"As long as no one sets fire to the FOX Sports booth or pulls the plug that knocks us off the air, the drivers have free rein ..."
Those were the words of John Entz, FOX Sports President & Executive Producer of Production, last May when FOX Sports announced it would undertake an unprecedented challenge -- broadcasting a NASCAR XFINITY SERIES (NXS) race called entirely by active drivers. Fortunately, there was no fire or loss of transmission signal, so FOX Sports has issued a "callback" to the cast of characters that debuted last June on FOX in the NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race broadcast from Pocono Raceway.
Back for the sequel, live on FOX on Saturday, April 28 from Talladega Superspeedway (3:00 PM ET), are Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Ryan Blaney, Erik Jones, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and newcomers Brad Keselowski and Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr.
"The fan response last year to us blending this unlikely cast of characters and their unique personalities, coupled with the drivers' feedback, made reuniting this group a no-brainer," said Pam Miller, FOX Sports' NASCAR XFINITY SERIES producer. "We started talking about the next 'Drivers Only' broadcast as soon as the checkered flag waved in Pocono, and we're thrilled the majority of our motley crew is back."
Harvick again has the call alongside analysts Bowyer and Logano. Blaney, Jones welcome rookie Wallace to pit road, while Keselowski hosts FOX Sports' coverage from the Hollywood Hotel for the first time alongside Stenhouse Jr., who worked pit road last year.
"When FOX approached me last year about the Drivers Only broadcast for Pocono, I figured it either was going to be really awesome or really bad, but there was no way I was going to miss being part of it," said Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford. "I think we were all pleasantly surprised with how well it went, but that's thanks to everyone at FOX doing a lot of work to make it as seamless as possible."
"I had a ton of fun last year," said Blaney, driver of the No. 12 Menards Ford. "It was good to step out of my comfort zone and see how the broadcast team does it on the road each week. I think doing it at Talladega will be make it even more exciting."
FOX Sports cherry-picked Pocono for the "pilot" episode by design, but the network now is ready to throw the driver/broadcasters into the deep end at the circuit's fastest speedway.
"One of the reasons we chose Pocono for our first Drivers Only broadcast is that it tends to lend itself to a little more reaction time for the broadcasters than a track like Talladega does," Miller said. "But to be honest, they all handled the entire afternoon so professionally and calmly, providing their own unique insights, that we knew then they are ready for a place like Talladega."
"I think we've all got confidence going into this year's broadcast but we all know the type of racing that restrictor plates create," Logano added. "We'll all be on the edge of our seats with everyone at home, trying to keep up with the three and four-wide racing. It's one of the most exciting races of the year for me as a driver, and I can't wait to call the action from the booth with Kevin and Clint. Plus, it's awesome to have Brad joining the group in the Hollywood Hotel."
In addition, FOX Sports once again is opening its NASCAR XFINITY SERIES analyst chair to active MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES drivers in 2018, a practice begun in 2015. Keselowski joins FOX broadcasters Adam Alexander and Michael Waltrip to call Saturday's Xfinity season opener (live on FS1 at 2:30 PM ET) at Daytona International Speedway, while Blaney and Jones add their names to the roster for the first time this year. Furthermore, Harvick serves as a FOX Sports analyst for the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES races at Kentucky, Eldora and Talladega, while he and several of his fellow drivers serve as analysts on FS1's NASCAR RACE HUB.
In appreciation of the drivers' participation in the Drivers Only broadcast at Talladega, FOX Sports will make a donation to each driver's individual foundation or charity of choice.
--- Fox Sports ---