Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC Few race tracks are as steeped in NASCAR tradition as Darlington Raceway, the egg-shaped superspeedway that hosted its first race in 1950. ESPN2 will have live primetime coverage of Friday night’s 200-mile NASCAR Busch Series race from the 1.366-mile South Carolina track beginning at 8 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown. The race will start at 8:30 p.m.
With the first and second turns radically different from the third and fourth turns, and a very narrow racing groove, Darlington Raceway was challenging enough for drivers in the daytime, but an entirely new level of difficulty was added several years ago when the track was lit for night racing. Ryan Newman holds the NASCAR Busch Series qualifying record of 170.301 mph on the track billed as “Too Tough to Tame,” while Denny Hamlin is the defending champion of the event. Mark Martin, who leads all drivers with eight NASCAR Busch Series wins at Darlington, will make his first start for Hendrick Motorsports in the #5 Chevrolet usually driven by Kyle Busch.
Dale Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup champion and one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Busch Series, will join two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree in the ESPN booth for analysis during the telecast. Jarrett is filling in for ESPN’s lead auto racing analyst, Rusty Wallace, who will rejoin NASCAR coverage in June. Dr. Jerry Punch will handle play-by-play duties for ESPN. Dave Burns, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report the action from the pits.
Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN Pit Studio, joined by analyst Brad Daugherty. Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Chevy Cutaway Car.
In addition to the telecast on ESPN2, ESPN’s signature broadband service, ESPN360.com, will deliver a live online simulcast of the event, and a Spanish-language version of the race will be televised on ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s domestic Spanish-language network.
NASCAR Now Schedule
NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, will have its expanded Monday edition on the air from 6-7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The program will have extensive highlights and recaps of the weekend’s NASCAR races, as well as looks ahead to the next weekend.
NASCAR Now will air on ESPN2 for 30 minutes at its regular 6:30 p.m. ET time slot Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week. In addition, the one-hour weekend edition will air at 10 a.m. Saturday with a wrap-up of Friday’s NASCAR Busch Series race from Darlington Raceway and a look ahead to that evening’s NASCAR NEXTEL Cup race. Sunday’s edition of the program will air at 1 a.m.
NASCAR Now is hosted by Erik Kuselias, Doug Banks and Ryan Burr and originates from ESPN’s High Definition studios in Bristol, Conn., with reporters Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake. Contributors also include analysts Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Stacy Compton and Boris Said, along with NASCAR insiders Terry Blount, Angelique Chengelis, Tim Cowlishaw, David Newton and Marty Smith, as well as D.J. Copp, a member of the Dale Earnhardt, Jr., NASCAR team.
Indianapolis 500 Time Trials on ABC and ESPN2 This Weekend
Drivers will run for the pole position for the 91st Indianapolis 500 this Saturday, and ABC and ESPN2 will have five hours of live coverage of time trials beginning at noon ET. ESPN2 will have more than three additional hours of live coverage of the second day of Indianapolis 500 time trials on Sunday.
Saturday’s coverage of Pole Day begins on ESPN2 at noon for two hours. After an hour off, coverage will resume on ABC at 3 p.m. and continue until 6 p.m., returning to ESPN2 from 6-7 p.m. On Sunday, ESPN2’s coverage begins at noon and runs for two hours, then resumes from 5-6:30 p.m. The 2007 running of Indy 500 from famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway marks the 43rd year of coverage of the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” by ABC, the second longest-running relationship between a TV network and a major sports property. Only CBS and The Masters have been together longer.
Marty Reid will anchor the coverage on ABC and ESPN2, joined in the booth by former IndyCar Series driver Scott Goodyear for analysis. Jack Arute, Brienne Pedigo and Vince Welch will report from the pits and from Indy’s Gasoline Alley.
ABC and ESPN2’s coverage of Indianapolis 500 time trials will also be on the air the weekend of May 19-20, including coverage of Bump Day on Sunday, May 20.
New Episodes of ESPN2 Garage Programs on Tap for Week
New episodes of eight shows in the ESPN2 Garage block of automotive programming will air this week. Designed to complement ESPN’s extensive coverage of NASCAR, IndyCar, Champ Car and NHRA racing in 2007, ESPN2 Garage is dedicated to the automotive, motorcycle and motorsports world. ESPN2 will air more than 1,100 hours of motorsports programming in 2007.
