IndyCar: Hinchcliffe diagnosed with concussion after on-track incident; Viso to fill in if need be


A medical update has been issued re: Andretti Autosport’s James Hinchcliffe, after the Canadian stopped on track in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Lap 57 due to an off-course excursion. Hinchcliffe’s helmet got struck with loose bodywork from Justin Wilson’s car, which became dislodged and hit him on the backstraight on the run to Turn 7. He favored his head and was taken off on a stretcher, then transported via ground to Methodist Hospital.

Hinchcliffe was able to provide a quote in a statement released by the team:

“I want to thank all the fans for their messages of concern and support. I’m a little stiff and sore and I’d love to be back in the car tomorrow, but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision. Such a bummer for the UFD car when things were really starting to come together.”

The official update from INDYCAR:

“Verizon IndyCar Series driver James Hinchcliffe was discharged from IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis after being evaluated and having a CT scan of his head and neck.

“INDYCAR Medical Director Dr. Michael Olinger said Hinchcliffe was diagnosed with a concussion. The driver of the No. 27 United Fiber & Data car for Andretti Autosport will be re-evaluated by Olinger and INDYCAR medical consultants before being cleared to drive.”

Updates only came from alternative parties from the time of the incident through to the official update. Indianapolis Star reporter Curt Cavin and Associated Press reporter Jenna Fryer had several tweets, as did Hinchcliffe’s teammate Marco Andretti who was in communication as the team.

As a whole, not a great day for Andretti Autosport because here’s where it leaves them heading into the opening day of Indianapolis 500 practice on Sunday.

Hunter-Reay’s No. 28 crew will swap over to its oval setup as the car came home second today, but that’s after needing to repair the right rear yesterday.

Andretti’s No. 25, as he wrote above, featured a cracked tub. Also not ideal.

Then Hinchcliffe’s No. 27, Franck Montagny’s No. 26 and Carlos Munoz’s No. 34 cars all retired from contact.

Hinchcliffe’s No. 27 will need a new driver, and one of Andretti’s 2013 drivers, E.J. Viso, has been nominated as that stand-in driver if needed. The team will determine whether he’ll actually drive depending on the outcome of the re-evaluation.

As for Viso, he is in Indianapolis already and posted this picture to Twitter, already in fire suit.

The Montagny and Munoz cars bore the worst of it; Montagny was a one-off driver for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and schedule-pending, Kurt Busch was due to be in that car on Sunday.

Busch, meanwhile, like the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, is in a rain delay at Kansas, and not free to leave there until that race gets in the books.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”