Saturday, November 10, 2007
In-Progress on ESPN/ABC: NASCAR Now, NASCAR Countdown, NEXTEL Cup Race
Sunday should be an interesting day for both ESPN2 and the ABC television network.
After the recent shake-up at ESPN about NASCAR, the one hour version of NASCAR Now takes to the air at 10AM Eastern Time. Erik Kuselias will host, and the possible studio analysts are Stacy Compton and Boris Said.
It should be interesting to see if there are Truck and Busch Series highlights, and additional emphasis on the Busch winner interview. Also, the ABC broadcast crew may provide a preview of the NEXTEL Cup race directly from the track.
The NASCAR programming shifts over to ABC at 3PM with a thirty minute edition of NASCAR Countdown. This program will be hosted by Suzy Kolber with Brad Daugherty alongside from the Infield Studio. With Dale Jarrett missing the race, he may possibly join this crew as he did for the Busch Series race on Saturday.
Race coverage of the next to last NEXTEL Cup race of the season begins at 3:30PM on ABC. Dr. Jerry Punch will handle the play-by-play alongside of analysts Rusty Wallace and Andy Petree in the booth. On pit road will be Allen Bestwick, Mike Massaro, Dave Burns, and Jamie Little.
There is a very diverse field of drivers for this race, and the ESPN on ABC crew will have to make a decision about who to cover...and why. Gordon and Johnson, along with their crew chiefs and car owner may get a lot of air time, but the other stories in the field for this race might even be more interesting.
The schedule shows this race ending at 7:30PM on ABC, but both the Busch and Truck Series races had red flag periods that extended the event. ABC may find itself with this live NASCAR race running past their "hard off" time of 8PM Eastern. This would put everyone in an interesting situation, as the ABC Entertainment executives will want sports off the air immediately after the race is over. However, both NASCAR and the ESPN on ABC crew know just how important post-race interviews will be with only one final race remaining next week.
Both the 8PM Extreme Home Makeover and the 9PM Desperate Housewives programs draw bigger ratings than NASCAR. This would possibly make ESPN2 or ESPN Classic the "default" network should the race go long. ESPN2 is showing a World Series of Poker marathon, and at 8PM ESPN Classic is playing Days of Thunder. What an ironic twist if Days of Thunder gets bumped by a NASCAR race.
ESPN2 returns at Midnight Eastern Time with the thirty minute wrap-up edition of NASCAR Now, also hosted by Erik Kuselias. That program will definitely show if change is permanent for this TV series. Look for a wrap-up of the event directly from the ABC broadcast crew, and reports specifically for NASCAR Now from the ABC pit reporters. This was part of the "ESPN overall NASCAR integration" plan.
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