NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Makes Primetime Broadcast Television Debut Thursday Night Live from Bristol Motor Speedway on FOX
Cup Points Leader Harvick in Bristol Booth as Analyst; Kurt Busch Serves as Guest Studio Analyst for Bristol Pre-Race Coverage & Martinsville Trucks Booth
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – The NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES is going big time this week at Bristol Motor Speedway. Thursday’s race, broadcast live on FOX at 8:30 PM ET, marks the first time in history a Truck Series race airs live in primetime on broadcast television.
Pre-race coverage begins at 8:00 PM ET on FOX with NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS, followed by full-race coverage at 8:30 PM ET. Thursday’s race from “Thunder Valley” marks the final race to qualify for the Playoffs in a series many consider home to some of the best action in the sport.
Former NASCAR champion Kevin Harvick joins the FOX booth as a driver analyst for the race, while fellow Cup champ Kurt Busch serves as a guest driver analyst for FOX’s NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS pre-race coverage alongside John Roberts and two-time Truck Series champion Todd Bodine.
Busch returns for more analyst work during the Truck Series Playoffs, this time in the booth, during FS1’s live race coverage from Martinsville Speedway on Saturday, Oct. 27 (1:00 PM ET).
For pre-race coverage at Bristol, FS1’s NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS features: A look back at Brett Moffitt’s win last weekend at Michigan; a flashback to last year’s Bristol race; a feature on the how the Playoffs-eligible drivers qualified; a two-way interview with FOX NASCAR analyst Phil Parsons and his son, Stefan, who is making his NASCAR debut at Bristol; and live interviews with several drivers vying to make the Playoffs.
Below is programming information for the weekend ahead, as well as quotes from FOX NASCAR play-by-play announcer Vince Welch and analysts Michael Waltrip, Phil Parsons and Todd Bodine and reporters Hermie Sadler and Alan Cavanna. In addition, drivers Brett Moffitt, Johnny Sauter and Ben Rhodes weigh in on Bristol being the final race before the Playoffs.
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES
• Date/Time: Thursday, August 16 (8:30 PM ET)
• Network: FOX
• Announcers: Vince Welch, Michael Waltrip and driver analyst Kevin Harvick
• Pit reporters: Hermie Sadler, Alan Cavanna and Kaitlyn Vincie
• Pre-race: NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS (8:00 PM ET on FOX); hosted by John Roberts with guest driver analyst Kurt Busch and Todd Bodine; reporting by Cavanna, Sadler and Vincie
• FOX NASCAR production staff: Mark Smith (race producer); Roger Vincent (race director); Pete Richards (coordinating producer)
FOX NASCAR QUOTES
For weeks, talk was about the ‘Big 3’ in the Truck Series (Johnny Sauter, Brett Moffitt and Noah Gragson), although they seemed to fade for a while. Is there still a ‘Big 3’ and are they heating up again at the right time?
“Several weeks ago, we were practically engraving one of their names on the championship trophy, but by the time we got to Michigan, we were asking where they had gone. Lo and behold, they showed up at Michigan, made a statement and all finished in the top four.”
“Although they stumbled earlier, they are all alive and well. As we race closer to the Playoffs, a team is only as good as their last race. Michigan was a huge statement for Sauter and Moffitt to step up like that, and Gragson wasn’t too far off their pace. There’s definitely a ‘Big 2’ and you might argue there’s a third. So far, Gragson has outperformed the rest of the possible ‘thirds.’”
“The stats tell us there are three major contenders. Two months ago, there were a clear-cut three, and we lost them for a while. But after Michigan, it appears they are all back. Bristol should tell us more, but it looks like the championship will go through one of those three.”
“After Michigan, I think you’d have to say they’re back on the radar in a big way. There are always ups and downs during a long season, and that trio just happened to hit a lull at the same time. But there’s no question they are still the ‘Big 3.’”
Why do you think Sauter, Moffitt and Gragson struggled late in the regular season?
