NASCAR expands Sprint Unlimited field to include Chase drivers

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NASCAR’s Sprint Unlimited at Daytona International Speedway is about to get bigger.

New eligibility requirements announced today by NASCAR has allowed all 16 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers to enter the non-points exhibition race, which takes place one week before the Daytona 500.

“The 2015 Sprint Unlimited has potential to be one of the most competitive ever,” NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in a release.

“With more drivers eligible, the intensity level increases for our fans and competitors, making for a compelling start to the 2015 season.”

The field will also include 2014 Cup pole winners, former Sprint Unlimited race winners, and former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full-time in Cup in 2014.

Any remaining spots will be filled by drivers highest in 2014 Cup driver championship points who are not already eligible.

A minimum of 25 drivers are eligible to participate, including:

  • Kyle Busch (2014 pole winner)
  • Austin Dillon (2014 pole winner)
  • Jeff Gordon (2014 pole winner)
  • David Gilliland (2014 pole winner)
  • Denny Hamlin (2014 pole winner)
  • Kevin Harvick (2014 pole winner)
  • Jimmie Johnson (2014 pole winner)
  • Matt Kenseth (2014 pole winner)
  • Brad Keselowski (2014 pole winner)
  • Kyle Larson (2014 pole winner)
  • Joey Logano (2014 pole winner)
  • Jamie McMurray (2014 pole winner)
  • Brian Scott (2014 pole winner)
  • Tony Stewart (2014 pole winner)
  • Brian Vickers (2014 pole winner)
  • Kurt Busch (former Unlimited winner)
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr. (former Unlimited winner)
  • Carl Edwards (former D500 pole winner)
  • Danica Patrick (former D500 pole winner)
  • Greg Biffle (former D500 pole winner)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (former D500 pole winner)
  • Ryan Newman (2014 Chase driver)
  • AJ Allmendinger (2014 Chase driver)
  • Kasey Kahne (2014 Chase driver)
  • Aric Almirola (2014 Chase driver)

Vickers will not be able to compete in the event, however, due to health issues that have sidelined him for the early part of the 2015 season.

The 75-lap race will take place on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Denny Hamlin is the defending champion.

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

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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.