Behind the Mic: Fox NASCAR Adds Jimmie Johnnson, Kevin Harvick, Chad Knaus; ESPN Extends Cassidy Hubbarth

Behind the Mic provides a roundup of recent news regarding on-air talent, including new deals, departures, and assignments compiled from press releases and reports around the industry. In this week’s edition, Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick, and Chad Knaus join Fox Sports for their NASCAR coverage, ESPN re-ups the contract of NBA reporter and host Cassidy Hubbarth, the inaugural coverage of the Indianapolis 500 on NBC Sports will be hosted by a familiar face, the lineup for Fox PBC Fight Night: Santa Cruz vs. Rivera is announced, and the Players’ Tribune creates a new podcast with a pair of former NBA players.

When reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Joey Logano removes his Fox Sports headset after calling Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity SERIES season opener at Daytona, he’ll hand it off to seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson calls his first race for Fox Sports as a guest driver analyst on Saturday, Feb. 23 (2:00 PM ET on FS1) at Atlanta. Johnson, however, has a drafting partner in his maiden trip to the Fox NASCAR broadcast booth, as 2014 champion Kevin Harvick assumes the lead analyst role alongside play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander.

Harvick’s broadcast dance card expands this season with the addition of lead analyst duties for seven Xfinity Series races. For the races in which Harvick is lead analyst, he pairs with a rotation of Cup Series drivers moonlighting as guest analysts, while Fox NASCAR analyst Michael Waltrip helps anchor Fox Sports’ coverage from the Virtual Studio in Charlotte.

“I’ve enjoyed calling NASCAR Xfinity Series races for Fox Sports more than I ever imagined I would, so I am looking forward to adding even more this year,” says Harvick. “I’ve made no secret of the fact I can see broadcasting in my future after racing, so this is a cool opportunity to branch out as the lead analyst and perhaps even offer some pointers to other drivers calling the races with me.”

“I’m excited to come in and see the race from a different vantage point,” says Johnson. “I’ve been a big fan of Kevin’s work in the booth and feel like we’re going to have a great time and add a lot of detail to the race, so I’m excited to have that opportunity in Atlanta.”

Seven-time champion and crew chief for William Byron, Chad Knaus, makes his Fox Sports race broadcast debut at Talladega alongside Alexander and Harvick, while Bubba Wallace makes his inaugural analyst appearance at Michigan after making his pit road debut during last year’s Fox Sports “Drivers Only” broadcast.

In addition to Logano, Johnson and Wallace, 2012 champ Brad Keselowski, 2004 champion Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, and Regan Smith return to the booth this season. See complete schedule below for specifics.

“Drivers Only” Broadcast:
The highly popular “Drivers Only” broadcast is back for the third consecutive year — this time with a twist. Knaus crashes the “Drivers Only” party, joining all eight returning drivers from last season. Charlotte Motor Speedway plays host to this year’s edition on Saturday, May 25 (1:00 PM ET on FS1).

For the third time, Harvick has the call alongside analysts Bowyer and Logano. Blaney, Jones, and Wallace cover pit road, while Keselowski returns to host from FOX Sports’ virtual studio in Charlotte alongside Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Knaus…

…ESPN announced it has reached a multi-year extension with NBA reporter and host Cassidy Hubbarth. The nine-year ESPN veteran will continue to serve as a top reporter for ESPN and ABC NBA game telecasts throughout the season and during the NBA Playoffs, while also leading ESPN’s coverage of the NBA All-Star Celebrity Game.

The popular commentator will add Hoop Streams hosting responsibilities to her extensive role. Hoop Streams is ESPN’s innovative, new NBA pre-game show on Twitter. The live, on-site show streams an hour prior to NBA Saturday Primetime on ABC broadcasts and during the NBA Playoffs, the Conference Finals, and NBA Finals.

Additionally, Hubbarth maintains key roles on two of ESPN’s premier properties – the NBA and college football. She will continue her role as a host for ESPN and ABC’s coverage of college football each fall…

…With 100 days until the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, NBC Sports announced that Mike Tirico will serve as host of its first-ever coverage of the event. The 103rd Indy 500 from Indianapolis Motor Speedway will air at 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, May 26, on NBC, the first time the race has ever aired on the network after 54 years on ABC.

This will be the first time Tirico has worked on the Indy 500 in any capacity. NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series begins on March 10 with the Streets of St. Petersburg at 1 p.m. ET on NBCSN, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app…

…Fox Sports announces four-division world champion and current WBC Lightweight Champion Mikey Garcia joins International Boxing Hall of Famer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and host Kate Abdo live in Fox Sports’ Los Angeles studios for coverage of Fox PBC Fight Night: Santa Cruz vs. Rivera on Thursday, Feb. 14 and Friday, Feb. 15.

In addition, former three-time heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and legendary trainer Joe Goossen join blow-by-blow announcer Kenny Albert to call Fox PBC Fight Night live from Los Angeles on Saturday, Feb. 16 (8:00 PM ET) on Fox and streaming on the Fox Sports app. Veteran combat sports journalist Heidi Androl reports and interviews fighters, while International Boxing Hall of Famers Jimmy Lennon Jr. and Larry Hazzard Sr. join the show as ring announcer and Fox Sports PBC rules expert/unofficial scorer, respectively.

On Fox Deportes, blow-by-blow announcer Adrian Garcia Marquez is joined by legendary fighters and former rivals Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera to call the fights in Spanish, with reporter Jaime Motta and host Jessi Losada

…Former Los Angeles Clippers teammates Darius Miles and Quentin Richardson are back together for a new podcast on The Players’ Tribune. The 11-episode Knuckleheads with Quentin Richardson & Darius Miles is set to premiere Tuesday, February 19. Scheduled guests include Kyrie IrvingJimmy ButlerBaron DavisWilson Chander, and more.

The show will record a podcast live at All-Star Weekend in Charlotte with two special guests as part of a Players’ Tribune activation.

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