WATCH LIVE and notes: IndyCar at Long Beach (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN)

Photo: IndyCar

LONG BEACH, Calif. – Coverage of the second round of the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, takes place today starting at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via (stream link here).

The race sets up as one of the more intriguing ones with Helio Castroneves on the pole in the No. 3 AAA Team Penske Chevrolet, ahead of five Hondas.

Meanwhile the fastest driver in the morning warmup and defending race winner, Simon Pagenaud, will start 21st and last after a penalty assessed for impeding Castroneves in the first round of qualifying.

The first eight drivers on the grid, plus Pagenaud in last and 13th-starting Ed Jones, the lone rookie in the field although the 2015 Indy Lights race winner, will start on Firestone’s red sidewall alternate tires for the race, while the remaining 11 drivers will start on the primary black sidewall tires.

Rick Allen will be in the booth with Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy. Marty Snider, Kevin Lee, Katie Hargitt and Robin Miller will be in pit lane.

Coverage will run from 1 to 4 p.m. PT and local time, so 4 to 7 p.m. ET.

Among the things to look out for in the race and the broadcast:

  • Conor Daly got to look at cars from the “Fast & Furious” franchise earlier this week, and this will be highlighted during the pre-race show.
  • The race will be 85 laps, up five from last year. It remains likely a two-stop race, although a chance to run flat out on three is possible if some teams further down the order go off sequence.
  • Here’s quick thoughts from Will Power and James Hinchcliffe on that topic: Said Power: “It will take one yellow to make it a two-stop running start, I think. Even so, like seven laps or 10 laps. You still got to have people go through a big fuel save, or if there’s a yellow, just be the same with the rules. You know, it’s really enjoyable when someone does three, if you are the person that does three, you just out (indiscernible) everyone with one extra stop. That’s a fun race. So I’m hoping it’s like that.” Said Hinchcliffe: “It’s very possible still on two stops with saving. So we need a yellow to really kind of spice it up. I know we managed to go without a yellow last year, which was pretty impressive. Realistically it probably should have been shortened by five laps, like by 15, yeah. I commend IndyCar for trying to address the issue because we did talk about this last year, but unfortunately we just missed it. I really hope that there’s some yellow early in the race to throw some strategy.”

IndyCar disappointed by delay of video game but aiming to launch at start of 2024

IndyCar video game 2024

An IndyCar executive said there is “absolutely” disappointment that its long-awaited video game recently was delayed beyond its target date, but the series remains optimistic about the new title.

“Well, I don’t know how quick it will be, but the whole situation is important to us,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said during a news conference Monday morning to announce IndyCar’s NTT title sponsorship. “Motorsport Games has spent a lot of money, a lot of effort to create an IndyCar title. What we’ve seen of that effort, which is not completely obvious, is very reassuring.

“I think it’s going to be outstanding. That’s our shared objective, that when it is released, it’s just widely accepted. A great credit both to IndyCar racing, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, something that our fans love.”

In June 2021, IndyCar announced a new partnership with Motorsport Games to create and distribute an IndyCar video game for the PC and Xbox and PlayStation consoles in 2023.

But during an earnings call last week, Motorsport Games said the IndyCar game had been delayed to 2024 to ensure high quality.

Somewhat compounding the delay is that IndyCar’s license for iRacing expired after the end of the 2022 season because of its exclusive agreement with Motorsport Games.

That’s resulted in significant changes for IndyCar on iRacing, which had provided a high-profile way for the series to stay visible during its 2020 shutdown from the pandemic. (Players still can race an unbranded car but don’t race on current IndyCar tracks, nor can they stream).

That’s helped ratchet up the attention on having a video game outlet for IndyCar.

“I wish we had an IndyCar title 10 years ago,” said Miles, who has been working with the organization since 2013. “We’ve been close, but we’ve had these I think speed bumps.”

IndyCar is hopeful the Motorsports Game edition will be ready at the start of 2024. Miles hinted that beta versions could be unveiled to reporters ahead of the time “to begin to show the progress in a narrow way to make sure we’ve got it right, to test the progress so that we’re ready when they’re ready.”

It’s been nearly 18 years since the release of the most recent IndyCar video game for console or PC.

“(We) better get it right,” Miles said. “It’s something we’re very close to and continue to think about what it is to make sure we get it over the line in due course.”