(UPDATED) NHRA: John Force to announce new sponsor Saturday, new manufacturer Tuesday


UPDATED: John Force to be sponsored in 2015 by PEAK: ‘I’m 65 but put me in a firesuit and I’m 21, Brad Pitt and bad ass’

What happens in Vegas supposedly stays in Vegas.

Unless you’re 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ John Force. He’s got a lot to tell about his team and racing organization over the next few days, and it’s not staying in Sin City.

Force has two major announcements that his fans have been patiently waiting for nearly a year, ever since Ford and Castrol announced late last year that they would not return as Force’s primary manufacturer and primary sponsor, respectively, after the 2014 season.

Saturday at 3 pm PT (6 pm ET)  between qualifying rounds at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Force is expected to make the long-awaited announcement of the primary sponsor on his car for the 2015 season.

MORE: NHRA: John Force rolls to No. 1 Funny Car qualifier in first race without former crew chief Jimmy Prock

Force is then expected to announce the car manufacturer he’ll align himself with, and the model car he’ll drive in 2015, this coming Tuesday during the first day of the mammoth SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) automotive performance and aftermarket product show, also in Las Vegas.

All kinds of rumors have floated through the sport over the last several months as to which company will replace Castrol as Force’s primary sponsor, everything from the possibility of a beer company to some type of insurance or automotive performance product or service. We’ve also heard rumors that Castrol may not be going away completely, that it may remain in an associate sponsorship role, which has not been confirmed.

Likewise for the manufacturer and model. With Ford not returning, Force has essentially three manufacturers to pick from: Toyota, Chevrolet or Dodge. He and his 320-mph Funny Car would be a perfect fit for the new Dodge Challenger Hellcat, the most powerful (707 mph) American-made street car ever made.

But with several of his competitors racing Toyota Camry Funny Cars, including Cruz Pedregon and Alexis DeJoria, that could be another possibility for Force.

And then there’s Chevrolet, which is heavily represented in Pro Stock, but has no entries in the Funny Car ranks. If Force were to align with Chevrolet, he’d have the manufacturer and brand essentially all to himself.

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IndyCar releases schedule for 2023 season

IndyCar schedule 2023
Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The NTT IndyCar Series’ 2023 schedule will feature the same number of races and tracks as this season with some minor reshuffling of dates.

IndyCar will open the 2023 season March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, and will conclude Sept. 10 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. The 107th Indy 500 will take place May 28 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The 17-race schedule will conclude with a stretch of eight races in the final nine weeks.

“The NTT IndyCar Series is on an impactful upward trajectory, making progress at a pace that befits our thrilling style of competition,” Penske Entertainment Corp. president and CEO Mark Miles said in a release. “The 2023 season provides an opportunity to further build on this trend, bringing our sport and its stars to more markets and households and reaching new consumers across the globe.”

There will be 15 events on NBC: 13 races (including six of the final seven) plus Indy 500 qualifying May 20-21. There also are three races on USA Network and the Toronto race exclusively on Peacock. All races on NBC and USA also will have live simulstreams on Peacock.

In partnership with NBC Sports, the 2022 IndyCar season was the most-watched in six years and the most-watched across NBC Sports on record. The 2022 season also was the most streamed season on record.

“We’re very excited for our 2023 NTT IndyCar Series schedule and to build on this past season’s viewership milestones,” NBC Sports vice president of programming Mike Perman said in a release. “In providing comprehensive coverage across NBC, Peacock and USA Network, NBC Sports is once again looking forward to telling the stories of these world-class drivers and this compelling series.”

Notable elements on the 2023 schedule:

–There will be the same balance of seven road course races, five street courses and five ovals.

–St. Pete will be the season opener for the 13th time.

–The Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix will move from Belle Isle to the streets of downtown.

–The NASCAR doubleheader weekend at the IMS road course will shift to mid-August.

–The World Wide Technology Raceway event will move from Saturday to Sunday.

Start times for the 2023 events will be announced at a later date.

Here’s the 2023 IndyCar schedule:

Date Race/Track Network/Platform
Sun., March 5 Streets of St. Petersburg NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 2 Texas Motor Speedway NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 16 Streets of Long Beach NBC, Peacock
Sun., April 30 Barber Motorsports Park NBC, Peacock
Sat., May 13 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) NBC, Peacock
Sun., May 28 The 107th Indianapolis 500 NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 4 Streets of Detroit NBC, Peacock
Sun., June 18 Road America USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 2 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course USA Network, Peacock
Sun., July 16 Streets of Toronto Peacock
Sat., July 22 Iowa Speedway – Race 1 NBC, Peacock
Sun., July 23 Iowa Speedway – Race 2 NBC, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 6 Streets of Nashville NBC, Peacock
Sat., Aug. 12 Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Road Course) USA Network, Peacock
Sun., Aug. 27 World Wide Technology Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 3 Portland International Raceway NBC, Peacock
Sun., Sept. 10 WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca NBC, Peacock

*dates and networks/platforms are subject to change