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Will Power completes Penske perfect weekend at INDYCAR GP

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INDIANAPOLIS – Will Power took the lead in the first stanza, Helio Castroneves the second, Power the third and additionally the last en route to winning the warmup act for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Saturday’s INDYCAR Grand Prix from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Round 5 of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

More importantly, it also caps off a weekend where Power led every session. He paced first and second practice, qualifying where he took his 47th career pole position, and this morning warmup, before leading 61 of 85 laps.

The win means there are now five winners in as many races this season, as Power broke through for the first time since Pocono last August. This is Power’s second INDYCAR Grand Prix win after also winning in similar dominant fashion in 2015, when he led 65 of 82 laps.

Power joked yesterday he hoped all race weekends would adopt this abnormal format as part of a two-day weekend schedule, but after the way he performed this weekend, he might well be bloody serious.

“It was definitely — you know, you’re on the toes all day because you had the autograph session in between and then some appearances. I didn’t mind it,” Power said. “If you can get on it pretty quickly, it’s good. But if you were here — yeah, obviously it worked out for me, so we should keep doing this.

“I don’t think it mattered. I mean, yeah, all the sessions have been 40 — yeah, it’s good to have a night to think about it before qualifying, but definitely shortens the weekend up.”

As the run to the notorious and treacherous first corner was done without incident, it meant there was less chance of a caution happening. Only seven have happened in three years.

Today’s race ran caution-free, the first in IndyCar since Long Beach 2016, and was almost entirely dictated by pit strategy. Although the race was lengthened three laps this year from 82 to 85 laps, it made little difference to the grand scheme of things.

There wasn’t much in the way of on-track passing, either. Scott Dixon made a good move on Castroneves for second on Lap 69, at the inside of Turn 7. But with Dixon on Firestone’s red alternate tires and Roger Penske opting to put Castroneves onto the primary black sidewall tires for the final stint, it was always a question of when rather than if he’d get around him.

On Lap 74, Castroneves lost his podium position as Ryan Hunter-Reay passed him on the inside of Turn 7. Simon Pagenaud got Castroneves later as well for fourth.

Behind the top five, it was Graham Rahal, Max Chilton, Alexander Rossi, Spencer Pigot and Juan Pablo Montoya in the top 10.

Charlie Kimball and Sebastien Bourdais went out early with mechanical problems, both stopping on the oval Turn 4.

NBC Sports presents IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama Sunday live at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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From NBC Sports Group PR:

* Sunday’s Pre-Race Coverage Begins with IndyCar Live Presented by Verizon at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN

* Pre-Race Coverage Includes Robin Miller Feature on Rookie Zach Veach, Following Career-Best Fourth-Place Finish at Long Beach

* CNBC Presents Live Qualifying Saturday at 4 p.m. ET, Airs on NBCSN at 6:30 p.m. ET

STAMFORD, Conn. – April 19, 2018 – NBC Sports continues its coverage of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend from Barber Motorsports Park with live coverage of the Grand Prix of Alabama on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Pre-race coverage begins with IndyCar Live presented by Verizon at 3 p.m. ET.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide live streaming coverage of the Grand Prix of Alabama.

Alexander Rossi (Andretti Autosport) delivered a dominant performance at the Grand Prix of Long Beach last weekend, winning the pole and leading wire-to-wire for his third career victory, and third consecutive podium finish to start the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series campaign. Rossi currently leads Josef Newgarden (Penske) in the driver standings by 24 points. Newgarden won last year’s Grand Prix of Alabama, his second career win at Barber, while Rossi finished fifth.

This weekend’s live coverage from Barber Motorsports Park begins Saturday at 4 p.m. ET with qualifying on CNBC. NBCSN will air qualifying on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET. Sunday’s pre-race coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET with IndyCar Live presented by Verizon and will take place from the grid in the lead up to the command, bringing viewers even closer to the action prior to the race.

Pre-race coverage will include a feature by IndyCar on NBC pit reporter Robin Miller on rookie driver Zach Veach, who’s coming off a career-best fourth place finish at the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Lead IndyCar play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s Grand Prix of Alabama, analysts Paul Tracy and Townsend BellMarty Snider, Robin Miller, Kevin Lee, and Katie Hargitt will report from the pits.

NBCSN will also present coverage of the Indy Lights race from Alabama late night on Monday, April 23, at 1:30 a.m. ET. Current IndyCar driver Conor Daly will join the NBCSN booth for the race broadcast, alongside Kevin Lee and Anders Krohn, with Katie Hargitt reporting from the pits.

Following is this weekend’s IndyCar schedule on NBCSN and CNBC:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Sat., April 21 Grand Prix of Alabama – Qualifying LIVE CNBC 4 p.m.
Grand Prix of Alabama – Qualifying (Encore) NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
Sun., April 22 IndyCar Live presented by Verizon NBCSN 3 p.m.
Grand Prix of Alabama NBCSN 3:30 p.m.
IndyCar Post-Race NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
Mon., April 23 Grand Prix of Alabama (Encore) NBCSN 12 p.m.
Indy Lights – Alabama NBCSN 1:30 a.m.

NBC SPORTS GROUP AND INDYCAR PARTNER ON COMPREHENSIVE, MULTI-YEAR MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT

On March 21, NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR announced a new, multi-year media rights agreement in which NBC Sports acquired the rights to present all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019.

The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on NBCSN. All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Details of NBC Sports’ 2019 INDYCAR schedule will be announced at a later date.

NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will offer a package to INDYCAR fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date. Click here for more information.


VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES ON NBCSPORTS.COM AND THE NBC SPORTS APP

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide live streaming coverage of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value to their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app are powered by Playmaker Media and available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.