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[01/24/08 - 10:59 AM]
New Series Dale JR. - Shifting Gears on ESPN Goes Behind Scenes with Dale Earnhardt JR.
The first episode of the five-part series airs Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

[via press release from ESPN]

New Series Dale Jr. � Shifting Gears on ESPN Goes Behind Scenes with Dale Earnhardt Jr.

NASCAR star Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the focus of a new television series on ESPN, Dale Jr. � Shifting Gears, premiering prior to next month's opening of the 2008 NASCAR season. The five-part series chronicles Earnhardt's move from Dale Earnhardt Inc., the team founded by his father, to Hendrick Motorsports, in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

The first episode airs Friday, Feb. 8, at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. The series provides viewers with a behind-the-scenes look at the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved with the five-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver award recipient changing teams. Dale Jr. � Shifting Gears is produced by Earnhardt Jr.'s Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard.

The new program is part of an exclusive, multimedia agreement between ESPN and Hammerhead Entertainment.

"We were working on a new DVD about my life and the guys kept getting more and more footage, so they decided to put a whole TV show together to document the biggest career decision I've ever made,� Earnhardt Jr. said. "The past year of my life has been a roller coaster, and it's pretty cool that we're giving everyone an inside look at how everything came together.�

Three of the five episodes of Shifting Gears air on ESPN2 in the nine days prior to the Daytona 500, including following ESPN2's live coverage of NASCAR Nationwide Series qualifying on Friday, Feb. 15, and the NASCAR Nationwide Series Camping World 300 at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 16. The final two episodes air on ESPN in prime time the week of the July 27 Allstate 400 at the Brickyard, ESPN's first live NASCAR Sprint Cup event of the season.

The pre-season episodes reveal never-before-seen footage from the 2007 press conferences and fan response to the announcements. Shifting Gears also chronicles the design process of the new paint schemes, the makings of Earnhardt Jr.'s Adidas fire suit and how the driver of the No. 88 Mountain Dew AMP/National Guard Chevrolet handles the pressure of working with new sponsors as he prepares for his first season with Hendrick Motorsports.

The final two episodes, each one hour in length, will catch up with Earnhardt Jr. and the Hendrick team as he chases his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

"Dale Jr.'s move to Hendrick Motorsports is obviously one of the most intriguing storylines heading into the 2008 NASCAR season,� said John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president, content. "This new series will not only help NASCAR fans gear up for the new season, but also will present a side of Dale Jr. that fans have never seen before."

Previews and additional video from the show will be made available on ESPN.com Video and DaleJr.com starting next week and the full episodes will be made available shortly after they air on ESPN2 on ESPN MobileTV and ESPN.com Video.

The air schedule (all times Eastern):

Friday, Feb. 8 7-8 p.m. ESPN2

Friday, Feb. 15 6:30-8 p.m. ESPN2

Saturday, Feb. 16 4:30-6 p.m. ESPN2

Thursday, July 24 7-8 p.m. ESPN

Friday, July 25 7-8 p.m. ESPN

About NASCAR on ESPN:

ESPN and ESPN on ABC has comprehensive, multi-platform coverage featuring telecasts of the final 17 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, including the 10-race "Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup� on ESPN on ABC. Additionally, ESPN2 is the home of the NASCAR Nationwide Series all season. All programming is produced totally in High Definition. ESPN's comprehensive, multimedia NASCAR coverage extends to ESPN.com, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Deportes Radio, SportsCenter, ESPN The Magazine, ESPN Classic, ESPNEWS, ESPNRadio, ESPN360.com and ESPN International, among other ESPN platforms. ESPN aired 262 NASCAR Cup Races over a 20-year period starting in 1981 and returned to NASCAR coverage in 2007. The network's award-winning, live flag-to-flag coverage on ESPN was honored with 17 Sports Emmy Awards, as well as many industry honors. It is widely credited for helping to popularize the sport nationwide. NASCAR races have appeared on ABC for decades, beginning with broadcasts on the award-winning Wide World of Sports program in the 1960s.

About JR Motorsports

Established in 1999, JR Motorsports is the management company and racing operation for professional stock car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. JRM competes in multiple racing divisions, including the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in which it fields two full-time teams in partnership with Hendrick Motorsports. Earnhardt Jr.'s organization is based out of a 66,000-square foot facility in Mooresville, N.C., and includes the JR Nation retail store and Dale Jr. Fan Experience. In 2006 Earnhardt Jr. introduced Hammerhead Entertainment, a full-service production company under the JR Motorsports banner. For more information on JR Motorsports, visit www.dalejr.com.





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· DALE JR.: SHIFTING GEARS (ESPN)





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