December may lack on-track activity, but should still have plenty of news gifts to come

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While traditionally the quietest month in terms of actual on-track action over the course of a calendar year, December still should offer a flurry of news – at least for the next two to three weeks before the holidays.

Here’s what there still is to look forward to, or could happen this month:

NASCAR

  • Champion’s Week in Las Vegas. Frequent hilarity, Jay Mohr’s quips and feting of the new champion should be intriguing to note throughout the week.
  • Crew chief appointments. Carl Edwards going to Joe Gibbs Racing and Trevor Bayne moving up to Roush Fenway Racing have been announced, but their crew chiefs haven’t.
  • Offseason banter. Generally speaking there’s a number of interesting posts on social media NASCAR drivers will share when there’s nothing else to reveal, and with Dale Earnhardt Jr. now on Twitter, we’re almost expecting it.
  • Season reviews. There’s so many angles of the 2014 season just completed to digest, and along with my MST colleagues Jerry Bonkowski and Chris Estrada who have composed the balance of NASCAR stories throughout the year, we’ll be diving into the storylines of the year during this month. 

Formula One

  • The long-awaited, much-anticipated McLaren driver news. Today’s December 1, which means some combination of Fernando Alonso, Kevin Magnussen, Jenson Button and Stoffel Vandoorne is imminent.
  • Button’s departure? If McLaren drops Button, as is possible, his next move could be announced not long after (the FIA WEC would seem to be the odds-on favorite).
  • Official regulation changes. The engine freeze debate has been a talking point, as has the expected dropping of double points and standing restarts for 2015. These and other regulatory matters should be settled following the outcome of this week’s World Motor Sport Council meeting in Doha, Qatar on December 3.

IndyCar

  • Testing! It may only be for a couple days this month, but December 16 will see at least a couple teams and drivers testing. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will have James Hinchcliffe in his first run for the team and 2012 GP2 champion Davide Valsecchi in his first run in an IndyCar.
  • Perhaps one or two more driver/team announcements. It’s doubtful too many deals will get sorted before the holidays. But it’s possible Chip Ganassi Racing could announce its full lineup or Schmidt, Andretti or KV could announce another driver. I’m not expecting to get too much, though.
  • Borg-Warner Trophy new face unveil. Set for this Wednesday, December 3, Indianapolis 500 champion Ryan Hunter-Reay’s face will be revealed on the Borg-Warner. It’s usually one of the bigger offseason stories in IndyCar, and a popular occasion for the driver to see his likeness on one of sport’s most iconic trophies.
  • Race control news? IndyCar’s president of competition and operations, Derrick Walker, has said in recent interviews that a pool of stewards is the likely operational focus for race control. There may not be a singularly named person, per se, to replace the departed Beaux Barfield, but there could be news on who’s in the pool this month. 

Sports cars

  • Manufacturer announcements. Audi and Toyota are yet to reveal their lineups for the full FIA WEC in 2015, and Nissan is yet to reveal its official launch date for its new LMP1 challenger, other than noting in a statement released to the media it will be after the New Year. Any tease of an announcement – or announce date – will be newsworthy.
  • Any North American announcements. With the Roar Before the 24 and Rolex 24 imminent in January for the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, there’s bound to be a rush of team and/or driver announcements for that series. You could hear of a few for the sprint-focused Pirelli World Challenge, as well.

Elsewhere

  • The Race of Champions runs December 13-14, so that brings racing stars from the world together in Barbados.
  • FIA Formula E is still in the midst of its first season, and will race Round 3 in Uruguay on December 13. With all other domestic and international championships wrapped for the year, FE could have the world’s eyes on it in a couple weeks.
  • NHRA traditionally will have a few pieces of news over the next month and if they’re seriously newsworthy, we’ll hit them here on MST.
  • Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit just hosted the Grand Prix to cap off the F1 season, but will also host the Ferrari Challenge World Final later this week (Dec. 4-6) and the Gulf 12 Hour sports car race of GT3 cars (Dec. 11-13) a week later.
  • The Australian V8 Supercars finale (Sydney) and 25 Hours of Thunderhill go off this weekend.
  • Undoubtedly there will be something else I’m forgetting or that will pop up sometime in these next 31 days. Ideally, something positive and not something as tough to have to follow as Michael Schumacher’s skiing accident some 12 months ago.

Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick team up again on NBC’s Indy 500 coverage

Danica Patrick Mike Tirico
Stephen King/IndyCar
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Mike Tirico and Danica Patrick will return to NBC Sports’ coverage of the Indianapolis 500, which will be broadcast Aug. 23 at 1 p.m. ET on NBC (green flag at 2:30 p.m.).

Tirico and Patrick, who both joined NBC Sports for its inaugural coverage of the event last year, will reprise their roles as host and studio analyst.

One of the most versatile voices in sports, Tirico also hosts NBC Olympics’ primetime coverage, Football Night in America and many other premier events, including hosting on-site at Indianapolis Motor Speedway earlier this year for the first-ever IndyCar-NASCAR crossover weekend.

AT THE BRICKYARD: Daily Indy 500 coverage schedule on NBC, NBCSN

He again will be joined during prerace, in-race, and postrace coverage by Patrick, who became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 in 2005 and also was the first female pole-sitter in NASCAR driver.

They will make their debut together duing practice coverage on Aug. 21, on NBCSN.

“My first Indy 500 last year exceeded my very high expectations in every way,” Tirico said in a release. “Although this year’s race will take place under unprecedented circumstances, I can’t wait to get back to Indy. I’m confident that our team at the Brickyard will provide viewers with as exciting a viewing experience as possible. I am also thrilled that Danica Patrick is along for the ride again this year. We had such a great time last May and look forward to bringing Indy home for the viewers again.”

Said Patrick: “The Indianapolis 500 is an event that transcends mainstream and motorsports which is why it’s so special. We are living during a time that if we can bring people together, we should. Even if it’s not physically. I am honored to be back with the NBC Sports team and Mike Tirico. The memories I have from 15 years at IMS hold such a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to make more this year in the booth, or however we are positioned in 2020!”

This will mark NBC Sports’ second season as the exclusive home of the NTT IndyCar Series, including the Indianapolis 500, which will take place in August for the first time ever because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.