NASCAR: Fans to help crew chiefs set Sprint Unlimited starting lineup, pit positions

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Select fans will be paired with each crew chief for a random drawing to determine the starting lineup and pit road positions in NASCAR’s Sprint Unlimited exhibition race on Feb. 14 at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR says that fan drawings will be held Feb. 13 at the main stage of the Sprint Fanzone at DIS, starting at 3:30 p.m. ET.

“Anticipation for the start of the NASCAR season is at an all-time high among fans and drivers,” NASCAR executive vice president/chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said in a release. “Fans have a unique opportunity to participate in key elements of the event, making this year’s Sprint Unlimited even more exciting.”

Last year, fans were allowed to vote on the length of the race segments, which was won by Denny Hamlin.

As for this year’s race, NASCAR will use a two-segment format of 25 laps and then 50 laps. A competition caution will be waved at Lap 25.

In December, NASCAR expanded the Unlimited field to include all 16 Chase for the Sprint Cup drivers. The 25-driver field will also include 2014 Sprint Cup pole winners, former Unlimited race winners, and former Daytona 500 pole winners that competed full-time in 2014.

Three eligible competitors – 2014 Chaser A.J. Allmendinger and 2014 Cup pole winners Brian Scott and Brian Vickers – will not compete in the Unlimited for various reasons. Allmendinger and Scott’s teams are not fielding cars for the event, and Vickers is recovering from December heart surgery (he will return to racing at Las Vegas in March).

All open positions for the Unlimited will be filled based on 2014 driver championship points. As of now, the top four provisional drivers respectively are Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Casey Mears, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Team representatives have already confirmed that Bowyer and Menard will compete in the Unlimited.

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.