Saturday, August 16, 2008
ESPN at MIS: Sunday TV Schedule
It will be NASCAR Now that opens the Sunday NASCAR coverage for the ESPN family of networks from Michigan International Speedway. Nicole Manske or Ryan Burr will be hosting this hour on ESPN2 at 10AM ET that will include live reports from MIS and updates on the news stories of the week.
Things shift over to ESPN at 1PM when Allen Bestwick hosts a one hour edition of NASCAR Countdown. This pre-race show has been working very well for the network as Bestwick is joined by Rusty Wallace and Brad Daugherty. Included in this program will be ESPN's Lead NASCAR Analyst Dale Jarrett and his announcing partner Andy Petree.
At 2PM Bestwick will hand-off to Jerry Punch for coverage of the race itself. Down on pit road will be the network's regular corp of reporters. Jamie Little, Shannon Spake, Dave Burns and Mike Massaro have been working pit road all season-long for the Nationwide races and now handle the Sprint Cup duties as well.
This race has often come down to fuel mileage and placed a premium on good pit stops and strategy from the crew chiefs. ESPN should have some good storylines as the COT cars work long green flag periods and try to avoid trouble.
Due to some programming commitments, the outstanding wrap-up version of NASCAR Now will not be on the air until 1AM ET Monday morning. Normally seen Sunday at 10PM, this show was a very nice way to get all the late stories and updates after the live race coverage was off the air. Since the NHRA precedes this show, fans who are going to record it should set some extra time in case the NHRA runs long.
ESPN was not involved in the practice or qualifying coverage for either the Nationwide or Sprint Cup Series at MIS. The network team is strictly there for the pre-race show and the race. Perhaps, this will allow for a greater focus on the actual stories of the entire field and let Punch keep the energy level high for the race itself.
With college football and the NFL right around the corner, it should be interesting to see how many promos sneak into the coverage. Bestwick and company were used very sparingly during the Saturday Nationwide Series race, keep an eye on how this trio is used on Sunday during the longer event. Transitions usually occur after a commercial when Bestwick handles either a recap or just gives the guys in the booth a bit of a break.
ESPN has been making great pictures and the in-car cameras from MIS are often spectacular when combined with the fixed "speed shots" that convey to the viewer the incredible speeds on this big superspeedway. With drivers touching 200mph going into the corners, keeping this "speed perspective" is going to be important.
When the race coverage is done, ESPNEWS will be covering the press conference from the Infield Media Center with the top three drivers, the winning crew chief and owner. This is either done live or on a short delay.
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