Month: May 2018

Jeff Gordon HOF Infographic_Color

FOX Analyst Jeff Gordon Voted Into NASCAR Hall of Fame

NASCAR Race Hub Airs Special Jeff Gordon NASCAR Hall of Fame Episode

Gordon in NASCAR RACE HUB Studio for First Reaction Following Announcement

Hendrick, Evernham, Gustafson, Joy, Waltrip & McReynolds Excerpts Included Below

In honor of four-time NASCAR CUP SERIES champion and FOX NASCAR analyst Jeff Gordon being voted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame today, NASCAR RACE HUB is devoting tonight’s entire one-hour show to the occasion (6:00 PM ET on FS1). Gordon will join NASCAR RACE HUB in-studio at 6:00 PM ET for his first comments following the announcement.

Afterward, a prominent list of individuals key to Gordon’s driving and broadcasting career will appear on the program, co-hosted by Adam Alexander and Shannon Spake, including Rick Hendrick, Ray Evernham, Alan Gustafson, Andy Papathanassiou, Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Mike Joy. Additionally, NASCAR RACE HUB will air special feature interviews with Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, Kyle Busch, Ken Schrader, Chad Knaus, Bobby Labonte, Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola, Kurt Busch, Chase Elliott, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Gordon’s family.

Below are excerpts from tonight’s NASCAR RACE HUB interviews with Hendrick, Evernham and Gustafson, as well as Gordon’s FOX NASCAR on-air teammates Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds.

Recall the first time you met a young Jeff Gordon at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1992. What do you remember most about that?

Hendrick: “I was going through the pedestrian tunnel, and I saw this car come by and he was on the outside. He went in the corner so hard, I saw smoke roll off of the car, and I thought it was an engine [failure]. I realized it wasn’t. It was tires. I don’t remember who was with me, and I said, ‘Stay here a minute. I’m going to watch this guy wreck.’ They said, ‘It’s that Gordon kid.’ It was just meant to be, I think, that I saw him that day. It was so impressive. I came back and just happened to walk into Jimmy Johnson’s office, the guy who used to run the place, and Andy Graves was sitting in there. I said, ‘It’s a shame that Gordon kid has a contract with Ford.’ Andy said, ‘He doesn’t have a contract.’ I said, ‘Let’s find him quick.’ Boy, has it been so unbelievable for our company, the relationship … I think Jeff Gordon revolutionized the sport, opened the door for all these young guys that are coming in because we took a chance on him … what he’s done for the sport has been unbelievable.”

What is the “Jeff Gordon factor” like for a team?

Gustafson: “You can’t describe it in words. You just can’t describe his presence and what he does for the team and the sport and how big he is … I got the opportunity to work with Jeff and I’ve seen Jeff and worked around Jeff for a long time, and worked with Kyle [Busch] and worked with Mark [Martin] and thought I knew what it meant to be Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. I didn’t know what that meant until I was Jeff Gordon’s crew chief. Not only Jeff and what he is, but he is so iconic. Everybody knows Jeff. Everybody respects Jeff. His fan base is massive … To sum it up, it was a surreal moment at Homestead when we were in his last race competing for the championship, and I have Lewis Hamilton sitting on this side of me and I’ve got Mario Andretti sitting behind me. That just tells you how big Jeff Gordon is and the respect he has across not only motorsports but the nation in general.”

What was the first win with Jeff like at Charlotte?

Evernham: “Jeff was ready to win, and I felt like there were times when we didn’t give him a good enough car or I didn’t make the right decision. Charlotte has always been important to us at Hendrick because we want to make sure we perform well in the boss’ backyard. That was a big night for us because it was being able to be with Jeff when he got his first Busch win and when he got his first Cup win. It was an emotional night for everybody, and even more for Mr. H. when I said was going to take two tires (laughing). Just being part of that and seeing him come from being the young guy that I knew driving midget cars to finally reaching the top.“

As a broadcaster, what was your first impression of Jeff Gordon early in his career?

Joy: “My first impression was ‘Who is this kid and how did he get here so fast?’ because Jeff broke the playbook for driver development. He’s coming from midgets, sprint cars and one season of tearing up Bill Davis’ stuff in the Busch Series, and boom, he’s Rick Hendrick’s new driver and he is good. A little undisciplined to start, but he has talent and car control and situational awareness, and suddenly, he is a superstar.”

What have you seen out of him during his time at FOX Sports?

