Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography

IMS retains Jim Cornelison for ‘Back Home Again in Indiana’

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Jim Cornelison’s stirring rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana” for the 101st Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil was an instant hit – and in a smart move by the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, not his only rendition.

The track has announced Wednesday morning that Cornelison will be back for an encore performance next May.

The full release is below.

His voice thrilled hundreds of thousands of fans at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and millions more across the globe on Race Day in May 2017, and now he’s back for more. Jim Cornelison will return to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” before the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil on May 27, 2018.

Cornelison is known to sports fans everywhere as the powerful and exclusive voice behind “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Chicago Blackhawks’ home games. He took the “Back Home Again in Indiana” mantle last May, generating widespread praise and social media buzz from fans in Indianapolis and beyond.

“Jim perfectly captured the powerful emotion behind one of Race Day’s most iconic moments, and barely a day has gone by without a fan asking us to bring him back for next year’s race,” IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. “We’re happy he’s returning to IMS and we’re grateful to our friends with the Blackhawks’ organization for working with us to make this happen.”

Cornelison is a 1992 graduate of the Master of Music program at the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University and has been the popular singer of the national anthem before all Blackhawks’ home games at the United Center in Chicago since the 2008-09 season. His soaring vocals and spirited style have welcomed millions of network viewers to the Stanley Cup Finals over multiple championship runs for the team.

“Last year was such an amazing experience, and I can’t wait to come back to Indy,” Cornelison said. “I already have Race Day circled on my calendar!”

Cornelison will become the first performer to sing “Back Home Again in Indiana” in consecutive years since the retirement of Jim Nabors in 2014. Nabors sang the tune 36 times during Indy 500 pre-race ceremonies between 1972-2014.

The popularity of Cornelison’s powerful performances has led to him singing in front of national audiences at many other sporting events, including a 2012 Ryder Cup golf match, Arlington Million horse race, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race, ESPN’s “College GameDay” before an Indiana-Ohio State game in August 2017, ESPN’s “Friday Night Fights” and two USA Rugby matches, the first vs. New Zealand All Blacks and the second vs. Australia at Soldier Field. He’s also made television performances on “TODAY,” “The Colbert Report” and “Harry Connick Jr. Show.”

Cornelison’ s widespread appreciation and popularity in Chicago is also evident on his resume. He has performed before games for every major Chicago professional sports team, including the Chicago Bears’ home opener since 2010.

Cornelison, a tenor, sang with numerous opera companies before becoming one of six accepted apprentices from more than 800 applicants for the Lyric Opera’s Apprenticeship Program in Chicago in 1995.

He has performed nationally and internationally with some of the biggest names in opera, including Placido Domingo and Zubin Mehta, and with opera companies in the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium, France and many other locations.

Washington state native Cornelison has a strong commitment to the U.S. Armed Forces and to charitable organizations. He serves on the advisory board of the Illinois Patriot Education Fund, is the honorary squadron commander of the USAF Band of Mid-America and an honorary member of YPO-Gold. He regularly participates with charitable organizations such as Dreams for Kids, the USO and veterans’ support groups.

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Fast Facts

Image courtesy Barber Motorsport Park
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Here’s what you need to know about this weekend’s Verizon IndyCar Series race at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama:

Race weekend: Friday, April 20 – Sunday, April 22

Track: Barber Motorsports Park, a 2.3-mile, 17-turn road course (clockwise) in Birmingham, Alabama

Race distance: 90 laps / 207 miles

Entry List:  Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (PDF)

Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate

Twitter: @BarberMotorPark @IndyCar, #HIGPA, #IndyCar

Event website: www.barberracingevents.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2017 race winner: Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Team Penske Chevrolet)

2017 Verizon P1 Award winner: Will Power (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet),1:06.9614, 123.653 mph

Qualifying lap record: Sebastien Bourdais, 1:06.6001, 124.324 mph, April 23, 2016 (Round 2 of knockout qualifying)

NBCSN qualifying telecast: Saturday, April 21 (4 p.m. ET, live)

NBCSN race telecast: Sunday, April 22 (3 p.m. ET, live)

Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBCSN’s telecast of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by America’s First alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller are the pit reporters.

