2022 Schedule- The Good, The Bad, and The Meh

The 2022 Indycar schedule which had a rather low key release yesterday- an internet story posted between the final warmup for the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey and the Indy Lights race- is not atypical of recent schedule releases. The schedule has some good, some bad, and some things that just make you shrug your shoulders. I think most of the scheduled was dictated by available slots on NBC.

The schedule:

The Good

From a selfish standpoint, this schedule is one where I could attend every race with no logistical issues whether or not I go to Florida for the winter.

Iowa returns to the schedule with a double header. The twin bill adds one more oval race to the schedule.

Fan favorite Iowa Speedway returns with two races in 2022

Toronto stays on the schedule as they make a third attempt to hold the Honda Indy. The pandemic has caused the race to be cancelled in 2020 and this year.

Fourteen of the races are on big NBC. The channel consistency makes it easier for fans to find the race and not wonder which channel to find.

Long Beach returns to its traditional spring date. I think this is a more natural time slot for the second oldest race on the calendar.

Texas’ new early date will have cooler temperatures than the June date has endured. It might change the racing, although as long as the PJ-1 compound is on the surface, not much will change.

Detroit is not a double header. I like this change, although the racing at Belle Isle has been quite good in the last two events.

The Bad

The start of the season is not to my liking. One race a month with three weeks between races is not a good way to build a strong viewer base. I have no problem with St. Pete in February, but Indycar continues its pattern of having the opening race, then a three week gap until the next weekend. This trend now extends to race three.

If there are just two races in June, spread them out. May is packed with events on all but one weekend, and the two June races follow immediately. Teams have five straight weekends of races and Indianapolis 500 qualifying.

While I am happy that Texas will run during cooler weather, the date conflicts with the Sebring 12 Hour Race. Many Indycar drivers also run that event since the teams need an extra driver. Either the Indycar drivers will miss Sebring or there will be some red eye flights out of Florida late Saturday night. I know some fans who will be torn between which event to attend. I’m saving up for my private jet starting now.

July has four events with five races, followed by just two races in August and two more in September.

Once again, the season ends too early. September 11 should be when the stretch run for the title begins. Indycar should schedule races for September 25, October 9, and the finale October 16.

The Meh

Two races, Detroit and World Wide Technology (Gateway) are on USA network. I would like to know why those races were chosen for the alternate network. Will the races on USA rotate year to year?

Toronto’s return is assigned to Peacock exclusively. Does this mean the series thinks this race’s spot is still tenuous? Again will the race that gets on peacock rotate from year to year? Are some races more equal than others?

Three Indycar races at IMS are too many. The third race, part of the Indycar/NASCAR doubleheader, should go to another venue. The double header was a nice showcase this year, but I think the concept will get old quickly. Indycar shouldn’t be the undercard to NASCAR’s minor league seies.

I appreciate how difficult it must be to put a schedule together with all the parts that must fit together, but sometimes I wonder why there have to be such huge gaps in the calendar.

The rest of the week we will talk about the season finale and the championship with possibly some driver announcements thrown in.

Herta Holds Home Court; Palou on the Brink of a Title

Colton Herta leaves the pits after a stop. Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Some rambling thoughts on a race with some entertaining parts:

Colton Herta’s win in today’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey was pretty much a foregone conclusion, but there was some entertaining action behind the front two.

Herta’s two wins this year have come from the pole position. In his two victories Herta has led 188 of 195 laps.

Romain Grosjean put on quite a show, in moving from 13th on the grid to third at the end. He made some excellent passes, especially in the Corkscrew, and his altercation with Jimmie Johnson was probably the highlight of the race. Grosjean caught Johnson at the top of the hill leading to the Corkscrew, but he appeared to misjudge his speed. His car got airborne as the two collided, and Johnson was forced to go off track in the turn. How Grosjean did not have damage to nd his race I don’t know.

Indycar photo by Chris Jones

Grosjean is now just 20 points behind Scott McLaughlin for Rookie of the Year honors although he has run three fewer races.

