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IndyCar sets start times for its 2016 races

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One of the things missing from the release of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule at first glance – and this was the key to note since the races were pretty much already known – was specific start times for races. Planned TV start times were listed.

As we click into the new year, INDYCAR has put out the start times for 2016. Many of them follow the trend of 2015: later afternoon or early evening start times.

In theory, it sounds stupid – hey, if you’re coming from out of town, and the race starts late, it means you’ll have to burn an extra day of vacation or you’ll get back super late Sunday night.

But witness the fact NBCSN’s ratings went up significantly this year, 34 percent from 2014 (from 378,000 in 12 races to 507,000 in 11 races), and you’ll see the strategy worked. It was the most watched IndyCar season on NBCSN since IndyCar rights were acquired in 2009, when the network was then known as VERSUS.

Was later start times the only reason? Of course not. Having NASCAR on the network drove additional viewership and worked in some cases as a perfect lead-in. Having all three major series – NASCAR, F1 and IndyCar – on NBC Sports Group properties allowed for a good level of cross promotion, as well.

Two other things to note below. One, the Toronto and Mid-Ohio races look set to air live on CNBC. NASCAR is yet to announce its full 2016 TV schedule but those dates, July 17 and July 31, see NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races on Sundays at New Hampshire and Pocono, respectively. The NBC portion of NASCAR’s schedule will begin at Daytona in July.

Mid-Ohio aired live on CNBC last year and then was re-aired on NBCSN immediately following the conclusion of the Pocono Cup race; in theory, it could make sense to do that again, as the NBCSN rating for IndyCar at Mid-Ohio was north of 600,000 viewers.

The second thing to note is that only three races – St. Petersburg, the 100th Indianapolis 500 and the new race at Elkhart Lake – have start times prior to 2 p.m. ET. The Elkhart Lake start time of 1:08 p.m. ET is particularly important for those fans from Chicago, Indianapolis or wherever who’d be making the trip. Figure that’s 12:08 p.m. CT and local time and if the race ends, worse case at 2:30 p.m., you can easily be home not too late at night. This is a good thing.

Anyway, without further adieu, here’s your start times and networks for the 2016 season. All are subject to change but figure these will be the likely targets:

Date Race Network Start Time
March 13 St. Petersburg ABC 12:52 p.m. ET
April 2 Phoenix NBCSN 8:35 p.m. ET
April 17 Long Beach NBCSN 4:37 p.m. ET
April 24 Barber NBCSN 3:37 p.m. ET
May 14 Indy GP ABC 3:50 p.m. ET
May 29 Indy 500 ABC 12:00 p.m. ET
June 4 Detroit 1 ABC 3:50 p.m. ET
June 5 Detroit 2 ABC 3:50 p.m. ET
June 11 Texas NBCSN 8:50 p.m. ET
June 26 Road America NBCSN 1:08 p.m. ET
July 10 Iowa NBCSN 5:50 p.m. ET
July 17 Toronto CNBC 3:37 p.m. ET
July 31 Mid-Ohio CNBC 2:37 p.m. ET
Aug. 21 Pocono NBCSN 3:48 p.m. ET
Sept. 4 Boston NBCSN 2:37 p.m. ET
Sept. 18 Sonoma NBCSN 7:37 p.m. ET

Racing world reacts to Danica Patrick’s Daytona, Indy double news

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Here’s a sampling of quotes and social media reaction to Danica Patrick’s news announced earlier Friday that this would be her last full-time season as a driver, and that she’ll race in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 only in 2018.

This ends a full-time stretch in the top flights of NASCAR and IndyCar. She was in NASCAR from 2012 through 2017, and IndyCar from 2005 through 2011.

Her’s her own post on Twitter and Instagram.

Well…. 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 here I come. 🙌🏼

A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

IMS President J. Douglas Boles

“We’re glad Danica plans to return to the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil next May,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “Her final career start will make what’s already shaping up to be a terrific Month of May even more interesting for our fans.

“It’s also fitting that Danica is wrapping up her career at the place and in the race where she became a household name and captured the world’s attention in 2005 – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the Indianapolis 500. We’re looking forward to seeing her back in an Indy car next May alongside all of the tremendous drivers of the Verizon IndyCar Series.”

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