Broadcaster Laziness Makes Whelen Modified Tour Look Like NASCAR’s Laughable Afterthought

Online short track racing event streaming. In less than a decade it’s gone from a rarity to commonplace across the spectrum of grassroots motorsports. 

Anyone that watches a variety of streamed short track events understands that production levels can run the gamut. Some look like something close to a network television broadcast effort, while others look like teenagers doing an Instagram livestream. 

And that’s understandable. Not every track or series has the budget or trained staffing to do it at a professional level. And that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t do it. Let’s be honest, sometimes the hokiest broadcasts can be fun to watch. 

But when it comes to NASCAR, one should expect professionalism. And why not? It’s NASCAR. It’s the pinnacle of motorsports sanctioning bodies in this country. NASCAR should be setting the bar for others to try to achieve. 

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case Sunday when it came to the FloRacing broadcast of the Whelen Modified Tour Buzz Chew Chevrolet Cadillac 200 at Riverhead Raceway. 

No criticism whatsoever of lead announcers Joe Coss and Steve Halpin in the booth Sunday at Riverhead. Coss brought his usual businesslike A-game that makes him one of the best voices in motorsports broadcasting. And Halpin, a regular announcer at Riverhead, perfectly complimented Coss with the local flavor and spot-on knowledge of the series. 

But things got sketchy when it came to on-track announcer Jacklyn Drake. 

The reality is anyone that’s been around short track racing long enough has at one point or another heard some bad announcing. It happens. Names get mistaken or mispronounced. Mistakes happen whether it’s names, or the amount of laps left or running orders or any other number of things that can get screwed up. 

What’s disheartening is when it becomes clear that the mistakes made are happening because the person who was asked to do the job did nothing to prepare for the event. It’s simply insulting to the drivers of a series when an announcer shows up to an event and does no preparation on the individuals they’re covering.

Drake handled the driver intro’s for the event and during those introductions mispronounced – or just simply made up a new name in one case – for drivers Jon McKennedy, Ken Heagy, Matt Brode and Timmy Solomito. 

Jon McKennedy is the reigning Whelen Modified Tour driver’s champion. Drake called him Jonathan McKinney during driver intro’s. And while the pronunciation of names may seem inconsequential to some, it’s an indicator of the level of respect the broadcaster has for any series they’re covering. 

No broadcaster with any desire to come across as a professional should be mispronouncing names. It’s beyond simple. You do the homework before the event and get prepared. There were 28 names to know for Sunday’s Whelen Modified Tour field at Riverhead. If Drake was unsure of any, she should have taken five minutes and went to a series official and said “Can you tell me the pronunciation of each driver in today’s field?” It’s literally that simple to do.

McKennedy finished third in the event and was one of three drivers interviewed by Drake following the finish. Drake approached McKennedy on the track and said: “In third place today we have Jonathan McKinney.” 

His name is literally on the car he drives in the event that Drake was covering. Also, his name is on the fire suit he was wearing standing right in front of her while she interviewed him. And nonetheless, she ended her interview with McKennedy by saying: “Third place, Jon McKinney.” 

That’s your series champ folks, good old Jon McKinney. 

The message sent by Drake in not caring whether or not she actually got the names right was basically her saying: “It’s just the Whelen Modified Tour, I don’t need to prepare, I can just make it up as I go because nobody cares about these drivers or this series anyway.” 

It’s just demeaning to the efforts of the teams involved and the efforts of NASCAR to bring a professional and prepared look to the series at each stop when there’s a broadcast streamed on a nationally recognized outlet with a broadcaster bringing a “Screw it, I’ll just mail it in” attitude to the production.

And NASCAR, in their producing of these events, should really want to do better than that. They owe that much to the team owners, drivers, crews and fans that continue to support the series and create income for NASCAR. They owe it to the guys putting on the events to act like they actually do matter to them.


  1. No one bats an eye when Ben Dodge still mispronounces Goodale every single race. hes only been on the tour for like 15 years, though.

  2. What About Announcing Justin Bonsignore As The Mayhew Tools Car , Hello , We All Know Where Doug Goes They Go!!

  3. Spot on Shaun. It’s her job she went to school for-to know the names. Just because it isn’t the Cup series doesn’t allow for unprofessional mistakes. Reporters SHOULD be journalists and know basic and deep info. Paparazzi are the wannabe journalists that care about drama. Hopefully, she learns the names.
    BUT, lets not forget the greatest name mistake of all, one of my fav drivers as a kid, the undisputed champ for a drivers’ last name to be butchered is the great Todd “Ziigitty”. 2007 New England 100 Speedtv announcer Bryan or Ryan Drever I believe. Ya I didn’t google the broadcasters’ name so I’m a hypocrite haha.

  4. Driver X says

    Thats like last year at south boston they said the 54 was Tommy Catalina.

