NBC Sports Group IndyCar 2014 TV schedule, talent revealed; includes Paul Tracy added

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NBC Sports Group’s extensive coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series will feature 13 races, doubleheaders in Houston and Toronto, the season finale from Fontana, and two new members of its broadcast team, including decorated former IndyCar and CART and Champ Car driver Paul Tracy. Coverage begins with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 13 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Tracy joins NBC Sports Group’s Verizon IndyCar Series coverage as an analyst for six races over the course of this season, beginning with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where Tracy won four times, including the first of his 31 career victories in 1993. Tracy brings more than 20 years of experience to the broadcast booth, including a second-place finish at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

NBC Sports Group’s lead motorsports play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey returns for his second consecutive season calling the IndyCar on NBCSN. IndyCar driver Townsend Bell, who has raced seven times in the Indianapolis 500, and won the GT Class at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, returns for his second season as an analyst. Wally Dallenbach Jr. returns as an analyst for select races during 2014. Dallenbach Jr. is cutting back his workload in order to focus on the start of his daughter Kate’s stock car racing career.

In addition, Kelli Stavast joins NBC Sports Group’s Verizon IndyCar Series broadcast team this season as a pit reporter, and will be on-site for all race telecasts this season. Stavast has previously handled reporting duties for numerous NBC Sports Group motorsports events and shows, including NASCAR AMERICA, NBCSN’s new 30-minute daily show. Stavast will work alongside pit reporters Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis and Kevin Lee, as well as Verizon IndyCar Series reporter Robin Miller, who all return for the 2014 season.

NBC Sports Group motorsports analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, and play-by-play voices Bob Varsha and Brian Till, will also work select races during the course of the 2014 IndyCar season.

NBCSN will air coverage of qualifying for all Verizon IndyCar Series races airing on NBCSN and CNBC this season.

2014 NBC SPORTS GROUP VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Sun,, April 13, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., April 27, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, NBCSN, 2:30 p.m.
Sat., June 7, Firestone 600, CNBC, 8 p.m.
Sat., June 28, Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 1, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., June 29, Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 2, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., July 6, Pocono IndyCar 500, NBCSN, Noon
Sat, July 12, Iowa Corn Indy 300, NBCSN, 8 p.m.
Sat., July 19 Honda Indy Toronto – Race 1, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun, July 20, Honda Indy Toronto – Race 2, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 3, Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 17, ABC Supply Wisconsin 250, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 24, GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sat., August 30, MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships, NBCSN, 9 p.m.

INDY LIGHTS: NBCSN will serve as the television home of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the third step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, presenting 10 race telecasts during the 2014 season, beginning on Friday, April 4 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the St. Petersburg 100. The majority of NBCSN’s Indy Lights telecasts will air immediately preceding or following live Verizon IndyCar Series coverage to provide maximum visibility to the Indy Lights series.

In addition to its Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights coverage, NBCSN will present coverage of Carb Day and the Indy 500 Parade, beginning on Friday, May 23 at 11 a.m. ET.

2014 NBC SPORTS GROUP INDY LIGHTS SCHEDULE

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Fri., April 4, St. Petersburg 100, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., April 13, Indy Lights Streets of Long Beach, NBCSN, 2:30 p.m.
Sun., April 27, Legacy Indy Lights 100, NBCSN, 5:30 p.m.
Fri., May 23, Freedom 100, NBCSN, Noon
Sat., May 24 ,Grand Prix of Indianapolis, NBCSN, 12:30 a.m.
Sun., July 6, Indy Lights Pocono Raceway, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., July 20, Indy Lights Streets of Toronto, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 3, Indy Lights Mid-Ohio, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 17, The Milwaukee Mile, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 24, Indy Lights Sonoma Raceway, NBCSN, 7 p.m.
*Dates and times subject to change

MRTI: Chris Griffis Test Sunday times and notebook

Thompson (90, Exclusive) and Hoogenboom (78, BN) in Pro Mazda. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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The two-day Chris Griffis Memorial Mazda Road to Indy Test concluded on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Combined times after the two days of running are below, with Nico Jamin (Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires) and Oliver Askew (Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires) remaining on top from Saturday to Sunday, and Darren Keane (Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda) supplanting Andres Gutierrez at the head of that field.

