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

Foyt, Coyne optimistic about Mid-Ohio after testing

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Along with Felix Rosenqvist and Chip Ganassi Racing, two other teams visited the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for testing ahead of this weekend’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Sunday July 30, 3:00 p.m., CNBC). A.J. Foyt Enterprises and Dale Coyne Racing sent their drivers and teams to Mid-Ohio in hopes of getting a leg up on things and building optimism ahead of this weekend.

For Foyt’s team in particular, the optimism is needed. Combined, drivers Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly have only three top tens (two for Munoz, one for Daly) across a total of 24 starts, making them desperate for strong results to come their way.

Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz are hopeful that they can turn their seasons around at Mid-Ohio. Photo: IndyCar

Mid-Ohio presents an opportunity for Foyt’s duo to right the ship. Munoz has finishes of fourth, ninth, and third in three starts at the Lexington, Ohio road course, while Daly led late in last year’s race and finished an impressive sixth.

And a productive test last week has both feeling hopeful. “We needed this test to try big steps and different options and I think we gained a lot from where we started to where we finished,” said Munoz, whose best 2017 finish of seventh came at Barber Motorsports Park in April.

Munoz added that, while they are still playing catch up a little, the team gained valuable information that should help them this weekend. “The car was much more competitive from where we started so we closed the gap but we need a little bit more to compete with the top guys. But the information that we gathered will help us to show up stronger than we did at the test so I’m looking forward to going back,” he asserted.

Daly echoed Munoz’s sentiments and added that his near-win last year makes him upbeat ahead of the weekend. “It was a really productive (test) for us. Every day with this car and aero package we are learning more. I feel like I came quite close to winning the race last year so I’m hoping to have another strong result this year,” Daly expressed.

Technical Director Will Phillips added that the knowledge they gained should help them at Watkins Glen International and Sonoma Raceway at the end of the season, particularly in terms of maximizing the grip from the tires.

“We certainly believe that the area we made an improvement in will help us at all the road courses to come – we have been slow to extract performance from the tires at times and it was in this area that some changes we made had a very positive response,” Phillips described. “We will keep our feet on the ground but are optimistic that we can carry the gains through for the remainder of the year, not just for Mid-Ohio.”

On the other side, Dale Coyne Racing has been a giant-killer in 2017, winning at St. Petersburg with Sebastien Bourdais and finishing third at the Indianapolis 500 with Ed Jones. James Davison, Tristan Vautier, and Esteban Gutierrez have also impressed in fill-in roles for the injured Bourdais.

Dale Coyne Racing has shown a lot of speed in 2017. Photo: IndyCar

And while the team has also incurred more than it’s fair share of crash damage, they have consistently showcased speed at nearly every event, and the team’s drivers are confident Mid-Ohio will yield more of the same.

“We had a really good test last week at Mid-Ohio. It was very positive and we worked on a lot of things,” said Ed Jones, who has four starts at Mid-Ohio from his days in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, with a best finish of sixth. “The car seemed pretty fast compared to others that were there. As we saw at Road America, it’s beneficial to be able to test somewhere before we race there. It can give you an advantage early on and hopefully we can produce another good result because of it.”

Teammate Esteban Gutierrez, making his sixth start for the team this weekend, is more modest of his expectations, but did reveal that a top ten finish could be realistic.

“In terms of objectives for the weekend, I want to keep on learning and it would be nice to reach the top ten. We know that it’s been a pretty steep learning curve for me in IndyCar but we’ve made some progress and hopefully we can make our way into the top ten pretty soon,” Gutierrez detailed.

Of the drivers mentioned here, Jones ranks the highest in the championship standings, currently sitting 12th. Munoz sits 15th, Daly 19th, and Gutierrez 25th in his fill-in role.

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Lando Norris also gets confirmed for Hungary test with McLaren

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McLaren Honda young driver Lando Norris has joined the list of those confirmed for the post-Hungarian Grand Prix test as well.

He’ll run on the second day, Wednesday, of the two-day test with Stoffel Vandoorne running on day one, Tuesday.

The teenaged Brit races for Carlin in the FIA F3 European Championship this season and is one of the most talented prospects in the pipeline, following his karting career and early years in formula cars. This will mark his test debut in an F1 car.

He was announced as part of McLaren’s development program in February.

Norris was confirmed a little more than a week ago for next year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in a United Autosports Ligier JS P217 LMP2 car but this gives him his first go in a proper F1 rocketship.

 

Pirelli review says Raikkonen tire not faulty at Silverstone

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BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) Formula One tiremaker Pirelli has concluded that Kimi Raikkonen’s tire damage late in the British Grand Prix was likely caused by external contact.

Raikkonen was set for second place in the July 16 race but his tire problem allowed Valtteri Bottas to complete a Mercedes one-two with Lewis Hamilton. The Finnish driver even looked set to lose his podium spot to his own teammate Sebastian Vettel, but in a bizarre twist he ended up third after Vettel’s own tire shredded.

The sight of two Ferraris capitulating within moments of each other led Pirelli to conduct extensive post-race tests on both cars. Raikkonen’s problem, Pirelli said in a statement Wednesday, did not come from the tire itself.

“The possible initial cause of this damage is consistent with contact against an external body, leading to a partial separation of the belt from the carcass in the two affected areas,” Pirelli said. “On no occasion was there any sign of fatigue, detachment or laceration -or even the beginning of such problems – that affected the structure of the tire. In conclusion, Pirelli can confirm that no issues have emerged connected with the tire itself.”

Last week, Pirelli said that Vettel’s shredded tire at Silverstone was caused by a slow puncture.

Vettel appeared to be heading for third place at Silverstone until his front left tire suddenly blew apart two laps from the finish. The four-time F1 champion managed to steer his Ferrari back to the pits for a tire change, and secured seventh place to cling onto his championship lead. Raikkonen’s pit stop to change his tire came just before Vettel’s.

Hamilton won to cut Vettel’s championship lead to one point. Raikkonen, who has three podium finishes this season, is fifth overall.

The championship continues at the Hungarian GP this weekend before a month-long summer break.

Report: GP Association of Long Beach ‘most qualified’ firm to run race

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Not for the first time, the future of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was in the news earlier this year, and the question of whether Formula 1 could re-enter running the race it did from 1976 to 1983, or whether North American open-wheel racing, in INDYCAR, would keep it up.

The city of Long Beach decided to conduct a study using accounting firm KPMG, and paid the firm $150,000 to evaluate whether existing race operators the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach, led by Jim Michaelian, or Chris Pook’s World Automobile Championship, would be best to run the race. Pook founded the event in the 1970s but has in recent years, harbored the return of F1 and suggested it would be a more viable economic prospect.

Per the Long Beach Press-Telegram, the study has now concluded following proposals and interviews from both camps. In a memo obtained by the Press-Telegram, the report indicated the existing GPALB “as the most qualified firm to promote and operate the Long Beach Grand Prix race.”

Michaelian told the Press-Telegram this was an “first but important step” in the process for the race to build a new contract with a city; the existing contract runs through 2018.

Hulman & Co. CEO Mark Miles, in a statement released to the Sports Business Journal, appreciated the recommendation: that statement is below.

This appears to be a key step towards INDYCAR, the Grand Prix Association of Long Beach and the city of Long Beach all working towards an agreement that will keep INDYCAR racing at its most successful, longest running, and marquee street course event on the calendar.