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Sonoma GP ties for 4th most-watched live IndyCar race ever on NBCSN

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STAMFORD, Conn. – September 19, 2018 – NBC Sports’ coverage of the IndyCar Grand Prix of Sonoma championship race on Sunday evening produced a Total Audience Delivery of 638,000 average viewers to tie as the fourth most-watched live IndyCar race on NBCSN in nine years, according to data provided by The Nielsen Company and Adobe Analytics.

Sunday’s viewership of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series finale on NBCSN (7:08-8:57 p.m. ET) was up 19% vs. last year’s race (536,000) to tie as NBCSN’s fourth most-watched race out of more than 100 live races on the network since acquiring IndyCar rights prior to the 2009 season (tied with Pocono; 2015).

Sunday’s Grand Prix of Sonoma is the most-watched live race on NBCSN since Mid-Ohio* in 2016 (811,000). Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi Racing) won his fifth career championship, ranking second only behind A.J. Foyt (7) for the most IndyCar championships in history.

Including IndyCar live look-in coverage that took place during a NASCAR red flag from 6:46-6:54 p.m. ET, the Total Audience Delivery for the race swells to 764,000 average viewers on NBCSN.

NBC SPORTS’ MOST-WATCHED LIVE INDYCAR RACES

RACE

DATE

TAD

Mid-Ohio

7/31/2016

934,000*

Sonoma

8/30/2015

846,000

Edmonton

7/24/2011

642,000

Sonoma

9/16/2018

638,000

Pocono

8/23/2015

638,000

Pocono

8/20/2017

624,000

* The July 31, 2016 Mid-Ohio race was simulcast on NBCSN and CNBC

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NBC SPORTS BECOMES EXCLUSIVE HOME OF VERIZON INDYCAR SERIES BEGINNING IN 2019

On March 21, NBC Sports 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.

Cooper Webb leaps from obscurity to Supercross lead

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Cooper Webb could not even locate the radar tower before the 2019 season began – let alone expect to see his number dead center in the radar screen.

His ascent to 450 competition came with little fanfare. Finishing 13th in Supercross in 2017 and then eighth in Motocross, Webb did not turn many heads as a rookie. Last year was more of the same.

Through Round 7 at Arlington, Webb failed to record a single top five. That elusive result would come the following week at Tampa with a fourth-place finish. Two weeks later, he stood on the podium at Daytona for the only the second time in his Supercross 450s career. But at season’s end, Webb was only ninth in the standings in both Supercross and Motocross.

No one expected much from him when Anaheim rolled around this year.

Webb started the season much the same as he ended 2018. A fifth-place finish in Anaheim I in muddy and equalizing conditions was followed by a modest 10th at Glendale, but the rider from North Carolina believed in himself.

In professional racing, nothing is more difficult than winning the first race. Webb’s first taste of victory came in Heat 1 of the Triple Crown at Anaheim II. Everyone remained skeptical – it was only one heat race after all. The skepticism turned to interest when he won Heat 2. Then Webb finished third in Heat 3 to take the overall victory. It was his first win in the 450 class.

That was all it took to unleash his potential. Webb won the following week in Oakland and then again two weeks later in Minneapolis.

The Supercross riders left Minnesota and headed straight down Interstate 35 to Arlington with four of them separated by two points. All eyes were focused on Ken Roczen, Eli Tomac, Marvin Musquin – and, oh yeah Webb who sat in second.

Someone was likely to stumble in Arlington and the odds on favorite to do so was Webb. That seemed to be confirmed once the feature started. While the three more experienced riders led by Tomac scooted away from the field, Webb was mired outside the top five for the first six lap.

It was Tomac who tripped and fell, however. Webb passed the stricken rider and surged to fifth on Lap 7. He was in fourth by Lap 10 and third on Lap 16.  As Webb and teammate Musquin battled for the second, they slowly reeled in the leader Roczen. Once Webb broke free on the conflict with the runner-up position firmly his, he could see the red plate on Roczen’s Honda like a cape being waved in front of a bull.

Webb charged through the final six laps getting closer and closer until he edged Roczen for the closest finish in Supercross history. It was Webb’s fourth victory of the season, coming only four weeks after he scored his first career win.

Relive the final laps in the video posted above.

As incredible as Webb’s rise to the points lead is, it has been done before.

Last year Jason Anderson seemingly came out of nowhere to lead the standings after Round 2. Anderson held the advantage for the remainder of the year, while Webb has been part of a game of hot potato in which no one seems to want to don the red plate for more than a week.

The pressure continues to mount. Webb now has a two-point advantage over Roczen, who is the only rider to sweep the top five this season.

Webb’s advantage over third is a mere four points, while Musquin has a current five-race streak of podium finishes to his credit.

Tomac’s trouble in Texas serves as a cautionary tale that a single loss of focus can be devastating and Webb still lacks the seat time of his three principal rivals, but last week’s incredible come-from-behind victory is showing that Webb is riding above experience level.

Follow the complete Supercross and Motocross seasons on NBC Sports, Gold.