Iowa Corn Indy 300 highlights 25 hours of motorsports coverage on NBCSN, NBC Sports Live Extra this weekend

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* Qualifying Airs Friday at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Followed by Live Race Coverage Saturday at 8 p.m. ET

*  NBCSN & NBC Sports Live Extra Present Six Hours of Live Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek National Coverage on Saturday

 

NBCSN’s coverage of the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series continues this weekend from Iowa Speedway with the Iowa Corn Indy 300 on Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. NBCSN’s motorsports slate also features live Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek National coverage on Saturday at 3 p.m. ET.

NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will stream both the Iowa Corn Indy 300 and Budds Creek National.

 

IOWA CORN INDY 300 – SATURDAY AT 8 P.M. ET ON NBCSN

NBCSN’s coverage of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 begins Friday at 4 p.m. ET with qualifying, followed by IndyCar Countdown at 5 p.m. ET, hosted by Leigh Diffey. NBCSN’s live presentation of the Iowa Corn Indy 300 begins Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET.

Last week, Juan Pablo Montoya (Team Penske) earned his first IndyCar victory since 2000 with a win at the Pocono IndyCar 500, followed by teammate Helio Castroneves, who now sits even with teammate Will Power atop the IndyCar points standings (446 points). Last year, James Hinchcliffe (Andretti Autosport) led 226 of 250 laps to take the victory at Iowa Speedway.

Diffey will call the Iowa Corn Indy 300 alongside veteran motorsports analyst David Hobbs and former driver and analyst Paul Tracy. Reporters Jon BeekhuisKelli StavastKevin Lee and Robin Miller will report from the pits.

 

LUCAS OIL PRO MOTOCROSS BUDDS CREEK NATIONAL – SATURDAY

NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra will combine to present live coverage of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek National from Mechanicsville, Md. Coverage starts on Live Extra at 10:30 a.m. ET with practice, followed by the pre-race show at 12:15 p.m. ET. Race coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on Live Extra with 1st Motos, followed by NBCSN’s live presentation of Motos 2 at 3 p.m. ET.

Last weekend, Ken Roczen continued his dominant start to the 2014 season with a sweep in the 450 class at the RedBud National, his fourth win in six starts, while Jeremy Martin won in the 250 Class for his third victory of the season.

Veteran play-by-play voice Jason Weigandt, analyst and two-time AMA Pro Motocross Champion Grant Langston, and pit reporter Georgia Lindsay will call the action from Budds Creek National in Mechanicsville, Md.

 

Motorsports Coverage This Week on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra:

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Thu., July 10 NASCAR America 5 p.m. NBCSN
KURT BUSCH: 36 5:30 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR: The List 6 p.m. NBCSN
Motocross Highlight Series 11 p.m. NBCSN
Fri., July 11 Mecum Auctions (Encore) 2:30 p.m. NBCSN
Iowa Corn Indy 300 – Qualifying 4 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Countdown 5 p.m. NBCSN
Lucas Oil Motorsports Hour 6 p.m. NBCSN
/DRIVE on NBC Sports (Encore) 7 p.m. NBCSN
Off The Grid: Barcelona (Encore) 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., July 12 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek – Practice 10:30 a.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek – Pre-Show 12:15 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek – 1stMotos 1 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek –  2nd Motos 3 p.m. NBCSN
TORC: Bark River 5 p.m. NBCSN
Iowa Corn Indy 300 8 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., July 13 RACER TV 5 p.m. NBCSN
TORC: Crandon Cup 6:30 p.m. NBCSN

 

MOTORSPORTS ON NBC SPORTS LIVE EXTRA: NBC Sports Live Extra — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets — will provide live streaming coverage of this week’s Iowa Corn Indy 300 and Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Budds Creek National. The majority of coverage will be provided via “TV Everywhere,” the media industry’s effort to make quality content available to authenticated 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.

 

MOTORSPORTSTALK: MotorSportsTalk (@MotorSportsTalk) on NBCSports.com brings racing fans up-to-the-minute news, video and information on the Formula One, Verizon IndyCar Series, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, and all other motorsports racing from around the world. The site also serves as the destination for all news, analysis and video from NBC and NBCSN productions of IndyCar and F1, including contributions from on-air commentators.

MotorSportsTalk’s content is provided by top racing journalists and expert analysts, including:

  • Luke Smith is creator and editor at Richland F1, which begins its second season this year. He’s on Twitter at @LukeSmithF1, primarily handling the F1 scene from Europe in great detail.
  • Tony DiZinno has most recently served as web editor for RACER Magazine and has more than seven years of experience in the industry. Follow him on Twitter at @TonyDiZinno.
  • Chris Estrada has written for NBCSports.com’s MotorsportsTalk since its inception in 2013, and has been a contributor for various outlets, including the Boston Globe, IndyCar Nation and FoxSports.com. Follow him at @estradawriting.
  • Jerry Bonkowski is a veteran NASCAR reporter with more than 30 years of experience. He has contributed to USA Today, Yahoo! Sports and other websites over the course of his career. Follow him on Twitter @JerryBonkowski.

To explore the site, please visit MotorSportsTalk.com.nbcsports.com or www.NBCSports.com.

SOCIAL: Follow @MotorsportsTalk@F1onNBCSports and @NBCSN on Twitter and “like” Facebook.com/NBC Sports for the most up-to-date news, videos and commentary about Formula One on NBC Sports and NBCSN.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

F1 Preview – 2018 French Grand Prix

Photo: Getty Images
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It’s hard to believe that the French Grand Prix, the oldest grand prix event on the planet, as it dates back to June of 1906, was ever removed from the Formula 1 calendar.

