What to expect during NBC Sports’ biggest racing weekend of 2014

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IndyCar, Formula One, Red Bull Global Rallycross and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross (plus IndyCar and F1’s main development leagues, Indy Lights and GP2) are all in action this weekend – the biggest motorsports weekend of the year for us at the NBC Sports Group.

Whether you prefer two wheels, four wheels, asphalt, or dirt, NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, and NBC Sports Live Extra will have you covered.

If you’re planning to keep up with us, here’s how the main television and streaming schedule will look for the weekend.

It all begins Friday morning with F1 practice from the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim.

Also, everything will be streamed online and on mobile devices through NBC Sports Live Extra at NBCSports.com/LiveExtra and the NBC Sports Live Extra app (available on the App Store and Google Play).

THIS WEEKEND’S TV/STREAMING SCHEDULE

Friday
4 a.m. ET, Live Extra F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 1
8 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 2
2:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 2 Re-Air

Saturday
5 a.m. ET, Live Extra – F1: German Grand Prix, Practice 3
8 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix, Qualifying
11:30 a.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, Practice
Noon ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix, Qualifying Re-Air
1:15 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, Pre-Show
1:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto Qualifying, Race 1
2 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 1st Motos
3 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto, Race 1
4 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 450 Class
5 p.m. ET, Live Extra – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National, 250 Class
6 p.m. ET, NBCSN – Lucas Oil Pro Motocross: Spring Creek National

Sunday
7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC – F1: German Grand Prix
Noon ET, NBCSN – F1: German Grand Prix Re-Air
2 p.m. ET, NBC – Red Bull Global Rallycross: New York
3 p.m. ET, NBCSN – IndyCar: Honda Indy Toronto, Race 2
6 p.m. ET, NBCSN – Indy Lights: Toronto
7 p.m. ET, NBCSN – GP2: Germany

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES – HONDA INDY TORONTO (Sat. & Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
On-Air: Bob Varsha, Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell (booth); Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee, Robin Miller (pits)

The grueling summer stretch for North America’s top open-wheel series will only get harder this weekend with a pair of 85-lap races on the streets of Toronto. The 11-turn, 1.75-mile circuit has several passing opportunities but its tight quarters can lead to wrecked cars, angry drivers, and a type of mayhem usually reserved for NASCAR short tracks (with no Sprint Cup race this weekend, consider this a cue to have your stock car buddies tune in). Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves leads Will Power by just nine points, with 2012 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay and Simon Pagenaud lurking in third and fourth place.

FORMULA ONE – GERMAN GRAND PRIX (Sun., 7:30 a.m. ET, CNBC)
On-Air: Leigh Diffey, David Hobbs, Steve Matchett, and Will Buxton (on-site)

Nico Rosberg enters his home Grand Prix riding the wave of off-track momentum – his national team claimed the FIFA World Cup last Sunday, he just got married, and he just extended his Mercedes contract. Now, he looks to reassert authority within the team after teammate Lewis Hamilton scored a critical victory on his own home turf at Silverstone two weeks ago, as Rosberg ground to a halt with gearbox failure. In any event, Rosberg’s keen to reclaim the top spot in his home race, and extend his dwindling championship lead in Hockenheim.

RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS – VOLKSWAGEN RALLYCROSS NY (Sun., 2 p.m. ET, NBC)
On-Air: Brian Till and Tommy Kendall (booth); Kristin Kenney (reporter)

Cars like the Ford Fiesta, Hyundai Veloster, and VW Polo may not scream “racing” when you see them on the road. But in the delightfully crazy world of Red Bull Global Rallycross, cars like these are turned into pint-sized rockets, capable of going 0-60 mph in two seconds or less. Hand ‘em over to some of the best rallycross racers in the world, cut ‘em loose on a twisty circuit made up of asphalt, dirt and gravel, and you’ve got a spectacle that can’t be ignored. A couple of ex-NASCAR and Formula One racers, Scott Speed (Andretti Autosport) and Nelson Piquet Jr. (SH Racing Rallycross), are separated by just one point entering the weekend.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS – SPRING CREEK NATIONAL (Coverage starts Saturday at 11:30 a.m. ET, Live Extra)
On-Air: Jason Weigandt and Grant Langston (booth); Georgia Lindsay (pits)

Ryan Dungey will look to cut into Red Bull KTM teammate Ken Roczen’s lead atop the 450 Moto standings as the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship visits Spring Creek Motocross Park in Millville, Minnesota; Roczen holds a 26-point edge going into Spring Creek. Meanwhile, 250 class points leader Jeremy Martin will literally have a home race on the track that’s been owned by his parents since the late 1980s.

INDY LIGHTS – TORONTO (Sun., 6 p.m. ET, NBCSN; On-Air: Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn, and Jake Query)
GP2 – HOCKENHEIM (Sun., 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN; On-Air: Will Buxton)

A chance to see the rising open-wheel stars back-to-back in both North America and Europe occurs with the top feeder series to IndyCar and Formula One rounds out the weekend coverage on Sunday. In Indy Lights, Gabby Chaves (Belardi Auto Racing) leads Zach Veach (Andretti Autosport) by 11 points on the strength of four victories to Veach’s two. In GP2, a pair of wins and points finishes in each of the first 10 races sees DAMS’ Jolyon Palmer head of the standings with 143 points. Felipe Nasr (Carlin) is second with 105. Two young Americans race in the series; Alexander Rossi now with Campos, and Conor Daly with Lazarus.

Toro Rosso extends contract for technical director James Key

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Scuderia Toro Rosso technical director James Key will continue with the team for the foreseeable future, following a contract extension announced on Tuesday.

Key joined the team in 2012 and has seen the Faenza-based squad solidify its role in the upper midfield, with occasional surprise finishes that have pushed the team near the top three or four teams on the grid.

