There comes a point in every NASCAR season where I’m reminded of the simplest concept about taking in a race weekend from the couch. That concept is as follows: the absolute best way to learn and learn more about NASCAR is watching practice broadcasts. At this point in the season I’m in a decent routine to follow along with the race weekend to where I don’t have to consciously block out time to watch the races and qualifying, it just casually falls into place.
We’re at that point already this season, mainly because it is the third triple header weekend in a row, and I’m totally down with it. Usually it goes like this: Friday morning rolls around and while I’m working I can follow along either on the radio or on Twitter when the cars get unloaded and on shook down on track. After work and a little down time, it’s about time to catch some of qualifying which leads right into the truck race. Last night I went out and had dinner without keeping track of time and as soon as I got home the Truck Race pre-race show was kicking off. Luckily I caught the whole race and went on with my Friday night.
Saturday, however, is a different story. Saturday is when the most pivotal and intriguing part of the whole race weekend takes place. Folks I’m talking about Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Practice airing on Fox Sports 1. As sure as my Keurig is pumping out cups of coffee, my TV is turned on with FS1 on the cable box. My coffee and I are greeted by the always assuring voices of a healthy mix of Larry Mac, DW, Adam Alexander, Jeff Gordon, Mike Joy, Vince Welch, and now Regan Smith.
Are you looking for insights into the technical side of the sport like setups and engineering? Larry Mac has you covered. Looking for random factoids? Darrell Waltrip’s got you covered. Looking for legitimate racing stories from the booming era of NASCAR? Jeff Gordon is your guy. Vince Welch is like the cool Uncle and Mike Joy is like the extremely nice second cousin that is entertaining at holidays but you kinda wonder what they do in their free time. (Side note- Mike Joy apparently started the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1993? Talk about a random factoid.) Verdict is still out with Regan, but it’s his first year so give him a chance. Personally I’d rather have Landon Cassill on the broadcast but who knows if he actually has any interest in TV.
What I’m getting at is that NASCAR Practice broadcasts are packed to the brim with information. Whether you’re a new follower trying to learn the sport or an in-depth follower, you can learn something damn interesting that you won’t hear at any other point in the race season. It’s extremely casual in that the commentators aren’t just talking to fill airtime like they have to do sometimes during races. Because of this they also have time to go as in-depth as they want without the fear of losing viewers’ attention.
I understand that this is a weird concept to grasp but when you turn on the FS1 practice broadcast you’ll see what I mean. As a matter of fact you don’t even have to have your full attention on it. It’s perfect to have on in the background too and when you hear something that peaks your interest from the other room, you’ll understand what I’m saying. Watching a cup series practice broadcast is like a real life mashup between a Racing Reference and Wikipedia page with all of the links that put you in the racing rabbit hole for a solid two hours.
Since I’ve used half of today’s cup practice time to type this, I’ll have you know that MENCS Final Practice will air today from 2:30-3:20 pm Eastern leading up to the 4:00 Xfinity Series race. Let’s see what we can learn.