NASCAR: Fox called on to make a big change after Kansas

Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images) /

Fox has tried something new this year with their NASCAR Cup Series broadcasts, and while many have enjoyed it, others have another suggestion.

Following Fox’s portion of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, four-time series champion Jeff Gordon, who had been in the booth since 2016, stepped away after six seasons to focus on his role as the vice chairman of Hendrick Motorsports.

This made the 2022 season yet another season of change for the Fox Sports. Three-time series champion Darrell Waltrip retired after 2019, but there was no replacement for him in 2020 alongside Gordon and lead announcer Mike Joy.

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However, instead of rolling with a two-man booth again for 2021, Fox brought on Clint Bowyer, who retired from Cup Series competition following the 2020 season, to join Joy and Gordon.

In 2022, following Gordon’s departure, Fox tried something new yet again.

They did not go with a two-man booth, but they also did not go with a single replacement for Gordon. They have had multiple individuals occupy the third booth seat throughout their first three-plus months of coverage of the 2022 season.

So far, 12 different individuals have had the chance to join Joy and Bowyer, including Gordon and Waltrip for one race each. Those individuals include Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Danica Patrick, Chad Knaus, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Larry McReynolds, Richard Petty, Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, and most recently Jamie McMurray.

McMurray, who joined the Fox team as an analyst for Fox NASCAR following the 2018 season when he stepped away from full-time Cup Series competition, was the third member of the booth for this past Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway.

Many believe that it was a natural fit.

The 45-year-old Joplin, Missouri native’s experience as a former NASCAR driver and his experience as an analyst for the past few years allowed him to provide fans with valuable insight and analysis throughout the event.

Joe Gibbs Racing driver and 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin was one of many who voiced an abundance of support toward the idea of moving McMurray to the booth for Fox’s full slate of Cup Series races in 2023, as well as their final few races of the 2022 season.

Fox has four races left on their 2022 calendar, including this coming Sunday’s All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway (Fox Sports 1).

In terms of points races, their final three races of the year include the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 29 (Fox), the inaugural Cup Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Sunday, June 5 (Fox Sports 1), and the race at Sonoma Raceway on Sunday, June 12 (Fox Sports 1).

The Cup Series then has off the following weekend, Father’s Day weekend, before NBC kicks off their 20-race portion of the schedule with the race at Nashville Superspeedway on Sunday, June 26.

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Fox has not confirmed the third member of the booth for any of their remaining four races in 2022, nor have they confirmed their booth structure for 2023. But if they do opt to roll with a three-man booth featuring a third full-time member, McMurray would certainly be a popular selection.