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03/09/09
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Motorsports This Week on ESPN
NHRA Gatornationals Finals Sunday on ESPN

The annual ACDelco Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., is one of the biggest events of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season, and coverage of final eliminations action airs on ESPN on Sunday, March 15, at 3 p.m. ET. ESPN2 will continue to be the television home of the NHRA for the remainder of the season, including coverage of Gatornationals qualifying that airs Sunday at 2 a.m., re-airing at 10 a.m. Finals coverage re-airs Monday, March 16, at 1 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

The traditional East Coast opener and the season’s first of 17 events for Pro Stock Motorcycle riders, this event is one of the sport’s most revered with a rich tradition of history-making performances. This hallowed quarter-mile has entertained spring-break-loving fans for decades with such notable occasions as the first 260-mph Top Fuel and Funny Car runs in 1984 and the first 270-mph and 300-mph Top Fuel passes, in 1986 and 1992, respectively (all on the quarter-mile). Its 675-foot concrete launch pad is one of the longest on the tour.

Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. on ESPN2 to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action.

Other NHRA action on the ESPN Networks this week includes highlights from the 2003 Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Southern Nationals at Atlanta Dragway on Monday, March 16, at 3 p.m. on ESPN Classic. 

Reporter Roundtable on Monday’s NASCAR Now; Shannon Spake Steps Into Host Role This Week

NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion airing Monday, March 16, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2 will include three members of the media who cover NASCAR racing in a “Reporter Roundtable.” Host Nicole Manske will be joined by Nate Ryan of USA Today, Michael Vega of the Boston Globe and ESPN NASCAR Insider Angelique Chengelis of the Detroit News as they discuss the latest NASCAR news.

NASCAR on ESPN pit reporter Shannon Spake will trade in her firesuit for a business suit as she hosts NASCAR Now in a fill-in role for two episodes this week. Spake, who often contributes to the program as a reporter, makes her debut in the host role in an episode that airs Wednesday, March 11, at midnight (late Tuesday night), and also hosts the next day’s episode that airs Thursday at 12:30 a.m. (late Wednesday night). NASCAR Now will be pre-empted Thursday and Friday for ESPN’s coverage of college basketball championship week.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Manske, Mike Massaro and Allen Bestwick and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include NASCAR Insiders Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said, Ricky Craven and Randy LaJoie, and ESPN.com reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Spake and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now.

ESPN Classic Remembers Danica Patrick’s Historic IndyCar Series Victory

Danica Patrick made history in April of 2008 when she became the first woman to win a race in the IndyCar Series, and ESPN Classic will give fans an opportunity to relive history with a telecast of the Firestone IndyCar 300 from Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi on Saturday, March 14, at 11 a.m. ET. Patrick starts the 2009 IndyCar Series season still looking for her second career win.

Also this week on ESPN Classic, NASCAR fans can travel back to 1987 and see the legendary Dale Earnhardt score one of his many victories at Bristol (TN) Motor Speedway with highlights of the Busch 500 on Monday, March 16, at 4 p.m.

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