NBCSN IndyCar notes: Briscoe in booth, IndyCar tries new steering arms

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Ryan Briscoe won’t be racing in this weekend’s IZOD IndyCar Series Honda Indy 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, but he’ll be on site anyway in a different role.

Briscoe will join the broadcast booth for the weekend, alongside lead commentator Leigh Diffey and analyst Townsend Bell (Sun., 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Diffey tweeted the news on Tuesday; the full release of this weekend’s motorsports coverage on NBC and NBCSN is linked here, via the NBC Sports Group Press Box.

Briscoe follows Steve Matchett (Toronto) and David Hobbs (Milwaukee) in the NBCSN guest analyst role, with Wally Dallenbach expected to return for the next round at Sonoma (August 25).

The popular Australian is recovering from a fractured wrist suffered in an accident at the first race of the Toronto doubleheader weekend. He had successful surgery and in his stead, Carlos Munoz (Toronto race two) and Oriol Servia (Mid-Ohio) are filling in for him in the No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet for Panther Racing. Mike Conway, too, substituted for Briscoe at the American Le Mans Series’ race in Mosport on July 21, in Briscoe’s Level 5 Motorsports HPD ARX-03b.

Briscoe tweeted a picture of some new hardware that will allow him to resume his ALMS commitments with Level 5 at Elkhart Lake’s Road America next weekend (August 11).

The wrist injury has actually prompted possible change in IndyCar to prevent these type injuries from happening in the future. NBC Sports Network IndyCar analyst, pit reporter and insider Jon Beekhuis tweeted Wednesday that IndyCar is exploring running new aluminum steering arms as a first step to reduce arm and hand injuries. A full report will be part of a future “Professor B” segment on the Sunday NBCSN IndyCar broadcast.

While Briscoe got hurt, James Jakes was very lucky to escape injury in a similar accident in race two in Toronto. Jakes hit the wall and the wheel snapped, turning left and right at a furious pace on impact, but the Englishman took his hands off the wheels in time.

Carb Day: Tony Kanaan is fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Indy 500

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Tony Kanaan wants to put legendary driver and team owner A.J. Foyt back into Victory Lane at the Indianapolis 500.

Kanaan took a big step toward achieving that goal in Friday’s final practice for Sunday’s 102nd running of the Greatest Spectacle In Racing.

Kanaan was fastest of the 33-driver field, with a best lap around the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval at 227.791 mph, more than 2 mph faster than the second-fastest driver, Kanaan’s former teammate, Scott Dixon (225.684 mph).

Foyt won a record-tying four Indy 500’s as a driver. It’s been nearly 20 years since he also won as a team owner in 1999 with Kenny Brack behind the wheel.

Marco Andretti was third-fastest (225.200 mph), followed by Sebastien Bourdais (224.815), Charlie Kimball (224.712), 2017 Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato (224.083), Will Power (223.942), Danica Patrick (223.653), Spencer Pigot (223.584) and Ed Jones (223.556).

Other notable driver speeds included:

* Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th fastest (223.219 mph).

* Reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champ Josef Newgarden was 15th (223.186 mph).

* Helio Castroneves, hoping to earn a record-tying fourth 500 win, was 17th (222.913 mph).

* Graham Rahal was 21st (222.526).

* Former 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay was 26th (221.916 mph), followed by rookie Robert Wickens (221.821 mph), carrying the mantle for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with James Hinchcliffe having failed to qualify for the race.

* The biggest surprise was 2016 Indy 500 winner Alexander Rossi, who was 32nd fastest (221.374 mph).

We’ll have the full speed grid, as well as full driver quotes, shortly. Please check back soon.

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