Monaco GP highlights 50+ hours of NBC/NBCSN coverage on “Biggest Day in Motorsports”

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NBC Sports Group will present more than 50 hours of motorsports coverage this week leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports”, highlighted by NBC’s live presentation of the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix on Sunday at 7:30 a.m. ET.

NBC Sports Group’s F1 team of play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey, analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett, and F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton will call the action on-site from Monte Carlo.

NBC Sports Group’s extensive motorsports coverage this week spans Formula One, IndyCar, NASCAR, AMA Motocross, Global Rallycross and new original programming, culminating with NBC’s live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix.

MONACO GRAND PRIX

NBCSN will kick off NBC Sports Group’s live coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix with Practice 2 on Thursday morning at 8 a.m. ET, followed by qualifying on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET.

Diffey, Hobbs, Matchett and Buxton will be on-site for practice, qualifying, and Grand Prix coverage, which begins Sunday morning at 7:30 a.m. ET on NBC.

In addition, NBC Sports Live Extra will present exclusive live streaming coverage of Practice 1 on Thursday at 4 a.m. ET, and Practice 3 on Saturday at 5 a.m. ET.

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THE PREMIERES OF “/DRIVE” AND “OFF THE GRID”

As part of the lead up to Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, NBCSN presents the television premieres of /DRIVE on NBC Sports and Off The Grid this Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m. ET following live coverage of Monaco Grand Prix qualifying.

/DRIVE on NBC Sports: Monaco is the first of 10 episodes that will air on NBCSN this year. The premiere follows hosts Chris Harris, Matt Farah and Mike Spinelli on an adventure across Europe to Monaco in three Formula 1-inspired supercars from F1 constructors Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz AMG and McLaren, as they discover the glitz, glamour and prestige surrounding the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix.

NBC Sports’ original series Off The Grid, hosted by F1 insider and pit reporter Will Buxton and NBC Sports Group F1 producer Jason Swales, premieres at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN. The series gives F1 enthusiasts an inside look at the culture that surrounds the sport, both on and off the track.

This week’s episode examines the culture surrounding the Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona, featuring interviews with Force India driver, Nico Hulkenberg and American GP2 drivers Alexander Rossi and Conor Daly.

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“COUNTDOWN TO MONACO” PRESENTED BY CARFAX

Leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports”, NBCSN will present the “Countdown to Monaco” Presented by CarFax, highlighted by the North American television debut of the Formula 1 documentary titled “1” at 8 p.m. ET, which examines the history of the sport and drivers that risked their lives to change Formula 1 forever.

NBCSN’s “Countdown to Monaco” kicks off this Saturday starting at 3:30 p.m. ET with an encore presentation of qualifying for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix, followed by the Indy 500 Festival Parade at 5 p.m. ET.

Encore presentations of /DRIVE on NBC Sports: Monaco and Off The Grid: Barcelona will air after “1”, followed by GP2 Race 2 from Monaco at 11:30 p.m. ET, and AMA Motocross coverage from Glen Helen Raceway at 1 a.m. ET.

AMA Motocross coverage can be seen live digitally on NBC Sports Live Extra on Saturday beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.

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NASCAR AMERICA: INTERVIEWS WITH DANICA PATRICK AND KURT BUSCH; NASCAR HALL OF FAME ANALYSIS

NBCSN will air special editions of NASCAR America this week leading into the “Biggest Day in Motorsports,” including a recap special of Wednesday’s NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction announcements, as well as a live NASCAR America Motorsports Special on Friday that features interviews and reports from Monaco, Indianapolis, California and Charlotte.

