I knew better than to expect it, but I was hoping that NASCAR on ABC would bring us a better show. But it looks like it is basically ESPN broadcasting on ABC. This makes sense, but I was hoping for better.
After an absence of more than seven years, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup racing will return to ABC Saturday night with ESPN on ABC's live, prime time telecast of the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 from Richmond International Raceway. The telecast begins at 7 p.m. ET with the pre-race NASCAR Countdown program.
On Friday night, ESPN2 continues its season-long coverage of the NASCAR Busch Series with live, prime-time racing from Richmond International Raceway. The telecast of the 250-lap race begins at 7:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR Countdown.
Dr. Jerry Punch will anchor the coverage from Richmond, with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Cup champion Rusty Wallace and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. Pit reporters will be Allen Bestwick, Dave Burns, Jamie Little and Mike Massaro, while Tim Brewer will report from the ESPN DISH Tech Center. ESPN's Suzy Kolber will host NASCAR Countdown, joined by analyst Brad Daugherty, a former winning team owner in NASCAR's Busch and Truck series, in the ESPN Pit Studio.
Rusty Wallace and Tim Brewer answered questions about the Richmond race.
Q – What does it take to run well at a track the size of Richmond?
Wallace -- You have to drive it like a short track and you have to treat it like a short track. There's going to be a lot of bumping and banging and it's hard on brakes. Drivers that do well in Martinsville and Bristol are generally the people that run well at Richmond. It takes that same kind of aggressive driving to get around there well.
Q - What should ESPN viewers watch for during the Richmond telecast?
Wallace -- It's the final race that determines who will race for the championship and look for those drivers who will get locked in. Clint Bowyer in 9th and Kevin Harvick in 12th are ones to watch. The pressure is on Kevin to finish 32nd or better so he is a big one. Dale Earnhardt Jr. can make it in the race if Harvick and Bowyer blow an engine and Jr. has the race of his life. It's not impossible. Can Jr. get in and can Kevin hold on? – that would be what to watch for.
Q - How tough is a 400-lap race at Richmond International Raceway on engines and cars?
Brewer -- It's not too bad on engines but the toughest thing teams are going to encounter is managing the brakes. The brakes – especially on the Car of Tomorrow – don't stop well and don't allow the car to turn in the corner well. Viewers will see the front rotors glowing red all night. To make the car turn, you have to get off of the brake pedal, drive the car extremely hard and slide the nose into the corner because it doesn't have as much downforce as the Busch Series cars or the regular Cup car. It's a very delicate and trusting situation.
The biggest thing to watch for is those guys locked into the points. They only thing they're after are those 10 additional bonus points. They're going to beat, bang, push and shove to win the race.