ESPN2 to Have Live Coverage as NASCAR Legends Return to Action at Bristol
Ned and Dale Jarrett Working Together in Booth on Race Telecast
ESPN2 will have live coverage as some of the greatest names in the history of NASCAR return to action for a special charity race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 21, at 6 p.m. ET.
And just as many great drivers will be racing again, Ned Jarrett, a mainstay of ESPN’s coverage of NASCAR from 1986-2000, returns to the air to join his son, ESPN lead NASCAR analyst Dale Jarrett, and lap-by-lap announcer Dr. Jerry Punch in calling the action in the Scotts Saturday Night Special.
(Dr. Jerry Punch (l) with Ned and Dale Jarrett — click picture to download)
Cale Yarborough, Junior Johnson, David Pearson, Harry Gant and ESPN analyst Rusty Wallace are among the 12 legends of NASCAR who will compete for 35 laps in late model stock cars. The winning driver will earn a $25,000 donation for the charity of his choice. The race airs following ESPN on ABC’s live coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Scotts Turf Builder 300 event at Bristol that day at 2 p.m.
“Our goal with this race was to give our fans something really special,” said Jeff Byrd, president of Bristol Motor Speedway. “I think we’ve definitely done that when you consider that we have many drivers involved in some of Bristol Motor Speedway’s most memorable moments participating in the Saturday Night Special. This is such a major event that ESPN2 will carry it live. That in itself says quite a bit about how special this race is and how excited the folks in Bristol north are about bringing it to the sports audience.”
Ned Jarrett, who retired from television at the end of the 2000 season, returned briefly to help call part of a Nationwide Series race at Charlotte on ESPN2 in 2007, working alongside his son for the first time.
“I’m really excited about working with Dale and Jerry in the booth again,” said Ned Jarrett. “I had a lot of good times over the years with Jerry when we were both working with ESPN, but I only had that one experience with Dale. This is a little more special because of the type of race that it is and I’ll be talking about many of the guys that I used to talk about when I worked for ESPN. That makes it even more exciting.
“I think it’s a wonderful opportunity for fans,” he said. “I expect these drivers are going to have fire in their eyes. They certainly have some age on them, some of them more than others, but they still believe that they can do it, and I believe they can do it.”
Others in the race, all former winners in NASCAR competition at Bristol, include Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Jimmy Spencer, Phil Parsons, L.D. Ottinger and former NASCAR Nationwide Series champions Jack “Iron Man” Ingram and David Green.
“Many of today’s NASCAR fans have only seen drivers like Junior Johnson, David Pearson and Cale Yarborough race on ESPN Classic,” said Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, programming and acquisitions. “This event gives new and longtime fans a chance to connect with some of NASCAR’s greatest drivers.”
Wallace will be ESPN’s “In-Race Reporter” and will talk via radio with Dale Jarrett during the telecast. Allen Bestwick will host the telecast and pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Shannon Spake and Vince Welch.
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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, ESPNRadio 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 18 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.