TV Times: Yaay, Speedweeks 2013 is Almost Here!
NASCAR fans are going to get their first 2013 racing fix when the flag officially drops on FOX Sports’ 2013 Speedweeks coverage with the newly named SPRINT UNLIMITED AT DAYTONA. It will be live and in prime time on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 8 p.m. ET, followed by live coverage of DAYTONA 500 QUALIFYING, Sunday, Feb. 17 at 1 p.m. ET.
There’s a prevailing feeling that the 2013 NASCAR season is going to pivotal year for the Daytona based sanction. The person doing the steering at the helm of NASCAR is Brian France. To date Brian has reversed all of the changes that he made, over the years. It’s now back to square one and pretty much what we had before the shopping bag of changes took place. We have to give Brian some credit for making those changes that the fans complained about the most. In the process, France had to reverse just about everything he thought would grow his product.
Though, there’s still the lack of competitive racing. Especially when it comes down to the end of the race that many turn out to be fuel economy run. That seems to the biggest complaint now. We are surprised that NASCAR hasn’t tried to get out ahead of the economy runs? Granted correcting this problem could be hardest of all. NASCAR’s show is still in a tough sell in a market where it’s very difficult to get an increase in ticket sales. Even steep discounting of tickets didn’t fill the grandstands at most venues.
Both the networks and the sponsors are going to be looking carefully at their huge monetary investments in NASCAR. They’ll all be looking to see see if the TV ratings ramp-up along with ticket sales. They’ll all be looking at upward trend especially in the first third of the season aired by Fox Sports. If it doesn’t work this time then NASCAR has to go back and come up with something that will turn things around.
According to Nielsen Media Research, SPEED coverage of the Rolex 24 at Daytona scored a Household Rating increase of 9% (0.37 vs. 0.34) and 82% among M18-49 (0.31 vs. 0.17) compared to last year’s event. It was the highest-rated Rolex Sports Car Series race on SPEED among M18-49 in six years, averaging 388,000 viewers and peaking at nearly 750,000 viewers on Sunday.
When the newly re-named NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series begins its 13th season on ESPN next weekend, a name and voice familiar to fans of the series will be in a new role on ESPN’s television coverage team.
Dave Rieff, who has been a pit reporter since ESPN began its NHRA coverage in 2001, will move into the anchor announcer position for the 2013 season. Rieff will host ESPN’s telecasts of both the Mello Yello Series and the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series.
The season begins with the 53rd annual O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., Feb. 14-17. ESPN2 will air same-day coverage of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 16, at 10 p.m. ET and same-day coverage of eliminations on Sunday, Feb. 17, at 8 p.m. In addition, ESPN3, ESPN’s multi-screen live sports network, will have live coverage of Friday qualifying at 5 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15, with the full day of eliminations live on Sunday starting at 2 p.m.
All of ESPN’s NHRA coverage can also be seen on computers, smart phones and tablets through WatchESPN and the free WatchESPN app for those who receive their video service from an affiliated provider.
Rieff will call the action from the booth with analyst Mike Dunn, who is beginning his 12th year with ESPN. The former racer is one of only three drivers in NHRA history to win more than 10 times in both the Top Fuel and Funny Car classes. Gary Gerould, John Kernanand Jamie Howe will report from the pits and trackside.
“I’ve been very lucky during the 17 years I’ve been involved with the NHRA to be around many of the greats of the sport, both television personalities and public address announcers,” said Rieff. “People like Dave McClelland, Steve Evans, Bob Frey, Marty Reid and Paul Page.
“Little did I know all those years ago I’d end up getting to know these great people and would be able to work with them and glean as much knowledge as I could. I’m very grateful for this new opportunity and hope to be able to take the best of the best from each of these men and bring it to the forefront.”
Rieff and Dunn have previously worked together in the booth on some ESPN3 qualifying shows as well as co-hosting some other drag racing programs on ESPN.
“It’s always a great opportunity just to get to sit next to Mike and talk about drag racing,” said Rieff, “It’s like one of those sitting around at home on the sofa situations, two guys that really love their sport and come at it from different sides of the fence, so to speak, and we’re able to bring that energy and passion to the viewers.
“There’s so much anticipation for the upcoming season and I can’t wait to get started.”
