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Verizon IndyCar Notes & Quotes: Barber Friday (VIDEO)

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – After two street course races to open the season, the Verizon IndyCar Series is back to the flowing terrain of a permanent road course, at the picturesque Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham.

A few notes and quotes throughout the 23-car field for the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama to follow from this Friday:

  • Second on the day, KVSH Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais described how radically different the track is now compared to the test last month. “We know how slick this place can be when it gets hot and how much tire degradation can be a factor. We come here (in March) and test for two days and it’s drizzling and it’s British weather in the 50s, no wind, and the track is awesome – and the car feels great and it’s super fast. And then we come back and the track is 125 degrees, and it’s gusty, and you’re like, ‘Is this the same car?’ You’re two seconds slower and you’re P1. And that’s interesting,” said the Frenchman.
  • Although he was only P6 in second practice, Josef Newgarden’s time from the morning put the Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing driver third on the day. The Tennessee native described the physicality of the joint: “I think now that we’ve had Long Beach as well and we actually all have pretty much had a Texas test, I think everyone is conditioned enough for getting into it, but it is one of the tougher races of the year. This is probably the most physically demanding course if it goes green all the way through, which is nearly what happened last year. So yea, you got to be hydrated and you know, you really got to man up in this type of race. Even if you get worn out, you got to fight through all the way to the end.”
  • Long Beach winner Mike Conway struggled for pace on day one in the Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet for Ed Carpenter Racing, but isn’t terribly worried after ending the day 16th on the combined timesheets. “We didn’t have the grip level in the practice sessions that we wanted. This place is challenging and tough to get everything just right. But we’ll work overnight and be ready for Saturday’s practice and qualifying.”
  • Team Penske: P4, 6 and 8. Chip Ganassi Racing: P9, 11, 14 and 21. Make of that what you will. Said Tony Kanaan, who is running a blue GE Reveal livery this week in the No. 10 Chevrolet and ended today P21, “Well we really didn’t know what we had to start with in the GE Reveal car because of all the problems in the first session with cars going off and causing red flags. It was frustrating to say the least. Every time you thought you were able to get something going, the red flag would come out again and stop the session. We struggled today with the setup and will go back to see what the rest of the team is doing and be ready for tomorrow.”
  • Scott Dixon missed all the morning session and then only turned 14 laps in the afternoon, least in the field, but still ended P9. “We had a very slow start to the weekend after not even getting to turn a lap in the morning session due to an electrical issue. It was frustrating for the Target guys to say the least, but we made good progress in the second session,” said the defending series champion.
  • Marco Andretti was frustrated with seventh, but still in range of teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay in first and James Hinchcliffe fifth. “We weren’t as high on the charts as we wanted to be today and still have a few things to dial in on the Snapple car. But our teammates were quick and we are headed in the right direction,” he said.
  • Neither Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda had much of a day. Graham Rahal ended P19, Oriol Servia P21 after the two sessions. “There are still some things we have to figure out and some time to be found but at the end of the day, we aren’t that far off time-wise. You look at the time sheets and it looks like both of our cars are struggling but when you are only eight-tenths (of a second) off (fast time), yet you’re 19th, it’s a difficult thing. If you find less than one-tenth (of a second) a corner, you are right up there with those guys,” said Rahal.
  • Difficult day for the four rookies: Carlos Munoz ended P12, Mikhail Aleshin P17, Carlos Huertas P20 and Jack Hawksworth, the revelation of the first two weekends, P23 and last.

Here’s the video highlight package from INDYCAR of the day on track.

More tomorrow with Practice 3 at 10 a.m. CDT and qualifying at 2 p.m. CDT (delayed on NBCSN at 1 a.m. EDT).

Here are your TV times for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

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The Verizon IndyCar Series rolls into Mid-Ohio this weekend for the Honda Indy 200.

Simon Pagenaud heads into the weekend as the championship leader, but with Penske teammate Will Power gaining ground after three wins in the past four races, the title race continues to heat up.

Here are all of your TV and stream times for this weekend on CNBC, NBCSN and the NBC Sports app.