McReynolds: “He has been an unbelievable teammate. I never knew Jeff. I had talked to and spoken to Jeff, but I’d never really had a long conversation with Jeff before. Not that I ever wondered how or why he won 93 races and four championships, but now that I have been his teammate for three years, it totally makes sense. He is all in. I didn’t know what to expect when I found out he was going to join our FOX team. I didn’t know he if was just going to blow by and do what he had to do to get by. This guy is all in. What I love about him is he challenges me, and I love to be challenged. He will ask me, ‘So, what are they doing with race cars here and here and here?’ I might say, ‘Well, I’m not really sure,’ and he’ll say, ‘Well, we need to find out.’ I have a feeling that’s the way he was as a race car driver, which is, I think, a big part of the reason why he was so successful.”

Waltrip: “Jeff is so well-prepared. He and Jon Edwards [longtime PR manager] have notes. When we go into the booth, he’s as prepared as Larry [McReynolds] is. He has notes on everybody and he is committed. He is passionate about what he does, and that’s the thing that has impressed me the most. His preparation, passion and he really wants to do it right.”

"Nossa Chape" Poster

NOSSA CHAPE Trailer

From award-winning directors Jeff and Michael Zimbalist (The Two Escobars, Pelé: The Birth of a Legend), Nossa Chape tracks the rebuilding of the Brazilian soccer club Chapecoense after the tragic 2016 plane crash in Colombia. The documentary premieres on Saturday, June 23rd at 4:15 pm ET on FOX Sports, immediately following the 2018 FIFA World Cup™ coverage.

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FOX Sports Presents LAFC-Borussia Dortmund on FS1 and Interview with U.S. Men’s National Team Star Christian Pulisic

FOX Sports presents LAFC-Borussia Dortmund tonight on FS1 at 10:00 PM ET on FS1, featuring an interview with U.S. Men’s National Team star Christian Pulisic.

Pulisic will join Keith Costigan, Ian Joy and Mark Rogondino at Banc of California Stadium.

Additionally, FS1’s halftime presentation will feature a special sit-down conversation with Pulisic and FOX Sports’ Rachel Bonnetta.

All FOX soccer matches can be live-streamed via FOXSports.com and the FOX Sports app on iOS and Android as well as connected devices, including Apple TV, Android TV, FireTV, Roku, Chromecast and Xbox One.

 

MegaTrax at Fontana

FOX Sports Adds High-Speed Rail Cam to Coca-Cola 600

Mega Trax 500 Robotic Camera Goes 0-to-60 MPH in Three Seconds; Tops Out Close to 100 MPH

CHARLOTTE – Following a successful test earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, FOX Sports will deploy a Mega Trax 500 robotic “Rail Cam” for NASCAR’s iconic Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 27 (6:00 PM ET, FOX).

“When we think about camera coverage of NASCAR, FOX Sports Lab is constantly on the lookout for unique platforms that can give our fans a brand new perspective,” said Michael Davies, FOX Sports SVP Field & Technical Operations. “The Mega Trax ‘Rail Cam’ fits perfectly into our long history of NASCAR coverage innovations, including Gopher Cam, Gyro Cam, and most recently, Visor Cam. We had great luck with the Rail Cam test in Fontana earlier this year, and now wanted to use it in a completely different way than we used there — instead of pit coverage, we are placing it in a location which could give us some really interesting views of actual race coverage. We hope this will add yet another reason to watch the most compelling race of the Memorial Day weekend.”

For a look at footage from the Fontana test: https://www.mega-trax.com/videos/

FOX Sports and Mega Trax will construct about 850 feet of rail behind the inside wall on the backstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With near-silent operation, the FOX Sports Rail Cam accelerates from 0-to-60 mph in about three seconds, topping out at speeds in excess of 90 mph.

For more information on the Mega Trax 500, please visit: https://www.mega-trax.com/

FOX Sports Lab is a designed approach to exploring technical partnerships that give viewers a fresh perspective and ad sales teams more targeted sports integrations.

LOGO-UFCONFOX-1040x585

Top-Ranked UFC Lightweight Chiesa Makes Desk Analyst Debut with Former UFC Champion Bisping, Smith and Host Bryant for FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT: THOMPSON VS. TILL

Retired Welterweight Contender Hardy and Fitzgerald Call Rare Sunday Afternoon Fights on FS1 and FOX Sports GO

LOS ANGELES – Today, FOX Sports announces No. 9-ranked UFC lightweight Michael Chiesa makes his desk analyst debut alongside former UFC middleweight champion Michael Bisping, veteran MMA analyst Jimmy Smith and lead UFC host Karyn Bryant for FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT: THOMPSON VS. TILL programming on Sunday, May 27.

