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.

Newgarden tries to regain control of IndyCar championship race at Iowa

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NEWTON, Iowa – There are just six races left in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship and Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden has a hard-charging Alexander Rossi closing in on his gearbox. Newgarden’s lead is down to just three points after last Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden has been the leader in the standings after every race this season, with the exception of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, when he trailed Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden by one point.

Is Newgarden worried entering Saturday night’s Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway?

“I’m confident we have good cars,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “You can have bad weekends here and there. I think we can have a good result the rest of the year. But there are a lot of guys still in it. Rossi is the guy who is the closest, but you can’t count out Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon or Will Power. It’s going to be a fight until the end for this championship.

“We briefly lost the points lead after the Indy 500. Simon and I were one point apart. We’ve had better consistency this year. That is what is going to pay off at the end. We’ve been consistent up to this point and we have to continue it to the end.

“Look at all of these championship runs, most of the times it goes to the most consistent driver. You have to have clean finishes for every run. If you don’t, it’s pretty tough to make up the deficit.”

Newgarden has had a remarkably consistent season with three wins, six podiums (top three) and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

Rossi has nearly matched him with two wins, six podiums and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

These two drivers are nearly in a dead heat, so as the championship leader, can Newgarden force his fiercest foes into making mistakes?

“I’m a little bit boring,” Newgarden said. “I do the same thing every time. It puts more pressure on guys like Scott Dixon, who has to win races to catch up. They are going to be more aggressive. Our program is boring and that is trying to maximize each race individually. That is what we have to do.

“I don’t know if it is that different than being in a fight with Will Power or Simon Pagenaud or Scott Dixon. They have different tendencies. Alex is the more aggressive of those other drivers. It’s fun going up against all of them. Alex is really good. He has a certain style you have to play against. If it was Scott, it would be just as exciting, but it would be a different game.

“Alex brings a more aggressive side to the conversation.”

That aggressive fight continues to the .875-mile short oval at Iowa Speedway, site of Saturday night’s Iowa 300.

It’s one of Newgarden’s better tracks. He set an IndyCar Series record for leading the most laps in a single race when he was in front for 282 laps in his 2016 Iowa win with Ed Carpenter Racing. That was preceded by two straight second place finishes at Iowa in 2014 and 2014.

Since joining Team Penske in 2017, Newgarden finished sixth that season and fourth in 2018 in a race where he led 211 laps.

“We were pretty good there last year,” Newgarden admitted. “We qualified well, but we were a little shy of what we needed last year. The race didn’t pan out the way we needed it to. Our strategy wasn’t perfect there. But those are things we can clean up. We have a really capable group. I think we’ll have a good car there, again. I feel good about it. We’ve had good cars there in the past, we were just a tick off. I think we will be better there this year.

“We should be fine.”

Short oval racing is a unique form that adds diversity to the schedule as drivers have to get on an off the accelerator and on and off the brake, all while dealing with traffic throughout the 300-lap contest.

It’s that type of close quarter racing that real racers love.

“Iowa, for sure is a racer’s track,” Newgarden said. “It’s very bumpy, with a lot of character. It’s one of my favorite short ovals that we go to. I love that place. A lot of the tracks we go to are racer’s race tracks. There aren’t a lot of bad ones of the schedule. There are tracks with diverse challenges and you like that. Going from Toronto to Iowa to Mid-Ohio, they are all different tracks that require different setups, different driving styles.

“It’s like the championship is a driver’s championship. That is what it demands.”

An NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway is a special experience because it’s played out in front of grass-roots racing fans. These are the fans that following auto racing on a regular basis, many of which are regulars for sprint car racing down the road at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa.

“They are all different race fans,” Newgarden said. “Toronto has a bustling city vibe. Iowa is a bunch of farmers. Really nice people who are salt of the earth farmers who come out and enjoy racing. Mid-Ohio is a hybrid. It’s very much a Midwest race but different from Iowa.

“You get these different pockets of different fans, different people, different racers but they all like IndyCar racing and that’s pretty cool.”