By Ryan Berenz
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to the legendary 2.5-mile oval at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400, on Sunday, July 31, at 1pm ET, as top drivers Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon race for a win on the famed track. Last year at Indy, Jamie McMurray kissed the bricks and joined Dale Jarrett and Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to win both the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 in the same year.
This year’s Brickyard 400 marks the first of 17 races on ESPN and ABC to finish out the Sprint Cup season. You can get the full Sprint Cup TV schedule here.
Press release with more programming details from ESPN after the jump.
ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Coverage Launches at Indianapolis
ESPN begins its coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season with a live, flag-to-flag telecast of the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Sunday, July 31. ESPN’s multimedia platforms will surround the race telecast on television, radio, online and on mobile devices and ESPN will be introducing several new television production elements into its NASCAR coverage.
The race telecast from Indianapolis is presented by Golden Corral and follows the one-hour NASCAR Countdown pre-race show at noon, with the race’s green flag at 1:19 p.m. The Indianapolis race is the first of 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup events on ESPN networks to close out the 2011 NASCAR season, including all 10 races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Of the 17 races, 14 will air on ESPN and three on ABC.
ESPN’s coverage from Indianapolis Motor Speedway also includes telecasts of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying on Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. and practice earlier that day at 10 a.m., both on ESPN2. In addition, ESPN will air the NASCAR Nationwide Series race from nearby Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday night, July 30, along with practice and qualifying sessions earlier in the day.
Four former NASCAR Sprint Cup champions will be an integral part of ESPN’s NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage team, including analyst Dale Jarrett, the 1999 driving champion, who will work with two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree and lap-by-lap announcer Allen Bestwick in the booth. Two-time champion crew chief Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN Craftsman Tech Garage, while pit reporters will be Dave Burns, Jamie Little, Dr. Jerry Punch and Vince Welch.
NASCAR Countdown from the ESPN pit studio will feature analysis by 1989 champion driver Rusty Wallace with host Nicole Briscoe and analyst Brad Daugherty. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.
ESPN will introduce several new production advancements in its NASCAR Sprint Cup telecasts, including the first-ever use of dual path transmission for onboard cameras. The new technology, developed by ESPN and Broadcast Sports International, will allow ESPN to get high definition video from two onboard cameras in the same car simultaneously, where in the past only one of the three cameras mounted in each car could be used at a time. As an example, when a crash is being replayed, viewers will now be able to see two different onboard points of view of a car involved or near the crash, such as the view of the roof camera, face camera or bumper camera.
ESPN will use 76 high definition cameras in the Brickyard 400 telecast, including Bat Cam, a camera running on a cable over pit road and the frontstretch that can move at more than 80 mph. ESPN has worked with Sportvision on the race effects system to expand the use of pointers that help viewers identify cars when they are racing in a tight pack. With the advanced technology, the pointers can now appear on more camera shots, including aerials and trackside robotic cameras. This year, ESPN will have a helicopter camera for all 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup race telecasts for the first time.
ESPN also will introduce a modernized, progressive graphics package for improved readability, the first major graphics overhaul since ESPN returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007, as well as a new animation package.
NASCAR Countdown will include interviews with many of the Brickyard 400 starting drivers as well as multiple features:
Kevin Harvick Revealed
In the highly-stylized feature, Kevin Harvick, aka “The Closer,” will appear in a room full of mirrors, with the mirrors illustrating the fear many drivers have when they see the #29 car closing in their rear view mirror.
Kyle Busch In-Depth
ESPN’s Marty Smith sat down with Kyle Busch to discuss how Busch has changed and evolved over the last few years, which included him getting married and starting his own race team. The feature also looks at how Busch reconciles the man he thinks he is with the way the fans and public view (and boo) him.
ESPN Sport Science
The ESPN Sport Science lab looks into the fueling system of a NASCAR race car and the ever-evolving fuel strategies.
She Loves Me/ She Loves Me Not
Indianapolis Motor Speedway can make a drivers’ legacy as easily as she can break a drivers’ heart. Drivers and former drivers in the piece include Bobby Labonte, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch and Rusty Wallace.
Indianapolis Motor Speedway: The Original Motor City
At the turn of the century and the dawn of automobiles, Indianapolis was the original motor city. This feature will take a historic look at this city and its role in the development of automobiles and auto racing.
Symbols of Celebration
ESPN reporter Tom Rinadli compares the celebration of kissing the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with some of the other iconic celebrations in sports.
NASCAR Now Originates from Indianapolis for Brickyard 400
ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will originate from Indianapolis Motor Speedway for four programs leading to Sunday’s Brickyard 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
NASCAR Now will air at 7 p.m. ET on Thursday, July 28, from the ESPN Pit Studio at the speedway. Host Allen Bestwick will be joined by analysts Dale Jarrett, Rusty Wallace and Ricky Craven and reporters Mike Massaro and Marty Smith.
Massaro hosts two shows on Saturday, July 30, airing at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., surrounding ESPN2’s telecasts of practice from IMS. Massaro also hosts a one-hour edition airing Sunday morning at 9 a.m. Prior to the programs airing from Indianapolis, Nicole Briscoe will host half-hour editions of NASCAR Now at 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, July 26-27.
Jarrett, Wallace and the Brickyard 400 winner will be at ESPN’s studios with Bestwick for NASCAR Now’s weekly roundtable discussion program airing Monday, Aug. 1, at 5 p.m.
