Report: Comcast’s Xfinity, NASCAR closer to series sponsorship deal

According to Tripp Mickle of the SportsBusiness Journal, Comcast’s Xfinity and NASCAR have entered contract negotiations regarding title sponsorship of the racing league’s No. 2 national series.

Mickle’s report relays word from an unnamed source “familiar with the negotiations” that Xfinity – Comcast’s broadband, cable television, and phone service – is considering a five-to-six year deal valued at over $100 million to become the new backer of what’s been known as the NASCAR Nationwide Series since 2008.

Comcast would not comment for Mickle’s report, but NASCAR gave him the following statement: “We anticipate NASCAR will soon be aligned with an outstanding brand that will help take this series to new heights, but out of respect for our current partner and the process, we will not comment on speculation about any potential replacements until there actually is one.”

NASCAR is finishing out its current TV deal that features Fox Sports (who will stay on for the new TV deal) and the outgoing Turner Sports and ESPN; Turner aired its final NASCAR race last month at New Hampshire and ESPN will officially leave the sport at season’s end.

Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal Media and the NBC Sports Group. Last summer, the Group announced that it had struck a deal with NASCAR to broadcast 20 Sprint Cup and 19 Nationwide Series events annually from 2015 to 2024, with the bulk of those events to be shown on NBCSN.

Xfinity first emerged in June as a possible candidate to take over NASCAR’s No. 2 series sponsorship from Nationwide Insurance. In September of 2013, the insurance company said it would end that sponsorship and expand its role in the top-tier Sprint Cup Series.

To that end, Nationwide has since been confirmed as a primary sponsor for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet over the 2015, 2016, and 2017 Cup seasons.

Going back to Xfinity’s potential deal with NASCAR, Mickle reports that there are still some obstacles involved; one of them apparently involves Fox, which according to sources, wants assurances that Comcast would spend equally on advertising across both Fox and NBC, and not just the network it owns.

However, Mickle writes that should this and other “category issues” be settled, a deal may be officially announced in the coming weeks.

MRTI: Sunday Barber Notebook

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Leave a comment

Mother Nature intervened heavily on Sunday at Barber Motorsports Park, and the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires both completed their second races of the weekend on a wet track.

Indy Lights saw Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward complete the weekend sweep – he won Race 1 on Saturday – while Pro Mazda had a wet and wild race of survival that saw a pair of leaders go off, giving way to another first-time winner in Pro Mazda at the end of the day.

Reports on both races are below.

Indy Lights: Race 2 Victory Completes Dominant Weekend for O’Ward

Pato O’Ward celebrates his Race 2 victory at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

Andretti Autosport’s Pato O’Ward completed a perfect weekend at Barber Motorsports Park by claiming victory in Indy Lights Race 2 on Sunday.

Officials were forced to move the race up to 10:45 a.m. local time (11:45 ET) due to weather, and Race 2 began under a rain shower.

However, it did not deter O’Ward one bit, who rocketed off into the lead from the pole, and was never headed on his way to winning by over five seconds.

In addition to winning both races, O’Ward led every lap in both races, completing a weekend of utter dominance for the 18-year-old native of Mexico.

Juncos Racing’s Victor Franzoni came home in second, his best finish since moving up to Indy Lights this year, with Andretti Steinbrenner Racing’s Colton Herta rounding out the podium.

The Belardi Auto Racing duo of Aaron Telitz and Santi Urrutia finished fourth and fifth, with Telitz finally finishing a race after only completing a combined four corners in the first three races of the season.

Urrutia, meanwhile struggled somewhat and faded to fifth after starting third.

Andretti’s Dalton Kellett and Ryan Norman and Juncos’ Alfonso Celis Jr. rounded out the field in sixth, seventh, and eighth.

Results are below.

Pro Mazda: Harrison Scott Survives the Rain to Take First Pro Mazda Win

Harrison Scott and RP Motorsports celebrate victory in Pro Mazda Race 2 at Barber Motorsports Park. Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

RP Motorsport’s Harrison Scott managed to survive a track that started out damp, began drying out, and then became very wet during a downpour in the final laps to win in Pro Mazda Race 2 from Barber.

Scott, who started second, was able to pass Exclusive Autosport’s Parker Thompson, the polesitter and Race 1 winner, on the inside entering Turn 5 on Lap 2, with Thompson running slightly off track on corner exit and falling back to third, with Team Pelfrey’s Andres Gutierrez going through into second.

Scott, Gutierrez, and Thompson stayed close the rest of the way, and Gutierrez even managed to make a nifty outside pass on Scott in Turn 5 on Lap 9 to take the lead.

However, rain, which hit the track briefly and stopped about 30 minutes before the race started, returned in the second half of the race, and progressively got heavier.

It all came to a head on Lap 21, when the slick conditions sent Gutierrez off course in Turns 7 and 8. He rejoined the track, but fell back to seventh, allowing Scott back into the lead.

Race Control quickly threw a caution as a result of the conditions, and the race finished under yellow, with Scott taking the checkered flag for his first Pro Mazda win.

Behind Scott, Thompson came home in second, with Juncos Racing’s Carlos Cunhas in third. Cunha’s teammate Rinus VeeKay was fourth, with BN Racing’s David Malukas rounding out the Top 5.

Of note: Cape Motorsports’ Oliver Askew was one of a couple drivers who pitted for rain tires under the late yellow, gambling that the race may go back to green – he was running tenth at the time. However, because the race never went back to green, Askew was relegated to 12th at the end.

Results are below.

Note: Check back later for driver quotes.

Follow@KyleMLavigne