As the time nears for ESPN’s coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the new Monday roundtable edition of ESPN2’s NASCAR Now continues to gain momentum with NASCAR fans looking for in-depth analysis of their favorite sport.

ESPN, which covers the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season, will televise the final 17 races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series beginning with the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 27 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Included will be all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup televised by ESPN on ABC.

At the start of the 2008 season, the Monday edition of NASCAR Now was introduced featuring host Allen Bestwick leading a roundtable discussion of the latest NASCAR races and news. The panelists have included current and former NASCAR drivers, and ESPN analysts and reporters, and the program has increasingly resonated with NASCAR fans.

“The Monday roundtable is another way for us to serve the fans of NASCAR,” said Jack Obringer, ESPN senior coordinating producer, studio production. “The races themselves always produce plenty of drama, and with the ongoing breaking news we have plenty of topics for discussion in an hour.”

ESPN analysts Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace, Andy Petree, Ray Evernham, Brad Daugherty, Boris Said and Randy LaJoie have been among the panelists, along with ESPN NASCAR reporters Mike Massaro, Marty Smith, Angelique Chengelis and Tim Cowlishaw.

Special guest panelists have included two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Terry Labonte, NASCAR Nationwide Series drivers Kenny and Mike Wallace, NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Johnny Benson, former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Ricky Craven and Charlotte Observer motorsports writer David Poole.

Evernham, Said and Massaro will join Bestwick for the Monday, July 14, edition of the program as they discuss the NASCAR weekend at Chicagoland Speedway. The show airs at 5:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

The roundtable edition is one of several enhancements to NASCAR Now, in its second season. The program, which airs Monday through Friday, along with a weekend edition on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race, debuted in February, 2007, as part of ESPN’s return to coverage of NASCAR racing and was the network’s first daily news and information program dedicated to NASCAR.

With new host Nicole Manske joining returning host Ryan Burr, the program has benefited from additional appearances by ESPN’s race coverage team, including weekly analysis by Jarrett, Wallace, Petree and Daugherty, as well as reports from pit reporters Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Shannon Spake and Massaro. NASCAR Now lead reporter Smith continues to contribute news to the program along with Chengelis, Cowlishaw and ESPN.com reporters Terry Blount and David Newton. Two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer has been regularly featured on NASCAR Now in “The Brewer Tour,” highlighting race teams and technological aspects that fans don’t regularly see.

NASCAR Now has also had several special theme programs this year, with shows visiting Dale Earnhardt Day in Kannapolis, N.C., Petty Enterprises for the 50th anniversary of Richard Petty’s first NASCAR start, the Macon Speedway Night of NASCAR Stars and an upcoming visit to Joe Gibbs Racing.

Beginning in late July, NASCAR Now will add a Sunday night weekend wrap-up program, and starting on Monday, July 21, the daily program will air at 5 p.m. In addition to NASCAR Now, ESPN has enhanced its coverage of NASCAR on studio programs SportsCenter, First Take and Outside the Lines, as well as on ESPNEWS and other platforms.

In a sign of the times International Speedway Corp. saw its revenues slide 3 percent in the second quarter. Daytona Beach-based ISC (NASDAQ:ISCA) generated $174.9 million in revenue during its second fiscal quarter, which ended May 31, compared to $181 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2007. Frankly, we’re not surprised and thought that it could have been worse. If that’s any consolation to the stockholders?

Yes, He REALLY Said That-John Andretti, on differences between NASCAR and IndyCar. “When NASCAR guys talk about aero push, they have no idea what aero push is. Going 180 mph around Iowa and getting behind somebody and you pick up a push and you’re heading for that wall at 180, that’s an aero push that will take your breath. And it just doesn’t cost you the position sometimes, but it scares the heck out of you, too.” That insight came from Valvoline’s widely distributed Track Talk Newsletter.

Let’s see “what’s shakin” on the tube for motorsports action this weekend. It’s wall-to-wall action even though there’s no NASCAR Cup race! It starts up on Friday with an 8 a.m. airing of F1 Practice in Germany on Speed. Speed comes back at 4:30 p.m. with ARCA/REMAX Qualifying from Kentucky Speedway followed by NASCAR CTS Practice from the same track. ESPN2 offers NASCAR Nationwide Practice from E. St. Louis, Ill at 7 p.m. Speed returns at 8 p.m. with the ARCA/REMAX go from that same track.

Saturday will be very busy with TSN(Canada) and Speed both offering F1 Qualifying from Germany. Speed offers NASCAR CTS Qualifying from Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. The Duce returns at 5 p.m. with Nationwide Qualifying from E. St. Louis, Ill. At 7 p.m. Speed airs the NASCAR CTS go from Kentucky. At 8 p.m. ESPN2 comes back with NHRA Qualifying from Seattle, WA followed by the Nationwide Series race from E. St. Louis. TSN will kick in with coverage for that event at 10 p.m.

Sunday will be another busy day with the 8 a.m. airing of the German GP on TSN while Fox airs that event in the USA at 1 p.m., SDD. Speed has the FIM Superbikes from the Czech Republic at 1 p.m., SDD. At noon NBC offers the ALMS go from Mid-Ohio while ABC is the network for the IRL Indy Car Series from Mid-Ohio at 1:30 p.m. Speed returns at 3 p.m. with the Grand-Am race from Birmingham, AL. At 5 p.m. CBS airs the FIM USGP from Laguna Seca, CA. Speed picks up the baton and coverage of the AMA Superbikes at Laguna Seca at 6 p.m. ESPN2 returns with NHRA Finals at Seattle at 9 p.m. So keep your remote handy for one of the busiest three days since the Memorial Day weekend. (END)

NOTE: INFORMATION FOR THIS COLUMN CAME FROM VARIOUS REFERENCED SOURCES, PRESS RELEASES, NOTES AND OTHER SOURCES.