Lazarus: NBC’s NASCAR deal should not affect IndyCar, F1

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Concerns after the earlier announcement Tuesday that NASCAR’s return to NBC might have adverse effects on the other two major forms of motorsport NBC Sports Group carries, Formula One and IndyCar, were dismissed by NBC Sports Group Chairman Mark Lazarus.

In a conference call with reporters, Lazarus explained how the IndyCar on NBCSN contract is currently structured. IndyCar’s original contract with the former Versus network was a 10-year contract signed prior to 2009, with NBCSN the channel’s new name beginning in 2012.

“We do not own the rights for broadcast; those are held by ABC and ESPN, by ABC. So we are only the cable partner there, so we are not able to do what we do with other sports by wrapping around it fully,” Lazarus said.

“This will have no impact there, other than that I believe with us now being the home to the second half of the NASCAR season, the home for cable for Indy and the home to Formula One, that we are probably the most dominant home for motorsports, and that that circulation of motorsports fans will be good for all.”

The way the media landscape has evolved the last year or two has presented NBC Sports Group with the opportunity to acquire more motorsports properties, Lazarus said.

“Well, you know, a design would be probably too forward thinking,” he said. “As we saw the way rights were developing over the last 24 months, we saw an opportunity, and as SPEED Channel decided to make its migration to something more multi-sport, we saw an opportunity to potentially fill a gap in the marketplace that might not be satisfied, and so we set forth, not knowing whether NASCAR would ever be able to us, but we set forth with the others.  We inherited the IndyCar deal.  We were able to acquire the F1 deal and that gave us the base.

“But then seeing the opportunity that might exist with NASCAR, we believed that we can fill a gap in the marketplace for fans, for marketers and potentially with our cable operators and affiliates.

“No one else has ever had all three of those.”

The full transcript from today’s teleconference can be found here, on the NBC Sports Group Press Box website.

Eli Tomac, Ken Roczen’s two-man battle in Motocross provides surprises

Rich Shepherd, ProMotocross
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The 2019 Motocross season is one-third in the books and the title battle may have already come down to a two-man contest, while the pair of contenders might just be a little surprising in their own way.

Strictly by the numbers, no one can count Eli Tomac’s early season charge of first- and second-place finishes shocking, but threepeating in Motocross is such an incredibly difficult feat that no one would have been surprised to see him struggle out of the gates either. And in fact, that is precisely what happened.

Tomac came out of the gates slow in Round 1 and was seventh by the end of Lap 1 of Moto 1 – hardly the auspicious start he hoped for. He rebounded only as far as fourth and that ultimately cost him a chance to win the overall. Tomac won Moto 2 to claim second overall.

In Round 2, Tomac found his rhythm and won both Motos and grabbed the red plate. For the moment, he had the momentum with three consecutive Moto wins.

Tomac stumbled again in Round 3 – this time finishing only fifth in Moto 1 and earning only 16 points to dig a deep hole that eventually surrendered the red plate to Ken Roczen.

It was at Thunder Valley in Round 3 that a pattern emerged. Tomac would not make it easy on himself early in the day, but was more than capable of winning the second Motos to overcome his deficit.

That Roczen has won this season is also not a surprise in itself. Many believed his ascent to the top step of the podium was way overdue.

That he has run so well, however, was not entirely expected at the start of the season. Since injuring both arms in a pair of accidents, Roczen came tantalizingly close to snapping his winless streak a dozen times. He won heat races during the Supercross season and finished second at Anaheim I, Minneapolis, Dallas, and Seattle earlier this year.

He just couldn’t secure the overall win.

Roczen’s Moto 1 victory at Hangtown might have been the precursor to another disappointing weekend, but once Tomac got into the lead, Roczen zeroed in on the Kawasaki’s back tire and finished second in route to the overall victory.

Roczen lost the overall and the red plate to Tomac in Round 2 at Pala, but he stood on the podium in both Motos. Roczen podiumed twice again in Round 3 while taking that overall victory to regain the red plate in what has become a seesaw affair in the early part of the 2019 season.

Last week, Roczen looked more like Tomac with his desperate struggle in Moto 1 and sixth-place finish. That was the first (and so far only) time this season that he failed to stand on the podium.

Roczen’s Moto 2 win last week was just enough to put him second overall with barely enough points to force a tie at the top of the leaderboard with 176 points apiece.

Meanwhile, Tomac failed to win either Moto with a third in the first race and runner-up finish in the second.

The moral victory and advantage may shift to Roczen this week.

As they have swapped the victory in the first four rounds with Roczen winning the odd-numbered events, he sees this weekend’s Round 5 as an opportunity.

“I’m looking forward to next weekend’s race,” Roczen said in a team press release. “The track is sandy. It’s very similar—actually almost identical—to what I ride on a regular basis at home.”

Tomac and Roczen enter Round 5 with a 32-point advantage over two riders tied for third in the standings.

So far Zach Osborne and Jason Anderson have not been in the same league as the leaders, but it only takes one slip of the wheel to fall out of the points in in a race and allow these racers to close the gap.

Season passes can be purchased at NBC Sports Gold.

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