Coming off a year he described as being very difficult personally, Newburgh native and two-time NASCAR Monster Energy Series winner Ricky Craven of Newburgh is having a much better 2019 to date.
After going through a painful divorce and feeling underutilized as a NASCAR analyst at ESPN, Craven landed a similar TV gig at Fox Sports where he is highly involved in their weekend race coverage.
“This is a perfect opportunity for where I am in my life,” the 52-year-old Craven said. “I have always admired Fox’s dedication to NASCAR. It has gone on for a long, long time. It’s a fabulous brand, and I’m so proud to be a small part of it.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Craven, who has worked the first three races for Fox and handles prerace and postrace analysis with several other personalities. He primarily works weekends.
Craven was used only on ESPN’s Sports Center last year after several years of appearing on a number of different NASCAR-related shows for the network such as “NASCAR Now,” which was canceled in 2014 after a seven-year run.
“The platforms for me at ESPN had disappeared. I wasn’t busy,” he said.
Craven said he really enjoyed his 12 years at ESPN and was grateful to them for giving him the opportunity.
With Fox, in addition to having a much more prominent role, Craven works primarily out of the Fox Sports studio in Charlotte, North Carolina, which is just 20 miles from his home.
When he was at ESPN, he was required to fly to their studios in Bristol, Connecticut, several times during the season.
“Now I get to sleep in my own bed and spend more time with my 14-year-old daughter Lydia,” said Craven, who explained that he didn’t get to spend as much time as he wanted to with older children Riley and Everett because of the demands of his racing career and his travel commitment with ESPN.
Fox TV was covering the race at Darlington Raceway (South Carolina) in 2003 when Craven nosed out Kurt Busch by two-thousandths of a second for one of his two Cup series victories.
“So when this opportunity came about, it seemed appropriate,” Craven said. “[Current Fox announcers] Mike Joy, Darrell Waltrip and Larry McReynolds were all very significant parts of the team.”
Craven credited his agent, Mark Carmony, with doing the legwork that led to his new job. Craven initially met with Steve Craddock, the senior vice president of NASCAR Programming for Fox.
Craven said Craddock shared with him the investment Fox had in the Charlotte studio and its NASCAR coverage and he was impressed.
“I knew I would be working with Shannon Spake, who I’ve known for many years. She’s a wonderful lady,” said Craven, who worked with her at ESPN. “They had a whole team of people I had been associated with over the years.”
That group includes former Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon.
When Craven was hired in late January, Craddock said in a news release that he “is synonymous with credibility and wisdom in the NASCAR industry.
“He doesn’t shy away from candid analysis, even under difficult circumstances, and his reputation, vast experience and relationships in the sport command the respect of all.”