  • Tuesday, May 20th @ 5:00 p.m. ETNASCAR America connects with the man of the week, Kurt Busch, amid preparations for Sunday’s bid to win both the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Kelli Stavast sits down with NASCAR’s magnetic Danica Patrick to discuss her impressions of Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kurt Busch as he prepares for “The Double.” IndyCar’s Marco Andretti also joins to discuss Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.
  • Wednesday, May 21st @ 5:00 p.m. ET – NBCSN offers a live special surrounding the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction announcements, complete with discussion and analysis of the next class of honorees.
  • Thursday, May 22nd @ 5:00 p.m. ETNASCAR America introduces “Burton’s Garage,” a new production studio location in Concord, N.C., alongside many of the sport’s racing teams. NASCAR America analyst Jeff Burton connects with host Rick Allen to break down the latest story lines and developments.
  • Friday, May 23rd @ 4:00 p.m. ET – NBCSN presents a live, 90-minute “NASCAR America Motorsports Special” heading into what could be the most action packed race weekend of the year. Host Rick Allen, analyst Kyle Petty, reporters Marty Snider and Kelli Stavast deliver the latest developments and connect live with reports from Monaco, Indianapolis and Charlotte. Highlights include a feature on last year’s Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan, as well as an interview with NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, currently the only driver ever to finish the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.  In addition AMA Motocross star James Stewart joins from Glen Helen Raceway in California, site of this weekend’s AMA Motocross event.

KURT BUSCH: 36

NBC Sports announced today that it will present an all-access look into the intense preparation, 200+ MPH competition and extreme logistics surrounding Kurt Busch’s upcoming attempt to win IndyCar’s famed Indianapolis 500 and NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 on the same day.

The 30-minute special, featuring in-depth interviews, on-track footage, team communications and a seat right next to Busch throughout his races against drivers from two elite series, pulsating travel conditions and the limits of his own endurance, will debut on Sunday, June 8, at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

A 60-minute “director’s cut” of KURT BUSCH: 36 will air the following day, Monday, June 9, at 11 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

INDIANAPOLIS 500 CARB DAY

NBCSN, the cable home of IndyCar, will provide six hours of Indianapolis 500 Carb Day coverage, beginning Friday at 11 a.m. ET. In addition, NBCSN will air a live presentation of the Indy Lights Freedom 100 race at noon ET on Friday. Indy 500 coverage concludes on Saturday with the Indy 500 Festival Parade at 5 p.m. ET.

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RED BULL GLOBAL RALLYCROSS – BARBADOS

In addition to F1, IndyCar, NASCAR America, and AMA Motocross coverage, NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2014 Red Bull Global Rallycross season begins this Saturday on NBC at 1 p.m. ET with their event from the Top Gear Festival in Barbados. Saturday’s race is the first of nine Red Bull Global Rallycross races on NBC this season.

Additional race locations this year include New York, Washington D.C., Daytona, Detroit, Charlotte, Los Angeles Seattle, and the season finale in Las Vegas in November. Red Bull Global Rallycross features some of the world’s premier rallycross drivers, including Ken Block, Tanner Foust and Scott Speed.

Veteran motorsports play-by-play announcer Tes Sewell will call the action on Saturday, joined by motorsports analyst Townsend Bell.

NBC SPORTS GROUP’S WEEK-LONG COVERAGE OF THE “BIGGEST DAY IN MOTORSPORTS”

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With 200 IndyCar wins in the books, Penske looks for No. 201 at Indy

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The history of Team Penske at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a storied one that features 16 Indy 500 wins, including a pair of four-time winners in Al Unser and Rick Mears, and number of utterly dominant performances.

Yet, they’ll head to this year’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500 looking to avenge a pair of relatively subpar performances in each of the last two years.

Power was the only Penske driver to finish in the Top 10 in 2016, with Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud finishing 11th and 19th after fuel strategy intervened late in the race. And last year, all the Penske cars were somewhat down on pace compared to other teams, notably the Honda cars.

Power was the only Penske driver to qualify for the Fast Nine Pole Shootout last year – he qualified ninth. Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves were 18th and 19th in the grid, while Josef Newgarden and Simon Pagenaud were 22nd and 23rd.

And only Castroneves was in winning contention in the final laps as he battled eventual winner Takuma Sato – Montoya was sixth, while Pagenaud was 14th and the only other Penske running at the end. Both Newgarden and Power crashed out on Lap 183.

