Malaysian Grand Prix highlights NBCSN’s weekend of motors coverage

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NBC Sports Group continues its coverage of the 2015 Formula One season with comprehensive coverage of the Malaysian Grand Prix on NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra this weekend. The action begins Thursday at 10 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Live Extra with Practice 1, and continues throughout the weekend, prior to NBCSN’s telecast of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday morning at 2:30 a.m. ET.

Last week, 2014 Formula One World Drivers’ Champion Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) took the checkered flag at Albert Park ahead of teammate Nico Rosberg to win the Australian Grand Prix, his seventh win in eight races dating back to last season. Four-time Champion Sebastian Vettel, who joined Ferrari during the offseason, earned a spot on the podium with a third-place finish.

Last year, Hamilton earned the first grand slam of his career in Malaysia, clinching pole position, fastest lap, every lap led, and the Grand Prix victory.

NBCSN will provide live coverage of Practice 2 on Friday morning at 2 a.m. ET, Practice 3 on Saturday morning at 1:30 a.m. ET, and qualifying on Saturday morning at 5 a.m. ET. NBCSN will also air an encore of the Malaysian Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. ET.

Lead F1 announcer Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s action, and will be joined by veteran analyst and former race car driver David Hobbs, and analyst and former race mechanic for the Benetton F1 team, Steve Matchett. F1 insider Will Buxton will serve as the team’s on-site reporter from the Sepang International Circuit in Sepang, Malaysia.

In addition to its F1 coverage, NBCSN also airs episodes of NASCAR AMERICA today and tomorrow at 5 p.m. ET. Krista Voda hosts today’s episode, joined by analyst and 2014 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Dale Jarrett. Dave Briggs will anchor Thursday’s episode of NASCAR AMERICA, alongside former driver Jeff Burton, and former Dale Earnhardt Jr. crew chief Steve Letarte.

NBCSN rounds out this weekend’s motorsports coverage with encore Mecum Auctions presentations from this year’s event in Kissimmee, Fla. Total sales for the Kissimmee auction reached nearly $70 million, including the sale of Jerry Lee Lewis’ 1959 Harley-Davidson FLH for $350,000. Encore coverage begins tonight at 11:30 p.m. ET, and continues throughout the weekend.

Following is this week’s motorsports coverage schedule on NBCSN:

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Wed., March 25 NASCAR AMERICA 5 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Kissimmee (Encore) 11:30 p.m. NBCSN
Thur., March 26 NASCAR AMERICA 5 p.m. NBCSN
NASCAR AMERICA: The List (Encore) 6:30 p.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Kissimmee (Encore) 7 p.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 1 10 p.m. NBC Sports Live Extra
Fri., March 27 Road To Mercedes (Encore) 12 a.m. NBCSN
Mercedes: Race To Repeat 1 a.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 2 2 a.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Kissimmee (Encore) 3:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sat., March 28 Malaysian Grand Prix – Practice 3 2 a.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying 5 a.m. NBCSN
Mecum Auctions: Kissimmee (Encore) 11 a.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) 5 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., March 29 Malaysian Grand Prix – Qualifying (Encore) 1 a.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix 2:30 a.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra 5 a.m. NBCSN
Malaysian Grand Prix (Encore) 3:30 p.m. NBCSN
F1 Extra (Encore) 6 p.m. NBCSN

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”