James Hinchcliffe joins NBC Sports as motorsports analyst for IndyCar, IMSA races

James Hinchcliffe NBC Sports
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New IndyCar on NBC analyst James Hinchcliffe was a natural in front of the camera the very first time he stepped into a broadcast booth more than a decade ago. His charisma and quick wit made him one of the NTT IndyCar Series’ most popular drivers and a runner-up on “Dancing with the Stars.”

His blossoming second career eventually got to the point where Hinchcliffe decided broadcasting work was a stronger future than full-time racing. He said this week he was stepping back from IndyCar, and he was announced Thursday as an analyst for NBC Sports.

The Canadian will replace countryman Paul Tracy in the booth and call next year’s 17-race schedule alongside Leigh Diffey and Townsend Bell. He’s previously done pit reporting and booth work for NBC Sports during the 2020 season.

“I’ve never been shy about saying this was a move I wanted to make at some point in my career, and the time was just right,” Hinchcliffe told The Associated Press. “It didn’t just happen overnight. But when I assessed the landscape and took the emotion out of it and looked at it from a 30,000-foot view, it was honestly an easy call.”

Sam Flood, executive producer and president of NBC Sports, called Hinchcliffe “one of the most dynamic personalities in motorsports.”

“We’re excited to bring `The Mayor of Hinchtown’ straight from the car and into the booth for NBC Sports,” Flood said. “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.”

Hinchcliffe is coming off a 2021 season in which he scored just one podium for Andretti Autosport and was a career-low 20th in the standings for a full schedule. He missed most of the 2015 season when he was injured in a crash during practice for the Indianapolis 500 – a suspension part broken in the impact pierced an artery, and he nearly bled out on the way to surgery – and raced only six times in 2020 while trying to put together a funding package to drive for Andretti.

The frustration of the last two seasons helped ease Hinchcliffe into the NBC Sports job: Andretti replaced him next season with Devlin DeFrancesco, and Hinchcliffe wasn’t going to take a seat just to ride around in a non-competitive car.

“I’ve always been very cognizant of wanting to step back on your own terms and still feeling like you’ve got paid to be competitive,” Hinchcliffe said. “I can go to bed at night believing both of those things, and that was a big goal for me.”

Hinchcliffe will have the most knowledge of the series’ rules, regulations, tracks and cars since Bell last drove an Indy car in 2016. He’s also close friends with many of the current drivers and knows it will be a balancing act to be impartial in the booth while not angering any of his buddies.

“I’ve got a job to do and you can’t play favorites, and you can’t sugarcoat it,” he said. “I’m going to call what I see how I see it, but because a lot of the drivers are my friends, I’ll be able to talk to them about things after. They can tell me to go jump, they can disagree and we can have a beer and a conversation and talk about it.”

Supercross reveals 2023 Daytona track designed by Ricky Carmichael for 16th time

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For the 16th consecutive year, Ricky Carmichael has designed a signature course for the Daytona Supercross race, which will be March 4, 2023.

Eli Tomac took advantage of a last lap mistake by Cooper Webb last year to win a record setting sixth Daytona race – and with that win, he broke out of a tie Carmichael.

Construction on the course will begin two days after the completion of the 65th running of NASCAR’s Daytona 500 when haulers start to unload 7,200 tons of dirt onto the grassy infield in order to create a course 3,300 feet long.

“Ricky has designed yet another incredible course for this year’s Daytona Supercross,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher in a press release. “We’re thrilled to unveil it to the fans, and we can’t wait for them to come out to the track and see it in person.”

MORE: Designs for SuperMotocross finals at zMax Raceway and Chicagoland Speedway

Carmichael’s Daytona course will take center stage for Round 8 of the 17-race Supercross season and the 31-race SuperMotocross season.

The Supercross race coincides with Daytona’s Bike Week, which runs from March 3-12 and includes races from the American Flat Track series and the legendary Daytona 200 speedway race that is contested on the infield road course.

Last year’s course was reported to have 57 obstacles including the return of an over-under bridge. For 2023 the number of obstacles listed in 42, but that will not keep this from being one of the toughest tracks on which the Monster Energy Supercross series will race.

Many of the same elements from last year will be present including sharp turns, vaulted jumps, sand sections and a finish line that aligns with the oval tracks’ start/finish line.

“This year’s Daytona Supercross design is one of the best,” Carmichael said. “It races great for the riders – it’s safe yet challenging and it’s very similar to last year with the split lanes. Daytona is the toughest, gnarliest race on the Supercross circuit, but it’s the most special to win.

“This track is going to produce great racing and I think the riders are going to put on a fantastic display for all our fans.”

While Tomac has dominated this race during his career, Daytona has also been the site of some other dramatic victories. In 2021 Aaron Plessinger scored his first career Supercross podium in 35 starts with a win there and reversed a three-year streak of bad luck on the track.

The Daytona Supercross race is the first of two the series will contest on speedway infield courses. A little more than one month later, Atlanta Motor Speedway will enter their third season as a supercross venue. These two courses will serve as an early test for the SuperMotocross three-race finale that begins September 9, 2023 at zMax Dragway in Charlotte, North Carolina. The three playoff races will each be held on courses that contain elements of Supercross and Motocross, much like Daytona and Atlanta.