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ANDERS: NASCAR broadcasting a balancing act

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Jordan Anders

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By JORDAN ANDERS
The Daily Reflector

Sunday, February 18, 2018

The ECU-NASCAR connection strikes again.

For the second straight year, I got the opportunity to write a story that ties in East Carolina with the running of the Daytona 500. After I got to chat with Paige Keselowski, wife of Brad, last year about her time in Greenville, I had the chance to talk with FOX Sports analyst, championship-winning crew chief and former ECU football player Jeff Hammond last week, and it did not disappoint.

Hammond has been around NASCAR for more than four decades and been around racing for nearly his entire life. You'd be hard pressed to find a guy more knowledgable about the sport.

For all the roles that go into making NASCAR go 'round, that of broadcaster has always been one of the most intriguing to me. Hammond has been an analyst since 2001, a role that requires him to find the right tone to break down the technical side of the sport in a way casual fans can understand without talking down to its more mechanically inclined viewers.

"It’s one of the bigger challenges that we face," he said. "We all are faced with the challenge of (the fact that) we know it, we understand it and sometimes we may even be confused by it, but we need to make sure our fans are not confused by it. We don’t need to get to a point where we’re trying to break down technology to the point to where it’s confusing."

There is plenty for Hammond and the rest of the FOX crew to break down this week. Leading up to the Daytona 500, they've had to get viewers up to speed on NASCAR's elimination of ride-height rules at superspeedways (meaning teams can now attempt to get the rear of the cars as low as possible, improving speed) as well as the sport's new inspection system.

The ride-height rules have made Speedweeks pretty hairy. Teams have worked to get the rear spoiler as low as possible, which is great for speed but makes the cars harder to handle. Drivers were on the edge of out of control in last weekend's Clash and Thursday night's qualifying races, with Kevin Harvick even going so far as to say he didn't attempt a pass for the win on the last lap of his qualifier because his car felt so unstable.

The craziness of those races came with just half the field on the track for each. With a full 40 on the track today, the potential for chaos is high.

Regardless of how chaotic it gets, Hammond and the FOX crew should have plenty to talk about.

PREDICTION

Some of the aforementioned carnage collected one of the favorites to win Thursday night. He may be going to a backup car, but I'm still sticking with my pick since he came through for me last Sunday. PICK: Brad Keselowski.

Contact Jordan Anders at janders@reflector.com, 252-329-9594 and follow @ReflectorJordan on Twitter.

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