“Part of it is they likely were trying to test a bit during race weekends, but more of it is the result of the evolution of the new left-side tire combination. It’s not meshing with some teams’ setups, particularly those of the three major championship contenders. Time will tell who is on top of it when we get to Homestead.”
“It was odd to see the ‘Big Three’ take a break from winning for a few weeks. The mix of dirt, Kyle Busch and the rest of the field raising its game stole some of their thunder and took some of the headlines. But as we saw at Michigan, those guys aren’t going anywhere. Each had a great shot at winning last Saturday and going forward in the playoffs.”
“I know Sauter’s team has been experimenting, as they should be, to find speed. That’s probably why they have struggled the past month. Brett Moffitt hasn’t really struggled but has been up and down – they’d crash one week and run well the next. Plus, Moffitt’s team is trying to go week to week without much funding and ensure they’re prepared when the Playoffs begin. But I don’t see any concern for either going into the Playoffs.”
Is Noah Gragson ready to compete for a championship?
“He has had speed throughout the year, and when you look at recent champions, the answer would be ‘yes.’ You also have William Byron, who didn’t win the title but was dominant in his rookie season, and Christopher Bell and Erik Jones. If you show the speed and talent they showed, it doesn’t matter how old you are. You just see talent. From the beginning of the year, we’ve seen enough talent in Noah to see he is a contender, despite his age.”
“I wouldn’t consider Gragson, as a driver, the favorite for the championship. His team and crew chief have proven they can win a championship, but I don’t think Noah is ready yet. His driving has been pretty good at times but he hasn’t learned to close the deal or when he gets to the end of the race, he’s not in contention or makes mistakes that take him out of contention. That’s not a driver ready for the Playoffs or capable of pulling through it. He definitely has the equipment to get to Homestead, but it’s up to him to go out and do the job properly.”
Could the fall-off that the three major championship contenders experienced lately give renewed optimism to the other drivers vying to make the Playoffs?
“There’s no doubt if you’re a driver not in the ‘Big 3’ or already qualified for the Playoffs, and you start outrunning them, you gain confidence and feel you’re hitting the reset button going forward. The struggles of the ‘Big 3’ over those races certainly gave hope to those chasing them.”
Who could be a sleeper to make the Playoffs by winning at Bristol?
“It is certainly possible for an outsider to win, and Todd Gilliland has the best chance. He has regularly run around the top five, led laps and shown the ability to put himself near the front at the end.”
“I’m still not counting out Todd Gilliland. He needs to win Bristol first, but if he does, that is another KBM truck in the playoffs. And that’s dangerous.”
“If someone could win at Bristol to make it in, it would be Todd Gilliland because KBM is strong everywhere but has a tremendous record there. He has some Bristol experience, and I expect them to throw everything they can at this race.”
How do you feel about Bristol being the last race to make the Playoffs?
“Drama. That’s going to be crazy. It’s short-track racing. If you can get to somebody’s bumper, you’re going to move them if it means making the Playoffs.”
–Brett Moffitt (on FS1’s NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS)
“That’s going to make tempers flare. I couldn’t think of a more exciting place to head into the Playoffs than Bristol.”
–Johnny Sauter (on FS1’s NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS)
“It came down to Chicago last year, the last race getting into the Playoffs, for me, and it was a tiebreaker. So, I’ve already gone through that stress. I don’t want that stress.”
–Ben Rhodes (on FS1’s NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS)
FOX NASCAR AT BRISTOL MOTOR SPEEDWAY PROGRAMMING SCHEDULE
(All times live/Eastern unless otherwise indicated & subject to change)
Thursday, August 16
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES practice (9:00-10:00 AM) (FS1)
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES final practice (11:00 AM-12:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES qualifying (4:00-5:00 PM) (FS1)
NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS (8:00-8:30 PM) (FOX)
NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES Racing (8:30-10:30 PM) (FOX)
Fox Sports PR