2013 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Schedule on ESPN
(all times Eastern)
|Feb. 16||Pomona Qualifying||10 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Feb. 17||Pomona Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Feb. 24||Phoenix Qualifying||1 a.m.||ESPN2|
|Feb. 24||Phoenix Qualifying (re-air)||8 a.m.||ESPN2|
|Feb. 24||Phoenix Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|March 17||Gainesville Qualifying||1:30 a.m.||ESPN2|
|March 17||Gainesville Qualifying (re-air)||8 a.m.||ESPN2|
|March 17||Gainesville Eliminations||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 6||Las Vegas Qualifying||10 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 7||Las Vegas Eliminations||11 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 20||Charlotte Qualifying||5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 21||Charlotte Eliminations||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 27||Houston Qualifying||3 p.m.||ESPN2|
|April 28||Houston Eliminations||2 p.m.||ESPN2|
|May 4||Atlanta Qualifying||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|May 5||Atlanta Eliminations||6:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|May 18||Topeka Qualifying||5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|May 19||Topeka Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 1||Englishtown Qualifying (Part 1)||5 p.m.||ESPN|
|June 2||Englishtown Qualifying (Part 2)||1 a.m.||ESPN2|
|June 2||Englishtown Eliminations||4:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 15||Bristol Qualifying||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 16||Bristol Eliminations (Part 1)||1 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 16||Bristol Eliminations (Part 2)||11 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 22||New England Qualifying||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 23||New England Eliminations||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 29||Chicago Qualifying (Part 1)||5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 30||Chicago Qualifying (Part 2)||11 p.m.||ESPN2|
|June 30||Chicago Eliminations||9 p.m.||ESPN2|
|July 6||Norwalk Qualifying||6 p.m.||ESPN2|
|July 7||Norwalk Eliminations||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
|July 20||Denver Qualifying||10 p.m.||ESPN2|
|July 21||Denver Eliminations||6 p.m.||ESPN2|
|July 27||Sonoma Qualifying||7 p.m.||ESPN|
|July 28||Sonoma Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Aug. 3||Seattle Qualifying||10:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Aug. 4||Seattle Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Aug. 17||Brainerd Qualifying||11 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Aug. 18||Brainerd Eliminations||9 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sept. 1||Indianapolis Qualifying (Part 1)||11 a.m.||ESPN2|
|Sept. 1||Indianapolis Qualifying (Part 2)||5 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sept. 2||Indianapolis Eliminations||Noon||ESPN2|
|Sept. 14||Charlotte Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Sept. 15||Charlotte Eliminations||8:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sept. 21||Dallas Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Sept. 22||Dallas Eliminations||8:30 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Sept. 28||St. Louis Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Sept. 29||St. Louis Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Oct. 5||Reading Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Oct. 6||Reading Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Oct. 26||Las Vegas Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Oct. 28||Las Vegas Eliminations||8 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Nov. 9||Pomona Qualifying||TBD||ESPN2|
|Nov. 10||Pomona Eliminations||7 p.m.||ESPN2|
The seventh season of ESPN2’s NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will get the green flag on Friday, Feb. 8, at 3 p.m. ET with a program originating from the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
The fourth class of five NASCAR legends will be inducted into the Hall that night, including ESPN analyst and 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Rusty Wallace. Also being inducted are famed mechanic Leonard Wood, the late team owner/mechanic Cotton Owens and the late Buck Baker and Herb Thomas, both former driving champions.
NASCAR Now will resume its daily schedule on Monday, Feb. 11, with at least five programs per week originating from the ESPN studios in Bristol, Ct.
In a move that allows NASCAR Now to join the strong company of many of ESPN’s other sport-specific studio shows such as Baseball Tonight, NBA Tonight and College Basketball Live, the program will air in West Coast prime time in 2013. Viewers should check their local listings for the NASCAR Nowairtime each day.
When the NASCAR season gets underway later this month, a one-hour weekend edition will also air on the morning of each NASCAR Sprint Cup race and NASCAR Now will air a weekend primetime wrap-up edition starting with the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in September.
New this year for NASCAR Now will be segments throughout the season with NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Joey Logano and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Travis Pastrana. The Montoya and Logano segments, which will usually air in the race-morning editions of the program, will show fans where the drivers’ passions lie outside of racing, what they do to relax and what motivates them in life. The Pastrana segments will usually air on the weekday show focusing in on his on-track performance.
Mike Massaro, Nicole Briscoe, Marty Reid, Shannon Spake and Bestwick will be ongoing hosts of NASCAR Now again this season, with ESPN SportsCenter anchors Lindsay Czarniak and Jonathan Coachman also occasionally hosting. Marty Smith will again be the lead reporter with Briscoe, Massaro, Spake, Jim Noble and ESPN the Magazine senior writer Ryan McGee also reporting from the field.
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup race winner Ricky Craven will continue as an analyst for NASCAR Now with regular contributions from Jarrett, Wallace, Evernham and analysts Andy Petree and Brad Daugherty. ESPN.com motorsports writers Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton also will make appearances on the program throughout the season.
A special three-hour edition of NASCAR Now will air on Thursday, Feb. 14, at noon on ESPNEWS with coverage from Daytona 500 Media Day at Daytona International Speedway. Briscoe will host from the studio, joined for analysis by Craven, with Massaro conducting interviews on-site at the speedway.
NASCAR Now will originate from Daytona for four shows surrounding the Daytona 500. In past years, NASCAR Now also has originated from remote locations including the White House, Chicago’s Navy Pier, race team headquarters and other racetracks.
Information for this story came from various indicated sources and personal notes
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