Friday, February 4, 2011

Does ESPN broadcast the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series or not?

   One of the things I thought was most helpful for the Nationwide Series in NASCAR's most recent TV contract was that one network - ESPN - would broadcast all of the series races. Yes, races are on different channels but you always know that if there is a Nationwide race, it's on an ESPN entity.

   Apparently, that certainty may end this season.

   On an internal TV chart posted on - probably inadvertently - the TV start and green-flag start times for all races in all three series - Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Trucks - are listed.

   But under the network column for the spring Nationwide race at Richmond - and outlined in bright red - are the letters 'TBD.' Looking at the key to the chart, TBD means "Network To Be Determined." It is the only race on the entire schedule marked as such.

   Several sources indicated on Friday the problem may be due to a conflict that same weekend between the Nationwide race and the NFL draft. So, I sought out information to see whether another network other than ESPN was going to broadcast the race.

   The initial response from ESPN was that I should contact NASCAR because "NASCAR sets and announces the schedule." To say ESPN has no say in setting the start time or networks of where races will be shown is ridiculous, but that's another story.

   The response from NASCAR was "We are in the process of finalizing the broadcast schedule for the three national series and expect to announce it next week." OK, so what are the three charts on Somebody's wish list?

   And why could no one simply answer 'yes' or 'no' to my question which was, "Is ESPN broadcasting this event?"

   My guess is there is no straight answer because ESPN is not carrying the race, for whatever reason. Perhaps we'll find out why next week.

   And my other guess? Clear some space on the schedule Speed Channel.