Jones, Coyne, Hope to Pick Up Where They Left Off

“As I told Ed when we were talking about all this,we both have unfinished business,” Dale Coyne began the press conference. Ed Jones reiterated the phrase a minute later. Jones rejoins Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser Sullivan for the 2021 season. Jones had a strong rookie season with Coyne in 2017, including a third p[lace finish in the Indianapolis 500.

Jones was hopeful of returning to Indycar, and he and Coyne had maintained a good relationship since Jones left the team for Chip Ganassi racing.

“After the year out, I knew I really wanted to be back in INDYCAR. I was talking to Dale, seeing what we could figure out. . . As Dale said, we’ve had a great relationship. I know a lot of the guys at the team already. Having that extra partnership of Vasser Sullivan, continuing their success, is something I’m really excited to get going with.”

Jimmy Vasser is looking forward to having Jones on the team. Vasser noted his consistency, adding, “…he’s a finisher, and he’s consistent.I think also he gives us a chance to fight for the Indy 500. Three starts, third and a sixth. In my opinion, should have been Rookie of the Year at the 500, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.”

After a disappointing 2019 season in Indycar, Jones had signed on to run the DTM series in Germany for 2020. The COVID pandemic ended that plan. Jones began to think about getting back to Indycar.

“Yeah, so for me there was many options indifferent categories to race in this year. The way 2019went for me was really disappointing, my last year in INDYCAR at the moment. It bugged me. I knew it didn’t reflect what level I could compete at. There’s a lot of young guys in there doing well, and I beat most of them in junior categories, things like that. I know what level I’m at. I know it didn’t reflect that. I knew I needed to get back to INDYCAR, prove what I can do.”

Jones spent some time last year taking online courses from MIT on artificial intelligence and digital business management. He thinks some knowledge he obtained can apply to racing but Jones is also looking beyond huis current career.

“On one thing with the data, it’s something you can use into motorsport, maybe not from a driver perspective, but with data on handling how you use testing the car and things like that. Through simulation, as well.It’s something which can be beneficial in the future, and something which maybe isn’t really important for me now,but something I could use in times to come.”

Jones doesn’t think the aeroscreen will be a huge adjustment and he is looking forward to running the ovals.

“I feel like I’ve always been strong on ovals, short ovals especially. To be honest, if I could race INDYCAR ovals every weekend, that would be my dream thing (smiling). It’s something which I love to do. Although the windscreen is different, it’s just one of the things you’ve got to get used to. I changed from old aerokits to the new aerokit. It’s not a problem. Just something you have to adapt to and it won’t be an issue.”

Coyne said that the team hopes to announce its second driver next week and begin testing in February.

Ed Jones Returns to Coyne

This is the week of Indycar homecomings. yesterday, James Hinchcliffe came back full time to Andretti Autosport. Today, Ed Jones returns to Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan as the driver of car 18, with Seal Master sponsorship.

Jones began his Indycar career with Coyne in 2017 after winning the 2016 Indy lights championship. He finished 14th in points, highlighted by a third place finish in the Indianapolis 500. Jones earned Indycar Rookie of the Year.

The following year Jones joined Chip Ganassi Racing. He had two podium finishes and was 13th in points. In 2019 he drove the road courses and the Indianapolis 500 for Ed Carpenter Racing. He finished 13th in the 500 after starting fourth.

Jones was scheduled to drive i the DTM series in 2020, but COVID derailed those plans.

More on this story later today.

Hinchcliffe Full Time with Andretti; Genesys to Sponsor 10 Races

Photo: Karl Zemlin, Indycar

James Hinchcliffe returns to Andretti Autosport and the Indycar grid full time as the team announced their fourth full time car for the 2021 NTT Indycar series campaign. Genesys will sponsor the 29 car for 10 races for Hinchcliffe in 2021. Sponsors for the other seven races will be named in the coming weeks

.Hinchcliffe drove for Andretti from 2012-2014 after a year at Newman-Haas. After five years at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports, Hinchcliffe lost his ride after the 2019 season. He ran three races for Andretti with Genesys sponsorship in 2020 and ran three races for Andretti late in the year replacing Zach Veach. His best finish was seventh in the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe won three races in 2013 for Andretti and he has six career wins.

Photo: Indycar, James Black

Hinchcliffe spent part of 2020 as part of the NBC broadcast team at aces where he wasn’t driving.

