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.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?