Photo credit: Fox Sports

Chemistry, people drive 15 years of 'NASCAR Race Hub' success

Tuesday night marks the end of an era as Fox Sports' "NASCAR Race Hub" airs for the final time. This daily show enjoyed a 15-year run as it changed networks and featured a rotating lineup of hosts and analysts.

What was the secret behind its success?

"That team of people that shows up every day in the studio to make it work, they're all a part of this incredible success story," co-host Adam Alexander told AltDriver in an exclusive interview.

"We've run the gamut. We've left (the studio) with tears in our eyes and we've left there high-fiving and hugging and laughing. We've done it all in 15 years."

Alexander has been along for the ride since the Speed channel debuted the first episode on Oct. 12, 2009. He and Krista Voda co-hosted the first episode, and he continued to serve in the rotating lineup of hosts.

Though a significant change took place in 2010, one that Alexander says altered the trajectory of the show. Steve Byrnes became the face of "NASCAR Race Hub."

"Steve becoming the primary host and being the daily guy is what really initiated this show having the level of success that it could have," Alexander said. "Because you had a consistent face, a consistent voice, viewers knew what they were going to get when they tuned in.

"And Steve had so many deep relationships in the NASCAR community that when you asked someone to come on, it was a pretty good chance you were gonna get them."

And get them they did.

"NASCAR Race Hub" featured numerous guests from the racing industry over the years, both for serious sitdowns and goofy skits alike.

Greg Biffle jumped over a table while fake attacking analyst Jimmy Spencer. Brad Keselowski stalked the halls of Fox Sports so he could conduct an impromptu interview with longtime reporter Bob Pockrass. Jimmie Johnson surprised fans with Daytona 500 tickets during a crossover with NFL shows.

As "NASCAR Race Hub" continued -- ultimately moving from Speed to Fox Sports in 2013 -- more and more personalities from the world of NASCAR became willing participants. Aric Almirola, David Ragan, Daniel Suarez, Chad Knaus, Drew Blickensderfer, Andy Petree, and Michael McDowell were only some examples from the robust list.

Industry members can be fairly guarded at times, especially when answering questions from the media amid a grueling season. This was not the case with "NASCAR Race Hub." These drivers, crew chiefs, and executives were more than willing to provide answers at length when the cameras were rolling.

One reason is the different perspective. The guests were able to look behind the curtain and see the work put in by hosts, analysts, producers, and everyone else involved. The other reason was competitiveness. These athletes wanted to compete with each other, whether it was on the track or in the studio.

"(Having guests) really changed our relationship (from) being against each other and being on opposite teams and having to do our jobs to now having these commonalities and an understanding and respect for one another that really allowed us to grow the base of people that we had on the show," Alexander said.

"NASCAR Race Hub" had a deep bench

Photo credit: Fox Sports

"NASCAR Race Hub" had a sizable list of co-hosts during its 15-year run. Along with Voda, Alexander, and Byrnes, there was Danielle Trotta, Shannon Spake, Kaitlyn Vincie, Josh Sims, and John Roberts.

There were also numerous analysts such as Jimmy Spencer, Jamie McMurray, Jeff Hammond, Larry McReynolds, and Bobby Labonte.

The rotating lineup was not a hindrance to the show's success. They each brought unique viewpoints and personalities to the set, which they put on display during unscripted conversations.

"There's one commonality, I would say, with everyone that's been a part of the show from a host perspective and that is the passion they have for NASCAR," Alexander said.

"And the other thing I would say is that everyone who has been on that show as a host also has played a role at the track in some way, shape, or form -- pit reporter, maybe hosting on-site, play-by-play, whatever the case may be.

"And when you understand the other side as a TV host, it really allows you to bring that personality, that energy, that emotion to the studio. That's hard to do."

"NASCAR Race Hub" always had a rundown of topics to cover in each episode, but the producers trusted the hosts and analysts to be themselves and show their expertise during conversations about penalties, contracts, or any other prominent storylines.

As Alexander noted, the producers made decisions behind the scenes that were for the good of the show. The Kyle Larson waiver discussion was a specific example.

The rundown called for a set time limit to discuss NASCAR's decision to keep Larson eligible for the playoffs after he missed the Coca-Cola 600. Alexander knew they had run over the allotted time, but the producers decided to let the organic conversation continue because the fans watching at home wanted to hear the different viewpoints.

"Those are the on-the-fly type of decisions that producers have to make, but it's all a product," Alexander said. "We had the right people in the studio to talk about it, they had something to say, and their thoughts are echoing the thoughts of the fans at home who want to hear from the expert.

"How do they feel about this and do they agree or disagree with me? And so the producer makes the decision to let that go and then on the backside says, 'We'll figure it out.'"

The Larson waiver discussion is only one of the countless moments that stick with Alexander as he looks back at the show's unprecedented run.

"NASCAR Race Hub" hit Speed at the perfect time, and it became the go-to source of daily NASCAR content for race fans. The show continued to achieve success after moving to Fox Sports, trading out Spencer's crying towel for formal wear, and introducing a new generation of hosts and analysts.

There were countless changes made over the years, yet "NASCAR Race Hub" persevered.

"If you had told me when we started this 15 years ago that we would be where we are today and the show would have grown to the level that it's grown to, I just wouldn't have believed it," Alexander said.

"There's no way I could have imagined that this show would have this kind of run with this kind of success and following."