The Indianapolis 500 and Hinchcliffe have a love hate relationship. A grisly accident in post qualifying practice nearly cost the Canadian driver his life. he returned the following year to win the pole for the 100th running oif the race. In 2018 he failed to qualify. Hinchcliffe returned to the 500 field in 2019, finishing 11th after starting 32nd.

Peacock Replaces NBC Gold

Photo: Indycar

Well, that didn’t take long. Fans who purchased NBC Gold received an email today regarding the switch to Peacock. Indycar sent the follow release regarding the change.

From Indycar:

NBC, NBCSN To Broadcast All 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series Races

Peacock Premium becomes the new streaming home of NTT INDYCAR SERIES coverage beginning with the 2021 season. NBC Sports’ exclusive streaming coverage will move from NBC Sports Gold’s “IndyCar Pass,” to Peacock Premium, which is available for $4.99 per month.

Peacock Premium will provide fans in the U.S. with live coverage of 2021 INDYCAR qualifying and practice sessions as well as coverage surrounding the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, Indy Lights races, race day warmups and full-event replays of INDYCAR races in 2021. Peacock Premium will surround the 105th Indianapolis 500 with exclusive practice and qualifying coverage, as well as ancillary content.

“Peacock Premium will offer NTT INDYCAR SERIES fans in-demand track action at tremendous value,” said Penske Entertainment Corp. President & CEO Mark Miles. “Alongside NBC Sports, we’re providing comprehensive coverage of practice and qualifications throughout our season, while also connecting to a larger platform with a world-class roster of programming.”

INDYCAR on Peacock Premium will also feature INDYCAR archival and library content, and other motorsports shoulder programming.

As previously announced, all 2021 INDYCAR races, along with select additional race weekend sessions, will be broadcast on either NBC or NBCSN.

The 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES season starts Sunday, April 18 with the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

INDYCAR will join a robust library of live sports on Peacock Premium. Highlights of Peacock Premium’s live sports offerings include Premier League, a Sunday NFL Wild Card playoff game, U.S. Open golf, U.S. Women’s Open golf, and upcoming Olympics and Paralympics coverage, plus the Peacock Originals “Lost Speedways,” hosted by Dale Earnhardt Jr., and “In Deep with Ryan Lochte.”

Viewers can sign up for Peacock at peacocktv.com. Peacock is currently available on the Roku platform; Apple devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Apple TV 4K and Apple TV HD; Google platforms and devices including Android™, Android TV™ devices, Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices; Microsoft’s Xbox One family of devices, including Xbox One S and Xbox One X; Sony PlayStation4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; and VIZIO SmartCast™ TVs and LG Smart TVs. Comcast’s eligible Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, as well as eligible Cox Contour customers, enjoy Peacock Premium included with their service at no additional cost.

N B C-ya?

The news was not totally unexpected, but hearing that NBCSN would shut down at the end of this year still was a shock. The network, part of NBC, has been the home for many NTT Indycar Series races over the last few years, becoming more prominent since NBC obtained exclusive rights to Indycar in 2018. There will also be a change to NBC Gold in 2021. This season will not be affected.

Per Mark Miles: “NBC Sports has always been a transparent partner, and we were aware of this upcoming strategy shift. Our 2021 broadcast schedule is not impacted by this decision. We plan to discuss our future broadcast arrangements in the late spring.”

NBC Gold, for about $45 a season, provided access to all practices and qualifications. That access may move to NBC’s new Peacock streaming service. I’m hearing $4.99 a month. I’m not sure if you have to pay for a 12 month period or just go month to month.

Indycar’s deal with NBC expires at the end of the 2021 season. When the dthree year deal was announced, Miles said it was a short deal so that Indycar could explore new broadcast developments.

What are the options? Some are good, some not so good.

Stay with NBC and show part of the schedule on USA network. The first Harvest Grand Prix was on USA in October. USA is in about six million more households than NBCSN. There are advantages to a network with more potential viewers. I actually had to find which channel number USA is on my provider to record the race. Normally, I never watch it. How long will it take viewers to find it? For 2021, a record nine races will be on NBC and eight are on NBCSN. Will NBC keep nine races on its flagship channel going forward?

Streaming options- Peacock, You Tube, and other streaming services have been mentioned. How will this affect the older die hard fans who may not be as tech savvy as the younger, more casual fans? I still don’t understand how streaming works and how you get it on a television set.

