probably wondering what I thought of the broadcasts this past weekend from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Truth is, I was in Homestead last weekend covering the event for Frontstretch. I wrote articles, interviewed drivers, tweeted and took over 3,000 photos. Pretty busy weekend, don’t you think?
That said, I haven’t been able to fully break down the broadcasts from last weekend (I just got home at 5:30 p.m. Monday and I’m writing this two hours afterwards). That will be coming later this week. I need to properly view everything and rest up because I’m exhausted. Friday was especially tiring because I didn’t get back to my hotel until nearly 2:30 a.m. after the Truck Series race.
For now, I do want to talk about a couple of things. First off, this is not the end for Couch Potato Tuesday. I have agreed in principle to return for my 12th season of TV writing. Crazy when you really think about it. The column will be back in it’s current form on Tuesdays here at Frontstretch for you to enjoy.
According to the grandmaster Tom Bowles, readership is actually up quite a bit for the column this season. I’m happy to hear that, but I also understand that readership of my column is more or less dependent on what happens with the broadcasts.
2019 has had some pretty big news stories in the world of television. Likely the biggest story of all is Darrell Waltrip’s decision to retire after 19 seasons as an analyst for FOX. Another big story was the mess surrounding Tyler Dippel‘s arrest in his hometown of Wallkill, N.Y. and FOX Sports 1’s handling of it. Personally, I’m just happy that everything worked out OK there.
Officially, FOX Sports has not made an official announcement about what they’re going to do with their on-air personalities for NASCAR races next season. Since June, the rumor has been that FOX will go with a two-man booth of just Jeff Gordon and Mike Joy. If that were to come to pass, you would have a very different dynamic in the booth. Joy and Gordon both would need to contribute more. There won’t be Waltrips around to fill time.
Meanwhile, we got some additional news on FOX Sports 1’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series coverage for 2020.
Now that the season is over, I want to take this opportunity to announce that I have decided to not return to @NASCARONFOX in 2020. Thanks to my family and the fans for their support all these years. I love @NASCAR , and I hope this has shown through my career on track and TV!❤️
— Hermie Sadler (@HermieSadler) November 17, 2019
Sadler has been a mainstay on Gander Outdoors Truck Series broadcasts in the role of a pit reporter since 2011. Before that, he was a regular on SPEED’s NASCAR RaceDay and NASCAR Victory Lane. He currently intends to spend more time with his family and tend to his many businesses in and around Emporia, Va. As of now, these holdings include two restaurants (Hermie Sadler’s Fo Sho and the Hermie and Elliott Sadler Restaurant), along with the Sadler Travel Plaza and a UPS Store (all of which are in one complex). He also co-owns Premier Karts.
Clearly, Sadler will have plenty of ways to keep himself busy going forward. For FOX Sports, Sadler’s departure will leave a hole on the Truck broadcasts. Generally speaking, they will replace Sadler. While Alan Cavanna will assume the lead pit-reporter position (if he didn’t already have it), the second pit-reporter role could be up in the air.
Dillon Welch has come up as a possibility, having split time between FOX Sports and NBC Sports this year in a variety of different series. He’s done fairly well in all of them and wouldn’t be a bad choice for a full-time role. Jamie Howe, who normally works on FOX Sports’ NHRA coverage, has filled in as well. You might see more of her, depending on what FOX Sports decides. There are a couple of other names that have been broached too. One is Kim Coon, who worked a couple of ARCA races this year for FOX Sports and has worked for MRN Radio as a pit/social media reporter since her time as a Miss Sprint Cup ended.
We’ll likely get a better idea of the direction in which FOX Sports plans to go later on in the winter. My personal desire is that FOX Sports stop giving the Gander Outdoors Truck Series short shrift. I believe that the skinflint nature of truck broadcasts over the past couple of years has hurt the series to a certain extent. At bare minimum, not having the broadcast booth on-site means that they cannot help themselves to information that can be used on broadcasts. Texting only helps so much.
For NBC Sports, you have a lot more stability. As far as I know, everyone’s coming back for 2020. The on-air staff at NBC Sports is generally younger than at FOX Sports. Steve Letarte is the youngest full-time booth analyst in NASCAR at 40 (Dale Earnhardt Jr. is 45, while Rick Allen is 50).
While everyone with NBC Sports clearly takes their work seriously, they still take time to have fun. I met Rutledge Wood Sunday on the grid prior to the race. He was chatting with sports car racer Ryan Eversley, who he had invited to Homestead, and introduced him to Bob Pockrass.
Even though I was very busy in Homestead, I noticed a number of fans on social media had trouble finding the regular broadcast of Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400. It seems like NBC Sports didn’t do a very good job of advertising the fact the the NBCSN broadcast was the hyper-focused Championship 4-only telecast with Leigh Diffey and Dale Jarrett.
I knew about the broadcast beforehand. I noticed it in the press release that NBC Sports put out last week. I recall it being mentioned during the practice session that ran in place of Cup qualifying on Saturday, but without a lot of momentum behind it. It seems like they figured that fans assumed that it would be there. That’s not swell.
That’s all for today. While the NASCAR season is now complete, that doesn’t mean that it’s hibernation time. This weekend sees the beginning of the ABB FIA Formula E Championship in Ad-Diriyah, Saudi Arabia. They have a doubleheader scheduled with races on Saturday and Sunday in DVR Theater due to the time difference. In addition, the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship concludes on the streets of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. TV listings are in the Television tab above.
Later this week, we’re going to take a look at the actual Championship 4 race broadcasts from Homestead in a special edition of Couch Potato Tuesday that clearly won’t be on Tuesday. Admittedly, it’s rather difficult to critique events that you’re there for and unable to take notes on, but I must bring you that coverage. I know that you crave and deserve it. Also, I want to be able to give you a complete critique because I did miss good chunks of the coverage with all the running around that I did.
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