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.

NHRA: Steve Torrence’s 2nd Top Fuel title was emotional roller coaster day

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There’s no question Steve Torrence is a proud Texan. When he’s not strapping on his racing helmet, the Kilgore, Texas resident proudly wears a black cowboy hat and shiny boots practically everywhere he goes.

It’s just part of who one of the Lone Star State’s favorite sons is.

Torrence also has a great deal to be proud of after winning his second consecutive Top Fuel championship in Sunday’s NHRA season-ending national event at Pomona, California.

In doing so, he joins seven of the biggest names in drag racing history to win back-to-back titles: Don Garlits, Joe Amato, the late Scott Kalitta, Gary Scelzi, Tony Schumacher, Larry Dixon and Antron Brown.

Torrence followed up last season’s 11 wins – including being the first driver to win all six Countdown to the Championship playoff races – with nine wins in 2019, giving him 36 career wins and 55 final round appearances in his career.

But as he was interviewed shortly after he clinched the championship — even though he lost in the semifinal round of eliminations — instead of being effusive and ecstatic, Torrence was also uncharacteristically somewhat solemn and melancholy at the same time.

After publicly thanking his team – “the best in the business,” as Torrence frequently says – he also quickly paid tribute to a young man from Texas by the name of Brandon Seegers, who was tragically killed in an ATV accident last week (the young man in glasses is pictured in the tweet below).

Torrence wanted the world to know who Brandon was, calling him one of Torrence Racing’s biggest fans. It wasn’t lip service. Brandon – a 15-year-old freshman football player at Carthage (Texas) High School – truly was one of Torrence’s biggest supporters. He’ll be buried Tuesday.

Torrence also paid tribute to Brandon’s parents. The young man’s father has worked 30 years for Capco Contractors Inc., an oil and gas company owned by Torrence’s family. In a sense, because of their close relationship, Brandon and his parents are extended members of the Torrence family.

“This is for the Seegers family, who lost their little boy the Wednesday of last week,” Torrence said. “He was the biggest Capco fan there was. We’re taking the championship trophy home to him. We’re going to give it to all the Capco guys and his family.”

Admit it, when was the last time you heard someone in sports win a championship and then dedicate that effort to a young fan who was tragically killed just a few days earlier in an accident.

But that’s the kind of guy Torrence is, one of the classiest individuals in motorsports. And if you don’t really know who he is, you should, because you might understand why Torrence is who he is.

At the age of 36, Torrence is not just a survivor of the 1,000-foot dragstrips wars from New Hampshire to Seattle to Phoenix to Gainesville and everywhere in-between.

He’s also a survivor of something much more important: Before he was Steve Torrence, two-time NHRA Top Fuel champ, he was Steve Torrence, cancer and heart attack survivor. That kind of thing gives someone a much different perspective than most other individuals.

Torrence knows how fortunate he is to not only be a two-time champion, but more importantly, to be alive to earn and enjoy both of those titles. He came close, really close, to not being here anymore. That’s why Brandon’s death hit Torrence so hard.

He even tried to keep from choking up when he told the crowd about who his young friend Brandon was.

Torrence spent much of the weekend at Pomona thinking about his young fan. It definitely affected Torrence’s mindset and demeanor, especially on Sunday, with the pressure packed championship on the line.

To illustrate how different Torrence acted, he was involved in an incident after the first round that was completely out of character. While he may be one of the most competitive drivers on the NHRA circuit, he’s also normally a very level-headed, calm and cool persona.

Torrence uncharacteristically slapped young opponent and part-time Top Fuel driver Cameron Ferre in the face at the end of the drag strip after they climbed from their race cars following their first round run and exchanged words.

Normally a fan favorite, Torrence was uncharacteristically criticized on social media and was met with a wave of fan boos after the race when he climbed on stage to accept his championship trophy and the big check that came with it. A contrite Torrence eventually issued a public apology to both Ferre and fans, admitting he was wrong. The NHRA is reviewing the incident and still could penalize Torrence.

“Tensions are high,” Torrence told NHRA.com. “There’s a lot of crap going on out there, but there’s still no excuse for me acting that way. I apologize to every fan, all my racing friends and racing rivals. It was a heat-of-the moment reaction on a day when emotions were high, especially in the Capco camp. I talked to Cameron and we’ll just put it behind us and move on.”

Given the championship pressure and what he was enduring emotionally, Sunday may not have been Torrence’s finest moment or best day professionally or personally. But at the same time, he further cemented why he’s on his way to becoming one of the best drivers in Top Fuel history, that he makes mistakes and was man enough to admit when he made one.

He also cares for others and what they go through perhaps more than most because he himself came so close to not being around to enjoy the success he has enjoyed to date – and all the additional success that he’s likely to continue to enjoy for many more years to come.

 

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