A different network? I would really prefer not to return to ABC. Their race broadcasts were not very good, they treated Indycar as an afterthought, and I found myself muting the television and listening to the radio broadcast most of the time.

Could CBS have an interest? I remember watching a few races on CBS in the 70s. I know things have changed drastically since then. I recall being singularly unimpressed with camera angles and the booth not keeping track of the race.

Whoever Indycar choses or their broadcast partner or partners, I would like to see the same announcing team for all races to provoide continuity. I hope the series can keep Leigh Diffey, Townsend Bell, Kevin Lee, Rick DeBruhl, Katie Kiel, and bring back Jon Beekhuis.

Once again, Indycar fans have to go through some uncertainty regarding where to atch the races on television. I have faith in Roger penske and the Indycar team that they will fuind the best option possible. I am also aware that not everyone will be happy with the final decision.

Indycar Announcement of Schedule Change for Barber

Indycar’s official announcement.

INDYCAR Announces Update
for 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES Opener
Series to raise curtain on new season April 18 on NBCINDIANAPOLIS (Friday, Jan. 22, 2021) – INDYCAR officials have announced the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season opener at Barber Motorsports Park has been rescheduled from Sunday, April 11 to Sunday, April 18. The move results in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst being featured on NBC network television. A record nine events will air on NBC this season. It’s the first time the 2.38-mile road course will host the opener for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES. A return to the popular Birmingham, Alabama, racecourse leads an opening stretch of four races in 15 days with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (April 25) and a doubleheader at Texas Motor Speedway (May 1-2) to follow. NBC will air the first two races of the new season and six of the first eight from April to June. “The schedule changes we’ve had, while partially prompted by ongoing pandemic conditions, give us a powerful start to the 2021 season,” Penske Entertainment Corp. President and CEO Mark Miles said. “With six of our first eight races on network television and all in a more compact timeline, it’s an enormous opportunity to drive even more momentum as we deliver our exciting brand of racing to our fans.” Barber Motorsports Park became an instant hit among INDYCAR drivers when the series first tested on the fast and undulating circuit in 2007. A fan favorite, as well, this year marks the 11th time the series will race there, a tradition that started in 2010. Two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Josef Newgarden is the winningest driver at Barber, with three wins. Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Takuma Sato is the most recent winner. “Zoom Motorsports and Barber Motorsports Park jumped at the opportunity to have our event showcased on NBC network television” said Gene Hallman, CEO of Zoom Motorsports. “We are proud of the tremendous support that INDYCAR receives annually here in the heart of the deep south. The facility and museum are world class, and we look forward to highlighting George Barber’s vision in what has become a bucket list destination for all race fans.” An updated listing of green flag times for the 2021 NTT INDYCAR SERIES schedule will be announced at a later date.
The updated schedule for those of you playing at home:

Season Opener Moving to April 18; Shown on NBC

The shift was bound to happen. As reported by other sources last night, The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park has been moved to April 18. The move allows the race to be on NBC rather than NBCSN. Barber is till the season opener and the Firestone Grand Prix of St, Petersburg follows a week later.

The NTT Indycar Series now begins its season with three consecutive weekends and four races. Following St. Pete, the series goes to Texas for a Saturday/Sunday doubleheader May 1 and 2.

Activity begins at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway May 14 with GMR Grand Prix weekend.

End of Schedule Changes?

I wouldn’t count on it. With rumblings that the Olympics will be cancelled, NBC Sports networks will have a lot of time to fill. Like last year, Indycar now has some fallback dates. I doubt that any new races will be added, but Indycar has to do something to stay in public view between the Toronto race on July 11 and the Music City Grand Prix August 8.

Today’s move is the third schedule change and the season hasn’t started. Last year there were six schedule changes.

Race for Equality and Change Taking Proactive Approach

This week’s announcement of Paretta Autosport with technical assistance from Team Penske adds another dimension to the Race for Equality and Change. Paired with Force Indy, which intends to promote African Americans in the sport, the REC is attempting to expand the reach and appeal of Indycar.

Beth Paretta’s experience and her contacts in motorsports is a plus for the new team.

Beth Paretta

Bringing Simona De Silvestro back to the Indianapolis 500 is a great move. De Silvestro has endured all kinds of misfortune at IMS from fire to uncompetitive cars. This might be her best shot at success.

Simona De Silvestro

The next step for the Race fo Equality and Change is to bring other interested teams and individuals. I would love to see Jacki Henricher become involved with Indycar.

