By Ryan Berenz
The 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion is crowned this Sunday at the season-ending Ford 400 from Homestead-Miami Speedway. Jimmie Johnson is in the running for a fifth straight Sprint Cup title, but he’ll have to contend with Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick. ESPN has live coverage of the race on Sunday, Nov. 21, at 1:15pm ET. Here’s the complete release from ESPN, followed by insight from ESPN’s NASCAR analysts Dale Jarrett and Ricky Craven:
NASCAR Season Finale Live on ESPN
NASCAR’s 36-race season comes to a close in South Florida this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 21. ESPN will have a live telecast of the final race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the close championship battle involving Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick is decided.
NASCAR Countdown airs at noon ET on ESPN2 with the race telecast on ESPN at 1 p.m. The green flag is at 1:15 p.m. Also from Homestead, NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying will air on ESPN2 on Friday, Nov. 19, at 3 p.m. Practice sessions air Friday at 11:30 a.m. and Saturday at 3 p.m.
ESPN2’s season-long coverage of the NASCAR Nationwide Series comes to a close at Homestead with a telecast of Saturday’s Ford 300. NASCAR Countdown airs at 4 p.m. with the green flag is at 4:45 p.m.
Marty Reid will call the action with analysis by Dale Jarrett, the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion, and two-time champion crew chief Andy Petree. 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 be hosted by Allen Bestwick with analysis by 1989 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion driver Rusty Wallace, three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion crew chief Ray Evernham and Brad Daugherty, a team owner in the series. The studio team will interact with the booth during the telecast of the race.
Bestwick also hosts SportsCenter at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship, a half-hour special that will set up the final race with news, interviews and analysis. The program airs on Saturday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN2. Wallace, Evernham and Daugherty will provide analysis, with reporters Nicole Briscoe, Mike Massaro and Marty Smith.
NASCAR Now To Originate from Homestead
ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program NASCAR Now will originate from Homestead-Miami Speedway and the NASCAR season finale for episodes airing Thursday through Sunday of this week.
A half-hour program hosted by Allen Bestwick airs Thursday, Nov. 18, at 4 p.m. ET from the ESPN Pit Studio inside the speedway. Bestwick then hosts a program airing at 2:30 p.m. on Friday and another airing Saturday at 1:30 a.m. (late Friday night).
NASCAR Now will surround Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Homestead with two episodes originating from the speedway. The one-hour weekend edition hosted by Nicole Briscoe airs at 9 a.m. with a preview of that day’s race, while the weekend wrap-up edition hosted by Bestwick airs that night at 10 p.m. Briscoe, Mike Massaro and Marty Smith will be reporters at Homestead.
Massaro hosts episodes airing earlier in the week, including Wednesday, Nov. 17, at 1 a.m. (late Tuesday night) and Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
ESPN.com Offers RacingLive! During Homestead Race
NASCAR fans looking for an online gathering during ESPN’s telecasts of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series now have a place to go on ESPN.com.
RacingLive! on ESPN.com is a live blog where fans can engage in debate and discussion with ESPN.com writers and editors during the NASCAR Sprint Cup races. On Sunday, Nov. 21, RacingLive! Homestead will kick off at 1 p.m. ET to coincide with ESPN¹s telecast of the race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fans can join ESPN.com’s NASCAR experts in dissecting every aspect of the race live at http://espn.go.com/racing/nascar/.
ESPN.com motorsports writers Ed Hinton, Terry Blount and David Newton will be on-site at Homestead to report on the weekend’s action and news.
ESPN Radio RaceDay Airs Saturday, Sunday
Each weekend morning, ESPN Radio’s RaceDay starts its engines at 6 a.m. ET with host Pat Patterson anchored from Daytona Beach, Fla. Patterson also originates the broadcast from several racetracks with key races during the season. On both Saturday and Sunday mornings, ESPN Radio’s RaceDay listeners get an hour of news, previews and analysis, as well as profiles and interviews with NASCAR’s biggest names and newsmakers and the involvement of listeners via calls and e-mails.
Additionally, many of ESPN’s NASCAR reporters and analysts contribute each week as ESPN networks televise the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series and the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 10-race “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup” championship. A list of ESPN Radio affiliates can be found at www.espnradio.com.
