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NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES AND ESPN, THE PREMIER BRAND IN SPORTS TELEVISION, PARTNER FOR NINTH STRAIGHT SEASON Drag Racing's definitive pre-race show, NHRA Race Day, returns for third season GLENDORA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2009) --...

NHRA FULL THROTTLE SERIES AND ESPN, THE PREMIER BRAND IN SPORTS TELEVISION, PARTNER FOR NINTH STRAIGHT SEASON

Drag Racing's definitive pre-race show, NHRA Race Day, returns for third season

GLENDORA, Calif. (Jan. 27, 2009) -- The worldwide leader in sports television will join forces with NHRA for a ninth consecutive season in 2009 as ESPN2 returns as the exclusive network of the 24-race NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. ESPN2 is now available in more than 96 million households.

It's a partnership that began in 2001 and has grown stronger with each and every year of the relationship. In 2008 the fast-growing NHRA Full Throttle Series delivered nine percent ratings growth on its Sunday elimination broadcast.

The 2009 season begins in Southern California with the 49th annual Kragen O'Reilly NHRA Winternationals from Auto Club Raceway at Pomona, Feb. 5-8. It will conclude back in Pomona for the season-ending Auto Club NHRA Finals, Nov. 12-15, the sixth and final race in the NHRA Full Throttle Countdown to 1, and like each of the previous five races in the NHRA playoffs it will be shown in prime time (7-10 p.m. ET).

In all, the network will dedicate more than 120 hours of original programming to the world's quickest, fastest and most intense motorsport with live or same-day coverage of qualifying and eliminations on Sundays.

In fact, 16 of the 24 races will begin or end in the 7-10 p.m. ET time slot and all 24 of the races will be presented once again in high definition.

Additionally, the popular pre-race show that debuted in 2007, NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, will be back in 2009, once again being produced on-site to allow fans attending the Sunday race a chance to watch -- and participate -- in the show. It will air on each of the 24 Sundays that the NHRA Full Throttle Series is racing.

Among the highlights of NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD include consistent time slots on Sunday evening for the final elimination rounds, with a majority in the coveted Sunday night prime-time slot. In addition, the network will dedicate 10 hours of coverage to the world's most prestigious drag race, the 55th annual Mac Tools U.S. Nationals at historic O'Reilly Raceway Park at Indianapolis, Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-7, 2009.

Paul Page returns to the broadcast booth alongside former drag racer Mike Dunn, who will provide expert analysis and insight on the racing action. Dave Rieff and Gary Gerould will return as pit reporters. Joining them at select races throughout the year will be veteran announcer John Kernan, who joined the NHRA broadcast team in 2007.

NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil, will be hosted once again by Rieff and Dunn, and originate from NHRA's Nitro Alley. NHRA Race Day presented by Lucas Oil sets up the day for fans at home with must-see match-ups, interviews with the stars of the sport, driver features, news and analysis, a review of qualifying and what to watch for during the all-important Sunday eliminations action.

This year's schedule includes four qualifying shows that will repeat on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD on Sunday morning. Those events include Phoenix, Gainesville, Reading and Memphis, all of which have non-prime time original air time slots on Saturday night.

In addition to coverage on ESPN2 and ESPN2HD, NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing will be aired and distributed internationally through ESPN International.

Headquartered in Glendora, Calif., NHRA is the primary sanctioning body for the sport of drag racing in the United States. It presents 24 events through its NHRA Full Throttle Drag Racing Series. The NHRA has 80,000 members and 140 member tracks. The NHRA-sanctioned sportsman and bracket racing series provide competition opportunities for drivers of all levels. The NHRA develops the stars of tomorrow by offering the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, NHRA Summit Racing Series, and NHRA Drags: Street Legal Style presented by AAA. The NHRA also offers the Jr. Drag Racing League for youth ages 8 to 17.

-credit: nhra

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