FOX Sports’ New Pit Reporter Lineup Prepares to Conquer Daytona

FOX Sports

FOX Sports FOX Sports pit reporters pose ahead of the 2023 season.

FOX Sports will have a new lineup on pit road during the Daytona 500 as Josh Sims will join Jamie Little and Regan Smith to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut. This is a significant change, but the members of this trio are ready to deliver all week long.

Making a debut in the biggest race of the NASCAR schedule is no small feat, especially with all of the open teams, the qualifying process, and the drivers making debuts with new organizations. However, the group of pit reporters expects to achieve success for FOX Sports based on their recent history working together, as well as their unified approach to this massive event.

“From our standpoint, I think it’s an easy transition,” Smith said during a roundtable discussion with Heavy. “We’ve all sat in our little workspace together, and we’ve all gotten along very well. I think it’s just a good dynamic in terms of chemistry and how our brains [are] gonna flow.

“And there’s gonna be stuff that’s new, right? Because the Daytona 500 is completely different than anything else you do and how the whole day goes and just how fast everything moves. It’s a superspeedway race, so you don’t have a lot of time to hear what the drivers are saying or thinking in real-time. But he’s done a good job on all the other stuff.”

“There’s a lot of hazing going on, and Josh is ready,” Little joked. “I mean, it’s so great to have Josh joining us. He’s obviously done a great job with what he’s done in the Truck Series. He jumped right in.

“Going from a local news guy to a national broadcaster for NASCAR is not easy. It’s not easy to go into NASCAR no matter what your history was, or is. So for him to make it this far in such a short period of time. It’s awesome.”

“I mean, it’s surreal in the fact that coming into this back in 2021, I didn’t know what to expect,” Sims added. “I was hired strictly as a reporter for Trucks. And then last year, I did Trucks and ARCA and two Xfinity [races]. But it just doesn’t happen that fast [where] you get stuff added to your plate, like being able to host ‘Race Hub’ once a week and being able to do a handful of Cup Races and Xfinity while still being able to do some Truck.”

Scheduling Remains a Significant Part of the Job

FOX Sports Lineup

FOX Sports(L-R) Regan Smith, Jamie Little, and Josh Sims pose during a FOX Sports photoshoot.

Pit reporters have a very important role each week of the race season, especially so during the Daytona 500. They have to provide constant updates about all 40 teams and the potential setbacks each one has to overcome throughout the race.

How do the three reporters split up these responsibilities? It would make sense to have Little cover Travis Pastrana and 23XI Racing considering that she has known him since he was 14 years old. Similarly, Smith spent several years competing against such drivers as Chase Elliott, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney among many others before becoming a reporter.

Sims, who is the first Black pit reporter to cover the Daytona 500, has relationships with drivers like Zane Smith, Austin Hill, and Chandler Smith due to his role in the Truck Series.

The process of figuring out driver assignments could be complicated, but there is a system in place for each portion of Speedweeks. For example, one reporter will cover the “out” portion of pit road during qualifying while another covers part of the garage. This way, they can do interviews as drivers prepare for their laps and after they come back in.

“As far as the race goes — after qualifying then after the Duel races — next week they will divvy up pit road,” Little explained. “And then we’ll decide who gets pit out, who gets the middle, and who gets the back. So it’s usually about even.

“We’ll have probably anywhere from 10-15 cars a person. And then that’s how you break it down — who to talk to on race morning, what crew chiefs to go to, and what drivers you need to kind of go through the notes and make sure you talk to that morning.”

For Sims, in particular, having a prior relationship with drivers and crew chiefs will only aid him as he makes his foray into the NASCAR Cup Series. He can quickly get answers to important questions that Mike Joy, Clint Bowyer, and Tony Stewart may ask during the various broadcasts.

“[This relationship] makes it easier when you need to get information or walk up to them before the race or interview them during the race,” Sims said. “And that makes you feel a little more comfortable about going into the Daytona 500 knowing it’s not the first time we’ll be talking to a lot of these guys.”

The plans obviously help each pit reporter organize their day and prepare for any important stories that they may have to chase. After that, the biggest concern is accounting for any unexpected moments, such as the wreck on Lap 63 of the 2022 Daytona 500 that collected several contenders and led to Harrison Burton flipping upside down.

“We do have scenarios where it gets chaotic a little bit because of something that either transpired on the track or off the track or whatever it may be,” Smith added.

“But in those scenarios, we’ve got people in our ears helping to coordinate us because we don’t have eyesight to each other unless it just happens that we have two pits that are next to each other. We can’t look at each other and say, ‘Hey, do you want to go or do you want to go?'”

This communication and coordination will be key during the Daytona 500 as Smith, Little, and Sims work together. They will be able to receive instructions about where to go in the heat of the moment, which will only help them better focus on providing updates.

Important Words of Advice

FOX Sports

GettyFOX Sports will provide coverage of the Daytona 500.

Sims is preparing to take on his first Daytona 500 as a pit reporter for FOX Sports while Smith and Little are adding another Crown Jewel event to their respective resumes.  Sims does not have as much experience as his fellow pit reporters, but they have made it clear that they have the utmost faith in his ability to deliver.

Smith and Little have seen Sims in action during other FOX Sports broadcasts, and they have worked with him dozens of times since mid-2021. Now, they will join forces with him once again after providing some words of advice.

For Smith, he drew on his first time doing a live TV hit. He spoke with Martin Truex Jr. prior to qualifying and obtained the information he needed. Once he went to end the interview, he didn’t know how to throw it back to Chris Myers. This led to a moment that Smith thought would mark the end of his time with FOX Sports.

“I was kind of distraught,” Smith said. “I’m like, ‘Man, they’re gonna fire me. That was horrible. It’s over. This was a fun ride while it lasted. One race in, and I’m already done.’ And one of our producers mentioned to me, he said, ‘I’ll tell you something. It’s never as good as you think it is, and it’s also never as bad as you think it is.'”

Smith went back and watched the interview, and he discovered that it went far better than he originally thought. He also learned an important lesson, one that he has kept with him while gaining more experience with FOX Sports.

For Little, she continues to focus on the unpredictability of the Daytona 500. This race can deliver an exciting finish, as evidenced by Denny Hamlin and Truex in 2016. It can also lead to frightening moments for the industry, such as Ryan Newman’s crash in 2020. It’s up to her and the other pit reporters to approach each situation with the proper attitude.

“This is an entertainment event. And it’s very important to FOX,” Little said. “And we need to showcase that this is fun. This is getting away from all the realities of life. People are watching this to escape reality, they want to have fun and be entertained. And we’re going to have a hell of a race. That’s no question. But remember to have fun, remember to show people we’re having fun and how awesome it is, and how they should be there.

“On the flip side, you also have to remember that this is a very, very dangerous sport, and these guys make it look so easy that it’s easy to take it for granted. But without a doubt, there’s going to be a huge wreck during this race that happens every year. And sometimes it’s worse than others. So you also need to realize what these guys are putting on the line. It’s dangerous, and that’s why we watch. It’s the thrill, but something could go wrong. And you have to be willing and able to change and conform to that emotion.”

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