NBCSN back for rest of IndyCar season, starting with Toronto doubleheader

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NBC Sports Network will present more than nine hours of 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series coverage this weekend highlighted by a Honda Indy Toronto race doubleheader. NBC Sports Network will air Race 1 live on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET, and Race 2 live on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. NBCSN will carry the remainder of the IndyCar season from Toronto through the season finale at Fontana in October.

Race coverage will be preceded by qualifying on Friday at 5:30 p.m. ET, plus Indy Lights on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET. In addition, NBC Sports Network will air last week’s Indy Lights from Pocono on Friday at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves of Team Penske leads this season in points and aims to extend it against Penske teammate and two-time Honda Indy Toronto winner Will Power. 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series champion and Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay looks to win his second consecutive Honda Indy Toronto.

Date Event Network Time
Fri., July 12 Indy Lights: Pocono NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
IndyCar: Toronto Qualifying NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
Sat., July 13 Indy Lights: Toronto NBCSN 2 p.m.
Honda Indy Toronto-Race 1 NBCSN 3 p.m.
Sun., July 14 Honda Indy Toronto-Race 2 NBCSN 3 p.m.

 

COMMENTATORS: For qualifying and race coverage, NBC Sports Group’s Formula One analyst and former race mechanic Steve Matchett will join the network’s IndyCar team in Toronto. Play-by-play announcer Leigh Diffey will call qualifying and race action and will be joined by Matchett and former IndyCar driver Townsend Bell (analyst), who won the 2001 Indy Lights in Toronto. Reporters Jon BeekhuisKevin Lee, and Brian Till will manage the pits at Exhibition Place in Toronto, Ontario.

MATCHETT ON INDYCAR: “I’m very excited to be joining NBC Sports Network’s IndyCar team this weekend. I’ve never visited Toronto before, and to do so at the same time as the IndyCar series comes to town made this an unmissable opportunity. I’m really looking forward to being reunited in the booth with Townsend Bell. He always brings a wealth of firsthand racing knowledge to the broadcasts, and I’m keen to learn all I can from him. The racing strategies used in IndyCar, the different technologies and the equipment made available to the teams are all new to me. I can’t wait to touch these cars and to see how everything works.”

Indy Lights coverage will be hosted by Mike KingDavey Hamilton and Jake Query.

FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS: NBC Sports Network will air a total of 12 one-hour telecasts of Firestone Indy Lights continuing on the streets of Exhibition Place in Toronto.

Firestone Indy Lights is the premier ladder series for drivers and teams striving to compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Primarily run in conjunction with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the Firestone Indy Lights schedule features races on road courses/street circuits and ovals, including the famed 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

INDYCAR ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will live stream the Honda Indy races on Saturday and Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. Coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

Coverage airing on NBC Sports Network will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets throughNBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

Click here for the participating cable/satellite/telco companies offering NBC Sports Live Extra.

MOTORSPORTSTALK: MotorSportsTalk (@MotorSportsTalk) on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on the IZOD IndyCar Series, Formula One, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and all other motorsports racing from around the world. The site also serves as the destination for all news, analysis and video from NBC and NBC Sports Network productions of IndyCar and F1, including contributions from on-air commentators.

Mercedes, Ferrari go conservative on Austrian GP tire picks

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Pirelli has confirmed all 20 Formula 1 drivers’ tire picks for next weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg, with most opting to stack up on ultra-softs.

As it does for every grand prix, Pirelli will bring three compounds to Austria next week, electing for the softest possible combination of ultra-soft, super-soft and soft tires.

In the regular pre-race release of each driver’s tire picks, Pirelli revealed that Force India, McLaren and Red Bull have gone down the most aggressive routes, stacking up on the ultra-soft tire.

Title contenders Mercedes and Ferrari have gone down a more conservative route, favoring additional sets of the super-soft compound.

Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will take seven sets of ultra-softs to Spielberg, while Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas will have eight sets at their disposal through the weekend.

Graham Rahal survives Road America to finish eighth

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Graham Rahal and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing faced a roller coaster of a race during the Kohler Grand Prix at Road America on Sunday.

He was a rocket off the initial start, jumping from sixth on the grid up to fourth exiting turn 1, but was almost immediately ordered to surrender a position for blocking. He quickly slipped back to sixth, and then began plummeting down the order as he battled an oversteer condition that saw his car chew through its rear tires more quickly than others.

Forced to abandon the planned three-stop strategy, he and the No. 15 Gehl Honda team switched to a four-stop plan that saw him drop well outside the top ten at times.

However, they kept plugging away and rebounded nicely in the second half of the race to eventually finish in eighth. While he would have liked to finish higher up the order, Rahal knows that he and the team got everything they could out of it.

“The car was a handful today. I knew about five laps in that I didn’t have the pace for a three-stop strategy,” Rahal revealed post-race. “We tried as best we could to work with what we had during the race and overcome it. I would have obviously liked to have finished better, but eighth is about as good as we could do today. We struggled with a very loose race car all weekend and just couldn’t put a dent in the problem. We worked awfully hard but just missed it this weekend.”

The eighth-place finish keeps Rahal in the championship hunt. Rahal now sits seventh in the standings, 11 points behind fifth-place Josef Newgarden and 72 behind championship leader Scott Dixon.

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Ed Jones continues steady run with seventh at Road America

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Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones has made waves in the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season with a string of solid performances that belie his rookie status.

And Sunday’s Kohler Grand Prix at Road America was no different.

The 22-year-old battled an oversteering car most of the weekend at Road America, and had to navigate a little carnage late in the race as Alexander Rossi and Ryan Hunter-Reay both fell through the field with front wing problems.

However, Jones weathered all storms to finish an impressive seventh, his fifth finish inside the top 10 this year, and his best finish since his third place at the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade MotorOil.

“It was a really tough race,” Jones said of the effort. “We had a loose car yesterday. It was loose, but fast, for qualifying, and today again the car was really loose. I was hanging on the whole race, but the team had some good pit stops and we were able to move up.

“Obviously, the strategy was pretty similar to everyone else. Everyone was aggressive out there. It was hard racing but we came out with a seventh place and we moved up a little bit in the points.”

The seventh-place run sees Jones maintain his position in the top ten in the championship. He currently sits tenth in the standings, three points ahead of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Max Chilton.

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Vilander replaces Bird at AF Corse for Nurburgring WEC round

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AF Corse has confirmed that Toni Vilander will race the No. 71 Ferrari 488 GTE in next month’s FIA World Endurance Championship round at the Nürburgring in place of Sam Bird, who is tied up with Formula E commitments in New York.

Vilander currently races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with Risi Competizione, and appeared at the 24 Hours of Le Mans two weeks ago.

The Finn won the WEC GT drivers’ title in 2014 and last raced full-time in the series in 2015, but will return at the Nürburgring in place of Bird, who confirmed on Monday that he would be prioritizing his Formula E commitments on the July 16 weekend.

Vilander is relishing the opportunity to race alongside Davide Rigon in the No. 71 Ferrari, and is eager to bounce back from an early retirement at Le Mans.

“I’m happy to be able to return to the FIA WEC with the 488 GTE of AF Corse team. This is my chance to cancel the disappointment of the 24 Hours of Le Mans as soon as possible,” Vilander said.

“Car number 71 is in the top places of the championship standings, and I will give all I have to achieve the best possible result at Nürburgring, to help Ferrari in the manufacturers’ championship and Davide Rigon in the drivers’ ranking.”