NFL legends join NASCAR stars in NBC Sports’ upcoming “Gridiron Challenge” (VIDEO)

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NBC Sports’ NASCAR Gridiron Challenge presented by Toyota, a one-hour special pairing NASCAR drivers with former NFL greats in a series of stock car races and a football challenge, debuts Friday, January 30, at 10 p.m. ET on NBCSN, immediately following the NASCAR America Hall of Fame Special.

A capsule from the Gridiron Challenge will air as part of NBC’s Super Bowl XLIX pre-game show on Sunday, February 1, beginning at Noon ET.

The Gridiron Challenge features six retired NFL greats, including NBC Super Bowl XLIX pre-game analyst Hines Ward, suiting up to compete in races alongside current NASCAR stars at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Ward will be teamed up with Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards. The other driver/player combos are: Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Doug Flutie; Denny Hamlin (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Brian Mitchell; Clint Bowyer (Michael Waltrip Racing) and Christian Okoye; Daniel Suarez (Joe Gibbs Racing – XFINITY Series) and Willie Gault; and Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Rod Smith.

The NFL legends will learn to drive official Toyota race cars at the Richard Petty Driving Experience, while the group of NASCAR drivers will take part in a passing competition where they must throw footballs through a Toyota target.

The series culminates with a 20-lap race, where the former NFL players will sit in the passenger seat alongside NASCAR drivers as they race around the track at speeds up to 180 miles per hour.

“The NASCAR Gridiron Challenge is a fun way to promote NASCAR and our upcoming coverage,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer of NBC Sports and NBCSN, in a NBC Sports Group release. “This event serves as an example of how numerous NBCUniversal platforms are using Super Bowl XLIX weekend to promote new programming.”

“Toyota has had a long-standing relationship with NASCAR as well as a presence in the Super Bowl with TV commercials and our sponsorship of the Toyota Halftime Report,” said Ed Laukes, Vice President of Marketing, Performance and Guest Experience for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc.  “The NASCAR Gridiron Challenge was a natural partnership for us and we think everyone will enjoy seeing these two very different groups of athletes compete in an entirely new, and fun, way on the track and on the field.”

NASCAR on NBC lead announcer Rick Allen will call the action from Charlotte Motor Speedway, alongside NBC Sports Group’s motorsports team of NASCAR Hall of Fame drivers Jeff Burton and Kyle Petty, Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s former crew chief Steve Letarte, and NASCAR America reporter Kelli Stavast. In addition, NASCAR team owner and three-time Super Bowl-winning head coach Joe Gibbs will be present to give tutelage, and award the winners with their trophies.

Keating stripped of Le Mans GTE-Am win; No. 68 Ganassi entry also disqualified

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FIA stewards announced Monday that two Ford GT entries have been disqualified from this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, including the GTE-Am class-winning No. 85 entry from privateer Keating Motorsports.

Also DQ’d was the factory No. 68 Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais, which initially finished fourth in the GTE-Pro class.

Both entries were found in violation of fuel capacity regulations, with the No. 85 entry also failing to meet the minimum refueling time during pit stops.

The refueling system on the No. 85 entry, driven by Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga, measured a time of 44.4 seconds during a stop, just shy of the minimum required time of 45 seconds.

As a result, the team was initially issued a 55.2-second post-race penalty by officials, which elevated the No. 56 Team Project 1 Porsche 911 RSR of Joerg Bergmeister, Patrick Lindsey, and Egidio Perfetti to the class win.

The time penalty was calculated by the difference in the refueling time (0.6 seconds) multiplied by the amount of pit stops made by the team (23), then multiplied by four.

The No. 85 entry was set to finish second in class, but then received an outright DQ after its fuel capacity was also revealed to be 0.1 liters above the maximum permitted capacity of 96 liters.

As for Ganassi’s No. 68 entry, it was found to have a fuel capacity of 97.83 liters, which is above the maximum allowed capacity of 97 liters for the GTE-Pro Fords.

The No. 67 Ford of Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Jonathan Bomarito subsequently moves up to fourth, and the No. 69 Ford of Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook moves up to fifth.

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