New episodes of the ESPN2 Garage programs SpeedFreaks and Mothers Car Show will debut on Wednesday and Thursday, May 9 and 10, while original episodes of The Bidding Wars, Funkmaster Flex’s Car Wars, Hot Rod Television, Metric Revolution, P.I.P.E.S, and Stacey David’s GearZ will air Saturday and Sunday, May 12-13, with replays to air on weekday afternoons the following week.
Mothers Car Show will air at 5 p.m. ET on Wednesday, May 9. Once again from the OPG open house, the Chevy A-Bodies rule. A flamed '66 El Camino, a '67 SS 427 Chevelle convertible, a '70 SS with a 572 crate motor, and a '71 SS will have the judges seeing red--all red cars. A previously-aired episode will be shown on Friday, May 11, at 6 p.m.
In the new episode of SpeedFreaks that will air at 5 p.m. on Thursday, May 10, the Freaks are in Bristol, Tenn., Las Vegas and Homestead, Fla. Guests include NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, Jr., IndyCar Series drivers Marco Andretti, Milka Duno and Tony Kanaan and monster trucker Dennis Anderson.
Hot Rod TV will kick off the weekend ESPN2 Garage schedule on Saturday at 11 a.m. The life and times of living legend Carroll Shelby from Le Mans to the Bonneville Salt Flats. Shelby talks about the design of the AC 427 Cobra, Mustang, Dodge Viper and his experiences working and designing for the Big Three. A previously-aired episode will be shown at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8.
Following at 11:30 a.m. will be a new episode of P.I.P.E.S. Challengers modify their tuner car to race in a “king of the hill” competition, with the eventual series winner taking home a cash prize. The tuner must achieve a predetermined horsepower and fuel efficiency rating, plus run on pump gas. Viewers will gain insight on how to boost their own car’s performance and make it fuel efficient. A previously-aired episode will be shown at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8.
Stacey David’s GearZ airs at 10 a.m. Sunday. The ’32 Ford is 75 years old and host Stacey David take a look back at what made this car so popular for so long. He also walks viewers through the assembly and building of a brand-new steel ’32 Roadster body at Brookville Roadsters.
GearZ will also air on Monday, May 14, at 5 p.m.
A new episode of Funkmaster Flex’s Car Wars debuts at 10:30 a.m. Sunday. The contestants head to Flex’s Car Show in Atlantic City for the Grand Finale, but tensions are high and cars aren’t ready. One contestant has a meltdown during judging and disappears. And Flava Flav makes a guest appearance as one of Flex’s judges. The episode repeats at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, May 14, while a previously-aired episode airs at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 11.
Metric Revolution airs at 11 a.m. Sunday with 22 of the country’s greatest motorcycle builders facing off in a competition unlike any other. This week Robert Fisher, Doug Keim and the team of Justin Scalzi and Andy Manna struggle to build the most radical custom bikes on the Planet. A previously-aired episode will be shown at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 10.
A new episode of The Bidding Wars airs Sunday at 11:30 a.m. Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels rides in on a motorcycle as part of a charity auction. For those looking for military hardware, an '82 Hellfire crosses the block, guns blazing. Meanwhile, who gets to ride off in a one-off '87 Rolls-Royce convertible? Previously-aired episodes will be shown at 5:30 p.m. each day Tuesday through Friday, as well as at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9.
Two previously-aired episodes of RM Classic Car Auctions will be shown on Tuesday, May 8, and Friday, May 11, at 7 p.m. Set at one of the biggest auction houses in the country, viewers will see the auction scene in Monterey, Calif., and show some of the most beautiful and exotic cars in the world being sold for astronomical prices.
Also in the ESPN2 Garage block of programming on Sunday, May 13, at 2 p.m. will be an episode of Autotrader.com DRIVE. Former Motor Trend magazine editor C. Van Tune and others will take viewers behind the scenes at the New York auto shows to analyze the latest models, concept cars and other automotive industry innovations.