NASCAR spotters find similar role in Rolex 24 much more challenging

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NASCAR is NASCAR and sports cars are sports cars – and never the two shall meet, right?

But at the upcoming Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway, that demarcation line is getting more blurry than ever.

Two of the best spotters in NASCAR will be lending their eyes and (hopefully) calming voices on the team radio in this year’s Rolex 24.

Tim Fedewa, himself a former NASCAR driver and primary spotter for reigning 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick, will give this sports car thing a whirl for a second time, having also done so in last year’s Rolex.

Also, Tyler Green, who has served as Aric Almirola’s spotter the last five years – including for Almirola’s first career Cup win last summer in the Coke Zero 400 at DIS – will also be for a second straight year at the Rolex.

Both Fedewa and Green will be part of a team for Mazda drivers, that also includes Mazda primary spotter Chris Long (who works full-time with Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR team), as well as Daniel Tremblay, son of Mazda SpeedSource team owner and driver, Sylvain Tremblay.

“It is a lot tougher than I had imagined,” Fedewa said in a Mazda Racing media release. “It really keeps you on your toes.

“I’m used to spotting where the cars on the track are all similar, and everyone runs pretty close to the same speed. For the (Rolex) 24, a spotter has to use a lot more knowledge because of multiple drivers, and the different classes and strategies involved.

“They all have different speeds and attributes, so I need to be aware of that at all times.”

Spotters work four-hour shifts during the race.

“We will do four hours on, and four off,” Green said. “We’re used to long days on the spotter stand at NASCAR races, but this is like doing three 500-mile Cup races in one day.

“You try to relax and sleep when you’re off, but it’s not easy. There’s always a lag of 30 minutes or more before you’re able to get to sleep.”

Spotters must be like postal carriers in the 24, in a sense. Neither gloom, nor dark, nor storms, nor chills will keep them from their appointed rounds in keeping their respective drivers safe and out of trouble.

“It’s pretty straightforward in the daytime,” Fedewa said. “But, it’s not lit up like a NASCAR race when it’s dark. So, you have to focus that much more.

“It can be cold with fog or rain, and you do get tired, but you have to stay focused on the car and work with the crew on whatever they need. Watching it on TV is one thing, but there is so much more involved than I imagined.”

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Indy 500 qualifying: Today’s schedule, TV times, how the 33-car field is set

Indy 500 qualifying schedule
Doug Mathews/IndyCar
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The 33-car field of the 104th Indianapolis 500 will be set through the two-day Indy 500 qualifying schedule Saturday and Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Today’s session will determine the nine cars that will compete for the pole position and starting positions 10-30.

On Sunday, the pole position then will be determined in a Fast Nine Shootout (the top nine qualifiers also received NTT IndyCar Series points).

All on-track activity will be on NBC Sports Gold’s IndyCar pass (click here for streaming Saturday and here for Sunday), and Indy 500 qualifying will be on NBC from 3-5 p.m. ET Saturday and Indy 500 pole qualifying from 1-3 p.m. ET on NBC.

Last year, Simon Pagenaud captured the pole position on the way to winning last year’s Indy 500.

Qualifying speeds at Indianapolis Motor Speedway are determined by a four-lap average around the 2.5-mile track.

Here is the Indy 500 qualifying schedule and how to watch on TV:

Saturday, Aug. 15

5:30 a.m. – Garage opens

6 a.m. – Tech inspection

8:30-9:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

11 a.m.-5 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 qualifying (NBC Sports Gold; NBC coverage from 3-5 p.m.; NBCSN 5-6 p.m.)

7:30 p.m. – Garage closes

Sunday, Aug. 16

8 a.m. – Garage opens

9 a.m. — Tech inspection

11-11:30 a.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBC Sports Gold)

1:15-2:15 p.m. – Fast Nine pole qualifying (NBC begins at 1 p.m., NBC Sports Gold)

3:30-6 p.m. – Indianapolis 500 practice (NBCSN, NBC Sports Gold)