You may remember that back in April, Fox received a lot of heat for leaving the four hour marathon at Phoenix almost as soon as the race was over. In response to the complaints, Fox announced plans for an online-only post-race show, but those plans were quickly scuttled after it was discovered that Turner and NASCAR.com held the exclusive online rights to post-race Sprint Cup coverage.
According to ESPN vice president of programming and acquisitions Julie Sobieski, ESPN won't have to venture to ESPN3.com to provide post-race content for viewers for 14 of the last 17 races of the season starting with Sunday's Brickyard 400. With the new standard start times, Sobieski said Tuesday in a teleconference that ESPN will have expanded post-race coverage in the form of SportsCenter immediately after the 14 daytime races that will be aired on ESPN. The expanded SportsCenter, Sobieski said, will allow ESPN to go back to the track consistently after races. (The three night races, Bristol, Richmond and Charlotte, will be aired on ABC)
Sobieski also said that ESPN was open to changes that NASCAR would be looking to make to the Chase format.
"We as the rights holders to the Chase itself do believe there is a lot of opportunity to be had within the Chase and growth available within that part of our season, and have had communication with NASCAR on that," Sobieski said.
"Ultimately any changes they make rest in their hands, but we think there is a great opportunity to really increase the ratings within the Chase itself, and increase viewers interest down the wire and through the Championship itself."
Marty Reid replaces Dr. Jerry Punch as ESPN's lap-by-lap reporter as Punch moves to pit road. Reid, who said Tuesday that he was "living the dream," called the Indianapolis 500 for ESPN/ABC in May and has been in the booth for ESPN's Nationwide coverage in 2010.