James Hinchcliffe joins NBC Sports’ motorsports coverage as analyst

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James Hinchcliffe will join NBC Sports Group as a motorsports analyst this season, making his debut with the IndyCar season opener March 13-15 at St. Petersburg, Florida.

Hinchcliffe, who recently announced he will be driving in the 104th Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport, will serve as a driver analyst with reports from the pits for the majority of the IndyCar schedule and also contribute to Indy Lights, IMSA and NASCAR coverage for NBC Sports.

Hinchcliffe’s on-air schedule for IndyCar also will include the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Honda Indy Toronto and the season finale at Laguna Seca Raceway. He also will be part of NBC’s coverage of the 104th Indianapolis 500 over the week prior to driving in the race.

The popular Canadian will provide analysis from Indianapolis Motor Speedway over NASCAR’s Fourth of July weekend that will conclude with the Brickyard 400 on July 5. The six-time IndyCar winner also will work select IMSA races starting with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 20-21 and be part of Indy Lights on NBC Sports Gold.

“I’m thrilled to be joining the NBC Sports team and covering so many awesome racing series in 2020,” Hinchcliffe said in a release. “NBC Sports has covered INDYCAR for more than a decade and I’ve gotten to know Diff really well over that time. I used to bang wheels with PT and Townsend, so our relationships go way back and it will be great getting to work them, and all the behind the scenes staff at NBC Sports, throughout the season. I’ve always loved educating people on the finer points of INDYCAR racing and I’m excited to jump in and share my expertise and perspective as a current driver with all of the fans and viewers.”

“James Hinchcliffe is one of the most dynamic personalities in motorsports and we’re excited to bring The Mayor of Hinchtown to the NBC Sports team for 2020,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “James’ engaging personality, combined with his unique perspective of what these drivers are experiencing in real time, will be a great addition to our motorsports coverage.”

In addition to the Indy 500, Hinchcliffe also will be racing for Andretti Autosport in the Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the June 6 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

IndyCar will eliminate double points from the 2020 season finale

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Though the NTT IndyCar Series hasn’t confirmed the date of its 2020 season finale, it has determined that double points won’t be in play.

An IndyCar official confirmed Monday to NBCSports.com that whether the season ends at Weather Tech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California, or on the streets of St. Petersburg, neither race will feature double points. Team owners were informed of the change during a conference call last week.

The news was first reported by RACER.com.

With the original 17-race schedule having been shortened by the cancellation of at least three races (Circuit of The Americas, Barber Motorsports Park, the Long Beach Grand Prix), using double points in the finale would have carried even greater weight (and perhaps more so if more races are unable to be run because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

IndyCar has been using double points at select races since the 2015 season. The 104th Indianapolis 500 will remain a double-points event.

In rescheduling the Indy 500 to Aug. 23 last week, IndyCar unveiled a revised schedule that listed Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as TBD for its season finale. The race originally had been scheduled to open the season before being called off because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

IndyCar CEO Mark Miles told reporters last week that St. Pete probably would be slotted into the first two weeks October after the Sept. 20 race at Laguna Seca that had been slated to be the season finale for the second consecutive year.