NASCAR: Why wasn’t Tony Stewart in the Fox broadcast booth?

Tony Stewart, NASCAR on Fox - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Tony Stewart, NASCAR on Fox - Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Danica Patrick was in the Fox booth for this past Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, not Tony Stewart.

For the first time in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, three-time champion Tony Stewart was not in the booth calling the race alongside lead announcer Mike Joy and analyst Clint Bowyer.

Fox, which have already signed Kevin Harvick to join Joy and Stewart full-time in 2024 once he retires from driving, have not committed to a third member of the booth since Jeff Gordon left following the network’s 2021 portion of the Cup Series schedule.

Gordon, who spent six seasons in the booth after retiring from full-time Cup Series competition, left to focus on his new role as Vice Chairman of Hendrick Motorsports.

Fox could have stuck with a two-man booth, as they did in 2020 with Joy and Gordon after Darrell Waltrip retired — and when Bowyer was still competing full-time.

Instead, they opted to call upon various individuals to fill the third seat throughout the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

When they opted to take the same approach again in 2023, many believed that the choice was made so that the seat was free for Harvick in 2024. That proved to be true.

Just as he did last year, Stewart opened up the season in the booth, calling both the Busch Light Clash preseason exhibition race at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. He also joined Joy and Bowyer for the Pala Casino 400 at Auto Club Speedway, a race for which Matt Kenseth was in the booth last year.

Stewart is set to return to the booth, but not until the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which Gordon called last year, on Sunday, March 19.

Danica Patrick called this past Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and she is set to return for this coming Sunday’s race at Phoenix Raceway. She was in the booth for both of these races last year as well.

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Nobody has been confirmed for the third spot for the race at Circuit of the Americas on Sunday, March 26. Stewart was in the booth for that race last year.