ESPN BEGINS NASCAR SPRINT CUP COVERAGE AT INDIANAPOLIS
SportsCenter, NASCAR Now Among Multimedia Platforms Surrounding Brickyard
ESPN begins its coverage of the final 17 races of the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule with a live, flag-to-flag telecast of the 400-mile race at historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 26, at 12:30 p.m. ET. ESPN’s multimedia platforms will surround the race telecast on television, radio and online.
The telecast from Indianapolis is presented by Golden Corral and begins with an expanded, 1 hour, 45 minute NASCAR Countdown pre-race show that will include multiple features and interviews highlighting the significance, history and pageantry of the race and venue. The green flag flies at 2:19 p.m.
“Indianapolis Motor Speedway is one of the most famous and storied racing venues in the world and is certainly a fitting place for us to launch our NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports, production. “As the speedway celebrates its centennial, we want to convey to our viewers how special the track and the race are with a spectacular and interesting telecast that focuses on the race itself and its importance to competitors and fans.”
Five former NASCAR Sprint Cup champions will be an integral part of ESPN’s coverage team at the Brickyard, including analyst Dale Jarrett, the 1999 driving champion, who will work with two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree and lap-by-lap announcer Dr. Jerry Punch in the booth. Two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage, while pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch.
NASCAR Countdown presented by Degree V12 from the ESPN pit studio will feature analysis by 1989 champion driver Rusty Wallace and three-time champion crew chief Ray Evernham, with host Allen Bestwick and analyst Brad Daugherty. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.
ESPN will use 76 high definition cameras in the telecast, including the first usage in NASCAR of BatCam. The camera on a cable, which was used by ESPN in telecasts of the last two Indianapolis 500 races, will fly over the speedway’s frontstretch and pit road at more than 80 miles per hour to give viewers a dramatic look at the setting and action.
NASCAR Countdown will include a segment with actress/television host Kelly Ripa, who interviews her occasional Live with Regis and Kelly co-host Jeff Gordon. The interview in a New York City park focuses not only on Gordon’s racing career, but also on how he was the first NASCAR driver to move into the entertainment spotlight. Ripa also will delve into how becoming a father has changed Gordon’s outlook on his racing career.
Other features for NASCAR Countdown include Tony Stewart and A.J. Foyt, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup point leader and his idol discuss their passions for racing, their love for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and their similar, volatile personalities. Also, a dramatic recap of the 2008 Indianapolis race and the tire debacle is told through the voices of various people involved; ESPN captures the essence of why racing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is so special to stock car drivers; and ESPN racing champions and personalities Jarrett, Petree, Wallace, Evernham, Brewer and Daugherty enter a boxing ring to “duke it out” in a wild and dramatic debate about what will happen at the Brickyard and why.
The telecast’s opening segment is a cinematic look at four gladiators ready to do battle at the Brickyard once again: Jimmie Johnson, who has dominated this track in recent years; Stewart, the hometowner who returns as owner/driver in the legendary No. 14; Kyle Busch, who wins almost everywhere but has yet to win on the sport’s biggest stages; and Gordon, who has the chance to make history by being the only 5-time winner at the 100-year-old track.
ESPN’s coverage from Indianapolis also includes a live telecast of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Saturday, July 25, at 10 a.m., and telecasts of two practice sessions for the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars on the famed 2.5-mile track, all on ESPN2. The first practice session airs Friday, July 24, at 2 p.m., while final practice airs Saturday at 3:30 p.m. All programming airs in high definition.
ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will originate from Indianapolis for four episodes with Bestwick as host. A one-hour episode airs Thursday, July 23, at 5 p.m., with a half-hour show on Friday, July 24, at 6:30 p.m. NASCAR Now airs Sunday at 10 a.m. with a preview of the race, while a weekend wrap-up edition airs at midnight Monday, July 27 (late Sunday night). NASCAR Now co-host Nicole Manske and lead reporter Marty Smith will contribute to the on-site Indianapolis coverage.
Other ESPN Platforms
In addition to the live telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2, the Indianapolis event will receive multiplatform coverage on other ESPN outlets:
ESPN International’s networks and syndication of the NASCAR event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway will reach more than 83 countries and territories and more than 94 million households worldwide. In addition, U.S. troops and their families serving around the world and Navy vessels at sea can watch via the American Forces Network.
ESPN.com will provide surround coverage from the Brickyard with veteran motorsports writers Terry Blount, Ed Hinton, David Newton, Marty Smith, Ryan McGee, Angelique Chengelis and editor K. Lee Davis leading coverage. The crew will chat live Friday, Saturday and Sunday during the first NASCAR race of the track’s Centennial Era as well as maintain a live blog on race day. Jayski.com’s Mark Garrow will keep fans up to date with his regular podcasts as well as informative fantasy chat and a team-by-team breakdown from the garage the morning of the race. In addition, ESPN’s team of on-air announcers will contribute from the weekend’s festivities.
As part of the 2009 NASCAR on ESPN marketing campaign, ESPN.com is launching the “ESPN Virtual Pitwall” on July 22. Fans will be able to write personalized messages for their favorite drivers that will be posted to the pit wall (espn.com/pitwall). Fans also will be able to look through all the messages by driver to make sure no other driver has more support than their favorite.
