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Fox has broadcast NASCAR for two-plus decades but based on the network’s performance this year, you couldn’t tell. There have been multiple missteps in coverage throughout the season, and on Sunday at the first-ever race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis, the network added a couple more embarrassing blunders to the growing list.  

Denny Hamlin and Ross Chastain feud and Fox misses two key moments of conflict

Fans were understandably excited for the inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at WWT Raceway. Those in attendance and watching at home on TV saw some entertaining side-by-side action in the first stage, with one duel featuring Ross Chastain and Denny Hamlin battling for fourth place. 

Early in the second stage, an impatient Chastain had seen enough of the No. 11’s rear and drove hard into the corner, sending Hamlin out of the way and up into the outside wall. Those in the stands saw it live. However, those watching on TV had to be informed about the situation upon returning from a commercial break. 

Not a great start to the day’s coverage. Unfortunately, it was going to get a lot worse.    

Hamlin was unhappy about the move and showed his displeasure when Chastain lapped him a few minutes later by moving the No. 1 car down low on the track, forcing him to narrowly miss running on the infield grass on the front stretch.  

The next time the two cars got near each other happened on a restart with just over 30 laps to go. The No. 11 pulled in front of the Trackhouse Racing car and drove, mirror-watching, which meant mirroring every move of the trailing car. Fox showed the battle and the announcers, particularly guest analyst Kenny Wallace, excitedly called the action. 

The cameras stayed on the two cars for a full-minute, including a side-by-side box with the leaders in the other box. Unbelievably, during the moment that it was evident Chastain was going to dive-bomb underneath Hamlin for the pass, the cameras inexplicably cut away.

Both Jamie Little and Michael Waltrip continued commenting on the action between the pair while the cameras showed the leaders who weren’t in any position to make a pass.   

Fox NASCAR coverage misses Bubba Wallace spin

Later in the stage, with 12 laps remaining, Clint Bowyer just happened to be talking about Bubba Wallace and the Toyotas finding speed since the race at Kansas when the No. 23 went for a spin. 

“Whoa! Turn 3,” Mike Joy abruptly interrupted Bowyer. With the play-by-play announcer excitedly interjecting that something was happening in Turn 3, the audience naturally thought the cameras would show what Joy was seeing. It didn’t happen. 

“Bubba Wallace, speaking of that,” Bowyer said. “I spoke too soon on that name.” The cameras stayed on the race between Wallace’s teammate Kurt Busch and Tyler Reddick for third and fourth place. 

“And he did not spin,” Joy said as the cameras finally showed Wallace six full seconds after the broadcaster first called out the incident. “He got a shot going into Turn 3 from Ricky Stenhouse.”

Six seconds doesn’t sound like a lot of time, but in sports television, that’s a huge gap between what is being described and what the audience at home is seeing. 

Kevin Harvick and Joey Logano called out embarrassing coverage a week ago

Anyone who might suggest FS1 was having an off-week would be ignoring the series of blunders that have happened throughout the season. One of the most embarrassing happened last weekend during the drivers-only broadcast of the Xfinity Series race at Charlotte.

JR Motorsports drivers Justin Allgaier and Josh Berry had taken a sizeable advantage over the field and were battling for the lead late in the race. Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, and Ryan Blaney described the exciting side-by-side racing between the pair up in the broadcast booth. 

However, during one 40-second period when the drivers were detailing the action for the audience, the cameras focused on Noah Gragson, who had only taken the lead because of green-flag pit stops. The drivers in the booth and the audience at home knew the battle was between Allgaier and Berry, but obviously, the director did not. 

After more than half a minute of showing Gragson, Harvick voiced his frustration off the microphone in the background.

“They’re not showing the 7 and the 8,” he said. Less than a second later, the broadcast switched to show Berry and Allgaier next to each other. 

“This is going to be the battle for the lead and possibly the win if it continues to go green. This is what we were seeing outside our window here,” Logano said, calling out Fox for not showing what they had been describing. “These guys came off pit road side by side.” 

A week later and the Cup Series coverage on Fox maintained its sub-par standard. Which is a shame for a race that provided some entertaining action that all the fans in the stands saw when it happened. Those at home were unfortunately left at the mercy of the director and this year that’s been almost like watching a broadcast with a 10-second delay.

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