Motorsports This Week on ESPN and ABC

The NASCAR Busch Series heads to one of NASCAR’s fastest race tracks, Atlanta Motor Speedway, this weekend and ESPN on ABC will have live coverage of Saturday’s 300-mile race. The Atlanta event is one of six select NASCAR Busch Series races this season that will air on ABC, with the other 29 to be televised by ESPN2.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is known for producing close finishes and ABC viewers could be in for a finish rivaling the thrilling last lap in last week’s event from Las Vegas Motor Speedway in which Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch bumped and ground their way to the finish line, with Burton winning and Busch spinning backwards under the checkered flag.

Coverage will begin with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown show at 2:30 p.m. ET, with the race to start at 3 p.m. Play-by-play announcer Jerry Punch will be joined in the booth by 1989 NASCAR champion Rusty Wallace and two-time NASCAR champion crew chief Andy Petree for analysis. Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro will serve as pit reporters. Brent Musburger and Chris Fowler will host the telecast. Studio analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty will join Fowler in the ESPN Pit Studio during the telecast.

NASCAR Now Schedule

NASCAR Now, ESPN’s first daily news and information show totally dedicated to NASCAR, will air on ESPN2 at its regular 6:30 p.m. ET timeslot Monday through Friday of this week. The program’s weekend edition will air at 10 a.m. Sunday with segments from Atlanta Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Now is hosted by Erik Kuselias from ESPN’s High Definition studio in Bristol, Conn. Analysts for the program include NASCAR Insiders Angelique Chengelis, Tim Cowlishaw and Marty Smith, along with current NASCAR drivers Stacy Compton and Boris Said. Reporters Mike Massaro and Shannon Spake also contribute to the show as do NASCAR Countdown analysts Tim Brewer and Brad Daugherty.

NHRA Gatornationals Coverage To Air Sunday on ESPN2

One of the most popular events of the NHRA season is the annual Gatornationals from Gainesville, Fla., and ESPN2 will have coverage of the NHRA POWERAde Drag Racing Series qualifying and finals this Sunday. Two hours of qualifying coverage will be aired at 1:30 a.m. ET with two hours of finals coverage to air starting at 5 p.m.

The traditional East Coast opener and the season’s first of 16 events that includes Pro Stock Motorcycle riders, the Gatornationals is one of the sport’s most revered with a rich tradition of history-making performances. The hallowed Gainesville Raceway 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.

Paul Page will anchor ESPN2’s coverage from the Gatornationals, joined in the booth for expert analysis by former drag racing standout Mike Dunn. Gary Gerould and Dave Rieff will report the action from the pits.

Rieff will also host NHRA Race Day at 11 a.m. ET Sunday on ESPN2. The half-hour program will set the stage for Sunday’s eliminations with driver interviews, features and up-to-date information. An episode of American Dragster will follow at 11:30 a.m.

ESPN2 To Preview 2007 IndyCar Series Season

ESPN2 will preview the upcoming season of the IndyCar Series with a one-hour special that will air Friday, March 16, at 7 p.m. ET, a week before the March 24 season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Marty Reid, ESPN’s IndyCar Series lead announcer, will host the program along with analyst Scott Goodyear. Two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, driver for Team Penske in the IndyCar Series, will join Reid and Goodyear as co-host.

ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC will televise all 17 races on the IndyCar Series this season. The opening event will air in primetime at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday night, March 24.

ESPN2 Garage To Have Import Racers Marathon

Five episodes of Import Racers will be among the highlights of this week’s ESPN2 Garage, a group of motorsports, automotive and motorcycle shows designed to complement ESPN’s extensive coverage of NASCAR, IndyCar, Champ Car and NHRA racing in 2007. ESPN2 will air more than 1,100 hours of motorsports programming in 2007.

ESPN2 will air 30-minute episodes of Import Racers at 6 p.m. ET every night this week. A series dedicated to the turbocharged world of import tuner cars, Import Racers includes sport compact drag racing and drifting. Import tuner racing/customizing is one of the fastest-growing and most popular forms of motorsports among the youth of America and Import Racers is in tune with the movement.

A new episode of SpeedFreaks will air on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. A motorsports and lifestyle show, SpeedFreaks blends superstar motorsports pilots with actors and musical guests, all while positioning ‘The Freak Nation’ in a unique, cutting edge format unlike anything else in the racing world. The Freaks also ask their own brand of questions en route to covering the broad spectrum of the industry.

An episode of RM Classic Car Auctions will air 10 a.m. on Saturday. Set at one of the biggest auction houses in the country, viewers will see the auction scene in Monterey, Calif., and show some of the most beautiful and exotic cars in the world being sold for astronomical prices. Also in the ESPN2 Garage block this week will be the Lucas Oil Pro Pulling League on Saturday at 11 a.m.

Vintage NHRA Racing Airing on ESPN Classic

ESPN Classic is reaching into its vast video archive for daily airings of vintage NHRA Drag Racing featuring races dating back to the mid-‘90s. The show airs Monday through Friday at 11 a.m. ET and will run through the end of March with 40 episodes.

NHRA Drag Racing on ESPN Classic features exclusive racing coverage that aired on ESPN and ESPN2. This week’s schedule:

Mar. 13 – NHRA Winston Showdown, July 11, 1999
Mar. 14 – NHRA Prolong Lubricants Northwest Nationals, Aug. 1, 1999
Mar. 15 – NHRA Autolite Nationals, Aug. 8, 1999
Mar. 16 — NHRA Matco Tools Supernationals, Oct. 31, 1999
Mar. 19 – Auto Club of Southern California NHRA Finals, Nov. 14, 1999

Fans will have some input moving forward with the scheduling. NHRA announced that fans can email to pick which race they would like to see in the future on ESPN Classic, from those that aired on ESPN and ESPN2 since the mid-‘90s.

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