Other ESPN Platforms
In addition to the live telecasts on ESPN and ESPN2, the Indianapolis event will be covered on other ESPN multimedia outlets:
ESPN.com will provide surround coverage from the Brickyard. Award-winning motorsports journalists Ed Hinton, Terry Blount, David Newton and John Oreovicz and ESPN.com motorsports editors K. Lee Davis and Joe Breeze will lead the reporting team, with additional contributions from NASCAR Insider Marty Smith as well as ESPN The Magazine’s Ryan McGee. Hinton, Blount, Newton, Oreovicz and other ESPN reporters and personalities maintain and regularly update blogs with their insights, perspectives and more. ESPN.com, along with Jayski.com, will feature extensive video, audio and editorial coverage of the 2011 NASCAR season, as well as providing multiple ESPN Fantasy games and content distributed to other emerging platforms such as Apple’s iTunes Store and Microsoft’s X Box Live.
ESPN.com RaceCast, ESPN.com’s enhanced, live race-day applications features a live animated graphic display, track information, lap leaders, race leaders, driver information and live in-race chat with ESPN announcers, reporters and editors via Racing Live!. NASCAR fans looking for an online gathering during the Brickyard 400 telecast have a place to go on ESPN.com. Racing Live! on ESPN.com is a live blog where fans can engage in debate and discussion on nearly any topic during the races. Fans can join ESPN.com’s NASCAR experts in dissecting every aspect of the race live at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/. As part of ESPN.com’s integration with Jayski.com, veteran racing voice Mark Garrow continues as a frequent contributor, producing podcasts and hosting regular chats on ESPN.com.
ESPN International – ESPN International is one of the world’s leading syndicators of sports programming and its relationship with NASCAR is helping maximize coverage of NASCAR and providing a solid base of distribution. Through a combination of sales and network programming, the 38 NASCAR Sprint Cup races and 34 NASCAR Nationwide Series races are available to 112 countries and territories around the world. In addition, U.S. troops and their families serving around the world and Navy vessels at sea can watch the season through American Forces Network.
SportsCenter and ESPNEWS — ESPN’s flagship news and information program SportsCenter will feature extensive reports from the Brickyard 400 beginning Thursday of race week. Reports will air in regular editions of SportsCenter and on ESPNEWS.
ESPN Mobile Web – Live event reporter D’Arcy Maine will be in Indianapolis live chatting and blogging, delivering feature stories and bringing the taste of the town to fans. She will cover the NASCAR debut of Travis Pastrana as well as post-race stories. The ESPN mobile Web site is available on all Internet accessible mobile and tablet devices.
ESPN Classic – ESPN Classic will air a marathon of Classic Brickyard 400 races on July 28-29.
The marathon begins at 1 a.m. on Thursday, July 28, with the 1995 Brickyard 400 in which Dale Earnhardt held off Rusty Wallace to win for the only time at IMS. The races continue on Friday, July 29, at 1 a.m. with the 1998 race, won by Jeff Gordon, with the inaugural 1994 race airing at 10 a.m. The 2000 race airs at noon, followed at 2 p.m. by the 2010 edition and at 4 p.m. by the 2009 race. The day concludes with the 1995 race at 6 p.m. and the 2007 edition at 8 p.m.
ESPN Radio’s Saturday RaceDay starts its engines at 6 a.m. on Saturday, July 30, with an hour of news, previews and analysis. ESPN Radio also provides auto racing fans the comprehensive Sunday RaceDay (6-7 a.m. Sundays), which covers the auto racing world. Pat Patterson hosts the program.
ESPN Deportes, ESPN’s Spanish-language television, radio and Internet in the U.S., will televise the Indianapolis race on a delayed basis, airing the event at 4 a.m. on Monday, Aug. 1. ESPN Deportes auto racing commentators Andres Aguilla and Alex Pombo will provide lap-by-lap commentary and analysis in Spanish.
Schedule for Indianapolis Week on ESPN Platforms (all times Eastern)
Mon., July 25 5 p.m. NASCAR Now ESPN2
Tue., July 26 5 p.m. NASCAR Now ESPN2
Wed., July 27 5 p.m. NASCAR Now ESPN2
Thu., July 28 1 a.m. 1995 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Thu., July 28 7 p.m. NASCAR Now (from Indianapolis) ESPN2
Fri., July 29 1 a.m. 1998 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 10 a.m. 1994 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 Noon 2000 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 2 p.m. 2010 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 4 p.m. 2009 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 6 p.m. 1995 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Fri., July 29 8 p.m. 2007 Brickyard 400 ESPN Classic
Sat., July 30 6 a.m. Saturday RaceDay ESPN Radio
Sat., July 30 9:30 a.m. NASCAR Now (from Indianapolis) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 10 a.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup practice (IMS) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 11:30 a.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series practice (LOR) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 1 p.m. NASCAR Now (from Indianapolis) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 2 p.m. NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying (IMS) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 4:30 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying (LOR) ESPN2
Sat., July 30 7 p.m. NASCAR Countdown pres. by OneMain Financial ESPN
Sat., July 30 7:30 p.m. NASCAR Nationwide Series race (LOR) ESPN
Sun., July 31 6 a.m. Sunday RaceDay ESPN Radio
Sun., July 31 9 a.m. NASCAR Now (from Indianapolis) ESPN2
Sun., July 31 Noon NASCAR Countdown ESPN
Sun., July 31 1 p.m. Brickyard 400, telecast pres. by Golden Corral ESPN
Photo: Stephen A. Arce/Icon SMI 285/Icon SMI/Newscom