Here are your NBCSN TV times, weekend coverage plan for IndyCar’s Sonoma season finale

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The weekend coverage plans for the Verizon IndyCar Series on NBCSN from Sonoma Raceway are below. Here is the press release, distributed via the NBC Sports Group Press Box website. A full weekend preview is linked here.

The 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series will crown its champion this weekend on NBCSN, as Juan Pablo Montoya looks for his first IndyCar season championship at the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. NBCSN’s coverage will also include IndyCar’s tributes to driver Justin Wilson, who passed away Monday after succumbing to injuries suffered in Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway.

This weekend’s race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., is worth double points, meaning a potential 100-point swing in the standings. Montoya (Team Penske) currently holds a 34-point lead over Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan). Four other drivers still have a mathematical chance to win the title, including former series champions Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) and Will Power (Team Penske), Helio Castroneves (Team Penske) and Josef Newgarden (CFH Racing).

Montoya will win the title if he finishes third or higher and Rahal does not win the race. Click here for full championship possible outcomes.

VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES POINTS STANDINGS
Rank Driver (Team) Points Behind Wins Top 10
1 Juan Pablo Montoya (Penske) 500 2 12
2 Graham Rahal (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) 466 34 2 10
3 Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi) 453 47 2 11
4 Will Power (Penske) 439 61 1 9
5 Helio Castroneves (Penske) 423 77 0 9
6 Josef Newgarden (CFH Racing) 413 87 2 9

Live IndyCar coverage on NBCSN begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET with practice, followed by qualifying at 6 p.m. ET. Race coverage from Sonoma begins Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Lead IndyCar play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will call the Grand Prix of Sonoma, alongside analyst and current driver Townsend Bell, and analyst and former IndyCar driver Paul Tracy. Robin Miller, Marty Snider, Jon Beekhuis, Kevin Lee and Katie Hargitt will patrol the pits.

RACING COMMUNITY MOURNS LOSS OF INDYCAR DRIVER JUSTIN WILSON

The IndyCar community and racing fans from around the world are mourning the loss of Andretti Autosport driver Justin Wilson, who passed away on Monday after succumbing to injuries suffered in Sunday’s race at Pocono Raceway. Tributes to Wilson will be part of NBCSN’s coverage on Sunday.

This week’s episodes of NASCAR America included a tribute narrated by Leigh Diffey, as well interviews with IndyCar drivers Tony Kanaan and Helio Castroneves, NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger, and NBC Sports Group motorsports analyst Jon Beekhuis. Click here to watch those full interviews.

Following are excerpts from NASCAR America interviews on Wilson:

Allmendinger: “He was one of the most kind, most gentle, nicest people I had the pleasure to be around…to call a teammate, more importantly to call a friend…I always put him as one of the best race car drivers I’d ever seen or been around.”

Castroneves: “He was such a polite and nice guy that we chose him to be a spokesperson for the Drivers’ Association. We knew if anyone tried to attack the drivers, he’d be the best person to defend us in the nicest way…you talk to anybody in the paddock…you don’t hear anything negative.”

Kanaan: “It’s always been time to talk about safety. I want people to be aware that we are not talking about closing cockpits now – we’ve been talking about this for years. This has been an issue with the FIA and open-wheel racing forever…safety was Justin’s priority. His biggest concern was stuff flying into the stands to protect the fans.”

Diffey: “He was always one of the easiest guys to talk to, and you knew you were going to get a very genuine answer. One of the most beautiful things about Justin is that he had time for everybody…whether it was for media people or fans.”

Beekhuis: “Justin and I had a chance to travel a lot together. We were both based in Colorado… we would end up on a lot of the same flights…he was incredibly talented behind the wheel.”

In addition, click here to read a feature penned by MotorsportsTalk’s Tony DiZinno highlighting Wilson’s career on and off the track.

Date Program Time (ET) Network
Sat., August 29 IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma – Practice 1:30 p.m. NBCSN
  IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma – Qualifying 6 p.m. NBCSN
  IndyCar Chronicles 7:30 p.m. NBCSN
Sun., August 30 IndyCar Chronicles 3 p.m. NBCSN
  IndyCar Chronicles 3:30 p.m. NBCSN
IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma 4 p.m. NBCSN

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
McLaren Racing
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Formula E team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship car from Mercedes-EQ. – McLaren Racing

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – McLaren Racing

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”