  5. Totally agreed, Shawn. It was painful to listen to and insulting to everyone involved in doing their best to put on a NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour event.

  6. David Fisher says

    Give a listen to a Bowman Gray weekly event on Flo, and today’s production will be up for an award, compared. A joke.

  7. She’s horrible on Bowman Gray too. I can’t stand listening to her. Matthew Dilner has some odd facts and sayings but at least he’s funny with it. Everyone knows he’s kind of a goofball. One of the best announcers was John Spence. He took the time to travel the pits and talk to everyone to get his information before every race.

  8. Deplorable, Degenerate Mod fan says

    I agree she was awful but I go to the track for the on track racing. If you want pretty go to Stafford and watch the single file yawnfest. No other racing stories to be written about? No other Modified races anywhere? No other Local racing news? How many polls and press releases can one do?

  9. BigOrange61 says

    My favorite was Riverhead “Speedway”.

  10. Deplorable, Degenerate Mod fan says

    zig13 brought up an excellent point.

  11. I watch a lot of the broadcasts without sound. I had this one on in the background while watching golf or hockey. I certainly miss some information but for the most part i can follow along without them. Often times, the announcers are talking about a great battle that the camera isn’t showing. Then you have the announcers trying to figure out a stalled car number that is clearly shown on the video. Obviously, they have no idea what is being shown on cam. I thought Nascar had their own traveling announcers for the Flo broadcasts. Pretty sure I read a press release on it when they announced they were going to FLo. Its pretty early days in this whole streaming of local racing. I am just happy to have descent reliable video no matter how bad the announcers are.

  12. Strange Rufus says

    …lest we forget Ben Dodge’s slaughtering of Rypkema…”Ryp-KEEMA.”

  13. Reminds me of Danica Patrick not knowing “Million Dollar Bill” was Bill Elliot’s nickname during the SRX broadcast. It’s literally the first line of his wiki page. Do the work.
    I’ve worked in TV my whole adult life, and sports TV last 8 years. Good tv looks easy. Making good tv takes a lot of hard work. Guys like mike Joy, or radio guys like Steve Post, put in the time and effort to make it look easy.

  14. IRacerguy says

    Is that the girl that does BGS on Flo? I always thought she was there so they could check a box or something. A James Essex or Barney Hall she’s not. Get one on the guys who do these iRacing streams…problem solved. Give’m the lineups 3 hours before the mic goes hot and you’ll have a “Vin Scully” in the booth.

  15. This announcing was worse than the regular mod announcer that always talks about machines, magic and tails dogging wags.

  16. Reliable video? Yes and no. My screen froze up a few times, no big deal maybe that was my setup. No audio for a while and they didn’t get the running order working properly until late in the race did they?
    Ben Dodge is the gold standard for NWMT driver intros. At least half the field had Riverhead roots. Halpin was the obvious choice for driver intros so who called the audible with Drake?
    Heagy she corrected so she butchered three names. The Solomito rendition was more funny then anything, fertile ground for a social media meme. McKennedy a major sin. Not just that he’s the champ she should have met and talked with him at last years awards ceremony.
    Who is Jacklyn Drake? Texas roots, a lot of on track racing experience and a regular NASCAR employee since September 2021 hired as Manager of Media Strategy whatever that is. My first inclination is to give her a pass thinking she got thrown to the wolves on the intros at the last minute, a duck out of water up here in Yankee country. Nope that doesn’t wash. She is a NASCAR employee, her job is to be prepared. She got most all of the names right, obvious she did prepare to some degree. Making the full on attack of bupkis with the champ all the worse.
    Does it deserve an article from the regional voice in short track racing highlighting the disrespect NASCAR demonstrated? Demands it is my view after seeing the bigger picture. Does Drake deserve a pig pile from the local fans piling on, probably not. Clark wear’s a lot of hats for NASCAR, has assignments all over and deals with hundreds of drivers who’s names she’s expected to get right. It is after all NASCAR’s responsibility to put people in positions they are qualified for. She is not normally doing driver introductions by herself in big races as far as I can see she’s the personal interest/infield reporter. Whomever decided to leave Halpin on the bench for driver intros blew the obvious call in my view.
    View the introductions again and watch McKennedy’s expression after she introduced some other guy starting near the front of the field in his place. I think I saw “are you freakin kidding me, I’m the champ”!

  17. Deplorable, Degenerate Mod fan says

    It helps to be a fan of a sport when doing TV. Is she even a race fan?
    Mike Joy’s name was brought up? He’s lived racing.

  18. Chevchas says

    A minimal drivers’ intro mentioning only their name and position on the grid without any race facts/stats nor where they come from should have been,for the very least, done properly. Let’s see for the next time if she can do better.

  19. Man, don’t you guys know she trains hard in the gym, posing with a drink for insta, so she can be “forever dedicated to being the best motorsports reporter” she can be!?!?! Her words, not mine… Looks like she has a shot at redemption this week at LEE. Where’s Jessie Punch? She did a fabulous job during the World Series and at least gets the champs name correct.

