Second ‘Diffey doubleheader’ to kick off NBCSN racing tripleheader

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Tomorrow, NBCSN will have a solid 18 straight hours of motorsports content – kicking off with Formula 2 coverage from Italy at 6 a.m. ET and concluding following NASCAR Victory Lap, after the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington, at midnight.

The three centerpiece races are Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix at 7 a.m. ET, the Verizon IndyCar Series’ INDYCAR Grand Prix at The Glen at 1 p.m. ET and the aforementioned Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Southern 500 from Darlington at 6 p.m. ET.

NBCSN F1 and IndyCar lead announcer Leigh Diffey will promptly call both the Italy and Watkins Glen races in the same day, transporting direct to New York from NBC Sports Group broadcast headquarters in Stamford, Ct. once the F1 show wraps.

Leigh Diffey pull broadcast double this weekend. Photo: NBC

While it’s an undoubtedly long day and the preparation comes from not only getting set for F1 and IndyCar, but also rugby, Diffey is looking forward to his second “Diffey doubleheader” call of motorsports.

He also did this in August 2015, calling the Belgian Grand Prix in the morning from Stamford, and then arrived at Pocono Raceway for IndyCar’s 500-mile race there.

“Yeah, this is really exciting. This is the second opportunity for me to do this, to do the double, to do the Formula 1/IndyCar double. Myself and Steve Matchett did it a couple of years ago after the Belgian Grand Prix and then the Pocono 500. So we know that it is doable,” Diffey told reporters on a conference call previewing the tripleheader earlier this week.

“However, it’s a pretty long day, considering that our morning start for F1 is at 3:00 a.m. when the wake-up call goes off. So it’s a long day, but it’s a really enjoyable day, and I feel really fortunate and really excited to be honest to be doing it again, given where both open wheel series are with the titles up for grabs. Obviously IndyCar is a lot closer to its ending than Formula 1 is with just two races left in the Verizon IndyCar Series and still eight more Grand Prix left on the Formula 1 side of things.

“Both championships have been fascinating this year, and to be across both of them in the one day is very, very exciting. I haven’t done a lot of IndyCar this year just because of so many different clashes, so I’m looking forward to getting back with my old mates PT and Townsend Bell and the whole IndyCar group, and then I’ll be with the IndyCar group for the season finale in Sonoma, as well. Nothing other than really excited to be doing it.”

Diffey’s schedule has only allowed him to call one prior IndyCar race this season (Barber) as most F1 and IndyCar weekends have conflicted when both have been on NBCSN.

“You do the same style of preparation — well, I do anyway, just myself,” he said. “I do the same preparation for whatever I’m calling. That’s divided up into lead-up preparation and then what I call in-the-moment, like in-the-weekend preparation, and then it all leads up to doing the race.

“And in addition to that, I’m doing rugby on Saturday, as well.

“You just have to compartmentalize. You’ve just got to take it, whether it be series at a time or event at a time, but yeah, I mean, you’ve got to make sure you’ve done it on the front end, the homework and the preparation on the front end. But yeah, it’s just switching your brain at the time when it needs to be switched into which mode and which series. But I mean, I’m lucky, like you said, that I’ve worked on all three series this year, and I watch a lot of motorsports, because it’s not my job, it’s my passion.”. So yeah, looking forward.

“But no difference in preparation. I mean, you’ve just got to grind it out. I always tell my kids, I do more reading and writing now than when I was in university.”

Justin Grant prevails over Kyle Larson in the Turkey Night Grand Prix

Grant Larson Turkey Night
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On the heels of his Hangtown 100 victory, Justin Grant worked his way from 13th in the Turkey Night Grand Prix to beat three-time event winner Kyle Larson by 1.367 seconds. The 81st annual event was run at Ventura (Calif.) Raceway for the sixth time.

