Live F1, IndyCar races highlight 20-plus hours of NBCSN racing coverage this weekend

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NBC Sports Group will present 21.5 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend, highlighted by live Formula One and IndyCar Grands Prix on NBCSN on Sunday. NBCSN’s Sunday doubleheader of live race coverage begins at 7:30 a.m. ET with the Shell Belgian Grand Prix, and continues with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at 4 p.m. ET.

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) continues to maintain his lead atop the F1 points standings over Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), despite a third place finish in Hungary last month. Raikkonen is a four-time winner of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix, while Vettel took the checkered flag in Belgium in 2011.

Helio Castroneves (Penske) continues to maintain his position atop the IZOD IndyCar Series points standings over Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi). Both are past winners at Sonoma; Dixon took the checkered flag in 2007, while Castroneves earned a victory in 2008. Charlie Kimball (Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi) became the fourth driver this season to earn his first career IndyCar Series win with his victory at Mid-Ohio three weeks earlier.

Coverage of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix begins on Friday with live practice on NBCSN at 8 a.m. ET. Live streaming coverage of qualifying can be seen on NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices and tablets, on Saturday at 8 a.m. ET, and on NBCSN at 12:30 p.m. ET. Sunday’s live coverage of the Shell Belgian Grand Prix on NBCSN begins at 7:30 a.m. ET.

NBCSN’s coverage of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma starts with qualifying on Saturday at 9 p.m. ET. NBCSN’s live telecast of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma airs Sunday at 4 p.m.

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to provide live AMA Motocross coverage this Saturday from Lake Elsinore, Calif. Live coverage starts on NBC Sports Live Extra at 1 p.m. ET and will also air on NBCSN at 3:30 p.m. ET.

ARCA Racing rounds out NBC Sports Group’s motorsports coverage this weekend on Friday at 11 p.m. on NBCSN.

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Fri., August 23 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Practice NBCSN 8 a.m.
ARCA Racing NBCSN 11 p.m.
Sat., August 24 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Practice (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Live) NBC Sports Live Extra 8 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying NBCSN 12:30 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBC Sports Live Extra 1 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
AMA Motocross NBC Sports Live Extra 5:30 p.m.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying NBCSN 9 p.m.
AMA Motocross (Encore) NBCSN 10 p.m.
Sun., August 25 F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 1 a.m.
F1 Shell Belgian Grand Prix NBCSN 7:30 a.m.
F1 Extra NBCSN 10 a.m.
GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma NBCSN 4 p.m.

 

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Group’s IndyCar and Formula One play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma. Diffey will be joined in the booth this week by former drivers Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach. Reporters Jon BeekhuisKevin LeeMarty Snider and Robin Miller will manage the pits.

Veteran motorsports broadcaster Bob Varsha will call the Shell Belgian Grand Prix. He will be joined by veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium.

Jason WeigandtJeff Emig and Kelli Stavast will provide AMA Motocross coverage from Lake Elsinore National in Lake Elsinore, Calif.on Saturday afternoon.

Rick BenjaminAndy Hillenburg and Kevin Lee have the call of the Allen Crowe 100 from the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Friday night.

INDYCAR AND FORMULA ONE 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 Shell Belgian Grand Prix and the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday. Coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to MVPD 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 NBCSN will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC 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.

WATCH LIVE: IndyCar at Phoenix (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – Coverage of the fourth round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix, takes place today starting at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com (stream link here). The coverage comes after an encore presentation of Phoenix qualifying, which begins at 7:30 p.m. ET.

Rick Allen will be in the booth with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller will be in pit lane.

Coverage will run from 6 to 9 p.m. PT and local time, so 9 p.m. to midnight ET.

Each of the top three drivers on the grid, Helio Castroneves, Will Power and JR Hildebrand, seek their first wins of the year. The first three race winners start fourth (Josef Newgarden), 10th (points leader Sebastien Bourdais) and 11th (James Hinchcliffe).

Track position is expected to be key for the 250-lap race, the first oval event of the season, with passing projected to be difficult – albeit not impossible.

Beyond the top three, some of the other story lines to watch include these:

  • On the inside of Row 3, is Simon Pagenaud positioned to secure his first oval victory?
  • Will any of the Hondas be able to make significant inroads on the Chevrolets?
  • Is anyone going to be able to make enough gains on pit road to move up the order?

The starting lineup is below:

Monaco apartment bet gives extra spice to race for P5 in Russia

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Remember that episode of Friends where Joey and Chandler go up against Rachel and Monica in a crazy quiz that ends in them swapping apartments for a while?

Well, Formula 1 might be doing its own version on Sunday in Russia.

With Ferrari and Mercedes over one second per lap clear of the rest of the pack, the top four positions seem settled, leaving Williams and Red Bull to battle for P5.

Red Bull has been the third-quickest team for much of the season so far, yet Williams looks more competitive in Russia, with Felipe Massa charging to sixth place in qualifying to split Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen.

“I predicted them to be quick here. It’s been one of their stronger circuits the last few years, and Massa’s always been pretty handy around here,” Ricciardo said of Williams.

“He got close, split Max and myself. I expect that battle to remain tomorrow. Not expecting to have the battle for the win, I think that’s between Ferrari and Mercedes, but we could have a nice little battle within ourselves for the top five.”

To add an extra twist to things, it turns out that Ricciardo, Massa and Verstappen all live inside the same apartment complex in Monaco – so why not add some extra incentive to the battle?

