Josef Newgarden paces IndyCar practice for Grand Prix of St. Pete after Barber crash

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It hardly erased the pain of his Lap 1 crash in the NTT IndyCar Series season opener at Barber Motorsports Park, but Josef Newgarden at least got off on the right foot Friday in the opening practice of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

With a 1:00.8029-second lap in his No. 2 Dallara-Chevrolet around the 14-turn, 1.8-mile street course, the Team Penske driver paced the session ahead of teammate Will Power (1:00.8102), Colton Herta (1:00.8348), Alexander Rossi (1:00.8653) and Simon Pagenaud (1:00.8992). Another practice will be held Saturday at 9:45 a.m. ET ahead of qualifying at 1:45 p.m. for the 100-lap race (Sunday, noon ET, NBC).

Newgarden has won the past two NTT IndyCar Series races at St. Petersburg, which should offer a chance to rebound from an uncharacteristic spin at that collected five other cars. Newgarden said it took two days instead of the usual one to get over the wreck, and Friday’s result didn’t alter the sting.

FRIDAY SPEEDS: Click here to see how the timing chart from practice at St. Pete

WEEKEND SCHEDULE: When cars are on track at the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

“Going quick again this weekend right away, it doesn’t really do much for that,” Newgarden said. “At the end of the day, the race is what is going to matter this weekend. That’s what we missed out on last week, which was the hardest pill to swallow. It was a gorgeous day to go racing. I was so excited. That’s my favorite part of the weekend, is the race itself.

“It was just a big gut punch, to be honest with you, just to be out so quick. Wasn’t something I was really expecting. Didn’t think it was something I was asking for. Sometimes I get myself into trouble because I’m aggressive. Normally when I do, I know I was asking for it. I say, ‘Why did I do that?’ That was silly. This one I couldn’t categorize as that. It was one of those things, a bad combination of a couple different factors. Next thing you know you’re in trouble. When it affects you, it’s not fun. When it affects you plus some others, it’s really not fun.”

One of those was Herta, who finished 22nd of 24 cars. Andretti Autosport teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay’s Dallara-Honda also was involved in the crash and placed last.

Andretti’s highest-finishing car at Barber was Rossi, who finished ninth after starting second, but Herta said there was no concern despite the lack of data and results.

Simon Pagenaud was fifth fastest in practice in his No. 22 Dallara-Chevrolet (Chris Jones/IndyCar).

“That’s probably one of the better places to crash if there are any,” Herta said. “I think Andretti does a really good job on the road course car, permanent road course car. It’s really fantastic pretty much anywhere we go. I think we lack a little bit more on the ovals, short ovals, even some of the street courses.

“The permanent road course car is amazing to drive. I don’t think we really lacked that much there. Yeah, I mean, it sucked what happened. But it’s racing. Kind of have to move forward from it, try to build our momentum into this week.”

Most drivers seemed to be pushing Friday as the top 20 was separated by less than a second in a “hypercompetitive” field, Herta said.

A week after his first IndyCar victory, Alex Palou was 20th fastest Friday. Jimmie Johnson, his Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, was last on the speed chart with a 1:03.1317 that was his best among 26 laps (tied with fellow rookie Romain Grosjean for a session high).

“Wow, it’s really close,” Herta told NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider. “As plenty of people have said, I think it’s one of the most competitive IndyCar fields that we’ve had ever. So it’s going to be an interesting weekend. You can’t make any mistakes at all.”

Certainly not Newgarden, who said he isn’t thinking about the championship deficit but is confident after falling into a 46-point hole after one race.

“I’m ready to get going,” Newgarden said. “We haven’t started our season yet. I want to get a race underneath us. I’m ready for Sunday.”

Click here for speeds Friday in the opening practice of the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

Josef Newgarden is aiming for his third consecutive victory at St. Petersburg (Chris Owens/IndyCar).

Peacock to stream all Supercross and Motocross races in 2023, plus inaugural SuperMotocross Championship

Peacock Supercross Motocross 2023
Feld Entertainment, Inc.
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NBC Sports and Feld Motor Sports announced that Peacock and the NBC family of networks will stream all 31 races of the combined Monster Energy Supercross, Lucas Oil Pro Motocross and the newly created SuperMotocross World Championship beginning January 7, 2023 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California and ending October 14 in the place where Supercross was born: the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The combined series will create a 10-month calendar of events, making it one of the longest professional sports’ seasons in the United States.

The agreement is for multiple years. The season finale will air live on Peacock and the USA Network.

Peacock will present live coverage of all races, qualifying and heats across both series. The 31 total races will mark a record for the combined number of Supercross and Pro Motocross events that NBC Sports will present in a single season.

NBC, USA Network and CNBC will provide coverage of all races, including the SuperMotocross World Championship Playoffs and Final, through 2023 and beyond. For more information about the Peacock streaming service, click here.

“With our wide array of live and original motorsports offerings, Peacock is a natural home for Supercross and Pro Motocross races,” said Rick Cordella, Chief Commercial Officer, Peacock. “We’re looking forward to providing fans with an easily-accessible destination to find every race all season long, including the exciting finish with the newly formed SuperMotocross World Championship.”

MORE: A conversation about media rights created the new SuperMotocross World Championship Series

The NBC family of networks has been home to Supercross for the past several seasons and this is a continuation of that relationship. The media rights for both series expired at the end of 2022, which allowed Supercross and Motocross to combine their efforts.

In fact, it was that conversation that led to the formation of the SuperMotocross World Championship (SMX).

The SMX series will begin on September 9, 2023 after the conclusion of the Pro Motocross season. Points will accumulate from both series to seed the SMX championship, which creates a record number of unified races.

“The SuperMotocross World Championship adds a new dimension to the annual Supercross and Pro Motocross seasons that will result in crowning the ultimate World Champion,” said Stephen C. Yaros, SVP Global Media and Supercross for Feld Motor Sports. “We are thrilled to be extending our relationship with NBC Sports so our fans can watch all the racing action streaming live on Peacock and the option to also watch select rounds on NBC, USA Network and CNBC.”

Complete 2023 coverage schedules for Supercross, Pro Motocross and the SuperMotocross World Championship on Peacock, NBC, USA Network and CNBC will be announced in the near future.