Big news from the world of TV sports. NASCAR is going back to ABC! Details here.
ABC and ESPN used to carry countless late-season NASCAR races for so many years before NASCAR moved to Fox and NBC in 2001. Now, beginning in 2007, they're back. The 17 late-season NEXTEL CUP races go to ABC/ESPN, with the entire "Chase" on ABC. Moreover, ABC/ESPN will have the Busch Series for the entire season.
TNT has also signed on again to carry the NEXTEL Cup, taking over a few races that used to be carried on FX in addition to some of the ones they carried before. Out is FX, where NASCAR stood out like a sore thumb among The Shield and Nip/Tuck episodes, and which NASCAR fans complained didn't come into enough homes. Also out is NBC, former home of most of the late-season races and the "Chase." Guess they wasted all their money on NFL football and had none left over for the good ol' boys- or maybe they were ticked off that they had to cover so many races late in the season with Dale Earnhardt Jr. already eliminated. That couldn't have helped.
The main FOX network, however, is expected to continue its very successful association with NASCAR and carry the early-season NEXTEL CUP races, as usual, though they will be giving up three races to TNT as well as the Busch Series events. Too bad, they do a good job, Darrell Waltrip and crew. "Boogity boogity boogity, let's go racing!" Negotiations are ongoing.
This looks like a winning move by NASCAR to get NEXTEL Cup races back on two networks that really helped build up the sport for so many years, ABC and ESPN, while keeping their long association with TNT and successful association with FOX. In fact NASCAR was the top sports property on ESPN in its very early years when it didn't have baseball, the NFL or any of these other major sports. It had very few major sporting events, but it did have NASCAR and that saved them. This is a great move to get two networks that care about auto racing coverage back in the game.
And quite frankly I won't miss NBC's coverage. Compared to FOX they were boring as heck. FOX was just too good with their "Hollywood Hotel" and their personalities. They made NBC's late-season coverage look bad. And NBC had too many people (Bob Costas, etc.) who just hated auto racing and refused to cover it. At least Jeanne Zelasko would show up occasionally at a NASCAR event in addition to all the baseball she covered for FOX Sports. Enough said.
Question now is: what happens to the IRL? Their late-season races were on ABC this year and there's now the big potential for a lot of conflicts with NASCAR coverage during the CHASE in 2007- if they come back to ABC. And ESPN carried the IRL the rest of the time this year, and ESPN now has the Busch Series and other races. The IRL has a problem on its hands. The only reason why ABC/ESPN carried the IRL and promoted them so heavily was because they didn't have NASCAR and the Cup, simple as that. I wouldn't be surprised if we see the IRL and the Indianapolis 500 move to another network soon--- NBC suddenly has some time to fill on Sunday afternoons.