Thursday, February 24, 2011

TV Schedule Feb. 25-27

The stands were packed for the spring Sprint Cup
race at Phoenix last year. (Photo by Rebecca Kivak)
After the restrictor-plate racing and two-car tangos at Daytona, NASCAR heads to the desert for the second race weekend of the 2011 season. The races at Phoenix International Raceway, a one-mile tri-oval, could provide a better indication of how drivers and teams will perform this season.

If it seems like the sport converged on Phoenix not too long ago, you're right - it traditionally hosts the second-to-last race of the year. Its spot in the NASCAR schedule was moved up for 2011 after Auto Club Speedway lost one of its Cup dates, and its sole race weekend was pushed back to late March. Phoenix is a flat but fast track, with a banking of 11 degrees in Turns 1 and 2 and 9-degree banking in Turns 3 and 4.

Like Daytona before it, Phoenix is due for a makeover. After this weekend, the track will undergo a comprehensive repaving and reconfiguration project, its first since 1990. The project will result in a wider front straightaway, progressive banking in the corners, multiple grooves and a tighter, more challenging "dogleg," the bend in the backstretch that's unique to this track. The changes are being made to allow for more side-by-side racing. This means when NASCAR returns to the track in the fall, Phoenix will be a wildcard in the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

As for this weekend, NASCAR's top three series will battle it out under the desert sun. Here are last year's winners in each series:

SPRINT CUP
Spring: Ryan Newman
Fall: Carl Edwards

NATIONWIDE
Spring: Kyle Busch
Fall: Carl Edwards

TRUCKS
Clint Bowyer

The following is a handy guide to track events at Phoenix International Raceway. All times are in Eastern Standard Time:

Friday, Feb. 25:
11 a.m. NCWTS Final Practice, SPEED
1 p.m. NNS Practice, SPEED
2:30 p.m. NSCS Practice, SPEED
4 p.m. NNS Final Practice, SPEED
5 p.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
5 p.m. NCWTS Pole Qualifying, SPEED
6 p.m. NSCS Final Practice, SPEED
7:30 p.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED
8 p.m. NCWTS: Lucas Oil 150, SPEED. Green flag: 8:18 p.m.
11 p.m. Trackside at Phoenix, SPEED. Guests: Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne.

Saturday, Feb. 26:
12 a.m. NCWTS SetUp, SPEED
12:30 a.m. NCWTS: Lucas Oil 150, SPEED
3 a.m. Trackside at Phoenix, SPEED
12 noon Trackside at Phoenix, SPEED
1 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
2 p.m. NNS Pole Qualifying, SPEED
3:30 p.m. NSCS Pole Qualifying, SPEED
4:30 p.m. NASCAR Live, SPEED
5 p.m. NNS Countdown, ESPN2
5:30 p.m. NNS: Bashas' Supermarkets 200, ESPN2. Green flag: 5:45 p.m.

Sunday, Feb. 27:
3 a.m. NNS: Bashas' Supermarkets 200, ESPN2
9 a.m. NASCAR Now, ESPN2
11 a.m. NASCAR Performance, SPEED
11:30 a.m.  The 10, SPEED
12:30 a.m. NASCAR RaceDay, SPEED
2:30 p.m. NSCS Pre-Race Show, FOX
3 p.m. NSCS: SUBWAY Fresh Fit 500, FOX. Green flag: 3:14 p.m.
8 p.m. NASCAR Victory Lane, SPEED (reruns at 1 a.m. and 9 a.m. Monday)

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