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.
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, and many racers feel 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 to 1 playoffs and the six-race run to the Full Throttle championships.
Larry Dixon is the top seed in the Top Fuel class as the Countdown to 1 begins, while John Force is top seed in the Funny Car class as he tries to complete his comeback season with a record 15th NHRA championship. Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) are the other top seeds in the Full Throttle Drag Racing Series.
ESPN2’s coverage of the Mac Tools U.S. Nationals 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.
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 also host NHRA RaceDay.
Season-long coverage of the NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series on ESPN and ESPN2 continues for the final five events, with finals action airing in prime time at 7-10 p.m. on Sunday nights and from 9-11:30 p.m. for the final three.
The NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series will be featured on ESPN through 2016 as part of a five-year, multimedia rights agreement extension forged between the NHRA and ESPN in 2009. The NHRA has appeared exclusively on the ESPN networks since 2001. By the end of the extended agreement, the partnership will have been in place for 16 years. NHRA coverage also is distributed internationally by ESPN International.