“I was saying whoever maybe wins our battle tomorrow can get the… Massa or Verstappen, they’ve both got pretty good-sized apartments, so maybe they can give the winner their apartment for the weekend as a bit of a token gesture!” Ricciardo joked to NBCSN after the session.

“Yeah I can give a good party and I will join,” Verstappen added.

Massa laughed before saying: “I hope I will win and I cannot give!’

The race between Red Bull and Williams may be tight, but somehow we doubt remembering that the TV guide goes to Miss Chanandeler Bong or that his job is a transpon… transponster (“that’s not even a word!”) will be much help to Ricciardo, Massa or Verstappen on Sunday.

The Russian Grand Prix is live on NBCSN and the NBC Sports app from 7am ET on Sunday.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix, Saturday edition (VIDEO)

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Life as a rookie in Formula 1 is always tough, but for Williams’ Lance Stroll, his arrival on the grid has been particularly challenging.

Entering F1 as its second-youngest debutant and after an extensive private testing program with Williams last year, big things were expected of Stroll when he made his debut in Australia.

However, his first three races in F1 have been far from ideal, all of them ending in retirement.

The DNF is Australia was the result of a brake issue, while incidents in China and Bahrain – both of which were hard to pin on Stroll – mean the Canadian is without a classified finish to his name.

So how has he dealt with the struggles? To find out, Will Buxton brings you a special edition of NBC Sports’ original digital series ‘Paddock Pass’ to lift the lid on Stroll’s start to life in F1.

You can watch the video in full above.

JR Hildebrand returns in career-best third on grid at Phoenix

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AVONDALE, Ariz. – The last first-time winner in the Verizon IndyCar Series came on an oval, when Alexander Rossi captured last year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil.

The guy who could well have captured his first career victory five years earlier in 2011, JR Hildebrand, remains in search of ‘ol first win number one. But he’s got a good chance to do so tonight in his No. 21 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet, as he’ll roll off from a career-best third on the grid in the Desert Diamond West Valley Phoenix Grand Prix (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

The qualifying result for Hildebrand eclipses a previous best set twice: fourth at Iowa in 2011, and at Fontana in 2012, both with Panther Racing but in separate iterations of cars. This marks Hildebrand’s first top-five start since that Fontana race in September of that year, and easily eclipses his other 2017 starts of 19th and 15th on the two street course races to start the year.

In some respects Hildebrand’s pace this weekend is not a surprise; he was the pace-setter during the open test here in February. However, after missing Barber owing to his broken bone in his left hand, the more important aspect of his performance this weekend is that he’s back on song and comfortable – best as he can be – for today’s 250-lap race.

“I think with the kind of injury that I’m dealing with and the surgery that I had, an oval definitely is a little easier just literally turning left versus turning right even,” Hildebrand said after practice, when he was second to Josef Newgarden – who will start alongside him tonight on Row 2.

“So it felt better than honestly I thought it would in practice. I didn’t have any, like, major issues. I got a couple of different braces that I’m kind of playing around with and stuff like that. But felt like I got it pretty dialed in. Feel good about qualifying today and then the race tomorrow as well.”

Hildebrand was in a unique situation at Barber where he watched someone else in his car – a situation he hadn’t been afforded since Panther showed him the door after the 2013 Indianapolis 500. His starts since, it’s been Hildebrand in either a fill-in or extra entry, usually at Ed Carpenter Racing.

“It was definitely different to be watching in that situation than it was last year, you know, or in years past when I’ve been stepping in for testing or whatever and doing that on behalf of other guys,” he said. “It was painful to sit there and watch, but I think was in the end the only, you know, feasible kind of way to get through that weekend.”

That being said, Hildebrand wound up playing the mentor role well to Zach Veach, who methodically and consistently improved over the weekend on debut. It flashed back nicely to Hildebrand’s own debut at Mid-Ohio 2010 under nearly identical circumstances.

“I filled in for Mike Conway at Mid-Ohio back in 2010 in sort of similar conditions,” Hildebrand explained.

“Yeah, I mean, knowing this was going to be sort of a short-term thing, in particular, I wanted for the team’s sake to be able to get as much as they could out of having Zach in the car in my absence. That in some ways sort of requires that Zach is up to speed.

“But being a driver myself, being in that situation before, I know that it helps a lot to have somebody that, you know, is kind of just there to help you through whatever those difficulties and challenges are.

“Barber is a really tough place. He had some testing time at Sonoma, which is not really super relevant going into Barber. And on top of that, like, we were not great there when we tested there previously.

“You know, he was in for an uphill battle going in. He had a great attitude about the whole thing. I thought he made evident progression through the weekend. You know, was definitely helpful for the team and did a good job for himself.”

Hildebrand also noted that he wouldn’t have been in this position in the first place had he not had the contact with Mikhail Aleshin at Long Beach that put him into the wall and caused the hand injury.

“Yeah, he came over and told me he didn’t block me while I was still sitting in the car. Then he got a penalty 30 seconds later for doing that. Whatever,” Hildebrand deadpanned.

“I don’t have hard feelings about it, for sure. But, you know, I think that there’s definitely a track record that, you know, he’s begun to build up.”

Hildebrand will look for his second career podium at least if he can finish where he starts – in a weird quirk, his only career IndyCar top-three finish has come at a race where there is not the traditional podium ceremony for top-three finishers, that aforementioned 2011 Indianapolis 500.

Tonight gives him a great opportunity to break that run of tough luck and get a result to match his determination and will to return.