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Tue, 1 Nov 2005, 04:33 PM

ESPN2 To Remain The Exclusive Network of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series
Courtesy of NHRA Communications

POMONA, Calif. -- On the eve of the final race of the 2005 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing season, ESPN and NHRA officials announced a five-year extension of their exclusive television agreement.

The new deal will begin with the start of the 2007 NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series season and continue through 2011, representing, at that time, an 11-year relationship between NHRA and ESPN.

"This multi-media agreement represents our long-term commitment to the NHRA," said Kelly LaFerriere, vice president, programming and acquisitions, ESPN. "NHRA has an incredibly loyal following, and as a result, delivered strong results for the network. We look forward to continue to bring the excitement of NHRA's two premier series to living rooms around the country into the next decade."

ESPN and NHRA began an exclusive pact in 2001. In 2005, ESPN2 became the exclusive home of the NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series and each has shown strong audience growth over the last year. Attributing to the growth in 2005 has been a more consistent schedule for both qualifying and final round coverage of the Series, a focus moving forward into 2006 and beyond.

"Clearly the benefits of being on ESPN2 are immeasurable," said Tom Compton, president, NHRA. "Since the relationship began with ESPN, we have seen very significant growth in nearly every area of the sport including viewership, sponsorship and fans. This new extension promises to continue to build on the momentum the sport currently enjoys and, along with our recent extension of POWERade as the Series sponsor through the next decade, assures a solid foundation for our future."

Over the years, the network, along with NHRA, have made strides to integrate NHRA into a variety of ESPN's other assets, including more presence on ESPN's news and information outlets including ESPN News and ESPN's SportsCenter, and a strategic alliance with NHRA programming also has been featured in some of ESPN's new media platforms, including ESPN360, ESPN's broadband service. In 2005, ESPN introduced NHRA as one of its flagship properties on ESPN2 HD, a high definition simulcast service of ESPN2, delivering the sights and sounds of NHRA POWERade and NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing to those at home in high definition.

As part of the deal, all 23-NHRA POWERade Drag Racing Series events will be televised on a same-day basis, along with the week-delay airings of the 16 NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series events that will feature the Top Alcohol Dragster and Alcohol Funny Car categories.

ESPN2 is currently received in more than 89 million homes.

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