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Canadian GP, IndyCar on NBCSN highlight 40+ hours of weekend coverage

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NBC Sports Group will present more than 40 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend, highlighted by live coverage of the IndyCar Firestone 600 on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN, and the Formula One Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.

NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will provide streaming coverage of both the Firestone 600 and Canadian Grand Prix this weekend. Additional motorsports coverage this week includes the debut of KURT BUSCH: 36 on NBC, and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross coverage from the Thunder Valley National on Saturday on NBCSN.

INDYCAR FIRESTONE 600 – SATURDAY AT 8 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

Beginning this weekend, NBCSN will provide exclusive coverage of the final 11 races of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season, culminating with the MAVTV 500 in Fontana, Calif. on August 30 on NBCSN.

Coverage of the Firestone 600 begins on Friday at 6:30 p.m. ET with qualifying, followed by live race coverage Saturday on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET. Brian Till (play-by-play) will call the action alongside former drivers Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Jon Beekhuis and Kevin Lee will report from the pits.

FORMULA ONE CANADIAN GRAND PRIX – SUNDAY AT 2 P.M. ET ON NBC

NBC’s Formula One coverage continues with the Canadian Grand Prix live from Montreal. Coverage begins Friday on NBC Sports Live Extra at 10 a.m. ET with Practice 1, followed by NBCSN’s coverage of Practice 2 at 2 p.m. ETLive Extra will stream coverage of Practice 3 on Saturday at 10 a.m. ET, prior to NBCSN’s live coverage of qualifying at 1 p.m. ETF1 Extra, NBC Sports Group’s pre-race show, will air Sunday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, leading into live race coverage of the Canadian Grand Prix at 2 p.m. ET on NBC. As usual, Leigh Diffey (play-by-play) will be joined by analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, with F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton joining the trio on site in Montreal.

KURT BUSCH: 36 – SUNDAY AT 4:30 P.M. ET ON NBC

KURT BUSCH: 36, an all-access look into the intense preparation, 200+ MPH competition and extreme logistics surrounding Kurt Busch’s racing in IndyCar’s famed Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day just two weeks ago, will debut this Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC. NBC Sports’ Emmy Award-winning NASCAR production team, led by Executive Producer Sam Flood, teams with the Emmy Award-winning NASCAR Productions to create KURT BUSCH: 36, featuring in-depth interviews, on-track footage, team communications and a seat right next to Busch throughout his races against drivers from IndyCar and NASCAR.

A 60-minute “director’s cut” of KURT BUSCH: 36 will air the following day, Monday, June 9, at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In addition, NBCSN will present episodes of NASCAR AMERICA, NBC Sports Group’s new 30-minute daily show dedicated to speed and stock car racing, today and tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS THUNDER VALLEY NATIONAL – SATURDAY AT 5 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will present six hours of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships coverage this weekend from the Thunder Valley National in Lakewood, Colo. in the third round of the 12-race championship series. Coverage begins on NBC Sports Live Extra with practice at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by pre-race coverage on Live Extra at2:30 p.m. ET. 1st Motos coverage begins live from Thunder Valley at 3 p.m. ET on Live Extra, followed by 2nd Motos on NBCSN at 5 p.m. ET.

Veteran play-by-play voice Jason Weigandt, analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Grant Langston, and pit reporter Georgia Lindsay will call the action from Thunder Valley on Saturday.

Following is this week’s motorsports coverage schedule on NBCSN:

