NASCAR agreed yesterday to an eight-year, $4.48 billion television deal that will split its schedule among the networks beginning in 2007. The 36 events will be aired on Fox, ABC/ESPN and TNT, and the annual all-star race will be on the Speed Channel.

Although the actual races will have scheduling continuity, the remainder of the weekend programming -- qualifying, practices and the Busch Series -- will be spread out all over the dial in deals that run through the 2014 season.

"This is a major accomplishment for the NASCAR drivers, teams and track operators that have made this sport what it is today," Chairman Brian France said.

Marc Ganis, a sports marketer who heads Chicago's Sportscorp Ltd., dismissed a suggestion that the multitude of networks could prove confusing to viewers.

"NASCAR is sufficiently attractive to audiences that they will look for where the races are from week to week," he said.

Under the new deal, Fox gets the Daytona 500 and the 12 races that follow, TNT gets a six-event stretch over the summer, and ABC/ESPN closes out the schedule with 17 races -- including all 10 chase for the championship events.

The deal marks a return to the sport for ABC/ESPN and the furthering of a long-term relationship for TNT.

-- From News Services