Following the completion of Bump Day today at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 33 starters in the Indianapolis 500 field will fan out across North America to promote next weekend’s big race.
You can expect to see a few of the big-name drivers make their way across morning television shows and major newspapers in the next couple of days. But the driver with perhaps the neatest perk in all of this is Schmidt Hamilton Motorsports’ Simon Pagenaud, who will be throwing out the first pitch in Milwaukee as the Brewers host the Los Angeles Dodgers at Miller Park.
Ceremonial first pitches can be a tricky business, of course. Getting the ball over the plate would seem simple enough, but it’s not when you have tens of thousands of people watching you. And you certainly can’t chuck it into the dirt and make yourself look bad.
Luckily for the Frenchman, he was able to get a lesson from Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand (pictured) — who recently threw out the first pitch at a Detroit Tigers game while on promotion duties for the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park (the next race following the “500”).
Long before he stepped into the cockpit of the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, Hildebrand — who is well-known for his allegiance to the San Francisco Giants — played varsity baseball in his high school years out in California, so he knows a thing or two about the grand old game. Check out the video above to see him give some baseball wisdom to IndyCar’s reigning rookie of the year.
Get your motor running: American Flat Track’s new season premieres Sunday on NBCSN
If you like racing two-wheel style, make sure you catch the debut of a new multi-year TV broadcast deal featuring the American Flat Track motorcycle racing series on NBCSN.
The 18-round series debuts this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the season-opening race that was held at Daytona International Speedway on March 15.
Going forward, all 18 rounds of the series will be televised on NBCSN in highly-coveted weekend afternoon programming slots without two weeks of each event.
Last season, AFT drew nearly two million viewers on NBCSN with regular primetime coverage on Thursday nights.
This season, the one-hour, tape-delayed telecasts will be part of NBCSN’s regular weekend programing, following or preceding coverage of NASCAR, INDYCAR and Pro Motocross.
AFT is now in its 65th season, with two distinct classes: powerful, twin-cylinder rides in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines division, and the competition in the 450cc AFT Singles division.
“We are very excited to kick-off our second season of AFT on NBCSN,” NBC Sports Group Senior Director of Programming Jeff Macaluso. “The 2017 season provided us with some incredible racing and showed us how passionate the riders and fans are of this historic sport.
“The move to weekends this year, around other marquis motorsports properties, is sure to raise the level even higher.”