Retired welterweight contender Dan Hardy and blow-by-blow announcer Brendan Fitzgerald call the bouts live Octagon-side from Liverpool, England. Megan Olivi adds reports and interviews fighters on-site. In addition, top-10 ranked UFC flyweight Brandon Moreno and Victor Davila call the fights in Spanish on FOX Deportes.

In the show’s headliner, hometown hero and No. 8-ranked welterweight Darren Till (16-0-1) puts his unbeaten record on the line against two-time world title challenger Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson (14-2-1). Fresh from a 2017 campaign in which he defeated Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone, Jessin Ayari and Bojan Velickovic, Till has crashed the welterweight top 10 and is headed straight for the belt. Standing in his path to a title shot is No. 1-ranked Thompson, who is regarded as one of the most feared strikers in MMA.

FOX Sports UFC programming begins Wednesday, May 23 with UFC TONIGHT on FS1 (8:00 PM ET), when host Kenny Florian and guest host Tyron Woodley preview the UFC FIGHT NIGHT: THOMPSON VS. TILL. No. 1-ranked flyweight Joseph Benavidez joins the show to talk about his upcoming UFC 225 bout against Sergio Pettis.

Coverage continues Saturday, May 26 (10:00 AM ET), with the FS1 UFC WEIGH-IN SHOW on FS2 and FOX Sports GO with Bryant, Bisping and Smith in studio discussing the fights, while Olivi reports onsite. Chiesa joins Bryant, Bipsing and Smith on the desk for Sunday’s UFC FIGHT NIGHT PREFIGHT SHOW on FS1 and FOX Sports GO (10:00 AM ET), previewing the day’s fights.

The two-hour UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRELIMS begin at 11:00 AM ET on FS1, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports GO with four exciting bouts. Claudio Silva (11-1) battles Nordine Taleb (14-4) in a welterweight scrap. Middleweights Daniel Kelly (13-3) and Tom Breese (10-1) tangle, while Brad Scott (12-5) and Salim Touahri (10-2) square off at 170 pounds. Plus, Gillian Robertson (4-2) and Molly McCann (7-1) open the PRELIMS with a flyweight clash.

The three-hour main card continues on FS1, FOX Deportes and FOX Sports GO at 1:00 PM ET and features five more action-packed bouts. No. 9-ranked welterweight Neil Magny (20-7) faces Craig White (14-7). Featherweights Arnold Allen (12-1) and Mads Burnell (9-2) meet. Jason Knight (20-4) and Makwan Amirkhani (13-3) square off in a 145-pound battle. Bantamweight Davey Grant (10-3) battles undefeated Manny Bermudez (12-0). Plus, Eric Spicely (10-4) and Darren Stewart (7-3, 1NC) open the main card with a middleweight bout.

The action wraps up immediately following the main event with the FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT POSTFIGHT SHOW, where Bryant, Bisping, Chiesa and Smith recap the event, while Olivi interviews fighters.

Leading up to the fights, UFC fighters offer unique, behind-the-scenes clips on FOX Sports PROcast and on the FOX UFC social pages. In addition, all programs are also available on FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83 on satellite radio and on the SiriusXM app.

FOX SPORTS UFC PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE

DATE TIME (ET) EVENT NETWORK*
Wednesday,

May 23

8:00 PM UFC TONIGHT FS1

 

Wednesday,

May 23

10:00 PM THE ULTIMATE FIGHTER FS1

 

Wednesday,

May 23

11:00 PM TUF TALK FS1

 

Saturday,

May 26

10:00 AM FS1 UFC WEIGH-IN SHOW FS2

 

Sunday,

May 27

10:00 AM FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT PREFIGHT SHOW FS1
Sunday,

May 27

11:00 AM FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT PRELIMS FS1 / FOX Deportes
Sunday,

May 27

1:00 PM FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT: THOMPSON VS. TILL FS1 / FOX Deportes
Sunday,

