NBCSN’s Diffey, Hobbs preview F1’s 2015 season

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NBC Sports Group’s coverage of the 2015 Formula One season begins with streaming coverage Practice 1 of the Australian Grand Prix tonight at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra. Coverage of practice on NBCSN begins tonight (Friday morning) at 12:30 a.m. ET, and NBCSN will provide live coverage of the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday morning at 12:30 a.m. ET.

Full times from the weekend schedule are linked here.

Following are quotes from NBC Sports Group lead F1 play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey and veteran analyst and former racecar driver David Hobbs, previewing the upcoming F1 campaign.

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Diffey on expectations in 2015: “It would be a massive surprise if anything changed as far as Mercedes’ dominance is concerned. What they put together last year, in one of the most revolutionary years in Formula One, was incredible. They’re going to be the hare everyone else is chasing. We’ll see who will be the best of the rest, between Ferrari, Red Bull and Williams.”

ON LEWIS HAMILTON AND NICO ROSBERG

Hobbs: “I favor Hamilton over Rosberg because I think he’s better. Hamilton is one of the absolute top drivers that we’ve seen in the last decade. In his very first race in Melbourne (in 2007), he qualified fourth, and leapt into second place in the first turn. I really think he has the edge, especially when it comes to racing, over Nico. Not necessarily in qualifying, because Rosberg can turn in some blindingly fast laps. Rosberg doesn’t seem to have that same dominance and determination that Hamilton has in the races.”

Diffey: “There is no doubt that Lewis Hamilton clearly has the psychological advantage over Nico Rosberg, knowing that battle reached its most intense point, and, in the end, he has prevailed. With that said, just simmering away inside Rosberg is this unbelievable determination to prove us all wrong, that he is better than Lewis Hamilton. This is a rematch for Rosberg. I don’t see why we can’t have that amazing rivalry again this year.”

ON FERRARI AND DRIVERS SEBASTIAN VETTEL AND KIMI RAIKKONEN

Hobbs: “Sergio Marchionne has changed that team so dynamically. He’s a man who is absolutely determined to succeed, and I think Ferrari will step up the pace enormously. Vettel is a driver not to be messed with. He had a dismal season last year, and I’m not quite sure why. Testing showed he and Raikkonen were a force to be reckoned with. Raikkonen and Vettel should have some wins this year in that Ferrari.”

Diffey: “We’ll see an improved Ferrari team. The way that Ferrari cleaned house makes them feel they have a healthier, restructured team. Vettel’s in a really happy place mentally, following in the footsteps of his hero, Michael Schumacher. Last year, the word you would have used to describe Ferrari was ‘turmoil.’ This year, you get a sense of calm. If it’s calm, then they can get good results.”

ON RED BULL AND WILLIAMS

Hobbs: “Daniel Ricciardo was an absolute inspiration last year, to all of us. He won all of his races in the last few laps, and made Sebastian Vettel look pretty second-rate. He certainly shows tenacity, but whether Red Bull will have the speed this year is something we just don’t know. (Williams drivers) Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa showed a lot of speed last year. I fully expect Bottas to get his first win this season.”

Diffey: “The future faces of Formula One are Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas. They finished third and fourth last year, and although Bottas hasn’t won a Grand Prix yet, you get the feeling that’s not far away. He and Ricciardo were the standouts last year.”

ON FERNANDO ALONSO AND MCLAREN-HONDA

Hobbs: “Again – Alonso seems to have zigged when he should have zagged. The McLaren-Honda does not look like a terribly good duo at the moment. Things can change, and they will because Honda has made their name through engineering. If anyone can pull themselves out of the morass, they can. It seems amazing to me that they performed so badly at winter testing.”

Diffey: “McLaren is out on an island. It’s so unknown. They had a real troublesome testing period with their Honda power unit. They have not even put together a race simulation yet, and they’re going into the first race of 20 for the year. If they get through Melbourne with two cars finishing, it’ll be a miracle.”

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)