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Wed., June 4 Off The Grid: Barcelona (Encore) 4:30 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR AMERICA 5 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR: The List 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Auctions America: Auburn (Encore) 8 p.m. NBCSN
Auctions America: Auburn (Encore) 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Thu., June 5 NASCAR AMERICA 5 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Kansas City (Encore) 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Houston (Encore) 8:30 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Indianapolis (Encore) 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., June 6 F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Practice 1 10 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Practice 2 2 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Indianapolis (Encore) 3:30 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Firestone 600 – Qualifying 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., June 7 F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Practice 2 (Encore) 2 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Practice 3 10 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
AMA Motocross Thunder Valley – Practice 12:30 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Qualifying 1 p.m. NBCSN
AMA Motocross Thunder Valley – Pre-Race 2:30 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
AMA Motocross Thunder Valley – 1st Motos 3 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
AMA Motocross Thunder Valley – 2nd Motos 5 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Firestone 600 8 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., June 8 F1 Canadian Grand Prix Qualifying 1:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Canadian Grand Prix 2 p.m. NBC
Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour 4 p.m. NBCSN
RACER TV 5 p.m. NBCSN
TORC: Las Vegas 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Canadian Grand Prix – Encore 7 p.m. NBCSN
“1” – F1 Documentary 9:30 p.m. NBCSN

Grace Autosport continuing to build program towards May

L to R: Grace Autosports Team Principal Beth Paretta and race driver Katherine Legge launch an all-female Indy 500 team to contest the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 in 2016 (PRNewsFoto/Grace Autosport)
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One of the newest teams planning to field an entry at this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Grace Autosport, continues its preparations in what could be a hectic month of February.

The primarily female initiative, led by Beth Paretta with Katherine Legge as nominated driver, has gained traction in the last month or so with further meetings, STEM events and Legge’s standout drive in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

While announced last May, time is of the essence for securing both an engine lease and a team partner, to go along with the crew already established.

The target to confirm both the engine and team partner is coming up next month.

“[We’d need to finalize] by the beginning of March to give it proper time,” Paretta told NBC Sports in an interview following the Rolex 24.

Paretta was on site at Daytona for the Rolex 24 for a number of meetings with manufacturers and other key industry stakeholders, to continue to promote the Grace Autosport message, brand and team.

“Yes, there were a few key meetings – some planned, some impromptu – which went very well,” she said.

“The awareness still surprises me. I was wearing a Grace Autosport hat in the paddock and a few people asked me about the team. Many people in the racing community have said they think the concept is cool and have offered help.

“I get offers for help from some guys that have worked on teams I’ve worked with in the past, which is lovely.”

Legge’s drive at Daytona in the DeltaWing DWC13 coupe didn’t hurt matters, either.

The Tim Keene-led team opted not to qualify in the treacherous, rain-soaked conditions. Legge started the car and went from 13th and last in the Prototype class field up to third within the first 20 minutes, and led by the end of the first hour.

In a career that’s had occasional standout drives, this was one of them, and came at a good time.

“Her drive in the DeltaWing was just fantastic. While she was leading overall I was talking with some other racing drivers in pit lane and one said, almost dismissively, ‘Well, that car was really fast,’” Paretta said of Legge.

“Yes, it was, but she has been an integral part of the development of that car and part of the reason why it’s become faster. Any IMSA fan knows that the DeltaWing project has had a lot of challenges so I think to see it running up front was a nice surprise for many fans. People like an underdog so I think it was really exciting to watch her climb through the field and run up front.”

Legge was due to share the car with Andy Meyrick, Sean Rayhall and Andreas Wirth before Meyrick got caught up in a strange accident, where a radio issue meant Meyrick didn’t fully hear there was another PC car stopped on course in the middle of Turn 1.

Although Meyrick braked earlier than normal to avoid it, proved by the data, he still wound up hitting Chris Cumming’s stranded car which took the DeltaWing out of the race. Cumming’s PC car was also severely wounded.

The DeltaWing aside, where Legge and Grace really seek to make strides is in STEM events. Legge and Paretta recently did an event in Indianapolis with the Hoosier Association of Science Teachers, Inc., last week.

The STEM portion is a major component of the Grace Autosport effort.

“STEM and education for girls is the foundation of Grace Autosport. It isn’t a throwaway comment connecting racing with a ’cause.’ It is why we are racing,” Paretta said.

“Even though we have yet to turn a wheel, we are working with different groups supporting educational initiatives for girls and young women. We participated in the Society of Women Engineers’ annual conference, which was held in Nashville in October, and this week Katherine and I will be delivering the keynote address to a conference for science teachers in the State of Indiana.

