IndyCar

NBC Sports’ live coverage of IndyCar Grand Prix of Long Beach — Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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From: NBC Sports Group PR/Media Relations

  • Sunday’s Pre-Race Coverage Begins with IndyCar Live Presented by Verizon at 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN
  • Pre-Race Coverage Includes Robin Miller Essay on American Racing Icon Dan Gurney, Founder of Grand Prix of Long Beach
  • NBCSN Presents Live Qualifying Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET

STAMFORD, Conn. – April 12, 2018 – NBC Sports continues its coverage of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend from one of America’s most iconic street circuits with live coverage of the Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Pre-race coverage begins with IndyCar Live presented by Verizon at 4 p.m. ET.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide live streaming coverage of the Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden (Penske) took the checkered flag in Phoenix last week, capitalizing on the decision to make a pit stop for fresh tires during a caution with 18 laps remaining in the race. Newgarden passed rookie Robert Wickens (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports) with four laps to go to earn the victory. The podium was rounded out by Alexander Rossi(Andretti Autosport), his second consecutive podium finish to start the 2018 season.

The Grand Prix of Long Beach has seen six different winners in the last six years, including last year’s winner James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports), who sits in sixth place in the driver standings following finishes of fourth and sixth to start the season.

This weekend’s race is the second of three consecutive weekends of IndyCar on NBCSN, following the network’s season debut last weekend in Phoenix. NBCSN will showcase the Grand Prix of Alabama next Sunday, April 22.

This weekend’s live coverage from Long Beach begins Saturday at 6:30 p.m. ET with qualifying, leading into pre-race coverage on IndyCar Live presented by Verizon on Sunday at 4 p.m. ET. This season’s pre-race coverage will take place from the grid in the lead up to the command, bringing viewers even closer to the action prior to the race. Pre-race coverage will include:

  • An essay from IndyCar on NBC pit reporter Robin Miller on legendary American driver Dan Gurney, who was instrumental in the creation of the Grand Prix of Long Beach and passed away earlier this year;
  • A look at NBC analyst Paul Tracy’s first-career IndyCar win, which came 25 years ago at Long Beach, the first of his four victories at the circuit;
  • A feature on James Hinchcliffe during his visit to the Aquarium of the Pacific, which is located within the race course, where he conducted an underwater press conference;
  • A feature on Charlie Kimball, who came out to the Southern California area to assist his family in battling wildfires that affected the area, including Ventura County, where Kimball grew up and where his family currently still resides and operates a family ranch.

Lead IndyCar play-by-play commentator Leigh Diffey will call this weekend’s Grand Prix of Long Beach, alongside four-time Grand Prix of Long Beach champion Paul Tracy, who won his first-ever IndyCar race in Long Beach in 1993, and analyst and veteran driver Townsend BellMarty Snider, Robin Miller, Kevin Lee, and Katie Hargitt will report from the pits.

Following is this weekend’s IndyCar and motorsports schedule on NBCSN:

Date Coverage Network Time (ET)
Sat., April 14 American Flat Track – Atlanta Short Track (taped) NBCSN 5:30 p.m.
Grand Prix of Long Beach – Qualifying NBCSN 6:30 p.m.
Sun., April 15 IndyCar Live presented by Verizon NBCSN 4 p.m.
Grand Prix of Long Beach NBCSN 4:30 p.m.
IndyCar Post-Race NBCSN 6:30 p.m.

NBC SPORTS GROUP AND INDYCAR PARTNER ON COMPREHENSIVE, MULTI-YEAR MEDIA RIGHTS AGREEMENT

On March 21, NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR announced a new, multi-year media rights agreement in which NBC Sports acquired the rights to present all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019.

The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on NBCSN. All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Details of NBC Sports’ 2019 INDYCAR schedule will be announced at a later date.

NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will offer a package to INDYCAR fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date. Click here for more information.


VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES ON NBCSPORTS.COM AND THE NBC SPORTS APP

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app — NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, tablets, and connected TVs — will provide live streaming coverage of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series via “TV Everywhere,” giving consumers additional value to their subscription service, and making high quality content available to MVPD customers both in and out of the home and on multiple platforms.

NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app are powered by Playmaker Media and available on the iTunes App Store, Google Play, Windows Store, Roku Channel Store, Apple TV and Amazon Fire.

Graham Rahal tries to get up to speed in IndyCar iRacing Challenge

Graham Rahal Photo
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Although he’s just 31 years old, Graham Rahal has been driving an Indy car since the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he still a teenager.

When it comes to the virtual world, however, Rahal is an admitted “newbie.”

