Saturday, January 5, 2008
Ready or not, here they come! The NASCAR TV partners are slowly working their way back into your living room with pre-Daytona programming that starts on Monday, January 7th.
The appetizer for this thirty-nine course NASCAR meal is SPEED's almost daily 7PM Eastern Time coverage of testing and the Charlotte Media Tour. The network also throws additional Sunday NASCAR coverage into the always interesting SPEED Report. Drew and Nicole have become cult figures to many race fans. Here is a hint, it's not about Drew.
ESPN has stepped-up and thrown their surprise dish into the mix with the sudden addition of six classic Daytona 500 highlight shows airing on Mondays at 2PM Eastern Time. Clearly intended to be recorded, ESPN is continuing their "across all platforms" approach to NASCAR by asking viewers to rate their favorite race on ESPN.com's NASCAR page.
After the February live Nationwide Race from Daytona airs on ESPN2, the ESPN Classic guys will then play back all six Daytona 500 programs in the order chosen by the fans. It might seem to be a little too late to some, but it's a start. ESPN Classic could be a valuable tool for the company as the NASCAR season progresses.
Instead of lonely Bob Dillner wandering around Daytona with a camera crew and a microphone, SPEED has taken their testing coverage to a new level this season. The network will bring in their most popular show host John Roberts, and then add Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond into the mix along with Dillner.
While that group will cover Sprint Cup testing, Roberts will be joined by Phil Parsons and Ray Dunlap as the network extends testing coverage to both the Nationwide and Craftsman Truck Series. Roberts will also host coverage of the interesting Charlotte Media Tour, which is a junket for NASCAR reporters that visits the various race shops.
The Daly Planet is aware that NASCAR Now will be returning to ESPN2 at 6PM Eastern on Monday, February 4th. What the network has not announced is who will be the two co-hosts for the series in 2008. Luckily, there are several in-house "talent" at ESPN who enjoy NASCAR and could do a very good job.
So, here we go again. The SPEED coverage is called NASCAR Pre-Season Thunder, and ties-in with the fact that NASCAR opens the tracks for fans to watch testing. The Fan Zone at Daytona is truly a unique experience for that purpose.
Hopefully, we will see some testing info creep onto the ESPN News Network between all the playoff and Super Bowl hype. Since many viewers have seen Mike Massaro covering the NFL Playoffs for ESPN's SportsCenter and other programs, we know that Mike is alive and well and not being forced to badger Eli Manning like Dale Junior.
Are you ready for on-track action, and will you be watching SPEED's testing coverage? This is an all-COT season, with Gibbs Racing's cars on the track with Toyota under the hood. The real faces of NASCAR and the real stories of the off-season should be just a part of next week's kick-off of the 2008 season.
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