Alex Palou started fourth and seemed content to run the entire day in second place after he fell into the position. Alexander Rossi collided with Herta in an attempt to take the lead. The two touched wheels and Rossi spun into the dirt and stalled. A lap later Will Power, who started third, pitted with an engine issue.

Palou is now very close to winning the series title next week at Long Beach. He extended his lead over Pato O’Ward to 35 points. Josef Newgarden, the only other driver who is still in contention, is 48 points behind. Newgarden needs to get the maximum 54 points while Palou finishes 25th or worse. An 11th place result next week will give Palou the title if O’Ward wins the maximum number of points. Palou is taking nothing for granted next week. After the race, he said,

“INDYCAR you cannot relax at any moment. We just keep
doing what we’ve been doing, race hard, race smart, and
hopefully we can get that championship without needing to
finish 11 or anything. We will try and get the best result as
possible.”

Another nice run for Ed Jones today with a 10th place finish. Jones is ending his time with Dale Coyne Racing on a high note. He has qualified and raced well except for Gateway.

Simon Pagenaud ‘s eighth place was his best finish in a while. This has been Pagenaud’s best weekend of the year.

Oliver Askew has done enough this weekend to earn a ride somewhere for 2022. In just his second race for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, the former Indy Lights champion qualified fifth and came home ninth. I’m not sure theses last three races are an audition for RLL, but I’m sure someone in the paddock has noticed what he did.

O’Ward’s fifth place seems surprising. He was fighting the car and the tires all day, yet pretty much maintained his spot in the top five. he will be a champion some year.

Scott Dixon charged into the top five on the first lap, then faded after colliding with Takuma Sato. I can’t remember the last time Indycar went into the season’s last race without Scott Dixon having a chance at the championship. Still, he will finish fourth in the standings.

Jimmie Johnson recorded his best Indycar finish, 19th. He showed some competitiveness, making a couple of passes for position and had that great battle with Grosjean.

I thought that NBC could have spent some time in the prerace show talking about the schedule for 2022. I didn’t like seeing it mentioned during the race when it cut away from on track action. You would think they would have given it more emphasis since 14 of the races will be on NBC.

Honda clinched the engine manufacturer’s title with Herta’s win.

Race Day at Laguna Seca-Tires and Title Hopes

Alex Palou can move closer to the Astor Cup today. Indycar photo by Joe Skibinski

Today’s schedule: All Times Pacific

Today’s race will determine how many are still left to fight for the championship next weekend in Long Beach. Josef Newgarden and Scott Dixon are on the brink of elimination given their starting spots. Pato O’Ward should still be in the hunt after today, and points leader Alex Palou has things pretty much in his control. Anyone who leaves the track 50 or more points behind is out of contention.

The winner has started on pole here 15 times in the 23 previous races, and every winner has started in the top six. As unpredictable as 2021 has been, that tradition might get a bit of a shakeup today.

Tire degradation and grip are going to be crucial for success in the race. In the post qualifying media conference, Herta said about tires,

“My initial feeling is that it’s going to be a black race. You’re
going to want to get off those red tires. I guess the
important thing we’ll try to learn about is how long can we
make those tires last before the huge dropoff comes in.”

The race is 95 laps, five laps longer than the 2019 distance. Teams will likely make three stops. A two stop strategy would be very iffy.

Alexander Rossi added, “The tire deg is pretty aggressive. I don’t know what that
means (smiling). A lot of people are wanting to pit for new
tires, like in practice after 12 laps, and we got to go 25.
There’s going to be a lot of screaming on the radio from people.”

Rossi also talked about the tendency tooverdrive the track, which has resulted in numerous off course incidents so far this weekend.

“But also you can’t
underdrive. It’s one of those places, it’s a pretty fine line. I
think on street courses you’re rewarded for trying as hard
as possible most of the time. Some of the road courses,
it’s a little better. Like Indy GP, I feel it’s better to almost
underdrive. Here you have to be on the 100%, not 101%,
not 99%. ”

Indy Lights

Kyle Kirkwood led flag to flag in yesterday’s race and now leads David Malukas by eight points. He is on the pole again for Race 2 today. The Indy Lights season concludes at Mid Ohio October 1-3.

