Long Beach kicks off NBCSN’s portion of 2017 IndyCar schedule

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The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a crown jewel on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule and also serves as the kickoff to NBCSN’s coverage of the 2017 season.

Set in Long Beach, Calif., North America’s longest-running street race hosts its 43rd annual event, a race IndyCar has been at since 1984.

In recent years, parity has reined with five different winners  – Will Power, Takuma Sato, Mike Conway, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud – winning at Long Beach the last five years. Dixon and Pagenaud have subsequently gone on to capture the season-long Verizon IndyCar Series championship in the same year.

Sebastien Bourdais and Dale Coyne Racing enter Long Beach as the surprise winners at St. Petersburg, having come from last-to-first, aided by strategy and a couple good passes, to win the first round of 2017. Bourdais is a three-time Long Beach winner, having won three races here in a row from 2005 through 2007.

Helio Castroneves has won the last two pole positions at Long Beach but hasn’t won a race since Detroit race two, 2014.

We’ll have practice, qualifying and race coverage from the streets of Long Beach. Rick Allen will be lead commentator with analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy; Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller are in the pits.

Here’s the schedule with where to watch on TV on digital platforms. Live streaming can be found here for the FP2 and Race shows; Qualifying airs one hour after live.

Beyond NBCSN, fans can catch all the action via NBC Sports online at NBCSports.com/Live, or through the NBC Sports app which is available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

  • Practice 2: Friday, April 7, 5 p.m. ET (NBCSN; live event replay)
  • Qualifying: Saturday, April 8, 7:30 p.m. ET (NBCSN)
  • Race: Sunday, April 9, 4 p.m. ET (NBCSN; live event replay)

The next race is the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, on April 23.

Lewis Hamilton receives Daytona 500 invitation from Bubba Wallace

Lewis Hamilton Bubba Wallace
Rudy Carezzevoli/Getty Images
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Lewis Hamilton is a fan of the new NASCAR Cup Series team formed by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan to field a car for Bubba Wallace.

Will the six-time Formula One champion also be a fan in person at a NASCAR race in the near future?

Wallace is hoping so.

After Hamilton tweeted his support Tuesday morning about the news of a Hamlin-Jordan-Wallace team making its debut with the 2021 season, Wallace responded with a sly invitation to the Daytona 500.

Much would need to be worked out, starting with how much garage and grandstand access would be afforded for a 2021 season opener that likely would occur during a still ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

But it would seem fitting given that Hamilton and Wallace have been two of the world’s most outspoken Black athletes about the quest for diversity and racial justice. Hamilton recently reaffirmed his commitment to activism after his donning a Breonna Taylor shirt sparked an FIA inquiry. Time just published a brief piece by Wallace saluting Hamilton as a trailblazer.

The idea of Hamilton attending the NASCAR season opener already had legs, too. The Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver has expressed a desire to race the Daytona 500 after he has retired from Formula One.

He was a spectator (with racing legend Mario Andretti) at four-time champion Jeff Gordon’s final Cup race as a full-time in the 2015 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In 2011, Hamilton swapped cars with three-time champion Tony Stewart at Watkins Glen International.

Having rubbed shoulders with other racing greats so often, it would seem right for Hamilton — who is one victory from tying Michael Schumacher’s career record and also could tie the F1 record with a seventh championship this season — to spend some time with the greatest basketball player of all time.

Jeff Gordon was flanked by Mario Andretti and Lewis Hamilton before the 2015 Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images).