NBC Sports Group IndyCar 2014 TV schedule, talent revealed; includes Paul Tracy added

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NBC Sports Group’s extensive coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series will feature 13 races, doubleheaders in Houston and Toronto, the season finale from Fontana, and two new members of its broadcast team, including decorated former IndyCar and CART and Champ Car driver Paul Tracy. Coverage begins with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 13 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

Tracy joins NBC Sports Group’s Verizon IndyCar Series coverage as an analyst for six races over the course of this season, beginning with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, where Tracy won four times, including the first of his 31 career victories in 1993. Tracy brings more than 20 years of experience to the broadcast booth, including a second-place finish at the 2002 Indianapolis 500.

NBC Sports Group’s lead motorsports play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey returns for his second consecutive season calling the IndyCar on NBCSN. IndyCar driver Townsend Bell, who has raced seven times in the Indianapolis 500, and won the GT Class at this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, returns for his second season as an analyst. Wally Dallenbach Jr. returns as an analyst for select races during 2014. Dallenbach Jr. is cutting back his workload in order to focus on the start of his daughter Kate’s stock car racing career.

In addition, Kelli Stavast joins NBC Sports Group’s Verizon IndyCar Series broadcast team this season as a pit reporter, and will be on-site for all race telecasts this season. Stavast has previously handled reporting duties for numerous NBC Sports Group motorsports events and shows, including NASCAR AMERICA, NBCSN’s new 30-minute daily show. Stavast will work alongside pit reporters Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis and Kevin Lee, as well as Verizon IndyCar Series reporter Robin Miller, who all return for the 2014 season.

NBC Sports Group motorsports analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, and play-by-play voices Bob Varsha and Brian Till, will also work select races during the course of the 2014 IndyCar season.

NBCSN will air coverage of qualifying for all Verizon IndyCar Series races airing on NBCSN and CNBC this season.

2014 NBC SPORTS GROUP VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES SCHEDULE

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Sun,, April 13, Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., April 27, Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, NBCSN, 2:30 p.m.
Sat., June 7, Firestone 600, CNBC, 8 p.m.
Sat., June 28, Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 1, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., June 29, Shell and Pennzoil Grand Prix of Houston – Race 2, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., July 6, Pocono IndyCar 500, NBCSN, Noon
Sat, July 12, Iowa Corn Indy 300, NBCSN, 8 p.m.
Sat., July 19 Honda Indy Toronto – Race 1, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun, July 20, Honda Indy Toronto – Race 2, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 3, Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 17, ABC Supply Wisconsin 250, NBCSN, 3 p.m.
Sun., August 24, GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sat., August 30, MAVTV 500 IndyCar World Championships, NBCSN, 9 p.m.

INDY LIGHTS: NBCSN will serve as the television home of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the third step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder, presenting 10 race telecasts during the 2014 season, beginning on Friday, April 4 at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN with the St. Petersburg 100. The majority of NBCSN’s Indy Lights telecasts will air immediately preceding or following live Verizon IndyCar Series coverage to provide maximum visibility to the Indy Lights series.

In addition to its Verizon IndyCar Series and Indy Lights coverage, NBCSN will present coverage of Carb Day and the Indy 500 Parade, beginning on Friday, May 23 at 11 a.m. ET.

2014 NBC SPORTS GROUP INDY LIGHTS SCHEDULE

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Fri., April 4, St. Petersburg 100, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., April 13, Indy Lights Streets of Long Beach, NBCSN, 2:30 p.m.
Sun., April 27, Legacy Indy Lights 100, NBCSN, 5:30 p.m.
Fri., May 23, Freedom 100, NBCSN, Noon
Sat., May 24 ,Grand Prix of Indianapolis, NBCSN, 12:30 a.m.
Sun., July 6, Indy Lights Pocono Raceway, NBCSN, 4 p.m.
Sun., July 20, Indy Lights Streets of Toronto, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 3, Indy Lights Mid-Ohio, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 17, The Milwaukee Mile, NBCSN, 6 p.m.
Sun., August 24, Indy Lights Sonoma Raceway, NBCSN, 7 p.m.
*Dates and times subject to change

Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”