May 27

4:00 PM FS1 UFC FIGHT NIGHT POSTFIGHT SHOW FS1

*All programs available on FOX Sports GO and FOX Sports on SiriusXM channel 83

NASCAR-Cars_1040x585

FOX NASCAR at Charlotte Motor Speedway Quotes & Programming Schedule

NASCAR’s Longest Race, the COCA-COLA 600, Live on FOX Sunday; NASCAR XFINITY SERIES Live on FS1 Saturday
1,500th Episode of NASCAR RACE HUB, a Coca-Cola 600 Special Edition, and Rail Cam All on Tap this Week

CHARLOTTE, NC – NASCAR stages its longest race of the season, the COCA-COLA 600, at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend, live Sunday, May 27, on FOX (6:00 PM ET). In addition to the MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES’ 600-miler, included in FOX Sports’ Memorial Day Weekend line-up are Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY SERIES race (1:00 PM ET on FS1) and Thursday’s ARCA RACING SERIES event (9:00 PM ET on FS1).

1,500th EPISODE OF NASCAR RACE HUB AIRS TUESDAY:
NASCAR RACE HUB, NASCAR’s most-watched daily news program, celebrates its 1,500th episode Tuesday, May 22 (6:00 PM ET on FS1). With the milestone edition, RACE HUB extends its reign as the active FOX Sports program credited with more episodes than any other currently running across the FOX Sports family of national networks.

Tuesday’s installment will feature a retrospective of the best and most entertaining moments from FOX NASCAR’s flagship program over the past decade. It will be the 224th episode to air on FS1, while 1,276 installments aired on SPEED prior to the Aug. 2013 FS1 launch. The first episode of NASCAR RACE HUB premiered Oct. 12, 2009, on SPEED, co-hosted by Adam Alexander and Krista Voda.

FOX SPORTS REMEMBERS:
FOX NASCAR once again honors American service members who have fallen in the past year with “FOX Sports Remembers” during the May 27 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES race broadcast from Charlotte. The tribute, begun in 2009, features a running scroll listing the name of every U.S. service member who lost his or her life at home or abroad since last year’s Memorial Day Weekend race. The scroll runs throughout the MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP PRE-RACE, beginning at 5:30 PM ET on FOX, and is shown in its entirety at least once during the race broadcast.

NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL AIRS ON TUESDAY:
Tuesday’s NASCAR RACE HUB will be a “600 Winner’s Roundtable” edition. On the day marking the 1,500th episode of NASCAR RACE HUB, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Austin Dillon and Casey Mears gather on the set alongside Alexander and Spake to share their perspectives on why NASCAR’s longest race is so iconic, their individual feats and favorite memories in the 600.

RAIL CAM:
Following a successful test earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, FOX Sports will deploy a Mega Trax 500 robotic “Rail Cam” for NASCAR’s iconic Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 27 (6:00 PM ET, FOX). For a look at footage from the Fontana test: https://www.mega-trax.com/videos/

FOX Sports and Mega Trax will construct about 850 feet of rail behind the inside wall on the backstretch at Charlotte Motor Speedway. With near-silent operation, the FOX Sports Rail Cam accelerates from 0-to-60 mph in about three seconds, topping out at speeds in excess of 90 mph. For more information on the Mega Trax 500, please visit: https://www.mega-trax.com/

Below is programming information for the weekend ahead, as well as quotes from FOX NASCAR analysts Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon, Michael Waltrip and Jeff Hammond.

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES

  • Date/Time: Sunday, May 27 (6:00 PM ET)
  • Network: FOX
  • Announcers: Mike Joy, Hall of Famer and three-time champion Darrell Waltrip, four-time champ Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds
  • Pit reporters: Jamie Little, Vince Welch, Regan Smith and Matt Yocum
  • Pre-race: MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP PRE-RACE (5:30 PM ET on FOX); hosted by Chris Myers with Michael Waltrip, Gordon and Darrell Waltrip
  • NASCAR RACEDAY (4:30 PM ET on FS1); hosted by John Roberts with analysts Jeff Hammond and Bobby Labonte; pit reporting by Kenny Wallace
  • Hosts: Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip
  • FOX NASCAR production staff: Barry Landis (race producer); Artie Kempner (race director); Richie Zyontz (coordinating producer); and Jake Jolivette (pre-race producer)