Previous notebooks are linked here (Friday, Saturday), with additional Sunday notes to follow.

COMBINED TIMES

INDY LIGHTS (Best Session)Full Results

Jamin. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

1. 5-Nico Jamin, Belardi Auto Racing, 1:15.7173 (Session 2)
2. 98-Colton Herta, Andretti-Steinbrenner Racing, 1:15.7808 (Session 8)
3. 23-Victor Franzoni, Juncos Racing, 1:15.7953 (Session 8)
4. 3-Pato O’Ward, Team Pelfrey, 1:16.0900 (Session 5)
5. 4-Rinus Veekay, Belardi Auto Racing, 1:16.1419 (Session 5)
6. 31-Carlos Cunha, Juncos Racing, 1:16.1585 (Session 8)
7. 31-Nicolas Dapero, Juncos Racing, 1:16.2491 (Session 4)
8. 48-Ryan Norman, Andretti Autosport, 1:16.3285 (Session 4)
9. 27-Anthony Martin, Andretti Autosport, 1:16.5185 (Session 4)
10. 2-TJ Fischer, Team Pelfrey, 1:16.8124 (Session 5)
11. 21-Heamin Choi, Juncos Racing, 1:18.1931 (Session 5)

PRO MAZDA (Best Session); Full Results 

Askew. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

1. 8-Oliver Askew, Cape Motorsports, 1:19.8142 (Session 5)
2. 79-David Malukas, BN Racing, 1:19.9394 (Session 5)
3. 90-Parker Thompson, Exclusive Autosport, 1:19.9815 (Session 5)
4. 1-Carlos Cunha, Juncos Racing, 1:20.0236 (Session 2)
5. 3-Robert Megennis, Juncos Racing, 1:20.1268 (Session 4)
6. 81-Kaylen Frederick, Team Pelfrey, 1:20.1928 (Session 5)
7. 18-Calvin Ming, Pabst Racing, 1:20.2141 (Session 5)
8. 2-Sting Ray Robb, Juncos Racing, 1:20.6289 (Session 5)
9. 91-Nikita Lastochkin, Exclusive Autosport, 1:20.7001 (Session 2)
10. 80-Kris Wright, Team Pelfrey, 1:20.9930 (Session 4)
11. 82-Aaron Telitz, Team Pelfrey, 1:21.2144 (Session 8)
12. 78-Leonard Hoogenboom, BN Racing, 1:21.3713 (Session 8)

USF2000 (Best Session); Full Results

Keane ended head of queue in USF2000. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

1. 36-Darren Keane, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:25.1424 (Session 5)
2. 22-Andres Gutierrez, Pabst Racing, 1:25.5618 (Session 3)
3. 27-Callan O’Keefe, BN Racing, 1:25.6295 (Session 2)
4. 21-Hunter McElrea, Pabst Racing, 1:25.7021 (Session 5)
5. 31-Rasmus Lindh, Team BENIK, 1:25.7791 (Session 5)
6. 81-Jacob Loomis, Team Pelfrey, 1:25.8514 (Session 5)
7. 90-Parker Thompson, Exclusive Autosport, 1:25.8743 (Session 2)
8. 23-Lucas Kohl, Pabst Racing, 1:25.9792 (Session 6)
9. 37-David Osborne, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:25.9996 (Session 8)
10. 20-Aaron Telitz, RJB Motorsports, 1:26.0042 (Session 6)
11. 80-Michael D’Orlando, Team Pelfrey, 1:26.2295 (Session 8)
12. 37-Jake Craig, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:26.2452 (Session 4)
13. 25-Elliott Finlayson, BN Racing, 1:26.3668 (Session 8)
14. 32-Jaden Conwright, Team BENIK, 1:26.4557 (Session 2)
15. 38-Max Peichel, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:26.5058 (Session 2)
16. 33-Myles Rowe, John Cummiskey Racing, 1:26.6004 (Session 8)
17. 90-Justin Gordon, Exclusive Autosport, 1:26.6460 (Session 5)
18. 82-David Osborne, Team Pelfrey, 1:26.6824 (Session 2)
19. 34-Sabre Cook, John Cummiskey Racing, 1:26.9362 (Session 6)
20. 38-Oscar DeLuzuriaga, Newman Wachs Racing, 1:27.7455 (Session 8)
21. 92-Justin Gordon, Exclusive Autosport, 1:27.7750 (Session 3)
22. 24-Zoey Edenholm, BN Racing, 1:28.5449 (Session 8)
23. 93-Jayson Clunie, Exclusive Autosport, No Time

