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'Shifting Gears' returns to ESPN with final two episodes

CONCORD, N.C. (July 16, 2008)—“Dale Jr.—Shifting Gears,” the sports documentary chronicling Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his unprecedented move from the team founded by his father to Hendrick Motorsports, will return to ESPN for the final two episodes on July 22 and July 25, at 7 p.m. ET.

The new episodes, each one hour in length, are the fourth and fifth installments of a five-part series. They will air during the week leading up to ESPN’s live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, which will be broadcast at 1 p.m. on July 27.

The July 22 debut of the new episode notably will feature Earnhardt’s reaction to the emotional finish of the 400-mile event in May at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. That episode will lead into the July 25 finale, which highlights the driver’s popular Father’s Day victory at Michigan International Speedway.

“A lot has happened in the last three months, so we are picking up where we left off with these final two episodes,” said Earnhardt, who is in second place in the championship standings with six races to go before the Chase. “It’s hard to put into words the enormity of this season, so hopefully the viewers can see for themselves all the work that has gone into it. It’s been amazing to live it.”

“Dale Jr.—Shifting Gears” is produced by Hammerhead Entertainment, a division of Earnhardt’s company, JR Motorsports, in cooperation with Hendrick Motorsports and is presented by the National Guard. The program is part of an exclusive, multimedia agreement between ESPN and Hammerhead Entertainment.

“Shifting Gears” debuted in February with three episodes that featured a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective of Earnhardt’s momentous decision to leave the company founded by his father for Hendrick Motorsports. To show the personal, corporate and competitive ramifications involved in his decision, Earnhardt allowed access to team meetings, commercial shoots and the odds-and-ends responsibilities that come with starting with a new team. Shifting Gears also captured never-before-seen footage of Earnhardt’s season-opening win in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona.

In the final two episodes, “Shifting Gears” examines Earnhardt’s relationship with his cousin and crew chief Tony Eury Jr., while documenting the balance between an extremely rigorous work schedule and life away from the chaotic NASCAR circuit. The new episodes feature moments both surreal and hilarious, including the bulldozing of Earnhardt’s house, kart-racing with friends and the camaraderie shared with teammates at a National Guard training base.

The original airings will be simulcast on ESPN MobileTV. The first of the two new episodes re-airs July 24 at 7 p.m. on ESPN2, and again July 27 at 2 a.m. on ESPN2. The final episode re-airs July 27 at 3 a.m. on ESPN2.

A trailer of the new episodes of Dale Jr. – Shifting Gears can be seen http://www.espnmediazone.com/mediacenter/ShiftingGearsJuly.mov