Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC The NASCAR Busch Series heads to one of NASCAR’s most unique race tracks, Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, this weekend and ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Saturday’s 250-lap race. The Bristol event is the first short track race of the season for the NASCAR Busch Series and one of six select NASCAR Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2. Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30 p.m. ET, with the race to start at 3 p.m.
At just over a half-mile in length, with turns banked a steep 36 degrees, Bristol is NASCAR’s highest-banked track. Lap times for NASCAR Busch Series cars are in the 16-second range and the tight confines of the track create racing conditions not seen anywhere else, helping to make Bristol one of the most popular tracks among fans. More than 100,000 seats encircle the track in a stadium setting.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NASCAR’s most popular driver who runs only a handful of NASCAR Busch Series races, will compete in the Bristol event, seeking his second Bristol NASCAR Busch Series win. Kyle Busch won last year’s race after battling to the front from the 20th starting position.
Rusty Wallace, who was a nine-time winner at Bristol during his NASCAR Cup driving career, will lend his knowledge of the track to ESPN’s coverage as analyst, working alongside two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree in the booth with lead announcer Jerry Punch.
ESPN’s pit reporter team will have a new face at Bristol as Shannon Spake, who has been reporting for ESPN’s SportsCenter, NASCAR Countdown and NASCAR Now this season, will join the telecast team working with Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro as regular pit reporter Allen Bestwick has the weekend off. Brent Musburger will host the telecast and studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Musburger in the ESPN Pit Studio.
ESPN2 Will Have Live NASCAR Busch Series Practice, Qualifying Coverage From Bristol
ESPN2 will have live coverage of practice and qualifying for this weekend’s NASCAR Busch Series event at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday and Saturday, March 23-24.
Live coverage of Friday’s one-hour final practice session for the series will be aired from 2:30-3:30 p.m. ET. Qualifying will be televised from 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Qualifying at Bristol takes on special importance as it marks the first event of the season in which the top 30 in 2007 NASCAR Busch Series car owner points are automatically set for qualifying.
Calling the action from the booth will be Jerry Punch with analysts Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits and garage, while Tim Brewer will be in the ESPN Pit Studio with host Brent Musburger.
NASCAR Now Schedule
NASCAR Now, ESPN’s first daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, will air on ESPN2 at its regular 6:30 p.m. ET timeslot Monday through Friday of this week. The program’s weekend edition will air at 10 a.m. Sunday with segments from Bristol Motor Speedway.
A live interview with Kurt Busch will be featured Monday night with analysts Boris Said and Tim Brewer joining host Erik Kuselias. NASCAR Now insiders Marty Smith (Tuesday-Wednesday), David Newton (Wednesday), Tim Cowlishaw and Terry Blount (Thursday), along with analysts Stacy Compton (Tuesday), Brad Daugherty (Wednesday) and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s pit crew member D.J. Copp (Thursday) will all contribute this week. On Tuesday, NASCAR Now will also examine Mark Martin’s decision to stick with his plan to run a partial Cup schedule and sit out this weekend’s race.
NASCAR Now is hosted from ESPN’s High Definition studio in Bristol, Conn.
IndyCar Series Opener Live in Prime Time on ESPN2
ESPN2 will have live, primetime coverage of the 2007 IndyCar Series opener from Homestead-Miami Speedway Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. Though the IndyCar Series has been racing at the 1.5-mile oval since 2001, this year’s race will be the first to be run at night, presenting an entirely new set of circumstances for drivers and race teams.
ESPN’s Marty Reid will call the race, joined in the booth for expert analysis by former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear. Jack Arute, Vince Welch and Brienne Pedigo will report from the pits.
All 17 races in the IndyCar Series this year will be televised by ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPN on ABC, the 12th consecutive season that series events have appeared on ESPN networks. ABC will televise the Indianapolis 500 in May for the 43rd year, the second-longest running relationship in television sports history between an event and a network. Only The Masters and CBS have been together longer.
NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series To Debut on ESPN2
The NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series will make its television debut for 2007 on Sunday, March 25, at 11 a.m. on ESPN2 with coverage of series action from the Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Florida.
Featuring race vehicles that range from five-second Top Alcohol Dragsters and Top Alcohol Funny Cars to 15-second Stockers, the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series is the premier Sportsman series in drag racing. Eight categories are included in the series, which is showcased at selected NHRA national events.
Vintage NHRA Racing Airing on ESPN Classic
ESPN Classic is reaching into its vast video archive for daily airings of vintage NHRA Drag Racing featuring races dating back to the mid-‘90s. The show airs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. ET and will run through the end of March with 40 episodes.
NHRA Drag Racing on ESPN Classic features exclusive racing coverage that aired on ESPN and ESPN2. This week’s schedule:
Mar. 20 – NHRA Fram Nationals, April 23, 1998
Mar. 21 – NHRA Lone Star Nationals, May 3, 1998
Mar. 22 – NHRA Pennzoil Nationals, April 26, 1998
Mar. 23 -- NHRA Mopar Parts Mile High Nationals, July 24, 1998
Mar. 26 – NHRA Autolite Nationals, July 31, 1998
Fans will have some input moving forward with the scheduling. NHRA announced that fans can email firstname.lastname@example.org to pick which race they would like to see in the future on ESPN Classic, from those that aired on ESPN and ESPN2 since the mid-‘90s.