NHRA makes it official, confirming move to Fox Sports in 2016 and beyond

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After a report from Sports Business Daily and a further follow-up from my MotorSportsTalk colleague Jerry Bonkowski, the NHRA has confirmed Tuesday it will move to Fox Sports for 2016 and beyond in a multi-year deal.

Races will be on Fox Sports 1, with four on national Fox broadcast network, the NHRA has confirmed. A total of 16 races will be live.

It comes as the latest big news for the series which has had a new president and new head of communications named within the last month.

“This really is a game-changer for NHRA regarding the presentation of our marquee product, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series,” new NHRA president Peter Clifford said in a series release.

“Committing to 16 live events, including four on the FOX broadcast network, certainly demonstrates the commitment and excitement level we have for the National Hot Rod Association,” added Jamie Horowitz, President of FOX Sports National Networks.

The coverage moves from ESPN, where it had been for 15 years since 2001. It leaves ESPN devoid of any motorsports properties with the exception of five or six IndyCar races on ABC, branded as ESPN on ABC events.

“We thank ESPN for its many years of service to NHRA fans,” Clifford said in an ESPN release. “We look forward to finishing out this exciting 2015 season with ESPN showcasing the Mello Yello Countdown to the Championship playoffs.”

“The NHRA is an exciting form of racing with a very loyal fanbase,” added Julie Sobieski, ESPN vice president, league sports programming. “Unfortunately, we have had scheduling challenges with NHRA programming due to other commitments in the fall.”