“So STEM education isn’t a pet cause for us, it is the cause for what we are doing. We will be making a few more announcements in the coming months that we will explain how we will connect our message to the community and the classroom.”

Jake Eidson steps up to Pro Mazda with Cape in 2016

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Jake Eidson came up short of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda championship last year, losing out to Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Nico Jamin.

Now, at the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, they’ll be teammates.

Jamin was confirmed last week with Cape for his step up from USF2000 into the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and this morning Eidson, the 20-year-old out of Littleton, Colorado, was confirmed as Cape’s second driver.

“I’m extremely grateful and excited to enter my first season of Pro Mazda and to rejoin Cape Motorsport with Wayne Taylor Racing,” Eidson offered.

“After finishing second in last year’s USF2000 championship, we weren’t sure if moving up to Pro Mazda was possible. When the season was over, we tested with the Capes and quickly knew that they have a winning team. Fortunately, we were able to make the 2016 season achievable.

“I know that my goal, as well as the team’s goal, is to aim for the top spot in the Pro Mazda championship and I have a lot of confidence in their ability to make it happen. This is a dream come true and I can’t wait to get started!”

It’s a natural progression for Eidson, who ran two full seasons in USF2000. His first came with Cape in 2014 where he finished third in points, before he moved to Pabst Racing and was one of only two drivers (Aaron Telitz) to pose a threat to Jamin as the year progressed.

Eidson is supported in his efforts by Rising Star Racing, DA Lubricants Company, Bell Helmets, OMP, Team USA Scholarship, and SafeisFast.

The top three USF2000 drivers all moving up to Pro Mazda is important for the second rung on the ladder; they’ll race arguably the championship favorite in Garett Grist plus his three young, hungry teammates at Juncos Racing, with other driver announcements to come in the coming days.

Red Bull GRC confirms Wild Horse Pass for season opener

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Phoenix was listed as the season opener for the 2016 Red Bull Global Rallycross season, but a location was not confirmed.

Today though, the series has confirmed where the Phoenix round will be held: at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, the former Firebird Raceway.

It’s in Chandler, Arizona, technically, but it should still be a good spot for the season-opening doubleheader round.

The full release is below:

For the first time in series history, Red Bull Global Rallycross will visit the state of Arizona during the 2016 season. Red Bull GRC Phoenix, the season opener and first of four doubleheaders on the schedule, will take place at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park, one of the most diverse motorsports playgrounds in the United States.

“The southwest is a crucial market for Red Bull GRC, with many of our most passionate fans located in the region,” said Red Bull GRC CEO Colin Dyne. “The opportunity to bring our unique brand of racing to the Phoenix market for the first time was something we couldn’t pass up. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is the perfect setting for us as we look to open our finest season yet.”

Located just off of I-10, Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park is located only 15 minutes from downtown Phoenix, with ample parking and amenities on-site. Fans will be treated to a challenging and fast mile-long track, featuring the series’ signature 70-foot jump, and will be able to see all the action from great spectator areas overlooking the entire facility.

This will be the first time that a Red Bull GRC season begins with a doubleheader. Performing well in the opener has been a constant step towards winning a title, as no Red Bull GRC champion has ever finished worse than fourth in the first race of the year. Defending Supercar champion Scott Speed and defending GRC Lites champion Oliver Eriksson finished second and third in class, respectively, in last year’s opener; both drivers are expected to begin their title defense in Phoenix.

In no great surprise, McLaren also passes crash tests

xxxx during day four of Formula One Winter Testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 22, 2015 in Montmelo, Spain.
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The new McLaren chassis, the MP4-31, has passed its crash tests ahead of the 2016 Formula 1 season, the team has confirmed today.

This means all 11 teams have had their new chassis complete the crash test and thus be ready for action starting with the first test of the winter February 22-25 at Barcelona, in Spain. Sauber has already indicated it will debut its new chassis at the second test.

McLaren, of course, will be looking for a better start to its season with race drivers Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button and reserve driver Stoffel Vandoorne. Alonso’s mysterious accident last spring at Barcelona ruled him out of the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.