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES

  • Date/Time: Saturday, May 26 (1:00 PM ET)
  • Network: FS1
  • Announcers: Adam Alexander, Michael Waltrip and driver analyst Erik Jones
  • Pit reporters: Jamie Little and Regan Smith
  • Pre-race: NASCAR RACEDAY-XFINITY (12:30 PM ET on FS1); hosted by Shannon Spake, Larry McReynolds and Michael Waltrip
  • Hosts: Spake and McReynolds
  • FOX NASCAR production staff: Pam Miller (race producer); Jeremy Green (race director); Richie Zyontz (coordinating producer); and Jeremy Menell (pre-race producer)

ARCA RACING SERIES

  • Date/Time: Thursday, May 24 (9:00 PM ET)
  • Network: FS1
  • Announcers: Vince Welch and Phil Parsons
  • Pit reporter: Jim Tretow

FOX NASCAR QUOTES

With five wins in 12 races in 2018 plus the All-Star Race, where do the No. 4 team and Kevin Harvick look to improve?
“You just want to be even more consistent and continue to improve in qualifying. That’s really all they can do. They have upped their qualifying game the past two races, and it has worked out well for them. It enabled them to get stage win points and the victories. More importantly, the consistency is there. They are the total package right now. Don’t let anyone try to tell you they are not. Harvick is the class of the field.”
–Jeff Hammond

One-third of the season has been completed and we’re 14 races from the start of the Playoffs. Who is your pick to be the four drivers battling for the championship at Homestead?
“We’ve talked a lot about the 4, 78 and the 18, which seem to be the three dominant cars so far in 2018. That seems to be a pattern that will continue throughout the season. Who will be the fourth to join them in the Playoffs? It’s starting to look like Kyle Larson.”
–Michael Waltrip

When asked on the FS1 Kansas pre-race show if he was worried about peaking too early in the season, Kevin Harvick indicated he just wants to win as many races as he can. What do you think of that approach?
“That’s what you have to do. You have to build up those playoff points because they are so important. If you have a blown engine somewhere, you’ll be out of the chance to win the championship without them. So, I like the No. 4 team’s attitude and the way they are charging.”
–Michael Waltrip

How is Ford so successful recently with the oldest body in the sport?
“There’s no doubt that everybody has the same opportunity. When Chevrolet came in and submitted this body style with the Camaro – it’s a great-looking car; they just need some more work and they’re working extremely hard behind-the-scenes to get the car better, but I don’t know if they’re going to get there in time. That’s the real question, and by not having Stewart-Haas there – they probably were the strongest Chevrolet team when they were with Chevrolet – and now they’re the strongest Ford team. There’s a common denominator there.”
–Jeff Gordon, on FOX Sports’ pre-race show

“I give Stewart-Haas Racing a lot of credit. When they were with Chevrolet, Chevrolet won a lot of races. When they moved over to Ford, Ford began winning a lot of races. Stewart-Haas Racing has a lot of smart people, and I give them a lot of the credit for the success of the manufacturer.”
–Darrell Waltrip

FOX NASCAR AT CHARLOTTE MOTOR SPEEDWAY PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE
(All times live/Eastern unless otherwise indicated & subject to change)

Thursday, May 24
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES practice (2:30-3:30 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION (3:30-4:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES practice (4:00-5:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION (5:00-6:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES qualifying (6:00-7:00 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES qualifying (7:00-8:30 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACE HUB: WEEKEND EDITION (8:30-9:00 PM) (FS1)
ARCA RACING SERIES Racing (9:00-11:00 PM) (FS1)

Saturday, May 26
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES practice (9:00-10:00 AM) (FS1)
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES qualifying (10:00-11:00 AM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES final practice (11:00 AM-12:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACEDAY-XFINITY (12:30-1:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR XFINITY SERIES Racing (1:00-4:00 PM) (FS1)

Sunday, May 27
NASCAR RACEDAY (4:30-5:30 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP PRE-RACE (5:30-6:00 PM) (FOX)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES Racing (6:00-10:30 PM) (FOX)

Fox Sports Logo

Seasoned Public Relations Professional Avis Roper Named Senior Director, Communications, FOX Sports

NEW YORK, NY – Longtime public relations executive Avis Roper has been named Senior Director, Communications for FOX Sports, it was announced today by Terri Hines, Executive Vice President, Communications. Roper will support communications strategy and day-to-day publicity for FOX Sports with a spotlight on NFL and MLB coverage. He will be based in the network’s New York office starting Monday, May 21.

“Avis brings over two decades of proven leadership and expertise in the sports communications field spanning a wide range of areas,” said Hines. “His deep relationships within the sports industry and exceptional reputation as a dependable, trusted, smart and strategic PR professional will be a true asset for our team. We look forward to him joining the FOX Sports family.”