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan driver hopes to get up to speed in time to be competitive in Saturday’s Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama virtual race. It’s part of the INDYCAR iRacing Challenge and will be televised live by NBCSN at 2:30 p.m.

The six-time NTT IndyCar Series race winner got his virtual racing rig before last week’s American Red Cross Grand Prix at Watkins Glen International but was still learning the nuances of the iRacing platform. He started 12th and finished 14th out of 25 cars in the contest. The first 12 finishers were on the lead lap. Rahal was one lap down.

“I had never done it before,” Rahal said Friday. “At least it probably had been 10 years since I had driven any sort of sim. It’s addicting…rather addicting. Second of all, it’s bad for your marriage, but it’s a great way to kill a day of quarantine.

“But I think it’s been a big challenge just to get used to the way that you feel a car, the way that you drive a car in the sim, it’s all completely different than real life. To get used to that sensation, to get everything set up right is a huge part of it.”

Inside the cockpit of his No. 15 Honda at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Rahal feels at comfortable in his own element. It has taken him time to find that comfort level in the virtual world.

“For me it has been a challenge to just figure out the right settings, what to do from afar, too,” Rahal said. “Obviously you don’t have anybody here (at his home) that plays iRacing or anything to help you firsthand. It’s been a bit of a challenge; but I’ve really enjoyed it.”

Next up is Barber Motorsports Park, which in the real world is a very challenging course but it puts on some of the best road course racing on the real IndyCar schedule. Rahal believes it will also be quite a challenge on iRacing.

“I think Barber is going to be actually more difficult than Watkins Glen,” Rahal said. “The track has a little bit less grip than Watkins Glen did last week. Although everybody was still crashing at Watkins Glen, I think you can get away with more than what you can at Barber. In real life it’s that way, too.

“I’m looking forward to it. I think it will be fun.”

Rahal is married to former drag racing star Courtney Force. Both are playing it safe by staying home by statewide order from Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb. But Rahal still has to find the balance between husband and virtual race driver.

By contrast, some of the other IndyCar drivers are spending 10-12 hours a day practicing on iRacing.

“That’s the challenge,” Rahal said, responding to a question posed by NBCSports.com. “I could definitely spend way more time on it. My line to Courtney is, ‘Just give me two laps.’ Then, one hour and 45 minutes later I’m still sitting there. It’s frustrating.

“As Robbie Wickens said, the frustrating part is you go out, you put in a good lap, then it’s, ‘I need to go beat that.’ You spin and you spin, and you spin. Then you get mad. The competitiveness in you, two more laps, two more laps. You try to go and go and go.

“You sit there for hours and hours and hours.”

Rahal admits he can’t stay away from iRacing for long. He is genuinely curious and interested in seeing what the competition is doing.

“I go on pretty frequently to see what’s going on,” Rahal said. “A lot of guys are on all the time. Scott Dixon, Sebastien Bourdais has been on a load, Tony Kanaan, Willie P (Will Power). I think everyone is enjoying it. But it’s a huge challenge.

“There are a couple of guys that are clearly quicker than everybody else, Will being one of those. I’m trying to figure out where and how to find the lap time. I’m telling you, it’s so different than reality in that way.

“But it’s been fun, man. I’ve enjoyed the challenge. It’s good for the exposure, good because people are paying attention. You can see it on our Instagram. If you look at the clicks or page views in the last seven days, they’ve been doubled since we started to do this stuff. While it’s great for that, it also does help kill a ton of time.”

These are unique times as the world has essential shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more humans are testing positive of the potentially deadly virus, the threat becomes more real.

It has also created a tremendous void as people try to find something to do to pass the long times of isolation.

By giving race fans a few hours of entertainment, even if it is virtual instead of real, then Rahal believes it’s worth it.

“I think a lot of people are just dying for something to do, something to watch,” Rahal said. “The competitiveness in all of us wants to see some sort of sport.

“I know there are other buddies like hockey players that are watching it because they just want to watch something. They need something to do. So, I think that’s a big part of it.

“I think it’s great that NBC Sports is covering it this weekend other than just being online. I think it will be tremendous to see how that turns out.

“This is very realistic. When you see the cars on track, you watch a replay, see the photos, it’s eerily real looking. I did a race at St. Louis last weekend. It was extremely entertaining I think for the drivers that were participating. Other than 400 yellow flags, which happened early in the race, it was really, really entertaining to be a part of. People who watched that race would have loved the show that they had been seeing. I think there’s a lot of realism to it.

“I think it’s also people just want something right now. The desire and the demand is there to log in or tune in and see something competitive on TV.”

Follow Bruce Martin on Twitter at @BruceMartin_500