NBC Sports

NBC going ‘Back Home Again’ with Indianapolis 500 special May 24

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Indianapolis 500 champions Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi will join NBC Sports’ Mike Tirico for an enhanced encore presentation of the 2019 Indianapolis 500 – Indy 500 Special: Back Home Again.

The program will air Sunday, May 24, at 2 p.m. ET on NBC and will celebrate “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” and provide fans with exclusive, new content from the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The enhanced presentation will feature a prerace conversation on-site from Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Tirico, 2019 champion Simon Pagenaud, and 2016 winner Alexander Rossi (last year’s runner-up to Pagenaud), alongside the famed Yard of Bricks.

Once the green flag drops, Pagenaud and Rossi will provide exclusive commentary during the broadcast, sharing their personal perspectives on key moments throughout the race and their memorable back-and-forth battle. that punctuated NBC Sports’ inaugural Indy 500 broadcast last year.

Mike Tirico will host NBC’s ‘Back Home Again’ on May 24 (NBC Sports).

“The goal of our enhanced broadcast is to honor the traditions of ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’ and re-live elements of last year’s race through Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi as they battled back-and-forth to the checkered flag,” said Sam Flood, executive producer and president, production, NBC and NBCSN. “We know the excitement, anticipation and intensity will be that much higher for the 2020 Indianapolis 500 on Aug. 23 on NBC, and we’re excited for the return of INDYCAR at Texas Motor Speedway on June 6 on NBCSN.”

“For more than a century, the Indy 500 at the Racing Capital of the World has served as a powerful and stirring tribute to our nation’s shared history of service, sacrifice and excellence,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles said. “While this Memorial Day weekend will certainly be different, we’re pleased to join our partners at NBC Sports in continuing this tradition through this special TV presentation. We look forward to recognizing both our military and frontline COVID-19 heroes while providing motorsports fans some intense and behind-the-scenes INDYCAR action through the race replay.”

The enhanced broadcast will also feature traditional pre-race elements to recognize the military traditions of the Indy 500, as well as special additions to honor those who are currently fighting on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coverage will also include an essay by Tim Layden on a look at a different “Month of May” and a look ahead to the return of racing at IMS. NBC Sports’ lead INDYCAR play-by-play voice Leigh Diffey will provide commentary looking ahead to the start of the 2020 NTT INDYCAR Series at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday, June 6, on NBCSN.

NBC Sports’ inaugural presentation of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on NBC in 2019 averaged a Total Audience Delivery (TAD) of 5.475 million viewers, up 11% vs. the 2018 race (TV-only 4.913 million, ABC). Overall, viewership for the 2019 INDYCAR season on NBC and NBCSN (16 races) was up 9% vs. 2018 season viewership (ABC, NBCSN, digital).

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?