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

Latest INDYCAR Aeroscreen test continues to provide feedback; data to series

Bruce Martin Photo
Bruce Martin Photo
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RICHMOND, Virginia – After completing its third Aeroscreen test since October 2, INDYCAR continues to collect valuable data and feedback from the drivers and engineers involved in testing.

The latest test of the Aeroscreen came Tuesday, October 15 at Richmond Raceway, a .750-mile short oval. Five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon has been involved in testing dating all the way back to 2017 at Phoenix with the original “Windscreen.” Tuesday’s test was the first-time two-time NTT IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden was able to test the device that partially encloses the cockpit proving greatly enhanced driver safety.

It was also the first time the current “Aeroscreen” designed and created by Red Bull Advanced Technologies, Pankl and Dallara has been tested at a short oval – a track that measures under 1.5-miles in length.

The previous tests were at the 2.5-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 2 and the Barber Motorsports Park road course on October 7.

“It wasn’t a problem getting in the car today and relearning a new viewpoint,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com at the conclusion of Tuesday’s test. “It felt like a new viewpoint. It’s still an Indy car. It still feels like an Indy car. The car does a lot of the things it did before. It required some slight tuning differences to accommodate a different center of gravity and different total weight.

“Overall, it still felt like the same Indy car I drove three weeks ago. You get used to that new viewpoint within 30 or 40 laps. It was alien at first but halfway through the day it feels like home again.”

Newgarden’s Team Penske test team along with INDYCAR officials worked on changes to getting air into the cockpit and directing the air to the right place where the driver can utilize it.

“We’ve come up with some solutions that we like,” Newgarden said. “INDYCAR and the teams will continue to fine-tune this. That is why we are doing these tests. The main goal was to figure this out and fine-tune this stuff. We have come up with a lot of good solutions to all of the little things we have talked about that we have needed so when Sebastien Bourdais goes to Sebring (on November 5), it will just be another version.

“We are already close. Because they are such small details, it feels like normal racing stuff and we will come up with solutions for that.”

Some drivers who have participated in the Aeroscreen test has said, they almost feel naked without having the halo-like structure with a clear windshield protecting them on the race car.

“Once we got through a whole IndyCar season, if you took it off, it would feel really strange,” Newgarden said. “People adapt so quickly to a change, what the car looks like. Once you give us a couple of races and a full year, it will feel like home and something we are very used to as drivers.

“It is already starting to get that way. People are feeling more comfortable with it. The field of view is almost identical to the way it was before. Your peripheral vision is identical, the way you look out the front of the cars is identical, the way you see the tires is identical.”

Individual driver preference will allow for shading of the sun and that can be accomplished with the visor strips on the helmet and the tear-offs on Aeroscreen.

Drivers will also have a bit of a quieter atmosphere inside the cockpit. The partial enclosure makes it easier to hear his radio communication and the sounds of the engine in the driver’s car. It partially blocks out the sounds of the engines in the other cars and the rush of wind traveling at high speeds that used to buffet in and around the helmet.

“It has changed the noise level slightly inside the cockpit,” Newgarden said. “For me, it wasn’t super dramatic. It’s a slight reduction in wind noise. You’re not getting the wind directly over your head as dramatically as you would before. All that external noise has just been dimmed.

“You can hear the radio a touch better, things like that. But the engine noise is still quite prominent. It’s bolted directly behind us, so you still hear quite a bit of what’s going on in the car and the engine.”

Dixon was in the car at Indianapolis on October 2 and returned on Tuesday. The Barber test on October 7 included this year’s Indianapolis 500 winner, Simon Pagenaud, in a Team Penske Chevrolet and Ryan Hunter-Reay in an Andretti Autosport Honda.

“The only differences are the openings on the front wing that creates some more airflow around the legs and body and a different inlet in the screen that was in place today,” Dixon told NBC Sports.com. “There were helmet cooling options since the Barber test because on the road course, some of the drivers were getting a little hotter.

“This project has been very in-depth. It hit the ground running very smoothly. There are some alternate options they are trying to create, especially on the street courses where we will experience hot condition. On street conditions, your depth perception changes because of how close you are to the walls, but we should get used to that.”

Two weeks ago, Team Penske driver Will Power said it takes a different style to get out of the race car because of the added height of the Aeroscreen.

That hasn’t been a problem for Dixon.

“That’s easy, man,” he said. “Just go through the hole in the top.”