Rossi Tops Sebring Test Day

Photo: Indycar, Chris Owens

Alexander Rossi led a strong showing by Andretti Autosport at Sebring on Tuesday with a quick lap of 52.27 seconds. Teammate Colton Herta was second, followed by Jack Harvey and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

The Rahal Letterman Lanigan duo of Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato were next in line.

Photo-Chris Owens Indycar

Harvey, of Meyer Shank Racing had a technical alliance with Andretti last year. I look for a strong year from Harvey. The team has a full year under their belt, and having Helio Castroneves as a teammate for six races should help as well.

Dalton Kellett and A, J, Foyt Racing tested both days and seemed happy with the team’s progress.

Paretta Autosport Brings Female-Led Team to Indy; DeSilvestro Returns to the 500

Simona De Silvestro returns to the Indianapolis 500 with Paretta Autosport, headed by Beth P.aretta. The team will receive technical support from Team Penske. More details later.

The announcement from Indycar:

Paretta Autosport, a new NTT INDYCAR SERIES race team spearheaded by female automotive and motorsport executive Beth Paretta, has announced its entry for the 105th Running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge.

2010 Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Year Simona De Silvestro has been announced as the driver for Paretta Autosport, which will utilize Chevrolet power and run the No. 16 for this year’s legendary “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” The 32-year-old from Switzerland is a veteran of five Indianapolis 500 starts.

The team is an extension of INDYCAR and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s “Race for Equality & Change” announced last July. Team Penske will provide technical support to Paretta Autosport in assisting in the preparation for competing in the race Sunday, May 30.

Paretta Autosport will integrate women in the team to ensure that it provides opportunities, including competition, operations and administrative roles such as logistics, marketing and public relations.

“Today is the beginning of a commitment to gender equity in sport, to encourage women to work hard so they can earn their seat at the table or spot on the grid,” Paretta Autosport Team Principal Beth Paretta said. “INDYCAR has been a leader and a welcoming place for women for many years because of the hard work of many women and men before us, but now we have a stronger commitment with INDYCAR’s ‘Race for Equality & Change’ to make sure opportunities continue in the future.

“Our team, along with our technical alliance with Team Penske, will work hard to give Simona the best car we can provide so she can achieve her best results. Competition drives us. The Indy 500 is the greatest race in the world, and one day soon we hope to have a woman’s face on the Borg-Warner Trophy.”

Said Mark Miles, president and CEO of Penske Entertainment Corp.: “We are pleased to welcome Beth and her Paretta Autosport team to INDYCAR this year. Her team’s addition to the INDYCAR ‘Race for Equality & Change’ program this year will ensure that INDYCAR and the Indianapolis 500 continues the legacy of having a female driver qualify for the 2021 Indy 500. Of course, it will be up to Simona and the team to qualify the car for the grid, but knowing Beth, I know that her team will be up for the task.”

Paretta has a long history as an automotive and motorsports executive in leadership roles with some of the most respected performance brands, including SRT (Street and Racing Technology) at FCA (Fiat Chrysler Automobiles), where she was the first female director to lead a performance brand and motorsports for an original equipment manufacturer. In that role, she led successful racing programs that earned three national championships: the NASCAR Cup Series championship for Dodge with Team Penske in 2012, the IMSA GTLM championship with the factory Viper GTS-R program in 2014, and the Trans Am championship with the Dodge Challenger TA2 in 2014. She is also a board member of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

In addition to her Rookie of the Year honors in 2010, De Silvestro also captured the Tony Renna Firestone Rising Star Award for her 14th-place finish. Her accomplishments throughout the motorsports world are numerous after competing in Australian Supercars, as a Formula One development driver, in Formula E, the IMSA SportsCar Championship and, since 2019, as a factory driver for Porsche.

“I am very excited to have this incredible opportunity to return to Indianapolis and the Indy 500 with Paretta Autosport this year,” De Silvestro said. “My career really took off through my time competing in INDYCAR and the Indy 500, so returning to compete with Beth and her new team in alliance with Team Penske is a special and rare chance in my career. Being part of the goal of diversity and inclusion for everyone, and especially women in INDYCAR, and in motorsports in general, is very important to me and how I would like to see the future of racing. I want to thank the NTT INDYCAR SERIES for taking such an important leadership role in providing gender and overall diversity inclusion in motorsports.”