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White House to Host ESPN2’s NASCAR Now on Wednesday

NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program, will originate from the White House in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday as President Barack Obama honors three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson and other NASCAR stars of past and present. The one-hour program airs at 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Aug. 19, and will mark the first time in ESPN’s 30-year history that a regularly-scheduled ESPN program will originate and air in its entirety from the White House.

ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett and Rusty Wallace, both former NASCAR Sprint Cup champions, will be among the drivers participating in afternoon ceremonies that will include a tour of the White House and photo opportunities. In addition to other former champions, the group of drivers also will include many of the 12 who qualified for the 2008 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Nicole Manske will host NASCAR Now from the White House, with analysis by Brad Daugherty. Jarrett, Wallace and NASCAR Now lead reporter Marty Smith also will participate in the telecast.

NASCAR Stars Racing Under the Lights at Bristol on ESPN

One of the most popular and exciting races annually on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is the night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, and ESPN will have live, flag-to-flag coverage in high definition as the stars and cars go for 500 laps on the half-mile track on Saturday, Aug. 22. The telecast is presented by Pennzoil and begins with NASCAR Countdown presented by Degree V12 at 6:30 p.m. ET. The race’s green flag is at 7:43 p.m.

In addition, coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Bristol will air Friday, Aug. 21, at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN2.

The final 17 races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule will air on the ESPN Networks, with the first six on ESPN and the final 11 on ABC, including all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

Also at Bristol, ESPN2 continues its season-long coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series with a live, flag-to-flag telecast as the series races for 300 laps on Friday night at 7:30 p.m. The green flag is at 8:13 p.m. ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, with selected races on ESPN and ABC.

Dr. Jerry Punch will be lap-by-lap announcer for all of ESPN’s telecasts from Bristol, with analysis by 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Dale Jarrett and two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree. Reporting from the pits will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch, with two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion crew chief Tim Brewer in the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage.

Allen Bestwick will host NASCAR Countdown both nights with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty, co-owner of a winning team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in the ESPN pit studio.

Also this week, ESPN Classic will take NASCAR fans on a trip down memory lane with an episode of the ESPN Classic signature series SportsCentury. The one-hour program features legendary NASCAR star Tim Flock and airs Friday, Aug. 21, at 8 a.m.

Tony Stewart Appearing on ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday

NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points leader Tony Stewart is scheduled to appear on the daily ESPN2 program ESPN First Take on Tuesday, Aug. 18. The program airs at 10 a.m. ET.

An ESPN2 cornerstone program, ESPN First Take is co-hosted by Jay Crawford and Dana Jacobson, mixing live guests, highlights, analysis, field reports, breaking news, opinion and long-form debate via the 1st and 10 segments in a casual and entertaining format. The 1st and 10 segments utilize two commentators each day from a rotating group, including Skip Bayless, ESPN.com columnist Jemele Hill and others.

Craven, Evernham, LaJoie on NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable

NASCAR on ESPN analysts Ricky Craven, Randy LaJoie and Ray Evernham will be panelists on NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program on Monday, Aug. 24, at 5 p.m. ET on ESPN2. Allen Bestwick will host the edition of ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program.

Nicole Manske hosts half-hour episodes of NASCAR Now airing Tuesday and Thursday of this week at 5 p.m., and Friday at 7 p.m. following ESPN2’s live coverage of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Manske also hosts the one-hour weekend edition that airs Saturday, Aug. 22, at the special time of 9 a.m. with a preview of that night’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol. The weekend wrap-up edition airs at midnight Sunday, Aug. 23 (late Saturday night). Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis will report from Bristol for both programs, while Ricky Craven will join Manske in the studio. 

NASCAR Now is hosted by Massaro, Bestwick and Manske 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.

NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing from Reading on ESPN2

The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series travels to Reading, Pa., to compete at Maple Grove Raceway this weekend, and ESPN2 will air qualifying and eliminations action on a same-day basis. Qualifying from the Toyo Tires NHRA Nationals airs Sunday, Aug. 23, at 1 a.m. ET (late Saturday night), and again at 10 a.m., with eliminations airing at 10 p.m. Finals coverage re-airs Monday, Aug. 24, at 2 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

Held in mid-September since its inception in 1985, the race moved to an August date in 2006. Maple Grove Raceway has a long history of record performances, including the first side-by-side quarter-mile four-second and 300-mph Top Fuel passes. It’s also the final event for Pro Stock Motorcycle competitors to earn points toward participation in the Ringers Gloves Pro Bike Battle bonus event, held at the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals.

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 a.m. to set the stage for that day’s eliminations action.

Other NHRA programming airing on ESPN Networks this week includes highlights from the 2004 Mac Tools Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., airing Monday, Aug. 24, at 1 p.m. on ESPN Classic.

Also, highlights from the NHRA Lucas Oil Sportsman Series event at Brainerd, Minn., airs Sunday, Aug. 23, at 5 p.m. on ESPN2, and action from the event in Seattle airs Monday at noon on ESPN Classic.

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