“NASCAR AMERICA” set for Feb. 24 launch on NBCSN

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NBCSN’s new daily NASCAR show, “NASCAR AMERICA,” will launch on February 24. The first edition will air at 5 p.m. ET and run daily at the same time for 30 minutes.  The timing makes sense, as it will occur the day after this year’s Daytona 500, and provide the first new original coverage under the NBC Sports Group’s return to NASCAR.

NBC Sports and NBCSN Executive Producer Sam Flood made the official announcement on Tuesday. A mix of driver, team, crew profiles, opinions and insights from analysts and looks inside race shops and tracks are among the expected topics.

NASCAR AMERICA will engage the true racing fan in a number of ways, providing viewers with a mix of breaking news, storytelling and daily features,” Flood said in a release. “We’re going to celebrate the traditions as well as the changing landscape of the sport from coast to coast with wide-ranging content that feeds America’s passion for racing.”

The show will be broadcast from Stamford, Ct., NBC Sports Group’s International Broadcast Center. NBC NASCAR announcer Rick Allen will serve as primary host, with Leigh Diffey, F1 and IndyCar announcer, also hosting at times. Charlotte-based reporters Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast will also play a prominent role.

Guest analysts who will join NASCAR AMERICA throughout February and March include NBC Sports NASCAR analyst Jeff Burton, Sprint Cup Champion Bobby Labonte, Kyle Petty, Ken Schrader, and crew chief Frank Stoddard.

Future guest analysts, which will include former and current drivers and crew chiefs, NASCAR executives, and even prominent fans such as NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams, will be announced at a later date.

Because NBC Sports also shows F1, IndyCar and other motorsports series, other input will come at times from the organizations’ IndyCar and Formula One on-air talent. Diffey, Wally Dallenbach, Townsend Bell, Steve Matchett, David Hobbs and Will Buxton, will each contribute from various locations around the world.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”