Monday, January 16, 2023

Film Study & Feedback: Inside Trevor Baynes Growth as an Analyst [EXCLUSIVE]

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2022 was Trevor Baynes’ first full season as an analyst for FOX Sports. The former Daytona 500 winner had a steep learning curve, but he also made great strides during his long stint on television.

Bayne sat down with Heavy ahead of the 2023 NASCAR season and detailed some of the ups and downs of a unique year working with Kaitlyn Vincie, Todd Bodine, Larry McReynolds and other FOX Sports analysts.

There were little things to learn, like avoiding answering questions with “I mean” at the beginning. There have also been big things, like going from the role of a driver, where every question is about your career, to that of an interviewer, where other people and their experiences are the focus.

“I sat down with Joey Logano and John Hunter Nemechek, and that was really on the other side,” Bayne said. “To be honest, it was kind of humbling. Like, ‘Okay, we’re not going to talk about my career anymore.’ But it was really good for me.

“And then I had to learn something about how to approach the next question, how to pick up on what they said and how to interact with it. Not just like, “Okay, now let’s talk about this,” skip to the next thing without any transition. So that was really interesting to learn.”

Working as an analyst for FOX Sports is a constant learning experience, whether Bayne is in the dressing room at an ARCA race or in the studio at NASCAR RaceDay. He has accepted this challenge and knows he has a lot of work to do before he feels like he’s really done it.

Fortunately, this process is made easier in several ways. First, Bayne conducts extensive film studies to see where he can make improvements. He also receives feedback from several key figures at FOX Sports. This list includes SVP of Production Steve Craddock, VP of NASCAR Production Lindsey Mandia, VP of Production Frank Wilson, Senior Producer Greg Cacali and Senior Producer Max Harnett.

Conducting interesting interviews is not an easy task. The test subjects have often heard certain questions hundreds of times, which can lead to banal answers that seem rehearsed. It takes a lot of preparation and skill to get interesting answers.

However, as a driver, Bayne has a different approach to take. Of course there are specific questions he needs to ask about specific races or car setups, but he can also use his own time to compete against his peers to break the proverbial ice and make them more comfortable.

“Those relationships help tremendously,” Bayne said. “I sat down with Joey and we could talk about it when we were 15 years old. And FOX was able to show these pictures when we were 15 years old together. This creates a better connection. I feel like it’s engaging and you get to laugh at stuff before you have to tackle the tough questions. That was cool.

“John Hunter Nemechek is very structured. Now I realize that when you’re polished, it’s good to have good answers, but it also sometimes makes it harder for the person asking questions. I feel like I’ve often been very polished in my answers and if you’re just able to bring that personality out, if you have something relatable that most people don’t know about, you can kind of tap into that.

“I can talk to John Hunter about something in the shop that no one else would know, or I can talk to Joey about those memories, or whatever. So, I think having those connections is really good just to break the ice.”

Another apt example is Chase Elliott. Bayne enjoys chatting with the enduring Most Popular Driver about flying airplanes and non-racing topics, but that’s not what fans want.

They have questions about Elliott and if he’ll be fighting to win every week, so Bayne has to find a balance. He needs to address the prominent questions while keeping the interview interesting for everyone involved.

Bayne’s approach had to change for certain drivers he interviewed. It also had to change depending on which analysts were in the FOX Sports studio. Everyone brought something different to the table, so Bayne continued to make adjustments as he grew and prepared for each show.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be like, ‘Okay, I know what I’m doing all the time,'” Bayne said. “But you start picking things up. Like Larry McReynolds, he’ll have all the stats you’ll ever need to know. And that’s why I don’t need statistics for this show. I have other things to talk about. He will have stats.

“When I come in at Todd’s [Bodine], he will not talk about statistics. He will talk about his relationship with the Crew Chiefs and who that person is, more about the human stories. And so I need to know some statistics. But you kind of learn how to deal with it and what style you have.”

Bayne will continue to gain experience in the 2023 season as he continues to have a presence at FOX Sports. He doesn’t have his full schedule yet, but he’s made it clear he’s ready and able to take on any role. He is willing to spend time in the dressing room, studio or a mix of both while continuing to embrace this learning experience.

“I don’t know if I’ll ever be like, ‘Okay, I know what I’m doing all the time,'” Bayne said. “But you start picking things up. Like Larry McReynolds, he’ll have all the stats you’ll ever need to know. And that’s why I don’t need statistics for this show. I have other things to talk about. He will have stats.

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