Dixon, Castroneves battle for IndyCar title this weekend on NBCSN

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Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves battle for the 2013 IndyCar Championship in the final race of the season, the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships this Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Dixon holds a 25-point advantage in the standings over Castroneves, the only driver who can overtake Dixon to win the 2013 championship, after registering first- and second-place finishes at the Grand Prix of Houston doubleheader.

Dixon is a two-time IndyCar Series Champion (2003 & 2008); Castroneves, a three-time Indianapolis 500 winner and 13-year veteran of the IndyCar Series, hopes to clinch his first career season-series title.

NBCSN’s coverage of the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships begins on Friday with qualifying at 7 p.m. ET. Live race coverage of the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships begins on Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Coverage of the Lefty’s Kids Club 100, part of IndyCar’s Indy Lights developmental series, will precede the IndyCar World Championships on Saturday at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

In addition to NBCSN’s coverage, NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will present live coverage of the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships on Saturday night.

This week’s motorsports coverage begins with NBCSN’s IndyCar Championship Preview on Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. In addition to episodes of TRANSLOGIC and Auctions America, NBCSN will also air a one-hour special featuring the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Series.

Date  Coverage  Network  Time (ET)
Thu., Oct. 17  IndyCar Championship Preview  NBCSN  8 p.m.
 Auctions America  NBCSN 10:30 p.m.
 TRANSLOGIC  NBCSN  11 p.m.
 TRANSLOGIC  NBCSN 11:30 p.m.
Fri., Oct. 18  USF 2000  NBCSN  1:30 a.m.
 TRANSLOGIC  NBCSN  2:30 a.m.
 IndyCar World Championships – Qualifying  NBCSN  7 p.m.
Sat., Oct. 19  Indy Lights – Lefty’s Kids Clup 100  NBCSN  7 p.m.
 MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships  NBCSN  8 p.m

COMMENTATORS: NBC Sports Group’s IndyCar and Formula One play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the IndyCar World Championships at Fontana. Diffey will be joined in the booth this week by former drivers Townsend Bell and Wally Dallenbach. Reporters Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee, Marty Snider and Robin Miller will manage the pits. Mike King, Davey Hamilton and Jake Query will have the call of the Indy Lights Fontana race.

INDYCAR ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will live stream the MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships on Saturday. Coverage will be streamed via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

For desktops, NBC Sports Live Extra can be accessed at NBCSports.com/liveextra. The NBC Sports Live Extra app for mobile devices and tablets is available at the App Store for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, and on select Android handset and tablet devices within Google Play.

Coverage airing on NBCSN will live stream to PCs, mobile devices and tablets through NBC Sports Live Extra, and to the digital platforms of participating cable, satellite, and telco services, via “TV Everywhere,” which is available on an authenticated basis to subscribers of participating MVPDs.

Click here for the participating cable/satellite/telco companies offering NBC Sports Live Extra.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
Jamie Squire/Getty Images
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.