I’ll have a warmup summary and of course post race comments later today.

Race Preview-Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

Marti Update: Marti is in rehab and is showing tremendous improvement. She may be able to come home around the end of the month,, which seemed unlikely a week and a half ago. Thanks for your continued thoughts and prayers

Today’s schedule:

Sunday’s race is the last one of the year on NBC. Next week’s season finale will be on NBCSN>

Today the California Cup Rush begins-two races to determine the NTT Indycar Series champion for 2021. I feel sorry for the winners of theses last two events if they happen to be non contenders. No one ever remembers who they are. I think it’s exciting to have this year’s title chase end on two classic tracks- Laguna Seca, now known by the awkward name of Weather Tech Raceway, and Long Beach, the second longest running race in the Indycar Series.

This weekend will be the 24th Race at the track near Monterey. CART began racing here in 1983 and continued until 2004. Indycar returned in 2019, and last year the pandemic cancelled the race. Colton Herta won the race from pole in 2019.

Given all the twists and turns of this incredible season, it is apt that the penultimate race include a corner named The Corkscrew.

Just 34 points separate the top three drivers-Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, and Josef Newgarden- making the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey the key race in the championship. In a normal year this would be the season ender. The race will seem like a year end event. The title fight is the main thing to watch this weekend, but other things are at stake as well.

Battle for the Astor Cup

Palou, O’Ward, and Newgarden don’t need to win, but each driver will look to finish ahead of the other two. Scott Dixon has a minimal chance of being the hunt, but 49 points behind at this point seems like too much to overcome.

Palou could clinch the title this weekend, but he would have to earn the maximum number of points-54- and even then it depends on where Newgarden and O’Ward end up. I have no doubt the battle goes down to the last lap at Long Beach.

I think both Newgarden and O’Ward will gain a bit of ground on Palou, who will still lead heading into the finale. I still believe, as I’ve said since early May, that Palou will win the title.

Rookie of the Year

Scott McLaughlin leads Romain Grosjean by 38 points after Portland. Grosjean has driven three fewer races than McLaughlin this year. He sat out Texas and the Indianapolis 500. Another Top 10 finish could wrap up the Rookie title for McLaughlin. He just needs to gain12 points on the Dale Coyne driver.

Grosjean couold still catch McLaughlin, but it will be difficult. Team Penske was strong here in 2019. Will Power finished second and Simon Pagenaud ended the race in fourth. Newgarden was eighth, but he was points racing to win the title.

Overal, I think Grosjean has had a better year than McLaughlin, but the three missed races will cost him the Rookie crown.

Desperately Seeking Victory Circle

Alexander Rossi and Graham Rahal are still looking to end their winless streaks which have stretched for more than one full season. Each of them had an opportunity to win last week at Portland.

Rossi contended at Gateway until car trouble put him in the wall late in the race. Rahal has had pit strategy cost him wins this year. Rossi last won at road America in June, 2019. Rahal last won in June 2017.

Other drivers looking to break victory droughts are Takuma Sato, Ryan Hunter-Reay, and Simon Pagenaud.

Notes

We may see the Indycar schedule for 2022 this weekend. From what i’ve heard the season will start early and end early. A couple of venues are still working out dates.

Since Ryan Hunter-Reay and Andretti Autosport officially announced their separation this week, will we see the new driver of the 28 presented this weekend? I still believe it to be Romain Grosjean.

I’m hearing that Takuma Sato may be driving for Dale Coyne next year. That makes sense, and lends further credence to the rumor of Jack Harvey going to RLL.

Fast Facts-Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey

From Indycar. Look for my preview tomorrow.

Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey Fast Facts

Race weekend: Friday, Sept. 17 – Sunday, Sept. 19

Track: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, a 2.258-mile permanent road course in Monterey, California

Race distance: 95 laps / 214.51 miles

Media Links: Entry List (PDF) | Driver Video Quotes 

Push-to-pass parameters: 150 seconds of total time with a maximum time of 15 seconds per activation.

Firestone tire allotment: Six sets primary, four sets alternate. Teams must use one set of primary and one new set of alternate tires in the race. (Note: A seventh set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)

Twitter: @WeatherTechRcwy@IndyCar, #IndyCar #FirestoneGP

Event website: www.WeatherTechRaceway.com

INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com

2019 race winner (most recent): Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda)

2019 pole winner (most recent): Colton Herta (No. 88 Capstone Turbine Honda), 1 minute, 10.1405 seconds, 114.867 mph

Qualifying record: Helio Castroneves, 1:07.722, 118.969 mph, Sept. 8, 2000

NBC television broadcast: Race, 3 p.m. ET Sunday, Sept. 19, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey is the lead announcer alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.

Peacock Premium Live Streaming: This weekend’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on Peacock Premium, NBC’s direct-to-consumer live streaming product.

INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes will be the lead announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. Jake Query, Nick Yeoman and Michael Young are the turn announcers. Dan Rusanowsky and Alex Wolff will report from the pits. The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will air live on network affiliates, SiriusXM 205 and 211, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on SiriusXM 205, indycar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.

At-track schedule (all times local):

Friday, Sept. 17

2:30–3:15 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 1, Peacock Premium (live)

Saturday, Sept. 18

10:45–11:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice 2, Peacock Premium (live)

2:05 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of knockout qualifying), Peacock Premium (live)

Sunday, Sept. 19

9-9:30 a.m.– NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, Peacock Premium (live)

11:50 a.m. – Driver introductions

Noon – NBC on air

12:23 p.m. – Start engines command

12:30 p.m. – Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey (95 laps/214.51 miles), NBC (live)

Championship Facts:

  • Alex Palou leads the NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship with two races to go for the first time in his career. Palou has led the point standings after nine of the 14 races this season.
  • Palou leads Pato O’Ward by 25 points with Josef Newgarden (-34), Scott Dixon (-49) and Marcus Ericsson (-75) behind. Palou assumed the point lead following his win at Portland. The lead has changed hands six times between Palou, O’Ward and Dixon.
  • There are five drivers still mathematically eligible for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship: Alex Palou, Pato O’Ward, Josef Newgarden, Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. Any driver who trails the points leader by 54 points or more following the race will be eliminated from contention.
  • Since the first INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, the winning driver has won the INDYCAR SERIES championship six times: Bobby Rahal (1986 and 1987), Danny Sullivan (1988), Michael Andretti (1991), Alex Zanardi (1998) and Cristiano da Matta (2002).

Key championship point statistic: Since 2008, the driver who has led the championship with two races to go has failed to win the championship five times. Scott Dixon in 2008, 2018 and 2020, Dario Franchitti in 2011, Will Power in 2014, Simon Pagenaud in 2016 and Josef Newgarden in 2017 and 2019 are the exceptions who have won the title after leading with two races remaining.

Don’t call it a comeback: No point lead is ever safe in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. Five times since 2008, a driver has made up a deficit with two races to go to win the championship – Dario Franchitti, who trailed Ryan Briscoe by four points in 2009 and Will Power by 23 points in 2010; Ryan Hunter-Reay, who trailed Will Power by five points with two races remaining in 2012, Scott Dixon, who was in third place, 48 points behind Juan Pablo Montoya in 2015 and Power who overcame a four-point deficit to Helio Castroneves in 2014.

