Motorsports This Week on ESPN
Drag Racing’s Biggest Event, NASCAR Doubleheader at Atlanta
ESPN2 Airing 11 Hours of NHRA U.S. Nationals Coverage
The biggest event of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series season will have 11 hours of coverage on ESPN2 this weekend with the running of the 56th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at O’Reilly Raceway Park in Indianapolis. Expanded qualifying and eliminations telecasts will culminate with five consecutive hours on Labor Day Monday, the final day of competition.
ESPN2’s coverage of the first event in the NHRA’s Countdown to 1 playoffs begins Sunday, Sept. 5, at 10 a.m. ET with a one-hour qualifying program. At 11 a.m., NHRA RaceDay presented by Lucas Oil brings viewers up-to-date with the latest NHRA news and sets up the rest of the day’s action. Immediately following at 11:30 a.m., ESPN2 will telecast 2 ½ hours of U.S. Nationals qualifying. More qualifying coverage airs for two hours starting at 5 p.m.
Monday’s non-stop action kicks off at 1 p.m. with eliminations and finals. In addition to the ESPN2 telecast, fans can watch the entire day of eliminations for all classes live on ESPN3.com, ESPN’s live sports broadband network at www.espn3.com.
Each Labor Day weekend, NHRA racers and fans descend on O’Reilly Raceway Park for the biggest, oldest, richest, and most prestigious drag race in the world. They say that no career is truly complete without a win at drag racing’s grandest event. The fabled strip is regarded by many as one of the smoothest on the circuit, and the stakes are indeed high. As it did two years ago, this event now serves as the kickoff for the Countdown playoffs and the six-race run to the Full Throttle championships. In 2009, the facility improved the fan experience with the debut of more permanent grandstands.
Paul Page anchors ESPN2’s coverage with analysis by 22-time NHRA winner Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould, John Kernan and Dave Rieff report from the pits. Rieff and Dunn host NHRA RaceDay.
NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide Series Live in Prime Time from Atlanta
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races for 500 miles in prime time under the lights at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday night, Sept. 5, and ESPN will have a live telecast of the event presented by Pennzoil. The NASCAR Countdown pre-race show kicks off the evening at 7 p.m. ET with the race telecast at 7:30 p.m. The race’s green flag is at 7:46 p.m.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series also races under the lights at Atlanta this weekend and season-long coverage on the ESPN networks continues. The race airs on ESPN2 beginning with NASCAR Countdown at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 4, with the race telecast at 7 p.m. and the green flag at 7:16 p.m.
Marty Reid will call the action with analysis by Dale Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage, while pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Mike Massaro and Dr. Jerry Punch.
NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN pit studio will be hosted by Allen Bestwick with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion driver Rusty Wallace, three-time champion crew chief Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty, a team owner in the series. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.
NASCAR Now Surrounds NASCAR Sprint Cup Event at Atlanta
ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will surround the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend with episodes before and after the event. Nicole Briscoe will host the two programs.
The one-hour preview show presented by 5-Hour Energy airs at 9 a.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 5, while the weekend wrap-up edition airs at 11:30 p.m. Shannon Spake and David Newton will report from the speedway, while Ricky Craven will join Briscoe in the studio for analysis.
Briscoe also hosts half-hour editions of NASCAR Now airing late-night this week due to ESPN’s coverage of U.S. Open tennis from New York. Programs airs Wednesday, Sept. 1 at 1 a.m. (late Tuesday night); Thursday, Sept. 2, at 1 a.m. (late Wednesday night) and Saturday, Sept. 4, at 12:30 a.m. (late Friday night). There will be no program late Thursday night due to U.S. Open coverage.
Also, the Monday roundtable edition of NASCAR Now is taking Monday, Sept. 6, off due to ESPN2’s all-day coverage of the NHRA Mac Tools U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis.
NASCAR Now is hosted by Mike Massaro, Nicole Briscoe, Allen Bestwick and Shannon Spake and originates from ESPN’s high definition studios in Bristol, Conn. Contributors include reporters Marty Smith and Angelique Chengelis, analysts Ray Evernham, Tim Brewer, Brad Daugherty, and Ricky Craven, ESPN.com reporters Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton and ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee. The NASCAR on ESPN team event coverage team of Rusty Wallace, Dale Jarrett, Marty Reid, Dr. Jerry Punch, Andy Petree, Dave Burns, Jamie Little, and Vince Welch also make frequent contributions to NASCAR Now.
ESPN.com Offers RacingLive! During Atlanta Race
NASCAR fans looking for an online gathering during ESPN’s telecasts of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now have a place to go on ESPN.com.
RacingLive! on ESPN.com is a live blog where fans can engage in debate and discussion with ESPN.com writers and editors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. On Sunday night, Sept. 5, RacingLive! Atlanta will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET to coincide with ESPN’s telecast of the 500-mile race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Fans can join ESPN.com’s NASCAR experts in dissecting every aspect of the race live at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/.