“My dad used to take me to Irwindale Speedway, and we’d watch Turkey Night there every year,” Grant said in a series press release. “This is one of the races I fell in love with. I didn’t think I’d ever get a chance to run in it, never thought I’d make a show and certainly never thought I’d be able to win one.”

With its genesis in 1934 at Gilmore Stadium, a quarter-mile dirt track in Los Angeles, the race is steeped in history with winners that include AJ Foyt, Parnelli Jones, Gary Bettenhausen and Johnnie Parsons. Tony Stewart won it in 2000. Kyle Larson won his first of three Turkey Night Grands Prix in 2012. Christopher Bell earned his first of three in 2014, so Grant’s enthusiasm was well deserved.

So was the skepticism that he would win. He failed to crack the top five in three previous attempts, although he came close last year with a sixth-place result. When he lined up for the feature 13th in the crowded 28-car field, winning seemed like a longshot.

Grant watched as serious challengers fell by the wayside. Mitchel Moles flipped on Lap 10 of the feature. Michael “Buddy” Kofoid took a tumble on Lap 68 and World of Outlaws Sprint car driver Carson Macedo flipped on Lap 79. Grant saw the carnage ahead of him and held a steady wheel as he passed Tanner Thorson for the lead with 15 laps remaining and stayed out of trouble for the remainder of the event.

“It’s a dream come true to win the Turkey Night Grand Prix,” Grant said.


Kyle Larson follows Justin Grant to the front on Turkey Night

The 2012, 2016 and 2019 winner, Larson was not scheduled to run the event. His wife Katelyn is expecting their third child shortly, but after a couple of glasses of wine with Thanksgiving dinner and while watching some replays of the event, Larson texted car owner Chad Boat to see if he had a spare car lying around. He did.

“We weren’t great but just hung around and it seemed like anybody who got to the lead crashed and collected some people,” Larson said. “We made some passes throughout; in the mid-portion, we weren’t very good but then we got better at the end.

“I just ran really, really hard there, and knew I was running out of time, so I had to go. I made some pretty crazy and dumb moves, but I got to second and was hoping we could get a caution to get racing with Justin there. He was sliding himself at both ends and thought that maybe we could get a run and just out-angle him into [Turn] 1 and get clear off [Turn] 2 if we got a caution, but it just didn’t work out.”

Larson padded one of the most impressive stats in the history of this race, however. In 10 starts, he’s won three times, finished second four times, was third once and fourth twice.

Bryant Wiedeman took the final spot on the podium.

As Grant and Larson began to pick their way through the field, Kofoid took the lead early from the outside of the front row and led the first 44 laps of the race before handing it over to Cannon McIntosh, who bicycled on Lap 71 before landing on all fours. While Macedo and Thorson tussled for the lead with McIntosh, Grant closed in.

Thorson finished 19th with McIntosh 20th. Macedo recovered from his incident to finish ninth. Kofoid’s hard tumble relegated him to 23rd.

Jake Andreotti in fourth and Kevin Thomas, Jr. rounded out the top five.

1. Justin Grant (started 13)
2. Kyle Larson (22)
3. Bryant Wiedeman (4)
4. Jake Andreotti (9)
5. Kevin Thomas Jr. (1)
6. Logan Seavey (8)
7. Alex Bright (27)
8. Emerson Axsom (24)
9. Carson Macedo (7)
10. Jason McDougal (18)
11. Jake Swanson (16)
12. Chase Johnson (6)
13. Jacob Denney (26)
14. Ryan Timms (23)
15. Chance Crum (28)
16. Brenham Crouch (17)
17. Jonathan Beason (19)
18. Cade Lewis (14)
19. Tanner Thorson (11)
20. Cannon McIntosh (3)
21. Thomas Meseraull (15)
22. Tyler Courtney (21)
23. Buddy Kofoid (2)
24. Brody Fuson (5)
25. Mitchel Moles (20)
26. Daniel Whitley (10)
27. Kaylee Bryson (12)
28. Spencer Bayston (25)