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Diffey, Allmendinger, Fish lead NBC Sports’ 2019 IMSA broadcast team

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NBC Sports’ exclusive coverage begins on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019 with the 57th running of iconic Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on NBCSN

STAMFORD, Conn. – When the 50th anniversary of the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) season begins on Saturday, Jan. 26, NBC Sports will utilize a commentator team led by play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey, former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger (analyst) and former IMSA GT driver and analystCalvin Fish.

Diffey, Allmendinger, and Fish will make their IMSA broadcast debut for NBC Sports from the 57th running of the iconic Rolex 24 at Daytona, as a world-class field of drivers take to the Daytona International Speedway as part of more than 100 hours of IMSA programming set to air across NBC Sports’ platforms in 2019.

Additional details regarding analysts and pit crew reporters will be announced at a later date.

“Leigh has a unique ability to communicate all of the stories and battles taking place throughout a race,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President of Production, NBC Sports. “A.J. will bring a fresh perspective from the driver’s seat to the booth, while Calvin’s familiarity with IMSA both as a racer and analyst will combine for an informed and entertaining listen.”

Since joining NBC Sports in 2013, Diffey has served as the lead play-by-play voice for the network’s IndyCar and Formula One coverage. Prior to joining NBC Sports, Diffey called both the GRAND-Am Rolex SportsCar Series and American Le Mans Series from 2003-12.

Fish previously served as an analyst on FOX Sports’ IMSA coverage, and was IMSA’s GTO class winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1990.

Allmendinger joined NBC Sports after competing in NASCAR for 13 seasons, most recently driving JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 Chevy in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. In 2012, Allmendinger was part of the overall-winning team in the Rolex 24 at Dayton

As part of a six-year partnership announced in April, NBC Sports will present 12 races across NBC, NBCSN, CNBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app throughout 2019. Race highlights include the 12 Hours of Sebring from Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla., on March 16; the Grand Prix of Long Beach from the Long Beach Street Circuit on April 13; and the penultimate race of the season from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., on Sept. 15.

Announcer bios:

LEIGH DIFFEY: Diffey joined NBC Sports Group in 2013 as the play-by-play voice for Formula One and is currently NBC Sports’ lead IndyCar play-by-play commentator. Diffey has also handled play-by-play duties for the PENN Relays track and field meet, Olympic skeleton, luge and bobsled at PyeongChang 2018 and Sochi 2014, and rowing at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio. Twitter@leighdiffey

A.J. ALLMENDINGER: Allmendinger joined NBC Sports in December 2018 after competing in NASCAR for 13 seasons, most recently driving JTG Daugherty Racing’s No. 47 Chevy in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. He garnered his first career Cup Series win in 2014, and made his first playoff appearance that same year. Allmendinger also drove part-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, where he earned two victories (both in 2013). In 2012, Allmendinger was part of the overall-winning team in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In 2006, he earned five wins and placed third overall in the Champ Car World Series. Twitter@AJDinger

CALVIN FISH: Fish, a former Indy Lights and IMSA GT driver, among other series, joins NBC Sports after serving as a motorsports analyst for FOX Sports. Fish was a frequent member of FOX Sports’ annual coverage of the IMSA SportsCar Championship, as well as FOX Sports’ presentation of the FIA World Endurance Championship. In his racing career, he competed across several domestic and international motorsports series, and was IMSA’s GTO class winner at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 at Daytona in 1990. Twitter – @calvinfish

IMSA 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 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 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.

 

INDYCAR: Patricio O’Ward turns heads in Carlin debut

Chris Jones / IndyCar
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While the top story coming out of Sunday’s IndyCar Classic at Circuit of the Americas is undoubtedly 18-year-old Colton Herta’s victory in only his third IndyCar start, another teenager made quite some noise during the first IndyCar race at the facility.

19-year-old Patricio O’Ward made an impressive start to his 2019 IndyCar campaign by starting and finishing in eighth position. It was the first of his 13 races this season for Carlin Racing.

“I think it was a pretty good race for us. We ended exactly where we started and didn’t go backwards, so I’d say that was a successful day” O’Ward said. “I know the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet had a top-five finish in it today and even though we couldn’t make it happen, it’s nice to know that we have the pace and can be fighting up front with the veteran drivers.”

O’Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champ, made his series debut for Harding Steinbrenner Racing at last year’s season finale at Sonoma Raceway, where he made it to the Firestone Fast Six in qualifying and finished ninth. O’Ward was scheduled to race for the team full-time in 2019, but left in early February to pursue other options due to a lack of sponsorship.

Pato found a new home with Carlin, and despite missing preseason testing, he proved to be competitive from the get go and pressured some of IndyCar’s more tenured drivers, including Graham Rahal.

In what was undoubtedly the most daring move of the race, O’Ward ended a great battle with Rahal by hitting a superb outside pass on Lap 15.

O’Ward may have likely earned a better result on Sunday, if he didn’t have to save fuel in order to make the finish.

But with only two IndyCar starts to his credit, he is already racing like a seasoned veteran. Sunday’s IndyCar Classic may be the first of many successful outings for him this year.

After the race, he tweeted to his team: “Well done gentlemen … This is only the beginning.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter