Saturday, July 26, 2008
NASCAR TV Officially Shifts To ESPN on Saturday (Tires A Big Problem)
Saturday is the official day that the billion dollar NASCAR TV package shifts over to the ESPN family of networks. This signals the start of the run to the championship for both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series. That is the ESPN Infield Pit Center pictured above ready to go to work. To see the picture full size, just click on it.
It is going to be Sprint Cup qualifying at 10AM Eastern Time on ESPN2 to kick-off the day. Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree will call the action as a lot of cars try to sneak into the field for the big Sunday race. With the "Top 35" in points locked-in there should be some good drama among the cars who must make the field on time. As a side note, there is no Go or Go Home show on SPEED this week due to the unique scheduling of the Indy race. This qualifying session is scheduled for two and a half hours.
After this session at The Brickyard, it will be over to O'Reilly Raceway Park at 12:30PM for the final practice of the Nationwide Series. The "fun bunch" will be waiting for TV viewers as Marty Reid and Randy LaJoie will be calling the action at this stand-alone race. They will be joined on pit road by Dave Burns, Jack Arute and Vince Welch.
At the same time ESPN2 is showing the Nationwide practice, SPEED will come on-the-air from The Brickyard with a thirty minute version of NASCAR Live at 12:30PM from the SPEED Stage. Steve Byrnes will host with Jeff Hammond and Larry McReynolds alongside. They will be joined by Bob Dillner and John Roberts who will be reporting from the garage area.
The TV choices continue for fans as SPEED offers NASCAR Performance at 1PM. This is an outstanding show with Larry McReynolds, Chad Knaus and Doug Richert. They review a lot of topics from the crew chief's perspective and try to appeal to both the hardcore and the casual fan. This TV series has gained momentum this season and it has deserved the attention.
The fun continues over on SPEED with Tradin' Paint at 1:30PM. The veteran NASCAR reporter for the Associated Press Jenna Fryer was just on the one hour version of NASCAR Now from the ESPN2 studios on Monday and she will be the featured guest on this edition of Tradin' Paint. It should be interesting to see what Fryer says about the news stories of the week and also if host John Roberts or regular panelist Kyle Petty asks about her ESPN experience.
SPEED is done with NASCAR after that show for the day and there is a good reason why. The live action returns to The Brickyard and ESPN2 as Punch and company cover both sessions of Sprint Cup practice live at 2PM. The double session runs for two and a half hours and will no doubt use the services of the pit reporters and the crew in the Infield Pit Center. ESPN has not been involved in Sprint Cup practice at all this season, so this session should be interesting.
Then, TV coverage skips across town again as ORP hosts Nationwide Series qualifying at 4:30PM on ESPN2. Reid and company will handle this ninety minute program and then take a dinner break before returning for the Nationwide Series race coverage.
There is no NASCAR Now show on Saturday because the NASCAR Countdown program begins at 7:30PM from ORP on ESPN. With no Infield Pit Center, Reid and LaJoie will host the program from the announce booth using the pit reporters.
Live race coverage will start at 8PM on ESPN and this announce team has the potential to have a really good show. Reid and LaJoie both enjoy having fun on-the-air and this time they have three veteran pit reporters along to help that effort. The short track racing, the Cup veterans rushing over from The Brickyard and the Nationwide "regulars" trying to break through should make for a good TV combination of ingredients. Coverage is scheduled until 10PM and there is no late edition of NASCAR Now.
This post will serve to host your comments about the day's TV activity. There will be a new post up for the Nationwide race and we keep a running blog of the TV coverage, so make sure and join us here on Saturday.
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