ESPN announcers, producers immersed in NASCAR

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – ESPN’s live telecasts of NASCAR racing will be ending at the conclusion of the 2014 season, but that doesn’t mean the sport will disappear from the network.

In fact, as part of ESPN’s news and information platforms’ plans to continue to cover the sport in 2015 and beyond, 10 visitors from ESPN spent this past weekend at the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in the fifth annual “ESPN NASCAR Immersion.”

The group, which included both on-air announcers and behind-the-scenes personnel, spent three days enhancing their knowledge of the inner workings of the sport. They had the opportunity to drive NASCAR Sprint Cup cars at speed around the 1.5-mile, high-banked track and were embedded with NASCAR race teams the day of the Bank of America 500.

The group also toured the nearby headquarters of NASCAR team Hendrick Motorsports, where they had a friendly pit stop competition, and had dinners and lunches with NASCAR and speedway officials. They also visited NASCAR race control and ESPN’s NASCAR TV production compound during Friday night’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race.

“It’s a great experience getting the opportunity to see the sport from the inside that most people don’t get to see,” said Jodi Hebert, ESPN senior news editor. “It’s just really eye-opening understanding how difficult and complex, how fascinating and entertaining, every part of it is.”

Others who attended included SportsCenter anchors Jay Harris, Chris Hassel, Darren Haynes, Lisa Kerney and Jaymee Sire; ESPN Radio host Freddie Coleman; E:60 executive producer Andy Tennant; SportsCenter senior coordinating producer Michael Shiffman and Chris Duffy, director, talent planning and development.

“Going back to the office, I think it’ll give a greater depth of understanding of the stories and what things matter and why, if there’s crew changes or results in a race or challenges to drivers,” said Hebert. “It’ll just give a better level of appreciation for what it means, what the impact is and how we can tell a better story.”

ESPN Vice President, Motorsports, Production Rich Feinberg, worked with NASCAR to plan the event and host the group in Charlotte.

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