CHAMPIONSHIP WITH TWO TO GO (2008-2021)

YEARLEADERSECOND LEADCHAMPION
2008Scott DixonHelio Castroneves78Scott Dixon
2009Ryan BriscoeDario Franchitti4Dario Franchitti
2010Will PowerDario Franchitti23Dario Franchitti
2011Dario FranchittiWill Power26Dario Franchitti
2012Will PowerRyan Hunter-Reay5Ryan Hunter-Reay
2013Helio CastronevesScott Dixon49Scott Dixon
2014Will PowerHelio Castroneves4Will Power
2015Juan Pablo MontoyaGraham Rahal42Scott Dixon (-48)
2016Simon PagenaudWill Power27Simon Pagenaud
2017Josef NewgardenScott Dixon18Josef Newgarden
2018Scott DixonAlexander Rossi29Scott Dixon
2019Josef NewgardenAlexander Rossi35Josef Newgarden
2020Scott DixonJosef Newgarden72Scott Dixon
2021Alex PalouPato O’Ward25?

RACE NOTES:

  • There have been nine different winners in 14 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races this season. Alex Palou (Barber Motorsports Park, Road America, Portland International Raceway), Colton Herta (Streets of St. Petersburg), Scott Dixon (Texas Motor Speedway-1), Pato O’Ward (Texas Motor Speedway-2, Raceway at Belle Isle Park-2), Rinus VeeKay (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-1), Helio Castroneves (Indianapolis 500), Marcus Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1, Streets of Nashville), Josef Newgarden (Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, World Wide Technology Raceway) and Will Power (Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course-2) have all won in 2021. The modern record (1946-present) for most different winners in a season is 11 in 2000, 2001 and 2014.
  • There have been seven different winners in the last 10 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races (Rinus VeeKay, Helio Castroneves, Alex PalouMarcus Ericsson, Pato O’WardJosef Newgarden and Will Power) The only repeat winners in that stretch are, Ericsson (Raceway at Belle Isle Park-1 and Streets of Nashville), Newgarden (Mid-Ohio and WWT Raceway) and Palou (Road America and Portland).
  • The Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey will be the 24th INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, but just the second since 2004. Teo Fabi won the first INDYCAR SERIES race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in 1983. Colton Herta – who won the most recent race at the track in 2019 – and Helio Castroneves -who won at the track in 2000 – are the only former winners entered in this year’s race.
  • Thirteen drivers have won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca from the pole – Teo Fabi (1983), Bobby Rahal (1985), Danny Sullivan (1988), Rick Mears (1989), Danny Sullivan (1990), Michael Andretti (1991 and 1992), Paul Tracy (1994), Alex Zanardi (1996), Bryan Herta (1998 and 1999), Helio Castroneves (2000), Cristiano da Matta (2002), Patrick Carpentier (2003) and Colton Herta (2019).
  • Team Penske has won six times at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Penske’s winning drivers are Danny Sullivan (1988 and 1990), Rick Mears (1989), Paul Tracy (1993 and 1994) and Helio Castroneves (2000). Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has three wins with Bryan Herta (1998-99) and Max Papis (2001). Chip Ganassi Racing has two wins with Alex Zanardi in 1996 and Jimmy Vasser in 1997.
  • Eighteen drivers entered in the event have competed in past INDYCAR SERIES races at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Helio Castroneves has four starts, most among the entered drivers, but hasn’t raced at the track since 2001. Five entered drivers have led laps at the track (Colton Herta 83, Will Power 6, Scott Dixon 2, Sebastien Bourdais 1 and Simon Pagenaud 1).
  • Four rookies – Romain GrosjeanCallum IlottJimmie Johnson and Scott McLaughlin – are expected to compete. The four rookies, along with veteran drivers Oliver AskewDalton KellettPato O’WardAlex Palou and Rinus VeeKay, will all be making their first INDYCAR SERIES at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Quick Thoughts- Portland Grand Prix- Invert, Reset

Alex Palou celebrates his third win of the year and retaking the points lead. Indycar photo by Chris Owens

Pit strategy and cautions can make or break your race. They hurt Graham Rahal, who arguably should have won the race, and Pato O’Ward, who lost the lead in the points standings They helped Alex Palou, Alexander Rossi, and Scott Dixon, who ended the day on the podium. Palou’s team waiting an extra lap to call him in on lap 44 was the winning move today.