NOTES

Old USF2000 teammates Jamin and Telitz share a high-five. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
  • Several drivers pulled double duty between series, namely Parker Thompson (Exclusive Autosport in Pro Mazda and USF2000), Carlos Cunha (Juncos Racing in Indy Lights and Pro Mazda) and Aaron Telitz (Team Pelfrey in Pro Mazda, RJB Motorsports in USF2000). Telitz (above) added a run in Pro Mazda in Team Pelfrey’s No. 82 car; the Wisconsinite has done a lot of the series’ testing for the new Pro Mazda Tatuus PM-18, and had hoped to run all three series. We’ll have more meanwhile on Thompson and Exclusive’s double in the days to come; the Michael Duncalfe-led team out of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan was one of three new Pro Mazda teams adding those cars to USF2000 efforts (Pabst Racing, BN Racing) this week.
  • There were a handful of drivers that changed cars or teams for Sunday’s second day of the test, primarily in USF2000. While Keane ran both days at Newman Wachs, the Brian Halahan-managed team ran David Osborne and Oscar DeLuzuriaga in the Nos. 37 and 38 cars, taking over from Jake Craig and Max Peichel. Osborne switched from Team Pelfrey, where he ran Saturday, and where Jacob Loomis ran Sunday. Justin Gordon ran a second Exclusive Autosport chassis, switching to the No. 90 on Sunday after running the No. 92 Saturday.
  • The PM-18 best lap set by Askew is more than three seconds faster than the series’ official track record (Pato O’Ward in 2016, at 1:22.8800, 105.941 mph). Askew’s best time of 1:19.8142 averages 110.010 mph around the 2.439-mile circuit. Neither the Indy Lights nor USF2000 cars eclipsed the existing lap records in those categories.
  • Drivers largely extolled the PM-18’s outright pace and potential with the horsepower upgrade, in what is a significant step forward for the series. “Following prototype testing of the new PM-18, I believed that we had a special race car and this weekend’s testing confirms that,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “Based on team and driver comments, this is a fantastic race car and I am very pleased with what Tatuus, Elite Engines and my team have assembled. It fits perfectly in between the USF-17 and the IL-15 in terms of lap times and, more importantly, it takes what a driver learns in the first step and introduces higher HP, higher grip and higher aero. This will be a great training car for years to come, and seeing our program now with three excellent and well-designed cars is very satisfying to me.”
  • Keane, one of the few veterans (relatively speaking) within USF2000 was plugged in this weekend as the only driver outside Pabst Racing to threaten the top of the timesheets. “It’s a good boost in confidence for me heading into next year. I am really happy with how everything is going with the team. They are a great group of guys and it’s just really good to see us improving and being where we want to be,” he said.
  • Rinus Veekay hailed the Indy Lights Dallara IL-15 Mazda this weekend in his first test there, although the talented Dutch teenager may well focus on Pro Mazda next season and shoot to win that championship, and continue his battle with Askew established in USF2000. “The car is very nice, quick,” noted VeeKay. “You can really feel the downforce and it was a pleasure to drive.”
Veekay. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

The MRTI is done with official running for the year, but the $200,000 MRTI Scholarship Shootout remains in December at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway, outside Phoenix. The winner of that will get a ticket into USF2000 for the 2018 season.

Full MRTI spring training will take place at Homestead-Miami Speedway in February 2018, with undoubtedly a bevy of driver and team announcements to come over the following months.