TNT to try different things for Pepsi 400 Turner Network Television (TNT), home of NASCAR programming for 24 consecutive seasons, goes under the lights this Saturday, July 7 when the network televises the Pepsi 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race from the Daytona International Speedway with the debut of a new television format, a special on four-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series driver Jeff Gordon, a special feature on seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion Richard Petty and continued TNT post-race coverage exclusively on NASCAR.COM. The primetime Pepsi 400 is the signature race of the 2007 NASCAR on TNT Summer Series, which began at Pocono Raceway on June 10 and concludes at Chicagoland Speedway on July 15.
TNT will rev its race day coverage at 5:30 p.m. ET with a one-hour program entitled “24x24: Wide Open with Jeff Gordon,” which focuses on the driver of the No. 24 whose championship career includes 79 NEXTEL Cup Series victories and 63 career poles. The feature will be followed by the network’s pre-race coverage which begins with NASCAR on TNT LIVE! at 6:30 p.m. ET, followed by Allstate Countdown to Green at 7:30 p.m. ET. The Pepsi 400 will begin at 8 p.m. ET.
Including Gordon, 22 of the 24 living Daytona 500 champions are expected to be at the track for one of NASCAR’s premier racing events, many of whom will be interviewed during pre-race festivities by TNT’s roster of on-air announcers, which includes Bill Weber (host and play-by-play), Marc Fein (host), Kyle Petty (analyst), Wally Dallenbach (analyst) and pit reporters Ralph Sheheen, Marty Snider, Matt Yocum and Lindsay Czarniak. The network’s pre-race coverage will also include a feature in which Florida State graduate Matt Yocum tours the city of Daytona and documents its importance in NASCAR’s history, as well as a special edition of the Pride of NASCAR in which Kyle Petty interviews his father, seven-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion and three-time Pepsi 400 winner, Richard Petty.
“Daytona has always been a special place for my family, we’ve been going there since the beginning when my grandfather raced,” said Kyle Petty, current Cup driver and TNT analyst. “My father, ‘The King,’ won a bunch of races there and I won in my first ever start in an ARCA car at Daytona, so it only seemed fitting that TNT highlight my interview with him this weekend. I’ve seen so many other people interview him in the past, but this time I was able to ask the questions. That was a fun experience and I think the viewers at home will enjoy it.”
“The Pepsi 400 from the Daytona International Speedway is one of the crown jewels in NASCAR and the signature race in TNT’s Summer Series,” said Jeff Behnke, Turner Sports executive producer. “We are looking forward to following and showcasing some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers, and providing viewers with a new and exciting way to watch their favorite sport.”
This year’s coverage of the Pepsi 400 will mark the debut of TNT’s Wide Open Coverage, a unique television format that will feature no national commercial interruptions, only three local commercial breaks per hour and an innovative on-screen video box for sponsor branded content. The branded content will include animated sponsor messages and graphics from sponsors Autozone, DirecTV, Ford, Goodyear, Miller Brewing, Pepsi, Principal Financial, Sprint and Subway, all of whom relied on Turner’s creative expertise to create and produce the original branded content to complement the race. Toyota, also a sponsor of the telecast, utilized a separate creative agency for their individual spots. The branded content for all 10 sponsors includes a mix of vignettes running 60 seconds to two minutes in length, and feature notable faces from around the world of NASCAR, and will include current Cup drivers Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, David Ragan, Robby Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Casey Mears, Mark Martin, Regan Smith and Kurt Busch.
“Signing 10 national sponsors for this marquee sporting event speaks to the advertising communities’ willingness to break free from the traditional model for an innovative concept that allows them to stand out and be noticed, while simultaneously serving the fans,” said Trish Frohman, executive vice president, Turner Sports Advertising Sales. “We couldn’t be happier with how Madison Avenue has reacted to Wide Open Coverage in helping us meet our target goals as we present a new way to feature sponsors, as well as televise NASCAR.”