“I am delighted to continue with Toro Rosso and remain part of the Red Bull family,” he said. “This is a team which I have great respect for and have thoroughly enjoyed working with for the past 5 years; now I look forwards to continuing our project into the future.

“STR is unique, facing the challenges of being spread over two countries and fulfilling the roles of both a team in its own right and an important part of the Red Bull driver program: they are challenges that the team takes in its stride and, whilst doing so, continues to grow and improve year on year.

“Most importantly, the people I have had the pleasure to work with at STR are second to none: professional, ambitious and focussed, they have all worked incredibly hard to improve the team’s performance and will continue that hard work with the same dedication and optimism in the coming years too. I would like to thank Franz Tost and Red Bull for their continued support and confidence. We have more work to do, and I look forwards to taking the next steps with Toro Rosso towards our goals.”

Team principal Franz Tost added, Formula 1 is a team sport, but one in which an individual can still make a difference. So far, in his time with us, James has proved that he can indeed make that difference, leading the technical side of the operation.

“Not only has he been adept at producing chassis-aero packages that are well regarded throughout the paddock, he has also shown the management skills necessary to get the most out of all the various departments that work together both here in Faenza and in Bicester. I am therefore delighted that James will be with us for the foreseeable future to continue this fruitful process.”

Teams load up on supersoft tires for Italian GP

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There’s almost no variety in team Pirelli tire selections for the Italian Grand Prix, with nearly all teams going with two sets of softs and 10 sets of supersofts for next week’s race. All teams have selected just one set of mediums.

The only variance comes with Mercedes, Force India and Haas going with three sets of softs and nine supersofts. The rest are all the same choice, two softs and 10 supersofts.

Monza comes a week after Spa this week.

Pirelli’s tire breakdown is below.

Jackie Joyner-Kersee to serve as Gateway grand marshal

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The Verizon IndyCar Series’ return to Gateway Motorsports Park for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline will feature quite an excellent grand marshal, in the form of three-time Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.

The full release from the track is below.

An Olympic champion has been selected to give the command to start engines for the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline comes to Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois on August 26. Jackie Joyner-Kersee, considered to be one of the greatest athletes of all time, will serve as the grand marshal for the Verizon IndyCar Series event.

“I am humble,” said Joyner-Kersee, who is a native of East St. Louis, Illinois. “I do not take this honor for granted to be the INDYCAR race’s grand marshal at Gateway Motorsports Park. Very few people are asked to give the command and I am grateful to be one of the few. Thank you!”

Track-and-field star Joyner-Kersee has won three Olympic gold medals, as well as one silver and two bronze. She was the first American to win gold for the long jump and the first woman to earn more than 7,000 points in the seven-event heptathlon, making her the most decorated female athlete in Olympic track and field history.

As a teen, she won the National Junior Pentathlon championships for consecutive years and received widespread honors in high school in various sports, including track, basketball and volleyball. During her junior year, she set the Illinois high school long jump record for women, with a 6.68-meter jump. Joyner-Kersee attended the University of California, Los Angeles on a full scholarship and continued to gain fame on both the court and field. In 1981, at the age of 19, she began to focus on training for the Olympics, specifically for the heptathlon — an Olympic track-and-field competition comprised of seven separate events, including the 200-meter run, 800-meter run and 100-meter hurdles. She graduated from UCLA in 1985.

Joyner-Kersee won a silver medal in the heptathlon at the 1984 Summer Olympics, as well as gold and bronze medals in the long jump in 1988 and 1992, respectively, and is currently the heptathlon world record-holder.
Following her retirement from competition, she founded the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Youth Center Foundation. The mission of the foundation is to instill youth in the a Greater East St. Louis area with the dream, drive and determination necessary to succeed in academics, athletics and leadership. “Winners In Life.”

Chuck Wallis, Vice President of the Bommarito Automotive Group, will serve as honorary starter and will wave the opening green flag.

Kimi Raikkonen confirmed at Ferrari for 2018 F1 season

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Scuderia Ferrari has confirmed that Kimi Raikkonen will remain with the team for the 2018 Formula 1 season after being given a new one-year contract.

Raikkonen, 37, has raced with Ferrari since 2014, and has been on a one-year rolling contract since the end of 2015.

The Finn has been a regular focus for the F1 driver market’s ‘silly season’ given his age and struggle for form compared to teammate Sebastian Vettel, who currently leads the drivers’ championship.

Raikkonen has scored 86 less points than Vettel through the opening 11 races of the 2017 season, but has nevertheless done enough to secure a new contract, confirmed by Ferrari on Tuesday.

“Ferrari announces that Scuderia Ferrari has renewed its technical and racing agreement with Kimi Raikkonen,” a brief statement from Ferrari reads.

“The Finnish driver will therefore race for the Maranello team in the 2018 Formula One World Championship.”

Raikkonen is the first of the big-name free agents to have his plans for 2018 confirmed, with Vettel, ex-Ferrari racer Fernando Alonso and Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas yet to announce a drive for next year.

Raikkonen first joined Ferrari in 2007, winning the F1 drivers’ championship in his first season, but left at the end of 2009 to take some time out from the sport.

A return in 2012 with Lotus saw Raikkonen display plenty of his old spark, taking two wins for the financially-hamstrung team before leaving at the end of 2013 over a pay row.

Raikkonen moved back to Ferrari for 2014 alongside Fernando Alonso, with Vettel arriving the following year.

Questions over Raikkonen’s motivation and ability have been rife for some time, but without any outstanding candidates for a seat available as things stand, the news is not overly surprising.

Nevertheless, it does defuse some of the silliness of ‘silly season’, with Vettel’s confirmation at Ferrari seemingly set to follow.