IndyCar at Milwaukee, Motocross in Indy highlight NBCSN weekend coverage

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NBC Sports Group presents more than 30 hours of motorsports coverage this weekend across NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra, highlighted by the IndyCar ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the famed Milwaukee Mile on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

NBC Sports Group will also feature coverage of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships from the Indiana National on Saturday, Mecum Auctions from Monterey beginning on Thursday, and new episodes of Mecum Dealmakers: Indianapolis and /DRIVE on NBC Sports on Thursday night.

All IndyCar, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and Mecum Auctions’ coverage will be streamed live via NBC Sports Live Extra, NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets.

INDYCAR ABC SUPPLY WISCONSIN 250 – SUNDAY AT 3 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the IndyCar ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile begins Saturday evening with qualifying at 8 p.m. ET. Live race coverage begins on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET, followed by coverage of the Indy Lights Milwaukee race at 6 p.m. ET.

Two weeks ago, Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) earned his first win of the season with a victory at the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio, his fifth career victory at Mid-Ohio, making his way to the front after starting in 22nd position. Will Power (Team Penske) finished sixth to pass teammate Helio Castroneves for the Verizon IndyCar Series championships point lead.

The series shifts this week to the Milwaukee Mile, which holds the distinction as the oldest operating motor speedway in the world, hosting at least one auto race each year since 1903, except for the years during the U.S. involvement in World War II. Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport) has won the last two IndyCar races at the Milwaukee Mile.

NBC Sports Group’s lead motorsports voice Leigh Diffey will call the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 from West Allis, Wisc., alongside veteran driver/analyst Townsend Bell and veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs.

Reporters Marty Snider, Kelli Stavast, Kevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits. Lee will be joined by Anders Krohn and Jake Query to call the Indy Lights Milwaukee race.

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS INDIANA NATIONAL – SATURDAY

NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to present six hours of Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana National coverage from Crawfordsville, Ind., on Saturday. Coverage starts on Live Extra at 10:30 a.m. ET with practice, followed by the pre-race show at 12:15 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on Live Extra with Moto 1s, followed by live coverage of  the  250 Class of 2nd Motos at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. An encore presentation will air on NBCSN at 1 a.m. ET on Sunday.

Last weekend Ryan Dungey took the 450 Class at Unadilla National for his fourth win this year, and Christopher Pourcel earned his first victory of the season by winning the 250 Class.

Veteran play-by-play voice Jason Weigandt, analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross ChampionGrant Langston, and pit reporter Georgia Lindsay will call the action from Indiana National in Crawfordsville, Ind.

Motorsports Coverage This Week on NBC, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra (subject to change):

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Thurs., August 14 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Monterey 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Dealmakers: Kansas City (Encore) 9 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Dealmakers: Indianapolis 10 p.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports 11 p.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports (Encore) 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., August 15 Motocross Highlight Series 12 a.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports (Encore) 1 a.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Monterey 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., August 16 Pirelli World Challenge – Toronto & Mid-Ohio 12 a.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana – Practice 10:30 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana – Pre-Show 12:15 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana – Moto 1s 1 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Red Bull Series “Mavericks Invitational” 2:30 p.m. NBC
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana – 250 Class 5 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 – Qualifying 8 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Monterey 9 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., August 17 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Indiana (Encore) 12 a.m. NBCSN
IndyCar ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 3 p.m. NBCSN
Indy Lights Milwaukee 6 p.m. NBCSN

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.