NBC Sports Group continues its exclusive cable coverage of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend with live comprehensive coverage from Mid-Ohio, as Will Power (Penske) continues his pursuit of teammate Simon Pagenaud atop the championship standings. Pagenaud sits in first place with 432 points, 47 points ahead of Power, who has won three of the past four races, including the Honda Indy Toronto event on July 17.

Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) has been dominant at Mid-Ohio in the past decade, recording five wins since 2007. Ohio native Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) took the checkered flag at his home race last season.

Coverage begins on NBCSN with practice on Friday at 2 p.m. ET, and continues Saturday with live qualifying at 2 p.m. ET. CNBC presents live race coverage on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET, and NBCSN will air an encore presentation Sunday at 5 p.m. ET, immediately following live NASCAR Sprint Cup coverage from Pocono.

Brian Till (play-by-play) will call the action alongside analysts and drivers Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell. Reporters Jon Beekhuis, Katie Hargitt, Robin Miller and Kevin Lee will report from the pits.

Date

Coverage

Time (ET)

Network

Fri., July 29 

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Practice

2 p.m.

NBCSN

Sat., July 30

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio – Qualifying

2 p.m.

NBCSN

Sun., July 31

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio

2 p.m.

CNBC

IndyCar Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Encore)

5:30 p.m.

NBCSN

Here are your TV times for the German GP on NBCSN, NBC Sports app

HOCKENHEIM, GERMANY - JULY 20:  The drivers go round the first cornerat the start of the German Grand Prix at Hockenheimring on July 20, 2014 in Hockenheim, Germany.  (Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images)
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Formula 1 returns to Germany this weekend after a two-year absence as Hockenheim hosts the final grand prix before the summer break.

Lewis Hamilton arrives in Germany leading the drivers’ championship for the first time in 2016 after taking a fifth win in six races last time out in Hungary.

Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg will be looking to regain his advantage on home soil by taking a second German Grand Prix in victory, his first coming in 2014.

The German Grand Prix is live across NBCSN and the NBC Sports app this weekend. Here are all your times and channels:

The Formula One season drives into Germany this Sunday on NBCSN with a new points leader, as Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) now sits atop the drivers’ championship for the first time in 2016 following a dominant win in Hungary on Sunday. Hamilton passed teammate and rival Nico Rosberg on the first lap of the race and never looked back. The win marked Hamilton’s fifth career Hungarian Grand Prix victory and his fifth win in the last six races overall. Hamilton (192 points) now holds a six-point lead over Rosberg (186 points), followed by Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo (115 points). Hamilton is a two-time winner of the German Grand Prix (2011 and 2008), while Rosberg won the most recent running of the event in 2014 at Hockenheimring.

Coverage begins Friday on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app at 4 a.m. ET with Practice 1, followed by Practice 2 at 8 a.m. ET on NBCSN. NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app will stream coverage of Practice 3 on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET, prior to NBCSN’s live coverage of qualifying at 8 a.m. ET. Live race coverage from Hockenheimring begins Sunday at 7 a.m. ET on NBCSN. NBCSN will air an encore presentation of the German Grand Prix on Sunday evening at 8 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group’s lead F1 broadcast team of Leigh Diffey (play-by-play), veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team Steve Matchett will call the action. F1 insider Will Buxton will report on-site from Germany.

NBCSN will also air a brand new episode of Off The Grid on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. ET, immediately following German GP qualifying. Off The Grid takes fans off the track and into sights and sounds of the culture that surrounds motorsports. Hosted by Will Buxton and producer Jason Swales, this week’s episode visits Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix

Date

Coverage

Time (ET)

Network

Fri., July 29

F1 German Grand Prix – Practice 1

4 a.m.

Streaming

F1 German Grand Prix – Practice 2

8 a.m.

NBCSN

Sat., July 30

F1 German Grand Prix – Practice 3

5 a.m.

Streaming

F1 German Grand Prix – Qualifying

8 a.m.

NBCSN

Off The Grid – Montreal

9:30 a.m.