This year, however, could see a return to the dominant form we’re used to seeing from the Penske outfit. All four cars entered – Pagenaud, Power, Newgarden, and Castroneves – qualified inside the top nine, with Pagenaud and Power on the front row.

They have all been near the front of the time sheets, especially in laps without a tow from another car, and the indication is that the Penske cars may be the fastest ones in the field.

All told, it leads to very high expectations for a team that already expects highly of itself.

Leading the way for Penske is current points leader and defending IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden. Newgarden’s best Indy 500 finish is third in 2016, but he only has one other Top 10 there – ninth in 2015.

But, with an IndyCar title now under his belt, Newgarden has his eyes set on an Indy 500 win.

Josef Newgarden looks to add an Indy 500 crown to his 2017 championship. Photo: IndyCar

“I think Indianapolis…is certainly next on the list for me,” he detailed in a press conference ahead of qualifying. “It’s not next on the list for the team, they’ve won it many times. The good thing is we have four great opportunities, especially having Helio back. I think we have one of the best opportunities in the entire field to win this race.”

Pagenaud, like Newgarden, is also looking for his first Indy triumph, though his record there isn’t quite as good. He has been fast at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but only has two Top 10s to show for it – eighth in 2013 with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and tenth in 2015 in his first year with Penske.

And a Pagenaud win would be somewhat historic – it would be only the fourth time a French driver has won the “500,” and the first since 1920 (Gaston Chevrolet).

Pagenaud explained that this race always holds a place as a top priority, and that success at Indy is all about preparation.

Simon Pagenaud looks to become only the first French driver to win an Indy 500 since Gaston Chevrolet in 1920. Photo: IndyCar

“It really is our number one goal. In Roger and Tim’s heart, it’s the most important one,” Pagenaud declared. “We prepare really hard. The team does a fantastic job at just understanding every bit and component of this new aero kit, trying to extract the best out of the equipment.”

Pagenaud added, “On the driver side, there’s a lot you can do obviously to review the past races, try to focus yourself, try to put yourself into the race before it happens, try to just improve. That’s what we try to do every day. That’s the goal. That’s why this group is so good. We push each other so hard that you always try to push the limits away.”

Power, the man who delivered Penske his 200th IndyCar win, is no stranger to success at IMS, having won the Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course three times. But, he is yet to find Victory Lane on the oval, and that leaves a void in an otherwise stellar career.

Will Power has won the INDYCAR Grand Prix three times, and looks for his first win at the “500” this weekend. Photo: IndyCar

Power spotlighted the opportunity in front of him, and detailed that running in traffic has been a strength thus far through practice.

“It’s fantastic to have that opportunity. Obviously very focused on (trying to win),” he revealed. “I feel like we have a really good opportunity to win this year. I mean, I think Chevrolet has brought a really good engine. I feel like we’re really fast. Running in traffic and such, I felt like we’ve been pretty strong, especially when you get to the front.”

Castroneves is the only Penske driver with Indy 500 wins on his resume. But, with three wins to his name, Castroneves is more than familiar with IMS glory.

Now a part-time IndyCar driver who races full-time in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship with the Acura Team Penske outfit, Castroneves’ sole focus is on getting that elusive fourth win.

Helio Castroneves looks to join the four-time winners club at the Indy 500. Photo: IndyCar

And he has momentum on his side too, coming off a debut IMSA win for the Acura Penske outfit at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. A fourth Indy 500 win would put an exclamation point on the month for Castroneves.

“I think about it every day,” he said when asked about how often he ponders getting that fourth win. “It was one of those incredible ones, I have phenomenal car, the Pennzoil car was really strong last year. Obviously coming back here, first of all, I want to thank Roger and (team president Tim Cindric) for giving me the opportunity to be back at the Indy 500. It’s such a special place for so many people. Just to be back and able to continue our goal and pursue for the number four, it’s incredible.”

Pagenaud and Power will flank pole sitter Ed Carpenter on the front, starting second and third respectively. Newgarden starts fourth, while Castroneves will start eighth.

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