Get ready to 'see the air'

ESPN will debut Draft Track, a technical innovation that epicts the draft created by race cars, during the July 29 broadcast of the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

Updated: April 8, 2008, 5:58 PM ET
Associated Press

NASCAR fans have heard for years about the effects of drafting on high-speed racetracks and how certain drivers, such as the late Dale Earnhardt, were so good in the draft because, it was said, they could "see the air."

Now, as NASCAR Nextel Cup racing returns to ESPN with Sunday's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, a technical innovation developed by ESPN and SportVision will allow NASCAR fans to see the air.

Beginning with the telecast from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ESPN will enhance its NASCAR coverage with Draft Track, a special effects package that will depict the draft created by race cars.

Viewers will see how air flows over and behind race cars as they speed around the track. The visualization will change as the cars change position in real time on the racetrack, including passing, racing side by side or when cars are lined up nose to tail. Draft Track will initially be used on replays.

"We continue to be fascinated with showing viewers things that you cannot see -- the line of scrimmage in football, the strike zone in baseball, and the airflow in motorsports ... known as drafting," said Jed Drake, ESPN senior vice president and executive producer. "Draft Track brings to life for the viewer an element of NASCAR racing that has been a much-discussed but unseen part of the sport for decades."

The Indianapolis race is ESPN's first Cup race since 2000, but the network covered 262 Cup races during a 20-year period starting in 1981. ESPN and ABC will have live coverage of the final 17 races of the Cup season, including all 10 races in the Chase for the championship.

"We're not finished experimenting and finding new technologies," Drake said. "It's a hallmark of ESPN to constantly push the envelope and seek new ways to satisfy our curiosity and that of our viewers."

Busch debut

The Racer's Group will enter sports car star Andy Lally in the NASCAR Busch series road course events in Montreal on Aug. 4 and at Watkins Glen, N.Y., on Aug. 11.

Kevin Buckler, owner of TRG, announced this week he will partner with the Wood Brothers/JTG Racing to field the No. 47 Ford Fusion for Lally.

TRG was founded by Kevin Buckler and his wife, Debra, in 1993 and has been competing at the top level of sports car racing ever since. It leads all teams in Grand-Am wins with 22, including the 2005 and 2006 Rolex Series GT championships to go along with victories at the 24-hour races in Daytona and Le Mans, France.

The Lally-Buckler combination has resulted in two championships and 14 race wins.

"With our success in sports cars, we consider ourselves road course specialists," Kevin Buckler said. "We believe that this is the most logical path for us to start out at Montreal and Watkins Glen. We are heading into NASCAR with our heads down with the utmost respect for the series and everyone involved.

"We are going at it with our usual work ethic and professional approach. It will be a big learning process. We will be on an aggressive testing schedule and, if all goes well, we are considering adding a couple of ovals to our schedule toward the end of the season."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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