Wednesday, July 23, 2008

ESPN2 Returns The Sunday Night NASCAR Hour

Many times this season we have talked about the crowded landscape of preview and review shows that come along on a Sprint Cup Series Sunday.

ESPN recently announced that with the first race of its Cup schedule from The Brickyard, the network would once again be adding a full hour of NASCAR Now to ESPN2 on Sunday nights. These new shows will continue through the end of the season.

It will be Ryan Burr or Nicole Manske hosting the new Sunday night shows that will debut on July 27th at 10PM. Although the network offered a program like this last season, fans do not have to think hard to remember just how much has changed since 2007 where NASCAR Now is concerned.

Last month, we documented how the RaceDay program on SPEED had been pushed earlier in the day as to not interfere with the ninety minutes of Sprint Cup pre-race programming on TNT. Now, as ESPN takes that series, RaceDay will once again be scheduled ahead of the NASCAR Countdown show.

This really shuffles the deck in a hard way for SPEED. ESPN2 will have the first preview show with the morning edition of NASCAR Now at 10AM Eastern Time. Then, without RaceDay overlapping, NASCAR Countdown with Allen Bestwick will air with no competition. Finally, after Victory Lane has ended on SPEED with Jimmy Spencer and Kenny Wallace, ESPN2 will off its own wrap-up show with NASCAR Now at 10PM.

Since ESPN is producing the races, the network has all of its resources available to contribute to the Sunday night show. Look for the continual presence of the lead announce team of Dr. Jerry Punch, Dale Jarrett and Andy Petree to provide wrap-up reports. On the ground, ESPN will have the four pit reporters and the regular NASCAR Now news team to provide additional interviews and chase down stories.

Ultimately, starting on July 27th there will be nine-and-a-half hours of TV programming containing NASCAR preview or review content on-the-air every Sprint Cup race day. We are excluding ESPNEWS and SportsCenter because they have no specific shows about NASCAR. The total is just from ESPN, SPEED, ABC and ESPN2.

It sure is tough to think about the Craftsman Truck Series that has no TV support programming of any kind. Other than the pre-race show, that series is just surviving on racing alone. The Nationwide Series is even in worse shape. Dominated by Cup drivers, ESPN2 does not even have a thirty minute weekly show to profile the competitors and follow the stories. Only the pre-race show tells the tale.

In a world where seemingly only the rich get richer, it would be a good time to clean out hard-drive on the DVR and empty the TiVo. With a four-hour live race thrown-in, there will be almost fourteen hours of NASCAR TV programming on every Sprint Cup Sunday for the rest of the season.

It just might be time to buy that new recliner.

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JD On The Podcast

Surf on over to and listen to me talk TV with Buck and Bass. The podcast is free and all you need to do is click on the Listen Now link on the right side of the page for the 7/23 episode.

The podcast is in the Top 100 Podcasts list on iTunes. This is my second season of helping "the boys" and I appreciate the opportunity to talk TV for all their fans. For those of you not familiar with podcasts, this daily NASCAR show can be automatically uploaded to your iPod for free. Check the site for details.

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