Radio broadcasts: The Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network is led by chief announcer Mark Jaynes, with analyst Anders Krohn. Turn reporters are Jake Query and Nick Yeoman, with Rob Howden and Michael Young reporting from the pits.

All Verizon IndyCar Series races are broadcast live on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and on the INDYCAR Mobile app. Verizon IndyCar Series qualifying is broadcast on Sirius 214, XM 209, IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app and Verizon IndyCar Series practices are broadcast on  IndyCar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

Video Streaming: All practice sessions will be available on RaceControl.IndyCar.com and on the INDYCAR YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/indycar)

At-track schedule (all times EASTERN):

Friday, April 20

12:15 p.m.-1 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #1, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

3:50-4:50 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #2, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

4:55-5:10 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series pit stop practice, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

Saturday, April 21

11:50 a.m.-12:35 p.m. – Verizon IndyCar Series practice #3, streaming on RaceControl.IndyCar.com (live)

4 p.m. – Qualifying for the Verizon P1 Award (three rounds of Verizon IndyCar Series knockout qualifications), NBCSN (live)

Sunday, April 22

3 p.m. – Driver introductions

3 p.m. – NBCSN on air

3:35 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines” command

3:42 p.m. – Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama (90 laps/207 miles), NBCSN (live)

Race Notes:

* Alexander Rossi firmly established himself as a championship contender, claiming his first win of the season at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 15. The 26-year-old Californian leads reigning series champion and defending Barber race winner Josef Newgarden by 22 points heading into this weekend’s race.

* The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama will be the ninth Verizon IndyCar Series event conducted at Barber Motorsports Park. Helio Castroneves won the inaugural race in 2010.

* Will Power, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud are the entered drivers to have won at Barber Motorsports Park. Power won the race in 2011 and 2012, Hunter-Reay in 2013 and 2014, Newgarden in 2015 and 2017 and Pagenaud in 2016.

* Ryan Hunter-Reay, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud are the entered drivers to have won the pole position at Barber Motorsports Park. Pagenaud won the pole in 2016. Power claimed the pole position in 2010, 2011, 2014 and 2017 and Hunter-Reay won the pole in 2013.

* Three drivers have won the race from the pole – Will Power in 2011, Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2013 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016.

* Scott Dixon has finished on the podium in seven of his eight previous starts at Barber Motorsports Park – including five runner-up finishes – but he has yet to finish on the top step of the podium at the picturesque road circuit.

* Eight drivers have competed in every Indy car race at Barber Motorsports Park – Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. Castroneves is not entered this year.

* Team Penske has five wins at Barber Motorsports Park (2010, 2011, 2012, 2016 and 2017). Andretti Autosport and Ed Carpenter Racing are the only other teams to win at the track. Andretti Autosport won in 2013 and 2014 with Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ed Carpenter Racing won with Josef Newgarden in 2015.

* Six Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders – Rene Binder, Zachary Claman De Melo, Jordan King, Matheus “Matt” Leist, Zach Veach and Robert Wickens – are entered this weekend. It is the most rookies entered for a Barber race since six rookies started in 2011.

*  Eighteen of the 24 drivers entered in the event have competed in Indy car races at Barber Motorsports Park. Ten entered drivers have led laps: Will Power 208, Ryan Hunter-Reay 93, Simon Pagenaud 87, Josef Newgarden 60, Scott Dixon 44, Graham Rahal 24, Charlie Kimball 14, Sebastien Bourdais 2, James Hinchcliffe 2 and Marco Andretti 1.

* Tony Kanaan seeks to start his 286th consecutive race this weekend, which would extend his Indy car record streak that began in June 2001 at Portland. Kanaan will attempt to make his 347th Indy car start, which ranks third on the all-time list.

* Scott Dixon has made 227 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak in Indy car racing. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 203 consecutive starts, which is the fourth-longest streak in Indy car racing.

* Scott Dixon, the longest-tenured driver for Chip Ganassi Racing, is fourth on the all-time Indy car victory list with 41 wins. 2018 St. Petersburg race winner Sebastien Bourdais is sixth on the all-time list with 37 wins and Will Power ranks ninth on the all-time list with 32 wins.