NBC Sports Network to broadcast eight SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road races in 2014

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NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) announced Thursday that it will broadcast eight of the nine SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by Traxxas races in 2014.

Races will air in primetime on the U.S. west coast due to the immense popularity of off-road racing in the Central and Pacific time zones.

The SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by Traxxas series was influenced by the former Mickey Thompson Stadium Off-Road Racing Series, where drivers such as Robby Gordon, six-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and fellow NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Casey Mears got their racing start.

Gordon created Stadium SUPER Trucks to capitalize on the public’s overwhelming interest in trucks and SUVs as well as the fact that the majority of automotive aftermarket parts are marketed for trucks.

Formula Off-Road Presented by Traxxas begins its second season of competition on March 28-30 at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in conjunction with the IndyCar Series.

The trucks will race five times with IndyCar in 2014 at a number of the series’ most popular venues including St. Petersburg, Long Beach, Indianapolis, Detroit and Toronto.

Stand-alone Formula Off-Road Presented by Traxxas events will take place at Orange County’s (Calif.) Sand Sport Super Show, the Coronado Speed Festival in San Diego and along the Las Vegas Strip in November.

The Stadium Super Trucks that race in the series will hit huge man-made ramps at more than 100 mph at multiple locations throughout each of the circuits, hurling drivers nearly 20 feet in the air and 150 feet down course.

Gordon created the series to bring the excitement of Baja-style desert racing to large crowds of race fans. With a revamped and expanded schedule for 2014, the series expects to race in front of more than 750,000 fans in addition to its television audience.

The series features identically prepared trucks which are made to resemble their scaled-down Traxxas radio-control-car counterparts. Like their Traxxas namesake, the trucks are designed to take flight. However, unlike RC trucks, they produce 600 horsepower, generating speeds upwards of 130 miles per hour.

For more news of SPEED Energy Formula Off-Road Presented by Traxxas and Stadium SUPER Trucks, check out http://www.stadiumsupertrucks.com.

2014 Formula Off-Road Presented By Traxxas Broadcast Schedule

Event
Broadcast Date/Time

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
April 17, 10 p.m. PT (April 18 1 a.m. ET) NBCSN

Long Beach Grand Prix
May 1, 10:30 p.m. PT (May 2 1:30 a.m. ET)  NBCSN

Indianapolis
June 12, 9 p.m. PT (June 13 Midnight ET) NBCSN

Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix
June 20, 10:30 p.m. PT (June 21 1:30 a.m. ET) NBCSN

X Games Austin, Texas
June 8  (Live/Time TBA) ABC/ESPN

Toronto Grand Prix
July 31, 10:30 p.m. PT (Aug. 1 1:30 a.m. ET) NBCSN

Orange County (Calif.)
Oct. 9, 10 p.m. PT (Oct. 10 1 a.m. ET) NBCSN

San Diego/Coronado Speed Festival
Oct. 10, 11 p.m. PT (Oct. 11 2 a.m. ET) NBCSN

Las Vegas
Nov. 20, 9:30 p.m. PT (Nov. 21 12:30 a.m. ET) NBCSN

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Cadillac, Acura battle for top speed as cars back on track for Rolex 24 at Daytona practice

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The new hybrid prototypes of Cadillac and Acura battled atop the speed chart as practice resumed Thursday for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Chip Ganassi Racing driver Richard Westbrook was fastest Thursday afternoon in the No. 02 Cadillac V-LMDh with a 1-minute, 35.185-second lap around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway.

That pace topped Ricky Taylor’s 1:35.366 lap that topped the Thursday morning session that marked the first time the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship was back on track since qualifying Sunday afternoon that concluded the four-day Roar Before The Rolex 24 test.

Punctuated by Tom Blomqvist’s pole position for defending race winner Meyer Shank Racing, the Acura ARX-06s had been fastest for much of the Roar and led four consecutive practice sessions.

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But the times have been extremely tight in the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) category that has brought hybrid engines to IMSA’s premier class. Only 0.9 seconds separated the nine LMDh cars in GTP in qualifying, and though the spread slightly widened to 1.378 seconds in Thursday’s practices with teams on varying strategies and preparation, Westbrook still pooh-poohed the importance of speeds.

“It’s always nice to be at the top, but I don’t think it means too much or read too much into it” Westbrook said. “Big fuel tanks in the GTP class this year, so you have no idea what fuel levels people are running. We had a good run, and the car is really enjoyable to drive now. I definitely wasn’t saying that a month ago.

“It really does feel good now. We are working on performance and definitely unlocking some potential, and it just gives us more confidence going into the race. It’s going to be super tight. Everyone’s got the same power, everyone has the same downforce, everyone has the same drag levels and let’s just go race.”

Because teams have put such a premium on reliability, handling mostly has suffered in the GTPs, but Westbrook said the tide had turned Thursday.

“These cars are so competitive, and you were just running it for the sake of running it in the beginning, and there’s so much going on, you don’t really have time to work on performance,” he said. “A lot of emphasis was on durability in the beginning, and rightly so, but now finally we can work on performance, and that’s the same for other manufacturers as well. But we’re worrying about ourselves and improving every run, and I think everybody’s pretty happy with their Cadillac right now.”

Mike Shank, co-owner of Blomqvist’s No. 60 on the pole, said his team still was facing reliability problems despite its speed.

“We address them literally every hour,” Shank said. “We’re addressing some little thing we’re doing better to try to make it last. And also we’re talking about how we race the race, which will be different from years past.

“Just think about every system in the car, I’m not going to say which ones we’re working on, but there are systems in the car that ORECA and HPD are continually trying to improve. By the way, sometimes we put them on the car and take them off before it even goes out on the track because something didn’t work with electronics. There’s so much programming. So many departments have to talk to each other. That bridge gets broken from a code not being totally correct, and the car won’t run. Or the power steering turns off.”

Former Rolex 24 winner Renger van der Zande of Ganassi said it still is a waiting game until the 24-hour race begins Saturday shortly after 1:30 p.m.

“I think the performance of the car is good,” van der Zande said. “No drama. We’re chipping away on setup step by step and the team is in control. It’s crazy out there what people do on the track at the moment. It’s about staying cool and peak at the right moment, and it’s not the right moment yet for that. We’ll keep digging.”


PRACTICE RESULTS:

Click here for Session I (by class)

Click here for Session II (by class)

Combined speeds