Photo: Larry Chen/Red Bull Content Pool

Red Bull GRC: Speed, VW deliver Andretti win on Indy home soil

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Michael Andretti hadn’t missed a Verizon IndyCar Series race on-site since his one-year voyage to Formula 1 in 1993, and returned to the series in 1994.

He missed today’s Iowa Corn 300 though, because his Red Bull Global Rallycross team was doing work not far from the Andretti Autosport team’s home soil in Indianapolis at Lucas Oil Raceway.

The decision to miss one team’s race for another paid dividends as the Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross team delivered the goods on Sunday in Red Bull GRC’s maiden visit to Indy.

Scott Speed completed a perfect day in his No. 41 Oberto Circle K Beetle GRC, winning two heats, a semifinal and then the 10-lap finals in the Supercars class. He’d won another heat on Saturday.

The final was a 1-2 finish for the Volkswagen Andretti teammates as Speed beat teammate Tanner Foust in his No. 34 Rockstar Energy Drink Beetle GRC.

This is Speed’s second win of 2017 (Memphis, Round 1) and the fourth 1-2 for the Volkswagen Andretti team this season.

“We had a great car all weekend from the moment we pulled it off the hauler, until the last lap of the Final; the team just did a great job,” Speed said. “The track was unbelievably fun. This is the first time we’ve been to a track that was predominantly some sort of gravel mix and it was just so fun because every time you went out onto the track it was a little bit different. There was water in areas there wasn’t before and the track was changing during the race.

“It was the most fun I’ve had driving yet. I’m so glad it happened here in Indy because it’s our home race and there was so many friends and family that were able to come to this one. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back here and big shout out to everyone at Oberto, Circle K and Expedite Home Loans.”

Foust, who still leads the championship by 10 points unofficially (488-478) after today’s race, was pleased to end second after a tougher weekend.

“Today was pretty hard. We had penalties in two out of the three heat races this weekend which had us swimming uphill,” he said. “To get into the middle of the front row for the final was a big win for our team. The guys have just been cranking all year.

“This is just a one-race weekend and not a doubleheader, but it’s amazing how difficult it is but it’s so nice to be in Indianapolis. Last time I was here on a racetrack, I was the yellow driver for the Hot Wheels jump at the Indy 500 and that was almost as much fun as it is to race a Global Rallycross car …almost. I was so excited to see so many Indianapolis fans out here to see a new sport. We have a blast every weekend.”

Loenbro Motorsports’ Steve Arpin kept up his strong season by finishing third in his Ford, with Oliver Eriksson best of the Honda Red Bull Olsbergs MSE trio in fourth and Austin Dyne banking a fifth place for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing in his Ford.

With car damage, Honda OMSE’s best driver this year, Mitchell deJong was unable to start the final.

Red Bull GRC is off until Atlantic City for Rounds 8 and 9, in mid-August.

‘Game-changing’ multi-year agreement will take INDYCAR, NBC Sports ‘to the next level’


NEW YORK – As the fourth Nor’easter in three weeks bore down on the Big Apple, it was tough to spot people that were clearly in a good mood.

But Jon Miller, president of programming for NBC Sports and NBCSN, was clearly in a good mood.

On Wednesday morning at 10 am ET, we all found out why: NBC will become the exclusive home of the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500, starting in 2019.

The new three-year deal not only makes “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” part of the network’s “Championship Season” – its collection of high-profile championship events from May to July – but also reaffirms NBC’s status as the home of motorsports television in the United States.

That status is something Miller doesn’t take for granted.

“It’s important people know that storytelling is in our DNA, and motorsports lends itself very well to storytelling,” Miller said as he, INDYCAR CEO Mark Miles and driver James Hinchcliffe made a snowy trek to the New York Stock Exchange to promote the deal on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street.”

“We’ve had great success with the second half of the entire NASCAR season, and then we’ve had half of the IndyCar package [since 2009] … But we never had the real meat of the series and that didn’t set anybody up for success.

“Having the entire package of IndyCar now – all 17 races, qualifying, practice, you name it – really sets IndyCar on a strong path and solidifies NBC’s position as the home of motorsports. I think it becomes a property much like the Premier League, the NHL, and even the Olympics and the Triple Crown. We have 100 percent of the media opportunity and we can put all those great assets behind it.”

With the storm no doubt keeping some traders home, the floor of the NYSE was relatively subdued. But that made it no less important to be at the heart of Wall Street. Miles and his team are pursuing a new title sponsor for the IndyCar Series to replace Verizon, which will fully focus its efforts in the series with the powerhouse Team Penske going forward in 2019.

The new deal – which includes 8 races per year on the NBC network (with the remaining races going to NBCSN), live streaming of all races, and a direct-to-consumer package with NBC Sports Gold – gave Miles plenty to push for any potential backers. As for Hinchcliffe, he held his own nicely in an interview that also explored IndyCar’s global ambitions, the impact of technology on the sport, and of course, his spin around the ballroom on “Dancing with the Stars.”

On the ride back to 30 Rock, Miles was confident that NBC can play a big role in attracting a sponsor that can help the series keep growing.

“With respect to our work in finding the best title sponsor, it’s really important – and this has not been talked about much – but we expect to work with hand in glove with NBC’s sales,” he explained. “We have the opportunity to create packages which are both broadcast sponsorship and series sponsorship, I think, in a way that doesn’t come along very often.

“Usually, the media deal and the sponsorship deal doesn’t align like this, so we’re really excited about the offering we’ll have and the approach to the market we can take.”

Should the partnership with NBC bear fruit on that front and others, it will only add to the upswing that the IndyCar Series has had in recent years.

Hinchcliffe has been a witness to that. He entered the series in 2011, when it was trying to find its footing after the sport’s reunification three years earlier. After 13 years of CART vs. the Indy Racing League, getting everything back under one roof was not a smooth process.

But fast-forward seven years, and things have changed for the better. TV ratings and digital viewers have gone up. Race scheduling has become more stable and enhanced with the return of traditional open-wheel markets. And this year’s debut of the universal aero kit aims to pump up the action on the track, while also giving the cars a cleaner, meaner look.

Now, with NBC all in, Hinchcliffe is bullish on his sport’s future.

“This is a game-changing thing for us,” he declared. “If you look at the last four or five years, we’ve seen a steady growth in pretty much every measureable metric that there is – in a time where, globally, motorsports is in a bit of a downturn.

“The fact that IndyCar was able to rally against a global dip in motorsports interest, attendance, sponsorship – it speaks volumes to what we have been doing and this is just gonna take us to that next level.”