The podium. Photo from my friend Brad Proctor

Why can’t Indycar drivers get through the first turn at Portland cleanly? Today’s melee wasn’t as destructive as the first two years after Indycar’s return, but it turned the race on its head, especially with the way Race Control reordered the field. It took a later caution to reverse what happened at the beginning.

Is Alex Palou the next Scott Dixon? Nothing seems to faze this kid-neither two consecutive finishes in the 20s, nor being shuffled to the back of the field after winning the pole. He just does what he needs to do in order to win the title. Today was a big step in that direction.

Palou not only leads O’Ward by 25 points, he now owns the first tiebreaker with his third win of the year. I really didn’t think we would see a driver win three times this season.

The points chase realistically is down to three-Palou, O’Ward, and Josef Newgarden. Dixon is 49 points behind, essentially a full race in arrears. Marcus Ericsson was barely hanging on, and losing 15 more points to the leader pretty much ends his title bid.

I hope in their new television deal that indycar has forbidden NBC from using the “Points as They Run” graphic. It is pointless and meaningless. Drivers don’t earn point as they run. They earn points when they finish. This graphic was displayed at least five times in the first 28 laps, a time in the race where it is totally not necessary.

Points as They Finished

It seems that the Team Penske drivers have had a lot of contact with each other during races this season.

Nice to see Alexander Rossi finally get on the podium in 2021. I think he will win one of the next two races. Rossi dominated two years in a row at Long Beach.

Palou’s repeat win means the series can only tie the record for most different winners in a season with a maximum of 11.

I will be back tomorrow with more on today’s race. Thanks for following along this weekend.

Race Day at Portland

Alex Palou looks to take another step toward the mountaintop today. Indycar photo by Chris Owens

Good morning and welcome to race day at the Grand prix of Portland. Alex Palou has a golden opportunity to retake the points lead and possibly whittle down the number of realistically eligible challengers by a couple.

Today’s Schedule: All times Pacific. Race coverage begins on NBC at pm Eastern.

A few thoughts:

His teammate Scott Dixon lead the final warmup session yesterday evening, and could be a factor in the race. It’s hard to believe, but Dixon is third on the team as far as wins this season.

I would not count out Graham Rahal for the win. He definitely should end up on the podium.

If these last three races are indeed an audition for Oliver Askew in the RLL car 45, he is off to a fine start with a ninth place grid spot.

Callum Ilott acquitted himself well by qualifying 19th. He has two more races with Juncos Hollinger Racing. Lets look at his overall performance after Long Beach, but yesterday was a decent start.

While many are rightly concerned about turn 1 at the start, which has been a challenge in 2018 and 2019, later in the race the final corners are a place to watch. Yesterday saw numerous spins and barrier contacts there.

David Malukas won the first Indy Lights race and is on pole for today’s race. Malukas leads Kyle Kirkwood by 10 points.

They might have said this all season, but yesterday the NBC announcers kept using the term “championship points.” I find the term annoying. Are there other types of points drivers earn?

9/11

Yesterday the paddock held a moment of silence at 10:28 Eastern time. The entire paddock lined the pits and front straight.

All cars and AMR Safety Team vehicles bore a special sticker

Indycar photo by Matt Fraver

The stickers on the safety vehicles are especially poignant as some members of the team were at the Twin Towers that day.

Enjoy the race. I will be back later today with some quick thoughts and have a larger wrap up tomorrow.

Indycar, NBC Ink New Deal; More Races on Network

The new television deal announced this morning between Indycar and NBC is perhaps the best deal Indycar has ever had. I will have more on this after the media conference later this morning. Here is the official announcement with key points highlighted.

