Nearly every weekend from February through November, thousands sit inthe grandstands at NASCAR Nextel Cup events, and many wish they could bea part of the action. As those 43 cars circulate the tracks in blazingsummer sun or humid nights, few give consideration to what is actuallygoing on inside those cars. It's likely that few spectators couldactually do what those drivers are doing, and that's what makes thosedrivers among the best in their profession.

CNN senior medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta went into the world ofthe NASCAR driver, and his findings highlight the latest Dr. SanjayGupta Primetime Special called "NASCAR: Driven to Extremes." The programwill air on CNN at 10 p.m. Eastern Time on Sunday, October 16. Story continued below

The program deals with critical issues that extend beyond points ofraces and purse money discussions. It gets down to the heart of thematter, dealing with physical performance and critical safety issues. Inthe course of the program, Gupta visits with veteran Rusty Wallace andasks about his pre-race preparation. He rides with Carl Edwards, not ina race car, but on a biking trail as Edwards emphasizes physicalconditioning. Other elements of the program include up-and-coming racerJoey Logano and crash survivor Jerry Nadeau, who discusses safety andthe strides taken for driver protection. Dr. Gupta also gets a chance toexperience the world behind the wheel.

Dr. Gupta grew up in Detroit as the son of engineers and had an interestin racing. After relocating to the Southeast, he was able to attend hisfirst NASCAR Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2001. As aneurosurgeon and a reporter, the race was especially significant to him."It was right after the Earnhardt tragedy, and there was a lot ofconcern about safety and injury," he says.

In the course of the investigation, readers will find out plenty aboutthe real world of drivers. There will be some beliefs reinforced, andthere may be misconceptions corrected. Do you know when a driver hitshis peak heart rate? How hot does it really get inside the race cars?How does driving a race car compare to other sports or activities?During his experience, Dr. Gupta is hooked up to a measuring device thatquantifies the physical attributes, but the psychological side of thepicture is explored as well.

The casual race fan who watches "NASCAR: Driven to Extremes" will befamiliar with the subjects and interested in the conclusions. For thosewho want to keep their hands on the pulse of the safety issues, thisprogram will provide insight into the developments and how they areworking and what lies ahead for the racer of tomorrow. This program willappeal to a broad spectrum of viewers due in large part to the variedsubject matter offered.

"NASCAR: Driven to Extremes" airs Sunday, October 16, 10 p.m. Eastern on CNN.