Quotes from ESPN NASCAR Analysts on NASCAR Sprint Cup Finale
NASCAR’s 36-race season comes to a close in South Florida this weekend as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Nov. 21. ESPN will have a live telecast of the final race in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup at 1 p.m. ET as the close championship battle involving Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick is decided.
On two episodes of NASCAR Now, ESPN2’s daily NASCAR news and information program, following the most recent race at Phoenix, ESPN analysts and former NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers Dale Jarrett and Ricky Craven discussed the championship battle and the chances of all three drivers, who are separated by just 46 points.
How does Denny Hamlin recover from what happened at Phoenix?
Dale Jarrett: It’s easy to get down but I think there’s two things you have to look at. If you would have told Denny Hamlin, Mike Ford and Joe Gibbs at the beginning of the Chase they could have a 15-point lead, not have to run the first nine races, and just run Homestead, they would have said we’ll take it because they said they were going to outrun them. And that name Joe Gibbs that I mentioned, that’s how they get over this. He is a great motivator; he knows how to get the most out of people. Turn disappointing things into very positive things. He’ll have these guys ready when they get to Homestead.
Ricky Craven: The extent that Denny Hamlin and Mike Ford can put this in their rearview mirror will determine their fate, and if they win their first title. They’ve got to focus on the positives. What are those? You’re still leading the point standings and there’s only one race left. You go to Homestead, the race that you won last year, with maybe the car that you won the mile-and-a-half race at Texas, some similarities, you have a chance to close this thing out. You have that 15-point lead, which was a by-product, by the way, of leading the most laps at Phoenix. You’ve got to think about the positives, there are a lot for the 11 team, and get over all the negatives.
On the relationship between Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus:
Dale Jarrett: I think there’s one thing that you have to understand from the driver’s side of it you know that a lot of times that crew chief can be hard on you, and to the outside world it may seem a little bit harsh at times, but Jimmie appreciates it, he understands where Chad is coming from, and the other side of it is, you know that if you didn’t have that crew chief, that guy driving you all the time, then you probably wouldn’t have those championships and wins.
How important is their experience as four-time champion?
Dale Jarrett: Invaluable. Nobody else can boast that and say they have that. Harvick has Nationwide championships, Denny Hamlin doesn’t have any in the NASCAR series yet, but if that’s what was going to win it, they (Johnson) would win Sunday hands-down. And they may well do that. They know what they have to do and it’s right there in front of them. I think there’s a little more to it, but the experience side of it, they have everything that it takes in that respect.
What does Kevin Harvick have to do Sunday?
Ricky Craven: What I think is interesting is that we haven’t seen the very best from Kevin Harvick, but we’re going to. I’m absolutely convinced of that. This is his best track, roughly an 8th place average, and if he can take the lead early, and make it very clear to Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin, “Look, don’t forget about me,” it changes the whole dynamic of this thing. Now you’ve got three guys worried about two other guys. Kevin has just been hanging on throughout the Chase. So I think he’s battle-tested. These other two guys, they might be in a little different situation than this. It’s a misconception if you think any of these guys are playing defense. With one race to go, they have to play offense. They really have to go at this like they’ve got to win the race, because if they don’t, they don’t control their own destiny.
How should Denny Hamlin approach this?
Ricky Craven: The same way he has the last four races. If he’s going to win this title, he has to take it from Jimmie Johnson and the 48. He’s going to have to do that with authority. He’s displayed that at Martinsville, Texas, even at Phoenix before he ran out of gas, and that’s how he has to approach it.
Dale Jarrett: He’s had the fastest race car in the Chase and I think that will serve him well at Homestead this weekend. He’s got to go there and get the job done. You know that it’s right there in front of you you know what you have to do stay in front of the 48 and 29.
How does Jimmie Johnson approach this?
Ricky Craven: He’ll be better this year (at Homestead) than he’s ever been before because it’s very disruptive to go into this type of racetrack and these circumstances and have to play defense. It doesn’t allow you be as aggressive with the racetrack as you’d ordinarily be. Now, he can run the high line, he can take some chances on corner exits, you have to transition there because it’s a progressive-banked racetrack. These guys will shift their positions to different lanes throughout the day. He’ll be better because of it. I just feel like Jimmie Johnson has been in this situation, almost every scenario in the last four years. So why isn’t he still the favorite?
Dale Jarrett: He knows going in if he can lead the most laps, win the race, then the championship is his, regardless of what else happens. That will be his mindset.
Photo: Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images/NASCAR