For the past seven years, Roper served as the senior director of communications for the Indianapolis Colts. In this role, Roper was the day-to-day spokesperson on all football and corporate communications, while acting as the team’s liaison with local, national and international media outlets. Roper has over 20 years of NFL communications experience across four franchises.

In his previous role, Roper worked as the assistant director of communications with the New York Giants from 1999-2011 during which time the Giants were victorious over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Over his career, Roper has worked on the NFL public relations teams for several Super Bowls and NFC Championship games. In 2001, he was part of the Giants public relations crew that won the Pete Rozelle Award, honoring the league’s best public relations department. He also has held stints in the communications departments of the Carolina Panthers and St. Louis Rams, and spent time early in his career with the NBA.

Roper is currently serving as an advisory board member for the Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky region of the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A native of Charleston, S.C., Roper is an alumnus of South Carolina State University. He will be relocating his family to the New York-area with his wife, Catherine, and two children, Grayson and Sydney.

Alexi Lalas

21CF Chats: Alexi Lalas on the Life-Changing Power of the World Cup

FOX Sports’ lead soccer analyst and member of the National Soccer Hall of Fame talks about how the 1994 World Cup changed his life, expectations for the 2018 World Cup

By Jason Hahn for 21st Century Fox Blog

We’re less than a month away from the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, which will begin June 14 on FOX. This also means we’re that much closer to witnessing how the World Cup can change the trajectory of a player’s life. Alexi Lalas, FOX Sports’ studio analyst who will be covering FOX Sports’ first men’s World Cup presentation, can testify to the impact the biggest sporting event in the world can have on a person.

“I am living proof of that,” said Alexi, who was the first soccer analyst nominated for a Sports Emmy in the “Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst” category. “Somebody’s going to be touched by the soccer gods this summer, and his life is going to completely change forevermore.”

Read on for more of Alexi’s thoughts about this year’s World Cup, including the teams and players he expects to thrive, how he views his career path, what he’s looking forward to experiencing in Russia, and more.

You’ve been a lead studio analyst for 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cups, but this will be your first time being a FOX Sports studio analyst for a men’s World Cup. How is this time around different from your previous World Cup studio experiences?
Well, in terms of preparation, there’s not a lot that’s different. You have your 32 teams and you’re knee-deep in history and perspective to give you nuance and layers to talk about. The fact that it’s FOX’s first men’s World Cup doesn’t increase the pressure – it’s just a responsibility and an honor. We want to surpass previous networks’ coverage of the game and the event, and we want to do it the FOX way.

What do you mean by the “FOX way”?
We’re given license to be different and disruptive. When I’m covering a World Cup, regardless of whom I’m doing it for, I recognize that the people that I’m speaking to run the gamut in terms of experience and knowledge when it comes to the game. And when it comes to a World Cup, you’re going to have people who know very little about the game. We want to make sure that it’s accessible, interesting, informative and entertaining. We take what we do very seriously, but we don’t take ourselves seriously.

How do you view your role in FOX’s coverage of the World Cup?
We are characters in this performance. Sometimes when you say that, people will cringe. But I’ve always considered myself a performer and an entertainer. In no way does that mean that I can’t be competitive, passionate, genuine or truthful in the things that I’m saying. But there’s a recognition that we’re trying to make sure people want to watch what we’re doing, hear what we’re saying in the context of the biggest party in the world. We’re inviting people to that party, but once you get people into the building, it doesn’t mean that they’re going to stay. So it’s up to us as hosts to make sure that the party is something they never want to leave.

How has the World Cup changed the most since 1994, when you played with the U.S. Men’s National Team?
One of the reasons why I’m talking to you today is because of the summer of 1994. I lived the power of what a World Cup can do to an individual – it changed my life forever, for the good, and provided me incredible opportunities. I remind myself of it and am incredibly blessed to have gone through that moment that summer. That power of the game has grown exponentially, especially when you have the world watching with the ability to instantly have information, stories and videos at your fingertips. The viral nature of sports is a huge difference. On the field, analytics and the science behind the sport have changed things, even the way we televise it.