NBCSN

Sun., July 31

GP2 – Germany

6 a.m.

NBCSN

F1 Countdown

7 a.m.

NBCSN

F1 German Grand Prix

7:30 a.m.

NBCSN

F1 Extra

10 a.m.

NBCSN

F1 German Grand Prix (Encore)

8 p.m.

NBCSN

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Formula E confirms pre-season testing dates at Donington Park

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 3:  In this handout image supplied by Formula E Sam Bird (GBR), DS Virgin Racing DSV-01  during the London Formula E race on JULY 3, 2016 in Battersea Park, London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Zak Mauger/LAT/Formula E via Getty Images)
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Formula E has confirmed the dates for collective testing at Donington Park in England ahead of its third season.

The new campaign is due to start in Hong Kong on October 9, but teams have already been extensively testing their season three powertrains for many months.

Besides the 15 days of private testing, all 10 teams are able to take part in the two collective tests at Donington Park over the summer.

The first three-day test will take place from August 23-25, with the second and third days being open to the public.

The second test is scheduled to be held from September 5-7. Details regarding access for fans will be released at a later date.

Testing at Donington will offer the Formula E paddock a first chance to check out its rivals ahead of the new season, including the new Jaguar team.

Sebastien Buemi enters the new Formula E season as the defending champion after defeating rival Lucas di Grassi at the London ePrix finale earlier this month.

Red Bull GRC: Washington, D.C. set to kick off second half of year

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After six action-packed races to kick off the first half of the 2016 season, Red Bull Global Rallycross heads to the Northeast for another returning event, at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C.

The championship has about five realistic contenders with now five races remaining in the 11-race season, following the official cancellation of the second MCAS New River race.

Tanner Foust of Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross leads the way from Chip Ganassi Rallycross’ Steve Arpin and defending series champion Scott Speed, Foust’s teammate.

Those three are at 295, 286 and 279 points, and the three clear front runners. Brian Deegan (Ganassi) and Patrik Sandell (Bryan Herta Rallysport) have 248 and 243 points and could capitalize if the three top drivers hit a rough patch.

It gets tougher from there on back, for the pair of Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE Civic drivers (Sebastian Eriksson and Joni Wiman) and SH Rallycross/DRR, the latter team of which provides one of the weekend’s most interesting stories with the return of Nelson Piquet Jr. in the team’s No. 07 MET-Rx Ford Fiesta ST.

Piquet won last year at Washington, D.C., and his presence this weekend will provide a good baseline whether SH Rallycross’ tough 2016 season is more setup or driver-related. Jeff Ward hasn’t forgotten how to wheel it by any stretch, but Ward has only one top-five finish in the first six races of the year for the James “Sulli” Sullivan-led team.

“I’ve missed competing in Red Bull GRC with SH Rallycross/DRR,” said Piquet Jr. “I had such a great couple of seasons with the team and I love rallycross. Sulli and I are friends and have kept in touch. I’m so excited to have the opportunity to race again with the team that helped me get my first GRC victory.”

Behind Piquet at this race last year, Patrik Sandell and Ken Block completed the podium – a Ford podium sweep. Arpin made it a top-four sweep with Foust and Speed in fifth and seventh, respectively.

Only once since that race have the pair of Volkswagens been off the podium (Daytona 1, 2016), and that race saw both drivers in win and podium positions before both fell out in the final stages of the race.

Deegan and either Honda driver is still in search of their first win this year, with Deegan having been the closest to breaking through thus far this year. The “General” of Metal Mulisha came a hard-luck second at MCAS New River, having lost the win on the final lap by way of taking the Joker while Speed took the standard course to the inside, and moved ahead.

The D.C. course, a 10-turn, 0.899-mile course, switches to a clockwise direction from counterclockwise last year. Even more notable, the jump is right before the finish line.

There’s also a new fantasy game Red Bull GRC has introduced; details of which are linked here.

You can watch the action LIVE this Saturday, July 30, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. Toby Moody, Townsend Bell and Kristen Kenney have the call from RFK Stadium.