Alas, not since 2008 at Magny-Cours has Formula 1 held a race on French soil. Yet, that all changes this weekend, as Formula 1 visits the Circuit Paul Ricard for its first French race in a decade.

Formula 1 teams are not strangers to Paul Ricard. It has been a popular testing facility for years, as evidenced by the below photo from 2016, featuring Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari in a wet tire test.

LE CASTELLET, FRANCE – JANUARY 26: Sebastian Vettel of Germany and Scuderia Ferrari drives during wet weather tire testing at Circuit Paul Ricard on January 26, 2016 in Le Castellet, France. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

However, in terms of racing, Paul Ricard has also been absent from the calendar for quite a long time – the last time Formula 1 race at Paul Ricard was in 1990. Alain Prost won for Ferrari that day.

1990: Alain Prost of France punches the air in celebration after passing the chequered flag in his Scuderia Ferrari to win the French Grand Prix at the Paul Ricard circuit in Le Beausset, France. Mandatory Credit: Pascal Rondeau/Allsport

As such, despite being a known quantity as a testing facility, how a race weekend will shake out is anybody’s guess.

And what’s more, it marks the beginning of three consecutive race weekends – The French Grand Prix, The Austrian Grand Prix, and The British Grand Prix – which F1 teams and drivers are calling “the triple header.”

Talking points ahead of the French Grand Prix are below.

A Journey Into the Unknown?

Like all new venues, or resurrected and refurbished ones in this case, the Circuit Paul Ricard represents somewhat of an unknown, as there’s no available race data to make predictions off of.

And the 3.61-mile, 15-turn track itself represents a range of challenges. It has fast corners, like Turns 1 and 2 (S de la Verrerie), a technical section between Turns 3 and 7 (Virage de l’Hotel through the Mistral Straight Start), and a 1.1-mile straightaway in the Mistral Straight, though it is separated by a chicane (Turns 8 and 9).

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff discussed the challenge of the circuit, highlighting the lack of data to build off of as well the tough three-race stretch ahead as especially challenging, in a preview on Formula 1’s website.

“France should be an interesting race. We don’t often get to race on a track where we have little to no historical data. It makes preparing for the weekend a bit trickier than usual, but that element of the unknown also adds to the challenge. The French Grand Prix marks the first race of the triple header, which will test all F1 teams to their limits, but also offers the chance to score a lot of points over the course of three weeks – which is precisely what we’re setting out to do,” said Wolff.

That element of the unknown makes Paul Ricard one of the biggest wildcards on the 2018 F1 calendar, and a championship shake up could be in the cards as a result.

Ferrari, Mercedes Continue Their Back and Forth

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – MARCH 25: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H leads Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during the Australian Formula One Grand Prix at Albert Park on March 25, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Ferrari and Mercedes have traded jabs throughout the 2018 season, with neither able to pull away from the other so far through seven races.

Sebastian Vettel enters the French Grand Prix with a one-point lead over Lewis Hamilton, and holds a slight edge in victories – three to Hamilton’s two – and comes off a thorough domination of the Canadian Grand Prix.

Vettel led every lap at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve on his way to victory, while Valtteri Bottas had to carry the Mercedes flag in finishing second. Hamilton languished in fifth, a surprising and disappointing result given his previous success there.

The aforementioned Toto Wolff described it as a “wake up call,” though Mercedes will roll out a power unit upgrade this weekend – Ferrari and Renault, which also powers Red Bull Racing, rolled out upgrades of their own in Canada.

With four long straightaways present at Paul Ricard, power will certainly be at a premium, so such upgrades will be vital in giving Mercedes a chance to make amends after Canada’s disappointment.

Trio of French Drivers Look to Impress on Home Soil

It comes hardly as a surprise that the three French drivers – Romain Grosjean, Pierre Gasly, and Esteban Ocon – are keen to make an impression at their home race.

And all three could certainly use a boost. Gasly has only one finish inside the points (seventh in the Monaco Grand Prix) since his stellar fourth place effort in the Bahrain Grand Prix. Ocon is coming off back-to-back points finishes (sixth in Monaco, ninth in Canada), but he has only one other finish inside the points this year (tenth, in Bahrain). And Grosjean, despite showing the speed to finish in the points, is yet to score any in 2018.

As such, all three are hoping for big things in their home race this weekend.

“I want to get a good weekend, have some luck, get my first points of the season, and get a lot of support from the fans,” said Grosjean. “I think we should be in a nice place at Paul Ricard. I’m always looking forward to jumping back in the car. I just love driving an F1 car.”

Ocon, who has raced and won at Paul Ricard in the past, expects his prior experience could be a big help.

“I did race at Paul Ricard early in my career – it was actually where I had my first victory in single seaters in 2013 so I have some fantastic memories of the place,” Ocon described. “I hope we can add some more success this weekend. Having been there in the junior categories makes getting used to a new track in a Formula One car much easier. I think I will find my rhythm quite quickly.”

Gasly’s excitement level obviously matches that of his French compatriots, with the added bonus that the return coincides with his rookie F1 effort.

“For me it will be absolutely incredible that my first full season of Formula 1 coincides with the return of a French Grand Prix to the calendar for the first time in 10 years,” said Gasly. “That has to be a reason for me to be very happy and I’m really excited to be racing in my home country. I can tell it will be a special feeling going out on track and actually, I have spoken to Jean Alesi and Alain Prost about it and they both told me that it will feel really special and something that you really have to experience as a Frenchman racing in France.”

Qualifying for The French Grand Prix begins at 9:55 a.m. ET on Saturday, with Sunday’s race at 9:30 a.m. ET.

Follow@KyleMLavigne