IMSA

NBC Sports goes all-in with commentators on Rolex 24 coverage

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STAMFORD, Conn. – January 17, 2019 – Over the course of 24 hours, NBC Sports will utilize 17 of its IMSA, NASCAR, and INDYCAR commentators, analysts and reporters on-site for its inaugural presentation of the 57th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona from Daytona International Speedway starting Saturday, Jan. 26 at 2 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Beginning this season, NBC Sports is the exclusive home of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA).

Continuous 24-hour coverage from the iconic Daytona International Speedway will feature a rotating cast of commentators, analysts and reporters, headlined by NBC Sports’ lead IMSA commentating team of play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey, former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver A.J. Allmendinger (analyst), and former IMSA GT driver and analyst Calvin Fish (analyst).

“There is no better spectacle in U.S. racing over a 24-hour period than this event with these drivers, who have incredible storylines,” said Sam Flood, Executive Producer and President of Production, NBC Sports. “From the all-female IMSA team to Alex Zanardi racing on U.S. soil again to our very commentators driving in the race, we couldn’t ask for a better way to launch our partnership with IMSA.”

NASCAR legend-turned analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins analyst Steve Letarte and host Krista Voda inside the “Peacock Pit Box,” a state-of-the-art remote studio set designed to bring viewers closer to the action. Built within a traditional pit box frame, the “Peacock Pit Box” will be set up along pit road.

An additional broadcast booth comprised of NASCAR on NBC lead announcer Rick Allen, INDYCAR on NBC analysts Paul Tracy and Townsend Bell, and Brian Till will be featured throughout the weekend. Bell will compete in all rounds of the upcoming IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, while Allmendinger will participate in IMSA’s endurance races. Both will race in the Rolex 24.

NASCAR on NBC reporters Marty Snider, Dave Burns, Kelli Stavast and Parker Kligerman will join INDYCAR on NBC reporters Kevin Lee and Jon Beekhuis to share in pit road duties. In addition, Rutledge Wood will showcase stories around the Daytona International Speedway.

The following is a snapshot of NBC Sports’ on-site commentating coverage from Daytona:

Time (ET) Platform Commentators Pit Crew “Peacock Pit Box”
2 – 5 p.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish & Allmendinger Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte, Earnhardt & Bell
5 – 9 p.m. NBC Sports App Allen, Tracy, Bell & Till Beekhuis, Lee & Parker Voda
9 p.m. – 12 a.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish, Allmendinger & Till Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt
12 – 3 a.m. NBCSN Allen, Tracy & Till Beekhuis, Lee & Parker N/A
6 – 9 a.m. NBCSN Diffey & Fish Snider & Burns N/A
9 a.m. – 12 p.m. NBCSN Allen, Tracy,  Allmendinger & Bell Beekhuis, Lee & Parker Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt
12 – 3 p.m. NBCSN Diffey, Fish,  Allmendinger & Bell Snider, Burns & Stavast Voda, Letarte & Earnhardt

*Subject to change

Coverage from Daytona begins Thursday, Jan. 24, with a special IMSA preview show, which features a sit-down interview with driver and Paralympian Alex Zanardi, who is scheduled to race in the Rolex 24. In 2001, Zanardi lost both of his legs in an accident at EuroSpeedway Lausitz in Klettwitz, Germany, and has since gone on to win two Paralympic gold medals in Para-cycling, most recently at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio.

Additionally, Earnhardt Jr. recounts racing the 2001 Rolex 24 with his late father, when the two split time driving the No. 3 Corvette C5-R as part of an interview with NBCSports.com lead motorsports writer Nate Ryan. Thursday’s coverage continues with live qualifying from 3-5 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Ryan will lead extensive digital coverage throughout the week on MotorSportsTalk, NBCSports.com’s vertical dedicated to open-wheel and sports car racing.

April 5 in Motorsports History: Alex Zanardi’s amazing Long Beach rally

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Alex Zanardi entered the Long Beach Grand Prix on April 5, 1998 as the race’s defending champion and the series’ defending champion.

But the Italian didn’t seem a serious contender for much of the 105-lap event. Zanardi started 11th position and lost a lap early when he was involved in a multicar spin in the hairpin.

Alex Zanardi celebrates after winning the 1998 Grand Prix of Long Beach. Photo: Getty Images

But the race was still young, and despite emerging from the incident in 18th place, Zanardi slowly progressed through the field while battling radio problems that made communication difficult with his team.

With five laps remaining, Zanardi passed Dario Franchitti on the backstretch for second place and then focused in on leader Bryan Herta.

With two laps remaining, Zanardi made his move, making a daring pass on the inside of Herta in the Queen’s Hairpin (which no longer exists as the track layout was changed the following year).

The move was reminiscent of Zanardi’s famous last-lap move on the inside of Laguna Seca’s famed Corkscrew in 1996, which deprived Herta of his first CART victory.

Franchitti passed Herta as well, and Zanardi went on to clinch his first victory of the season.

“On a day when everything went wrong, we came back and won,” Zanardi said following the race. “I can’t explain it. It wasn’t until I saw Bryan ahead of me that I ever thought I had a shot at winning. It was amazing. I have no words to describe it.”

Following Long Beach, Zanadri won six more times in 1998 en route to his second and final CART championship.

Also on this date:

1992: Bobby Rahal led from start to finish to win the Valvoline 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The win was the first of four victories for Rahal during his championship season.

2009: Ryan Briscoe won the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the first of three victories for the Aussie in 2009. The race was also the first IndyCar Series on Versus, which was rebranded as NBC Sports Network in 2012.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994