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Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears Premieres Friday on ESPN2

The new television series Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears, chronicling the move of Dale Earnhardt Jr. to Hendrick Motorsports in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, premieres Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. on ESPN2.

The five-part series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient leaving Dale Earnhardt, Inc., the team founded by his late father. Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.’s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard.

Three of the five episodes of Dale Jr. - Shifting Gears air on ESPN2 in the nine days prior to the Daytona 500, including following ESPN2’s live coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 15, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 16. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN’s first live NASCAR Sprint Cup event of the season.

Live Coverage of NASCAR Media Day Thursday on ESPNEWS

ESPNEWS will surround NASCAR Media Day at Daytona International Speedway with a special three-hour live program featuring exclusive interviews with some of NASCAR’s top drivers as well as analysis. The program airs Thursday, Feb. 7, at noon ET.

NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and NASCAR Nationwide Series champion Carl Edwards are among the drivers scheduled to be interviewed from Daytona on the program, along with others such as Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Juan Pablo Montoya, Dario Franchitti and more.

NASCAR on ESPN pit reporter Mike Massaro and NASCAR Now host Ryan Burr will anchor the program from ESPN’s studios, while 1989 NASCAR Cup champion and ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace and NASCAR Now host Nicole Manske will be in Daytona.

NASCAR Now Schedule

NASCAR Now, ESPN’s daily NASCAR news and information program, airs on ESPN2 for 30 minutes at 6 p.m. ET Tuesday through Friday of this week. The program includes news, highlights, opinion, debate and analysis from drivers, crew chiefs and insiders both on and off the track.

The Monday edition expands to one hour beginning Feb. 11. The show also has a one-hour edition at 10 a.m. on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Nicole Manske, Ryan Burr and Allen Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include NASCAR Insiders Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said and Tim Cowlishaw, ESPN.com reporters Terry Blount and David Newton and D.J. Copp, a member of Bobby Labonte’s NASCAR team.

NASCAR Now viewers also benefit from frequent contributions by the NASCAR on ESPN team including Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake.

ESPN Classic Airing Classic Daytona 500 Races

In advance of the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, ESPN Classic is televising six of the best Daytona 500 races of all time every Monday at 2 p.m. ET. The sixth and final episode of the series highlights the 2007 Daytona 500 and airs Monday, Feb. 11.

Kevin Harvick won the race is one of the closest finishes in NASCAR history, edging sentimental favorite Mark Martin by scant inches. Behind them, cars battling for position crashed violently, with Clint Bowyer’s car on fire and sliding through the grass on its roof. Bowyer emerged uninjured.

ESPN.com's NASCAR page features a poll where viewers can log on to choose their favorite Daytona 500 from the six. Then, on Saturday night, Feb. 16, the night before the 2008 version of NASCAR’s biggest race, ESPN Classic will show the top five races as chosen by the fans in their order of preference, starting at 10 p.m. 

Dale Earnhardt Sr. Featured on ESPN Classic

ESPN Classic will air a pair of programs featuring seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Dale Earnhardt Sr. on Friday, Feb. 8.

Earnhardt scored his 50th career NASCAR Cup Series victory in the 1991 Hanes 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, and highlights from that race will be shown in an ESPN Classic Drive-Through at 3 a.m.

At 9 a.m., Earnhardt will be the feature of ESPN’s acclaimed original series SportsCentury.

NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Season Kicks Off This Weekend

Drag racing fans who have been patiently awaiting the return of their favorite sport will be treated this weekend as the 2008 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season begins with the 48th annual CARQUEST Auto Parts Winternationals from Auto Club Raceway in Pomona, Calif.

Every February since 1961, fans have flocked to Southern California not just for the un-winterlike weather, but also for one of drag racing’s grandest traditions: the unveiling of new cars, drivers, teams and sponsorships at the NHRA POWERade season opener. The Big Go West plays out at the fabled facility known for its outstanding traction, smooth surface, and potential for record performances.

All eyes in Pomona will be on NHRA superstar John Force, returning from serious injuries suffered in a crash during last year’s Dallas event. Force will be trying to win his 15th NHRA Funny Car title in the 2008 season while his daughter, Ashley, seeks her first win after taking NHRA’s top rookie honors last year.

ESPN2 will have prime-time, same-day coverage of both qualifying and final eliminations from Pomona. Qualifying coverage airs Saturday, Feb. 9, from 8-10 p.m., while finals coverage airs the next night from 7:30-11 p.m. ESPN Classic re-airs the finals Monday, Feb. 11, at 10 a.m.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage from Pomona, joined in the booth by 22-time NHRA race winner Mike Dunn for analysis. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits.

Rieff and Dunn also host NHRA RaceDay at 11 a.m. Sunday. Originating from Nitro Alley at Pomona, the show will set up that day’s final elimination action with interviews and features.

An episode of NHRA Thrills and Spills airs Sunday at 7 p.m., prior to the start of finals coverage.
NHRA Fans Can Relive Events from 2003 on ESPN Classic

Fans of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series will have opportunities all week to relive some of the great events of the 2003 season as ESPN Classic opens the archives and brings the events back to life on TV. The programs air at 11 a.m. ET each day.

On Tuesday, Feb. 5, fans can watch the action of the 2003 NHRA O’Reilly Summer Nationals from Topeka, Kan., while Wednesday’s program features the Lucas Oil NHRA Route 66 Nationals from Joliet, Ill. The Pontiac Excitement NHRA Nationals from Columbus, Ohio, air Thursday with the Sears Craftsman NHRA Southern Nationals from St. Louis on the air Friday.

The nostalgia continues Monday, Feb. 11, with the 2003 Mopar Mile-High NHRA Nationals from Denver, airing at 11 a.m. on ESPN Classic.

ESPN2 is the home for the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.

Three Hours of Formula D Drifting on ESPN2 This Week

Fans of the unique motorsport of drifting will have an opportunity to watch three hours of competition from the Formula D series this week on ESPN2.

Drifting action from Long Beach, Calif., airs Wednesday, Feb. 6, at 1 a.m., while action from Atlanta airs the next day at 1 a.m. The third hour, featuring drifting competition from Summit Point, W. Va., airs Friday at 12:30 a.m.

ESPN2 Highlights Russo and Steele Classic Car Auction Program

ESPN2 is the home for lovers of classic car auction programs, and four episodes of Russo and Steel Car Auction air this week beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday, Feb. 7. Another hour-long episode airs immediately afterward at 3:30 p.m. Russo and Steele Car Auction also airs Friday, Feb. 8, at 2 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 9, at 10 a.m.

An episode of RM Classic Car Auctions airs Sunday, Feb. 10, at 10 a.m. on ESPN2.

Other automotive shows on ESPN2 this week include Autotrader.com DRIVE on Saturday at noon, and Mothers Car Show on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
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