NASCAR's long offseason is now complete. Cars are back on track in Daytona Beach and the high banks should be busy, weather permitting. Frontstretch.com's Phil Allaway takes you through the sport's 2021 debut and where you can find your favorite stock car stars on TV this weekend... leading to the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, on Sunday.
For 2021, the big story in NASCAR TV is Clint Bowyer's move to the broadcast booth to partner up with Mike Joy and Jeff Gordon at FOX Sports. So far, Bowyer is still trying to get his sea legs. He's learning the ropes of being in the broadcast booth and critiquing himself in the process. He's not that pleased with his performance from Tuesday night on the Busch Clash broadcast, but improved as the night went on.
That said, Bowyer is still new to this medium. He's finding out that it's going to be a little different than when he was a guest analyst on Xfinity broadcasts. I think he'll be able to develop a rapport with Joy and Gordon, forming a strong trio FOX needs for quality coverage. He might end up being a little more subdued than race fans are used to on-air, but I think he'll settle in fine.
Having Bowyer in the booth will result in a different feel for FOX's Cup broadcasts. Last year was a little quieter than normal with the retirement of Darrell Waltrip. Putting Bowyer in the booth is a step back towards that direction, so expect things to become a bit more hyper in 2021. The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series broadcasts from last year could be an indication of how this could look at times. While Gordon was active in the Cup Series as recently as 2016, there have been a lot of rule changes since then. Bowyer is more in tune with the current cars and can definitely help fans understand what these current cars need in order to perform.
For the NASCAR Cup Series, the field will be set for the Daytona 500 tonight in the Bluegreen Vacation Duels. Coverage will begin with "NASCAR RaceDay" at 6:30 p.m. ET on FS1 with the race broadcast beginning at 7 p.m. Radio coverage is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Saturday has Cup teams scheduled to run two practice sessions. The first will be at 9:30 a.m. on FS2, while the final session will be at Noon on FS1.
Finally, there is plenty of Daytona coverage on Sunday. That will begin at 11 a.m. with "NASCAR RaceDay" on FS1. Pre-race coverage moves to FOX at 1 p.m. with the race beginning just after 2:30. Radio coverage begins at Noon on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio with an exclusive pre-race show hosted by Claire B. Lang and Brad Gillie. MRN Radio joins at 1:30 p.m. for continued pre-race coverage and the race itself. Once the race is over, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio has post-race coverage scheduled through 8:30 p.m.
NASCAR Xfinity Series teams are scheduled to practice for 50 minutes Friday at 4:30 p.m. with coverage on FS1. Qualifying will be Saturday morning at 10:30 a.m. on FS2. Race coverage will start with "NASCAR RaceDay – Xfinity Edition" at 4 p.m. on FS1 following the ARCA Menards Series season opener with the Beef. It's What's For Dinner. 300 starting shortly after 5 p.m.
Tony Stewart will be in the booth Saturday along with Bowyer and Adam Alexander. Stewart doesn't have a lot of broadcasting experience, but he has appeared on broadcasts of then-Busch Series races in the past on TNT. He seemed to have a lot of fun. Having Bowyer there as well will make for an interesting telecast. Radio coverage will start at 4:30 p.m. on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio before getting into the race.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams are scheduled to get out on track Thursday for a 50-minute practice session at 5:30 p.m. This will be broadcast live on FS1, while qualifying is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday on FS1. Coverage of the NextEra Energy 250 begins with "NASCAR RaceDay – CWTS Edition" at 6:30 p.m. with the race starting shortly after at 7:30 p.m. Radio coverage is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. on MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.