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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.”

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.