The coverage will be led by an all-star lineup of experienced broadcasters and well-known personalities. This includes long-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series lead announcer Rick Allen, former Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Steve Letarte, and former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jeff Burton in the booth.
On pit road, former ESPN reporters Dave Burns and Mike Massaro will join former TNT action caller Marty Snider and NBC motorsports reporter Kelli Stavast. Executive Producer Sam Flood gave this group the task of taking the viewer “inside the race, tell you why things are happening down there.”
Anchoring pre and post-race coverage will be former FOX Sports host Krista Voda. She will be joined by NASCAR champion, Daytona 500 winner, and former ESPN analyst Dale Jarrett and former NASCAR driver and FOX Sports and TNT analyst Kyle Petty.
Lead NBC Sports NASCAR writer Nate Ryan will also appear on the coverage, and add in his years of experience from working in the media center.
Completing the team will be the popular Rutledge Wood who comes over from FOX Spots and will serve as a specialty reporter. Flood described his role as making “the tracks stars and make people understand why it’s cool to go to Bristol, why you’ve got to make a trip at some point to Talladega when you’re a true NASCAR fan, why you have to experience a race in Watkins Glen.”
These elements are often left out of the broadcast. However, their importance is vital to growing the sport and Wood will cover this aspect throughout the final 20 races.
Including “some of the cool cultural elements that are around these racetracks and places you need to go,” could attract fans to explore what the different tracks have to offer and provide a taste of the at the track experience for those unable to take it in for themselves.
The network has nearly every angle in the sport covered. This, combined with experience, dedication, and passion that the crew displays is remarkable and will assist NBC in their goal “to be storyteller(s),” according to Flood.
This style reflects the approach NBC has taken with all of its sports coverage. Their methods are revolutionary as the network works hard to dig beyond the dominant narrative of the event and figure out the most important question of “why,” according to Flood.
“I think our number one job is to tell the story of the race,” he added. This approach contrasts the way most networks have covered the sport in the past. However, it will add another layer to each event and make it more exciting for viewers.
Going in-depth in various race developments is something fans are often left doing for themselves while the broadcast speeds along with the pace of the race. However, if NBC allows the pictures to speak for themselves on the screen and concentrates on telling the story behind the development, they will find success.
Flood emphasized this to Burton and Letarte. If the analysts can answer “why one car can’t turn as well as another car turns; why one car is great on pit road and another car is not,” they will better help the viewer understand what they are watching unfold.
When discussing ways the network is helping NASCAR grow its product, President of Programming Jon Miller described the influence they had on the scheduling of the next 20 races.
Many non-traditional start times appear in the summer events. However, the masterplan behind this is NBC looking “to maximize the ratings, maximize the exposure, and give it the best possible lead in that we can.”
Miller also stated that they are also aiming to “maximize that audience to try to deliver for advertisers as well as make it accessible to as many viewers as possible.”
In addition, the network has developed various innovative ways to engage fans. The strategies incorporate both the digital and in-person setting, something the sport has only had a small taste of in the past.
To provide fans with the most access to each event, NBC Sports Live Extra will offer “a lot of different views of the race, a lot of different ways to consume the race in new ways, both statistical information and visual, so you’re going to be able to see a number of different cameras, camera angles, and audio that you wouldn’t otherwise hear,” Flood said.
NBC Sports Live Extra is available as an app and online for those whose providers offer the service. Among those who do include DIRECTV, Time Warner Cable, and XFINITY. To see a full list and find out if you have access, use this link.
When engaging fans at the track, the network has placed the pre-race set at the head of pit road, right in the middle of the action. This will allow Voda, Jarrett, and Petty to engage with fans and make them feel as if they are a part of the show.
The thought process behind this is that “we (NBC) want to showcase how cool it is to be at the racetrack. That’s one of the key agenda points we have in our pre-race show, to bring the fans back to the energy and excitement of the racetrack,” Flood described.
The major difference in the product NBC plans to offer compared to previous broadcast partners is their goal of “staying true to the sport and growing the sport,” Flood explained.
Through using the at the track experience and environment surrounding each race, they will provide viewers with a fresh look into the sport that has the potential to attract new fans. By incorporating what fans love about NASCAR and showing what makes it unique, the coverage is sure to score big.
Hype remains high as the events from “The World Center of Racing” near. The network has given viewers every indication that the broadcasts will provide a new angle into the sport that has potential to promote growth in the long run.
The entire broadcast teams seems just as excited as fans are about the sport. This should translate into great coverage that viewers will look forward to each week. A new chapter begins in Daytona for both the network and NASCAR, and its potential is endless.
By Jason Schultz