NBCSN IndyCar updates: Sonoma most-watched of 2013, plus Baltimore times

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The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma was NBCSN’s most-watched IndyCar race of 2013, with a 27 percent increase in viewership over 2012. Media reporter John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal said that number was 391,000 viewers.

This weekend, the Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT will be live on NBCSN Sunday at 2 p.m. EST. Qualifying airs Saturday at 6 p.m. EST, and the Firestone Indy Lights race will air after the IndyCar race on Sunday at 5 p.m. EST.

Will Power (Penske) earned his first win of the 2013 season last weekend at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, and will look to continue that success at Baltimore where he took the checkered flag in 2011. Helio Castroneves (Penske) maintains his lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series Points Standings over Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi), who was poised to gain ground at the Grand Prix of Sonoma, but finished 15th after a pit safety infraction late in the race. Ryan Hunter-Reay(Andretti) currently sits third in the IZOD IndyCar Series Points Standings and won at Baltimore last year.

NBC Sports Group’s IndyCar play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the Grand Prix of Baltimore. Diffey will be joined in the booth this week by former drivers Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach. Reporters Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, Marty Snider and Robin Miller will manage the pits.

I’ll be on the ground for MotorSportsTalk once again, for my ninth of 14 IndyCar weekends (including the Detroit and Toronto doubleheaders) this season.

The full release of the more than 15 hours of motorsports coverage on NBCSN this weekend can be found from the NBC Sports Group Press Box website, linked here. Times are below:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Thur., August 29 Auctions America NBCSN 8 p.m.
Fri., August 30 ARCA Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200 NBCSN 12 a.m.
Auctions America NBCSN 8 p.m.
Sat., August 31 Auctions America NBCSN 12:30 p.m.
Grand Prix of Baltimore – Qualifying NBCSN 6 p.m.
Sun., September 1 Grand Prix of Baltimore NBCSN 2 p.m.
Firestone Indy Lights Baltimore NBCSN 5 p.m.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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