Midwest Motor Mouths: Clint Bowyer, Jamie McMurray give voice to NASCAR

Off the monitor, these two NASCAR tv analysts for Fox couldn’t be extra completely different.

Jamie McMurray is low key, understated, measured along with his phrases. Clint Bowyer is boisterous, impetuous and holds again nothing.

But the one attribute they share, in addition to being former NASCAR Cup stars, is their Midwest roots. Both grew up and started their auto racing careers inside than two hours of Kansas City — McMurray, a product of Joplin, Missouri; and Bowyer is from Emporia, Kansas.

McMurray, 44, and a former Daytona 500 winner, is in his third 12 months as a co-host of Fox’s pre- and post-race protection of Xfinity and Cup telecasts and weekly Race Hub present; Bowyer, 41, a winner of 10 profession Cup races, is in his first 12 months within the sales space as an analyst with Jeff Gordon and play-by-play man Mike Joy for Cup telecasts.

Listen intently, and so they come off as the identical hometown guys who have been successful short-track races at I-70 and I-44 speedways in Missouri and Lakeside Speedway on the Kansas aspect.

Call them the Midwest’s Motor Mouths.

“It’s personality,” Bowyer mentioned whereas making ready to name Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Buschy McBusch 400 Race at Kansas Speedway. “When I go to the Midwest, people embrace you, communicate with you and make you feel at home. You don’t necessarily feel that when you leave the Midwest. Those Midwest values and how we were taught helps a lot … our willingness to open up and truly have a conversation with somebody.

“Jamie’s character is funny and witty and that all comes from those Midwest values It’s no mistake that he and I had opportunities when our driving careers were done.”

Gordon, a four-time Cup champion who made the transfer from the monitor to the sales space after retiring fulltime after the 2015 season, supplied a bit of recommendation to Bowyer, who retired after the 2020 season.

“Stay focused … stay focused,” Gordon mentioned with fun. “Anybody who knows Clint, he has a big personality, likes to have a good time, brings a lot of energy, but sometimes, keeping him focused on the task at hand can be challenging, but that’s also what makes it so exciting and fun to work with him.”

Bowyer crammed the spot that remained vacant for a 12 months after loquacious analyst Darrell Waltrip retired from broadcasting. Gordon and Joy labored as a two-man sales space in 2020, and the telecasts lacked some pizzaz.

“Mike and I analyzed the races really thoroughly well,” Gordon mentioned, “but we were missing that entertainment aspect. Neither one of us had that natural ability for humor. We can play off other people well and find a way to make it work that way, but Clint has brought not only his expertise but keeping it loose and keeping it fun and entertaining.”

Bowyer has been extra than simply the lifetime of the occasion within the sales space. He’s taken the broadcasts to areas by no means explored equivalent to final week at Talladega, when Bowyer urged the protection zero in on the drivers’ spotters excessive above the monitor.

“Going into Talladega, in my opinion, a spotter is crucial and important to the chemistry and communication (of a team),” Bowyer mentioned. “You’ve got to be on point. Use your eye in the sky. I told (my spotter) all the time, ‘I want you driving this car. If you think it needs to be in this hole, or make that block, you say it.’

“So going back to the production meeting on Tuesday, I asked. ‘Had you guys ever put a camera on a spotter, and tap into their communication and really dissect what’s going on … by trying to use different vantage points and keep it fresh and new and share that with viewers?’’’

McMurray, in his own way, tries to give the viewer a seat behind the wheel of a car accelerating up to 200 mph or crashing into the wall or taking the checkered flag.

“I try to tell a simple story,” McMurray mentioned. “And that’s harder to do than you would think because we, being people who have worked in NASCAR, having driven, you assume people know things that they don’t. I’ve worked hard in trying to make it so that my mom’s friend understands, even if she’s not a diehard fan.

“There are a lot of fans who tune in to watch our races or the pre-race show who are die-hards, and they already know everything you’re saying. And there is a big group that is new. And even though there are simple things like, how do you calculate pit-road speed? or things that you know, a lot of people don’t.

