Since Jeff Gordon announced last summer that he would be leaving the Fox broadcast booth to pursue full-time work with Hendrick Motorsports, there’s been a lot of speculation about who would replace him and team up with Clint Bowyer to offer driver insight during NASCAR Cup Series broadcasts.
The much-anticipated answer came Saturday night during the middle of the NFL playoff game between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49ers when the network announced another Hall of Famer would be joining Bowyer and Mike Joy in the booth at least for the first two races of the season.
Clint Bowyer had successful first year in broadcast booth with Jeff Gordon
Soon after Clint Bowyer joined Jeff Gordon in the Fox broadcast booth for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, the audience discovered the network had a narrative planned, focusing on the rivalry between the pair. The 2012 skirmish at Phoenix was low-hanging fruit and an easy backstory to build around.
The two drivers played their roles well, starting with the season-opening race at Daytona. During the pre-race show, the two participated in a Days of Thunder parody skit that began with each offering pre-race analysis with Chris Myers down on the track. When it was time to head up to the booth and call the race with Mike Joy, both men jumped in a pair of older rental cars conveniently located nearby for a race around the track.
Hilarity ensued as the drivers repeatedly slammed into each other as they made their way around the road course, each driver spinning out the other. At one point, when the cars reached the main speedway, Gordon delivered a jolting blow to Bowyer.
The two finished the race and sprinted up to the booth, the true winner unclear, but the network had established a competitive storyline that would extend throughout the rest of Fox’s NASCAR coverage in 2021.
Tony Stewart joining Clint Bowyer in the booth
There was undeniable on-camera chemistry between Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon. With Gordon now serving as the vice-chairman at HMS, Fox has been searching for his replacement. On Saturday night, the network announced what appears to be a solid choice, naming another Hall of Famer, Tony Stewart to work alongside Bowyer and Joy for the first two races of the season at the Clash in the Coliseum and the Daytona 500.
For those wondering if the partnership between the pair is going to work, they had to look no further than the social media response by the two former drivers following the announcement.
“I’m teammates with @ClintBowyer again,” Stewart tweeted. “@MikeJoy500 will have his hands full. This is going to be fun.”
“Looking forward to having ol’ Smoke in the booth with us to get things kicked off,” Bowyer said. “Sure to be fun!!”
New pairing should work for obvious reasons
The pairing of Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon worked because they did have their rivalry from almost a decade before. Bowyer and Stewart should also work, but for a different reason.
As the three-time Cup Series champion mentioned, the two have worked together closely in the past. Bowyer drove for Stewart-Haas Racing for the last four years of his career. That only happens because Stewart believed in Bowyer’s talent and liked him as a person.
That friendship, plus each former driver’s willingness to never sugarcoat anything and tell it like it is, should provide for some entertaining commentary — at least for the first two races. The question is — could it become permanent? Inquiring minds want to know.