What do you make of the U.S. Men’s National Team’s absence?
It’s obviously a talking point; we’re not going to shove it into a corner. But I think if there’s any country in the world that has the ability to celebrate a men’s World Cup without its team in it, it’s the U.S. because of our incredible diversity and our affiliations and connections to teams all over the world. I think it’s going to be fun to see how many people in the U.S. gravitate to different teams and what attracts them to those teams. Is it a star player, a uniform, a backstory? Whatever it ends up being, there’s something that’s going to pull everybody in, and people are going to support teams they wouldn’t have under normal circumstances. And that’s going to be fun to see.

Which team or player will surprise us this year?
You can’t go wrong with Germany, the defending champions. The upper echelon is Germany, Brazil, Spain and any team that has [Lionel] Messi on it – this Argentina team. Right below that, you’ve got Belgium, Portugal, France and maybe England. Then you’re going to have incredible stories like Iceland, a country with 330,000 people at the World Cup. And you have a team like Egypt back after multiple decades being away, led by one of the great players in the world in Mo Salah. For me, that’s going to be really interesting. We talk about stars driving this, and certainly you’re going to have your “Big 3” of Neymar, Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. But I think Salah’s really going to come into this conversation because of what he’s doing now with Liverpool. Can he translate into something big on the World Cup stage, with what everybody recognizes is a team not as strong as Germany or Argentina? Inevitably, somebody and some team is going to do something incredible and wonderful to jump up into our consciousness, and somebody’s life is going to be changed.

Will this be your first time to Russia? If so, what are you excited to see or do there?
This is one of the few places I haven’t been to, so I’m really excited. As a kid growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, I remember what Russia represented back then. I’m fascinated to see this country through the lens of the World Cup, and I’m looking forward to experiencing the country, its people and its culture.

Click HERE to view the original post on 21st Century Fox Blog.

2018 FOX NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star Race Broadcast Team

FOX NASCAR Coverage of Monster Energy All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway Quotes & Programming Schedule

MONSTER ENERGY ALL-STAR RACE, MONSTER ENERGY OPEN & NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES Live on FS1 under the Lights

2018 FOX NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star Race Broadcast Team

2018 FOX NASCAR Monster Energy All-Star Race Broadcast Team (from left): Vince Welch, Larry McReynolds, Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon, Darrell Waltrip, Matt Yocum, Jamie Little; (in the TV) Chris Myers, Michael Waltrip (Artist: Jim Hunt)

CHARLOTTE – NASCAR has the first of two consecutive home games this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, with FOX Sports telecasting more than 15 hours of live programming for the MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE and the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES on Friday and Saturday.

Included are FS1’s live race coverage of the MONSTER ENERGY ALL-STAR RACE (Saturday, May 19 at 8:00 PM ET), the MONSTER ENERGY OPEN last-chance qualifier (Saturday, May 19 at 6:00 PM ET) and the NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES (Friday, May 18 at 8:30 PM ET).

Calling Saturday’s All-Star Race are play-by-play announcer Mike Joy; analysts Darrell Waltrip, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds; pit reporters Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Matt Yocum; and network coverage hosts Chris Myers and Michael Waltrip. Cartoonist Jim Hunt lent his unique take on the FOX NASCAR on-air team calling Saturday’s All-Star Race in the attached caricature.

NASCAR RACE HUB SPECIAL AIRS ON THURSDAY:
NASCAR RACE HUB gets a jumpstart on the Charlotte activities with a special episode on Thursday, May 17, featuring Jimmie Johnson (2003), Tony Stewart (2009), Jeff Gordon (2001), Joey Logano (2016), Darrell Waltrip (1985) and Michael Waltrip (1996) recounting their memorable MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES ALL-STAR RACE victories. Adam Alexander and Shannon Spake co-host the special.

RACE HUB AIRS FEATURE WITH INSPIRATIONAL BLIND USC LONG SNAPPER JAKE OLSON ON WEDNESDAY:
Prior to his participation in pre-race ceremonies at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Friday’s NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES race (live on FS1 at 8:30 PM ET), inspirational University of Southern California long snapper Jake Olson, who is blind, will be in the NASCAR RACE HUB studio Wednesday, May 16 (6:00 PM ET). Olson also will take NASCAR RACE HUB behind-the-scenes of his at-track activities in the days preceding the race. Olson will take a ride in a two-seater Truck with FOX NASCAR analyst and two-time Truck Series champion Todd Bodine, who then will guide the football player through navigating a street car around the 1.5-mile track.