  20. Atop the Turn 2 Bus at Fairbury says

    I just thought that Plainfield, IL dirt modified hot shoe Mike ‘the Magic Man’ McKinney took some time off from riding the cushion at Fairbury and Spoon River to join the asphalt boys at Riverhead. Apparently, Mike McKinney is so handsome that he is occupying the mind of Jacklyn Drake…

  21. I love the nascar whelen modified tour as do all my uncle’s and family. We really need a nascar whelen modified YouTube channel or podcast.

  22. Is this the same gal who did the intros for the asa stars race at north Wilkesboro on Flo? I get the impression it might be. That gal was terrible too. She was very boring, couldn’t pronounce Monterey Mexico and mistook Maryland for Minnesota.

  23. Jacklyn Drake Facebook yesterday:
    “Hi everyone. I understand I mispronounced McKennedy’s name during this race broadcast. This was a mistake on my part when I took notes that afternoon I chicken scratched “McKinney” on my notepad quickly and spoke to it. After watching the broadcast back I reached out and apologized to Jonathan… I take extreme pride in my work and have always prepared strongly pre-race.
    To the modified community, I love the dedication and passion you have for motorsports! It’s why I do this job – because it has the best fans and stories in sports! I’ll see you this weekend at Lee and hope to bring redemption in my mistakes. Thank you to all those that have supported me and continue to do so – I strive for perfection but I was not perfect this race.”

    So what do you say to that all you magnificent, crusty old NWMT fans out there? Is there room in your hearts to give this lass a shot at redemption at Lee?
    And since the publisher was the point of the spear in regard to this announcing faux pas follow up insights may be appropriate.

  24. Well, it just goes to show a slim blonde girl with clear skin, bluish eyes, bright white teeth, in skin tight leggings, can get away with anything.

    But it is clearly disrespectful to the industry, sport, fans, and team owners.

    Her employer should be very concerned. Did they have any idea she performed like this? Is she being used as 🧠-less eye-candy?

    But then, she is not too far from a unique aberration. Announcers that have been around Modified racing for decades and eons still mispronounce names of the popular regular drivers. Why has that been allowed to continue?

    She would probably be extremely welcome at Cup level.

  25. We Modified fans deserve much better.

    Her blonde hair, blue eyes, and leggings will only take her so far, before she’s laughed out of town.

    Actions speak louder than words. Let’s see if she walks the talk at Lee.

  26. Deplorable, Degenerate Mod fan says

    So Doug I am the bad guy for pointing out the obvious…. OMG….Woke is winning.

  27. “So Doug I am the bad guy for pointing out the obvious…. OMG….Woke is winning.”

    That’s trolling 101. Not even good trolling in my view kind of clumsy and obvious. The reference to woke just boring. My view you should be grateful Mr Courchesne responds to the things you say knowing full well your goal is hijinks and not racing insights.
    Since you’ve invoked my name I’ll use my threoretical response time to riff on something else that I’ve had in the bullpen for just this occasion.

    Not referring to anyone specifically but what type of person are you when you encounter someone learning on the job. Like the person waiting on you at a restaurant that’s says it’s their first day or the new guy at Autozone installing wipers or a battery in your car. Are you demanding and impatient? A little bit ticked off they’re learning on your time. Or patient and tolerant. Perhaps remembering when you were ascending the learning curve on a job.
    As for myself it’s a new start for this young lady with a suggestion. Contrition and asking for a chance to redeem yourself after making a bad first impression are the start but you need to nail the landing. It’s not enough to be diligent posting pictures and blurbs about your busy schedule, posing and telling fans your exploring NY. Got it you’re a fine looking your woman and look terrific in short shorts but with intros it’s just the voice and accuracy. In these here parts we loves us our modified drivers and notice any little error no matter how slight or unintentional. You need to be back in your hotel room preparing not exploring NY. Perhaps watching Ben Dodge do NWMT intros paying particular attention to the name pronunciation. Try to make notes on sponsors, accomplishments or personal interest you can add briefly. Then get in front of the mirror record yourself doing it, play it back, do it again until you’re satisfied it’s been done well. The ASA at North Wilksboro or anywhere else the same thing. Show you’ve got the stuff then hit social media. Not social media, screwing it up, asking for redemption on social media.
    Unless your patriarchal bosses at NASCAR don’t give a flying fig about the NWMT and hired you for eye candy then fine. You’re perfect as you are by gum.

  28. Liz is dreaming of seeing me in my base layers or bicycling shorts.

  29. Owning up to and explaining the McKennedy mistake is a pro thing to do. There were, however, other misses. That is not “pro”. There is room to grow. However, no one owes her an apology; particularly Shawn, who is entitled to publish opinion pieces on his platform.

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