Fox Sports will use more of spotter Coleman Pressley on its Xfinity Series broadcasts this year as the network continues to find new ways to deliver the sport to fans.
Pressley, who spots for Team Penske’s Joey Logano in the Cup series, reported from the spotter’s stand for the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. He will be back on the broadcast this weekend at Circuit of the Americas and is also scheduled for Richmond Raceway (April 4), Martinsville Speedway (April 8), and Talladega Superspeedway (April 23).
“I’m not spotting an Xfinity car right now, and I’m here at the races anyway and watching,” Pressley told RACER. “So, the more I can feel like I give back to the fans and maybe a new perspective and add news fans, I felt like this was an opportunity to help grow the sport.
“For me, I’m still watching the races and getting better at my job for Sunday.”
Pressley said he had a blast in the role for the first time at Daytona and felt it introduced fans more to the role of a spotter. Usually, fans get snippets of in-car radio communication played during a broadcast when the booth analysts highlight a topic or driver.
But by Pressley being there to offer in-depth analysis, he felt it helped explain more of the role.
“As far as the TV thing goes, I was a nervous wreck,” he said. “I’ve never been more nervous for anything in my life. But just like anything else, as you go and evolve, you get more comfortable, and by the end of the race, I felt almost like a TV guy.”
Pam Miller is the Xfinity Series race producer for Fox Sports. She can’t take credit for the idea of bringing Pressley into the fold because she admits it came from his driver, Logano. Brainstorming with Logano in the offseason for ideas on how to enhance the broadcast, Miller was hunting for another voice to add.
Logano brings the driver’s voice as he’s routinely in the booth alongside Adam Alexander. Other Cup Series drivers also rotate throughout the season. Another voice is that of Chad Knaus, who brings a crew chief’s perspective when he joins the lineup. So when Logano mentioned Pressley, Miller said it seemed natural.
“Joey said Coleman has a great insight, is a great spotter he thought it would be a great idea to get a spotter’s perspective at Daytona,” Miller told RACER.
When Miller spoke with Pressley, she found him passionate about everything. She also finds Pressley and Logano’s relationship on their team radio entertaining and didn’t see the harm in trying out the idea.
“It went well beyond anything any of us ever anticipated,” Miller said.
According to Miller, the reaction to Pressley’s presence on the broadcast was overwhelming. It was a move without much hype, and Miller hasn’t seen a negative response. Instead, there were questions from fans about when Pressley would be on the broadcast again.
“The chemistry even between Chad, Denny [Hamlin] and Coleman on that telecast really gave people sort of an insight on how it all works and the fact that the three of them could have such a great conversation, I think people wanted more,” said Miller. “I was really thrilled that people enjoyed it as much as we loved working with Coleman. It was a win-win for everybody.”
Bringing Pressley back just made sense.
“It probably took me 30 seconds after fade to black Saturday night [at Daytona] for me to want Coleman to come back,” said Miller. “I told him, let’s think about it. Let’s see what makes sense, what makes sense for him, what makes sense for us, and I think as we looked at the schedule getting through the West Coast … we all took a look at COTA said, that’s a great new starting point.”
Logano will be in the broadcast booth at COTA, which should lead to some fun interactions between him and his spotter. Even more so, Miller hopes that by continuing to add Pressley to the broadcasts, it will show fans the role is about more than navigating traffic.
“Coleman is a master chess player. I wouldn’t want to play chess with someone like him ever because he’s five, six moves ahead,” said Miller. “He’s already looking ahead on what’s going to happen in the race. It’s almost like he’s looking into a crystal ball and he has to. I think that is part of what I wanted to do, was to show fans that these guys aren’t just standing there saying, ‘clear, clear’ or going over to their buddy and saying, ‘hey, let us in (line).’ That’s not what they’re doing.
“They are so integral to the strategy of what is happening on that racetrack, and they are a voice that is a calming influence to a driver, a psychologist to a driver in the heat of the moment. There are so many facets to a spotter.
“We hear them on the radio every week, but we don’t appreciate the genius behind these guys and what they’re really doing. I think a great spotter, through Coleman’s eyes, makes a huge difference when he’s explaining what actually goes into it.”
Pressley knows spotters get extra attention and praise for their work during superspeedway races, but the role has evolved so much when it comes to other tracks. With his slate of races being a mix between superspeedways, a road course and two short tracks, Pressley will highlight how involved a spotter is and how unlike a driver or crew chief being focused on their car and lap, a spotter is the only one who sees the entire race.
“First and foremost, I want to make the sport better,” Pressley said of working with Fox. “I want new fans to understand what’s happening more; I want old fans to have more of an appreciation for what a spotter’s role is. I explained at Daytona it’s like an offensive coordinator. The NFL is probably one of the most popular, if not the most popular, sport, so any relation I can give from that to this and bring a new group of fan in.
“Besides that, have fun. Just have fun. Joey’s doing a lot of the broadcast, so we feed off each other. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity of making new fans and having a good time in the process.”