SportsCenter at the Brickyard – ESPN’s flagship program SportsCenter will present a one-hour special from Indianapolis on ESPN at 7 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. Bestwick will host the program, with Jarrett, Wallace, Evernham and Daugherty as analysts.
Among features in the program will be Jarrett and defending race winner Jimmie Johnson playing a round of golf and discussing racing and life, and ESPN analysts who have tasted victory at the Brickyard (Jarrett, Evernham and Andy Petree) discussing their favorite memories.
In addition to the special, extensive reports, interviews and highlights will air on regular editions of SportsCenter and on ESPNEWS. Post-race driver news conferences will air on ESPNEWS.
Feel Your Heart Race – ESPN2 will air Feel Your Heart Race, a half-hour look into why and how NASCAR attracts the most devoted fans in the country. The program airs Thursday, July 23, at 6 p.m. Produced and directed by noted documentary filmmaker Doug Pray and Oil Factory, the program allows viewers to take a look inside the hearts and minds of drivers and fans to reveal NASCAR as a sport that is honest, real, complex, beautiful and fueled by passion. The story is told directly and entirely by top NASCAR drivers and their fans without narration or commentary and contains scenes of life at the track, colorful fan interviews and surprisingly honest testimony from drivers themselves about what it really feels like to be behind the wheel.
ESPN Classic will re-live four classic Brickyard 400 races during the four days leading up to the first day of track activity on July 24. The inaugural NASCAR event at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1994 is widely credited with helping elevate the popularity and status of NASCAR racing. Highlights of that event, won by Jeff Gordon, air Monday, July 20, at 6 p.m.
Dale Earnhardt, one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history, put his stamp on the Brickyard 400 the next year, and ESPN Classic airs highlights of the 1995 race on Tuesday, July 21, at 6 p.m. The 2000 edition of the race airs Wednesday, July 22, at 6 p.m. The four-race run on ESPN concludes Thursday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m. with the 2007 race.
ESPN Radio’s Saturday RaceDay starts its engines at 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 25, with an hour of news, previews and analysis. ESPN Radio also provides auto racing fans the comprehensive Sunday RaceDay (6-7 a.m. Sundays), which covers the auto racing world.
ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language television, radio and Internet in the U.S., will televise the Indianapolis race on a delayed basis, airing the event at 4 a.m. on Monday, July 27. ESPN Deportes auto racing commentators Andres Aguilla and Alex Pombo will provide lap-by-lap commentary and analysis in Spanish.
Schedule for Indianapolis Week on ESPN Networks (all times Eastern)
|Mon., July 20||5 p.m.||NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable||ESPN2|
|Mon., July 20||6 p.m.||1994 Brickyard 400||ESPN Classic|
|Tue., July 21||5 p.m.||NASCAR Now||ESPN2|
|Tue., July 21||6 p.m.||1995 Brickyard 400||ESPN Classic|
|Wed., July 22||5 p.m.||NASCAR Now||ESPN2|
|Wed., July 22||6 p.m.||2000 Brickyard 400||ESPN Classic|
|Thu., July 23||5 p.m.||NASCAR Now (at Indianapolis)||ESPN2|
|Thu., July 23||6 p.m.||Feel Your Heart Race||ESPN2|
|Thu., July 23||6:30 p.m.||2007 Brickyard 400||ESPN Classic|
|Fri., July 24||2 p.m.||NASCAR Sprint Cup practice||ESPN2|
|Fri., July 24||6:30 p.m.||NASCAR Now (at Indianapolis)||ESPN2|
|Sat., July 25||6 a.m.||Saturday RaceDay||ESPN Radio|
|Sat., July 25||10 a.m.||NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying||ESPN2|
|Sat., July 25||12:30 p.m.||NASCAR Nationwide Series final prac.||ESPN2|
|Sat., July 25||3:30 p.m.||NASCAR Sprint Cup final practice||ESPN2|
|Sat., July 25||4:30 p.m.||NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying||ESPN2|
|Sat., July 25||7 p.m.||SportsCenter at the Brickyard||ESPN|
|Sat., July 25||7:30 p.m.||NASCAR Countdown||ESPN|
|Sat., July 25||8 p.m.||NASCAR Nationwide Series at ORP||ESPN|
|Sun., July 26||6 a.m.||Sunday RaceDay||ESPN Radio|
|Sun., July 26||10 a.m.||NASCAR Now (at Indianapolis)||ESPN2|
|Sun., July 26||12:30 p.m.||NASCAR Countdown||ESPN|
|Sun., July 26||2 p.m.||Brickyard 400 pres. by Golden Corral||ESPN|
|Mon., July 27||Midnight||NASCAR Now (at Indianapolis)||ESPN2|
|Mon., July 27||4 a.m.||Brickyard 400 pres. by Golden Corral||ESPN Deportes|
|Mon., July 27||5 p.m.||NASCAR Now Monday Roundtable||ESPN2|
About NASCAR on ESPN:
ESPN and ABC have comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup” on ABC. Additionally, ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season. All programming is produced totally in high definition. ESPN’s comprehensive, multimedia NASCAR coverage extends to ESPN.com, SportsCenter, ESPN the Magazine, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio and ESPN International, among other ESPN platforms. ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Races over a 20-year period starting in 1981 and returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007. The network’s award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN has been honored with 19 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide. NASCAR races have appeared on ABC for decades, beginning with broadcasts on the award-winning Wide World of Sports program in the 1960s.