Olson inspired millions when he completed his second career snap in a live game during the Trojans’ 2017 football season. Olson was born with retinoblastoma, which forced the surgical removal of both of his eyes as a child. The NASCAR RACE HUB feature showcasing Olson’s day at the speedway airs Wednesday, May 16 (6:00 PM ET).

Below is programming information for the weekend ahead, as well as quotes from FOX NASCAR analysts Darrell Waltrip, Larry McReynolds and Michael Waltrip.

MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES
• Date/Time: Saturday, May 19 (8:00 PM ET)
• Network: FS1
• Announcers: Mike Joy, Hall of Famer and three-time champion Darrell Waltrip, four-time champ Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds
• Pit reporters: Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Matt Yocum
• Pre-race: NASCAR RACEDAY (MONSTER ENERGY OPEN) at 5:00 PM ET on FS1; NASCAR RACEDAY (MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE) at 7:00 PM ET on FS1; hosted by Chris Myers with analyst Michael Waltrip
• Hosts: Myers and Michael Waltrip
• FOX NASCAR production staff: Barry Landis (race producer); Artie Kempner (race director); Richie Zyontz (coordinating producer); and Jake Jolivette (pre-race producer)

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
• Date/Time: Friday, May 18 (8:30 PM ET)
• Network: FS1
• Announcers: Vince Welch, Phil Parsons and Michael Waltrip
• Pit reporters: Hermie Sadler and Kaitlyn Vincie
• Pre-race: NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS (8:00 PM ET on FS1); hosted by John Roberts with analysts Todd Bodine and Jeff Hammond
• FOX NASCAR production staff: Mark Smith (race producer); Roger Vincent (race director); Pete Richards (coordinating producer)

FOX NASCAR QUOTES

On what to expect given the rules package for the MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE:
“I think you can forget the Ford, Chevrolet and Toyota comparisons this weekend. This should be a chance for teams just to race cars, which will be cool. I also wonder if an underdog can step up and win because of the rules package.”
–Michael Waltrip

“We’re going to run a very different aero package, and I’m excited to see what kind of racing it produces because of how it performed at Indianapolis with the Xfinity cars last year. I really like the race format because there are no gimmicks. We don’t have to figure out average finish in the early segments. We don’t have a field inversion or a mandatory pit stop. We aren’t going to pull the drivers down pit road before the final segment to check lug nuts like we check kids’ shoelaces before they go out on the playground. It’s just racing and a concentration on track position to try to win $1 million.”
–Larry McReynolds

On how restrictor plates for the All-Star Race could change the complexion of the race:
“Most drivers won’t be lifting around the track with the restrictor plate, and that taxes them more than ever because every little bit makes a difference. The restrictor plates will put a lot of pressure on drivers to stay after it and be aggressive. That could be a big advantage for a few of those guys who tend to be more aggressive on the track.”
–Darrell Waltrip

On what you’ll be watching for in Saturday’s race:
“Fuel mileage could be a bigger factor than tires, and teams will be looking at whether they just take fuel or go with two tires. Tire strategy could be all over the place. With PJ1 on the track and the speeds they’ll be running, tires could be less of a factor than fuel.”
–Darrell Waltrip

On how the final 10-lap shootout might unfold with the new rules package:
“It’s going to be a lot like 1995. When they drop the green flag for the final shootout, everybody is going to be all over the race track because they’re all going to be running wide open. If someone has to lift, he’s going to get run over from behind. And they’ll go down the back straightaway, if they make it that far, about five-wide trying to get into the third turn. The final stage could be unbelievable, but who knows how many cars will be left in the final stage by then.”
–Darrell Waltrip

FOX NASCAR AT MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE
PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE
(All times live/Eastern unless otherwise indicated & subject to change)
Friday, May 18
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES practice (10:30-11:30 AM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY OPEN practice (11:30 AM-12:15 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE practice (12:15-1:00 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY OPEN final practice (1:00-1:45 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE final practice (1:45-2:30 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE pit road speed practice (2:30-3:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES qualifying (4:30-6:00 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE qualifying (incl. Open) (6:00-8:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS (8:00-8:30 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES Racing (8:30-10:30 PM) (FS1)

Saturday, May 19
NASCAR RACEDAY: MONSTER ENERGY OPEN (5:00-5:45 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY OPEN Racing (5:45-7:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACEDAY: MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE (7:00-8:00 PM) (FS1)
MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR ALL-STAR RACE Racing (8:00-10:00 PM) (FS1)