Motorsport News

Mike Joy Defies Haters, Slow Reaction Hampers FOX in Phoenix

2023 Cup Phoenix I pack racing II - Ryan Preece, No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford (Credit: NKP)

Given Phoenix Raceway’s position as the host of the NASCAR Cup Series championship race, the March event weekend takes a high degree of importance. In 2023, it is even more so for Cup Series teams since the new rules for short tracks and road courses debuted. That would lead to a different race.

Races at Phoenix are always a bit of a letdown for a lot of race fans. You don’t always get the constant action that fans crave. It is possible that a couple drivers might end up dominating the affair. That’s what you got Sunday in that Kyle Larson led nearly two-thirds of the race by himself.

However, the new rules package did improve the overall racing product in Phoenix. As compared to the championship race last year, there were nearly 500 more passes under green with only four fewer laps under yellow. The thing is, if you don’t show as much racing for position as you can, viewers are going to get bored. If you try to narrow everything down, that’s going to hurt you.

Sunday actually saw some FOX Sports cross-promotion. Phoenix hosted a NASCAR Invitational bowling competition Friday night at the track (it aired on FOX Sports 1 Sunday immediately prior to NASCAR RaceDay), so we went behind the scenes there. It seemed like everyone was having fun there. I’ll admit to having watched the bowling Sunday afternoon. Let’s put it this way. There was quite the difference between the pros and NASCAR drivers.

On the broadcast itself, FOX made a change to their pylon. For the past couple of years, FOX has had these race status bars that show up every now and then. Sunday saw this integrated into the pylon as a way to show how far into the stages and the race itself we were.

It wasn’t exactly something that I was asking for. Most weeks, it will likely be of limited use. Phoenix is an exception to the rule, though. Sunday’s race had irregular stage lengths (60 laps, then 125 and 127). I don’t understand the rhyme or reason of that set up, but it’s what we have. I can’t see such a graphical setup being of any real use at a more typical race, but for quirkier events, it’ll have a place.

Sunday also saw some more issues with the production being able to keep tabs with the commentators. A couple of laps after the aforementioned pylon enhancement was unveiled, BJ McLeod slowed on the track with what turned out to be an issue with the fuel pump.

Danica Patrick was the first to point out McLeod’s issues, then Mike Joy and…

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