Our NASCAR on FOX team has been together since 2001. I don’t know that we’ve had a more challenging, yet rewarding, experience than we did Sunday, Monday and yes, into Tuesday early morning to bring everyone the coverage of the Daytona 500.
I absolutely love the freedom my new role in our NASCAR on FOX broadcasts has given me. The feeling I got being in the flagstand at the start/finish line was, quite honestly, something I had never experienced in all my years in this sport.
Understand that up until the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in November 2000, my world was being down on the starting grid for the race. I would get my driver buckled into his race car, and then off to our pits I would go. The following 11 years found me in the Hollywood Hotel at the start of the race.
So to be where I was Monday evening was simply quite spectacular. When you are up there in the flagstand, you can feel the energy of the fans, who are on their feet and screaming their hearts out. To see the thousands of flashbulbs going off, to feel the vibrations of 43 race cars going underneath you was breathtaking.
My old buddy Darrell Waltrip got to wave the green flag at Daytona a few years ago for the Gatorade Duels and also did it at Bristol Motor Speedway. He tells all of us that it is like something we have never experienced.
I did it one year at Martinsville Speedway. Now Martinsville is a great little track. Folks, Daytona is our greatest track on our greatest stage.
Having been up there Monday night for the start of the Daytona 500, I am here to tell you he is exactly right. I now have a totally different perspective.
One thing I hadn’t really thought about until I saw it unfold was the drivers and how they reacted. I got to stand there and watch these guys down in their cockpits. As they were coming by during the pace laps, to see these drivers looking up at the flagstand giving us a thumbs-up or a little wave was really cool.
I was up there when the crash happened on Lap 2, and I just have to tell you, it felt and sounded like a bomb went off. It was just another of the new sights and sounds I experienced for the very first time even after all these years in NASCAR.
As you all know, Mother Nature played havoc with us in Daytona. Sunday was a complete washout. Monday’s weather then forced a planned noon start to be revised to a 7 p.m. start in what is called prime time for television. For all the heartburn it caused, I wonder if maybe this is an avenue that NASCAR and FOX need to look at for the future.
As I mentioned earlier, I have been in this sport for a long time. I know how special our fans are. What I saw our fans put up with Sunday, Monday and Tuesday only reinforced that NASCAR has the best and most loyal fans of any sport out there.
Our fans are simply the best.
The challenge in my new role is to bring folks at home something you might never have seen before. One thing I am very conscious of and am guarding against is doing the same thing over and over again.
You can’t let yourself fall into a lull. I would wager to say there might be some tracks where there simply isn’t a unique place to be. That’s the challenge, but anyone who knows me knows I love a challenge. It can’t be predictable. Predictable is boring. That’s not what we are all about on NASCAR on FOX. Our team simply isn’t wired up that way.
My bosses, David Hill and Eric Shanks, have challenged me and my team to “wow” them. Bring them and ultimately the fans at home something they’ve either never seen before or something really unique and a different look from an area on the racetrack.
Right now, the support team I have and myself are analyzing each track on the NASCAR on FOX schedule to find those unique opportunities.
It’s like a modern-day NASCAR on FOX version of "Where’s Waldo." I love having a good time and sharing that with the fans. I am too much of a competitor to let it turn into something silly.
I love the sport of NASCAR, and I love what I do for NASCAR on FOX. Now more than ever I have the opportunity to present our sport in a favorable and enjoyable light.
After all these years in the sport, I didn’t think it was possible to show me something different. I learned a long, long time ago from DW that in NASCAR, we never say never. He’s right. I’m an old dog, but I learned new tricks during Speedweeks.
Keep tuning in to our NASCAR on FOX broadcasts, because like our furry little friend Digger, you just never know where I might pop up.