“One of the advantages of being a past driver, is a lot of times you can express how you think somebody feels in a certain situation, whether it’s winning or losing or being crashed or knocked out of the playoffs. If you’ve experienced that before, you can do a good job of expressing to the viewer exactly what Denny Hamlin or whoever it is might be thinking.”

‘Timing is the whole lot ‘

Neither McMurray nor Bowyer aspired to be tv analysts when their careers ended. It simply occurred.

“People who were close to me and within the industry, told me, I should go do TV, that I had a great personality,” McMurray mentioned. “When 2018 came to an end, I still wanted to work. I’m a worker. I still get up a 5 in the morning. I like staying busy. So I talked to Fox about what opportunities would be there, and I didn’t know if it was going to be pre-race, or in the booth or the truck series …

“They had just built a new studio and begin revamping the race day show. So timing is everything, and it just worked out.“

Toward the end of Bowyer’s career, he and other Cup regulars joined the booth for Xfinity telecasts, and during the pandemic stoppage last year, he was a big hit in Fox’s broadcasts of I-racing. So, he was a logical candidate to join Fox’s 2021 coverage and fill Waltrip’s role.

Former NASCAR crew chief Larry McReynolds, who serves as a conduit between the booth and studios as a race day commentator and as a panelist on Race Hub, said Bowyer and McMurray fit the pattern of Fox’s taking Hall of Fame drivers like Waltrip and Gordon straight from the cockpit to in front of a camera.

“Jeff Gordon brought us really good insight when he came,” McReynolds mentioned, “but I think Clint Bowyer has even brought us different insight, because things have changed a lot in these race cars since 2015 when Jeff Gordon stepped out of it.

“Clint has exceeded my expectations, and I would be willing to speak for a lot of people, he has blended right in, like he’s been with us for years. I think a lot of hard-core NASCAR fans really can relate to Clint. When they watch and listen to Clint, their thought is, ‘Man, I would love to sit down and drink a six-pack and watch a race with Clint Bowyer.’ He relates really well with what I call that blue collar guy or girl.

“The thing about Jamie McMurray that I admire, is he the same guy if you run into him at the grocery store, sitting in the studio before the show just talking the fat, or when he’s doing the show. He doesn’t change who he is. He doesn’t want to fabricate something just to make good TV.”

They nonetheless miss acing

Since making the transfer to tv, McMurray has competed within the 2019 and 2021 Daytona 500s, ending eighth this 12 months. But he doesn’t anticipate to do rather more racing.

“You never say never because I had no intention of doing the Daytona 500 (this) year, but I won’t lie; I miss driving, I miss racing,” McMurray mentioned. “I love it. If someone raced a car their whole life, and it stops, they miss it. But getting to run the Daytona 500 and remembering how hard it is, and how good all the other drivers are, and how everything has to line up to be successful, you tend to remember all the good memories and forget how hard things were and the bad memories …

“It was a good reminder for me of just how difficult NASCAR is, and that makes me miss it just a little bit less.

Even after finishing eighth?

“I survived,” McMurray mentioned. “Daytona and Talladega have always been great tracks for me. You’ve got to be a little bit lucky and a little bit good. Fortunately, I had both on the same day.”

Bowyer, in the meantime, hasn’t given a lot thought to a direct return to the monitor, even within the second half of the season when Fox offers means to NBC for Cup protection. He’s wanting ahead to supporting his son Cash’s foray into racing.

“Here’s the thing, you want to be your best,” mentioned Bowyer, “you just can’t just show up and expect to be the best. There’s tons of preparation, endless hours of communication … I miss racing, yes, but when I look over my shoulder, and those Stewart-Haas cars are struggling this year the way we did last year, and a half … Gosh, I’m glad I decided to walk through this door and use this opportunity. Their struggling made me feel better about my decision.

“If I never get to race again, I’m okay with it.”

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