INDYCAR, NBC Sports Agree
to Multiyear Media Rights Extension
Key Points:NBC Sports remains exclusive home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES and Indianapolis 50013 NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on NBC in 2022; remaining races on USA Network, PeacockPeacock to stream all races; home of qualifying, practice and Indy Lights
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, July 20, 2021) – INDYCAR and NBC Sports today announced a multiyear extension of their media rights agreement.NBC Sports will continue to be the exclusive home of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge – “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” – and will provide coverage of all NTT INDYCAR SERIES races, qualifying, practices and Indy Lights races across its linear, digital and streaming platforms, including Peacock. Financial terms were not disclosed.
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will see a significant increase in network exposure in 2022, with 13 races broadcast on NBC. USA Network and Peacock Premium will show the remaining races. Telemundo Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage of the season-opening race, the Indianapolis 500 and the season finale.
Peacock will stream all races on NBC and USA Network and will continue as the streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES qualifying and practices sessions, Indy Lights races and full-event replays. Peacock will stream two races exclusively, which will be announced at a later date.
“NBC Sports is proud to extend its partnership with the NTT INDYCAR SERIES and continue to serve as the exclusive home of the most competitive open-wheel racing series in the world and ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,’” said Jon Miller, NBC Sports. “We have demonstrated NBCUniversal’s ability to make big events bigger with our presentations of the Indianapolis 500, we have worked closely with Roger Penske, Mark Miles and the entire team to expand INDYCAR’s reach across the U.S, and we are thrilled to build upon our collaborative successes of the past few years.”
Said Mark Miles, president and CEO, Penske Entertainment Corp.: “NBC Sports has been the ideal partner for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, bringing our bold and audacious style of racing to a significantly larger domestic audience and fully leveraging the power and scale of the Indianapolis 500. This new deal represents a significant expansion of our network TV exposure and sets us up for continued growth and success alongside a committed, innovative and world-class broadcast partner.
”The media rights extension comes on the heels of viewership milestones for NBC Sports’ coverage of both the Indianapolis 500 and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 on NBC was the most-watched edition of the race since the 100th Running in 2016, and NBC Sports is off to its most-watched NTT INDYCAR SERIES season ever through the first nine races of 2021, with viewership up 30% vs. comparable coverage in 2020.
The partnership between NBC Sports and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES dates back to 2009, when NBCSN (originally VERSUS) became the cable home of the series and televised the majority of its races each season. NBC Sports became the exclusive home of INDYCAR in 2019, which also marked the year of NBC’s inaugural Indianapolis 500 broadcast.
The full 2022 NTT INDYCAR SERIES coverage schedule on NBC, USA Network and Peacock will be announced in the coming months.
All coverage of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be available on Peacock Premium. Viewers can sign up and learn more here. Peacock is currently available across devices; more details here. Peacock Premium is included at no additional cost for Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers and Cox Contour customers.About NBC SportsNBC Sports Group serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Audio Network and NBC Sports Digital, which includes NBCSports.comNBCOlympics.comGolfChannel.com , the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports EDGE, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine, and two direct-to-consumer products — NBC Sports Gold and GolfPass. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of media rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, the NFL, NASCAR, INDYCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, USGA, Churchill Downs, Premier League, Tour de France, French Open, and many more.
About INDYCARINDYCAR is the Indianapolis-based governing body for North America’s premier open-wheel auto racing series, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. The series features an international field of the world’s most versatile drivers – including six-time series champion Scott Dixon, two-time series champion Josef Newgarden and two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato – who compete on superspeedways, short ovals, street circuits and permanent road courses. The 2021 season consists of 16 races in the United States and is highlighted by the historic Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge. The NTT INDYCAR SERIES, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and IMS Productions are owned by Penske Corporation, a global transportation, automotive and motorsports leader. For more information on INDYCAR and the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, please visit www.indycar.com.
About PeacockPeacock is NBCUniversal’s streaming service. Peacock delivers a world-class slate of exclusive originals, on-demand libraries of hit TV shows, plus critically acclaimed films from the vaults of Universal Pictures, Focus Features, DreamWorks Animation, Illumination and Hollywood’s biggest studios. In addition, Peacock taps into NBCUniversal’s unmatched ability to deliver a broad range of compelling topical content across news, sports, late-night, Spanish-language and reality. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation. For more information on Peacock, click here.