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.

Helio Castroneves ‘hustling’ for IndyCar, IMSA rides; talking with four to five teams

Helio Castroneves IMSA IndyCar
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As his season gathers steam, Helio Castroneves said his prospects for finding new rides for 2021 in IMSA and IndyCar also are gaining momentum.

The three-time Indianapolis 500 winner said Monday he is optimistic about landing in either or perhaps a combination of both series when Team Penske and Acura end their DPi partnership after this season.

“A lot of people I spoke with, four to five teams, are interested,” Castroneves said. “Whether it’s doing Indy 500 only, whether it’s pushing to do full time or do the sports cars as well. It’s been a very nice conversation.

LOOKING AHEADTeam Penske drivers seeking new rides for 2021

“I have a lot of respect for all the teams that have been talking, and I feel the same feedback. We just have to wait for their (sponsor) connections, and I’m also looking for some connections on my side as well, so hopefully we’ll be able to put this together and get something very soon.”

Given two decades of success with Penske in IndyCar and IMSA, Castroneves’ resume hardly needs burnishing. But the Brazilian has combined with co-driver Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi to win the past two overall victories at Road America and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

But Castroneves, who doesn’t have a manager, said he has been working the phones hard rather than wait for the strong results to bring in the calls.

“At this point, I feel like I’m the one who needs to be talking to them because people need to know I want to continue racing and understand my desire,” Castroneves, 45, said. “There is opportunity, no question, in both (IndyCar and IMSA), which I’m really happy about it. However, because of the COVID-19, a lot of things sometimes have to be a little delayed. But I’m excited. Whatever the opportunity and whatever destiny guides me, whether IndyCar or sports cars, trust me I’ll be as happy as it could be and doing my 100 percent like I always did.

“It’s like politics, you need to be out there, good news or bad news. People have to make notice of your presence. I’m hustling. I want to continue to keep it going. Hopefully, we’ll have good news very soon.”

The news has been all good lately on track for Castroneves and Taylor, who hope to continue their run Sunday at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The No. 6 duo has surged to sixth in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship standings, 10 points out of the lead with four races remaining. After thinking there was “no hope” to be competitive after opening the season with three consecutive poor finishes, Taylor now sees an opportunity for a happy ending.

“With the program going away, Helio has won all the big races and given so much back to the team and left such a mark, he’s really part of Penske history,” Taylor said. “For me, it’s been an opportunity of a lifetime to be a part of it. I’d like to leave my little mark as well. Helio has won everything except for a championship.

“Obviously, we’ve won races already together, but we can win a championship now. I think if both of us can do that together and both win our first championship for ‘The Captain,’ that would be an absolute dream come true, and we can tie a bow on it and be happy.”