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Indianapolis 500 Airs on ABC for 45th Consecutive Year

One of the longest-running relationships between a sporting event and a network will continue on Sunday, May 24, when the Indianapolis 500 airs on ABC for the 45th consecutive year. ESPN on ABC’s live, high definition telecast from Indianapolis Motor Speedway is presented by GoDaddy.com and begins at noon ET, with the green flag at 1 p.m.

Brent Musburger hosts the telecast, while Marty Reid will call the race with analysis by former IndyCar Series star Scott Goodyear and 1998 Indy 500 winner Eddie Cheever. Reporting from the pits will be Jack Arute, Jamie Little, Brienne Pedigo and Vince Welch.

ESPN will use 59 cameras to televise the race fully in high definition, including a 360-degree rotating onboard camera mounted behind the driver on multiple cars. Unique views will be provided by Track Cam, a high definition camera running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch that can move at more than 80 mph. All 33 cars will carry GPS boxes for the Sportvision RaceFX system to provide telemetry and pointers to help identify the cars for viewers. And ESPN will use a radio replay system that can record, playback and edit radios from any of the 33 drivers.

The one-hour pre-race show will include interviews with many of the 33 starting drivers as well as four special features, including a look at the roller-coaster year of polesitter Helio Castroneves; the special relationship between Danica Patrick and her father; the “Super Team” of Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti; and the Allure of Indy - why drivers will risk everything just to be able to compete in the Indy 500

Some of the most familiar names in sports television have been a part of ABC’s Indianapolis 500 coverage over the years, including Jim McKay, Keith Jackson, Chris Schenkel, Bill Flemming, Al Michaels and current host Musburger.

ESPN International’s networks and syndication of Indy 500 will reach 213 countries and territories and more than 292 million households. In addition, U.S. troops serving overseas and on Navy vessels around the world will watch via a broadcast agreement between ESPN and the American Forces Network.

Indy 500 Marathon on ESPN Classic

The Indianapolis 500 is set for Memorial Day Weekend on Sunday, May 24. To get fans ready for ESPN on ABC’s live telecast, ESPN Classic will re-live some great classic races of the past in a marathon on Saturday, May 23, beginning at 1 p.m. ET. The marathon, presented by GoDaddy.com, features racing legends and former Indy 500 winners Al Unser Sr. and Jr. and Dario Franchitti. Franchitti, the 2007 winner, will provide exclusive commentary about his experiences during that race for ESPN Classic. 

The full schedule for the Indy 500 Marathon on ESPN Classic is as follows (all times Eastern):

1 p.m. -- SportsCentury: Al Unser Sr.
2 p.m. -- 1987 Indy 500 - Al Unser Sr. wins his fourth Indy 500 after Mario Andretti started on the pole position.
4 p.m. -- 1992 Indy 500 - Al Unser Jr. wins the first Indy 500 of his career by beating Scott Goodyear by 0.043 of a second. 
6 p.m. -- 2005 Indy 500 - Danica Patrick finishes fourth, almost pulling off the upset. Dan Wheldon was able to celebrate in victory lane. 
8 p.m. -- 2007 Indy 500 - Dario Franchitti wins this rain shortened race. 
10 p.m. -- 2008 Indy 500 - New Zealander Scott Dixon wins en route to the IndyCar Series championship.

NASCAR Nationwide Series Racing Under the Lights at Charlotte

The NASCAR Nationwide Series makes its first appearance of the 2009 season at Lowe’s Motor Speedway near Charlotte this weekend, and ESPN2 will have a live, high definition telecast from the 1.5-mile track on Saturday night, May 23, at 7 p.m. ET, as the series races for 300 miles in prime time. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC. The race re-airs Sunday, May 24, at noon on ESPN Classic.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be the lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN’s coverage from Lowe’s Motor Speedway, joined in the booth for analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett, one of the founding drivers of the NASCAR Nationwide Series, and two-time Cup Series champion crew chief Andy Petree. Dave Burns, Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake will report from the pits, with reports by two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.

Allen Bestwick will host the pre-race NASCAR Countdown program with analysis by Jarrett and Brad Daugherty, owner of a winning team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in the ESPN pit studio.

Following the race, ESPN2 will air the ESPN Original Movie 3 at 10:30 p.m. The 2004 movie, starring Barry Pepper and J.K. Simmons, chronicles the life and career of seven-time NASCAR champion Dale Earnhardt.

Craven, LaJoie, Said on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable

ESPN NASCAR analysts Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie and Boris Said will be panelists on NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program on ESPN2 on Monday, May 25, at 5 p.m. ET. The three, all with extensive experience as drivers, will join host Allen Bestwick on ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program.

Half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now Tuesday through Thursday of this week at 5 p.m., with Mike Massaro hosting Tuesday and Wednesday and Nicole Manske in the host role on Thursday. A half-hour episode with news from Friday airs at 1 a.m. Saturday (late Friday night), hosted by Manske. Ryan Burr hosts the one-hour weekend edition that airs Sunday, May 24, at 10 a.m. with a preview of that night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. Said will join Burr on the set, while Massaro and Marty Smith will report from the track. 

NASCAR Now is hosted by Manske, Bestwick and Massaro 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 Airs NASCAR, NHRA Programming on May 20, 25

NASCAR and NHRA fans will have a chance to go back in time and learn more about the history of their favorite sport as ESPN Classic presents a pair of programs on Monday, May 25.

The 1989 Budweiser 500, a NASCAR Winston Cup event at Dover (Del.) International Speedway, airs at 2 p.m. ET. Dale Earnhardt scored his first win at the Monster Mile, followed by Mark Martin, Ken Schrader, Terry Labonte and future ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace.

NHRA drag racing fans can watch highlights of the 2003 NHRA O’Reilly Summer Nationals from Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas, at 1 p.m.

NASCAR fans can watch an episode of the ESPN Classic signature program SportsCentury profiling legendary NASCAR driver Richard Petty on Wednesday, May 20, at 9 a.m.

Traxxas TORC Series Makes ESPN2 Debut Sunday

The Traxxas TORC Series presented by AMSOIL makes its debut on ESPN2 on Sunday, May 24, at 11 a.m. ET with highlights from the series event held at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Texas. The premier short-course racing series with the top stars in off-road racing, this exciting form of door-to-door action will appear on both ESPN2 and ABC this season.   

The 2009 season features eight total rounds of racing. ESPN2 will air five rounds with three to appear on ABC, including a live telecast on ABC of the Crandon 40th Anniversary of Off-Road Racing. Marty Reid, lap-by-lap announcer for ESPN on ABC's coverage of the Indianapolis 500 and selected NASCAR races, will call all of the Traxxas TORC Truck Series events on ESPN2 and ABC. Joining Reid will be long-time extreme sports announcer Tes Sewell and former Miss USA Kimberly Pressler as pit reporter.

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