Ryan Blaney Voices Frustration With Fox After Network Embarrasses Him a Second Year in a Row at Fontana
Ryan Blaney has become a regular the last several seasons as a guest analyst in the Fox broadcast booth, covering Xfinity Series races with fellow Team Penske driver Joey Logano. Last year the younger driver called out the network after an embarrassing on-air moment when he was omitted from a promotional graphic. Several days later, Fox made good with a flattering promo designed specifically for the driver.
Interestingly, it appeared to happen again this past weekend at the same track. Or did it? That’s the question some fans are asking after the driver expressed surprise and frustration with the network’s omission, only for the broadcast to promptly address the situation with props included just moments later.
Ryan Blaney embarrassed by Fox last year and network responded several days later
Ryan Blaney made his season debut last year in the Xfinity Series broadcast booth with Joey Logano and Fox’s Adam Alexander at the second race of the season in Fontana at Auto Club Speedway.
Things were quiet in the first stage but took an uncomfortable turn in Stage 2 when a caution came out, and the broadcast showed a graphic promoting the Cup Series race for the following day that featured Logano, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Larson, Bubba Wallace, and Chase Elliott. Blaney was nowhere to be found.
“I’m not a star, I guess, because I didn’t get my face on the deal,” Blaney pointed out. When Alexander asked what pose the driver would use for the photo, he said, “you’ll never know,” and joked it was his last booth appearance until the promo was changed.
Fox re-aired the promo later in the race, and Blaney jokingly threatened to walk off the air. He didn’t. Interestingly, a couple of days later, he made a guest appearance on NASCAR Race Hub, and early in the show the network aired a promotion for the upcoming race at Las Vegas that was dedicated solely to the driver of the No. 12 car.
“I really do appreciate that,” he said. “I think I threatened to not come back on the broadcast or show. That’s what you got to do. You got to lay the law down and look where it gets you.”
Blaney excluded again this year
This past weekend it was the same cast of characters in Fontana on Saturday for the Xfinity race, except weather, including a surprise snowstorm, forced NASCAR to push the event to after Sunday’s Cup Series race.
During the broadcast, a similar graphic with the same drivers from last year appeared, promoting the upcoming Cup race next week in Las Vegas. Blaney couldn’t help but have flashbacks because, once again, he was noticeably missing.
“I come up here yesterday, raining, knowing we’re not going to race yesterday, and you guys make me sit in the booth and then I come back today after the Cup race and you still don’t put me on the damn picture,” Blaney said, sounding irritated. “I tell you what — I don’t know why I do this anymore with you guys.”
Network promptly responds this time around
While bothered by his absence from the graphic, Blaney took it in stride. It also helped moments later when the broadcast shifted to the Charlotte studios and the crew tried to smooth things over with the driver.
“Hey listen, Ryan, we heard what you had to say about the promo out there and how they didn’t put you on there, so we’ve taken care of that, my friend,” Shannon Spake said, as three large graphics of Blaney appeared in the background. In addition, Spake and Larry McReynolds held cutouts of the driver. “This is the Ryan Blaney Race Day studio, OK.”
It was at that moment, fans couldn’t help but think the whole scenario might have been scripted. How else do you explain McReynolds and Spake having Blaney cutouts in their possession minutes after the driver expressed his frustration with the network making the same mistake two years in a row?
While funny, the moment lost some luster as it appeared it was all part of a pre-planned conflict, which is really unnecessary because most fans agree Blaney and Logano bring enough of their own natural humor to the broadcast without any help.