Turn 2 Blog: Awaiting Kevin Harvick in the booth & Can the Vegas GP live up to the hype?

*Turn 2 Blog is a regular feature on InsideCircleTrack.com. Here, site operators Michael Moats and Richard Allen take turns offering their thoughts on the NASCAR and pavement short track racing topics of the day.

Are you excited about getting Kevin Harvick the broadcaster?

Richard: I am looking forward to the perspectives Kevin Harvick will provide in the NASCAR on Fox booth. In the NASCAR Xfinity Series races in which he has served as a commentator, I feel like he has done an outstanding job. And the fact that he is so fresh out of the driver’s seat should allow fans to get more of an insider’s point of view than that already available.

I feel like the NBC quartet of Rick Allen, Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Earnhardt Jr. do a really solid job of reporting on the action in the NASCAR races that network covers. I have not really been a fan of Fox’s rotating booth personalities.

Kevin Harvick

I think Harvick will be a great permanent addition and can serve as the yen to Clint Bowyer’s yang in that he will offer a more serious viewpoint while Bowyer interjects more light hearted takes. I think Harvick’s knowledge and the stability he will bring to the booth will serve Fox well in 2024.

Michael: I think Harvick will be excellent in the booth. Even when he called some of the truck races at Eldora, he came off as a prepared person even though he didn’t know much about dirt racing. He asked the right people the right questions and it showed in his preparation.

The million-dollar question is will Fox let him shine the way he’s capable or will it be covered up by some of their antics and silliness? I don’t mind joking around especially when announcers are taking jabs at each other but the pre-race antics of the Grid Walk, some of the goofy camera shots, and not-so-subtle sponsor placements can make it difficult to take their broadcasts too seriously.

Can the Las Vegas Grand Prix live up to the hype?

Richard: Is Taylor Swift going to be there?

Unless she and Travis Kelce show up in Vegas, there isn’t much of a chance this race gets any more hyped than it already is. Several factors including the Netflix series Drive to Survive, some intriguing personalities and storylines, and more American friendly start times have fueled a bit of a Formula 1 resurgence in the United States and all of the Americas. That is especially true when it comes to the ‘see-and-be-seen’ crowd.

The racing in and of itself is typically not very good as the same guy wins virtually every week. But F1 has never really been as much about the competition on the track as it has been about the drama off the track. It’s essentially a high speed soap opera.

Back to the question, there is no way the Las Vegas Grand Prix can live up to the hype considering that the hype has been extraordinary. There are several things working against it. First and foremost is the ridiculous middle of the night start time. Of course, event organizers want the lights of the Las Vegas Strip to be highly visible and the cover of darkness is the way to make the most of that. And there is also a report out there that F1 officials scheduled the late start because they incorrectly thought it would be necessary because the heat not knowing that it actually gets quite cool in Nevada when the sun goes down at this time of year.

A second factor working against the race is the fact that F1 events are highly predictable with Max Verstappen winning virtually all the time. American motorsports fans who may not follow F1 closely (provided they are still awake at the time of the start) will not be hooked by watching the already crowned champion deliver yet another butt kicking to the field.

In the end, this race can’t possibly live up to the hype. But the key to F1 is the outrageous amount of money that changes hands before, during, and after a race and there is no doubt a lot of that has been going on here. The question is, can it be good enough to warrant doing all of this again in 2024?

Michael: I’m afraid this race has the potential to be a big dud. I’m not rooting for that to happen. It just seems there are too many things working against it.

As you mentioned, the ridiculous start time has to upset the fans in Europe. When the race starts, it will be 4 in the morning in a number of countries. Not to mention how late it will be in the eastern time zone in the U.S.

I’ve read that ticket and hotel demands are nowhere close to what organizers thought it would be. Some of the premium areas that were going for $7,000 and up are down around $1,000. Hotels aren’t being booked like they thought as well as the same for 5-star restaurants. They better hope people are just waiting on prices bottoming out before scooping them up at the last minute.

With the University of Michigan sign stealing controversy, isn’t it interesting that NASCAR teams can listen to each other’s radio conversations?

Richard: In my opinion, the fact that anyone can listen to drivers, crew chiefs, and spotters communicate with one another during the course of a race is one of the best things about NASCAR. No other sport allows such an inside view of what is going on as this one.

With that being the case, the teams have to give something up and that, of course, is their privacy. When I say anyone can listen, that means anyone, including the rivals. As a result of that, the teams often use code words and other trickery to keep the eavesdropping competition guessing or to even mislead them.

I think the whole thing with the University of Michigan is probably being overblown and the backlash they are receiving is primarily being driven by social media reactionaries. Football would be ruined if teams knew each other’s plays ahead of time but that’s nothing that can’t be learned by simply conducting a good scouting report.

Having the radio conversations available to everyone, including broadcasters, forces NASCAR teams to be more creative while adding to the entertainment value of the races.

Michael: One of the things that makes NASCAR so unique is the ability for anyone to get a scanner or radio and listen to any team’s communications. When I was a regular attendee of races at Bristol, I bought a scanner and would listen to some of the teams throughout the race. Even now, I take my scanner when covering a race to listen to the broadcast because a person can hear when the pit reporters are telling the director they have a developing story to insert into the broadcast.

Leagues like the XFL have allowed fans to hear communications between referees and the replay booth and from coach-to-coach on the same team. I always like that aspect, especially the replay booth. It gave some transparency to what was taking place. Maybe Fox and NBC should do the same with the NASCAR control tower so fans will really know what’s being said in certain situations.

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