Outlaws’ Paul McMahan wins Winter Heat opener; Kasey Kahne 10th, Kyle Larson 15th

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World of Outlaws veteran Paul McMahan captured Friday’s feature win at Cocopah (Ariz.) Speedway in the opening night of the five-night Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown.

McMahan, who has also claimed the early Winter Heat points lead, was strong all night in the desert. He won his opening heat race and then finished runner-up in his qualifier to take pole position for the A-Main.

Aaron Reutzel seized the lead from him to begin the 30-lap feature, which was put under caution on the second lap by a multi-car incident.

One lap after the subsequent restart, Reutzel found trouble when he cut down a tire after apparent contact with the backstretch wall. That handed the lead to McMahan, and he never gave it up the rest of the way en route to a $12,000 payday.

“The race track was great,” McMahan said in a statement. “This was the first time I’ve ever been here. It kind of moves around all night long. It’s a great place, great facility, great event. Any time you can win it builds momentum.

“To win the first night out of 2015 with a brand new, experimental race car is phenomenal. We’re really looking forward to the rest of the week and the rest of the year.”

Joey Saldana, Danny Lasoski, Stevie Smith, and Roger Crockett rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

Meanwhile, NASCAR stars Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson had mixed fortunes in their Winter Heat openers.

Kahne picked up a 10th-place finish in the A-Main, while Larson, the reigning Sprint Cup rookie of the year, finished 15th due to reported engine issues late.

Afterwards, both Kahne and Larson expressed hopes of improving in tonight’s races at Cocopah:

Opening ceremonies for Night 2 of Winter Heat are expected to begin later this evening at 9 p.m. ET.

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

Danica Patrick Mike Tirico
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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.